Sushi For Two: The Perfect Valentine’s Day Dinner With An Asian Twist
Don’t fight the crowds at the restaurants this Valentine’s Day because:
It’s expensive, loud and the wait sucks
There’s nothing more romantic than an intimate dinner for two at home
And there’s no better way to win over your valentine than to cook that dinner yourself.
But why go for the traditional surf & turf, pasta dishes and heavy cream sauces? Create a meal that’s deliciously different and won’t leave you wanting to take a nap afterward.
This Valentine’s Day, you’re going to whip up a delightful meal with Japanese flair that will impress your love with your worldly cooking skills and leave you with enough room for other endeavors.
Here’s a complete menu of Japanese cuisine from start to finish, a sushi how-to and where you can find all the ingredients.
Buying The Ingredients
Asian grocery stores are an adventure. It’s hard not to go into one and not leave with crazy sauces, Poky sticks and 10 things you never knew you needed.
Some things you’ll need in addition to your sauces and ingredients:
- Dipping dishes
- Bamboo mat or sushi kit
- Sake serving set
We’re going to start with the sake – or Japanese rice wine – because you should be sampling it while you cook (just make sure to buy enough for dinner).
You can drink it two ways, hot or cold and both are great. If you’re drinking it hot, you’ll heat the carafe up in a pan of water on the oven. Set it around medium because you don’t want to get it too hot. Remove it with a towel wrapped around it.
If you don’t already have a sake serving set, get one. It will be something you can use year-round.
Here are some examples you can buy.
Now for the sake itself. It ranges in flavors from sweet to dry and which one you get will depend on your personal tastes – very similar to your taste in wine.
We’re going to keep it simple with two options: gyoza and yakitori.
Gyoza are pork, chicken or vegetable dumplings that you fry in a pan. That crispy goodness mixed with the dipping sauce is the bomb-dot-com.
The easiest way to buy pre-made dumplings and sauce. Here’s a list of the top brands.
For the dipping sauce you’ll mix:
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- A few drops of sesame oil
This makes one serving so you’ll double it for both of you. For another dipping sauce recipe, look here.
Yakitori just means “grilled chicken”. They are delicious chicken skewers with a sweet sauce and once you eat one, you’ll want another.
This is probably the easiest traditional yakitori recipe out there.
Don’t forget to buy the bamboo skewers.
If you’ve never made sushi – don’t worry. It’s not hard and you’re in for a fun treat.
First, you’ll need:
- A bamboo rolling mat (makisu) or sushi kit
- Plastic wrap
- A sharp knife – emphasis on sharp
- Sushi rice – yes, it has to be sushi rice or else it won’t stick
- Nori (seaweed)
- Wasabi paste
- Sliced ginger
- The ingredients for your sushi
Not every fish can be eaten uncooked. It’s best to stick with the types of fish served in a sushi bar and to buy it as fresh as possible. The types of fish for sushi:
- Halibut or Flounder
- Clams, Scallops and Abalone
- Red Snapper
Here’s some more info on buying your sushi fish.
Now to the fun – making sushi. If you’re surprising your dinner date, of course you’re flying solo on this. But making sushi is a fun activity to do with that particular someone, especially if it’s a learning experience for you both.
Grab your gear and follow this guide and you’ll be rolling sushi in no time. This guide has all the basics plus some awesome roll recipes.
If you think sushi rolls might not be substantial enough, here’s an amazing main dish you can add to your menu.
Miso-Honey Glazed Salmon
No words – simply delicious and easy to make. This is a recipe for four servings, but you can halve it.
- Cooking spray
- 4 salmon fillets (about 4-5 ounces each) here’s where you halve it
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons white, yellow or brown miso
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.
- Arrange the salmon in the pan and season with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, honey, orange juice, soy sauce and mirin. Pour half of the mixture over the salmon.
- Roast 5 minutes. Pour the remaining miso mixture over the salmon and roast 5-7 more minutes, until the salmon is fork-tender.
- Serve the salmon with miso sauce from the roasting pan spooned over top.
- Garnish with chives.
source: Food Network
Here’s a great little salad for a side dish.
- 1/2 English cucumber
- 1/2 small jicama
- 1 large carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 15-ounce can baby corn
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon each sesame seeds and grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon each grated garlic and minced jalapeno
- salt to taste
- Cut English cucumber, jicama, carrot and celery into matchsticks.
- Drain and rinse baby corn and cut into quarters.
- Mix all the ingredients for the dressing.
- Toss the vegetables with the dressing.
source: Food Network
Japanese desserts are an interesting adventure. I’m going to give you two ways: the easy way and the challenging way.
The Easy Way (in two steps)
- Buy Poky sticks and Green Tea ice cream
- Serve ice cream with Poky sticks as a side
The Challenging Way
Purin: Japanese Custard Pudding
- Caramel 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 3 Tbsp (50ml) water
- Custard 2 cups plus 1 Tbsp (500ml) milk
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a heavy pot, put in sugar and water, but do not stir.
- Put it on the stove at medium heat until the water and sugar turns to dark brown.
- Pour the syrup into 8 small (3" diameter x 2" high) pudding cups or ramekins (may have some leftover).
- Heat milk until just before boiling. Whisk together eggs and sugar, and add hot milk very slowly to avoid eggs curdling. Strain the mixture to make the liquid smooth, and add vanilla. Pour the mixture over the hardened syrup.
- In a baking pan such as 13x9x3, place purin cups, and pour hot water around the cups (not in the cups!) about 3/4 up the side of the cups.
- Bake at 350 F for 40-45 mins or until custard sets.
- Refrigerate at least 3 hours or preferably overnight. You could decorate with whipped cream and cherries before serving if you wish.
source: Japanese Cooking 101
There it is – a different Valentine’s Day meal that’s fun, healthy and never fails to impress.
So enjoy your special dinner with your special someone by sharing the love that you put into your culinary creation.
If you’re looking for an apartment home in Denver, CO that’s as unique as your tastes, we’ve got your order. Uptown Square apartment homes feature one-of-a-kind modern design, premium amenities, first-class service and the most desired downtown location in Denver.