Morels, Spinach, Roe
For almost fifty years, Taiwan was occupied by Japan. During this time, Japanese cooking techniques were considered “high class” and the Taiwanese adopted them using local ingredients. Chawanmushi is one example of a traditional Japanese dish that found its way into the Taiwanese repertoire. With this first course, I wanted to communicate to the guests that food cultures adapt and that there would be many influences on the menu.
6 large eggs
9 Tbl dashi, see recipe below
9 Tbl fish stock,
If fish stock is unavailable, the recipe can be made using only dashi or even chicken stock
Six 3-4 oz. ramekins
Handful of spinach
2 Tbl salmon roe
3 small morel mushrooms (substitute shiitake mushrooms when morels are out of season)
Blanch the spinach. Gently squeeze out excess water and dry the leaves on paper towels.
Mince the spinach and season with salt. Set aside.
Quickly rinse the morel mushrooms under cold water to remove dirt and any small insects.
Over medium heat, in a dry pan, sear the morels until they are lightly browned. Cut the caps into small rounds or thin strips depending on size of the mushrooms. Set aside.
Whisk together the eggs with the dashi and fish stocks. Be careful not to whisk too vigorously, you don’t want to create air bubbles.
In a steamer set over boiling water, preheat the ramekins until hot to the touch.
Carefully pour egg batter into hot ramekins. Skim off any air bubbles on the surface to avoid a pockmarked surface when the custards set.
Steam for 12 minutes with the steamer’s lid half-off, until the custard is just set.
At time of service, garnish the custard tops with spinach, salmon roe, and morels.
½ oz. kombu (dried kelp)
1 oz. dried bonito flakes
4 cups cold water, plus ¼ cup, divided
Combine 4 cups of water and kombu. In a pot over medium-high heat, bring the water almost to a boil. (If left to boil, kombu imparts a bitter flavor to the stock.)
Remove the kombu and set aside. This kombu can be used to make a second stock or in other salad preparations.
Add remaining ¼ cup of water to the stock pot and bring just up to a boil.
Add the bonito flakes and remove from heat. Let stand for a minute or two before straining.
*Ingredients for the dashi can be found in Japanese markets, the international ingredient section of Whole Foods or mail-ordered through Amazon
*Powdered dashi can be used in place of homemade stock(recommended brand: Hon-Dashi). However, dashi made from scratch has a natural sweetness and an aroma that the powdered product cannot match.