Category Archives: mackerel

Japanese Dinner + The Blowtorch!

About two years ago, J bought me a blowtorch for my birthday.  No, I’m not going all Flashdance on you with dreams of becoming a food-blogging welder- he figured I’d need it in case I ever wanted to brulée something.  I think the main motivation for him to buy me the torch was because he wanted me aburi something.  Aburi means “flamed” in Japanese, and if you go out to sushi often you’ve probably seen the chef whip out his blowtorch and lightly sear the top of a piece of salmon, toro or mackerel.  The heat of the flame melts the fat in the fish and creates a beautiful, soft, fatty flavor and texture.  If you haven’t had the chance to try any aburi sashimi or sushi, make sure to request it next time because it is, in a word, heavenly.  

Luckily my mom sent us home with some of her world-famous shime saba on New Year’s Day, so I only had to take it out of the freezer, let it thaw, then go all Jennifer Beals on it (ok, I’ll stop with the Flashdance references now!).  To be honest, the reason why I’d never used the blowtorch before was because I was scared.  Visions of a propane explosion in my kitchen (and in my FACE!) kept me from ever even taking it out of the box, but after receiving assurances on it’s safety from my dad and my chef friend, I finally decided to use it.  The verdict?  Let’s put it this way: Once you torch something, you’re hooked.  At least I am.  Now I always look for things to brulée!

So here it is- my first foray into the world of blowtorching food:

Pretty cool, right?  Anyway, here’s the rest of the meal:

I had some beautiful King Trumpet mushrooms which I sliced, brushed with a garlic/soy/agave/sake mixture and grilled in a pan:

I did the same for some yams I had laying around:

Cold, silken tofu topped with ginger and soy sauce:

Japanese cucumber, sugar snap pea and onion salad with sesame dressing:

A couple of Japanese condiments: on the left, taberu rayu, which is the hottest condiment in Japan right now.  Not “hot” as in Scoville scale, but as in it’s super popular.  Rayu is chili/sesame oil and has been around for ages; taberu means “to eat” in Japanese, and taberu rayu is the chili/sesame oil we all know and love combined with toasted garlic, sesame seeds, dried shrimp and other goodies to make to chunky, so you can actually eat it.  My best friend Mika gave it to us, and ohmahgawd it is downright addictive.  As if there aren’t already enough Japanese condiments that make you want to eat buckets of rice!  I could probably eat five pounds of rice with spoonfuls of taberu rayu mixed in.  Seriously good stuff.  The one of the right is shichimi tōgarashi, or seven flavor chili pepper, which is great on yakitori or grilled vegetables.  

The star of the show, aburi saba:

The table:

If you have any great recipes involving the use of a blowtorch, let me know!  I’m totally hooked.