Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Sake Parcel

We have a bottle of sake in our home, a gift from a friend who came back from Japan. It's been there for many many moons, as hubby and I haven't developed a thing for grain alcohol as yet. Afraid that a sincere gift may go to waste, I have now removed the sake from its beautiful peach pastel-flowered gift box, and a tinge of regret bubbled up - a very common feeling I get whenever I have to unwrap any beautiful Japanese product, these guys are truly the masters of retail packaging with their eye for detail and presentation unsurpassed.

I had read somewhere that the slightly sweet-tasting sake is commonly used in marinade and in sauces, and decided that therein laid the opportunity to lay waste to that bottle of sake (and the answer is NO, if you're thinking that I will be kind enough to hand-deliver or courier that bottle over to you).

A Sake Parcel
I found this recipe in one of those cookbooks touting authentic simple Japanese fare. Read through it, and thought to myself, "wait a minute, this sure sounds like the way the French steam-bake their parchment paper parcels of fish marinated in white wine with tomatoes etc...".
  • preheat oven to 375F (or about 190C) - important to do this step first, since the rest of the preparation is a breeze
  • recipe recommended white fish fillets - so I went for grouper fillets, which are particularly good for steaming as the flesh has a wonderful slightly sweet taste and stays firm when cooked (this particular fillet that I used was about 2 and a half inches wide, but I would suggest slicing the fillets into 1 and a half inch wide for better and faster cooking)
  • place parchment paper on top of aluminium foil, brush the parchment paper with a little bit of olive oil, and place fish fillet in the center
  • here, I deviated slightly from the recipe which only called for 1 tablespoon of sake to be drizzled over each fillet - thinking that it might just be too 'sake-concentric' for us, I sprinkled a bit of ground black pepper, drizzled a dash of yuzu ponzu (which is basically Japanese soy sauce flavoured with juice from the yuzu citrus fruit) followed by about 3 tablespoons of sake for my thicker slab of fish fillet
  • place some enoki mushrooms on top of the fish fillet, and fold the edges of the parchment and foil together into a parcel
  • pop into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes (maybe 10 minutes or so, if your fish slice is thinner)
  • if you like, serve garnished with some dried bonito paper-thin strips or flakes.
Opening this sake parcel at the dinner table, the delicious aromas tantalized, and the slightly sweet flavor of the sake did not detract from the freshness of the cooked grouper meat glistening from its sweaty steam. The sake sauce was totally irresistible. Well, whaddayaknow, we do like grain alcohol after all (at least in this form)!

No more than 30 minutes to get this dish onto the dinner table, and that is assuming you take a long time to wash the fish fillets, the enoki mushrooms and cut those pieces of foil and parchment, and of course, not forgetting the time needed to preheat the oven. Sheesh, if I had known how absolutely bloody easy it was to make this healthy dish, I would have opened that bottle of sake many many moons ago!


Blogger Precious Moments said...

Wow another easy recipe and from the way you describe.... gosh I am drooling now. ***now waiting patiently for my sake****

8/02/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous sleepydays said...

My advice on Japanese sake is "drink it up as soon as you can, especially so if you have opened it!".

Japanese sake is like Sushi...supposed to be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. It has VERY short shelf life.

My parents used to send very prestigeous Japanese sake to my parents-in-law, who always kept it on their cabinet saying that "We want to keep it for special occassion!" despite the fact that I have been trying to tell them that it will go wasted if they don't consume fast enough. After a few trial, I gave up and told my parents to send them something else that can be preserved.

Not all Japanese sake is like that, of course, but most popular ones are like that. So, if your friends ever gave you another bottle of Japanese sake in future, try open it on that very night, and finish it within the night. ;-)

That's the very best way to truly enjoy it.

8/02/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger shaz said...

thanks. looks wonderfully sweet and tender.

8/02/2006 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Audrey Cooks said...

Indeed a great way to continue that healthy meatless diet. Since now your body system is pretty 'detox', fish should be good choice to keep up the health regime. Good choice!

8/02/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous slurp! said...

gosh! too expensive to keep ... i think generally sake don't age like wine. besides i felt that their taste & structures (of premium drinking sake) were so delicate & subtle that it could be destroyed by cooking.

however, i'm glad it all turn well with your fish & enoki :)oops! my tummy grumbling again after seeing all these ;P

8/03/2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Mahek said...

wow such lovely photos you are very talented.

8/03/2006 01:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Tanna said...

I could help you use it faster so it would go to waste. I'd only need about 2 cups, I think, oh, well maybe plus 6 tablespoons for the fish.
Lovely post. This is excellent fish.

8/03/2006 04:08:00 AM  
Anonymous evan said...

hey cath, great of you to drop by my blog! how r u lately? hope you're doin' good! been following your blog closely, and i NEVER miss any of your postings. just wish you'll update your blog more often coz i really like the way u write + the breath-taking photos. they're such eye candy!! i realized your flickr's got much more photos so sometimes i do take a look there :p

by the way cath, i just need to ask u something. hv u heard of the book 'the last course' by claudia fleming? i heard its quite a good book, and rather popular as well. wonder if u know whether its available in sg? tot maybe borders, kinokuniya, times or MPH may have. and if not, i might wanna order via amazon. hv u bought any books from there b4? wonder if they'll send the book directly to my home or i hv to collect at the post office? thx so much for yr help!

take care~

8/03/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Shiokman said...

Hi! this is my 1st time here. I must say that I'm truly impress by your food photography & I must also try your out your mushroom cream soup - looks great. Thanks for sharing & fantastic blog.

8/04/2006 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

@precious moments, haha.. "waiting patiently for your sake"?... methinks it's faster if you zip out to the supermarket and grab a bottle!

@sleepydays, that is one of the best advice I've ever received... and I will definitely try to abide by it the next time! thanks :-)

@shaz, HI! and ur welcomed!

@audrey, I'm so detoxed that I've fallen sick with the flu bug! Probably my body rebelling against all that healthiness! heehee!

@slurp, I originally thot so too until I saw this recipe in a Japanese cookbook and since the cooking time is only 15 mins or so, I think the sake would not have deteriorated too much in structure and taste.

@mahek, you're too too kind!

@tanna, lolz, now if only you are much much nearer!

@evan, things have been pretty busy lately, so haven't had the chance to update the blog as often as I wished.. it's good that you've dropped into my flickr photo stream, then you probably know what's gonna be coming up in the posts! I've heard of claudia fleming's "last course" but don't have it.. there's a very good selection of cookbooks at both Borders and Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City (I usually buy my stuff from either of these two outlets) - check it out! As for Amazon, I've ordered before as well but only the cookbooks that I really cannot find in Singapore - otherwise, with the add-on delivery charges, sometimes it may be cheaper getting it in SG, especially when the bookstores have their 20% discounts every once in awhile.

@shiokman, welcome and so happy you dropped by.. do try the green pea soup and let me know if you like it :-))

8/04/2006 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger J said...

hi cath, what a beautiful dish! i can just imagine the heavenly scent and flavour the sake must have imparted. i too am a huge sucker for japanese packaging...

8/07/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous keiko said...

Hi Cath, glad you put the sake to good use - it looks fabulous! I'm not a big fan of sake, but love using it for cooking :)

8/07/2006 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

amazing stuff..glad u r still enjoying cooking as usual....

8/08/2006 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger boo_licious said...

What a great recipe and so simple. Hope you're feeling better after yr flu bug.

8/09/2006 07:58:00 PM  

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