they are as old as methusalem. call’em wraps, packages, purses, folds, swaddles, bundles, envelopes, papillotes. call’em what you want, in my house they are pockets. an outside with an inside. the outside here is a curly cabbage leaf, blanched to soften, wrapping the inside, which was three-fold: tiny (i hate baby-anything) shitake, sweet eel, day-boat scallops.
these contents were flavorful in their own right, but i couldn’t resist using freshly grated wasabi root, nor yuzu, nor this fabulous soy sauce i found at tokyo fish (this store is legend, in berkeley north on san pablo, just past gilman, really in albany) it is one of the few stores which improved by renovation in every way, more space, more food, better light, many more choices, in prepared food, fish, rice, fruits, frozens, drieds, sweets, japanese whatnots and needless to say, sake. i used to go there when the store was ancient, old tokyo style, narrow shelves, narrow isles, nary an empty hold, yet a dark treasure, where the old lady ruled; now it’s her son who roosts the fray. lovely people, fabulous service, advice and gentle, gentle smiles.
the mushrooms and cabbage, as so many other of my market items, are from monterey’s, on hopkins, where a family feud is rampant. who needs to take sides? as in any family owned business, sooner or later the individuals get into tussles, which turn to feud and often, sadly, lead to a customer’s disenchantment. as everybody knows, that’s how it goes. so go there before the inevitable implosion.
back to pockets: the cabbage is steamed or blanched. preferably as soft as to be fragrant, yet not at all mushy, tactile enough to hold as purse, indulging the cargo.
the fillings are essentially precooked, the eel skinned and grilled to raise its aroma, the mushrooms steamed, soft and very tender in butter and sake, the day-boats toasted on both sides for seconds in lemon infused olive oil. the sauce to float these fillings in their pouch was essentially a gently fragrant vinaigrette, sans the vinaigre: walnut oil, yuzu, soy sauce and aforementioned grated wasabi root. on serving some mushrooms had escaped their wrap, the sauce leaked, and both ultimately enhanced the individual folds.
served best luke, on a warm summer night, in fabulous company, possibly encouraged by a pinot, blanc or gris, better yet by that reserve, a simple vi blanc from spain via portland, called les brugueres.