Key Ingredient: SEAWEED

Sushi Kappo Tamura’s owner and chef dishes about the edible sea plant that packs healthy nutrients……………….

Seaweed, long revered in Japanese culture, is available as close as Puget Sound. But can we simply stroll down to Golden Gardens and harvest some fresh kelp for eating? “Yes,” says Taichi Kitamura, owner and chef at Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake. “All seaweed is edible; it is just a matter of tasting good or bad.”

1215eatanddrinkseaweedSeaweed comes in various shapes and forms—pressed and dried into sheets for sushi rolls, salted in jars, dried whole and other preparations. “I like them all, but my choice is wakame,” says Kitamura. Dark green wakame is sold in both dried and jarred forms. Sometimes labeled as sea vegetables, it has an almost indistinguishable, subtle taste. The texture is satisfying. “It’s something in between melt in your mouth and chewy,” he says.

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HOW TO :: Preserving & Canning Pears

Seckel pears are diminutive, with muddy, olive green skin and a firm texture. Their tiny proportions make them impossible to resist, and the perfect size for a light dessert after a rich meal. They ripen toward the end of September, so be on the lookout as the season is short. Pears are poached in a light caramel syrup – you can determine how dark you’d like to burn the sugar. I prefer mine deeply amber, imparting an almost burnt quality to the fruit. Of course, you can also infuse the syrup with any number of aromatics. Here, we use vanilla, but lavender buds, fresh thyme or even a bag of your favorite tea. When you crack open the jars, the pears’ exterior will have a gorgeous caramel hue, whereas the centers stay creamy. I like to serve the pears whole, with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of the syrup. … Continue reading

Cooking with Fish Sauce

 Ma‘ono’s Mark Fuller dishes on his go-to ingredient To the uninitiated, the mention of fish sauce might well result in wrinkled noses. However, the oft-misunderstood ingredient brings a welcome punch to a variety of dishes. Because fish sauce falls outside the flavor categories typically recognized by the American palate, the savory-salty taste is hard to define. The Japanese describe it as “umami”—roughly translated as “deliciousness.” At Ma‘ono, the mystery works. “People won’t know why the food tastes great, but it does and that’s what matters,” says Mark Fuller, chef and owner of Ma‘ono Fried Chicken & Whisky (West Seattle, 4437 California Ave. SW; 206.935.1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com), a Hawaiian-influenced restaurant that also serves now-famous fried chicken dinners. “I’m looking for flavor in all of my dishes and fish sauce is a fermented product that’s a bit funky and offers subliminal and compelling flavor.” Fuller relies on fish sauce for his kimchi, adding … Continue reading

Le Pichet’s French Onion Soup Recipe

1214frenchonionThis is the recipe for french onion soup perfection – that uber rich broth that holds velvety onions and is covered in burnt cheese. Le Pichet is in Seattle and a def must-visit if you haven’t been in some time.

For Le Pichet’s French onion soup (aka soupe a l’oignon gratinée or gratin lyonnais), chef/co-owner Jim Drohman uses at 14-month cave-aged Comté cheese, which has a strong, nutty flavor and smells slightly of the barnyard. Continue reading

Best Soups in Seattle

I loved putting together this list of what I think are the best soups in Seattle. The article ran in January’s Seattle Magazine, but I’ve condensed it here to a selection of soups that I would personally recommend, versus having to include neighborhoods across town. I would eat these soups any day of the week. What am I missing?!

DOWNTOWN 

Tom’s Tomato Soup at Dahlia Bakery and Dahlia Lounge 
In the jewel-box space that houses the Dahlia Bakery, people queue up year-round for takeout soups, salads and sandwiches. Just like mom used to make, Tom’s tasty tomato soup (available daily) is loaded with canned tomatoes and cream in perfect proportions, creating a super tomatoey soup that is best eaten with the brown-butter croutons (always served in Dahlia Lounge, next door; order as an extra at the bakery).
Tom's Tasty Tomato

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HOW TO :: Quince Recipes

quinceSeveral years ago, I received an email from a friend, who had a friend who was giving away 40 pounds of quince. I didn’t even know what quince was back then, but I figured I could preserve it easily enough. I sent an email to this woman I’d never met. Within hours, I found myself driving to Ballard. I rang her bell, she invited me in, we had some tea and I walked away with over ten pounds of quince. Better still, I made a new friend.

Every year since, Elaine has emailed me to let me know when her father’s quince tree ripens. I drive to her place, chat about food (last year’s topic du jour—kimchi), and walk away heady with a huge bag of fragrant yellow fruit. Quince is beautiful when poached, roasted or baked but it absolutely shines as a Continue reading

PLANT SPOTLIGHT :: Salvia

Black & Blue SalviaI’ve been growing food for people in their backyards since 2004 and while my breadth of knowledge for edibles is deep, I’ve only just scratched the surface of all other plants. Landscape plants, bushes, annual flowers and trees remain a mystery to me. Solution? Write a column! Introducing PLANT SPOTLIGHT.

Salvia’s are a large genus of plants that include all sage. Everything from the commonly known varieties, like Common Sage (aka Salvia Officinalis) that we use to cook with, to more showy ornamental plants like this Salvia Black & Blue. Woody and fragrant, salvia’s add both color and productivity to any garden. Most importantly, perhaps, they are powerful pollinator magnets – attracting hummingbirds and insects to the garden. With blooms ranging from red to purple and heavily scented leaves, salvias are a hardy plant and will last for years in your garden. (Note that for hard winters, you must definitely mulch!)

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TGIF Cocktail Hour :: Fir-Tip Syrup Recipe

Spruce TipsI spent Easter weekend out in Skykomish and marveled at the many shades of green on the drive up. Evergreen trees stood dark and pine-y against emerald colored leaves and lime-y new growth. It is truly a magical time in the tree canopy – just look around! On a recent walk in Discovery Park, I reached up and pulled a pale chartreuse bit from a fir trees outstretched limbs and chewed whilst strolling. Good stuff. It reminded me now is the PERFECT time to used this Fir-tip Syrup recipe! Continue reading

TGIF Cocktail Hour :: Citrus & Mint Fizz

It’s FRIDAY! Time to squeeze some fresh citrus, bust out the cocktail shaker and invite a few friends over to unwind. No need to make it a big project, or turn it into a long night, but with TGIF Cocktail Hour, I invite you to slow down, socialize and sip.

I’m starting this series with………stopyellingatme……….a non alcoholic beverage. Of course, you can mix some vodka or gin in here if so inclined, but truly – this drink stands on it’s own and feels every bit as decadent without the addition of booze.

© Esra Paola Crugnale | Dreamstime Stock PhotosAt any party, I like to offer a non-alcoholic drink that is every bit as festive as a fancy cocktail or wine. I’ve been making this one for years after seeing a version in the New York Times holiday section. For this fizz-filled drink, a heavily spiced syrup is added to fresh orange juice, along with a drop of peppermint oil, to make a perfect savory, refreshing drink. You can substitute half of the lime juice for lemon juice, or use all lemon juice if so desired. The syrup can be flavored with many other spice options–try allspice, fennel, or even a red chile for some heat. Make extra–most guests will choose this over Prosecco. Continue reading