Happy bank holiday Friday everyone. Welcome to Friday Finds. I'll be honest it is not really a find, more like a favourite. Kyle and I found this little Japanese restaurant, Tomoe, in Putney about 18 months ago. You know it is good when all the Europeans are next door in the big chain, Pan Asian restaurant and the Asian community are in this place. Tonight there was a family of three. The little boy stole my heart with his long eye lashes and his determination to feed his mum her sushi. He loved his steamed rice, miso soup and fresh cucumber. He was so excited by the fresh fish and kept pointing to it in the counter fridge deck. We generally believe if going for authentic food choose the place that is frequented by the community. I know that this may sound a bit ridiculous but trust me it works every time.
Tomoe is a small family owned restaurant. The chef in the kitchen in very tall and silver haired. I would guess a good 6ft 4in but I tell you now he makes the most delicate dumplings (gyoza) and beautiful fried chicken wings. This evening we had the deep fried soft shelled prawns and gyoza. So good. I get a bit excited and they know this.
We then moved on to our sushi course. There is a Zulu exclamation that sums up the sushi in this restaurant... "Eish." we have eaten sushi all over London and I kid you not when I say this is possibly the best I have ever eaten. Nothing fancy but it is fresh, tasty and care is taken. We always sit at the counter and watch the chef. The sushi chef is a wisened looking gent and yet he shows so much emotion when making the sushi. His fingers are deft and precise. He has cottoned on to the fact that we are foodies and whenever he has finished a platter presents it to us, so that we can have a look, and then passes it on to the waiters to take to the table. This evening I tried Ootoro, tuna belly sashimi, for the first time ever. I have always heard it is a delicacy and the most sought after piece of tuna but never understood why until tonight. It was thinly sliced, the flavour delicate, the texture meaty. Now I know why it is so sought after. It was a pale pink which is so different to the deep red that I am used to seeing when tuna is served as sushi.
I am one of those customers when I hear someone umming and ahhing I will lean over and give them a recommendation. I am not shy when it comes to good food which the chef appreciates and always acknowledges my suggestions with a nod or a bow and smile. Tonight I recommended the Dynamite roll to a couple behind us. Again one of our favourites and they agreed.
I could continue this post with many descriptive words and harp on about how amazing they are but it wouldn't do Tomoe justice. What I can say is we get a smile of welcome every time we go. The Sake selection is extensive, the wine list simple but well selected. There is space downstairs for larger groups. Don't expect speedy service because sushi is an art and they are proud of it. Decoration is minimal but I love the origami strategically placed around the room. The platters and bowls reminiscent of Andrew Walford, a famous potter from Shongweni in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. http://www.andrewwalford.co.za/ Have a look, his art and functional art is gorgeous.
Anyway, please excuse my photos as they are not fantastic and do not do the food justice. All I can say is if in London please visit this little gem. 292 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London, SW15 6TH. Send us your reviews if you do visit.
Have a wonderful bank holiday weekend.
Growing up in Durban, South Africa we were so lucky to have access to quality seafood. Seafood restaurants are the order of the day. A perfect example is a venue called "The Prawn Shack" which is about an hour and a half up the north coast from Durban. It's name speaks volumes. The Prawn Shack - it is just that. A large shack that serves copious amounts of prawns. The majority of the food is prepared outdoors (no such thing as an EHO or HSE) on large open fire pits. The fish is fresh, the prawns plump and lush and the "Zulu Sushi" otherwise known as seared beef carpaccio with wasabi, delicious. It is a great place to have a party, you can stay on site and the beach is just 150 meters away. Paradise found. I digress, with all this abundant seafood we often would have a fish BBQ at home. Kyle and I would drive to the local fish monger and buy prawns, mussels, crayfish, whole fresh fish of many descriptions and take them home to cook simply on the fire.
This last weekend we had family round for lunch and felt the need to recreate a bit of Durban in London. So off to the Barnes Fish Shop we went on Saturday morning. The selection was perfect. Nice big prawns, some of the best we have had in the UK, queen scallops; hand dived, mussels and clams. The mussels and clams were alive, so a whole new experience for me. A clam licked me the next day when I was prepping the fish for lunch. I shrieked quite loudly, silly really but the sensation was bizarre.
A tip: If you have live molluscs put them in a dry plastic container with a damp cloth over and store in the fridge over night if you are not using immediately. Do not keep them in water as this will kill them. When ready to use, brush the shells under a trickle of water to clean, any that do not close immediately at the touch or when run under the water, discard. Similarly any that do not open when cooked, discard.
I wanted to show the shellfish off at their best and knew that the only way to do this was keep it simple. My recipe below is not 100% original. The most common companions for fish are the best and I believe that you don't mess with perfection.
To make enough for four people to enjoy:
2 kg Assorted fish and shellfish, I used prawns, scallops, clams and mussels. You can also use razor clams, oysters, langoustines and crayfish
1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 large bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
2 Red chillis, de-seeded and finely diced
Juice of 3 limes or lemons depending on your preference
Zest of 1 lime or lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Get your BBQ started, making sure the coals burn down but are still a deep glowing red and white hot. Or put your oven onto 220 degrees, 200 fan, gas mark 7, 428 Fahrenheit.
Mix the herbs, lime or lemon juice, zest and a good few glugs of olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste and set aside. Prep the mussels and clams as in the tip above. Leave the prawns whole and keep the scallops on the shell. This way you retain the moisture and the flavour of both. Toss all the seafood in three quarters of the marinade and take out to the BBQ.
If using an oven place the prawns, mussels and clams in an oven proof dish with the marinade and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the scallops with 4 minutes cooking time to go as they are very delicate and do not need more cooking than this. If using the BBQ place the large items such as the prawn on first, then the mussels and clams. Cover with a large baking tray to keep the heat in and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Add the scallops at the end and cook for a further 2 minutes. Take them off the BBQ and toss in the remaining marinade and take straight to the table. You will know the prawns are cooked as they turn a brilliant pink or orange colour and are nice and firm. The shellfish, as mentioned before are ready to eat when they are open. If a few remain closed after the cooking time, rather be safe and throw them away.
I would recommend serving with a fresh mixed garden salad and garlic bread.
I would love to see pictures of your efforts or find out how you love to prepare quality seafood meals. Enjoy and as always eat well.
Good food is very often, even most often, simple food. - Anthony Bourdain