I love Japanese food and I go out for Japanese food almost weekly. There are some great local sushi places that are super cheap and produce great food- I’m addicted. Some of my favourites are the crab miso soup, gomae (spinach in a peanut dressing), sunomono salad, california rolls, spider rolls (sushi with deep fried soft shell crab in it) and sesame broccoli salad. Instead of going out tonight (the Canucks are playing, I can’t miss that!) I decided to stay in and create a Japanese inspired meal of my own. I started with a Sunomono Salad straight out of the Cookbook of the Month, “Rebar”. It did not dissapoint! Though a different style than the ones I usually have, it was fantastic. I got to dust off the ol’ bottle of sake and use some ingredients I don’t use often. I realize that I love making Japanese food because the aesthetics of it are so key. It’s so much fun to make food and work extra hard to make it look beautiful.

Sunomono Salad (Adapted from Rebar Cookbook) Serves 2

  • 1/4 cup sake
  • 2 tbsp honey (or use mirin if you want it completely vegan)
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • fresh lemon juice to taste
  • 100 g rice vermicelli (the really skinny ones)

Bring the sake to a boil in a small pot. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the honey. Allow to cool a bit, and then add the rest of the liquid ingredients. Chill. When ready to use, add lemon juice to taste.

Cook the rice noodles according to the package. Drain and rinse very well under cold water. Split between two serving bowls.

Add the liquid until the noodles are almost submerged. Garnish the dish with avocados, thinly sliced lemon, cucumber, julienne carrots and white sesame seeds.

A few days ago my mom bought me a lovely piece of tuna and I was eager to use it. I did a bit of searching to find something fun that would go with my sunomono salad, and I decided on a dish from….”Dish”. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the show Dish on the food network, hosted by Trish Magwood, but she makes really simple and fun foods for various events for her clients. The tuna was originally supposed to be raw, but I thought a quick sear would make it better, as my tuna had spent some time in the freezer and I wanted to perk it up. I also used Vegenaise instead of mayonnaise, because frankly, I prefer the flavour and the fact there are no egg yolks in it.

Cucumber Tuna Rolls (Adapted from Dish)

  • 1 English cucumber
  • Enough tuna for how many rolls you need (about 1 lb  should do)
  • 2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Wasabi
  • 1/4 cup Vegenaise (or mayonnaise)
  • 1/4 tsp Sambal Oelek (or hot chili paste)

Mix together the black sesame seeds, sesame oil, and freshly cracked pepper in a bowl.

Lightly oil a saute pan and heat to medium high heat. Season your tuna with salt and pepper, and place into pan. Sear for about 30 seconds one side and remove.

Dice tuna into a 1-inch dice and toss into sesame oil mixture. Reserve.

Use a mandolin or vegetable peeler to cut long strips from the cucumber.

Take a strip of cucumber, add a couple of pieces of diced tuna at one end, and a small dot of wasabi at the other end. Roll up the roll like sushi, and use the wasabi to secure the end. Repeat with the rest of tuna and cucumber.

Mix the Vegenaise and Sambal Oelek together and place a small dollop on top of each roll. Add black sesame seeds to garnish. Serve and enjoy!

All in all, this meal was a total winner, and I would love to recreate it sometime for friends. Try it yourself!