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Japanese Dinner Party


jackal10
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A friend has requested I cook a Japanese dinner party in mid-August.

I'm a good but plain western cook. We have some aged sake to drink.

I'd like to feature Wagyu (Kobe) beef, but where can I get some in the UK??

How to I prepare it, so as not to loose its essence?

Please help me plan the menu. I'm not Japanese, so I expect without your expert advice I'll miss most of the subleties, or even just get it plain wrong. What are the seasonal foods appropriate for this time of year?

My first rough guess:

O-toshi: Sushi, shashimi, tempura, gyoza

Shirumono: Miso

Yakimone: The Wagyu beef, cut into strips flash fried, rice, pickles

Okashi: Strawberries in snow?

An alternative would be O-toshi followed by a nabemono such as shabu-shabu or maybe sukiyaki?

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I can help with the sourcing - you have a few places to try...

Selfridges carries Wagyu beef

For bits and pieces, Japan Center on Piccadilly has groceries and fresh fish downstairs -

Also there is a little store around the corner from the Waitrose on Finchley Road that has a lot of speialities, I can't remember the name, but it is across the street from that big apartment block over the supermarket.

The oriental markets on China "Street" also have some Japanese products

I hope this gets you started...

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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I don't know about Wagyu, but on the sushi front there is a fish place in Ealing that is very popular with the Japanese expat community. I don't have the details but I think it may be in the Time Out Shopping & Services guide.

Maybe you could try phoning restaurants and ask where they get theirs. I know Tsunami in Clapham does it - when I asked they said it was Australian wagyu

Also think about scouting out Oriental Plaza - the supermarket in there has a very good collection of Japanese bits n' bobs

Cheerio

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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first thing

How many people is this for?

Formal or casual? and indoor or outdoor?

How traditional are you wishing to be?

If you want the true essence of a Japanese meal, you need to focus on the season and ingredients at the peak of perfection, which would mean no nabes in August, save that for a winter month.

For starters, I would scratch the sushi (this is rarely served as part of a larger meal) and in addition to a platter of sashimi (if you can get decent fish) how about some hiya-yakko (cold tofu topped with anything you desire) and of course some edamame (fresh or frozen) for snacking.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Jackal, sounds like fun!

I agree with Torakris- forget the nabe, serve edamame, and try to include a few seasonal items. Not fruit (stick with the 'strawberries in snow' for dessert- sounds nice) (Actually, what is it?)- think summer vegetables and seasonings, think cool and light.

Be sure to check out the summer Japanese food thread:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...T&f=19&t=23071&

Hiya-yakko is a good idea, but if your guests can't stomach raw cold tofu then deep-fry it as agedashi-dofu (even tofu haters like this!) and try other summer dishes like grilled eggplants, katsuo tataki, unagi, cold noodles etc.

You'll also want to skip the gyoza if you're going for traditional Japanese. Gyoza are eaten out as Chinese, if at home they are often the main dish or are part of a really simple casual meal. And if you really want to impress try a clear suimono instead of miso soup.

As for the beef, hoba-yaki would be a nice choice. It's cubes of beef in a miso sauce, placed on a 'hoba' leaf and grilled.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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The sushi place in Ealing is called Sushi Hiro... I have heard that it is the ONLY place in London to get good sushi... but alas, I still can't fit its strange hours into my schedule and have yet to go. But they will probably do a sushi or sashimi platter for you to take away if you call and order in advance.

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I went to a Japanese cooking demo in London last week and the chef,Kimiko Barber recommended a Japanese grocery chain in London called Atari-Ya 0208 458 7626,for most ingredients.

The demos showed 'Nobu' inspired dishes which were great :biggrin: Japanese Gazpacho anyone.

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If you are going the true traditional route, then in addition to appetizers, rice, pickles, soup and tea you will need yakimono, mushimono (steamed), agemono (deep fried), nimono (simmered), sunomono (vinegared, not pickled), etc.

Like smallworld said about the soup, I would go with clear soup (suimono) with maybe 2 or 3 seasonal vegetables or fish. If you really want to make miso soup go either the white or red route avoiding the plain brown stuff as it is too homestyle like. For the middle of August I might consider doing it chilled (also saves last minute prep and space on the stove). Miso soup can be quite good chilled or maybe a vegetable, like edamame, soup.

I also would forget the gyoza as you would never see it a part of a Japanese meal and it is a very informal food.

Tempura would be nice (as the agemono part) but keep it very simple just 2 to 3 items, use what is in season and may some fish or seafood. Tempura is really best served as soon as it is made, so if possible this should be down at the last minute. You can make (or purchase) a dipping sauce or you can use either just plain sea salt or a mixture of salt and pepper.

Smallworld gave a great suggestion for the beef or you could do one of my favorite gyu tataki, the beef is seared on all sides, plunged into ice water and then sliced or cubed and topped with grated daikon and a ponzu sauce.

For dessert use what ever are the best fruits you can find and keep them simple, not too heavy and not too sweet. Strawberries are a winter fruit in Japan :blink: (December to May), but if they are at thier peak where you are then it is perfect. In Japan it would be either melon, white peaches, or the Japanese big black grapes.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Smallworld gave a great suggestion for the beef or you could do one of my favorite gyu tataki, the beef is seared on all sides, plunged into ice water and then sliced or cubed and topped with grated daikon and a ponzu sauce.

That's a much better suggestion than hoba-yaki, more summery. Anyway, the hoba leaves might be hard to find.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Smallworld gave a great suggestion for the beef or you could do one of my favorite gyu tataki, the beef is seared on all sides, plunged into ice water and then sliced or cubed and topped with grated daikon and a ponzu sauce.

That's a much better suggestion than hoba-yaki, more summery. Anyway, the hoba leaves might be hard to find.

But wait! Would gyu-tataki be considered sashimi or yakimono???

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Smallworld gave a great suggestion for the beef or you could do one of my favorite gyu tataki, the beef is seared on all sides, plunged into ice water and then sliced or cubed and topped with grated daikon and a ponzu sauce.

That's a much better suggestion than hoba-yaki, more summery. Anyway, the hoba leaves might be hard to find.

But wait! Would gyu-tataki be considered sashimi or yakimono???

Actually I think it is considered sashimi. Oh dear. :blink:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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As for beef, I would worry less about obtaining authentic Kobe Beef/Wagyu(unless you want to show off to your guests) and more about the preparation. Wagyu/Kobe Beef is sold outside of Japan, but I have yet to encounter a cut of Wagyu outside of Japan that is even close to what you get in Japan. The cut your local butcher can provide you with for roast beef is most likely as good/better as the wagyu beef you can get (if my US experience can be transplanted to the UK).

In addition to Torakris suggestions for the gyu-tataki, you could sprinkle sliced roasted garlic, chives and/or scallions on top of the beef. Ponzu is a great dipping sauce, but you could(should) add a couple of more sauces, at least one soy-sauce based with horse-radish/chili-daikon/etc.

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a very easy and nice sunomono (vinegared dish) would be cucumber, wakame , and seafood (crab, shrimp, octopus, etc) and if you really want to go all out the mushimono (steamed dish) could be a sake steamed awabi (abalone). I had this once, it was incredible!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Courses often follow this basic pattern:

zensai (appetizers)

suimono (clear soup)

tsukuri (sashimi)

yakimono (grilled dish)

mushimono (steamed dish)

nimono (simmered dish)

agemono (deep-fried dish)

aemono (dressed dish) or sunomono (vinegared dish)

shokuji ('meal', usually rice, pickles and soup- this is where you can have your miso soup if you want it)

Many restaurants don't bother to follow this exactly, and you don't have to either. But you can keep the basic progression. The zensai course can include more than one appetizer, and it's OK if it's sashimi or a grilled dish, even if you're including the tsukuri and yakimono courses later. Just try to have as many styles of cooking as possible, try not to repeat them more than twice (no more than two grilled dishes) and also try not to repeat the ingredients too much.

Here are two sample menus (If you need specific recipes, I'm sure we can help!):

hiya-yakko

edamame

suimono with myouga and shrimp

katsuo-tataki

gyuniku hoba-yaki

sake-steamed abalone or other shellfish

simmered eggplants

deep-fried chicken stuffed with shiso and ume

sunomono of wakame, cucumber and octopus

chilled somen noodles

strawberries on snow

aemono of edamame (out of pods), cucumber, myoga, green pepper and wakame

una-maki- thick omelet rolled with unagi

suimono with seabass or other fish, harusame noodles garnished with yuzu peel

seasonal sashimi

gyu-tataki

grilled eggplants

agedashi-tofu

green beans dressed with sesame

rice, pickles and white miso soup with green beans and myoga

fresh seasonal fruit or yuzu sherbet

You can mix and match some courses and take out or add others. Some dishes I've missed include: grilled seasonal fish like ayu (sweetfish) or aji (horse mackerel), unagi (grilled eel), and anything using kabocha (pumpkin), shishito, tomatoes and okra.

By the way, I've never made such a big fancy meal myself, so all these ideas do NOT come from experience. Just me dreaming. Please feel free to ignore this advice and just cook whatever you want! I'm sure it will be excellent.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Many thanks for all the fantastic advice. I can see I've a lot to learn. The menus above are amazing...I'm salivating already. Part of it will be governed by what fresh ingredients we can get easily, locally.

It seems to me we can either do the full works above, or maybe something more informal, like a shabu-shabu, possibly preceded by some appitisers, and followed by a sweet. I'll consult with the hostess and let you know how we get on.

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Hi Akiko-sorry for the delay-the gazpacho has the following

cucumber,tomato,red onion red chilli,garlic,grated ginger,coriander leaves,mint leaves,rice vinegar(the brown one)soy ,lime juice,sugar ,EVOO and salt and pepper.

not being too specific as copyrighted :sad:

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