My photo
Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How To Use Your Cast Iron Teapot For Dobin Mushi

On the agenda: soups! We made an easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup and a tasty French Onion Soup. I learned a lesson this week--be careful when putting anything in the salamander as the handle is spring-loaded and when released, it will send the food shooting up towards the flame. Instead of nicely toasting my bread and Gruyere topping, I left the French onion soup in too long (it only takes seconds to broil in the salamander) and my bread was black. It was especially sad because I'd taken care to caramelize my onions to a perfect, even dark brown.
Incidently, I discovered why the exposed white bread on my French onion soup instantly went from nicely browning to burnt, by reading the second book of the behemoth 2,438 page (six volume) Modernist Cuisine. The radiant heat from the salamander is reflected by the color white. As soon as the white turns to brown, the radiant heat is quickly absorbed and will turn to black in a blink of an eye. One lesson learned--cover the bread entirely with Gruyere so none is vulnerable to burning!

I've only read book 2 thus far, on Techniques and Equipment and have already been surprised by a number of things that have been proven via scientific testing. For example, did you already know the answers to these questions?
1. Why oven walls should be shiny and reflective and not black.
2. Why the amount of food loaded into an oven is inversely related to cooking time--in other words, it actually takes less time to cook food when the oven is full versus when it has just a small portion of food loaded into it.
3. Why you can never raise the grill high enough in your outdoor barbeque to change the cooking time (hint: controlling the oxygen flow is the only way to control the heat of the barbeque)
4. Why used cooking oil will cook food better than fresh, unused oil.
5. How to make powdered soup that will melt in your mouth?
Alas, I was only able to borrow the one book from the series--which costs $625 for the set, but will be looking to see if I can find another friendly loan to read the rest. It's not hyperbole when the website says:
"In Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet—scientists, inven­tors, and accom­plished cooks in their own right—have cre­ated a six-volume 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired tech­niques for prepar­ing food that ranges from the oth­er­worldly to the sub­lime. The authors—and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab—have achieved astound­ing new fla­vors and tex­tures by using tools such as water baths, homog­e­niz­ers, cen­trifuges, and ingre­di­ents such as hydro­col­loids, emul­si­fiers, and enzymes. It is a work des­tined to rein­vent cooking."
Here's the New Yorker article on Modernist Cuisine.
The best thing I had to eat this week was Dobin Mushi that I made with black cod and Matsutake mushrooms. My father was an Issei--first generation Japanese-American--and closely involved with the small Japanese community in Colorado from the 1950s on. Matsutake mushrooms grow only on the fallen limbs of Ponderosa pine trees and pockets of them can be found throughout the Rocky Mountains. Each Japanese-American family had their prime harvesting area, kept ultra secret from everyone else. Our was in the Red Feather lakes region and we would come back with a sackful of fragrant Matsutake after a lovely day picnicking and foraging. These days Matsutake cost upwards of $49 a pound. They are highly fragrant with pine and a touch of cinnamon.

The dried Matsutake are nothing like the fresh, but are affordable and give a smaller scent of pine to dishes plus the good umami flavor (the savory taste). Black cod is plentiful this time of year off the California coast and has a delicate texture and buttery oiliness to it. As a result, this delicate soup has a sheen of oil that is very delectable. Serve with Japanese white rice and a very dry, minerally French Chablis. We paired the Dobin Mushi with the 2009 Domaine William Fevre Chablis. We enjoyed sipping this light-bodied, crisp, citrusy white Burgundy while watching the sun set over the Pacific, then with our meal.

Do you have a cast iron tea pot? You may not know this--but it is used for steaming Dobin Mushi. Find a large steamer where the cast iron tea pot will fit inside, with the lid on. My cast iron tea pot fits 4 cups and is perfect for a serving of Dobin Mushi for two:

1 tsp. instant dash powder *feel free to make your own dash from scratch!
4 cups water
1 4" piece of konbu kelp, washed
1/4 cup dried Matsutake (or use 1/2 cup fresh and add with the fish at the end)
1" ginger root, peeled and sliced into quarters
1 Tbsp. approximate Mirin (Japanese cooking sake)
1 Tbsp. approximate soy sauce
1 tsp. approximate salt
1 carrot (can cut decoratively)
1/2 lb. black cod, skin on, cut into 2" strips
Slices of yuzu or lemon
In a saucepan, boil the water and add the dried Matsutake. Turn off the heat and add the dashi powder, konbu and ginger root. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the ginger root pieces from the soup and add the Mirin, soy sauce and salt. Stir and taste. Then add a bit more of the Mirin, soy sauce or salt, only if needed, to find a balance between saltiness, sweetness and the seafood taste of the dashi. Fill the steamer with water only to the bottom of the interior steamer (in other words, so water level does not come up to the cast iron pot). Ladle the soup into the cast iron pot and add the carrot. Put pot into the steamer, cover and turn the heat to medium. When the water starts to steam, time the cooking for seven minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the cast iron pot. Add the fish and let sit for two minutes before serving. Serve with yuzu or lemon to squeeze on the fish. See wine pairing notes above.


  1. My teapot holds only 2 cups can I still use it?

  2. will just make half the recipe. It should work out well for one serving or as the soup course of a meal.