Vegan Curry (from scratch!)

It had been a while since we had curry. It could be because vegan curry blocks are really hard to find. The blocks of Japanese curry that I used to use turned out to have some sort of meat or animal derived product in it, oops.  I thought that we had finally found some veggie-friendly curry and bought a box to take home, but the other night, I realized it wasn’t just the curry seasoning and roux, but with veggies in it too. A foil pouch of ‘ready made’ curry. I wasn’t in the mood for that and noticed I still had a can of S&B curry powder.

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It turns out that curry isn’t that hard to make from scratch! Well, kind of from scratch, if you have the ready-made powder.  All it takes is sauteing some chopped onions in oil, adding the curry powder, some tomato paste, and then the right amount of flour to make the roux.  Some vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, and random things in the fridge later, I had curry.

One of the random things I put in the curry were wheat gluten puffs from the Chinese market. They’re these big puffed up balls of airy bread. I cut them in half, put them in the curry and mushed them around so they soften. When they’re properly cooked and soften, they soak up the curry sauce and have palatable, smooth and tender texture. It may sound gross, but it reminded me of a tender piece of bacon fat. Delicious.

Sugarfish (Marina Del Rey)

SugarfishEver since Sugarfish opened in Marina Del Rey, I was skeptical.  How good is a sushi restaurant that doesn’t even have a proper sushi bar to sit at? Well, I finally broke down and tried the place because I didn’t want to dislike it without first eating there. I have to admit, the food wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Sugarfish markets itself as Sushi Nozawa’s hip kid brother which is spot on in describing the restaurant.  Its minimalist, modern design is reminiscent of a Pinkberry.  Some say the restaurant feels clean. To me, it feels soulless.

My dining companion and I split The Nozawa ($34) for for lunch which includes:

  • edamame
  • tuna sashimi
  • albacore nigiri (2 pc)
  • salmon nigiri (2pc)
  • red snapper nigiri (2pc)
  • yellow tail nigiri (2pc)
  • halibut nigiri (2pc)
  • toro hand roll
  • crab hand roll

The tuna sashimi was sort of a misnomer.  I thought it was going to be just slices of tuna, simple and pure, but it was actually chunks of tuna tossed in a strong ponzu sauce. You could even call it poki if you wanted to. The sauce was citrusy and good, but overwhelmed the fish entirely. I couldn’t really tell if the fish was good or not in that dish because it was so hard to taste anything other than the sauce.

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The rest of the meal thankfully was better.  The red snapper was tender and fresh tasting. The salmon was good and rich and free of any chewy bits.  The yellow tail was the perfect texture.  My crab hand roll came with the seaweed still crisp.  Even the rice was good — loosely packed with just the right amount of seasoning and even still a bit warm.

I was pleasantly surprised that the quality of fish was so good for a setting that looks so corporate. Other than the tuna dish, each bite tasted clean and fresh. Sugarfish is a place to visit when you’re in the mood for something more mellow, not a crazily-named roll. It’s also nice that the price on the menu for everything includes tax and gratuity, so there’s no need to think too much when the bill comes.

Although the fish all tasted better than expected, I don’t think I’ll be returning to Sugarfish anytime soon. For the price point, I prefer to go to Kiriko or K-Zo, where I get fish that’s a good quality, a little more interesting, and most of all, where the setting isn’t so sterile.

SugarFish
4722 1/4 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 306-6300

Kabocha Croquette

Dinner: Kabocha CroquetteUsually, I only post about successful meals I make. But then everyone thinks all my meals are successful. Sometimes there are fail parties like this one.

Fresh after having a meal at Shojin, I declared that I could make a better croquette than them. With kabocha!

I made the croquette with some kabocha flesh (microwaved till soft), cooked brown rice, chopped and sauteed onion, and a dash of salt and cayenne pepper.  Unfortunately, the batter was too watery so it didn’t hold together so well.

This would be fine if I just deep-fried the heck out of it, but I wanted it to be healthy so I tried to bake it.  I formed the batter into round patties, dipped it in panko, and put it on baking sheets. Then I brushed cooking oil over the top so that it would brown.  I totally forgot to put oil at the bottom, so they just stuck to the baking sheet.  I don’t know why, but they didn’t brown at all. FAIL.

Luckily, I plopped them off the baking sheet and then just fried them in oil, which saved them.   The meal was a lot more work than I expected, but I guess that’s what I get for trying to be too clever by baking something meant to be deep-fried.

Oh and that cucumber thing at the bottom is just a raw cucumber with seeds scooped out, dipped in barley miso (morimo miso).  A sweet, refreshing appetizer to start off my semi-fail party dinner.