This month Think Spice is hosted by Krishna of Cooking from A to Z and features wasabi. It's a great choice - I can't wait to see the different dishes that come out of the round up! Since the first time I ate sushi I've loved wasabi - but I've never really used it in cooking. Krishna gave us a couple of vital wasabi hometruths:
Wasabi isn't horseradish!
I did know that one! Although... it is from the same family (the Brassicaceae if you're interested) and is often called Japanese horseradish!
And not only isn't wasabi horseradish - often it isn't even wasabi!! The worst of the pretenders (supermarket tubes!) is no more than a mix of horseradish+mustard+food colouring - and even the restaurants generally cheat away from the real thing.
Nice! I did not know that!! Apparently it's because wasabi loses its potency very quickly - so horseradish is added to give the 'nasal burn'... And true enough - I check my wasabi powder - only 10% real!!
I have another wasabi fact to add to the mix:
Wasabi is neturalised by ginger.
Yep, so you can get a huge lump of it, mix it in with your sushi and soy and feel your brains explode for as many seconds as you can bare... Through streaming eyes, find a few slices of pickled ginger and ease them past your burning lips. Chew, relax and feel the wave of ginger juice calm the burn!
So the next time you're eating sushi - don't add the ginger to the sushi 'bundle', but use it as a palette cleanser between pieces!
Anyway, with this month's offering I couldn't resist a return to my deep fryer. Beef marinated in ginger, mirin and soy, with a crunchy wasabi coating. Served with crispy ginger slices to protect against the wasabi! (Not that it was needed - I think next time I'd probably double the wasabi powder used... But I do like my food hot, so let personal taste drive your choice on this one!)
This made a great appetiser - but would also work well as a light lunch with a salad!
- 4 tbsp corn flour
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp wasabi powder
- 200g thick beef steak
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 1" fresh root - very finely sliced
In a bowl big enough to take the steak, mix together the mirin, soy, sesame oil and ginger
Prepare the steak...
Slice the steak against the grain into slices about 5mm each. Add the beef slices to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
In a food bag, mix together the two flours and the wasabi powder. Once the steak has marinated, strain the beef to remove the excess marinade (I was happy leaving the grated ginger in the meat - feel free to get rid of it if you want :)
Put the strained beef strips into the bag and mix thoroughly so that the meat is completely covered with the flour wasabi mix. Shake off the excess and leave the beef to sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the flours to bind with the marinade.
Heat the Oil...
Eeek! I don't have a real deep fryer, or a thermometer... so I can't give you an exact temperature. You want it really pretty hot though - ideally we are just crisping up the corn flour mix - not cooking the beef through!
Make the Ginger Crisps...
Carefully drop the ginger slices into the hot oil. Watch for them to turn golden, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oil and set onto some kitchen roll to drain.
Fry up the Beef...
Cook the beef in two batches to ensure there is enough space for it. Gently drop the beef into the hot oil, stirring immediately to separate the slices. Cook for 30-40 seconds - until the flour is crispy, remove from the heat and drain on kitchen roll. Give the oil a minute to come back up to heat before going the second batch. Don't over cook these - as they will continue to colour when drained... But if you *really* hate pink meat then give them up to a minute to ensure brownness!
Serve with the ginger crisps scattered on top. I didn't feel that they needed dipping sauce, but if you really want to then keep it simple - there are already a lot of strong flavours going on in there!