By the time when we checked in at Wickaninnish Inn, we were salmoned-out. We asked the waiter at the restaurant if the chef today has any interesting, different fish in the kitchen. We also told him that we love oily fish, such as sardine and mackerel. The waiter left our table and we waited without much hope. Then, Nicholas, chef du cuisines of the inn came to our table with a plate of very fresh sardines! He had purchased and just received today 80 pound of very fresh locally caught sardines to prepare one of the signature appetizer dishes on his menu – cured sardine (he said he is trying to entice the inn’s customer to try more than just the local salmon and halibut though both are excellent). I politely asked him to cook two large ones (10 inches each!) in my way, the Japanese way – salt grilling with intestine intact. The chef followed my instructions and here we are enjoying one of the best fish dishes in Tofino. The oiliness of the fish and strong flavor reminded me of sardines with that I enjoyed as I grew up in Tokyo. The frozen sardines that we get in New York from Portugal and North Africa don’t measure up at all to the delicious fish we had at the inn.
Archive for September, 2011
Chef Rei Peraza corrected my wrong information about him. Here you are the correct one;
Chef Peraza was born in Caracas, Venezuela, his mother is of Cuban-Turkish decent and his father is from Spanish decent. Unfortunately he never did get a chance to work at Per Se. Sorry for my mistake.
Pan Zur, a gem in Tivoli
Last night we had dinner at a fairly new restaurant in a small village called Tivoli (10 minutes drive to north from Rhinebeck, Duchess County, New York). We had no particular restaurant in mind but we know that there is couple of restaurants which were pretty packed when we drove through the town this summer. We parked our car and stopped at each restaurant to study their menu. One place was pretty packed, but nothing on the menu was intriguing. The other place had items such as Thai Tofu Curry and Wonton….a bit confused menu for me. Then, we came to the third place where the menu, including tapas, suggests that it is a Spanish restaurant….a big alert! My frequent trips to Spain in the past nurtured my love and deep understanding of Spanish foods. Do I trust the chef at this restaurant? Is this place an Americanized Spanish restaurant? After a brief chat with a bartender who gave us a short description of the chef [his father is Spanish; his ground father owned a restaurant in Barcelona (I did not confirm this with the chef, though); he is from Argentine] I was convinced that we should stay. Among many choices on the menu we ordered house-cured pork belly, fried squid with squid ink sauce, vinegar cured green chile and mushroom paella (caldoso-type) using locally foraged mushrooms. First came the pork belly and green chile dish. Pork belly was paper-thin sliced and almost all fatty part. It looked like Italian lardo. Oh, boy…it melted in our mouth…so delicious. Then, the squid dish arrived. It was beyond delicious – every part was correct – the size of the squash, proper cooking, crispiness, saltiness, thickness and flavor of the sauce. It was a master dish. Then, the greens – mustard greens with pine nuts (lots of pinos) and cured cherries and paella arrived. The fragrance and taste of strong mushrooms (lots of mushrooms) were heaven. Later we spoke with the chef/owner, Rei Peraza. Rei cooked across the country, including several very high end establishments such as Per Se. But his dream and heart was in Tivoli whose local he fell in love with when he studied at Culinary Institute of America. This is a “destination” restaurant.
Rob Tucker at Budget Car Rental suggested that I should visit a Smoke House, Hardy Buoys, when I asked about how to make the popular candied smoked salmon that we encountered nearly everywhere on the Pacific coast of Canada. It was in Prince Rupert where I was first introduced to this very unique smoked salmon. Unlike the standard salty tasting smoked salmon, the candied variety is cut into chunks and tasted sweet, salty and smoky. Here are some photos of how to make it. The secret is that the chopped fish is marinated in the mixture of brown sugar and salt overnight, and then hot smoked for about 5 hours. I wonder why we do not see this variety at food stores in New York City, or for that matter, I have never seen it anywhere in the US. (Does it exist in Alasaka?)
The Essentials of Japanese Cuisine Course is approaching. The dates of the course is October 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, and 11th, 2011. This 25-hour intensive course is designed to give students a strong foundation in the essential techniques and theories behind Japanese cooking. Students will become familiar with various ingredients, flavors and cooking methods common to Japanese cuisine.
Session 1 (5 hours)
• The role of Kombu, Fish Flakes, Shoyu and Mirin
• Techniques of making Dashi and Kaeshi
• Preparing Udon
• Knife Sharpening
Session 2 (5 hours)
• Understanding Rice and Miso varieties
• Miso Soup
• Rice dish
Session 3 (5 hours)
• Understanding Braising and Simmering
• Identifying and using Sake, Sea Salts, and Seaweeds
• Preparing flavored Rice with Vegetables and Protein
• Presenting prepared dishes
Session 4 (5 hours)
• The history of Sushi in Japan and America
• Key Sushi ingredients
• Preparing Sushi Rice, Pickled Ginger, Sushi-dipping Shoyu, and rolled Omelet
• Preparing Rolls, including traditional, inside out, and thick rolls
• Presenting prepared dishes
Session 5 (5 hours)
• The history of Nigirizushi and Sashimi
• Understanding Fish for raw consumption
• Hygiene for Nigirizushi and Sashimi preparation
• Filleting whole Fish, cutting fish for Sashimi, and slicing Sushi with Japanese knives
• Preparing and presenting Nigirizushi and Sashimi platters
Visit www.frenchculinary.com. You will find the registration site under FUN CLASSES. Hiroko
Funny, Fanny Bay Oyster
We, from time to time, enjoy Vancouver Island Fanny Bay oysters at the Oyster Bar at the Grand Central Terminal in New York City, especially in the cold months. I was very excited that on one day we would pass Fanny Bay on our way to Tofino (a West coast tiny village where nature still feels like the one that I enjoyed when I was small). I was determined to try the Fanny Bay oyster in the location where the oysters come from. There could be no more perfect place than this, I thought. While driving the coastal road in the village of Fanny Bay we saw a couple of signboard next to the buildings which advertise local oysters. These buildings looked like oyster processing factories, but not the store where they shuck and serve oyster on order. So, we kept driving until we drove out of the town with no success. So, we drove back to one of the building and were promptly told that there are no Fanny Bay oysters available in August. Oyster spawn then and the water is too high temperature resulting in higher bacterial contamination. Later when we moved to Vancouver city we read a small article about a contaminated oyster scare on Vancouver Island. Now I am back to New York and am in the month with an “R”. I will go back to the Oyster Bar and eat Fanny Bay oysters while my memory of the village becomes too distant.
I just received e-mail from Rob Tucker (see my previous blog) and he has reported that he bought the first season Fanny Bay oysters for his supper two days ago. Wish that I was there….
Earthquake hit off Vancouver Island yesterday. Hope there was no damage to the area where we have visited. Travel always connects us with wonderful people whom we never have a chance to meet if we are not visiting there. This is about Rob Tucker.
In this photo he is holding his jarred salmon with a big, charming smile. We met Rob at Port Hardy (we took a ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy) where we rent a car to drive around the island at local Budget Car Rental office. Rob is the agent who took care of us. During the paper work process Bob gave us, the enthusiastic tourists, many tips on the island and must visit places. We shared with him the story of how much we are enjoying Canada’s wild salmon almost every day since we started our journey on a VIA train from Toronto (three nights-four days ride to Jasper; the sleeping cars were built in 1950s and kept up to great conditions). Bob was impressed with our love of salmon. While Buzz was signing the rental contract, Rob disappeared to the back of the office and came back with him a jar of preserved salmon. “Here you are. This is a salmon which I caught and jarred. It is a gift to you folks. Enjoy!” Locals catch wild salmon, clean it by themselves (each fish port is equipped with fish cleaning stand) and bring it to their neighbor fish smokers, where they grill and jar it or smoke it in several ways on the customers’ request. On our way to Tofino, we bought crackers at a small store, found a picnic table and had Rob’s salmon for lunch. Oh boy, it was the most delicious salmon which we had in our life!
If you have difficulty to find information on five day Essentials of Japanese Cuisine at French Culinary Institute/International Culinary Center, or having a problem of registering it, go to www.frenchculinary.com. Then, click All Courses in NY, then go to Classes for Fun. Looking forward to seeing you! Hiroko
International Culinary Center (FCI) is offering additional Essentials of Japanese Cuisine in October. The dates are October 5th, 6th, 7th (Wed, Thurs, Frid), and 10th and 11th (Mon., Wed). If you are not registered yet, I highly recommend it! Here are some of the previous students comments on what did theylike the couse. Thank you very much for giving us a good reaction. Without chef Jiro of Aburiya and chef Masato of 15 East I could not accomplish to this high level. Thank you for the chefs!!! ;
- The amount of information covered and teaching style of chef Hiroko Shimbo
- EVERYTHING! I have taken courses at the CIA including some of the boot camps and I was delighted at how much I learned from Hiroko. She is amazing. I particularly loved the guest instructors.
- Learning or relearning techniques – history – making friends.
- The class size was perfect. I appreciated learning some of the science behind a particular technique or cooking method as well as its cultural significance. Chef Hiroko’s wealth of knowledge and talent was a true inspiration and I was honored to spend a week learning from her. In that short amount of time, I learned a number of skills I never imagined I would be able to successfully perform. It was also a wonderful opportunity to learn from 2 other talented Japanese chefs in the city. I am now much more confident in my Japanese cooking skills, which was my main goal.
We look forward to having you in October!
Hiroko, Jiro and Masato
We spent 4 days at Tofino, a small villege on the sparsely populated upper West Coast of Vancouver Island, where nature is reserved untouched. Here are fishermen in the early morning unloading their fresh catch at the port. It was to strange to hear from them that locals have no access to these fantastic fresh fish. They are all shipped to Vancouver. Then, some of them are shipped back to this villege for locals’ and tourists’ consumption…. Here I saw a humongus rock fish, wild cod and salmon. I was told that half of the salmon which they were handling were caltured. We dined one night at the restaurant called Spotted Bear, where the chefs create simple and tasty dishes using local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Spotted Bear…is there any relationship with Spotted Pig (in NYC)? The chef at SB loved so much the food which he ate at SP in NYC, he named his restaurant Spotted Bear. Well, we actually spotted some bears here and there on our journey in Canada.