The best thing about cooking Japanese food (apart from it is usually delicious) is that nobody else I talk to has any idea what is going on. It's fantastic, like learning some ancient mystical art with secret nods and handshakes, or a form of alchemy, turning bizarely named and packaged foodstuffs into something everybody can recognise as purest gold.
Today's stew was pretty damn fine. I think partly because of the massive tiger prawns which my friend Fran seems to have a secret supplier of (see 1/7). I don't know where she gets them from but they are quite the best prawns I've ever had.
I've also discovered a new ingredient - sansho (Japanese pepper). It's a bit like szechuan pepper in that it has an odd anaesthetic effect on the mouth but has a slightly different taste - excellent, I love discovering new things.
And when people say "So what did you have for dinner yesterday." I can say:
"Oh, just a nabemono, made with prawns and clams - nothing unusual."
Almond Torte from Café Nero: I'm sure they used to call these Bakewell tarts at café Nero. Perhaps they read my blog of 5/4/2005
Japanese Style Seafood Stew
1 Tbsp Miso Paste
1 Tbsp Shoyu Sauce
1 cm Ginger (Chopped)
1 Tbsp Mirin
3 Sheets Nori
Handful Dried Bonito Flakes
1 Stick Celery
1 tsp Ginger Juice (from the Pickled Ginger)
1/2 tsp Sansho (Japanese Pepper)
250g Small Shell on Prawns
9 Large Tiger Prawns
2 Cans Baby Clams
Few Celery Leaves (for garnish)
*All quantities are very approximate and for three people