Memoirs of a Wannabe

by Anna on September 26, 2010

in Meat,Seafood,Shelfish,World Food

Sooooo…. Challenge #2, what could be more outside of my comfort zone than Japanese? I have a fascination for all things Asia. I think we all should bow to each other, and be as graceful as they are. Their food tantalizes me. Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines; I could eat Thai food every single day and never get tired of it. But Japanese food would really be a big challenge for me. So now which version of my stories would you rather read?… The one that cooking Japanese food was a breeze and look how great I did or, the one that I pulled my hair and had super duper tantrum running from one side of the house to the other screaming: How many minutes I have? Like if I was in the middle of a quick fire challenge. And in the middle of all that, my sweet loving husband asked me if we could also make sushi? Lol. He may or may not be looking for his hair now, because the scream I unleashed at him, blew it right off his head.

Mango Cabbage Salad


  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 large head White cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1/2 large head red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 mango cut into thinly matchsticks slices
  • 1 cucumber sliced with the Mandolin


Whisk together sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Toss the cabbage, green onions, Mango and sesame seeds in a large bowl with the dressing until well coated.

Tataki Seared Beef 
on a Bed of Onion and Daikon Salad

In this Japanese style of preparing beef, the steak is seared over high temperature leaving the inner part raw. Traditionally this is achieved by grilling the meat over high temperature and then dropping it into cold water to immediately kill the heat.

I don’t throw it directly into cold water but wrap the meat tightly in cling wrap before immersing it in ice water. This method keeps the flavor and the crust. After being thoroughly chilled in the refrigerator, the meat is then sliced and served over Onion Daikon Salad with either Soy Wasabi Dipping Sauce or Tataki Dipping Sauce (or both sauces if you like variety!). Both the meat and Onion Daikon Salad are dipped into the sauce of your choice. If you don’t care for the spicy heat of wasabi, try the mild Tataki Dipping Sauce.

* Preparation Time: 30 minutes, plus a few hours to chill after grilling
 Time: 3 to 5 minutes maximum for rare


  • 1-1/4 1bs (600 g) tenderloin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil

Onion Daikon Salad

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 2 small green onions (scallions) cut into slivers
  • 2 small daikon radishes (cut into very thin matchsticks)
  • 2 shiso leaves thinly sliced

Soy Wasabi Dipping Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce

Tataki Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of dashi stock granules dissolved in 4 tablespoons hot water or chicken stock


If the tenderloin is larger than 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, cut along the grain in half. This will result in two pieces about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length. Just before placing the meat on the grill rub it with the salt and oil and oil the hot grate. Place the meat over the high heat zone and grill for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until it just becomes browned.

To grill the edges you will have to hold it with tongs. The meat remains raw in the center and only the outer 1/16 to 1/8 inch (2 mm) is cooked. As soon as it is sufficiently browned on all sides, tightly wrap the meat in cling wrap and toss it into ice water. This will stop the cooking process without letting the meat come into contact with the water and dilute the taste.

When cold remove the meat from the ice water and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours to completely chill.

To make the Onion Daikon Salad, rub the onion slices with a little salt. Set aside for 20 minutes. Drain off any water that has accumulated from the onions. Mix the shiso leaves, or chopped mint and coriander leaves, green onions and daikon in a bowl, toss well and arrange on a plate.

5. To serve the Soy Wasabi Dipping Sauce, place a small ball (about 1/2 teaspoon) of the wasabi paste in a small serving bowl and pour 2 teaspoons of the soy sauce into the bowl. Place the wasabi paste off to the side of the bowl rather than in its center.

Do not mix the wasabi paste and soy sauce together. Instead let your guests mix them according to their preference. Repeat with three additional serving bowls.

6. To make the Tataki Dipping Sauce, combine the ingredients for the dip in a bowl and then transfer to 4 small serving bowls.

7. Cut the thoroughly chilled meat on the diagonal into thin slices and place across the top of the Onion Daikon Salad. Serve with the Soy Wasabi Dipping Sauce or Tataki Dipping Sauce.

The Asian Barbecue Book: by Alex Skaria



  • ½ Lb whole (unpeeled) shrimp.
  • Sea salt.
  • 1 Lemon cut to quarters. (For garnish)

For the Sauce


  • 4 tablespoons sake
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-tablespoon Mirin
  • 1-tablespoon sugar

In a small pan, mix all the ingredients for the yakitori sauce. Bring the mixture to boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce slightly reduced. Transfer to a small bowl.


Skewer the shrimp (from tail to head) Glaze with sauce. Grill each side until golden and drizzle with sea salt. Serve with lemon quarter.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Marly October 4, 2010 at 7:16 AM

Nectarine sangria and edamame? Wow, those two sound absolutely scrumptious! Best wishes to you!

sweetlife October 1, 2010 at 5:43 PM

i love this challenge, I think you exceeded your expectations…yummy shrimp and the salad is goregous…of course I voted for ya!!


Daydreamer Desserts September 30, 2010 at 5:41 AM

Spectacular menu, you’ve got my vote!

Joyti September 30, 2010 at 12:20 AM

Well, it LOOKS like it turned out well. The salad, in particular, is sooo pretty (I dont eat beef or shrimp, but the beef looks remarkably pretty too).

Kellie @ Blackboard Kitchen September 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM

How brave are you?! Nicely done. 🙂 A vote is headed your way.

Here is the link to my entry, if you get a chance to check it out:

sensiblecooking September 29, 2010 at 9:48 AM

My gosh I keep staring at that picture as if it might come alive any minute now. The shrimps can;t even type. drooling.

Leslie @ Chomp! September 28, 2010 at 9:01 PM

nice! beautiful photos- even of those shrimp dudes 🙂

Kristin @ delishliving September 28, 2010 at 8:08 PM

oh, i just can’t get enough of your blog. this looks insanely delicious. your photography is one thing, but i am thinking your cooking is the real deal too (not just pretty pictures). i would be shocked if you don’t make it through this round! as always, you have my vote!

Jacob's Kitchen September 28, 2010 at 5:31 PM

Stunning as always. Really. Beautifully done. I voted for you!

Good luck! =)

You can check out my PFB post at :

Lingbo September 28, 2010 at 5:29 PM

These are absurdly beautiful foods and absurdly great food. As soon I saw it, I knew I had to vote for you in the name of JAPANESE food. You are my new culinary hero.

Amanda (The Culinary Passport) September 28, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Great pictures! Congrats for cooking with shrimp that have heads. Heads (of any animal) add so much flavor to a dish and it something Americans should do more of.

Therese @ artistta September 28, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Beautiful photos and the meal looks wonderful. Perfect entry for challenge 2. Good luck with the coming challenges!

Magic of Spice September 28, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Japanese, my favorite food in the world (next to French)…Wonderful entry, see you next round 🙂

She's Cookin' September 28, 2010 at 7:28 AM

What an incredible meal – all the dishes look delicious – can’t pick a favorite. Your photos are stunning! You’ve got my vote 🙂

Heather @ He Cooks She Cooks September 28, 2010 at 6:47 AM

Looks so good! I love tataki – never had beef tataki however. This recipe is going to change that… 😉

Food o' del Mundo September 28, 2010 at 5:30 AM

I can relate to all the trauma of getting this entry in on time, but we did it!

Lori September 28, 2010 at 2:34 AM

Out of your comfort zone or not, I’d say you nailed it. What a meal! I love that slaw, along with everything else. You have been voted for. 😉

Sophie September 28, 2010 at 1:03 AM

Your pictures are making the dishes look so appetizing!! I want to savour it all ,veven that it is only breakfast time over here!

MMMMMMMM,..So fresh food & the flavours are amazing too!

The Duo Dishes September 27, 2010 at 9:17 PM

You’re pulling out the big guns with this one. As usual, your photos say it all. Love the salad in the glass. Looks crunchy, light and refreshing. Voted!

Cook with Madin September 27, 2010 at 7:47 PM

Hi Anna, you always makes me laugh, I also saw your comment on Denise’s site. LOL
I thought you already got me on the shrimp, then I scrolled down, the salad (with mango!), I said: this is it for me, and then I scrolled down more, seared beef, OHHHEMMMMGEEE! Great job. Great recipes you have here, the presentation and the photos, awesome! Oh yeah, where’s the sushi? (just copying your husband)
Yes, you have my vote all the way.

Lisa Orgler September 27, 2010 at 7:35 PM

You really take fabulous photos…making your blog so engaging! Happy to pass along a vote. 🙂

Karen September 27, 2010 at 6:17 PM

The entire meal looks fantastic, but that beef tataki is the big winner! It looks amazing!
Great job, even if you did have a tantrum! ha.

A Little Yumminess September 27, 2010 at 4:09 PM

Dream meal…perfect for the hot hot hot days we are having…so beautiful as well. With a nice glass of white wine…yum!

Lick My Spoon September 27, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Everything looks so refreshing, esp with this sudden heat wave here! Had to laugh when you mentioned your husband… suggesting sushi, after your “screaming”… ah, but you did such a beautiful job! Will need to try this Tataki Seared Beef soon, thank you!
Lick My Spoon

Jennifer- Adventuresome Kitchen September 27, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Awesome post and lovely, delicious pictures!

eataduckimust September 27, 2010 at 2:26 PM

i love love loved beef tataki, you got our vote!

bunkycooks September 27, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Great dish! Best of luck moving to the next challenge!

Jen Cheung September 27, 2010 at 2:16 PM

yummms! look at all those lovely dishes 🙁 I WANT! It’s dinner time and my soon to be hubby is not back. after looking at these pictures. gosh its making me more hungry :S not a good idea to read food blogs at dinner times eh??

have a wonderful day.
jen @

Joan Nova September 27, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Looks delicious. I voted.

Russell at Chasing Delicious September 27, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Gorgeous photos! Everything looks super delicious. Good luck!

Gina Ruiz September 27, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Great post! Love the colors. You have my vote. Good luck in the competition.

The Cilantropist September 27, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Wow you cooked a full meal, not just one dish, and I am impressed! Beautiful photos as always, and of course you have my vote. 🙂

Amelia from Z Tasty Life September 27, 2010 at 10:07 AM

wonderful photos. appealing. Voted.

(Here’s my post:
See my entry here:

Heather September 27, 2010 at 8:38 AM

Stunning photos, absolutely gorgeous challenge. Great job!

Stephanie @ Per l'Amore del Cibo September 27, 2010 at 8:37 AM

I give you credit for tackling such a difficult cuisine for this challenge! Anyway, what’s a challenge without a little hair pulling and temper tantrum? You did GREAT, no matter how many minutes were left on the clock! Way to go, and you know you’ve got my vote through the second round!

Suchitra September 27, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Thumbs up to the mango cabbage salad- love the presentation!

kristy September 27, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Congratulations to you, Anna! Wow, this post is marvellous. Everything look so perfect here and beef is so seducing. Wishing you all the best and good luck! You know you’ll have my vote.
Best wishes, Kristy

Liz September 27, 2010 at 6:27 AM

Your snaps are GORGEOUS!!!! Love beef tataki. Thanks for sharing.

Marija September 27, 2010 at 6:11 AM

Great entry and photos! Got my vote 🙂

Duchess September 27, 2010 at 6:09 AM

Lovely, exceptional pictures too! best of luck!

Adelina September 26, 2010 at 7:26 PM

Japanese would be intimidating for me as well. Very beautiful and mouth-watering creating with great photographs. You will be getting my vote! Best of luck to you!

Roxan September 26, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Great job on the food… it doesn’t look like you stopped out of your comfort zone at all! You’re a natural 🙂

Jessica September 26, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Your photos are beautiful! You have my vote tomorrow!

Anna September 26, 2010 at 5:56 PM

Thanks Monet. Have a great week.

Monet September 26, 2010 at 5:50 PM

These photographs are beautiful! Your feast turned out so well, and I wish I could have sampled each and every plate. Thank you for sharing!

Anna September 26, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Hahahahahahaha! Denise Dear, bring everybody…come live with me lol. That would be fun. 🙂

denise @ quickies on the dinner table September 26, 2010 at 5:35 PM

WHAT??!?! I’m NOT the first to comment??! After I ran all the way here?!? *Grrrrr*

OMG – I’m coming for lunch, right after I vote for you! No, wait, make that dinner too, er maybe breakfast also. Heck, know what? I’m coming for the whole week 😉

Sommer @ A Spicy Perspective September 26, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Hey Anna, whether you feel comfortable with it or not, that is some impressive Japanese food! The seared beef salad gave m e goose bumps. Keep it coming!

5 Star Foodie September 26, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Excellent specialties to feature, I especially love that shrimp! You’ve got my vote!

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