One of the more coveted sushi

One of the more coveted sushi

This week, Chef Maeda introduces Abalone prepared Edo-mae (Tokyo Style), steamed in sake.  As a sashimi, fresh, raw abalone’s chewy texture with that distinctive flavor of the ocean is treasured.  But perhaps, as sushi, that chewiness prevents it from mixing with sushi rice quickly on palate.  When a good, fresh abalone is properly steamed in sake, it is no longer chewy, instead it becomes delicately tender, easily melting away and mixing and spreading with the sushi rice in the mouth.  Edo-mae sushi chefs take pride in giving their own touch to the fresh ingredients to bring out the best flavor, and this 4-hour steaming of abalone is one of the most intricate techniques that is passed on from a master chef to the disciple.  It may not always be available, so please do not miss out.

 

 

Californian abalone is steamed in sake

Californian abalone is steamed in sake

 

 

 

 

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100% shrimp shumai - carefully made piece by piece

100% shrimp shumai - carefully made piece by piece

Shumai is a Chinese dumpling adopted into Japanese diet.  They often are made with minced pork, and served as a part of dim sum.  We serve shrimp shumai at Maeda Sushi.  We grate the high quality tiger shrimps and carefully round into bite size balls.  Steaming, of course, is a very healthy way to cook (no oil used), but it also helps packing the flavor into the pieces, shumai comes out perfectly moist, juicy out of the steamer.  The shreded skin provides a unique texture.  We place five big pieces on our fallen leaf ceramic plate and serve with soy-Japanese mustard mix.  It started out as a special, but it has been so popular, it will be in the permanent menu very soon.

Marc Yves

pictured: Hartford Courant photographer Marc Yves and Maeda

We have an exciting announcement. The Hartford Courant will have a full review on Maeda Sushi Restaurant inside Thursday’s “Flavor” section. Mr. Greg Morago, Courant’s food writer, had come to experience Maeda Sushi Restaurant (we were told after the fact) and his review will be published along with Mr. Yves’ photographs on this Thursday, the 20th. Please pick up the paper on Thursday.

Sea Eel, anago

 

As in the freshwater variation, sea eel is a cooked ingredient of sushi.  Called anago in Japanese, its characters mean “hole-child,” as they hide in nooks and holes in the sand during the day, coming out only at night to feed.  The freshwater cousin is better known in the United States, but the sea eel is the eel preferred by sushi houses in Japan.  Sea eel is a cooked ingredient of sushi and the all important sauce, called tsume, is also made by the chef – making it a great showcase of the chef’s taste preference and skills.

 

Maeda’s sea eel is poached so softly, it breaks down immediately once in your mouth.  The texture is very fine, much finer than that of the freshwater eel.  The sweet fat is lighter and gentler.   Tsume, the sauce, is made from the broth which the sea eel was poached.  To the broth, soy sauce, mirin, and some sugar among other things are added, and the simmering for a long period thickens the broth into a tsume.  After making the sushi in his hands, Maeda would brush the tsume on the sea eel just before serving it to you.  The sweet and sour aroma of tsume teases you as you bring the sushi to your mouth.  As the sea eel melts, it wraps around every grain of shari (sushi-rice), all seem to meet in a harmony of flavors, textures, and warmth.  It is also a great source of vitamin A.  Now available year-round, sea eel’s natural best season is spring and early summer.

 

“Anago has to melt in your mouth…but if it’s too soft, it will fall apart on the touch of chopstick or hand.  To make it just right, timing is very important during the poaching.  As in any living things, every sea eel is different, so I pay close attention and treat each of them differently.”  Maeda

Oshibori and Yubihuki 

When you sit down at Maeda Sushi Restaurant, a server will hand you an oshibori, a moist, warm towel for your refreshment, and sanitizing.  If you are at Maeda’s sushi bar, and like to eat nigiri sushi with your hands, then our server will provide you a yubihuki.  Please use this small sarashi cloth inside the ceramic container to clean your fingertips in between the bites – just pinch the towel and rub without pulling it out of the holder.  The green holder is made by Tatsuko Kishida like many of our other ceramic potteries and tablewares, which should be a subject for future posts.  By the way, eating nigiri sushi with your hand is encouraged at Maeda Sushi.  Maeda communicates with the customers through his sushi…wouldn’t you think handling sushi would bring you closer?

Maeda Special Sushi

Ten pieces of sushi and a Tuna Roll…

Depending on seasonal availability, it usually consists of:

Fatty or Medium Fatty Tuna, two pieces of Tuna, two kinds of white fish, one Yellowtail, one clam, one Eel, one Sea Urchin or Salmon Roe sushi, Egg sashimi, and one Tuna Roll.

Nine pieces of sushi and a Tuna Roll…

Depending on seasonal availability, it usually consists of:

Fatty of Medium Fatty Tuna, two kinds of white fish, one Tuna, one Egg, one Salmon Roe, one Shrimp, one Yellowtail, one Salmon sushi, and one Tuna Roll.