What do macarons and Japanese grocery stores have to do with each other? Not much, unless you happen to be making Pierre Hermé’s Macaron au Wasabi et au Pamplemousse, in which case you’ll need to find a fresh wasabi root and yuzu juice to add to the ganache.
Stéphane and Claire are both French, and are naturally endowed with loads of patience for labyrinthine recipes and project an aura of extreme macaron making skills. Being neither patient nor skilled with anything involving meringues, I thought I could best contribute to the epic endeavor by doing what I do best and improvising a dinner out of the provisions acquired at Mitsuwa earlier in the day.
To get things started off on the right foot, I put together a sashimi plate. I think that some of the more delicate seafood gets overwhelmed by soy sauce and prefer a lighter handed approach when seasoning these morsels. It’s not very traditional, but I decided to pair each item with an accompaniment I thought would best fit its inherent characteristics.
Shima Aji (島鯵 = Amberjack) with ume and green shiso “tapenade” on a shiso leaf.
Hotate (ホタテ = scallop) with yuzu juice, yuzu kosho and a pickled ramp with shaved Himalayan pink salt.
Katsuo ( 鰹 = bonito) tataki with green chutney and cherrywood smoked salt.
Hirame (平目 = fluke) with sweet red miso and yuzu zest.
Oh Toro (大トロ = tuna belly) with fresh wasabi.
Following the sashimi course, I served a grilled skewer of Tokyo Negi (sweet giant green onions) and shishito peppers. They were lightly sprayed with oil then coated with sea salt and grilled in the broiler.
For the rice course, I made my Unagi Kamameshi. You can hit the link for the recipe, but It’s basically rice cooked with dashi and bamboo shoots in an iron pot with grilled unagi and mitsuba mixed in at the end. The powder on top is ground sansho (sichuan pepper).
Buta jiru went with the rice course. It’s a pork based soup which I made by braising Berkshire short ribs for a couple hours with ginger and the green parts of the Tokyo Negi until the meat was falling off the bone. Cubed daikon, carrot and konyaku were added in towards the end and it was seasoned with mirin and miso. The garnish is freshly ground shichimi togarashi.
Nimono literally means “simmered things” and involves carved veggies simmered in a light dashi broth. For this one I used bamboo, okra, carrot, shiitake mushroom, konyaku and kabocha.
Unfortunately, the macaron had to rest overnight, so we weren’t able to eat them for dessert, but here’s a money shot of the insides of this confectionery piece of genius exposing the grapefruit confit and wasabi ganache. It really was one of the most novel flavour combinations I’ve ever tasted with every subtle element contributing to one irresistible macaron. The wasabi isn’t the dominant flavour and compliments the bitter grapefruit confit, and sweet and creamy ganache perfectly.
I’m still not entirely sold on a recipe that takes 2 days and every pot and bowl in the apartment to make, but I’m definitely curious to try some of Hermé’s other combinations now.