Seaweed Salad

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A few years ago I never ate seafood, as I didn’t like it as a kid. It hadn’t occurred to me that taste buds change, and as people grow older they start liking different things. When I found myself at a Japanese restaurant looking at the menu I thought seaweed salad was a highly unusual choice of salad.

It came with some cucumber and a sweet and sharp sauce. I was hooked straight away. The textures were chewy but not tough, and the taste was very refreshing. I’ve since had seaweed salad on numerous occasions. Most recently was at restaurant “Umami by Han” in The Hague where I took this picture. That was probably the best seaweed salad I have ever eaten.

Fear Factor – 4 / Taste Test 9

Sea urchin tacos

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I never knew you could eat sea urchin until I saw Anthony Bourdain practically salivating all over some uni during one of his trips to Japan. If he likes it, I thought, it must be good. Bourdain is the god of food after all.

I thought uni was a Japanese thing, but I came across some at a food festival in Shanghai, where I also tried Alvin Leung’s molecular soup dumplings. Here the uni came as a topping for a small canape-sized taco. The taco shell was stuffed with a salad and topped with one sliver of yellow sea urchin roe.

I never liked fish as a kid, and I still don’t enjoy things that taste overly fishy, such as caviar, so I was a little hesitant. To my great relief, there was no fishy taste to worry about. Actually I thought there wasn’t a big evidence of any flavor, so I was left underwhelmed. On the bright side, the creamy uni the crunchy salad and the crispy taco shell did make for a great textural play. I’ll have to try some plane uni next time I see it, so I can get a better taste of it.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 7

Squid in squid ink

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I always thought that ink was for writing, but then I heard about squid ink pasta and a whole new world of colorful food opened up to me. Not exactly colorful though as squid ink turns your food pitch black. I first tried squid in its own ink at one of Jason Atherton’s restaurants in London.

This dish looked great with some fried baby squid served with a squid ink aioli. It all tasted very squidy, if that’s even a word, with a touch of salt and a hint of lemon. I wasn’t sure though if that taste came from the squid and its seasoning, or from the actual squid ink.

Later, at one of my own dinner parties I cooked a squid stuffed with chorizo served with a squid ink aioli as well. It turned out really great. I was surprised though how much ink I had to add to the aioli in order to make it black. I went through all my small packages. Next time I’d better buy a whole jar of it. Could come in handy if I need to write a letter too.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 8