Cherry blossom gazing Part 1 花見

japanese cake

Finally, spring has sprung. This winter was one of the coldest we can remember. To add “insult to injury” we even had snow in late March. As a result, spring is “late” this year and is very compressed–all the flowering trees are blooming at once. The picture below is of magnolia in full bloom which usually occurs much earlier than cherry blossom but this year both are in bloom at the same time.

Usually the cherry trees in our back yard bloom about one to two weeks later than the ones at the Tidal Basin. This year, however, ours came out around the same time as the ones in the Tidal Basin. The buds started to ripen on Wednesday and by Saturday, they were in full bloom.

So, we had to have hanami 花見 cherry blossom gazing.

Since I did not have time to order any good sashimi items, I had to make something from what I had at hand–frozen yellow fin tuna from our freezer.  This seems to happen often for hanami.

I made this “zuke” of tuna.マグロの漬け. To make it interesting, I layered it with thin half moon slices of daikon which were salted, washed and dressed with sushi vinegar. I also made a “scallion”sauce with coarsely ground roasted sesame.

The sake glasses came from Asakusa craft center 江戸下町伝統工芸館. It has etched plum flowers on it.

Here is a close up of the zuke of tuna sashimi. I made a slightly different marinade with sake, mirin, soy sauce in 1:1:2 ratio and heated it up to remove the alcohol and then cooled it down. I added the juice of grated ginger (to taste) after it cooled to room temperature. I did “yubiki” 湯引き to the block of tuna and made rather thick slices and marinated them for several hours in the refrigerator. Just before serving, I made “negi” sauce which is a mixture of finely chopped scallion (soaked in water with the moisture then squeezed out using paper towels) and the marinade. I added coarsely ground roasted white sesame to the sauce as well as used for garnished on the top.  Considering the quality of original frozen tuna, this treatment really made this tuna palatable. Of course, this is the first dish and hanami went on (to be continued).

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