So, after much finagling, Claudia and Michael came for dinner. I know that this has been something she’s been waiting for for ages, mostly because she lives in freaking Kentucky and has WAY too much time on her hands, and I’m all about charity. But we pretended that we were happy too, and there was only a small amount of awkward throat-clearing, foot-shuffling, and sidelong watch-glancing while I scrambled to make like a million courses to keep them amused.
I’m deep into working on an important project in the studio right now, so I was stressed out and impatient prior to their arrival (which, you know, always makes the food taste better) and even more so after they arrived, on account of she’s a giant pain in the ass. But, because I literally lie awake at night thinking about dinner parties, I even had something ready in the fridge: tartare of miso-cured Arctic char with ramps and crispy skin. I had rubbed the char with miso a couple of days ago (these were the trimmings from the sushi) and gave it a rinse this afternoon, then cut off the skin. The flesh I chopped super-fine–too much, really; it got a bit gluey–then mixed it with finely chopped ramps, and the skin I put in a hot skillet with sesame seeds until it was well-browned on both sides. Putting it skin-side down first helps keep it stuck to the pan long enough to stay flat, so that it makes a good cracker for tartare-eating. I also added sesame oil, usukuchi, sudachi juice, and white pepper to the mix for a nice complex flavor profile. Garlic chive, red mustard, and the crispy skin cracker all added contrasts flavoral and textural.