Monday, December 29, 2008

Misoyaki Maki

We'd been invited to a champagne-tasting party, to which we were instructed to bring an appie or somesuch. Easy, right? Except that I totally procrastinated, and it started snowing. Hard. I didn't want to press my luck and brave a drive to the store for flour (I really wanted to make little empanadas, but couldn't make dough - who the fuck runs out of flour? Pioneers?), so I had to really wrack my brain. What in the hell could I scrape together? I didn't even have something fake to cook and sauce up. Like that one time when all I had was some quince jelly in the freezer and a thawed-out boneless leg of lamb, and hastily threw together "ooh, how 'bout some Moroccan-spiced lamb kebab with cardamom-quince glaze" that were doled out onto a platter with toothpicks and greedily devoured. Turns out a lot of people did their part, thought ahead and brought hummus to that party. A lot of different hummus, and my one platter of spicy, last-minute meat.

I am, if nothing else, the Queen of Pulling One Out of Her Ass. I looked through the cupboards. Nothing. Some fucking cans of fish and tomatoes, a can of lychee and coconut milk, and a can of mock abalone. Gross. Look again, see the jars of starch lined up all soldierlike: cous cous, bulgur wheat, barley, lentils, some aged jau mein (that's ay-jed, not to be confused with the savory patina of proper storage), arborio rice and calrose rice. Sigh. Look again. Grab cans of smoked black cod and sturgeon (from local waters), jar of calrose, then shuffle across the kitchen to the "Asienne" cabinet and grab the teriyaki-flavored nori sheets, the black sesame seeds, tamari and sesame oil, some sake and mirin and gochujang. To the fridge for shiro miso, some scallion and young ginger.

I was going to make mini onigiri, it turned out. With misoyaki filling. I forgot about the jar of umeboshi in the fridge, evidently. I cooked the rice on the stovetop, and then pulled it off to cool in the snow. I chopped together the drained fish, and blobs or glugs of everything else until it was perfectly seasoned and gingery. I sprinkled in some togarashi to give that proper umami, and then we mashed up little fish-filled rice balls until the rice was all gone, wrapping a little fingertip sheet of nori over each. Half the fish was still left. The party loved it, and the hostess even proclaimed it better than the onigiri in Tokyo. It worked well with the champagne, which cut through the rich, salty smoke of the misoyaki, the effervescence pushing past the huge starch molecules on its way into the tickly cilia of the olfactory system.

The next day, while Scott nursed a wicked champagne hangover (I never knew those even existed), I twisted up a fatty nori maki from the last remaining regular sheet of nori in our cupboard, with freshly cooked sushi rice (stirred and fanned with a pinch of sugar and salt, and a splash of rice vinegar). It was a tasty and quiet lunch, and a great way to pat myself on the back for thinking on my feet. It's good to be Queen.


peter said...

I run out of flour all the time.

Did you know that "Misoyaki maki" was the last thing Jar Jar Binks said right before he was brutally murdered?

Heather said...

Orly? 'Cuz I heard it was "your mom."

Dana Treat said...

I so admire someone who can make do with what you have. I am not nearly so skilled and am constantly running to the grocery store - yes, even during snowstorms - for things that I need for recipes. Bravo to you!

Peter G said...

LOL! "pioneers!"...ROFLMAO! You really are queen! That's some great "last minute" stuff Heather. You are the champ!

Peter M said...

...and she calls this easy...pfft! That trip to Japan has paid off in spades...sushi borders on art - pass me a dozen.

Carmen said...

Yum, looks like a great lunch. :) I run out of flour all the time.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Quick thinking there Heather!!!

Syd said...

How does somebody who runs out of flour just HAPPEN to have the shit on hand to create this? Seriously! I'm blown away. Looks delish, fwiw.

Mosby said...

Reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, making a souflee of eggs and saltines. You'd kick Audrey's ass.

Heather said...

Dana - I was a 50s housewife in a previous life, evidently.

Petah - No, you're a champ. :)

Peter the Greek - Make no mistake, this is just home-style stuff that moms tuck into their kids' bentos for school. Not anything fancy. But still tasty.

Carmen - You must be a pioneer. :)

Judy - Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. I just couldn't bear to bring another bean dip.

Syd - Doesn't everyone have canned tuna and rice in their cupboards? And shiro miso and nori?

Mosby - Well to be fair, she only weighs like 90 pounds. I think a third grader could whip her ass.

Ken Albala said...

Man, It's only 9, I ate breakfast hours ago, and now all I can think of is making something that looks like this! I may even have vaguely similar ingredients, if you count vialone nano and dried salmon jerky. And I can always go out and buy champagne. Heather, pretty amazing for pulled out of your ass sushi. Ken

Helen said...

Wow, you really pulled it out of the bag! You are definitely right to be proud - talk about making a stunner out of what seemed like and empty larder. Good work!

Lo said...

OK -- its cooling property is definitely one of the finer points of snow. Love it when I can just toss my rice out in the snowbank :)

Brilliant last minute concept, woman.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Are you sure you aren't part Japanese???

Brittany said...

ooh she's crafty!!

By the way, champagne hangovers are the only kind of hangovers I ever get. And the champagne hangover is a cruel hellbitch. My thoughts are with your husband.

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Very clevah time include that can of potted Jar Jar Binks you have in your obviously ample cupboard...a stocked pantry has saved my ass many a time!

glamah16 said...

You are the Queen for sure.

Heather said...

Ken - Shave that jerky and you practically have bonito.

Helen - It's funny how laziness tricks us into thinking we have nothing, until we're forced to try.

Lo - I am such a whore for letting nature do work for me. It's free cooling! (See also: sun tea)

Anne - I'm turning Japanese I think I'm turning Japanese I really think so.

Brittany - There's something about sulfites that just poisons me, but I haven't had a wine hangover in ages. Knock on wood.

Hank - What, now you and Peter are tag-teaming? Mama likey.

Courtney - I know you are but what am I.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Classy way to end 2009, girl. Whether or not it came out of your ass. Which somehow I doubt.

More of the same in 2009, please.

Oh yeah, and, er, Happy New Year!

(heh heh - your word verification has just asked me for 'coksm'. I know, I really must grow up.)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Good to be queen, indeed.

I, too, run out of flour.

kellypea said...

I'm thinking pioneers would never run out of flour. Must be rough to come up with these delectable bites when you're in a pinch. Feh. You should be famous. Wait. You are. I bow down to your awesomeness.

Elra said...

Dear Heather,
Just a quick note to wish you a happy new year. I wish you and your love one always in a good health, lot's of luck and all beautiful things come in year 2009.

Of course, those makis look delicious.
Best wishes,

Kevin said...

That tmisoyaki maki looks really good!

Happy new year!

Bellini Valli said...

All hail to Queen Heather. You are so creative I have no doubt you could pull something delicious out of seemingly nothing. Have a sale, happy and tasty New Year. See ya in 2009!!!

Anonymous said...

I used the snow in my yard to chill wine. Then I made Navy bean soup with the leftover Christmas ham bone and Homemade sour dough bread. YUMMY! But nothing fancy and artistic like your party fare!

matt wright said...

That certainly isn't nothing in the pantry!! Great stuff as usual.

Queen is completely right

Happy New's to you.

kyouell said...

Not sure if I said this before: recently found you through Dave Knows Portland.

I guess I'm a pioneer too because 2 nights ago I had to go to the neighbors for a half-tablespoon of flour. Can't have roux without flour, can't have au gratin potatoes without roux... even if I am a pioneer.

Now just to remember to pay them back with a treat.

glamah16 said...

Happy New Year !

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Just reading this post sent me in a tongue twister.

I run out of flour. It's easy to do. If you always assume that you have it in the pantry, you never buy it. Then one day you're about to bake something and you're suddenly making unplanned grocery store runs.

Choosy Beggar Tina said...

Last week I ran out of flour, butter, salt and pepper. And it was Jan 1, which meant that all the stores were closed and I was totally screwed. New years resolution: put up a goddamn grocery list on the fridge.

Also: have you seriously never had a champagne hangover? Oh, Heather. If you had just dropped by our house on any given night during the last two weeks....

Mike of Mike's Table said...

the cans in your pantry are far more exciting than mine. and that sentence sounds much more lurid than it should have. also, lol@"into the tickly cilia of the olfactory system"

Heather said...

Sketti - I'm hoping to do some different things in 2009, but I'll do my best to keep my flair. ;)

Jen - I'm glad I'm not the only one. I just rarely run out of anything because I love to food shop.

Kelly - Now I just need to work on the "rich" to go with the "and famous." ;)

Elra - Thank you, and to you also!

Kevs - Happy New Year to you too, eh? :D

Valli - Having well-stocked cupboards comes in handy, it's true. :) Happy New Year to you, too!

Anon - That sounds wonderful. I have some smoked meaty bone of some type in my freezer that might need to resurface.

Matt - A forced purge once in awhile is good for the ol' creativity, that's for sure. Happy 2009 to you.

Kyouell - My favorite part of borrowing from neighbs is the repayment with a piece of what I made. :)

Courtney - You too, honey!

Rachel - That's just the thing. I never write it down when I notice I'm low, I just try to remember when I need something. :\

Tina - Knock on wood, I've never gotten sick off bubbly. There's always 2009, thoguh! :D

Mike - Quit staring at my tits! (*^_^*)

Brooke said...

I loves a last minute meat, myself.

Excellent lookin maki!

kyouell said...

While I agree with the repayment idea, a bit of au gratin potatoes seems weird. I think I'll just bake them a loaf of bread next batch. Simple yet lovely, with no dishes to return.

Foodycat said...

Wow - that is a tribute to a well-stocked pantry!