Uni Shiso Tempura with Lime Salt : Unlocking Nobu’s Secret

By Tsz on November 28, 2011

Fans of Nobu Matsuhisa or uni in general may have come across the uni tempera. For those who haven’t seen the light, it’s seriously one of the most amazing preparation of sea urchin ever invented.

When they’re done right, they are out of this world with a hot crispy exterior thanks to the tempura batter and warm creamy interior thanks to the uni. Think fried ice cream (savory that is) to the nth degree!

What’s even better is it’s easy to recreate them at home as it requires little else other than fresh ingredients and a few steps. In fact, I made this with my friend just a few days ago for an uni-centric picnic and it was a breeze since almost every step can be done a head of time.

Or, if you can’t wait, depending on how far you live from the nearness fish monger/Japanese market, you can indulge in them within an hour. So, I urge you to go give them a try and let me know what you think!

Uni Shiso Tempura with Lime Salt (adapted from Nobu: The Cookbook)
Serves 4

Uni Packets
12 pieces of the best quality uni you can find
12 Shiso leaves
4 Sheets nori
1 Tb flour

Tempura Batter
1 cup flour
1 cup ice water
1 Tb corn starch
1 egg yolk

Lime Salt
1 Tsp lime zest
1 Tb fleur du sel

Canola oil
Key lime wedges

1. Cut nori sheets in three lengthwise and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 1 Tb flour with 1/4 cup water—that’ll be the “glue” for your packets.

2. Wrap a piece of uni with a Shiso leaf, then wrap the packet with a piece of nori. To seal the edge, draw a line with the “glue” on one end of nori and lay the packet with the seam under. Repeat until all the uni has been secured.

3. Set the plate of uni packets in the freezer for 20 minutes. Do not skip this step! This is the most important part as it keeps the packets in shape before frying as well as preventing the uni from being overcooked later on. We want the uni to warm after frying but still stay virtually raw (or rare depending on your preference).

4. While the uni is chilling, mix the lime zest with the sea salt and set the mixture aside in a saucer. Make the tempura batter by whisking the flour, water, corn starch and egg yolk together in a mixing bowl. Er on the side of lumpiness rather than smooth as you don’t want to over beat the mixture.

5. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan until it’s at the right frying temperature. Drop a tiny bit of batter in the oil to test—if it bubbles and floats immediately, it’s ready.

6. Take the uni packets out from the freezer. With chopsticks, dip a packet into the batter and place gently in the oil. Fry 2 to 3 packets at a time. When they float and the batter takes on a pale color, you’re good to go! Drain them on paper towels and enjoy with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of lime salt.

Enjoy responsibly!


Foodbuzz 24×24: Fall Uni Harvest

By Tsz on November 28, 2011

This is for uni lovers:

Learned this little tidbit recently: according to California’s Fish and Game Department, an individual is allow to gather 35 sea urchins each day with proper licensing. My jaw dropped upon hearing this from my friend before my brain went into hyper drive. So many uni(s), so little time!

Thanks to Foodbuzz’s 24×24, I got to throw a fall picnic featuring the spiky, yet scrumptious sea urchin roe. Serendipitously, my friend just moved into a new home, so what better way to celebrate than to christen by feasting in his new backyard?

The first part was getting the uni—we gather a small group of water loving and licensed friends for a dive to fulfill our hunter gatherer instincts. Unfortunately due to ocean conditions and a minor emergency, we weren’t able to gather the spiky creatures from our schedule date.

My friend did some quick thinking and shared his source for unbelievable seafood. Located in the industrial side of Downtown Los Angeles, there is a seafood warehouse called Los Angeles Fish Co. Although they mostly cater to top sushi restaurants and wholesalers, they open up to the general public from 6am to 9am. So, we woke up at the crack of down and made a trek to the fish market.

Inside Los Angeles Fish Co. were endless displays of seafood. There were fresh toro fillets, oysters, mollusks of all sizes and shapes—it’s easy to get overwhelm with their selection. However, we were on a mission for uni so we bought out their entire supply of Santa Barbara sea urchin roe and got straight to work.

1. Sea Urchin with Wasabi Salt
Since the sea urchin was all ready cleaned, the first course was to simply enjoy them on their own with a little wasabi salt sprinkled on top. Simultaneously sweet, creamy and briny, they were a wonderful way to begin the meal.

2. Uni Shiso Tempura with Lime Salt (Recipe here)
This course is one of Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature dishes with good reason. Picture smooth uni wrapped in a shiso leaf, then again in crispy nori and battered in a light tempura batter and deep fried and served with a zesty lime salt. It has the consistency of fried cheese on a stick but way better!

3. Creamy Uni Scrabbled Eggs with Crostini and Greens (Recipe here)
Though everyone has their own method of making scrambled eggs, Gordon Ramsey’s technique yields the most luxurious texture in my opinion. His secret? Low heat, patience and lots of stirring. Since learning Ramsey’s method, I have never gone back. For this course, I mixed in a healthy measure of uni at the very end to elevate this traditional brunch favorite.

4. Seared Scallops with Uni Risotto and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (recipe to be posted)
My friend and I spied some plump scallops at the warehouse and this was the end result—a dish celebrating sea bounty. In efforts to moderate the moderate the richness of the dish (there was a lot of cream, cheese and butter hidden in the risotto!), we paired it with roasted cherry tomatoes.

5. Sea Breeze Granita (Recipe here)
With such a rich and heavy meal, we went light with the dessert (and uni free). Inspired by the old-fashioned Sea Breeze cocktail, we made a cranberry grapefruit granita with vodka. Think snow cones for adults!

In efforts to keep this entry to a manageable length, I’ll be posting each uni-centric (and dessert) recipe in their own separate page, one for each day of this week. Thanks for reading and happy eating!

Los Angeles Fish Company
420 Standord Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: (213) 629-1213


Ladurée Paris : The Holy Grail

By Tsz on November 10, 2011

This photo may not look it, but to me, this is as monumental as the man walking on the moon. The reason is, although I am a bona fide Francophile, I’ve never step foot atop French soil until this past month.

It’s one thing to watch Amelie in the comfort of my own room, or even do a presentation on couture fashion for my 7th grade English class (completed with a play-by-play commentary on the Chanel resort collection). But to actually fly 15+ hours to a foreign country where I don’t speak the language? Yikes. Yes, I admit I am weaksauce.

I took the easy route until this year when I had enough of my own wussy-ness.

The result was a 2 week trip to the fashion capitals of the world: Paris, Milan and just for fun, a stint in the Côte d’Azur. It was life-changing and oh so delicious!

On my first day in Paris, I lived out my childhood dreams by *window* shopping on the Champs-Élysées and indulging in pastries from Ladurée. Since my time in Paris was limited, I opted to forgo dining in Ladurée’s tea salon and went instead on a search for a picnic area outside.

That spot was right outside of Air France’s office building, facing what looks like the gates of heaven. Let the feasting begin.

First up was the Religieue Violette. I’ve been dreaming of this since Chef Ludo showed me a photo of it on his phone 2 odd years ago when I asked for his favorite pastry recommendation in Paris. Picture two of the most delicate cream puff pillows filled with a dreamy violet cassis flavored pastry cream—a religious experience indeed.

Next was the iconic Ispahan as it’s mandatory to try the macaron from its birth place. A ring of plump raspberries and almond goodness hid even more goodies inside—rose creme and litchi. Not too sweet, nuanced and full of surprise, this is the epitome of French dessert perfection.

Last was the Saint-Honoré Rose. It was the prettiest of the 3 specimens with swirls of faded pink chantilly creme. Alas, it didn’t take so well to the journey. Nonetheless, it was still divine with its hidden raspberry compote and rose creme.

What a day. I thought seeing Paris in real life would cure me of being a Francophile as rarely do reality match fantasy. In this case, I was completely wrong. Paris je t’aime!

Ladurée Champs Elysées
75, avenue des Champs Elysées
75008 Paris
Phone: +331.