by Veronica Chan
Having spent a full two days at the International Boston Seafood Show, engorging myself with perhaps one too many raw oysters and smoked salmon samples, my seafood pilgrimage concluded with the Taste of Oishii event sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Hosted at the Westin Hotel adjacent to the Boston Convention Center, the tasting featured ten leading Japanese seafood producers whose products are poised to lead the newest Japanese gastronomic trends in the United States.
A brief introduction by Harvard Professor Theodore C. Bestor, Professor of Anthopology and Japanese Studies, highlighted the history of Japanese cuisine and culinary practices and its deep roots in Japanese tradition, while also emphasizing new contemporary applications of Japanese ingredients beyond solely traditional Japanese cuisine.
The dips and spreads were an interesting and accessible use of Japanese products in a way that Americans can more easily integrate into their everyday cooking and eating habits. The wasabi-spiked guacamole and a dip mottled with salmon roe simply paired with water crackers were the most successfully innovative use of Japanese products offered. The briny salmon roe complimented the creamy dip and the creamy guacamole was enhanced with mild hints of freshly grated wasabi.
For the most part, most of the dishes prepared for the event leaned towards the traditional side. Slivers of delicately sliced yellowtail sashimi imported by Morimatsu Suisan Reito Co. stood out from the rest of the yellowtail options. The fattiness of the meat is attributed to the Iki Jime method, removing the brain tissue, therefore delaying the rigor mortis process and preventing the degradation of the tissue. Not only does this technique retain the freshness and taste of the tissue, but also is a humane slaughtering technique.
Kibun Foods, Inc, a leader in surimi seafood products was also present at the presentation. Surimi is a product intended to imitate the texture of lobster, crab, and other shellfish that is typically made with white-fleshed fish such as pollock or hake. Traditionally in Asian cuisine, surimi is used for hot pot. Kibun showcased Chee-Chiky (broiled surimi seafood with cheese) at the Taste of Oishii; cut into slivers and placed atop a bed of salad.
While the most familiar form of wasabi, the pungent green lump of paste that accompanies sushi and sashimi, is commonly made from powder, the wasabi introduced at Taste of Oishii was straight from the root. Unliked its powdered or tubed counterparts, which are often mixed with horseradish and preservatives, freshly grated wasabi contains Wasabi-Sulfinyl, a beneficial ingredient found in fresh wasabi roots, which controls carcinogenesis, improves blood circulation, and increases metabolism.
Here are some easy ways to integrate Wasabi into your everyday diet:
Put a desired amount of grated Wasabi in the shochu. In the cold months, adding hot water instead of cold water is recommended.
Mix two parts mayonnaise with one part grated Wasabi. Use as a dip for crudites or in a sandwich.
Mix two parts miso with three parts finely chopped or grated Wasabi. Use it as a dip for crudites, on rice, or as a rub/marinade for fish.