There's some dishes that really wow me. No, not because they're fancy to say or prepared using a French cooking technique. The dishes that pack a "wow" factor in my book are actually those that taste sublime, but really, they're so simple because they only highlight a few key fresh ingredients. I'm going to venture a guess that many culinary experts would agree with me, and if you have ever watched an episode of Top Chef, you'll understand that when push comes the shove and chefs are tasked with cooking their best dishes, oftentimes, it's the simplest ones that really resonates with them.
This mouth-watering Tako Fin with Citrus Ponzu Sauce recipe is inspired by one of my favorite dishes at a local Japanese restaurant in Sacramento, Taro's by Mikuni. And like you, I'm no professional Japanese chef, but I like to experiment in my kitchen, so I let my tastebuds guide me in its execution.
Tako [蛸/たこ], the Japanese word for octopus, is the star in this dish, and when drizzled with my version of this citrus ponzu dressing alongside some spicy jalapeños and refreshingly crunchy cucumbers, it's just heavenly. And the best part is that once you gather the main ingredients (available at your local Asian grocer, or in my case, Ranch 99 market), it's so easy to assemble and wow your guests as an appetizer for any of your social gatherings, particularly if you're having your favorite people over for cocktails. Next week, I'll dish up a mocktail that will pair amazingly well with this recipe. Stay tuned!
|Sashimi-grade octopus or tako [蛸/たこ] is the star of this dish|
|I prefer the crisp tenderness of small Persian or Japanese cucumbers sliced into slender matchsticks|
|Freshly-plucked meyer lemons from my friend's backyard lend a citrusy sweetness to the ponzu dressing|
|Tako Fin with Citrus Ponzu Sauce | via Chandara Creative|
Tako Fin with Citrus Ponzu Sauce
Inspired by the Tako Fin at Taro's by Mikuni Restaurant, Sacramento, CA
• 2 sashimi-grade octopus or tako tentacles, blanched & thinly sliced
• 1 small cucumber, preferably Japanese, Persian, or English variety
• 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
• 2 tbs meyer lemon juice
• 1 tbs ponzu sauce
• 1 tbs pon shabu sauce
• 1/2 tbs low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
• 1 tbs sesame oil
• Dash of sea salt (for blanching octopus)
- 1. Prepare the ponzu sauce dressing by combining lemon juice, ponzu, pon shabu, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Mix well, chill, and set aside.
- 2. Blanch the octopus in lightly salted boiling water for 2-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your tentacle, or until octopus turns a nice red-bergundy color along its tentacles and is somewhat firm to the touch. Be careful not to overcook the octopus or it will taste rubbery. Remove from water and shock the octopus by immersing it an ice bath. Set aside.
- NOTE: As an alternative, you can also purchase pre-cooked sashimi-grade tako at your grocer. I find this much easier.
- 3. Thinly slice chilled octopus and jalapeños and set aside. Using a mandolin or shredder, thinly slice cucumber into matchsticks.
- 4. Drizzle ponzu sauce dressing generously over the sliced octopus, cucumber matchsticks, and jalapeño. Enjoy!