Finally - a long promised Sushi And Tempura evening
with the Eldorardoes has arrived!
Sophie has been angling for another sushi evening (Angling. Sushi. Raw Fish. Geddit?)
ever since our family lives went their separate ways.
Or theirs did. Mine's right here down the back of the couch where I left it.
Anyhoo, much as I love having the girlies over,
like everything else it's been hard to find just the right time between my diary and theirs.
But today is the day.
So the plan is that since Rachel is at work they'll get the bus over themselves and Rachel will come over later when she gets off.
Of course this rapidly descends into an organisational nightmare since the girlies can't remember from one day to the next where I live,
or where they left the bit of paper with my address on it, how to phone people up to let them know they're on the way
or how to get off the bus at my house before it sweeps them on to the glitzy wonders of Ocean Terminal's shopping centre.
They are soooo cute
Fully cognisant (and frequently reminded) of Georgina's disliking for fish
I also stocked up on pastrami, ham and nice blue cheese
so that she would have some fishy-free alternatives to make sushi-type rolls from.
(Despite her assurances that she would give the sushi a go
she managed nothing more than a tiny lick at some pickled mackerel - perhaps not the best choice)
I stocked up good and early in the week on my vegetables, hams and cheeses
and started trawling fishmongers and oriental supermarkets for the more exotic ingredients.
Fresh fish, scallops, prawns not a problem:
I have Clark Bros
- a solid fishmonger near my office in Musselburgh,
just down the road in Newhaven.
I was disappointed not to find anywhere
in Edinburgh that could provide me with any kind of fish eggs other than sturgeon caviar
or cheap lumpfish imitation caviar.
I wanted to get some Salmon eggs (fat jewelled orange Ikura
for topping a gunboat sushi),
flying-fish roe (tiny crunchy red Tobiko
for decorating inside-out sushi)
or Capelin (Smelt) roe (orange Masago
for the dynamite)
but was completely stymied.
I tried all the decent fishmongers -
including Eddy's Seafood Market
the reputable Bruntsfield upstart,
all the fancy delicatessens
(Valvona And Crolla
, Marks and Spencers,
and all the Oriental supermarkets including the enormous Matthew's Foods
But no joy.
Nor could I find any dried Shiitake mushrooms.
C'mon Edinburgh. Get your Japanese shit together!
I was, however, astonished and delighted to randomly find Sea Urchins (uni
) at Clark Bros,
and since they were only eighty pence each (EIGHTY PENCE EACH!) I bought four of them anticipating that one of them would be bad,
and that I'd completely screw up opening one of them; this being my first time.
I just love
sea urchins. To my mind their flavour is the very essence of the sea.
Though you do have to get over your natural squeamishness at the state of their insides to fully enjoy them when you prepare your own.
In the morning I took advantage of the peace and quiet in my flat to gut, clean and fillet the fishies (sea bass and mackerel)
make up a vast (as I thought - though it soon ran out!) bowl of sushi rice, and to pickle the mackerel fillets.
Just time for a quick cleanup before the madness begins...
Welch have just expanded into a new retail shop-front which is very clean and attractively designed, plus they have a lobster tank.
So as soon as the Eldorado girlies arrived (late) on the number 10 bus we headed on down to the fishmonger
where the girls had great fun choosing a lobster of our own, settling on a youngster we named Larry.
(The fishmonger told us that the lady lobsters have a sort of feathery net curtain effect around their back ends -
something to do with catching their eggs. But I have yet to find any confirmation of that)
We also picked up a final few fresh fishy goodies that the girlies fancied - a slab of tuna
(slightly dark and moist to be honest - which is a shame because they had some beautiful looking tuna earlier in the week)
and a handful of enormous prawns.
Georgina seemed to form a particularly strong relationship with Larry the Lobster introducing him to our checkout lady at Asda
and playing schoolyard games with him in the kitchen, so I was a little concerned how she would react to his slaughter.
We had a full and frank discussion about the best ways of dispatching Larry,
in which I proposed putting him gently to sleep in the freezer for a couple of hours, but the girls all seemed happiest with the idea
of just splitting his head open with a massive knife. Sadists.
They weren't so relaxed about it when it actually happened though - first there was the massive gush of clear liquid
(I told them it was just seawater, but take it to have been lobster blood) which caused Sophie to run vomiting to the bathroom,
and then there was all that embarrassing thrashing. Which went on. And on. And on. In fact the damn lobster just didn't seem to want to die,
and continued twitching even after several minutes of swimming around in a giant pot of boiling water with his head split in two.
I since discovered from wikipedia that lobsters' brains operate from distributed ganglia,
and that disabling only the frontal ganglia doesn't usually kill the lobster.
Now they tell me.
So - the things I have learned about killing lobsters?
- Chill the lobster for a while in the freezer, or overnight in the fridge
and then just chuck him into a big pot of boiling water and slap the lid on. Don't look!
- If you do decide to cut his head in half, hold him firmly belly-side down in a thick towel
and use a big knife to cut down through the cross-shaped markings on the back of his head in one firm thrust.
Then hold on tight.
Once everyone had gotten over the trauma of Larry's demise, and he was happily bubbling away in the pot for the necessary 5-6 minutes per pound,
The girlies got on with making their choice of the perfect dessert for an oriental dinner -
Astoundingly Good Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fortunately I also had some (novelty) Green Tea Ice Cream
that I'd made earlier!
The cookies didn't turn out quite as well as the last time we made them, but then Rachel's oven is of a more professional standard than my own.
I figure the cooking temperature is a bit critical. And possibly the mixture was a bit runnier than the last time.
But the ice cream was a definite hit.
Finally on to preparing the dinner:
- cracking out Larry's flesh
- slicing up the vegetables
- skinning, de-boning and cutting the fish
- making the tempura batter
- whipping up the tempura dipping sauce
- making up the dynamite sauce
- rolling up the sushis
you know - all that stuff that gets a bit tedious for young girlies:
slaving away in plain sight of seductive platefuls of luscious fresh hot chewy cookies that are strictly out of bounds
(eventually I hid the plates).
I kept up the nagging though and we got quite a lot done, but some of the sushi ideas I'd had in mind ran out of steam:
we didn't really get around to making the California Rolls, or organising the components for a do-it-yourself session.
Ah well, all the more leftovers for me!
So the meal plan
For the tempura I decided to attempt a blending of some of
Heston Blumenthal's mad batter ideas
and my own tempura batter experiments
and not only so that I got to try out my latest gadget - a soda syphon.
OK, well mostly.
I added vodka to my batter number 7
and used Sapporo instead of soda water, filling up the soda syphon
and refrigerating it about an hour before making the tempura.
To be honest I thought the result was a slight regression, and the batter came out a bit runny
(you need to be able to pour the damn stuff into the syphon in the first place after all)
and was probably not as crispy as it might have been after being made up for such a long time.
But it did
make a pretty good talking point, was a lot of fun when it ran out and farted batter everywhere,
and was actually quite a handy way of dispensing the batter.
I look forward to trying it out for regular fish 'n' chip batter.
Rachel, Chic and Nicky turned up in short order and the feeding commenced, with a round of sushi followed by an endless stream of tempura.
Except for Sophie, who after all my nagging felt too ill to eat with us and had to go for a little lie down in a darkened room.
Poor old Sophie - the whole thing was her idea too.
Fortunate indeed, then, that she was not too weak to pass the time watching YouTube videos and facebooking all her friends.
Nicky very kindly brought along a dessert of her own - knowing my fetish she baked me a ducky cake and a flock of fondant ducklings.
I think everyone went home satisfied.
As is becoming something of a habit now, I had another dinner party for Aidan, Flora and Jenny featuring another endless stream of tempura
with the leftovers from this
- remembering to include the clear fish soup -
and still went on to make up a massive stockpot of leftover soup
with the remains from that
As of two weeks later I'm still eating that soup, and I've got three more containers of it in the freezer!