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Negamaki + Daigakuimo from Japan • A Culinary Tour Around the World

January 29, 2011 by Joan Nova in Asian, Blogging, Culinary Tour Around the World, Food Challenge, Meat, Travel Retrospectives, Vegetables | 23 Comments

Have you heard of umami? Umami is a word that recently made its way into the worldwide culinary vernacular. Its origin is Japan and the definition loosely implies ‘good taste’ or ‘deliciousness’. There are all kinds of chemical reasons that trigger this sensation. They involve words I don’t understand like glutamate, ribonucleotides, inosinate and guanylate.

Suffice it to say, if I ever use it…I mean it in the gastronomical sense and as it has conventionally become known: “the fifth taste” to its counterparts sweet, sour, salt + bitter. Beef and sweet potatoes are considered umami-rich foods.

I loved this dinner for its combination of sweet, savory and salt…which definitely speaks umami to me!

I invited Jim, Julie + Cassie to share the meal with me before we attended a performance of Pilobulus at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts…which, by the way, was disappointing. But that’s another story.

Better than a banquet somewhere else
is a good cup of tea and a bowl of rice at home.

Japanese saying.

Japanese Snack Crackers

Oh, dear…Cassie was not very happy with the little fishie she found in her snack bowl.Can’t say I was thrilled either, but I ate it! Tasted like the rest of the crackers.

Aren’t I self-less and brave for posting such an unflattering close-up? Ah, what we bloggers have to do for authenticity!

Negamaki
I made this dish in 2 steps as the recipe suggests and I used a technique I saw on a Canadian Foodies blog, utilizing plastic wrap rather than toothpicks or string to secure the roll. It was one of those duh-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? moments. It works really well if you refrigerate for a while before cooking.

[The only place I strayed from the recipe was using thinly-sliced and gently pounded New York Strip.]

Daigakuimo (sweet glazed potatoes)

[Japanese sweet potatoes are red-skinned and not available locally
so I used the more readily accessible tuber.]

Red Bean Mochi (store bought)

Julie and Jim share a smoochy mochi.

About this dinner…
This was the first time I used red miso which, along with the other ingredients, made a wonderful marinade for the beef rolls. The candied sweet potatoes were a good call as a side dish to complement the salt and savoriness of the negamaki. I also served white rice that had been splashed with rice vinegar for a touch of acid. We didn’t enjoy the mochi (way too sweet) and the outer texture was like a marshmallow (yucky).

Sayonara!

Bloggers Round-Up: Wednesday, February 2
Next Stop: Thailand, on or about February 13 (we are traveling for a week in between)

Event details + Info

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!

23 Comments

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  1. cinzia says:

    very lovely dish, joan!
    I am so worried about this trip because I am not that keen on japanese food, don’t have much feeling with anything concerning sushi, sashimi & co.
    but anyway, I will try to find something to please me/us, as this is the first work to do for a good travelling!
    have a nice time and see you then!

  2. Umamamama! The negmaki looks fantastic. Those snacks are the best – addictive.

  3. Jessica says:

    oh my gosh! i don;t know if i could have eaten that fish cracker. Just the thought of it! Yikes but everything else looks divine! So fun to see what your up to. Great dish! I did sushi on my site for the first time in the beg of january and it was so much fun! Can’t wait to do it again! Have a great weekend!

  4. Congratulations! You are brave for posting the fun photo of yourself! The joy of the partakers of the meal is evident. How fun, even though Cassie wasn’t sure of the fish. Did she try it? Did she like it?

  5. This is the first time in ages that there are such fun photos of you and your family really enjoying your creations! The personality evident in your son’s “Our Family Food Fight” photo is evident here. I absolutely love the sparkle and fun! And the crackers are wild. Never seen anything like those ones here! The meal looks fantastic. I cannot wait to try it! And I will be trying it. The sweet potatoes look surreal!
    :)
    Valerie

  6. @Cinzia–Perhaps you could try something like yakisoba if you don’t go for sushi? Yakisoba is noodles, pork and veggies with a sweet/savory sauce that you saute together. Very nice.

    Joan, I loved your food and presentation! Beautiful! Daigakuimo is something my Japanese sensei told me about in one of our Japanese lessons—daigaku means college and imo means sweet potato. College students eat them late at night from stalls because they are so cheap and delicious! I love them myself.

  7. Amanda says:

    My grandpa ate tiny little fish like that. It always creeped me out. Still kinda does.

    Anyhoo, I like the idea of using plastic wrap. I like to make roulades, but I always find taking out the toothpicks pretty difficult, they break or I mess up the breading. But not going to lie, I’m a tad bit hesitant. All the more reason to try it!

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. zerrin says:

    Wow! the fishie cracker looks creepy! I would eat it too anyway!
    Your negamaki looks amazing! My husband will love this.
    And your last picture is so lovely!

  9. bellini says:

    This meal speaks to what Japanese food is all about the importance of clean flavours and simplicity. Very well done Joan. I will be a little late in arriving in Japan, Turkey has me spellbound:D

  10. I so loved that you picked Japan as part of the tour – It is one of the Asian cuisines I love so much and associate with refined flavours and textures. Yum. Unflattering photo – not. But you’re right, its what makes us authentic and creates the differentiation.

  11. Torwen says:

    Very beautiful presentation!Love the expression on your daughter’s face :)
    I’m totally sympathising!

    If you can get a hold on freshly made mochi, give them a second chance, they are actually quite nice.

  12. I just received a French cook-magazine, and the word “unami” was there with no explanation…Thanks for letting me know!!

  13. norma says:

    What great pictures. The plating is sooo sleek. Great post Joni.

  14. Joan, this looks wonderful…the presentation is very Bento-like too! The sweet potatoes look sooo good!

  15. Damaris says:

    Eating at your house looks like fun, even the snack fish. I love your pictures!

  16. Love the sushi smooch! And the rest of the dinner.

  17. Lori Lynn says:

    Hi Joan – love how you plated your meal!
    LL

  18. Rich says:

    So THAT’S what the fish was! Ha! That really does look good. I’ll tell you, all this stuff is pretty danged impressive …

  19. marifra79 says:

    Mai provato! Non hai idea di quanto mi piacerebbe!
    Un abbraccio e complimenti

  20. Maria says:

    Japanese food is something I have neve rtried making at home. Great post Joan! The meal sounds great and you make Japanese (which I always envision as a difficult cuisine to dabble in) look so much less daunting. Beautiful presentation!

  21. Whata fun post! I really love your ingenuity in the face of all culinary challenges :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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