This dish marks two milestones: 1) it’s the first dish I’ve made in the book containing meat, and perhaps more significant, 2) it’s the first of three in that book that I actually had when I dined at Alinea.
I remember our server asking us if we knew what yuba was. “No.” “Not many people do. It’s the skin that forms when you heat soy milk,” he so elegantly informed us. Here, that skin is rolled up into a stick, dried out and fried. Shrimp is wrapped around it, along with sweetened orange rind and chives. It’s dusted with togarashi and dipped in miso mayonnaise.
With the yuba, I really started out from scratch with dried soybeans. I immersed them in water overnight…
…and then blended them with water at high speed for a minute.
What resulted was a very frothy soy milk that I had to drain through my chinois before pouring into a wide saucepan to heat up.
It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for each yuba skin to form, and it’s no easy task to pull them out because it sticks to itself and they’re very hot. Nevertheless, I soon got the hang of it and was able to make some decently sized sticks.
I threw these in the dehydrator for a few hours until they were “dry but pliable.”
Then, they were fried in canola oil. I don’t fry food very often. The last dish was probably my first introduction to frying. So I ended up being completely amazed when they puffed up to almost twice their size.
I don’t really have any pictures of making the miso mayonnaise. Basically I cracked an egg yolk into a bowl and slowly whisked in canola oil until it emulsified. I then add the miso paste, lime juice, sugar, water, salt, and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper. The miso I bought was a much darker and thicker red miso than I think they use at the restaurant, so my mayo didn’t turn out in the orange hue that I remember from Alinea.
While I was making the yuba sticks, I also prepared the orange rind and the shrimp. For the orange rind, I peeled an orange and removed all the white pith. I then cooked it in boiling simple syrup for a short time and shocked it in cold simple syrup.
The shrimp were bitches. The book tells you to cut 1/3 down from the tail end to the head, then to turn your knife straight down and cut down one third farther and back to the tail end. Essentially, I was removing the middle third of the shrimp. Somehow I didn’t completely botch this task, although I do confess that I got lazy with some of the shrimp and just cut a slit halfway from tail to head. This is all done so that I could wrap the shrimp around the yuba sticks.
Last step was putting the yuba into the oven for a few minutes to cook the shrimp, and then add the orange rinds, chives and togarashi. Obtaining togarashi required going to one of the Asian supermarkets in Uptown. Togarashi is a spice mix seasoning containing (directly from the list of ingredients on the label) chili pepper, orange peel, black and white sesame seed, Japanese pepper, ginger, and seaweed.
And yes, it was fucking delicious.