A Taste For… Miso | Japanese-Style Miso Cod

Are you familiar with umami? Discovered (and named) by Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda back in 1908 and known as the fifth taste group (alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty), umami is most commonly translated as ‘savoury’ or ‘meaty’ and is a flavour profile that most of us enjoy in our food, whether or not we could name or identify it. Although it occurs naturally in many foods – including mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, chinese cabbage, asparagus, sweetcorn and shellfish – many cultures have become adept at creating umami-rich foods by cooking, curing and fermenting; these include cheese, green tea, fish sauce and yeast extract.

Miso is one such umami-bomb – an ingredient at the core of Japanese cuisine.

Miso Cod on Kavey Eats (overlay)

Made by fermenting soybeans, salt and additional grains such as rice or barley with a mould fungus known in Japanese as kōji-kin, the result is a thick, salty and intensely savoury paste used as a seasoning throughout Japanese cooking.

There are many different varieties available in Japan, often broadly divided by their colour. The most common misos are red and white, made with soybeans and rice. White has a higher percentage of rice than its red counterpart and is the mildest and sweetest. Red, aged for longer, is stronger and saltier and darkens with age through red into brown. Some vintage misos are almost black in colour.

There are other types that are made with different grains such as barley, buckwheat, rye or millet.

Regional differences also play a part; in Sendai the locals prefer their miso slightly chunkier, so the soybeans are coarsely mashed rather than ground; in parts of Chubu and Kansai there’s a preference for darker, saltier and more astringent miso. In Eastern Japan, mild and sweet pale misos are the favourites.

Fermentation of foods has been prevalent in East Asia since ancient times. Grains and fish were fermented in the Neolithic era and there are records describing the use of Aspergillus moulds in China as far back as 300. BC Fermented soybean products may have been introduced to Japan from China at the same time as Buddhism in the 6th Century CE.

Until the late 19th century, Japan’s population ate mainly fish and vegetables. Since miso is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, it became an important nutritional element of the Japanese diet, especially for Buddhists following a strictly vegetarian regimen.

In Japan, miso is obviously a key ingredient in miso soup (for which it is combined with dashi stock) but it also features in sauces, marinades, pickles and dressings (such as the tofu, sesame and miso dressing for green bean salad that we shared in our last issue). It is even used in sweet dishes; miso mochi – chewy dumplings made from rice flour – offer a delightful balance of sweet, salty and savoury.

Miso also lends itself to fusion cooking, offering a great way to add saltiness and savouriness to your dishes. Combine with honey, mustard and oil for a salad dressing; whip into butter and spread on fresh bread or melt over steamed vegetables; thin with water and brush onto meat before grilling or barbequing; stir half a teaspoon into porridge instead of salt; or add to a bean casserole for extra flavour. Whenever you need a kick of umami, miso is the perfect ingredient.

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Miso | image via shutterstock.com

Japanese-Style Miso Cod

This simple marinade works beautifully with cod but can also be used with other fish such as salmon. It’s also delicious on aubergine or firm tofu.

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 tbsp white miso paste
2 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
2 tbsp sugar
2 fillets of sustainable fresh cod, skin on

Note: White miso has a slightly sweeter and milder flavour than the red version, which suits this recipe well. However, you can use red miso paste instead; use a touch less in that case.

Method

  • Preheat your grill to a medium-hot setting.
  • Heat the mirin, white miso paste and sugar in a small saucepan, over a gentle heat, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  • Place the fish fillets skin side down on a piece of foil.
  • Spread the paste generously over the surface of the fish, top side only.
  • Grill until the fish is cooked through and the paste is bubbling and starting to char. Depending on the thickness of your fillets, this will take 5-8 minutes.
  • Serve with rice and green vegetables.

Miso Cod on Kavey Eats-0176

Where to buy miso

Search the major supermarkets. Most now offer miso pastes in their speciality ingredients ranges (though these may not be available in every branch). Do check the ingredients – some products are actually ready made marinades or soup blends (with additional ingredients added to the miso). For use in recipes, you need a plain miso.

If you have an oriental supermarket within reach, you’ll usually find a decent selection at lower prices. Online stores also offer a wide choice.

Try clearspring.co.uk (organic), japancentre.com, souschef.co.uk, waiyeehong.co.uk and wingyip.com.

 

This piece was written in 2014 and first published in Good Things magazine. ©Kavita Favelle.

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Visiting The Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum

Have you heard of kamaboko? It’s a type of surimi fishcake from Japan. Surimi is made by creating a paste of pureed white fish paste that is flavoured, formed into different shapes and steamed to cook. In Japan there are many surimi products which are sold both fresh and dried for consumers to add to their soups, hotpots and other dishes. You may already be familiar with one surimi product that is consumed around the world – imitation crabsticks, made from coloured and flavoured fish paste.

Kamaboko is a large loaf-shaped surimi fishcake that is cooked whole, most commonly by steaming, but it can also be fried, grilled or poached. It us usually served sliced, either on its own or within other dishes.

Suzihiro, a traditional manufacturer of kamaboko, have created a centre where visitors can learn more about the history and manufacture of kamaboko. Originally a retailer of fresh fish and seafood, Suzihiro began making kamaboko in 1865, expanding their local customer base to Tokyo during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many Tokyo customers would purchase Suzihiro kamaboko on their journeys to Hakone’s onsen (hot spring bath) resorts.

Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-105223 Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-105551

The Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum is located in the Kazamatsuri district of Odawara City, in Kanagawa Prefecture. Visitors heading to Hakone from Tokyo can easily make a stop at the museum, which is right next to Kazamatsuri Station, on the Hakone Tozan Line between Odawara and Hakone-Yumoto.

Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-103836 Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-103223

As you exit the station, the path from the exit will lead you straight to a large modern building which houses the Suzunari Market, an indoor food market selling a wide range of food including plenty of fishcake products as well as other local delicacies. There are a few eateries within the space, plus plenty of takeaway food to enjoy fresh. There are also products to take home, some of which are designed as omiyage – the customary gifts that Japanese travellers bring home for friends and colleagues.

Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-103957 Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-104537
Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-104358 Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-104203

A coffee shop overlooks the station, with a small garden area between. To one side is a store showcasing and selling ornate Suzihiro kamaboko products. If you exit the market building onto the main road and turn right, the next building along houses the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum.

Kamoboko Museum and Market in Kazamatsuri Japan. On Kavey Eats-103051

Admission is free. There are also paid activities to try your hand at making simple surimi products. These run at set times; contact the museum to reserve in advance if you want to participate.

There is very little information in English so having a good translation app on your phone will make it easier to understand the exhibits detailing the history and manufacturing process.

Best of all though is the opportunity to watch, through enormous glass windows, skilled workmen and women crafting kamoboko in the large factory kitchen.

 

Thanks to Robb at WhereInTokyo for his tip to visit the museum. You can see more photos of the museum exhibits on his site.

You may also enjoy my previous posts about my travels to Japan.

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Smoked Salmon & Leek Macaroni Cheese

PARTNEREDPOSTFor most of our shallow frying, Pete and I use a combination of vegetable oil and butter. We love butter for its rich flavour but it burns easily whereas vegetable oils can be heated to a higher temperature without smoking or burning; mixing butter into oil gives us the best of both worlds. A light olive oil is a good choice, neutral in flavour and perfect for cooking.

Today it’s not unusual to have at least one if not two bottles of olive oil in the kitchen cupboard – a regular one for cooking and a richer extra virgin one for salad dressings and drizzling over carpaccio or cheese – and there is much shelf space given to olive oil in most supermarkets. But when I was a kid, it wasn’t so easy to find good quality Italian olive oil here in the UK. Bertolli is one of the brands that has been available in the UK, and respected for its quality and consistency, for as long as I can remember. Far longer than I could possibly remember, in fact – it was founded in Tuscany back in 1865!

One of the products that wasn’t available during my childhood was olive oil in spreadable form. Bertolli make an Original and Light olive oil spread, both made using good quality olive oil. The latest in the range is their Bertolli with Butter, a spreadable combination of olive oil and butter. Of course, you can use it in place of butter – in sandwiches or on jacket potatoes, and in many varied sweet and savoury recipes. Indeed, Gennaro Contaldo recently worked with Bertolli to create a range of pasta recipes that are quick and easy to make, and taste delicious.

Pasta is at the heart of many of our favourite recipes – especially during colder and darker months when rich, warming comfort foods are the order of the day.

Smoked Salmon and Leek Macaroni Cheese on Kavey Eats 3

I’ve heard people say that making macaroni cheese from scratch is far too time consuming or difficult but it’s actually not that complicated and it doesn’t take hugely long either. And it’s one of those dishes that’s really so much better homemade!

Bertolli have a lovely recipe for macaroni cheese with prosciutto and leeks which we’ve adapted by substituting smoked salmon for the ham. This is very much inspired by a fabulous lunch at Mat Follas’ Bramble Cafe a few months ago.

Previously, we’ve always made white sauce by cooking the flour and butter together first to make a roux, and then adding the milk. For a cheese sauce, cheese is simply stirred and melted in to the white sauce. Bertolli’s recipe shortcuts the white sauce by heating butter, flour and milk all at once and to our surprise, it doesn’t result in lumpy sauce – it’s just as silky smooth as the traditional way! Thanks to Bertolli for this wonderful tip; we’ll be making all our white sauce bases this way from now on.

Smoked Salmon and Leek Macaroni Cheese on Kavey Eats 2

Smoked Salmon & Leek Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Adapted from Bertolli’s recipe

Prep 15 mins | Cook 20 mins | Serves 4 | Skill Easy

Ingredients
250 g macaroni or pasta of your choice
15 g Bertolli with Butter
1 small leek, sliced into thin discs
100 g smoked salmon, chopped into thin strips 2-3 cm long
For the cheese sauce
50 g Bertolli with Butter
50 g plain flour
600 ml semi-skimmed milk
0.5 tsp English mustard powder or 1 teaspoon mustard
175 g mature cheddar cheese, grated
25 g Parmesan cheese, grated

Note: This recipe works best with a hollow pasta which the cheese sauce can easily fill. Instead of macaroni, we use penne rigate (ridged tubes cut on the angle, slightly larger in diameter than macaroni).

Method

  • Cook pasta according to packet instructions in boiling salted water. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile melt the Bertolli with Butter and sauté leek until softened. Set aside.
  • Make cheese sauce by placing Bertolli with Butter, flour and milk in a large saucepan and bring to boil, whisking continuously.
  • Make sure your grill shelf allows for the size of the ovenproof dish you are using, then preheat the grill to medium high.
  • Add Cheddar cheese and mustard to the saucepan and stir until completely melted into the sauce.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta, leeks and smoked salmon and mix through well.
  • Pour into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan.
  • Place ovenproof dish under the grill until golden brown and bubbling.
  • Serve immediately.

If you’d like to serve a side dish with this, I’d recommend either a crisp green salad with a simple homemade vinaigrette dressing or a simple stir fry of courgettes or green beans in butter and garlic.

Smoked Salmon and Leek Macaroni Cheese on Kavey Eats-9008
Smoked Salmon and Leek Macaroni Cheese on Kavey Eats 1

Save for later on Pinterest using this handy recipe collage pin.

Smoked Salmon and Leek Macaroni Cheese on Kavey Eats (Tall Pin)

Kavey Eats was commissioned by Bertolli to develop and publish this recipe.

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Nori-Wrapped Hot Smoked Salmon Cubes With Miso Mayonnaise

PARTNEREDPOSTFor me, mayonnaise is indelibly associated with the summer; an integral part of food eaten outside. The picnic rugs and garden tables of my childhood were laden with bacon and mayo-dressed potato-salad, rich and creamy coleslaws, a huge bowl of tuna-sweetcorn-mayo and a bottle of homemade Marie Rose sauce to slather over burgers and sausages charred from the barbeque. And that remains the same today.

To celebrate the launch of their new [Seriously] Good Mayonnaise, Heinz have set a challenge to create a recipe including the new mayonnaise as a key ingredient; the recipe is to be presented on a spoon, a single mouthful packed with flavour. Given that canapés are often made in large numbers, I favour ideas that deliver hugely on taste but are quick and easy to make and don’t need a long list of ingredients. These Nori-Wrapped Hot Smoked Salmon Cubes with Miso Mayonnaise are my suggestion for the Heinz [Seriously] Good Spoonfuls Competition – simple, delicious four-ingredient spoonfuls based on my favourite Japanese flavours.

Nori-Wrapped Hot Smoked Salmon Cubes With Miso Mayonnaise on Kavey Eats (Titled2)

At the heart of these canapés is hot smoked salmon. You might be wondering what the difference is between regular smoked salmon, hot smoked salmon and gravlax? For the first, raw salmon is smoked without heat which cures the fish without cooking, resulting in a silky slippery texture that is best suited to serving in thin slices. For the second, the fish is either hung or laid out in racks within hot smoke, creating the wonderful flaky texture of cooked fish plus all that delicious flavour from the smoke. Gravlax and lox are both made by curing salmon without any smoke at all, applying combinations of salt, sugar, herbs and spices to draw out the moisture and preserve the fish – the texture is much like smoked salmon but the flavour is quite different.

Nori-Wrapped Hot Smoked Salmon Cubes With Miso Mayonnaise on Kavey Eats (c)-8793

Miso paste is a fabulously versatile ingredient and great for adding a savoury note to all manner of dishes. Made by fermenting soybeans with a fungus known in Japanese as kōjikin, the pungent, salty and umami-rich paste is used as a seasoning throughout Japanese cooking. There are many different varieties available in Japan, usually broadly divided by their colour. White is the mildest and sweetest. Red, aged for longer, is stronger and saltier. As it is aged miso paste darkens through red into brown. Some varieties have grains such as rice or barley added to the soybeans.

Nori is the Japanese name for edible Pyropia seaweed and usually refers to thin dried sheets that are made by shredding, pressing and drying fresh seaweed. These are most commonly used in sushi – particularly for maki rolls and gunkan maki and for tying toppings to nigiri sushi – but are also a popular garnish for all manner of dishes including rice and ramen.

Nori-Wrapped Hot Smoked Salmon Cubes With Miso Mayonnaise

Makes 12 one-bite canapés

Ingredients
Approx. 250 grams hot smoked salmon fillet (see note)
100 grams Heinz [Seriously} Good Mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons miso paste, to taste (see note)
1 sheet nori (Japanese dried seaweed)

Note: Hot smoked salmon is also known as kiln-roasted salmon. Look for pieces cut across the fillet – this will make it easier to cut evenly sized cubes.
Note: I used white miso paste for my Miso Mayo, as I had a tub open in the fridge, but you can use whichever you prefer. The saltiness and intensity of flavour vary hugely between different types and brands, so add a little and then taste before adding more.

Method

  • Carefully cut the hot smoked salmon fillets into evenly sized cubes. Depending on the shape and size of your fillets, you may get a few more than 12. The salmon is delicate and will flake easily, so be gentle!
  • Weigh the mayonnaise into a bowl and add one tablespoon of miso paste. Mix thoroughly and taste before adding more if necessary.
  • Carefully cut the nori sheet into thin strips.
  • Carefully wrap a strip of nori around each cube of salmon, letting the two ends overlap underneath. They should stick easily to the oily fish and remain in place.
  • Spoon a small dollop of miso mayonnaise on top of each piece and serve.

 Nori-Wrapped Hot Smoked Salmon Cubes With Miso Mayonnaise on Kavey Eats (Titled1)

Other delicious Heinz [Seriously] Good Spoonfuls canapé ideas from some of my friends:

Kavey Eats was compensated by Heinz Foods UK for the development and publication of this recipe.

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Luiz Hara’s Nikkei Sea Bream with Yuzu & Green Jalapeno Rice & Giveaway

Luiz Hara aka The London Foodie was one of the first fellow bloggers I met shortly after launching Kavey Eats in spring 2009. I can no longer remember how we met but I do know that we built a friendship on that most important of bases – food!

Born in Brazil to Brazilian-Japanese parents, Luiz moved to London at the age of 19, fully intending to return to Brazil once his studies were completed. But fate intervened, he met his partner and settled down in the UK instead. His family background gives him an amazing range of cuisines to draw from in his cooking. I went to some of his earliest Japanese supperclubs which were a delight, and also loved his Cooking Club, during which each guest took a turn to cook a dish to the evening’s theme, creating a multi-course extravaganza.

I remember when Luiz decided to leave behind the world of finance and dedicate himself wholeheartedly to food, kicking off with a diploma course at the Cordon Bleu cooking school and including a stint learning more about traditional Japanese cooking in Tokyo.

His supperclub has continued apace to become one of London’s best; places are highly sought after and sell out within moments of going on sale. Although the food is predominantly home-style Japanese, Luiz regularly adds touches of South American influence, not to mention techniques from classic French cuisine, providing a feast of dishes you would be hard-pushed to find anywhere else in London.

NIKKEI_JACKET

The good news is that his first cookbook, Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way, shares many of the recipes he has developed and perfected over the last few years.

In Luiz’ own words:

At its simplest, Nikkei cuisine is the cooking of the Japanese diaspora. When my family and millions of other Japanese people migrated to South America at the start of the 20th century, they recreated their native cuisine using local ingredients. This style of Japanese cooking is known today as Nikkei Cuisine. For historical reasons, Nikkei cuisine is mostly associated with Peru and Brazil (where I was born).

The book is his personal collection of over 100 recipes and includes family favourites and contributions from Japanese and Nikkei chefs he met during research trips, as well as the many recipes Luiz has developed himself.

Recipes are divided into chapters for Small Eats; Sushi, Tiraditos & Ceviches (a chapter which really brings home the parallels between the South American and Japanese approach to raw fish); Rice & Noodles; Soups & Hotpots; Mains; Vegetables, Salads and Tofu and Desserts. There is also a chapter on mastering the basics of Sauces, Marinades & Condiments.

Photographs are colourful and appealing, with handy step-by-step illustrations for trickier techniques such as Japanese rolled omelette and Maki (sushi) rolls.

The good news is that I have two copies of Nikkei to give away. Scroll down for the chance to win this beautiful book.

In the meantime, enjoy Luiz’ delicious recipe for Nikkei Sea Bream with Yuzu & Green Jalapeño Rice.

Seabream 1

Nikkei Sea Bream with Yuzu & Green Jalapeño Rice

Tai gohan (sea-bream rice) is a classic of Japanese home cooking and is a dish I have always loved. It can be made in a rice cooker or in a clay pot or elegant pan to be served at the table for added wow. The fish is cooked over the rice, imparting a delicious flavour to the dish. Here I give my Nikkei interpretation, by adding a dressing of olive oil, yuzu juice and jalapeño green chillies, mixed into the rice just before serving. It’s like traditional Japan embracing the spice of South America.

Cooked in a Clay Pot

Serves 8–10

Ingredients
600g (1lb 5oz/2 ¾ cups) short-grain white rice
550ml (19fl oz/2 ½ cups) dashi (Japanese fish and seaweed stock) or water
100ml (3.fl oz/ ½ cup) mirin
100ml (3.fl oz/ ½ cup) light soy sauce
2.5cm (1in) piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips
4 sea bream fillets, scaled and pin-boned
a sprinkle of sansho pepper
For the yuzu & green jalapeño dressing
1 green jalapeño chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
4 tbsp finely chopped spring onions (scallions)
4 tbsp yuzu juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Wash the rice in a bowl with plenty of fresh water using a circular motion with your hand.
  • Drain the water and repeat this rinsing three or four times until the water runs clear. Let the rice drain in a colander for at least 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the soaking and cooking broth. Combine the dashi or water, mirin and light soy sauce and set aside. Soak the drained rice in the cooking broth in a clay pot or a rice cooker (see below) for 30 minutes.
  • Rice cooker method: After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on top and turn the rice cooker on. It should take about 15–20 minutes to cook. Once the rice cooker’s alarm beeps indicating that the rice is cooked, let the rice rest for at least 15 minutes before opening the rice cooker.
  • Clay pot method: Tightly wrap a tea-towel (dish towel) over the lid of a Japanese clay pot (known as donabe) or if you do not have one you can use a heavy casserole pan (Dutch oven). After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on the top (I like to arrange the fillets to look like an open flower), place the lid on top and bring to the boil. Once boiling, bring the temperature down to the lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and without opening the lid (don’t open the lid at any stage of the cooking process), rest for a further 15 minutes.
  • Up to this stage, this rice is a traditional Japanese tai gohan or Japanese sea bream rice and can be served as it is – it will taste delicious. But for added va-va-voom, I like serving this with a yuzu and green jalapeño dressing, which I pour over the fish and rice just before serving. To make the dressing just put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well.
  • Take the unopened clay pot to the table, open it in front of your guests and, if desired, carefully remove the skin of the fish. Pour the dressing over the fish and rice then using a wide wooden spoon, fluff the rice well, breaking the fish into tiny pieces and mixing it together with the dressing into the rice. Mix thoroughly. If you are using a rice cooker, follow all the above steps but do not take the rice cooker to the table! Make all the necessary preparations and serve the rice in individual bowls at the table.
  • To serve, place the rice in individual rice bowls, top with the remaining julienned ginger in the centre of each bowl followed by a sprinkle of sansho pepper and serve immediately.

Seabream 2

Recipe and images extracted from Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara. Photography by Lisa Linder. Published by Jacqui Small (£25).

GIVEAWAY

Jacqui Small are offering a copy of Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara to two lucky readers of Kavey Eats! The prize includes free delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me about your favourite Japanese or South American dish.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a copy of Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsNikkei #KaveyEatsNikkei
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

Rules, Terms & Conditions

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 4th December 2015.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each (of two) prizes is a copy of Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara, published by Jacqui Small. The prize includes delivery within in the UK. We cannot guarantee a pre-Christmas delivery date.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Jacqui Small.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review copy from Jacqui Small . Nikkei Cuisine is currently available from Amazon UK for £19.99 (RRP £25) (at time of posting).

Sous Vide Salmon With Lime Butter

I love raw salmon – I don’t think there’s enough salmon sashimi in this world to sate me. And I love cured and smoked salmon – both the hot and cold smoked varieties… utterly gorgeous.

But although I’ve had lovely cooked salmon plenty of times, I’ve also been served some hideously overcooked salmon; so much so that I no longer order it when eating out. Salmon is a fish that doesn’t forgive overcooking and the gap between perfectly cooked and woaaah there, Nelly, you’ve turned it into a fishy rusk covered in unsightly streaks of white albumin seems to be about 5 seconds!

The advantage of sous vide cooking is that you can take a piece of salmon (or steak or an egg or whatever you like) up to the exact temperature that will change its texture to just cooked but leaving it in an extra few minutes won’t make a bit of difference. Heck, you could leave it in an extra 30 minutes and it’d be just fine. Click here to understand more about how sous vide works.

So sous vide salmon has been on my list to try at home for the longest time. (Yes, I know, I’ve had a sous vide machine for 18 months… what the heck took me so long? how the heck can I call myself a food blogger? blah blah blah…)

The texture is just gorgeous. Silky, silky soft with the gentle wobble of just-cooked fish – it’s a wonderful way to enjoy salmon!

Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats - (c) Kavita Favelle - 9040

What prompted me to finally give it a go was getting our Codlo, a super nifty space-saving device that turns your regular slow cooker or rice cooker into a sous vide water bath. Read my original review of the Codlo, here.

I’m genuinely an enormous fan of this device – we’ve enjoyed the results of our Sous Vide Supreme for over a year but struggled with storage, as it’s really quite large. The Codlo takes hardly any space, indeed it’s small enough that we can store it inside our slow cooker!

When we tested the two devices in a side by side comparison, we couldn’t tell any difference in the results, making Codlo a very viable alternative, not to mention significantly less expensive too.

codlo book 2[3]

The accompanying book, Codlo Sous-Vide Guide & Recipes written by Codlo creator Grace Lee, is packed with instructions about sous vide cooking techniques plus temperatures and times for different types of foods and lots of tempting recipes.

We followed Grace’s instructions for cooking salmon, but served it with a very simple lime butter instead of the parsley sauce suggested.

As the salmon needs a brief brine bath before cooking, start this recipe about an hour before you wish to serve.

Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats - (c) Kavita Favelle - 9035 Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats - (c) Kavita Favelle - 9038

Sous Vide Salmon With Lime Butter

Serves 2

Ingredients
– For the brine

500 ml (2 cups) water
50 grams (3 tablespoons) salt
– For cooking the salmon
2 fresh salmon fillets
30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
– For the butter
25 grams butter, softened
Juice of half a lime, freshly squeezed
– Vegetables
As you prefer, we chose baby new potatoes and peas

Note: You will also need sealable bags in which to vacuum-pack the salmon. Use a vacuum sealing machine with specialist bags provided or food-safe ziplock bags and the water displacement method.

Method

  • Fill your slow cooker or rice cooker with water, plug in the Codlo, set the temperature to 50 °C (122 °F) and allow to come up to temperature.
  • In a large bowl dissolve the brine salt in the water. Place the salmon fillets in the brine solution so that they are completely submerged and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the salmon from the brine and place into your sous vide bag with the olive oil. Remove the air from the bag and seal securely.
  • Once your Codlo-controlled water bath is up to temperature, set the timer for 20 minutes and submerge your bagged salmon in the heated water.
  • Use these 20 minutes to cook your chosen vegetables and make the lime butter.
  • To make the lime butter, mix the lime juice into the softened butter; you might prefer to add half the juice first and taste before adding more, to balance the acidity to your taste.
  • Once the cooking time is up, remove the salmon from the water bath, open the bag and carefully slide the fillets onto plates. Be gentle as they are quite fragile once cooked.
  • Spoon lime butter over the fish (and the potatoes too, in our case).
  • Serve immediately.

Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats

Kavey Eats received a Codlo for review purposes. All opinions are genuine and 100% honest, as always.  Codlo is currently priced at £119, available here; given how much I love the product, I accepted an invitation to become an affiliate, please see blog sidebar for further information.

Rex & Mariano | Superb Seafood in Soho

Rex and Mariano has been making quite an impression since it launched earlier this year. From the same group as famous steak restaurant Goodman and enormously successful proto-chain Burger & Lobster, the new fish and seafood restaurant is named for two key suppliers involved in the venture – Rex Goldsmith aka The Chelsea Fishmonger and Mariano, the semi-anonymous father of a Goodman employee, responsible for importing red prawns and other seafood from Sicily.

Key to the concept is serving seafood at accessible prices, certainly far lower than is the norm in Central London.

In a quiet pedestrian street that runs between Dean and Wardour, Rex and Mariano is already a Soho favourite, despite it’s tucked-away location.

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One innovation I thought I’d hate in fact worked very well; orders are placed directly by customers by way of an iPad, though a traditional printed menu is provided on arrival as well. The interface has been well designed – swipe sideways to page through the menu sections, touch a plus button to select an item, enter a quantity and tick to add to your order. An easy-to-find banner button allows you to call for assistance at any time, whether you have questions about the menu or simply need more cutlery. At any time, you can view your total bill thus far and you can review your current order before placing. It’s best to order a few dishes at a time, since most arrive very quickly indeed.

We had to laugh when, mere moments after discussing our greediness, we placed a second order only to be interrupted with a message that our order was “getting quite large” and we might like to send some through now and order more “in a bit”. We took heed and ensured each round was limited to three or four dishes.

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Most of the menu is, as you’d imagine, fish and seafood. But I am a sucker for good burrata not to mention good tomatoes. The burrata, smoked tomato, focaccia (£6) was superbly creamy, with just the right level of smoking to fresh, ripe tomatoes and the focaccia served simply to provide a crisp toast underneath.

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The raw fish page is split into Ceviche, Tartare and Carpaccio, each of which feature tuna and sea bass. Salmon and lobster also make an appearance. Our salmon carpaccio, olive oil, lemon, tomato and basil (£7.50) is fresh, simple and benefits from a light touch with the dressing.

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Lobster ceviche with coriander, fennel, yuzu, orange (£12) is very generous for the price. Large and juicy chunks of lobster meat and thin slices of crunchy fennel are deliciously dressed with coriander leaves and a yuzu orange dressing – both MiMi and I are big fans.

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Oh the red prawns from Sicily! Red prawns raw/ cooked, lemon, olive oil, salt (£10) – doesn’t that make you salivate? We might have ordered this dish twice. OK, fine, we did. And to be honest, we could probably have eaten a third plate quite happily had we not agreed to restrain ourselves just a tiny bit! Also available cooked, we opted for the raw option both times and were blown away by the sweet, sweet flavour – lovely against the slightly grassy olive oil.

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Clams, white wine, parsley, chilli (£7) were simply cooked and decent. If I’m not sounding excited, don’t take it as an indication that they were anything less than delicious – they just had a lot of strong competition! Perhaps a bowl of soft fresh bread to sop up the juices might be welcome with these.

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Sicilian Large Stripe Prawns, lemon, red chilli, parsley, olive oil (£14) were another favourite. Expensive for four prawns yes, though each one was pretty large. The tails were perfectly cooked to retain their juiciness and sucking out the heads of these beauties was an absolute must! We ordered this dish twice too and although the prawns were larger second time around, there was a dearth of the delicious sauce that drenched the first plate and added such excellent flavour.

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Fritto Misto, old bay, lemon aioli (£9) – oddly listed under the Grill section of the menu – was very good, as good as I’ve had in London. It suffered in comparison against the revelatory raw and cooked prawn dishes and that lobster ceviche but that’s probably a little unfair. Ours had plenty of squid rings and tentacles (I love the tentacles best), whitebait and white fish but only one solitary prawn on the entire plate.

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We probably shouldn’t have bothered with either the fried courgettes with aioli (£5) or the triple cooked chips (£4) though again, both were very good. Our focus was firmly on the fishy goodness and the vegetables didn’t get much of a look in.

For dessert we skipped the proffered lemon sorbet or chocolate mousse and went back to the raw red prawns and cooked red stripe prawns – a fitting end to a delicious meal.

The homemade Limoncello offered by the manager (after a minor mix up over leftovers) was a fitting finale, and vastly better than cheap commercial versions.

Service was friendly throughout; although the iPad ordering system reduces staff and customer interaction to an extent, staff are attentive and readily available should you need them. A nice touch is that service is added at only 5% – presumably staff can service a lot more tables when focusing on bringing out dishes and clearing away empties.

I mentioned at the start that Rex and Mariano offers seafood at accessible prices and that’s certainly true. That’s not to say this is a cheap restaurant, especially if you’re as greedy for great seafood as MiMi and I, but the quality of ingredients is superb and the prices for what you get are very reasonable. Our bill, with one soft drink each, was just shy of £50 each, though we could have knocked ten off that and still been satiated.

Thank you to MiMi Aye for additional images.

Rex & Mariano on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Kavey’s Chorizo, Cod & Pea Fish Pie Recipe

Wary of degradation from a slightly longer than ideal stint in the freezer, I wondered what to make with our last portion of last year’s skrei (beautiful Norwegian cod from the Barents sea). Fish pie was on my mind, but I didn’t fancy the cod and boiled egg fish pie recipe we have made previously; and with just short of 600 grams of cod, I didn’t want to make a mixed seafood fish pie either, though I’m sure salmon, smoked fish or perhaps some big juicy prawns would be a tasty combination.

Instead, I remembered how much I like the combination of chorizo and cod in this baked chorizo, cod and potatoes recipe that we’ve made several times.

An idle search on Google revealed surprisingly little variation in fish pie recipes, so I decided to go out on a limb and pull together a recipe using flavours I felt would work well together , even if no one else had combined them in a fish pie before – we made a chorizo, pea and cod filling topped with buttery mashed potato and it was marvellous; definitely one to make again!

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I used a full 200 gram Unearthed cooking chorizo, which was a generous amount. Reduce to 100 grams for just a hint of chorizo, 150 grams for a decent hit or stick to my 200 grams for a chorizo feast. We only had 100 grams of frozen peas left, but I’ll up to 150-200 grams next time, as per my original intention. Although cooking chorizo releases some oil as it cooks, I add more to the pan to ensure sufficient flavoured oil to make the white sauce.

Kavey’s Chorizo, Cod & Pea Pie Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients
100-200 grams cooking chorizo, 1 cm dice
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pint milk
570 grams cod fillet, skinned and checked for bones
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
Generous knob of butter
1-2 tablespoons plain white flour
150-200 grams frozen petit pois

Method

  • Cook chorizo and cooking oil over a medium flame until chorizo is just cooked through.
  • Remove chorizo from the pan using a slotted spoon. Pour chorizo-flavoured oil into a separate bowl or jug. Set both aside.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan and poach the cod over a low flame until cooked through, approximately 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  • While the cod is poaching, put your potatoes on to boil, drain once cooked and mash with a little butter.
  • Once the cod is cooked, strain the milk from the pan, set aside in a jug or bowl.
  • Gently break the cod into small pieces, set aside.
  • Combine 3-4 tablespoons of chorizo-flavoured oil with the flour and cook for a few minutes, then add strained poaching milk and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Place cod, chorizo and peas into a casserole dish, pour over the chorizo-flavoured sauce and gently mix to combine.
  • Spoon the buttery mash over the pie filling and use a fork to create a spiky surface.
  • Transfer to the oven and cook until the potatoes brown nicely on top, about 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

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I think this recipe is a winner and I’d love you to give it a try and let me know how you get on and what you think!

Need more inspiration? Check out these Ten Fantastic Fish Pie Recipes:

And two related recipes:

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Holy Smoked Mackerel, Batman!

Four years ago a course at Billingsgate Seafood Training School changed my life.

If that seems like it might be an exaggeration, rest assured that it really isn’t because, in a roundabout kind of way, it lead to me finally making it to Japan, a country I’d long yearned to visit. That’s a story for another time, but probably goes some way to explaining why I was so keen to accept the school’s invitation to attend one of their newer evening classes.

Known as Every Which Way Techniques, there are a range of courses to choose from, each one based around a seasonal fish or seafood.  In July, crab was on the menu. In September, the theme was scallops. In October the focus will be on Lemon Sole and in November, on Seabass. Our August class was based on mackerel, a fish that’s at its best in late summer.

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Classes are £55 per person for a group of up to 12 people and start at 6.30 pm. During the next 2.5 hours you will learn a variety of skills to prepare and cook the chosen fish. At the end you have time to grab a stool and tuck in to your efforts.

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During the class, our tutor Eithne taught us how to gut and clean out our mackerels, how to fillet  them and what to do if we wanted to cook them whole. With her patient guidance, this seemed very straightforward and all of us mastered the techniques.

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The cooking focused on smoking using wood chip shavings and specialist domestic smokers, but Eithne made clear that we could adapt equipment we would likely already have in our kitchens just as well.

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We smoked fillets of salmon and whole mackerel and also oven cooked fillets of mackerel with a delicious marinade applied, which we mixed from recipes and ingredients provided.

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As an added bonus, when I removed the innards of one of my mackerel, I spotted an intact liver. Asking Eithne if she’d ever cooked one (she hadn’t) I decided to give it a go and see what it was like. Turns out it was delicious, so there’s a top tip for you – mackerel livers for the win!

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We also learned a simple smoked fish pate recipe that Pete and I made the next day with the whole smoked mackerel we brought home with us. It was simple, delicious and I shall definitely make it again.

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Kavey Eats attended the Smoked Mackerel Every Which Way Techniques class as a guest of Billingsgate Seafood Training School.

News: The school have just introduced gift vouchers. Wouldn’t these make a great Christmas gift? The lucky recipient recipient could book onto a course of their choice, on a date that works for them.

Norwegian Salmon Competition

Given how much I love salmon, it’s a glaring omission that I’ve not yet shared any recipes here for cooking with this beautiful and popular fish. I am vowing to rectify this as soon as possible!

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Norwegian salmon images from Shutterstock

I’ve recently had my eyes opened to the quality of Norwegian salmon, a fish that is abundant in the cold, clear waters off Norway. It has smooth, red flesh and a rich, fresh flavour, it turns a pretty delicate pink colour when cooked and the well-defined flakes fall apart easily. It’s perfect to enjoy in hot dishes and cold in summer salads. It’s also often described as one of the superfoods – this oily fish is rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and vitamins A and D – so is a healthy as well as tasty choice.

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Look for the NORGE logo on pre-packed Norwegian salmon in Morrisons this month. This logo is a guarantee that the product is of Norwegian origin and can only be used on products caught, farmed and processed in Norway and on licenced products in foreign markets.

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It is also comforting to know that Norway is considered to have one of the most responsible fishing industries in the world. In 2007 an independent research institute carried out a survey of the ways in which fishing nations are dealing with the challenges presented by illegal fishing and unregistered and unreported fish, as well as the United Nation’s rules of governance pertaining to responsible fishing practice (the FAO Code of Conduct). This detailed analysis concluded that Norway is a world leader in fishing management. In assessing the extent to which different countries are acting in accordance with the UN’s Code of Conduct for responsible fishing management, Norway ranks top followed by the USA, Canada, Australia and Iceland.

Scandilicious

COMPETITION

Kavey Eats and the Norwegian Seafood Council are offering one reader of Kavey Eats a hardback copy of Signe Johansen’s book Scandilicious, Secrets of Scandinavian Cooking and a £25 Morrisons voucher. The prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite way to eat salmon.

Entry 2 – Facebook Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win £25 Morrisons vouchers + a copy of Scandilicious from @norwayseafood and Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/VxiGqh #KaveyEatsSalmon
(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 22nd August, 2014.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Where prizes are provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a hardback copy of Signe Johansen’s book, Scandilicious and a £25 Morrisons voucher. It includes free delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by the Norwegian Seafood Council.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winner will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a Morrisons voucher from the Norwegian Seafood Council.