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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stomachs' Eleven: Shabu shabu with wagyu

Miniature ramen replicas

Why does everything look so much better in miniature?

The first thing I did was grab the camera when I spotted these in the display cabinet at the home of Silverlily and Supermario. Collected from toy stores on a recent trip to Japan, they held pride of place in the cabinet. I was enamoured immediately.

Tiny bowls of ramen with chopsticks suspended mid-air, steaks of wagyu, fluffy golden puffed tempura and dishes of curry rice with gravy jugs tilted above them... these miniature food replicas were works of art. They also made me very hungry...

Tempura on rice

Japanese curry on rice

Apart from the Japanese miniature food display, the blackboard in the kitchen is another giveaway that in this household, the importance of food is paramount:

The best quote from The Lord of the Rings?

Tonight we're gathered for another Stomachs' Eleven dinner. It began with a slab of wagyu, progressed into plans for shabu shabu and ended up as our usual all-out foodathon. We lounge about all afternoon, watching back-to-back episodes of the Japanese anime about bread-making Yakitate!! before our stomachs rumble and dinner is served.

Tsukune grilled chicken meatballs

We start with an entree of tsukune grilled chicken meatballs made by Pig Flyin'. These simple meatballs are flavoursome and moist, studded with chopped shallots and cooked to a caramelised sweetness.

Spinach and almond salad

I never tire of toasted almonds in salads. Their delicate crunch is such a welcome contrast, especially against the satiny leaves of young spinach, tossed through with tuna, slivers of red onion and a light dressing.

Broccoli with mentaiko sauce

Simple florets of steamed broccoli are the perfect vehicle for the salty decadence of mentaiko sauce, a light mayonnaise mixed through with cod roe.

Rolled stuffed tamago

Pig Flyin also reveals a beautiful log of rolled tamago omelette. I don't realise it's stuffed until the first slice is made...

Tamago stuffed with eel

Inside the soft spongy layers of sweet mirin and dashi soaked omelette is a strip of unagi, the buttery flesh of the sticky glazed eel melting in the mouth. It's a simple addition but oh-so-deliciously impressive.

Collecting yuba from boiling soy milk

A claypot of homemade fresh soy milk is put on the boil, and we spend about twenty minutes patiently collecting the yuba skin which forms on top. Picking up the skin with one deft movement using chopsticks is a bit of a delicate artform, but I love the anticipation of waiting for the skin to form, and the convivial atmosphere it creates around the table.

Yuba soybean skin

We take turns to collect the yuba skin, dipping it in soy sauce for extra flavour before eating.

Pork slices

Mushrooms and tofu

Wagyu beef slices

We move onto the shabu shabu next. We used the leftover soy milk to cook slices of pork, mushrooms and Chinese cabbage; the wagyu was cooked in a simple dashi stock.

Shabu shabu time!

Shabu shabu in Japanese translates to "swish swish" in English. Similar to hot pot, it's about quickly cooking thinly sliced meat in broth - generally your meat should be cooked in the time it takes you to utter "shabu shabu".

Cooked pork

I've always considered a wagyu steak to be my favourite way of eating this delicately marbled meat, however Pig Flyin' and Mrs Pig Flyin' both like it eaten shabu shabu style - now I can see why. The meat is incredibly tender, the thin slice heated just enough so the fat has started to melt.

Strawberry puree gelee


We're having sushi.

Assembling the sweet sushi roll with strawberry gelee and kiwifruit

Sushi roll overed in chocolate flakes

Slicing the sushi roll

Dessert sushi with kiwifruit, strawberry gelee and mango

Toasted coconut

To make dessert nigiri, Pig Flyin blowtorches the scored flesh of fresh young coconut so it resembles grilled squid. I can't help thinking of Totoro's belly though.

Mango caviar

Pig Flyin' and Mrs Pig Flyin' have also tested out their spherification powders using the molecular gastronomy kit from Texturas. The caviar pearls are beautiful. Silverlily has made the sweet sushi rice and exercises masterful patience to create the final platter.

Assembling the gunkan maki with strawberry and mint caviar
wrapped with strawberry fruit straps

Dessert sushi platter - the "tuna" is sweet poached tomato

Gunkanmaki battleship sushi with caivar made from
mango juice; strawberry & mint; and
cranberry & campari

Fruit nigiri sushi topped with strawberry, coconut,
kiwifruit, mango and poached tomato

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2010 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Teochew feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Mole poblano and pulled pork tacos (Me)
Stomachs Eleven: Pizza and friends (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Ten kilograms of mussels (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Shanghainese banquet (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi (Silverlily)
Stomachs Eleven: Stuffed deboned pig's head + nose-to-tail eating (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: French feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Whole suckling pig and Chinese banquet (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Hotpot night (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Crackling roast pork and black sesame cupcakes (me)
Stomachs Eleven: No ordinary steak dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Polish feast (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2009 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Char siu and Hainan chicken (me)
Stomachs Eleven: Amazing impromptu dinner party (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Dumplings and Shanghai soy duck (M&L)
25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/20/2009 03:21:00 am


  • At 12/20/2009 6:43 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Fantastic! Love the tamago.

  • At 12/20/2009 9:07 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    In Kyoto, I went to a vegetarian restaurant with had as a part of its courses fresh yuba. The whole thing seemed very ritualistic but the yuba was so nice!

    How was your experience with spherification? Do you feel like you're at El Bulli? :)

    Tried making dessert sushi once, which didn't work out at all. Was hard to get the balance of sweetened rice & fruit to do anything more than look nice on the plate.

  • At 12/20/2009 9:38 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Helen what a great feast! I especially love that "sushi" dessert platter...so amazing!

  • At 12/20/2009 11:33 am, Blogger John said…

    Great post and great looking food. I'm now searching for a recipe for Tsukune grilled chicken meatballs. They look divine!

  • At 12/20/2009 11:53 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    Wow the dessert sushi platter looks amazing! I've yet to try wagyu shabu shabu style but it sounds so good! I'm so envious of Stomachs' Eleven - the posts make me super hungry every time!

  • At 12/20/2009 12:45 pm, Anonymous Tina said…

    I about fainted at the sight of that dessert sushi plate - OMG, such attention to details and creativity!

    With the yuba skin, is it just boiling normal soy milk?

  • At 12/20/2009 4:49 pm, Blogger Kate said…

    What a creative bunch! I love sushi and have such a sweet tooth so fruit sushi-genius!

  • At 12/20/2009 5:33 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    The sweet sushi is a great idea, and I love the way you've used the different kinds of fruit so that it looks like regular sushi. The soy milk skin looks interesting too. It sounds like the way you're meant to make lebanese quashta (with normal milk) which sounded too troublesome to me, but you've made it look easy.

  • At 12/20/2009 9:50 pm, Blogger missklicious said…

    The dessert sushi looks amazing! What a feast.

  • At 12/20/2009 11:04 pm, Blogger YW said…

    collecting yoba skin looks like fun .. :) I've never done or even seen it done before ..

  • At 12/21/2009 12:12 am, Anonymous Rose said…

    I've never had shabu shabu or yuba before... I would love to try yuba but my partner isn't a huge fan of soy-based thing and I don't really want to end up with a big pot of yuba, haha. The little mango "caviar" is all kinds of amazing!

  • At 12/21/2009 8:36 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Everything looks so good. Loving the yuba and the yuba ceramic pot.

    Although I am not a fan of dessert sushi, the battleship sushi facinates me.

    Stomachs' Eleven dedication to the pursuit of cooking and eating nirvana never ceases to amaze me.

  • At 12/21/2009 11:06 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Ohhh I want the mini ramen bowls! So cute, I'm obsessed with that sorta thing. The dessert sushi is stunning, I so want one of those molecular gastronomy kits, it looks so fun!!

  • At 12/21/2009 11:45 am, Anonymous Christie @ Fig&Cherry said…

    It's just before lunch and my mouth is salivating!!!

    Just one question? How can you top that amazing wagyu feast for Xmas? Good luck! Hope you have a great Xmas and NY!

  • At 12/21/2009 12:13 pm, Blogger Forager said…

    Brilliant feast! Especially the sushi dessert - I love that it reminds me of the Tudor style cooking featured in Heston's feast - how it's about theatre and nothing is quite what it seems..

  • At 12/21/2009 2:03 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    I love reading those stomach 11 posts, the sushi dessert platter is amazing I must say

  • At 12/21/2009 2:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    YAAAYYY Yakitate marathonnnn XD XD XD!!!! Making me want to rewatch it :P

    and OOhhhh dessert sushis! Very creative hee hee How many steps did you guys use to make them ;)?

  • At 12/21/2009 2:41 pm, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    Amazing! i am inspired!

  • At 12/21/2009 7:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am addicted to your Stomachs' Eleven series. Feast after feast... lucky you!

  • At 12/21/2009 9:54 pm, Anonymous Trissa said…

    I dont quite get this sorry!!! I may have missed a few write ups but I am so fascinated with stomachs eleven - who is pig flyin? Oh wait - just saw more links - will have to read... I am jealous! Can I meet this pig flyin? DROOL!

  • At 12/21/2009 11:16 pm, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    I love fake food. My parents are going to Japan and I want them to pick me up some fake food hehehe. A dessert sushi role. OMG delicious.

  • At 12/22/2009 12:13 am, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Oohhh I miss Japan! If I go to this restaurant I think I'll miss Japan even more... those fake food reminds me of Hiroshima for some reason! Anyway.... the desserts Helen! What a sight for sore eyes *zooms in on mango caviar!*

  • At 12/22/2009 2:29 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Joey - The tamago is such a great idea. Will have to try it the next time I make it :)

    Hi Simon - The caviar pearls were great - I would have loved to have played with the syringes to make my own pearls.

    And yes, fresh yuba is delicious!

    Hi Peter G - The sushi dessert was such an inspired idea, particularly incorporating the caviar pearls. I'm lucky to have such talented and awesome food-loving friends :)

    Hi HeNeedsFood - I've been meaning to make tsukune myself too. The recipes look so easy. I really must try it out sometime.

    Hi Jacq - I never thought wagyu in shabu shabu would taste so great but I'm seen the light now. I've been changed forever!

    Hi Tina - I loved the flamed coconut on the sushi platter. Oh so pretty!

    And yes, it's normal soy milk - ours was freshly made. I believe you must use soy milk that contains soy beans and water only, ie. not drinking soy milk which is often sweetened with sugar.

    Hi Kate - Fruit sushi is a great idea. Admittedly we did follow this with scoops of green tea and chocolate ice cream!

    Hi Arwen - Yes, I was also thinking of quashta as we were making the yuba. I love that stuff! It always sounded weird when I tried to picture it being made, but seeing yuba, it makes perfect sense.

    Hi Missklicious - A feast indeed. It's only when I edit the photos I wish I'd eaten so much more!

    Hi YW - The yuba skin was my favourite part of the evening. I could have quite happily kept going for another half-hour. So much fun collecting the skin and the texture is great too.

    Hi Rose - I say have friends over for a yuba party! lol. Not sure whether your partner likes bean curd sheets? Otherwise you can always tempt him with the shabu shabut meat-fest that follows!

    Hi Veruca Salt - The battleship sushi were so cute. I'm dedicated to eating, but yes, eternally grateful for all the inspired cooking efforts by Stomachs' Eleven.

    Hi Stephcookie - The mini ramen bowls are gorgeous. I suspect I may start a new collection on my next visit to Japan!

    Hi Christie - Ahh Pig Flyin' has a knack of being able to top everything prior! Thanks for the wishes. Have a lovely Christmas and NY too :)

    Hi Forager - Oh I love the Heston's Feasts series. How much fun are those dinners! The sushi dessert was fun, although yes the element of surprising was missing as we'd seen much of the prep for it!

    Hi Howard - Almost as much as I love reading your est crew culturally-themed feasts? lol. You guys know how to eat well too!

    Hi FFichiban - lol. I knew you'd comment about Yakitate :) And I didn't do much with the sushi - I just watched and admired the production process!

    Hi Pickles - It was a fantastic dinner. Certainly puts pressure on when it's my turn to host! lol

    Hi Ellie - I know I'm incredibly lucky! I can hardly believe it myself when I'm sitting down at some of these dinners!

    Hi Trissa - Hope you've had a chance to read through some of the links. Stomachs' Eleven is a little eating club of friends. Pig Flyin' is the grand master of us all in the kitchen. We're his humble (and grateful) eaters!

    Hi A Cupcake Or Two - The food displays in Japan are great. I love that you know exactly what you're ordering in most restaurants!

    Hi Trisha - I miss Japan too. Such an amazing place to eat!

  • At 12/22/2009 5:52 am, Anonymous Kitchen Butterfly said…

    Stunning...stunning...stunning. I've always wodered what sort of desserts you got at sushi bars...and now I know. Thanks

  • At 12/23/2009 2:53 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Kitchen Butterfly - I'm not sure if my friend's house counts as a sushi bar, but lol, dessert is certainly an idea for sushi bars out there!


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