When I venture into learning about new cuisines, different supermarkets, travel to different areas of the world, exchange recipes with friends who share different cultures, I delight in learning about new herbs, spices and unfamiliar foods.
I recently visited a brilliant Japanese supermarket close to Dallas. Although I was unable to read and understand most of the ingredient labels, the brilliant “exotic” produce and un-scathed entire fish laying on ice brought forth a flood of memories of walking around the outdoor Parisian markets – I immediately called my mom in order to share the good fortune… exclaiming, “it’s even better than a jewelry store!”
Point being… while cooking can be dreadfully intimidating if one does not have a decent amount of experience, it can also become one of the most rewarding gifts that you can give to another individual. Everyone must eat. Facts are facts. But when you are able to create healthy, flavorful, gorgeous food, it shows that you are taking the time to care for those that you love.
Walking through the aisles, two ingredients in specific caught my immediate attention: fresh lotus root and chive buds. Generally these items can be a challenge to find in a “typical” store.
Quick preparation… light, healthy and refreshing for the upcoming summer…
Ahi Tuna – season with crushed sea salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, lemon juice and sesame seeds… quick sauté (about 10 seconds per side) in sesame seed oil.
Lotus Root and shiitake mushrooms– Either thinly slice with a mandolin or cut thin with a knife. Season with lemon juice and smoked sea salt… sauté in sesame seed oil until tender (few minutes since they are thinly sliced). The smoked salt will add a subtle “rustic” bite to the dish.
Green tea soba noodles – Place in boiling salted water and cook until al-dente (cooking time varies on the thickness of the noodle… the most “common” soba noodles only require about 1 minute, 30 seconds)
Chive buds… no need to cook… simply season with sea salt and sesame seed oil
In terms of presentation, remember to build up in height… like women’s hair in Texas… the bigger, the better! I will often place the vegetables on the bottom of a white plate, then stack a pile of swirled noodles. Since lotus root is aesthetically gorgeous, be sure that it is not hiding amongst the noodles. Atop said tower of noodles rests the lightly seared, sesame-encrusted filet of ahi… then delicately drape the whimsical chive buds across the barely-cooked tuna. A finishing touch of edible gold-leaf takes the dish from delicious to dazzling.
“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.” -Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Love y’all! ♥