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OISHII / Luxurious pasta to taste sea’s bounty, spring vegetables

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Seafood and rape blossom spaghetti with cream sauce

The Yomiuri ShimbunSeafood, rape blossom pasta with cream sauce

In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home.

Some readers may want to increase their cooking repertoire using seafood. Italian chef Ryuichi Hamasaki, owner-chef of Ristorante Hamasaki in Minato Ward, Tokyo, recommends a luxurious spaghetti with cream sauce using many seafood ingredients such as shrimp, squid and scallops. Nanohana rape blossoms are added to give a sense of the season.

A key point in this dish is Hamasaki’s way of making the cream sauce. “Use newly harvested onions to add thickness,” Hamasaki said. These fresh onions, available in springtime, are rich in moisture and have a strong sweetness. Hamasaki makes use of these characteristics for the sauce.

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    Deep-fried mushrooms

In a heated frying pan with butter and olive oil, place thinly sliced onions and add two pinches of salt before immediately placing a lid on the pan. “Sprinkle salt, steam-fry the onions,” Hamasaki said. “Please do this step without fail.” 

The salt helps extract water from the onions as if they were sweating. The onions soon wilt and become sticky. By steaming the onions, it becomes possible to retain their soft texture and sweetness.

Cut seafood ingredients such as scallops and shrimp into relatively large pieces and grill them until browned. Add them to the pan. Then add fresh cream and when the ingredients come to a boil, add the rape blossoms and boiled spaghetti. Then the dish is ready.

“Please do not simmer fresh cream for a long time,” Hamasaki said. “If it is cooked too much, it will cause the fresh cream to get hard or the flavor to be diminished.” By combining steam-fried onions with fresh cream, the cream becomes moderately thick, so the cream does not need to be simmered too long.

The thick taste of cream mixes well with the sweetness of the onions and the seafood flavors, accented by the slightly bitter taste of the rape blossoms. The seafood, the main ingredients of the dish, has a savory flavor, and features a chewy texture since they are cut into relatively large pieces.

While spaghetti is used for this recipe, macaroni also works well with the sauce. Why not try this combination of the “fruits of the sea” with the taste of spring?

Deep-fried mushrooms

If extra mushrooms are available, a good way to use them up is to deep-fry them. Lightly sprinkle flour over them, coat them with beaten egg, then cover with bread crumbs mixed with grated cheese. Repeat process for double coating. Deep-fry them at about 180 C until coating becomes golden brown since mushrooms are edible raw. The hot, crispy texture of the coating and the light texture of a raw mushroom offers a new twist. Enjoy them with lemon.

Recipe for seafood, rape blossom pasta with cream sauce

Ingredients (serves 2):

80 grams scallops

70 grams shelled shrimp

60 grams squid body pouch

6 rape blossom stems

70-80 grams thinly sliced newly harvested onions

50-60 grams white mushrooms

10 grams butter

140cc fresh cream

120 grams spaghetti

Extra virgin olive oil

Recipe for seafood, rape blossom pasta with cream sauce

Directions:

1. Cut shrimp and scallops into 2-centimeter pieces. Score in mesh pattern both sides of squid and cut it into bite-size strips. Peel surface of mushrooms with kitchen knife or other tool and cut them into four to six pieces of same size. Cut onion in half and thinly slice. Blanch rape blossoms in salted water and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. Put butter and tablespoon of olive oil in heated frying pan. Add sliced onions to pan with two pinches of salt and cover with lid. Steam-fry onions over high heat.

3. Cook spaghetti according to instructions on package

4. Put small amount of olive oil in another heated frying pan and grill seafood over high heat. If available, drizzle over tablespoon of brandy.

5. Add mushrooms and seafood to pan with onions. Add fresh cream and simmer, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add rape blossoms first, then spaghetti and mix.

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