Sake Gumi

Thursday, another start of a four-day weekend, was spent in the kitchen. It was gorgeous outside, and it would have been a perfect day to lay on the beach, but all the travel, sand, and that return trip with sand stuck in your butt crack didn't sound too attractive, so I decided to devote it to an Umamimart-worthy cooking challenge.


A couple weeks ago, I made roasted tomato soup (so that I can still enjoy tomato, without a scratchy throat). I bought beautiful heirloom tomatoes and decided to recreate it.

2lbs. of tomato
1 onion
2-3 garlic

Cut tomatoes, onions, and peel garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper it. Put in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.



Dump the whole thing into a pot, add about 3-4 cups of chicken broth, cook another 30 minutes.


You can also use regular consomme (MSG, but it does make it better). I think chicken stock by itself is a bit too weak.

Do you know natural umami is included in tomato, seaweed (the konbu kind), and mushrooms? I happen to have porcini mushroom powder on hand (I bought it in Italy last summer, but sat in the pantry for a year untouched), so I sprinkled some in.


After half hour of simmering, add handful of basil, and blend together until smooth. You can add a bit of cream if you would like.


This can be served hot or cold. And you thought I was using this as a starter, right? Especially with some of the No-Knead Bread I made would go pretty well to dip in the soup.


But read on...

I had a huge bunch of basil, so naturally I made pesto.

1/3 cup of pine nuts
3 cups of basil
1/2 cup of olive oil


Blend together. FYI, I didn't add any parmesan to the pesto. I think you are supposed to use it all immediately if you put cheese in it. I wasn't sure how long it would take me to use the pesto up, so I figured if needed, I would add the cheese later on.


Leftover basil stalks can be a nice flower arrangement for the table as well.


What to do with the pesto?

Read on...

This is the main part of the challenge. I went to Chinatown, and bought a whole snapper. I've never filleted a fish in my life. I can gut a squid, or boil an octopus without fear, but something about the eyes, flesh and the whole appearance of a fish in general has made me not want to deal with it. One reason I decided not to cook lobster any more is that fear. Something about seafood with eyes/hands/claws freak me out too much.

But I was inspired by Yoko's Japanify posts, and decided I had to overcome my fear.


I will post a Japanify-esque post next week on how to fillet a fish. For now, all it matters are fresh pieces of snappers.


I forgot to take a picture, but fillet pieces are nicely chilled in the fridge.

I had bi-color sweet New Jersey corns, as well as roman beans.


Roman beans are a lot sweeter than regular green beans, and I simply sauteed them with butter, salt and pepper.


So you think I had roasted tomato soup as an appetizer, and snapper with a side of corn/roman beans?

Too easy.

Instead, I combined everything into One Hell of a Dish, to make it look restaurant-style.

First pour a bit of soup on the bottom of a plate.


Place corn/roman beans on the center.


Here comes the pesto. I smeared pesto on top of the skin of the fish, and pan fried them. Sprinkle salt and pepper, then smear pesto. I coated them with flour for extra crunchy outside.

Place fish on top of corn/beans.

One Hell of a Dish complete.


I overdid it. I should have served soup as is, with crusty bread, and served fish and corn/beans on the side.

Soup overpowered the rest. It was good, but each item would have been savored better if I served them separately. Oh well, at least it looked good, and my efforts of schlepping down to C-Town, having a bit of a surgeon's experience by cutting up the fish, and the whole apartment smelling like basil was not bad.

I am currently looking for a photographer who can come to my apartment every time I cook and take pictures. If I took all the pictures of this weekend full of cooking and baking, I wouldn't have to worry about what to post for next four weeks at least. Blueberry tart (easiest and the best recipe!), shelled mussels with leftover roasted tomato soup pasta, ground chicken/shiso/corn meatballs, deep fried eggplants soaked in dashi/daikon radish sauce, spicy ground beef/oyster sauce topping on chinese broccoli, just to name a few.  I won't pay you, but you can taste all of them.
Column: ReCPY


  • That really is one hell of a dish! Looks super.

    sakura on

  • gorgeous! god, i wish i lived near you so i could take you up on the “photography for food” offer.

    yoko on

  • Chicken sisho corn ball turned out to be really really great, and it’s on my list to recreate.

    Yamahomo on

  • yah, we really need to find Yama a photog. uh, chicken/shiso/corn balls? DUDE. WE ARE MISSING OUT!

    awesome post, Yama! love how we’ve witnessed the stream-of-consciousness thought process of how your dish came together. you are a true kitchen artist.

    kayoko on

  • Oh my god! How do you find the time for all this? I would happily assist as stand-in photo girl when yoko’s busy shooting her own grub. You should start a homeless workers union:
    Foto For Food!

    Anders on

  • yes please mon amour.

    kayoko on

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