I love Japanese food.
Seriously. If I had to decide to eat only one type of food for the rest of my life, Japanese would be pretty high up there. It’s all in the flavor profile: ginger, sesame, lemon, garlic, soy. Lighter and more subtle than other Asian styles. And of course, the wasabi. Ahh, wasabi.
I am, self-admitted, a HUGE wimp when it comes to spice and heat levels. Chilies completely overwhelm me, curry leaves me sweating, and don’t even get me started on cayenne pepper. BUT, when out to sushi, I load my soy sauce with wasabi. You know why I can handle wasabi? Because it doesn’t linger. It hits you, WHAM!, and then it’s gone. No burned tongue, no water-gulping. It comes and just as quick, it goes. I think that’s why I can handle the heat of wasabi. That, and it’s an excellent sinus clearer
One of the best uses I’ve found for wasabi at home is in mashed potatoes. I don’t want to undersell these: THEY ARE THE BEST MASHED POTATOES. EVER. Just like regular mashed potatoes, creamy and buttery, and then that hit of wasabi spice. Just so, so good. I eat these like whipped cream, fingerfuls at a time while making them. It’s amazing that any of these potatoes actually make it to the table, so in love with them I am. Yum, yum, yum.
I also love crab cakes with mashed potatoes as their base. These could not be simpler: wasabi mashed potatoes, crab, little special soy sauce, all rolled in black sesame seeds and panko crumbs. Bake until golden. Just perfect.
The soy sauce I used for the crab cakes and the coleslaw is incredibly flavorful and incredibly simple. Just a few slices of lemon, a few slices of peeled ginger, and a few crushed garlic cloves. Pour soy sauce over them and let it all sit and marinate in the fridge for a day. The lemon, ginger and garlic flavor the soy sauce in such a brilliant way, I swear you will never have soy sauce straight out of the bottle again. Delish.
This coleslaw is also based on the coleslaw at a sushi restaurant near my work. They top theirs with dried ginger and fish flakes, which really add something extra to it. Not having these on hand, I just tossed in some sesame seeds and dried seaweed; different taste, but still delicious.
What’s your favorite flavor profile? THG
Wasabi Crab Cakes
For mashed potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup low-fat milk
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 Tbsp. wasabi paste
salt and pepper
3 small cans crab meat, drained
2 Tbsp. lemon-garlic soy sauce
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
In a large pot, bring potatoes and 1 Tbsp. butter to a boil in salted water. Continue to boil, covered, until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain.
Place potatoes in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium to break up potatoes. While still hot, add milk and remaining 3 Tbsp. butter. Beat on medium-high until potatoes are completely smooth and fluffy, without any lumps. Mix in wasabi paste until combined. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Add crab meat and soy sauce to mashed potatoes and fold in gently. Form potato mixture into 2” cakes, flattened slightly. In a small bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs and sesame seeds. Roll cakes in breadcrumb mixture until well-coated, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in center of oven until cakes are golden-brown, about 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup lemon-garlic soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
In a measuring cup, whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil until smooth. Toss with cabbage. Top with sesame seeds.