Monday, November 13, 2006

Welcome to the First International Lunch of the Season!

Today, the First International Lunch of the season took place.
Eight people of 6 different nationalities (USA, Japan, Venezuela, Belgium, Argentina, France) gathered to taste 5 recipes from Belgium, Japan, Argentina and Vietnam.
We asked many questions in 4 different languages (English, Japanese, Spanish and French) with our 6 little children who communicated so well, and promised to repeat the experience soon!

The principle is very simple: getting together around a demonstration of a recipe chosen by the host, and participating by bringing a specialty from one’s own country. We had the honor to taste California Rolls and Inarizuchi, two Japanese dishes, Pionono Agridulce, an Argentinean recipe and a Chocolate Mousse... with Belgian chocolate, please! As a host of the luncheon, I chose to prepare the Vietnamese national dish, Pho, the best beef soup in the world!
Thank you infinitely to Andrea, Catherine, Gail, Katrien, Mabel, Ritsu and Sabine who participated with such enthusiasm, and who share with you the following recipes:

California Roll
2 cups sushi rice
2 sheets of nori (dried seaweed)
1 avocado
1 lemon
1 lettuce
3/4 cup crab meat
1 can of tuna in water
1 tbsp mayonnaise and 1 tbsp cream cheese
Sesame seeds lighly roasted
1/2 tsp salt
Peel an avocado and cut it into strips. Put tuna in a bowl and mix with salt, cream cheese and mayonnaise. Cover a bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Put a sheet of dried seaweed on top of the mat. Spread sushi rice* on top of the seaweed and press firmly. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the sushi rice. Turn the sushi layer over so that the sheet of nori is on top. Place crepe, lettuce, tuna, avocado and crab lengthwise on the seaweed. Roll the bamboo mat forward, pressing the ingredients inside the cylinder-shaped sushi. Press firmly the bamboo mat with hands, then remove the rolled sushi. Cut the sushi roll into bite-sized pieces.

*Sushi rice
3 cups Japanese-style rice
3 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
After washing the rice well, cook it by pan or rice cooker. See how to cook Japanese rice*. Prepare sushi vinegar (sushi-zu) by mixing rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pan. Put the pan on low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture. Spread the cooked hot rice into a large plate (if you have it, use a wooden bowl called sushi-oke) by spatula. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice by shamoji very quickly. Be careful not to smash the rice. To cool and remove the moisture of the rice well, use a fan as you mix sushi rice. This will give sushi rice a shiny look. It's best to use it right away. Makes 6 cups of sushi rice.

*Japanese rice
Put the rice in a bowl and wash with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes clear. Use just enough water to cover the rice -- don't fill the entire pot. Let the rice soak in the water at least 30 min. One hour is ideal. If you are cooking the rice in a pan, cover the pan with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils, turn the heat down very low and cook about 15-20 min. until the water is almost gone. Remove the pan from the heat and let it steam for 10-15 minutes before serving.

6 abura-age (fried tofu)
4 cups sushi rice *rice and sweet vinegar mixture
1/2 cup dashi soup stock
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp soy sauce
Bamboo shoot
Green soybeans Edame
Dried small shrimp
Put abura-age into boiling water for a moment and drain well. Cut the abura-age in half so that each piece have an open end. Put dashi, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce in a pan and bring to a boil. Add abura-age pieces to the pan and lower the heat. Put a lid over the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Take out the abura-age into a plate and lightly press to remove the liquid. Mix together the rice, shredded carrots, bamboo shoot, green soybeans Edame and shrimp. Shape abura-age into small sized ovals and press the mixture into pockets.

PHO (Hanoi Beef Noodle Soup)

Ingredients for 8 to10 people:
2 lbs meaty beef bones
4 lbs beef chuck
2 inches fresh ginger
2 tbsp salt
4 liters water (1 gallon and 1 cup)
1 onion (large)
20 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 whole star anise
4 cloves
1 Tbsp sugar
Cilantro ( just stems, keep the leaves for topping)
Fresh basil
½ to 2/3 cup fish sauce (nuoc nam)
Dried flat rice noodles (medium or large)2 packages or 28 oz

Fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
Purple basil
Ngo gai
Minced green onions or scallions
Lime slices
Nuoc nam
Hot chili sauce
Put in a pressure cooker the bones, chuck, ginger, salt, onion and water. Bring to a boil, skim the broth. Add peppercorns, cinnamon, anise stars, sugar, cilantro, basil, cloves and fish sauce. Cook about 30 minutes (1 1/2 hours without pressure cooker). Take out meat and leave it to cool, it will be easier to slice thinly. Filter the broth and throw the bones and the spices. Put back in the cooker. Slice the meat, in the direction of the fibers. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiled water about 2 to 3 minutes only.
Arrange toppings in a plate and put on the center of the table.
When ready to serve, distribute the noodles evenly among the deep bowls, then top with meat slices. Pour the hot broth over, filling the bowl, and serve immediately, with porcelain spoons and chopsticks and with the platter of toppings, nuoc nam and chili sauce on the side.
Pionono Agridulce
For the dough:
3 eggs
100 g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
100 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
Mix the eggs, sugar and vanilla until it increases (using electric batter).
Sift the flour and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture gently, in 3 times.
Put on a baking sheet and bake 5 minutes at 350 F.
For the filling:
3 eggs
Boil 3 eggs and cut them into small pieces. Mix with pineapple, prosciutto and mayonnaise.
When the dough is ready, spread the filling and roll up.

Belgian Chocolate Mousse
200 g of very good dark chocolate (from Belgium)
5 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon coffee (beverage)
1 tablespoon milk or cream
a pinch of salt
1. Melt the chocolate on low heat with the milk or cream, and coffee.
2. Whisk the egg whites with the salt until they stand in soft peaks.
3. Mix the melted chocolate with the egg yolks.
4. Gently, mix the egg whites with the chocolate mixture.
5. Pour in espresso cups and serve chilled.

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