The Yomiuri ShimbunHerb-crusted pasta
In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home.
Sanma, or saury, is a fish traditionally served in autumn. Chef Ryuichi Hamasaki used his oven skills to turn the fish into a stylish and crispy dish.
Hamasaki — who owns Ristorante Hamasaki, an Italian eatery in Tokyo’s Minato Ward — first sprinkled bread crumbs seasoned with herbs over the saury to seal in the savory flavor under a crisp surface.
Hamasaki said people in southern Italy eat a lot of bread and often make their own bread crumbs from leftovers. “Bread crumbs seasoned with herbs can be used for dishes as varied as seafood, meat and pasta,” he added.
The chef minced herbs such as flat-leaf parsley and garlic to crumb-size proportions and then mixed them with the crumbs, and finally with olive oil. He then rubbed the mixture thoroughly with both hands to retain the moisture from the oil. “The crumbs stick to the fish faster this way,” he said.
He added grated Parmesan cheese and lightly stirred, taking care not to mix too rigorously and cause fat from the cheese to saturate the crumbs and make the mixture too soggy.
Next, he prepared two pans, one for sprinkling the crumbs over the saury and the other for baking the fish in the oven. If done in the same pan, loose crumbs will burn and spoil the flavor of the saury. Hamasaki then spread olive oil over the skin of the fish so the crumbs would better stick to them.
Hamasaki set the temperature at 220 C and allowed plenty of time to preheat the oven to prevent a fishy odor from lingering inside. He recommended cooking the fish on high heat for a short amount of time to make them soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. A toaster oven can also do the job, he added.
“Check the color of the crumbs to decide when it’s done,” he said.
The crumb-and-herb crust has a pleasant texture and leaves a taste of garlic and parsley just as strong as the savory flavor of the saury.
“Olive oil-coated crumbs covering an entire saury seal in the fish’s fat,” Hamasaki said.
Finally, he said, slices of lemon cooked alongside the fish add a subtle sourness and extra layer of flavor.
Recipe for herb-crusted grilled saury
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 saury (cut into fillets)
6-7 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
½ clove garlic
5-6 stems flat-leaf parsley
1 branch rosemary or thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp pine nuts
1. Add minced garlic, parsley and rosemary to bread crumbs. Add olive oil (1½ tablespoons), salt and pepper to mix. Add Parmesan cheese and stir lightly.
2. Cut each saury in half to make eight pieces. Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the fish. Brush olive oil over skin and then cover fish in crumb mixture.
3. Lay aluminum foil over baking sheet and spread thin layer of olive oil on it. Pour a few drops of olive oil on each piece and sprinkle pine nuts evenly. Preheat oven at 220 C and grill fish for 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Cut tomatoes into wedges and sprinkle salt and olive oil over them. Serve saury and tomato with sliced lemon.
Toasted herb crumbs pair well with pasta.
When preparing pasta, keep in mind that the grated Parmesan cheese should not be roasted with the crumbs.
Toast crumbs in a frying pan while shaking the pan until the crumbs turn brown. Boil 80 grams of pasta and then mix it with 1
tablespoon of olive oil and 6 grams of butter. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, a pinch of black pepper and the amount of crumbs to your liking. The crunchy crumbs accentuate the dish.
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