Sashimi By Land or By Sea

August 28, 2012

This is the sixteenth installment of Sunday Dinners, a biweekly column from our own Tom Hirschfeld featuring his gorgeous photography, stunning Indiana farm, and mouthwatering family meals.

Today: Tom dreams of sushi with Sashimi Bowls, Spinach with Bottarga, and Salmon Roe Salad.

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Aside from having a deep passion for Japanese food as a chef, the aesthetics and discipline of sushi and sashimi have always intrigued me. So while it never feels out of place for me to spend weeks obsessing over particular aspects of Japanese cuisine, in the end it was something as simple as the beets in garden that got me going on this dish.

The night before, I had been reading about wasabi and how we never see the real thing -- it's not as if I don't know that the powder is horseradish and green food coloring, but when I saw the beets this morning I had a thought that microplaned beets with horseradish might be a great alternative. So I acted on my thoughts.

At the fish market, the Pacific oysters are pillowy, the size of small mittens, and look as if they'd jiggle like a water bed with a quick poke of my finger. They aren't raunchy like a water bed though, they are more discrete. Something like a geisha -- the same creamy white color as a geisha, anyway.

I bring some oysters home along with really nice smoked salmon and shell-on raw white shrimp. I like making sushi, I really like making sashimi bowls, and the lack of any nearby bodies of water doesn't dissuade me.

I have caught wild salmon on Lake Michigan and harvested the fresh roe. The other fisherman at the fish cleaning station looked at me with dismay as I loaded up a gallon Ziploc with salmon eggs, then picked up a few on the blade of my pocket knife and slurped them down. But these adventures don't happen often, so it leaves me to be creative during the times in between.

I have come to realize that a sashimi bowl is only limited by my imagination. I can make them with filet mignon and red onions, hoisin duck, or even a wonderful vegetarian version with a Japanese omelette, raw vegetables, and fried seasoned tofu. It doesn't have to be raw fish -- other ingredients can be just as enjoyable and delicious.

With the exception of the rice, I realize that most of today's ingredients come fresh from the garden. Besides the beautiful Bull's Blood beets I have cucumbers, horseradish, tasty little shallots, and crisp carrots of all kinds. I also have the tiniest, hottest damn peppers on the planet right now and they are great as a garnish.

In the kitchen, I put on a large pot of heavily salted water for the shrimp. I turn the control knob to high and the gas ignites with the same heavy "wooof" I have heard countless times. I think to myself, "I am no Jiro, but I have dreams just the same."

Sunday Dinner Menu:

Sashimi Bowl
Serves 4
For the rice
1 1/2 cup sushi rice
2 cups water
3 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin or 2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the beet "wasabi" and sashimi
1/3 cup roasted beets, microplaned
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh horseradish, microplaned
1 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon chives, minced
12 slices lox style salmon
12 26-30 white shrimp, peeled, deveined, cooked in salted water, and cooled
4 to 8 fresh oysters, quantity depends on their size
3 carrots, grated on the small holes of a grater
12 cucumber slices
1 lemon, quartered
fresh hot red pepper, sliced into thin rings
lemon zest
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Wilted Spinach with Bottarga
Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds baby spinach
1 tablespoon canola oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Salmon Roe and Cucumber Salad
Serves 4
1/3 cup good quality salmon roe
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into very small dice
1 1/2 tablespoon red onion, very very small dice
1 tablespoon good quality full fat sour cream
1/2 milk
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon scallion rings, this is not a garnish
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

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