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Favorite appetizer can be made at home

July 27, 2010
By Wendy Monro

Sometimes it is difficult to get the whole family to agree on a restaurant. Especially now when money is tight and we aren't eating out as much as we may like, we want to pick a place that is special.

As I am sure it is typical with most families, my family has many different tastes. Claud loves meat, Jack loves cheeseburgers and anything at a buffet, Daphne is a vegetarian, and I like almost anything that isn't a buffet. It may come as a surprise, but everyone in my family agrees on sushi. We all love sushi. Yes, even cheeseburger loving Jack. I don't know why. I don't really understand it. I don't ask any questions. We just go whenever we can.

Traditionally, sushi comes from the Japanese meaning of the word, "it's sour". Originally, sushi was fermented fish and rice, preserved with salt. However, here in the west, there have been many variations of sushi. Thank goodness for this because I don't think sour fish sounds enjoyable. The "California roll" probably wouldn't be found in Japan. We generally order California rolls which are nori (seaweed) filled with sushi rice, crab meat and avocado. This is a type of sushi that most people can eat and usually will enjoy. It's like beginner's sushi or kid's sushi. I still enjoy California rolls although I really enjoy sashimi too which is just raw fish. Salmon, tuna and yellow tail are my favorites.

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Beef Tataki appetizer

I need to back up a little here. My sushi dinner always starts with sake, or Japanese rice wine. I used to order the hot sake because I didn't realize there was anything else. Then, a few years ago, my cousin introduced me to cold sake and boy, was I impressed. He told me that the hot sake is just cheap table wine and the cold sake is the premium flavorful wine. I haven't investigated this to see if it is true; but, my experience is that the cold sake tastes much better. Sake is made through a brewing process that is more like beer than wine. The other night I sampled three cold sakes at a restaurant for $10. I was so happy to have the chance to sample different sakes because I still don't know much about it and want to learn more. I suggest you do this if you are at a restaurant which offers tasting samples. I couldn't believe the different flavors. One tasted like flowers, one like pure vodka, and one like heaven. It was a lot of fun. After the samples, I ordered a glass of the "heaven" sake and sipped it throughout the rest of my meal.

Some people who are planning a trip to a sushi bar may be pleased to know there are many other foods available. It is not all fish. Most people would enjoy a bowl of edamame which is soy beans usually steamed with a dash of salt. You usually can order teriyaki chicken or salmon. There are lots of cooked meats available at any sushi restaurant I have been to.

One of our favorite appetizers to order at a sushi restaurant is beef tataki. Tataki is a Japanese word meaning "pounded" or "hit into pieces." I first thought that beef tataki meant that the beef was pounded because it was always served very thinly sliced. I thought the chef pounded it out super thin. No, tataki refers to the ginger which is supposed to be pounded into a paste and used to flavor the beef.

Fact Box

Beef Tataki appetizer

Serves: 6

Time: 1 hour (marinate overnight)

2 lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

6 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/4 C. white wine vinegar

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp. fresh ginger pounded into a paste

2 large garlic cloves, flattened

6 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

4 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub 1 Tbsp oil over beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the meat in the skillet until brown on all sides. Place skillet with beef into the oven for about 35 minutes. Take it out to cool for 15 minutes. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, onions, brown sugar, lemon juice, ginger and garlic into a large bowl. Place the beef into the marinade and roll it around. Refrigerate until beef is cold (overnight). The following day, take the beef out of the marinade. Cut beef into paper thin slices. Serve with garlic butter dipping sauce, soy sauce, and ginger with soy.

Garlic butter dipping sauce:

1/2 C. butter, melted

2 cloves garlic, pounded into a paste

1 Tbsp. anchovy paste

Combine butter, garlic and anchovy paste. Stir.

If you don't have a sushi restaurant nearby, you can make this beef tataki at home. I haven't been brave enough to try to make sushi at home. I still have to learn how to buy sushi grade fish as well as the incredible skill involved in slicing the fish. It really is an art that probably takes years to learn. For now, I will stick with easier Japanese cuisine, like this beef tataki. Give it a try. You can serve it with the garlic butter dipping sauce, soy sauce with chopped scallions, and some ginger ground up with soy sauce. It's delicious with three dipping sauces.

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