Okay, it didn't look so good as it soundest like the easiest dish in the book, using the least ingredients and with as basic a preparation as possible. We mean, there is no way whatsoever you will find us attempting some of the other, more ambitious dishes like "Osmanthus Flower Jelly with Hashima" (a dessert) or "Seared Australian Lamb Loin, Salsa Verde, Lyonnaise Onion, Aioli & Crispy Bacon" (a main course). Nope. The shabu-shabu required only 10 things, two of which (some garnishes) we managed to cut out. That left eight things to buy.
So here's what went down while we attempted to make this Singapore Airlines recipe, by Japanese chef Yoshihiro Murata:
· We spent $16 on the meat alone. It needs to be fine-quality, thinly-sliced beef tenderloin? Ugh, we hate dealing with red meat. At the butcher counter at the grocer, we just asked for a pound of good stuff that lends itself to slicing. An angus filet is what we got, but it didn't come cheap.
· The Hunt for
Red October Sesame Paste. Nowhere we went carried sesame paste. Not even a hole-in-the-wall Indian/Asian shop that seemed to have everything but. In the end, we dug around the bottom shelf of the organic section of a big box grocer to locate the next best thing: pure sesame tahini. It was also pricey. Come to think of it, as simple as the recipe is, the ingredients were not cheap to buy. To make this one small dinner, we could have gone out for a splurgy Japanese meal at a restaurant.
· Ack, it's so acidic!. Making the sesame-wasabi sauce went like this: mix together the sesame tahini, mirin (rice wine), wasabi paste, rice vinegar, lime juice and soy sauce. Done. But dang was it acidic. We ended up "fixing" it by adding more wasabi and a dash of garlic powder.
· Is this meat safe to eat? The recipe called for blanching the beef, which means it's still pretty raw. And um we don't trust ourselves much when it comes to preparing and safely consuming nearly raw red meat. So we blanched it a little more than the requested 5 seconds.
· Screw the garnishes. If we can't find sesame paste, we aren't going to attempt daikon sprouts and whatever the hell "aomi sansho" is. We did the leek part of the garnish, but it didn't turn out nearly as pretty or as curly as the cookbook illustration. Duh.
· We haven't died yet. Now to dispense with the cynicism and exclaim that is was a success! We ate it and although It didn't look as pretty as the cookbook's version and it probably didn't taste as great as when Chef Murata makes it, we think that if first class passengers on Singapore Airlines are eating things close to this, they've got it pretty well made up in the sky. That said, we will probably never make another recipe from the cookbook again, but for accomplished chefs, a few dishes could be a very creative weekend project.
Note: The sesame-wasabi sauce is also predictably excellent on noodles.
Our finished product
For more info on the cookbook, go here.
Disclosure: Singapore Airlines sent us the cookbook, but didn't ask us to do anything with it. We just felt like seeing if it was functional and more just a pretty bookshelf addition
[All photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted]