Showing posts with label poke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poke. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Beyond the Point" by Claire Gibson, Served with Hawaiian Ahi Poke and a Recipe for Avocado Salsa

Happy Wednesday! I am very excited to be today's TLC Book Tour stop for the debut novel, Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson. My review of this story of three friends brought together by their time at West Point is accompanied by a dinner inspired by one in the book of Hawaiian Ahi Poke with Avocado Salsa and Corn Tortillas and Mango.

Publisher's Blurb:

Three women are brought together in an enthralling story of friendship, heartbreak, and resilience. Set at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, this is an amazing debut novel.
Duty. Honor. Country. That’s West Point’s motto, and every cadet who passes through its stone gates vows to live it. But on the eve of 9/11, as Dani, Hannah and Avery face four grueling years ahead, they realize they’ll only survive if they do it together.

Everyone knows Dani is going places. With athletic talent and a brilliant mind, she navigates West Point’s predominantly male environment with wit and confidence, breaking stereotypes and embracing new friends.

Hannah’s grandfather, a legendary Army general, offers a stark warning about the dangers that lie ahead, but she moves forward anyway, letting faith guide her path. When she meets her soul mate at West Point, the future looks perfect, just as planned.
Wild child Avery moves fast and doesn’t mind breaking a few rules (and hearts) along the way. But she can’t outpace her self-doubt, and the harder she tries, the further it leads her down a treacherous path.

The world—of business, of love, and of war—awaits Dani, Hannah, and Avery beyond the gates of West Point. These three women know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But soon, that adage no longer rings true—for their future, or their friendship. As they’re pulled in different directions, will their hard-forged bond prevail or shatter?

Beyond the Point is a heartfelt look at how our closest friends can become our fiercest battle buddies. After all, the greatest battles we fight rarely require a uniform.

Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (April 2, 2019)

My Review:

I jumped on this tour because having spent time at a local university and community college, I am always intrigued by books with more revered university settings, and then when you add that the three women, Dani, Avery, and Hannah, meet as plebes at the West Point just added to the appeal. My dad was in the Navy well before I was born and my nephew is in the Navy now, but military life is a world I know little about. Although Beyond the Point covers those subjects well, it is friendship that is at the heart of this novel. Dani, Avery and Hannah all play basketball, but otherwise don't seem to have much in common and each has her own reason for attending West Point and joining the Army. The book is told from their alternating perspectives and covers their final year in high school as they apply to the Point in 2000, through their four years there as their friendship forms and strengthens, then through 2007 as their lives take different paths. 

The characters are well written, not perfect, but easy to root for and the depiction of their friendship and how they come together feels realistic, as does their friendship after graduation as their lives separate and that closeness is put to the test. I found myself caught up in their stories and that the 500+ pages went by quickly, in fact I wanted more time with Hannah, Avery and Dani. There is heartache and heartbreak in their stories, but there is also humor and hope. 

This is the author's debut novel and she paints a vivid portrait of military life and the sacrifices it requires of soldiers and their families. The afterword tells of Gibson's inspiration--she grew up at West Point with her father, a lieutenant colonel, on the faculty. Her passion for the subject and appreciation for the cadets, particularly the women, shine through and there are excerpts and photos of her interviews with three Women of West Point. I found myself as engaged by the afterward as I was with the book. If you like novels with strong female characters, stories about friendship, and books with a military setting, add Beyond the Point to your reading list.  


Author Notes: Claire Gibson is a writer and journalist based in Nashville, Tennessee. Born and raised at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, she grew up captivated by cadets and always dreamed of writing a story that honored her childhood home and the women that inspired her there. Her stories have been featured in The Washington PostThe Christian Science MonitorThe Tennessean and Entrepreneur Magazine, among many other publications.

Find out more about Claire at her website, and connect with her Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

There was plenty of food in Beyond the Point, mostly meals eaten at West Point or shared with family and friends. Food mentions included pie (like strawberry-rhubarb, pumpkin and chicken pot pie), barbecued ribs, a salad of spinach and chard with lemon-garlic dressing, crusty homemade baguettes with soft salted butter, cake, three kinds of cheese on a platter, homemade cinnamon rolls, pierogies, lemon-pepper chicken, pancakes and eggs, homemade chili, brownies and ice cream, vegetable lasagna, roast chicken with tabbouleh, grilled salmon with mango slaw, and cookie dough ice cream, pizza, Cheez-Its, spaghetti, French toast and coffee, gin and tonic, oatmeal, green juice, lemonade, cereal, Ben & Jerry's Phish Food Ice Cream, filets mignons in butter, roasted broccoli, salmon, Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, sweet potatoes, roasted corn, fresh broccoli, creamed spinach, and acorn squash stuffed with mushrooms and rice, a Middle Eastern dinner of lamb with sauces, tandori bread, yogurt sauce, chopped mint and preserved lemon, falafel, rice and steamed greens, meatloaf with red sauce, fish and chips, an undressed Caesar salad with chicken, a Nutella crepe, fettuccine noodles with butter, fried chicken, apple fritters, eggs over easy, a smoothie and Subway sandwiches. 

For my book-inspired dish, I ended up recreating an island meal shared by Dani, Hannah, and Avery and put together some local Hawaii favorites. I liked the fact that the three women were together and when poke comes up in a book, you know I am going to feed my addiction.

"Dinner's ready."

"Avery came to the patio holding a bowl of ahi tuna poke that she'd purchased from a shop on the way home from the beach. She placed it at the center of the patio table. Dani emerged from the kitchen, her hair back to a large, natural Afro. She added a bowl of mango, corn tortillas, and her famous avocado salsa to the assortment. With her strange restrictive diet, Dani had become quite the chef. Avery put a pitcher of margaritas on the table, and suddenly, a memory came to Hannah's mind."

I left out the margaritas--I rarely drink on "school" nights, and I grabbed poke from the grocery store and frozen mango (none of the fresh ones were ripe). All I needed to do was chop the ingredients for the salsa, open a bag of cabbage mix and toast some tortillas on my gas stove, and dinner was served. 

Avocado Salsa
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 to 4)

1/2 red onion, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ripe avocado, chopped
the juice of two limes
a generous glug of olive oil
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss until well mixed. Serve and enjoy.

Notes/Results: I topped the grilled tortillas with the cabbage mix, the avocado salsa and the poke for poke tostadas which were delicious. I am not that big on fruit and fish combined, so I ate the mango on the side. Everything was fresh and vibrant and it was a very low effort meal--perfect for a busy week. My leftovers came together in a salad for lunch today as both the poke and the avocado in the salsa are best as fresh as possible.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Beyond the Point" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review & Recipe: "Everything We Left Behind" by Kerry Lonsdale, Paired with Ahi Poke Tacos and Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw

Even with the holiday on Monday, it takes some effort to get over hump day and a step closer to the weekend. A good book and a tasty dinner certainly help. Today I have an over-due review for Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale and I'm accompanying it with some quick and delicious Ahi Poke Tacos with Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw.

Publisher's Blurb:

Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancée, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. 

She’s married and has a child of her own.
Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.

Lake Union Publishing (July 4th, 2017)
350 Pages

My Review:

I reviewed Kerry Lonsdale's first novel, Everything We Keep, last August for TLC Book Tours (here's my review and book-inspired fritters recipe) and I really enjoyed the story and the mystery around what happened to James. I then read her second book, All the Breaking Waves, on my own and loved it. When I heard she was writing a follow-up to the first novel, I was excited to learn more about James's story, so when her publisher contacted me and asked if I would like to read and review Everything We Left Behind, I immediately said yes. I feel more than a bit bad that it has taken me so long to write and post my review. I did a quick reread of the first book, devoured this one and knew what dish I wanted to make, but July and August flew by before I knew it. Luckily I took plenty of notes. ;-) 

My first recommendation is to read Everything We Keep, before starting this one. It is possible to read Everything We Left Behind without it, but you won't have the complete background and the story flows better when you have been introduced to Amiee, James's fiancée, and the other characters and get their perspective on what's happened. I won't go into a lot of the details (the small spoilers if you have not read the first book are in the cover blurbs) but this book is about James coming out of his fugue state not remembering the previous six years he spent as Carlos living in Mexico, or his two sons and current love interest. This book is set in Mexico, California and Hawaii and goes back and forth both in time and in perspective between James and Carlos as the story unfolds. It's a bit mystery, romance, and family drama mixed together and Lonsdale keeps the story interesting and made me feel strongly for James's plight and for those who love him. The human mind is so fascinating and although there are novels out there that deal with memory loss, this one has a more unique take on it. Does it get a bit soapish at times? A bit, but it makes for a great beach and end of summer read, it certainly kept me turning the pages, and it has me looking forward to the third book coming out next year. 


Author Notes: Kerry Lonsdale believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a founder of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She resides in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an aging golden retriever who’s convinced she’s still a puppy.


Food Inspiration:

There is food to be found in Everything We Left Behind. Food mentioned included, egg salad sandwiches, gummy bears, Oreos, mahimahi tacos and some "famous beer-battered fish tacos," pink lemonade, tangerines, margaritas, grilled steaks and hot dogs, salad and potatoes, hot chocolate and pastries, oatmeal, coffee, an orange--peeled in one long curl, kalua pig, poi, taro smoothies, chicken on the barbecue, salad, a citrus and mango-flavored beer, pancakes, papaya, grilled zucchini, pineapple, Dragon fruit, apple-bananas, salmon, a Spam and pineapple sandwich, ice cream, and Scotch.

I knew that I wanted to go with a fish taco since it was mentioned as something that James made in Mexico and Hawaii. Although poke wasn't mentioned, I thought that it is something that Kauai-dwelling Natalya would introduce him to and I decided to make Ahi Poke Tacos. If you aren't familiar and haven't seen my various poke posts, poke is a Hawaiian salad of cubes of raw fish--often ahi and various seasonings and other ingredients. Going with the more Asian feel of these tacos, I made a Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw to put in the tacos and eat alongside them. 

These Ahi Poke Tacos are really more of a suggestion than a recipe. If you don't do raw fish, send your poke to me and you can use a non-raw poke variation like cooked shrimp or tofu, or use your favorite cooked fish--it won't be a poke taco but it will still be good. If you are lucky enough to live in a city with grocery stores that have poke at their fish counters, it is easiest to buy your favorite kind. If not and you want to make it, here are a couple of recipes (Hawaiian Poke with Black Sesame Seed, California Roll Poke) to get you started--there are plenty recipes online too as poke has become quite popular in the last couple of years.

For the tacos, I used flat-bottomed crispy taco shells--because with the poke is in chunks, plus the other goodies stuffed inside, they hold up better than regular crispy taco shells. I placed the Miso-Ginger Cabbage Slaw in the bottom of the taco shell, layered in the poke, sliced avocado and topped it with some of my favorite Sriracha-Garlic Mayo, sliced green onion and chopped cilantro. Easy peasy! In addition to the cabbage slaw in the taco, I served it and some simple black beans with the taco.

Miso-Ginger Slaw
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen  
4 cups cabbage--green or purple, shredded
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 Tbsp sesame seeds

1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
2 tsp honey or agave syrup
1 Tbsp finely minced or crushed fresh ginger

Place the cabbage, pepper and almonds into a large bowl and toss together. 
Place all dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk until completely blended or place ingredients into the blender and process until smooth and well-blended. 

Toss the cabbage mix with the dressing before serving. The longer the dressing sits, the softer the cabbage and pepper become, so if you like a crisp slaw, toss just before serving, or if you like a softer, less crisp slaw, toss together and place in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. 


Sriracha-Garlic Mayo Sauce
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use vegan garlic mayo)
2 1/2 Tbsp sriracha, or to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder (I use roasted garlic powder)
1/2 Tbsp pickle or caper juice + more to taste and thin as needed to drizzle

Stir together ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add additional Sriracha or seasoning as desired. 

Cover and chill until ready to use. Will keep for about a week to ten days in fridge.

Notes/Results: If you love sushi and raw fish, you will love poke and if you love poke, there is no reason you won't love these tacos. They are so fresh-tasting and delicious, along with being a good mix of texture--the tender fish, the creamy avocado, and the crisp cabbage slaw make them a pleasure to eat. I completely forgot to put the sauce on them until after I took most of the pictures, but it adds a nice little kick to the mix, so I definitely recommend it, or you can use your favorite salsa or hot sauce. Much as I like just eating poke on its own, or with rice and veggies in a poke bowl, poke tacos may be my new favorite way to enjoy it. I have made them a handful of times now and I am sure I will continue to enjoy them--in fact I really want one right now. ;-)

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Everything We Left Behind" was provided to me by the author and the publisher. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Woman No. 17" by Edan Lepucki, Served with a California Roll & Salmon Poke Brown Rice Bowl (+ a Giveaway!)

On today's TLC Book Tour, we are heady for a sultry Hollywood summer and the dark lives of two women in Woman No. 17, a novel by Edan Lepucki. Accompanying my review is a dish loosely inspired by the contemporary Los Angeles setting, a California Roll and Salmon Poke Brown Rice Bowl. There is also a giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book for your summer book stack.

Publisher's Blurb:

High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. Left alone with her children, she’s going to need a hand taking care of her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In response to a Craigslist ad, S arrives, a magnetic young artist who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s toddler, Devin, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage son, Seth. S performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady.

But in the heat of the summer, S’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. And as Lady and S move closer to one another, the glossy veneer of Lady’s privileged life begins to crack, threatening to expose old secrets that she has been keeping from her family. Meanwhile, S is protecting secrets of her own, about her real motivation for taking the job. S and Lady are both playing a careful game, and every move they make endangers the things they hold most dear.

Darkly comic, twisty and tense, this mesmerizing new novel defies expectation and proves Edan Lepucki to be one of the most talented and exciting voices of her generation.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hogarth (May 9, 2017)

My Review: Woman No. 17 is my first book by Edan Lepucki. I had heard good things about her novel, California, and the premise of the book sounded intriguing as I enjoy dark and twisty thriller books. I do think I was expecting more thrills than I ultimately got. There was tension to be found and some dark humor to be sure and that kept me pulled into the story throughout the book. 

Both main characters--Lady and S and their secrets immediately piqued my interest and although they are not particularly likeable, I was interested to see where the story took them and and what happened. Both Lady and S are quite self-absorbed and have allowed themselves to become obsessed by their pasts and with their mothers. With S, she is becoming the drunk persona of her mother through an art project focused on mothers, and with Lady, she is estranged from her mother due to past slights and what she sees as a big betrayal, as well as being challenged with the relationship she has with her nineteen-year-old son from a previous marriage and her toddler. Both women are seeking something and both are playing games with their own and others' lives to find their answers and resolution. 

Lepucki definitely knows how to set a scene, she brings the Hollywood and SoCal scenes to life, capturing the culture and glamour with a mix of contemporary and noir feel and making scenes play out like a movie in the mind. The look at the art world is interesting, as is the exploration of the separation of art and life and the personas that are created when they are not held separately. If you need a character to root for, Woman No. 17 is probably not your book, but if you like a book with a noir-ish feel, set in a sultry Hollywood summer, that twists and turns and has you guessing about the outcomes, it does make for an intriguing beach book or one for a hot summer's day on the porch or lanai--icy cold cocktail or mocktail in hand. If you are a U.S.-based reader of this blog, there's a chance to win a copy of your own below. 


Author Notes: Edan Lepucki is the New York Times bestselling author of the novel California as well as the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me. A contributing editor and staff writer at the Millions, she has also published fiction and nonfiction in McSweeney’s, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Cut, and elsewhere. She is the founder of Writing Workshops Los Angeles.

You can connect with Edan via her website or Twitter.


Food Inspiration: Although all sorts alcohol ruled the day (and night) in Woman No. 17 (including a French 75 cocktail of gin and champagne that almost got made) there was certainly food to be found. Food mentioned included poached eggs, sandwiches, Pizza Hut, P.F. Chang's dishes (lychee cocktails, Salt & Pepper Calamari, pot stickers, gluten-free 'beef-something-or-other'), and other restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), Yogurtland, Cheesecake Factory (oreo cheesecake), and Dominos, sushi, toasted and artisanal marshmallows, a bad Caesar salad with "tomatoes and not a single anchovy," sweet potato, cheeseburgers, coffee drinks, "milk-bloated Cheerios", watermelon, shabu-shabu, yaki-soba, apples and bananas, plantain chips, juice and fish sticks, shu mai from Trader Joe's, mussels, a burger and a side dish of Romanesco that turned out to be plain cauliflower, string cheese, Brazilian food, a classic omelet with chives and a salad with persimmon, sausage and egg sandwiches and a coke, pasta, eggplant, and a salad recipe with tarragon.

As I was away in Oregon for a week visiting family and was busy enough that I was either hanging out or crashing each night, reading took a bit of a back seat and I was finishing up the book on the plan ride home. That made the desire to cook something book-inspired when I got home very low. Had I been less travel weary I would have stopped at P.F. Chang's and grabbed one of the dishes mentioned in the book, but instead I found myself thinking about sushi--California rolls in particular, and a conversation with my nephew who is living in L.A. at the moment about his new favorite poke bowl place. If you don't know poke it is a salad/appetizer made up of cubes of raw fish--often ahi and a poke bowl is a rice bowl with poke and often veggies or other toppings. (Here are some examples of more recently made and posted poke: Hawaiian Ahi Poke with Black Sesame Seeds and poke bowls: California Roll Poke Bowl and Morimoto's Hawaiian Poke-Style Rice Bowl.)
Poke bowls are quite trendy outside of Hawaii now-especially in larger cities and areas like Los Angeles and New York, so while not entirely inspired by the book, it seemed a good fit.   

It also gave me the ability to assemble my book-inspired dish rather than cook it and grab some store-bought poke and something green and use some frozen microwave brown rice I had at home. I knew I wanted California Roll Sushi--nice and spicy, and the salmon poke--creamy and mild looked good as did the tsukemono (pickled) cucumbers and an avocado. With the creamy salmon poke and avocado, I wanted another pickled item and knew I had a pack of Farmhouse Culture Garlic Dill Kraut I had picked up to try sitting in my fridge at home and with some toasted sesame seeds and nori strips at home, it made for a light dinner assembled and enjoyed in a matter of minutes. Although not mentioned it the book, I think it definitely fits that trendy, L.A. vibe and is the perfect dish for a warm day or evening. 

If you want to make your own California Roll Poke and assemble a poke bowl, this is the recipe I use when I don't pick it up from the seafood department at my local grocery store. 

California Roll Poke Bowl
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen--Inspired By/Adapted from Foodland Hawaii
(Serves 2 to 3)

Make rice and sriracha mayo ahead before forming bowls. I prefer my rice just slightly warm with the cold poke on top, but you can chill rice if you prefer or aren't immediately eating your bowls. 
Sriracha Mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used vegan Just Mayo--garlic flavor)
2 Tbsp Sriracha 
1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp rice vinegar 

Combine all ingredients. Taste and check for seasoning. Add a touch of salt or soy sauce if desired. Chill for an hour or so before using.


California Roll Poke:
4 oz fresh sushi-grade ahi, cubed
4 oz imitation krab, sliced or shredded thinly (or real crab!)
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into small cubes
1 small Japanese cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp green onions (green and white part) sliced finely
1 1/2 Tbsp furikake rice seasoning or finely chopped nori
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup Sriracha Mayo 

Combine ahi, krab, avocado, cucumber, green onions, furikake seasoning, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a mixing bowl. Add Sriracha mayo and gently mix until blended. 

Poke Bowl:
1-cup cooked rice of choice (I used sushi rice)
1 cup of California Roll Poke and/or other poke combined
1 cup of green things ;-) (I used avocado, pickled cucumber and garlic dill sauerkraut)

Divide rice into serving bowls. Top with California Roll Poke and whatever greens and toppings you are using. Serve.

Notes/Results: This totally hit the spot--perfectly satisfying and a good combination of spicy, creamy, pickly, and umami goodness in a bowl--especially for being on the table in a matter of minutes. I doctored up my brown rice by mixing in the toasted sesame seeds and broken up strips of nori seaweed and because the California Roll poke is quite saucy and there are the pickled kraut and cucumbers to mix together as you eat the bowl, I didn't feel it needed any sauce, although you certainly could add some. Bonus, there will be enough left over for another bowl today. I will happily make it again.

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Woman No.17" was provided to me by the publisher, and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

***Book Giveaway***
The publisher is generously providing a copy of Woman No.17 to give away (U.S. addresses only, sorry) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite food or the dish you want to eat when you come home from a trip. 

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or Author Edan Lepucki (@EdanL), and/or Publisher Hogarth (@HogarthBooks)
on Twitter. (Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow me, the author or publisher on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is Tuesday, May 30th. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Morimoto's Hawaiian Poke-Style Tuna Rice Bowl (Tekka Don No Poke) from the "Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking" Cookbook {#JapaneseHomeCooking}

I am a huge Chef Morimoto fan from years back, ever since discovering him on the original Iron Chef on Food Network. I have spied him at the airport, eaten at his restaurant here and generally will watch anything he is on, including episodes Hawaii Five-O. So when I had the opportunity to take part in The Book Club Cookbook's Japanese Home Cooking Party and to review Morimoto's new cookbook, Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, I immediately jumped on board.

Whether it be the skillful and detailed presentation or the often exotic and hard-to-find ingredients, Japanese cuisine has a reputation for being difficult to cook. In this new cookbook, Morimoto sets out to show the American home cook that Japanese dishes, especially recipes from Japanese home cooks, can be surprisingly easy to prepare. Having taken a few classes in Japanese home cooking and trying my hand at different dishes over the years, I agree and while I don't claim to be an expert and my dishes are often a mix of cuisines rather than authentic Japanese, I have found that it doesn't have to to scary to cook delicious Japanese dishes at home.

Still, it's nice to have such an expert guide in the kitchen and Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking is a cookbook that is useful, beautiful, and interesting to read. It is divided by category; Dashi (the basic soup stock, Gohan (rice), Supu (soups), Yaku (grilled, broiled or seared), Musu (steamed), Niru (simmered), Itame Ru (stir-fried), Men (noodles), Ageru (to fry), Ae Ru (dressings) and Tsukeru (pickled). It also starts off with Morimoto's thoughts about Japanese cooking and how to create a Japanese meal from the different recipes, and it includes a glossary of Japanese ingredients and sources to find them. 

The recipes are made up of classics--ones that are popular here in America, as well as dishes that are lesser-known here, and many recipes include the chef's clever spins that make the dishes fun. It's a beautiful book--almost every major recipe has a gorgeous color photo and an introduction from Morimoto about the dish. The recipe instructions are clear and there are even some "Japanese Grandmother Wisdom" notes included with tips and explanations sprinkled through the book. 

Having spent time in Japan for work years ago, reading it took me back to so many delicious meals I enjoyed. I found myself tabbing many of the recipes to make like Ohitashi (dashi-marinated kale), Furikake with Shrimp Shells and Potato Chips (I tend to buy my fuikake seasoning!), Chahan (Japanese-style fried rice), Asari No Miso Shiru (miso soup with clams), Tamago Supu (Japanese egg drop soup), Sake Shioyaki (salt-grilled salmon), Sakana No Sakamushi (fish steamed in kombu with spicy soy sauce), Oden (Japanese-style hot pot with sesame aioli), Kinpira (stir-fried parsnip and carrot), Zaru Udon (chilled udon noodles with scallions and ginger), Kaki Age (shrimp and vegetable fritters), Ingen No Goma Ae (green beans with sesame dressing) and Tataki Kyuri (smashed cucumber pickles).  
Even with all of the choices, it was not hard for me to decide on a dish to try out this fabulous cookbook for the #JapaneseHomeCooking event--it just had to be the Tekka Don No Poke or Hawaiian Poke-Style Rice Bowl. I live in Hawaii and love poke, so it had to be made!

Morimoto says, "Once you secure sushi-grade tuna, this meal in a bowl takes almost no effort to make. I upgrade the typical tekka don--sliced raw tuna, often briefly marinated in soy sauce--by merging it with the Hawaiian dish tuna poke (pronounced PO-kay) which I fell for while opening my restaurant in Waikiki. The cubes of luscious crimson fish dressed with a little salt, sugar, and spice taste great over wonderfully plain white rice or less traditional but no less delicious sushi rice."

Tekka Don No Poke or Hawaiian Poke-Style Rice Bowl
Adapted from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Morimoto
(Serves 4)

1/4 cup Japanese soy sauce
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 to 2 tsp tobanjan (chile bean sauce) preferably a Japanese brand
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 lb sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 medium Haas avocado, peeled and pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cups cooked short-grain white rice or cooked vinegared short-grain white rice
1 nori seaweed sheet
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh shiso leaves (also called Japanese mint or perilla) or scallion greens (I used fresh mint and scallions)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, tobanjan, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the tuna and avocado to the bowl, toss well, and set aside to marinate for a few minutes but no more than 5 minutes.

Divide the rice among 4 wide bowls. Top each bowl with the tuna and avocado, leaving the sauce behind. Then drizzle the sauce over the tuna and avocado. Tear the nori into small pieces and scatter some over each bowl; top with the shiso and sesame seeds. Eat right away.

Notes/Results: This was a delicious poke-style bowl--a great combination of flavors and textures and just enough spice to make it interesting. As Morimoto stated, it is quick to put togethe--once you have your rice cooked and tuna secured. With the exception of picking up the fresh ahi tuna and an avocado, I had most of the rest of the ingredients in my pantry. I was bummed that although I can usually find fresh shiso leaves at my neighborhood grocery store, of course the moment I wanted them for this recipe there were none to had at any nearby store. I made do with a combination of some fresh mint leaves and green onion. The tobanjan or Japanese chile bean sauce is pretty spicy but I used 1 1/2 tsps (the recipe called for 1 to 2 tsps) and only marinated the tuna in it, figuring that it is was too spicy, the avocado chunks and rice would cool things down--and they did nicely. I was extremely happy with this delicious meal-in-a-bowl and I will happily make it again.  

You can see the recipes and cookbook reviews from the other nine bloggers participating in the Japanese Home Cooking Party on the Book Club Cookbook website.

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Note: A review copy of "Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking" was provided to me by the publisher and The Book Club Cookbook in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking is my fourteenth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2016 event. You can check out the November Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.