No Recipes vol. 19 – Japanese Dinner

Toro with crispy garlic butter and applewood smoked salt.

I really love cooking for people who are not picky eaters. It makes it so much easier to plan a menu when you don’t have to worry about your guests being turned off by certain flavors or textures. This Japanese meal I cooked for one such friend was inspired by my monthly pilgrimage to Mitsuwa, and fueled by an entire bottle of green shiso and yuzu infused shochu.

Konnyaku Sashimi with Yuzu Miso

Sashimi Konnyaku with Yuzu MisoKonnyaku is a jelly made from voodoo lilly corms. It has a firm, gelatinous texture similar to jellyfish and is usually used in Japanese food in stews. In this case, I’ve sliced it and served it raw as a sashimi. This particular Kannyaku was made with green nori, which gives it the bright green color and a distinctive vegetal flavor. I served it with a yuzu miso made with white miso, honey, yuzu juice and yuzu zest.

Tai with umeboshi and olive oil

Trio of Japanese Crudo’s – I love raw fish as much as the next Japanese guy, but traditional sashimi can get boring. That’s why I love preparing my sashimi Italian style with seasonings that suit each type of fish. The one on the far left is oo-toro with crispy garlic butter and applewood smoked salt. The ridiculously creamy tuna belly is complimented by the browned butter, while the crispy garlic and hint of ginger adds a ton of nutty flavor to the fish. The smoked salt gives it a bit of saline crunch between your teeth and imbues a wonderful smokiness that would have you convinced that this fresh tuna was smoked. The one in the middle is kanpachi topped with the rest of the yuzu miso from the konnyaku and thin sliced of jalepeno. It’s creamy and crisp as you bite into it, followed by a citrusy spice that balances out the richness. The last crudo is tai with homemade umeboshi, red shiso salt and olive oil. Tai, or Japanese sea bream is a lean white meat fish that has a ton of flavor, the ume and red shiso bring out the umami in the fish, while the olive oil adds moisture and richness to the firm white meat.

Grilled Japanese Eggplant

Grilled Japanese Eggplant with Chili Dashi – I was originally going to make a more traditional yaki-nasu, but by the time we got to this course I was a few sheets to the wind, and my adventure gene kicked into high gear. I spotted a bottle of sweet Thai chili sauce and a tub of lemon grass pickled okra in the fridge, and the rest is history. The sauce is a combo of dashi, fish sauce and sweet thai chili sauce, with some grated ginger and chives. As a sauce for the flame grilled eggplant, it’s sweet, spicy, and smoky with a fullness of flavor that compliments the rather bland eggplant nicely.

Salt Grilled Seabass
Salt Grilled Seabass with Daikon Oroshi

Salt Grilled Japanese Sea Bass – When it comes to fresh fish, I’m all about going simple. This Japanese sea bass (suzuki) needed no other accompaniment than a mound of coarse sea salt and the flame from the broiler. I served it with a side of daikon oroshi (grated daikon) which cuts the briny fish with the refreshing spicy bite of the giant radish.

Bamboo rice
Takenoko Gohan

Takenoko Gohan – No Japanese meal is complete without a rice dish, so to that end, I made a bamboo brown rice. It’s flavored with baby anchovies (chirimen) and shimeji mushrooms, and finished with a bunch of chopped up mitsuba.

  • LimeCake

    I love cooking for people who aren’t fussy eaters! Not that I’m tyrannical in the kitchen, but it’s tough planning a menu for people who won’t eat this or won’t try that.

  • Karen

    Oh goodness, this looks tooo delicious– I love the Italian twist on sashimi. And the fatty toro…mmm. Always inspired at Mitsuwa and will have to make a trip there soon!

  • Duchess

    Stunning and mouth watering… where’s my invite? I’m not a picky eater!

  • Kelly Lenihan

    Gee, can I have dinner at your house? This meal looks fabulous!

  • onlinepastrychef

    Fabulous, Marc! You really should drink more often! 😉

  • Lisa

    Absolutely gorgeous! My next trip to NYC will not be complete without a trip to your house. Great job on the photos too.

  • Anonymous

    Man, that first photo had me fall from my chair. What a shot!
    This is coming very handy because i’m heading to Mitsuwa tomorrow. Planning on a Japanese feast. I don’t think it will look as good as yours though.

  • Valerie Dubard

    I love your blog, especially the photos! They are wonderful!
    Good job 😉

  • davina

    We just had fried cod and salmon with kinoko gohan yesterday…maybe I should start leaving my laptop open at your blog for my mum to spy on! This is toooo good! I must try that nori flavoured konnyaku. I love konnyaku but I’ve never seen one like this before. With that yuzu miso, it must be very refreshing and tasty! x


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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