Shrimp and avocados are two perfect foods, FACT, and one of my favorite parties this year was the Spot Prawn fest at my friend Ben‘s. But the secret with Spot Prawns fresh from the ocean is that they are best eaten raw and straight. I think 50% made it to the cooking pot, the rest having been consumed amaebi sashimi-style, and if you’re sure of the provenance and freshness of the shrimp, there is no better way to eat them. I mean, if you really must tempurize something, use a yam for god’s sake and leave these sweet babies aloooooone!
Sometimes I do, too, but I can’t make it like Jiro can. Living National Treasure Jiro Ono is the world’s greatest sushi chef, and also the subject of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, the next movie that I absolutely must view! Just watch this trailer to see for yourself just why. WAIT: get yourself a snack first, or you just may leave gnaw marks on your monitor.
In the basement of a Tokyo office building, 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono works tirelessly in his world renowned restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. As his son Yoshikazu faces the pressures of stepping into his father’s shoes and taking over the legendary restaurant, Jiro – san relentlessly pursues his lifelong quest to create the perfect piece of sushi.
It’s available from Amazon, too,for those who can never get enough visual stimulation.
Thanks to Brett Blair on Twitter for the tip!
Some beautiful sushi in a beautiful photo from Cathy Browne, a legally blind photographer. And very tasty it was, too.
Fourth of July is the one day of the year when pickles are prominently featured among menu items, one day when pickles are not just eaten but lingered over, examined, discussed, and debated.
Is sugar appropriate in the brining liquid? Is garlic an obligation of faith or a detour from the true path? And what about pickled artichokes, cauliflower, onions, carrots, or odd Japanese vegetables like gobo (burdock root), lotus root, or seaweed?
Yesterday David reported confidently that the secret ingredient in Murray’s Sturgeon Shop’s tuna salad is a splash of pickle juice.
(Mr. Henry hopes he has not revealed one of Murray’s closely held proprietary secrets inadvertently landing himself in a legal pickle. Mr. Henry, you see, is not represented by counsel, nor does he wish to contest a court action from an injured party. The above was revealed in innocence, Murray, as part of a think piece about pickles and America on the Fourth of July. Have a heart, Murray, can’t you? It could all just be rumor, anyway.)
Like all true pickle eaters, Mrs. Henry holds strong opinions on the subject. At Recipe, a new restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue, Mrs. Henry thought the pickled artichoke had sat too long. Its crunch was gone.
When Mrs. Henry pickles, she pickles for a day or two, not more. Her pickled cabbage becomes a military exercise for mastication muscles and back molars as well as a sharp, crisp cleansing for the tongue.
Mr. Henry’s favorite pickling liquid is sushi vinegar, a sugared vinegar required for proper sushi rice. Every so often in a sauce pan over a mild flame she dissolves ¾ cup of sugar into a bottle of white vinegar. The apartment smells pickley for hours.
Although Mr. Henry has been instructed repeatedly to leave that bottle alone, he confesses to using its contents with regularity. Add a splash of cold sushi vinegar to freshly sliced salted cucumbers and instantly you get a pickle to rival any vegetable or condiment.
It may not be what Americans remember as traditional, but it’s better than those squishy green things in the bottle.
After 30 years of shacking up, Jeff and Gail got married.
In Hanalei Bay, on Kaua’i, Hawaii, in the lee of Bali Ha’i they spent six weeks snorkeling and snuggling. It was indeed their own special island.
Each morning before the sun’s rays reached the blue sea floor they trundled down to the market to buy a tranche of ahi or kampachi caught that very morning. After a morning in the water they prepared a lunch of sashimi (dipped in soy sauce and freshly grated wasabi) with slices of avocado, papaya, star fruit, or mango (the Haden variety, with pulp that is not stringy).
Richly dark greens like collard or rainbow chard filled the markets. Oddly enough, however, because the climate is so temperate, tomatoes do not ripen to full flavor there.
On Kaua’i they make a pungent and tangy feta-style goat cheese that pairs well with fresh cilantro and crunchy crackers.
But what was the potion impelling them to bind the ties of wedlock? What was their passion fruit?
It was the rum smoothie.
Gail’s Honeymoon Smoothie
young ginger, grated
splash of orange soda
dollop of lychee-flavored yogurt
coconut water (crack the nut with a hammer)
Drink before dinner. Watch the stars come out.
Having lived happily ever after, having spent a honeymoon in paradise, and having gotten married, in that order, pretty soon now, yes, any minute Jeffrey is going to propose to Gail (or will it be vice versa?). Accordingly, the next logical step in their backward romance will be that unforgettable first blush of mutual infatuation. Who could not be envious?
It is the year of change, indeed. Among Mr. Henry’s friends and relations long-established eating habits are giving way to new ones.
No meal is more culture-specific than breakfast. On your first trip to Japan, you won’t have trouble finding an acceptable lunch or dinner for anyone in the party. Breakfast is another story. Pickles, sashimi, raw quail egg on rice, tofu, miso soup, nori, daikon – none of these ever graced Mr. Henry’s grandmother’s table.
Mr. Henry’s German grandmother, who graduated from Iowa State University in 1912, rose early and started her day with a tablespoon of corn oil and a glass of hot water. She swore it prevented asthma, but Mr. Henry believes it contributed to regular evacuation, as well. She never missed her morning dose and she lived to be 97.
Mr. Henry’s Irish grandmother, the most beautiful girl in 1920’s New York, rose late and started with a strong cup of tea (and occasionally with a little hair of the dog, too). She departed this life at age 57.
Mother Henry is approaching her 77th birthday and charges around town like Hillary Clinton on energy drink. Recently she shared an unusual dietary secret. She starts her day with spinach. (Was that Popeye’s secret, too?)
While Father Henry squeezes the orange juice, Mother downs a few spoonfuls of cold spinach in between bites of hard-boiled egg. Later comes coffee and toast. She claims she needs to eat leafy greens every single day, and sometimes she gets so busy running around town that she doesn’t get an opportunity to sit down to a proper lunch. Dinner selections are variable and don’t always include leafy greens.
Over spring vacation Little Henry and posse shocked the grown-ups by starting their vacation morning with avocado on toast. (Mr. Henry blames the Food Network for these departures from normalcy.) Mr. Henry tried it too, but needed to add goat cheese and honey before it assumed the appearance of a morning repast.
Mrs. Henry has been making fruit smoothies with seaweed powder – morning green goop. She claims it will change your life. Consider yourself warned.
The Christos’ charm was contagious, their energy preternatural, and their enthusiasm for good sushi apparent (and it was very, very good, as was the black cod in miso and the sirloin steak). Having visited Japan 71 times, they knew very well what they were eating.
Mid-meal, when Jeanne-Claude drew a long cigarette from out of her pack, our host, Dr. Alvin, came rushing over to inform her most graciously that here in New York smoking is not permitted indoors. Feigning shock (she has lived here for 40 years) and heaving a very Gallic sigh, she unseated herself and headed upstairs out the door.
Indeed, they are a unit. Even though he does not smoke, Christo dutifully, loyally, adoringly followed behind. Holding her bag while she efficiently disposed of not one but three quick cigarettes, he wryly admitted that although her smoking was not something he enjoyed, after 45 years together he was not about to try to change her.
How do they get that sprite-like energy, anyway? All night they bounced around like sylvan creatures who, were the sushi to run out, might survive equally well on mushrooms or nettles.
The next day they sent Mr. Henry a book which documents every moment of The Gates from its inception 26 years ago to its installation last year, a tome solid enough to have served as a column base for a Gate. Mr. Henry has not tired of turning the pages and reliving this divine folly, an event that rendered all of New York participants in a “happening.” Taxi drivers opined about aesthetics. Street vendors held forth on subjects of art criticism not normally included in their customer palaver. The whole city was chewing, digesting, and expelling their “take” on The Gates.
It was like a huge dinner party on the lawn organized by a couple of eccentric, expatriot New Yorkers, the kind who make this city great. Merci.