Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘tuna

It was a pleasant May in Seattle. I did not feel sodden as I did last spring and we were blessed with many glorious days as a prelude to the northern summer. On a pleasant Saturday we enjoyed apéritifs at Tavern Law and sauntered down to Momiji (紅葉) for dinner with a group of Australian expats and tourists.

The sister restaurant of Umi Sake House in Belltown, Momiji is Japanese for maple. Painted burgundy, the front bar featured a curious white latticed lampshade and was saturated in natural light.

With the exception of the wide street frontage, the layout of Momiji is the same as Umi’s. A corridor opened to a spacious dining room. The counter had a prime view of the sushi chefs deftly slicing sashimi and shaping nigiri.

At the centre was a serene Japanese garden.

We perused the comprehensive menu as I sipped a summery cocktail, The Getaway. In a tall glass was Hendrick’s Gin, Pimm’s and soda topped with a lychee.

We ordered an array of dishes among the seven of us. First was ahi pokē. Diced ahi tuna and cucumber were tossed with onion slivers, shichimi (Japanese seasoning), soy sauce and sesame seeds. The first time I ate pokē was at a Flying Fish cooking class. A Hawaiian salad, it had a luscious contrast of textures.

A plate of prawn and vegetable tempura was coated in a lumpy batter and pleasingly crunchy.

Poached beets, and a mound of arugula and shiso were drizzled with lemon vinaigrette.

Portions of grilled king crab was paired with ponzu dipping sauce and mixed greens. A generous serving, the crustacean was charred and meaty.

Soft shell crabs were pan fried to golden brown. The spindly morsels were sweet and succulent.

Wrinkled and charred, the half dozen prawn and scallop gyoza were juicy parcels of seafood encased in a thin wrapper.

Buckwheat noodles were stir-fried with cubes of tofu and an assortment of vegetables. Garnished with green onions, pickles and nori, the triangular bowl of yakisoba was a symphony of flavours.

With casual ambience and quality ingredients, Momiji is a delicious addition to 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill.

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A mixed group of Americans and Australians met for happy hour at Nijo last week. Located a couple of blocks south of the Seattle Art Museum, the restaurant is on the Puget Sound end of Spring Street.

A courtyard is fenced by bamboo and would be popular for al fresco dining during summer.

Festive baubles dangled from ceiling lights. There was a bar and a sushi counter, and tables were by the window.

Happy hour is daily, early and late. The beverages menu was the same length as the food menu! A selection of appetisers, maki, temaki, nigiri and sashimi were discounted.

Three large marbles of takoyaki were drizzled with mayonnaise and aonori. A savoury batter ensconced a tendril of octopus.

A generous mound of chicken karaage was served in an odd sized bowl. The chicken pieces were marinated in soy sauce, ginger and garlic, lightly dusted with flour and deep fried.

On the left was spicy tuna roll, a fiery blend of minced tuna and chilli. On the top right was Bainbridge islander roll, prawn, salmon, cucumber and avocado were seasoned with a spicy sauce. On the bottom right was salmon nigiri, a slice of salmon sashimi atop sushi rice.

On the left was ebi nigiri and on the right was seared spicy shiro magura (albacore tuna) nigiri, both were fresh and succulent.

We shared two desserts, tempura ice cream and fried banana spring roll. Green tea and red bean ice cream were cloaked in pound cake and deep fried. I preferred the delicate flavour of the green tea ice cream. There was no crunchy shell and it was more ice cream cake than tempura.

Crispy and sweet, banana and white chocolate were a sugary filling for the spring roll.

We are fond of happy hour in Seattle and Nijo is another recommendation!

I consider Seinfeld the seminal sitcom of my generation. I have much affection for the flawed characters and how they navigate the minutiae of life. Jerry Seinfeld has toured Australia a couple of times but I deemed the tickets too expensive. I was very happy when I found out he would be in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre at an affordable price. This was the first show we’ve attended since we moved here and I really miss live comedy and theatre.

Conveniently located near the Paramount Theatre, we had reserved a table at Blueacre Seafood for pre-show dinner. I have tasty memories of the food at the Barton Seaver event several months ago and was looking forward to our meal.

There was an enticing three courses for thirty dollars Harvest Moon special but we resisted the prix fixe and opted for the seasonal à la carte menu.

A curved oyster bar is at the front, the main dining room is elevated by a couple of steps and wooden panels divide the space. Tinted glass panes filter the view into the large kitchen and tinged the booths a royal blue.

I spotted both owners, Chef Kevin Davis was in the kitchen and General Manager Teressa Davis was on the floor.

There are some similarities between Blueacre and its sister restaurant, Steelhead Diner. Complimentary bread is served with triangles of seasoned butter and the crockery is branded with the logo. The butter was dressed with a squeeze of lemon and a dusting of salt, an appetising contrast.

We had fun designing combinations from the extensive menu. Mr S ordered a cup of duck and andouille gumbo for his first course. The small container was full of sliced sausage and duck pieces, the spiciness absorbed by a scattering of rice.

I chose the jumbo lump Dungeness crab cake. A deconstructed crab cake, the tender chunks of meat is pressed into shape with no binding agent. A squiggle of mustard lime sauce and topped with mirliton salad, it was homage to the sweet Dungeness crab.

Mr S selected the Hawaiian tuna for his main course. Thick medallions of peppercorn crusted and seared rare fish was paired with whipped potatoes, frizzled leeks and sauce au poivre. The sharpness of the crushed peppercorns was tempered by the pepper sauce soaked starch.

I had the Totten Inlet mussels in green curry of coconut milk, grilled lime, ginger and chilli. The aromatic broth was soothing and light, and the mussels were fresh and plump.

We shared a side of fried sweet corn. I renewed my love for corn with this dish. The juicy kernels were lightly charred and coated in butter, espelette and sea salt.

We concluded with German chocolate cake with black walnut ice cream and cocoa soil. The layered chocolate cake was glossy and dense, textured with shredded coconut and chopped walnuts.

Jerry Seinfeld was entertaining and it was invigorating to laugh at his vignettes of coffee, marriage and food!

Bibimbap, bulgogi and kimchi are the only words in my Korean cuisine vocabulary. With the exception of Korean barbecues, I haven’t eaten much Korean food as I’m averse to fermented vegetables and have a low tolerance for spiciness.

I had read about the interesting backgrounds of the owners of Joule – a combination of classic French techniques, Korean heritage and American flavours is a formula for modern, creative dishes.

With a willing driver in Luuvu, it was a quick trip (compared to walking!) to Joule’s sister restaurant, Revel, for a weekday lunch. On a leafy suburban street, rusty sheets of metal cladded the corner of the building with the restaurant name stamped in.

Fairy lights were strung over at the entrance, and inside was a sleek, clean space with minimalistic design. The room was well lit and the open kitchen featured a long communal bench. The bar, Quoin, is at the back and there’s also a patio for al fresco dining.

We sat at the counter and watched the chefs in action. It was a quiet lunch service and a man spent the entire time we were there zesting limes! The chefs moved with speed and precision, stirring, flipping and plating with style and purpose.

Each table were presented with a tray of condiments. Three appeared to be fiery and the dark syrup was soy based. Our waitress detailed the ingredients in each and warned us about the chilli oil. I stared at each with suspicion.

Our waitress recommended three dishes to share and after much polite toing and froing we selected one each from the dumpling, noodle and rice sections. It was a compact menu and the other options were salad, pancake and sweet sandwich for dessert.

The dumplings were stuck together in a row. Both sides were seared, then covered and steamed with a splash of broth. A bite into the firm but silky dough revealed a lump of minced short rib which was rich and moist. The scattering of shallot and scallion freshened up the meaty parcel.

An alarmingly bright tangerine colour, the slippery rice noodles were stir-fried in a sweet chilli sauce with a generous amount of smoked pork belly. The just-enough-for-me spiciness cut through the fatty cubes of porcine delicacy. I could have greedily devoured the whole bowl myself! I didn’t eat any of the pale slices of sauerkraut though.

The rice was scooped into bowls with a large plastic paddle fork and the thick tines were used to fluff the plump grains. Our rice bowl consisted of albacore tuna, fennel kimchi and escarole.

A river of golden egg yolk swirled through the protein and vegetables. The mild sourness of the fennel kimchi and slight bitterness of the escarole balanced with the sweet and succulent tuna. The bean paste condiment paired well with the flavours of the rice bowl.

We forewent an ice cream sandwich for a gelato at D’Ambrosio for dessert but my curiosity is piqued and I shall return for a fusion brunch!

On a cool and drizzling Saturday morning, we were indoors at On the Fly for a cooking class with Chef Christine Keff. We laughed at the irony of recipes for summer parties in this flippant Seattle weather.

Christine relocated Flying Fish from Belltown, where Local 360 is, to South Lake Union about a year ago. Next door is On the Fly, a popular spot for weekday lunch for the surrounding offices.

The walls displayed wines for sale and clusters of cookbooks defied gravity, seemingly suspended in mid air without support.

Neat rows of chairs faced the counter where Christine would be demonstrating the recipes. A door conveniently opened to the Flying Fish kitchen where Christine sought assistance from her team as needed.

Christine was finalising her preparation as we were seated. She unfurled a black knife roll and sharpened her gleaming tools.

We had expected Christine to demonstrate three recipes but flicking through the booklet, there were nine recipes plus the grilled whole salmon not printed! Affable and knowledgeable, Christine entertained us with her commentary and encouraged us to ask questions as she cooked each dish.

The first was the ahi tuna pokē, a Hawaiian marinated raw fish recipe. Pokē is often likened to ceviche but no citrus is used to ‘cook’ the fish and it doesn’t require time to marinate.

Christine recommended Pike Place Market for fresh salmon, halibut and crab as they sell large quantities daily, and Uwajimaya and Mutual Fish for other seafood such as tuna. We learned that tuna doesn’t have to be a dark colour to be fresh; translucence and shine are better indicators for quality.

Scooped into a brittle lumpia cone, the pokē was succulent and infused with the flavours of sambal, soy, sesame, onions and chives. If you have a chopping board and a knife, you can make this deceptively simple hors d’oeuvre! Christine suggested spiking the cones in a bowl of rock salt for presentation. I never deep fry at home so I would serve this on crisp flatbread.

My mother often made potato salad for potluck dinners with family and friends when I was a child. I loved the mixture of waxy potatoes, wedges of hardboiled eggs and crunchy cubes of apples – very retro!

Christine’s version catered for adult tastebuds with green beans and mustard. Boiled in their skins in generously salted water, the potatoes were peeled, cut and combined while warm to soak in the dressing.

Christine shucked and grated ears of fresh corn for the next recipe. There was a lively discussion when she was cooking the creamed corn and poblano. Christine explained that the heat of the chilli is in its membrane and not the seeds. She also warned us not to wash the poblano pepper when peeling the skin as it would dilute it.

The recipe stated one to two tablespoons of heavy cream with optional in brackets. Christine poured in at least half a cup! She declared an additional one to two tablespoons was optional.

The creamed corn bubbled as it reduced, its sweet and smoky aroma wafted through the room. Saffron coloured and studded with kernels, there is something alluring about creamed corn. We each sampled a spoonful and I would have licked the pan if I could!

As Christine sautéed the ingredients for caponata, she elaborated on her remark about the locovore movement. She joked that we would be eating kale for nine months of the year if we only ate food grown in the Pacific Northwest, and we would have to abstain from drinking coffee and using lemons!

Christine supports local producers and she elaborated that food has been shipped for centuries and her preference is to develop cleaner transport than to limit our diet.

We could smell the caponata slowly caramelising as Christine mashed hardboiled egg yolks for sauce gribiche. Olive oil was trickled into the bowl and whisked to form a paste.

The final recipe in On the Fly was cantaloupe agua fresca. Agua fresca translates to fresh water and the cantaloupe was blended and strained with sugar and lime juice adjusted depending on the ripeness of the fruit.

The group walked through the kitchen into the restaurant for the flatbread and whole grilled salmon recipes. Clean and tidy, the kitchen overlooked the dining room.  

Christine rolled out a ball of dough the size of a lime. She then seasoned the sockeye salmon and oiled both sides of the whole fish for grilling.

Flying Fish doesn’t have a weekend lunch service so we were the only people in the restaurant. Two long tables were set up for our buffet lunch. The interior is modern with colour accents.

The first course of our feast was the cantaloupe agua fresca. An orange sherbet colour, the fruit flavoured water was refreshing and summery. 

Charred skin and just cooked, the salmon was grilled to perfection with the flesh flaking easily off the bones.

The potatoes were sliced for the potato salad which maximised the surface area for dressing coverage.

There were audible moans as the pork belly melted in our mouths. A tip from Christine was to cut the pork belly larger than bite size as the chunks will shrink as the fat renders. I’m usually averse to fruits in savoury dishes but this was an exception as the juicy cubes of watermelon cut through the fatty and rich pork belly.

A deep red wine colour, the caponata stained the warm flatbread. The eggplant was silky and imbued with heady spices.

It was a challenge to eat the creamed corn with a fork but we all persisted!

My buffet lunch buffet, clockwise from top: creamed corn with poblano, caponata, grilled sockeye salmon with sauce gribiche, potato salad with green beans and mustard, flatbread, and pork belly and watermelon salad.

A palate cleanser, the rhubarb soda was too sugary for me. It was a pretty drink with the pink hues of the rhubarb syrup at the bottom and the effervescent water poured over it.

We rested our full stomachs for a while and some people were ready to leave to enjoy the emerging sunshine. They were stopped as there was dessert!

A blob of cream dotted with dark chocolate malt balls hid the salted caramel pot de crème. Although smooth and velvety, I had to abandon this as I unfortunately dislike salted caramel.

At $55 per person for recipes, three course meal and matching wines, it is exceptional value. I highly recommend the cooking classes with Chef Christine Keff at Flying Fish!

On our last day in Fiji, the gentlemen went fishing. The ladies stayed ashore and breakfasted, had massages, kayaked, swam and packed.

They met at the jetty before dawn and motored out to sea. The waters were a little rough but the trawling yielded eleven fish! The first tug on the line was a marlin but unfortunately it broke free. They reeled in two barracuda, two tuna and seven mahi mahi.

There was much excitement when the boat docked. The haul was gutted and rinsed on the jetty before two mahi mahi and one tuna were taken to the restaurant for our lunch. The remaining fish were given to the locals as we weren’t going to eat a whole fish each!

A cooking fee was charged per person at the Shangri-La Beach Bar and Grill for our ocean to table meal. The two mahi mahi were simply grilled and served with lime wedges and stalks of watercress, and accompanied by the mysterious pesto like sauce. The chef did well to cook the fish through and the flesh flaked off the bones easily.

With a squeeze of lime, the chunks of mahi mahi were sweet and had a firm meaty texture. I would have preferred coriander instead of watercress, and some freshly ground black pepper would have be a welcomed addition.

The tuna was filleted and served as sashimi. It had a deep burgundy colour, darker than other tuna sashimi I’ve had at Japanese restaurants. It was also moist, possibly due to how it was sliced and prepared. I was reluctant to eat this as it was piled on a plate without the exquisite presentation expected of Japanese cuisine. Mr S urged that I try a piece and it was succulent and really fresh!

Two mahi mahi and one tuna were plenty for seventeen people, one toddler and one baby! The gentlemen were proud of their effort and the ladies were happily full.

We noticed a board listing the fish notification flags at the Bilo Bar. These were hoisted on the returned boat to indicate what fish was caught.

Our last sunset in Fiji was a kaleidoscope of colours reflecting off the cotton candy sky and crystal clear waters. Vinaka Fiji!


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