Saturday, December 10, 2011

Xan, Catherine, Brendan: Mango sushi and chicken teriyaki!

Continuing to work my way through the Great Backlog. Our friend Brendan came to visit us, oh let's see, that was...almost four months ago.  I'm really behind, shut up.  Anyway, other than seeing Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton at a blues bar, the coolest thing we did was probably this cucumber, avocado and mango sushi. Behold the genius of Brendan B!

By the way, how does everyone like the new Vongsafood logo?
We used these bamboo place mats to roll up the sushi:

I used to really complain about these mats because while they looked nice, they failed utterly at the other half of their job, namely keeping crumbs and other foodstuffs off the table.  But now they only fail utterly at a third of their job, and I have accordingly reduced my complaining by 33%.

Now, let's have a little etymology lesson.  Normally we avoid pretension on Vongsafood, but a little vocab can go a long way toward confusing people into thinking you're a good cook.  Here's the sushi chef, or sous chef as they're called in Japan, together with his, umm, cucumber slicer person:

Now, you might think that sous comes from the Japanese word for sushi, but it is actually derived from the English word souse.  As you know, souse means to get wet, which is exactly how you make the nori (seaweed) stick to itself.  It seems odd, but according to my research souse made its way into the Japanese vernacular way back in the Edo Period of the early 1800s, coinciding with the introduction and subsequent popularity of such American woodblock prints as The Great Souse.  For whatever reason, the word stuck, and to this day it means to submerge in Japan.

[By the way, did you know that nori is a good source of iron?  I mention this because the digestive process by which the body extracts the iron is quite fascinating.  After you swallow a sheet of nori, the stomach literally flips the nori around until it turns into iron.  It may seem weird at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense if you think through the process in a backwards sort of way.]

Under the supervision of the master chef, I did a little sousing myself:

The bowl at the bottom contains the sousing liquid.
You can tell those are my hands because they are spindly.  

Besides the sousing, I also filled the role of sous vide chef, which is Japanese for "submerged cooking."  This is how the Japanese make their world famous Chicken of the Sea teriyaki.  I've posted about sous vide before, but this time I got a really good picture of my makeshift rice cooker sous vide setup:

As you can see, the chicken breasts have been placed in Ziploc bags with the air removed.  This is an important part of the method too, but unfortunately the Japanese don't have a word for "under vacuum," so if we wanted to include it in the name, we would probably have to borrow words from some other more pretentious language.  Nobody wants that, so this style of cooking is commonly referred to simply as sous vide.

Confused? Remember, that means I am a good cook.

Anyway, the nice thing about this method for something like chicken teriyaki is that it has to marinate for a while anyway, so why not let it do that as it's slowly coming up to temperature over the couple hours it takes to cook?  It seems to work.  Results:

Juicy and delicious!

So, that was yummy.

1 comment:

  1. Mango in sushi! Interesting! And your sushi mat is prettier than mine.