It's surface of the sun season.
Somedays, it’s just too hot to cook. Well, at least to really cook. Like to turn on machines that actively make things hotter. Today would be one of those day.
A few minutes ago, the house robot told me it was 95°F. That’s the last information I have because right after that, the power went out. On one hand, it’s wonderfully quiet. The constant whir of air conditioners and fans silenced. On the other hand, it’s the hottest day yet this year and the street noise hasn’t gone away either.
So, I’m sitting in the dark, re-writing this intro. An intro to an edition that, had I gotten my act together, would have gone out a few minutes before the power went out.
I didn’t get my act together. So, I don’t know when this edition of the newsletter will hit inboxes. It’s unlikely to be my usual Tuesday afternoon. It might be Tuesday evening. Or - at the rate things seem to be going here today - you might be reading this on a Friday afternoon in August.
But I do have some great hot weather food to share today. This menu originally included a couple of additional dishes but they:
leaned on some ingredients that are getting harder to source as we get further into real-big-hot-all-the-time-don’t-go-outside-because-it’s-hot-as-the-surface-of-the-sun-summer.
I left them out – but I reserve the right to share them in the future because they’re good dishes … just maybe not surface-of-the-sun day good.
UPDATE: It’s now 10:15 pm. They say we’ll have our power back by Friday … maybe. It’s going to be 99°F tomorrow. We’ve decamped to a family member’s powered and air conditioned house. On a completely unrelated and not at all sarcastic note - if you know of any great jobs in say … a place where it snows in June, let me know. I like snow.
There are thousands of tuna tartare recipes out there. A lot of them are probably pretty good – though I avoid those that include mayonnaise as a base ingredient. That’s because “creamy tuna” makes me think of my grandmother’s tuna noodle casserole and then I can’t stop thinking about my grandmother’s tuna noodle casserole and at that point I’m pretty much off food for a week. Come to think of it, The Janet’s Tuna Noodle Casserole Diet could be a thing. Guaranteed to curb your cravings. Be right back, got an infomercial to make. I’m gonna be an influencer!
Ok, no, really. This, like I hope the other dishes in this week’s rather truncated edition, is cool, refreshing, and doesn’t really require a lot to throw together. You can add or remove things as you’d like: swap out the sesame seeds for crushed peanuts, add a dollop of sriracha, even add some diced avocado – though that gets a little close to “creamy tuna” territory.
1/2 lbs. fresh, sushi grade tuna
1 green onion
1 sheet sushi nori
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tap black sesame seeds
1 tsp red pepper flake
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
Using a sharp knife, cut the sushi nori into very thin strips.
Cut the nori strips into ½ inch pieces.
Trim, and very finely slice the green onion.
In a large non-reactive bowl, combine the soy, sesame oil, and green onion.
Cut the tuna into ½ to ¼ inch cubes.
Gently toss the tuna with the sauce and onions.
Add the sesame seeds and shredded nori and gently fold to combine.
Serve immediately, topped with the red pepper flake as garnish.
I lied. I mean, this does require cooking. For about 30 seconds. Sure, it also requires heating a pan of oil, which probably really defeats the purpose of the whole not cooking exercise, but who am I to deny you all the delicious crunchy things.
Tempura is a wonderful technique – just a kiss of heat means that whatever vegetable or protein you’re cooking and a shatteringly crisp shell. It’s sort of the ultimate finger food. Sure, you could use utensils, but why?
1 bunch medium thick green asparagus
1 cup AP flour
½ cup corn or potato starch
½ tsp kosher salt
2 cups ice cold club soda or mineral water (unflavored Topo Chico is perfect for this)
Oil for frying
Soy, tamari, or ponzu sauce for dipping and garnish
Set up your fryer and bring your oil to 375°F
Whisk together the dry ingredients.
Slowly add about 1/3 of the soda water, stirring gently, until the batter isn’t clumpy.
Add the remaining soda water.
Working in batches, dip the asparagus into the batter, allow most of the excess to drip off, and then fry until crisp – about 1 to 1 ½ minutes.
Drain on a paper towel or on a sheet pan with a rack.
Serve warm drizzled with soy or ponzu sauce.
Garnish with a little paprika or Shichimi Togarashi.
Cucumber Salad Version 3876
I’m calling this Cucumber Salad Version 3876 because prior to this, I think I’ve made about 3875 different versions of cucumber salad, some of which I’ve shared here, some of which were enjoyed at our table, and a few of which probably ended up in bin because they didn’t taste good – or worse – were soggy. Sogginess is the worst crime a cucumber salad can commit. Crunchiness is its reason for being!
This is a simple iteration, little more than oil, vinegar, ginger, and garlic – almost like an extremely light pickle, but not very sour. I dress it up with a little Shichimi Togarashi.
1 English cucumber
2 tsp neutral oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp microplaned fresh ginger
1 tsp minced cilantro (opt)
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp microplaned garlic
Shichimi Togarashi. (for garnish)
Remove the ends from the cucumber, and cut into 2-3 inch long pieces.
Quarter each piece and cut away the seeds.
Place the cucumbers in a bowl of ice water and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In a non-reactive bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, and ginger.
Allow the ginger, garlic, and vinegar mixture to rest for ten minutes, then whisk in the oil.
Drain the cucumbers, toss with the dressing, and top with the Shichimi Togarashi.