SERVES 4
Main Course

Ingredients

Pacific Saury with Tomato Sauce and Oven-Dried and Fresh Tomatoes
  • ripe red heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes,5,pounds,,
  • Sea salt,,,,maldon-sea-salt
  • garlic,2,cloves,thinly sliced lengthwise,
  • extra-virgin olive oil,2,tablespoons,,zerta-oliva-extra-virgin-olive-oil-16-9-oz
  •  komatsuna (mustard spinach) mustard greens spinach or mizuna leaves,6 to 8,ounces (180 to 240 grams),separated,
  • grapeseed or canola oil,1⁄4,cup (60 milliliters),,la-tourangelle-grapeseed-oil
  • Pacific saury mackerel or sardine fillets,16 to 18,ounces (450 to 500 grams),, 
  • small cherry and/or teardrop tomatoes,4 to 6,ounces (120 to 180 grams),preferably a mix of colors,,
  • yuzu zest,,,freshly grated for garnish,
  • Chrysanthemum petals or flowers from spicy greens,,,for garnish,
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Pacific Saury with Tomato Sauce and Oven-Dried and Fresh Tomatoes

The tomato sauce is the heart of this dish. It was inspired by work we did at The Fat Duck from a study Fat Duck chef and owner Heston Blumenthal had conducted with Reading University and Umami Information Center. This study compared the levels of glutamates (the proteins responsible for umami taste) in the outer flesh of the tomato against that of the center. It was discovered that the center of a tomato is much higher in these glutamates, and concentrating the tomato centers increases the umami taste even further. So for this recipe I cook the tomato centers down to create umami-rich sauce on a par with that of sauce based on those high-umami Japanese ingredients, miso, dashi, or soy sauce. The body shape and clay of a soup and stew donabe like the Miso-Shiru Nabe are perfect to concentrate these flavors and brown the sugars in the tomato along the edges to develop a deep, rich flavor. With this in mind, try cooking other tomato sauces for pasta dishes such as Bolognese and see the difference a donabe can make! The leftover flesh of the tomato in my recipe is oven-dried as another way to concentrate the glutamates.

I made this recipe in Iga in the kitchen of the Nagatani family using sanma (Pacific saury), but it will also work well with sardines or fresh mackerel. — from Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking by Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton. Buy this book from Penguin Random House, Indiebound, or Amazon.

Reprinted with permission from Donabe: Classic and Modern Japanese Clay Pot Cooking by Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton, 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2015 Eric Wolfinger

Written By Naoko Takei Moore and Kyle Connaughton | Oct 26, 2018

Ingredients

Pacific Saury with Tomato Sauce and Oven-Dried and Fresh Tomatoes
  • ripe red heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes,5,pounds,,
  • Sea salt,,,,maldon-sea-salt
  • garlic,2,cloves,thinly sliced lengthwise,
  • extra-virgin olive oil,2,tablespoons,,zerta-oliva-extra-virgin-olive-oil-16-9-oz
  •  komatsuna (mustard spinach) mustard greens spinach or mizuna leaves,6 to 8,ounces (180 to 240 grams),separated,
  • grapeseed or canola oil,1⁄4,cup (60 milliliters),,la-tourangelle-grapeseed-oil
  • Pacific saury mackerel or sardine fillets,16 to 18,ounces (450 to 500 grams),, 
  • small cherry and/or teardrop tomatoes,4 to 6,ounces (120 to 180 grams),preferably a mix of colors,,
  • yuzu zest,,,freshly grated for garnish,
  • Chrysanthemum petals or flowers from spicy greens,,,for garnish,
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Step one: Prepare the sauce

Core the tomatoes and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large ice bath with more ice than water. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 5 seconds and transfer to the ice bath to stop cooking. Once they have cooled, peel the skins from the tomatoes and discard. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the centers into the donabe. Divide the tomato halves into 2 pieces each and cut away the interior of the tomato from the outer flesh using a paring knife. Place the interior of the tomato in the donabe. Reserve the exterior of the tomatoes, that will now resemble petals. Place the donabe over medium heat and bring the tomato centers to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for about 1 hour, stirring regularly and scraping down the sides.

Step two

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and lay the tomato petals, insides up, in a single layer on the sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt and lay one slice of garlic on each petal. Drizzle with the olive oil and place in the oven. Turn the tray every 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are dry but still jammy (tomatoes should bake for a total of about 45 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Step three

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the greens briefly until just tender, 5 to 10 seconds. Drain in a colander and allow to cool at room temperature. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.

Step four

Once the tomato sauce has cooked down to a sauce consistency and is beginning to concentrate, prepare the fish. In a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Place the fish skin-side down in the pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook on the skin side only until crisped and just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Step five

Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Taste the sauce and season with salt if needed; gently fold in the cherry tomatoes, dried tomatoes, and greens (reserving some of each to place on top). Cut the fish into strips about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) long. Combine with the sauce and garnish the top with greens, dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, yuzu zest, and chrysanthemum petals.