Archives for posts with tag: togarashi seasoning

In summer there are many, and varied, delights to be found in and alongside the rivers of England.

I couldn’t help thinking about all the centuries of history that came before us as we cruised up and down the Lee Navigation and then up the River Thames. That it is likely that dugout canoes from the Bronze Age and Saxon barges once plied the River Lea and that Viking raiders slipped up the river in their longboats to pillage villages.

The Thames has been described as ‘liquid history’. There is evidence of human habitation on the banks of the Thames dating back to Neolithic times.  Bronze Age settlements and artefacts have been discovered along the banks of the river, while the Romans recognised the river’s strategic and economic importance.

These rivers carried armies and freight as well as being a source of food and water.

As delightful as it was to contemplate the centuries, no, millennia, that preceded Narrowboat Patience on these venerable waterways, my interest was less in marshaling my army of one up and down the river to capture a village and more in the food I might find along the way.

I came upon supermarkets galore and pubs aplenty but the truth is, I was really in search of  something just a bit more thrilling.

I’ve had  fun in the past collecting berries on the banks of the River Nene and making a delicious jelly, but it was too early in the year for berries. I wondered if we might find fields of wild garlic as we have also done in the past, but I remembered that that was in April, and this was June.

Then one day while while impatiently waiting for a lock to fill, I admired the profusion of wild flowers on the bank. There were starry elderflowers, bright yellow dandelions, creamy nettle buds and droopy purple comfrey flowers. DSCF0969 I wondered whether to pick some nettle leaves to make tea but I had no gloves and didn’t feel like risking the mean sting of the innocuous-looking serrated leaves. I thought about the medicinal value of comfrey, aka knit-bone, and remembered drinking comfrey tea with my sister, Penny, when she broke her neck.

I know you can eat dandelions but I have never done so and as much as I looked at them and admired their sunny beauty, I wasn’t entirely sure about turning them into a meal. I knew of course one could make elderflower cordial so I thought that might be an idea. And I had in the past made borage fritters. Was borage not some sort of relative of comfrey? Could I make comfrey fritters?

The lock filled, I opened the gates, Richard expertly piloted the boat in. I closed the gates and opened the paddles so that the lock would empty and abandoning my army of one in the lock, I made a mad dash back to the elder and comfrey plants and quickly gathered leaves and flowers.

Supper was sorted. A botanical fritto misto.

IMG_6105After a quick goole search I consulted Neil Cooks Grigson for his Comfrey Leaf Fritters and Nigel Slater for his elderflower fritter recipe. I used the Nigel Slater batter recipe pretty much as it was but added a teaspoon of my friend togarashi to the mix. And to serve I drizzled the fritters with a syrup made of elderflower cordial seasoned with togarashi. A delicious sweet and spicy supper which was enjoyed by my army of one — and me, of course.

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On Thursday night, happily ensconced in Paddington Basin, we invited a couple of friends round to the boat for supper.

Richard and I made one of our favorite chicken dishes, Michael Olivier’s Tulbagh Chicken from Pam Hirschsohn’s wonderful cook book. We served it with couscous and some roasted aubergine flavoured with the very last half gram of my adored togarashi seasoning. I was very sorry to dust the slices of aubergine with those last few sprinkles of togarashi since I had no clue where I’d ever get any more of this now essential store cupboard ingredient. I knew the aubergine would be delicious though. I hoped our guests would appreciate it. Well, at least I hoped there was enough togarashi on the aubergine that they’d actually be able to taste it.

I’d searched every Waitrose anywhere near the canal on our trip from Braunston to London. Nothing. I’d checked on the Waitrose online store. Nothing. Pity. I’d have to email Waitrose and double check if they did still sell it. Or maybe look for a Japanese supermarket in London.

Paddington

Supper was ready, Paddington Basin was looking gorgeous in the late evening light when our friends arrived. We greeted them on Patience’s bow, they handed over the customary bottle of wine and as I turned to lead the way into the boat our friend Jon said, ‘I’ve been reading your blog, you know’.

I stopped in my tracks and spun around, not quite believing my ears. What? No! I mean I do want people to read it, of course, but preferably when it’s better, more polished. When I’ve really found my voice.

‘You know Waitrose doesn’t sell togarashi seasoning anymore, don’t you?’ Jon said.

‘I suspected as much. Pity.’ I’d been having such fun with it.

‘I suppose you must have looked for it on Amazon, then?’

I looked back at him. What? Was he crazy? You’d never find togarashi seasoning on Amazon.

And as I turned to go back into the boat he handed me a packet. A weighty packet. Floppyish and soft but with a bit of heft.

500g of togarashi spice blend.

I almost fell into the canal. What a man! To say I was touched would be a massive understatement.

So to celebrate tonight I made a meal where even the dessert was flavoured with togarashi.

Heaven.

Togarashi 250g

A salad of smoked salmon, greens and goat’s cheese rolled in togarashi

Ingredients

  • zest of half a lemon very finely chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • one clove of garlic crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 courgettes cut into ribbons with a Microplane Spiral Cutter (a fabulous implement)
  • 30 g soft goat’s cheese
  • 1 tablespoon togarashi spice blend
  • 200 g smoked salmon
  • 200 g asparagus roasted
  • one avocado sliced
  • 60 ml drained capers fried in olive oil

Method

Mix together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and pour over the courgette ribbons. Toss well.

Roll the goat’s cheese in the togarashi spice blend. Slice into discs and cut in hald or crumble roughly.

Layer the courgette, salmon, asparagus, avocado, cheese and capers in a bowl and gently toss.

Roasted peaches with vanilla, cognac and togarashi

Ingredients

  • 4 peaches
  • 8 teaspoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • a generous splash or two of cognac
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon togarashi spice blend

Method

Heat the oven to 220 Celsius.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Place in a baking dish.

Put a teaspoon of butter and half a teaspoon of vanilla paste into the center of each peach.

Splash some cognac over each peach and add a little more to the baking dish.

Sprinkle the peaches with a little sugar and the togarashi.

Roast for about 40 minutes or until nicely soften and browned, adding another splash or two of cognac as needed. By the time the peaches are cooked you need to have a couple of tablespoons of liquid in the baking dish.

Divide between four bowls and drizzle with the pan juices. Serve hot with Greek yoghurt flavoured with vanilla and a swirl of honey.

Each time we leave Patience, we imagine we’ll be back sooner rather than later. We imagine it might be just a few months, certainly not years.

Braunston Marina mooring

And so because we’re optimists we leave all kinds of food behind, saying to ourselves ‘We’ll be back long before that best-before date.’

This time we arrived back on the boat having been away for longer than we care to admit to find an interesting array of groceries in our store cupboard. The question is always how to incorporate the sometimes beyond their sell-by date ingredients into delicious meals. Some things languish, others prove irresistable.

The star of the show this week has been the togarashi seasoning.

Togarashi close up

We have used it on everything. Richard has whipped up fabulous breakfasts every day this week. He’s specialized in eggs with togarashi seasoning: frittata with red pepper and togarashi, scrambled eggs with stir fried vegetables flavored with togarashi, an omelette filled with mushrooms, onion and togarashi and coddled eggs with togarashi seasoning.

mushroom togarashi omlette

I’ve been in charge of the suppers all of which involved togarashi seasoning.  You’d think we’d have overdone it but that’s not the case. Addicted? Possibly.

But addiction wasn’t our biggest problem. Diminishing supplies of togarashi were. I decided I’d better  stock up before we left Braunston for the start of our journey so I made a special trip by bus to the nearest branch of Waitrose in Daventry.

I dashed in and marched down the first aisle after the fruit and veg section and was pleased to see a massive section of exotic ‘Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients’, the array of jewel-coloured labels as familiar as the togarashi seasoning label. Squares of bold color with simple black text. Hooray – in a few seconds I’d have the box of togarashi seasoning in my hands and I’d be on the bus back to Braunston.

The line up of ingredients was impressive and tantalizing. They had everything any cook could possibly want from ancho chillies and black bean sauce to nam pla fish sauce and tamarind paste, from yuzu juice to za‘tar.  How tempting. I wasn’t, however, here to stock up on every exotic ingredient on the planet. I just wanted a 40 g cardboard box filled with togarashi seasoning.

So I scanned the shelf just for that purple box with the orange and black label that I now knew so well.

Togarashi box

They had a five spice blend, an Italian mix, a smokey steak rub and a spicy Thai mix. But no togarashi seasoning. I scoured the shelves. Nothing. Well, too bad.

I went back to Patience without the main aim of my shopping expedition accomplished.

Since then I’ve been trying to use some of the other store cupboard surprises.  I’ve just incorporated a jar of sugary honey and all manner of spices as well as some cognac in a steaming cauldron that has perfumed the boat and made us happy.

I know we won’t be eating togarashi anything tomorrow.

Clementine cauldron

Spiced clementines preserved in honey and cognac

Ingredients

  • 10 clementines
  • 250ml honey
  • 750ml water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 star anise
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla paste
  • 150ml cognac

Method

Pierce each clementine three or four times, place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for fifteen minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, slowly bring the honey and the 750ml water to the boil with bay leaves, star anise, cloves, peppercorns and vanilla paste. Drop the clementines into the boiling syrup, lower the heat and simmer with the lid on for an hour until soft. Carefully remove the clementines, draining any liquid back into the pot and boil the syrup until nicely thickened and reduced

Bottle in sterilized jars but keep in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks. I don’t think these will keep too long.

Delicious with cheese. We have had them with feta, cheddar and Gruyère so far. I’m thinking about having them with yoghurt for breakfast and perhaps I’ll add some chopped walnuts.

clementine preserve