Secret food ingredient: Umami

RECIPE:

Ginger Shrimp and Watermelon Salad with Lemongrass Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings

This dish shows the 4 tastes that we are already familiar with Sweet, watermelon, sour, lime juice, salty, fish sauce, bitter, cucumber rind. Then we bring the 5th taste with Umami rich ingredients, fish sauce, tomatoes, dried shrimp and peanuts. The tomato and fish sauce especially compliment each other and develop a higher level of umami in this dish. A perfect salad for the summer, deep with umami flavor and the freshness of the season.

(For the Ginger Shrimp) do this in advance so that the shrimp can cool

  • 8 cups Water
  • 1 Small Onion (about 6oz.), thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced Ginger (about 1 ¼ oz.)
  • 1 clove Garlic, smashed
  • 3 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
  • 12 Shrimp in their shell, about 1oz. each, veins removed

    Combine everything except the shrimp in a stainless sauce pot and simmer for about 10 minutes, add the shrimp and bring back to a boil over high heat and simmer 10 seconds, then drain. Transfer the shrimp to a sheet pan and let them cool. After the shrimp are completely cooled, carefully peel the shells off. Discard the shell. Cover the shrimp with plastic wrap until use.

    (For the vinaigrette)

  • 4 Tbsp. Freshly squeezed Lime Juice (about two limes)
  • 1 tsp. Minced Lemongrass,
  • 1 tsp. Smashed and Minced Dry Shrimp
  • 2 tsp. Fish Sauce
  • ½ tsp. Minced Ginger
  • Pinch Minced Thai Chili
  • ½ tsp. Sugar

    In a small mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Set aside.

    (For the salad)

  • ½ Small Seedless Watermelon, rind removed and cut into 1 ½ " cubes
  • 2 Small Heirloom Tomatoes, slice to ½ " thick
  • 1 Tbsp. Red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Japanese Cucumber or ½ a Hot House Cucumber seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 12 ea. Ginger Shrimp, recipe follows
  • 4 Cilantro Sprigs
  • 4 Basil Sprigs
  • 2 tsp. Peanuts, toasted and chopped

    In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the watermelon, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, shrimp and the vinaigrette together. Divide onto 4 chilled serving dishes. Arrange the cilantro and basil sprig on the top and sprinkle the peanuts. Serve.

    Umami Symposium Event Details:
    On July 21, the Umami Information Center will host the umami symposium: New Frontiers of Taste to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the discovery of umami, the fifth taste in addition to sweet, salty, sour and bitter. The event to be held at San Francisco's Hyatt Regency will feature a panel discussion at which leading international food scholars including Gary Beauchamp, Ph.D. and food writer Harold McGee Ph.D. will discuss the importance of umami and its influence on the culinary industry. Thomas Keller (French Laundry), Hiro Sone (Ame, Terra) and Kunio Tokuoka (Kyoto Kitcho) will prepare the courses in an umami tasting lunch following the discussion. In conjunction with the festivities, Hiro Sone will offer a special umami tasting menu at his San Francisco restaurant, Ame, from July 14 until August 3. The event starts at 11:30am on July 21st.

    For event and ticket information:
    >> Read flyer
    >> Event description/tickets

    Special Ame Menu:
    AME Umami Celebration Tasting Menu
    July 14th - August 3rd, 2008

    Ame Raw Three ways;
    Ceviche with Garum Lime Sauce
    Sea bass sashimi with Ume Plum Vinaigrette
    Kampachi Carpaccio with Nuka Pickles and ponzu

    Corn Bisque with Lobster Tortelloni and Pesto sauce

    Broiled Sake Marinated Black Cod in Shiso Broth

    Grilled Berkshire Pork on Carolina Gold rice and Tomato "Risotto" with Vadouvan Sauce

    Caramel Ice Cream with Shoyu Powder

    RELATED LINKS:
    >> Ame Restaurant
    >> Terra Restaurant

    Chef Hiro Sone Bio:

    Executive Chef, Terra & Ame Hiro Sone has come a long way from his beginnings on a premium rice farm in Miyagi, Japan. The cuisine of the three time nominee and 2003 winner of the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef of California" subtly pays homage to his Japanese heritage. But years of disciplined training, cooking experience, and global travel have had equal influence over refined and eclectic cooking style.

    Hiro developed a respect for ingredients from his family who has been growing premium rice for 18 generations. He recalls, "My mother, who's a great cook of Japanese and Western -style cuisine, took care of the vegetable gardens between rice farming. My grandmother took care of the chickens and cows. I still remember digging potatoes by hand, the rich smell of fresh milk, and helping with the rice harvest each fall. At the end of the day, after everybody had left the rice field, my grandmother would pick up each lost rice grain from the ground in the dark. I learned from her that even a piece of rice should be treated with respect."

    Moving from the rice fields into the revered Osaka culinary school École Technique Hôtelière Tsuji in 1977 the 18- year-old applied that same regard and attention to detail to his studies. Under the tutelage of French masters such as Paul Bocuse and Joel Robuchon, he developed a passion and talent for French cooking that propelled him from graduation to French and Italian restaurant kitchens in Tokyo where he worked his way up from dishwasher to sous chef, and five years later into the kitchens of Wolfgang Puck.

    In 1983, Hiro was hired to open Spago Tokyo and went to Los Angeles to train for two months at Spago Hollywood. The experience proved pivotal. Amidst the pots and pans he met his future wife and restaurant partner Lissa Doumani and over the next year and a half he got the opportunity to create and oversee the first California cuisine restaurant in Japan.

    Inspired by a newfound appreciation for California cuisine, the young chef returned to Spago Hollywood as kitchen manager in 1984 and was promoted to head chef within six months. By 1988 he and Lissa were dreaming of a restaurant of their own, and found it in Napa Valley. The couple opened Terra to overwhelming acclaim and it remains one of the Valley's top restaurants. Their new restaurant, Ame, brings the signature taste of their wine country restaurant to appreciative San Francisco diners.

    Today Hiro's inspiration comes from visiting local farms and ranches and learning their intricacies. From close relationships with local growers and winemakers and a respect for the seasons and their unique offerings, he creates innovative seasonal menus mixed with unexpected flavors from Italy, France, and the Orient-destinations he and Lissa visit during vacations.

    Nearly two decades after leaving the Japanese countryside Hiro's cooking honors the greatest culinary influences of his life-his heritage, classic training, and travels. But it's his continued respect for details as minute yet important as a grain of rice that makes each dish beautifully designed with layers of flavors and textures that lend a depth that astounds with every bite.

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