The above simple dish illustrates what the majority of my warm lunch boxes and a big part of my home meals have looked like for the past years: Japanese or Korean-style rice bowls, one of the easiest ways I can imagine to have a full meal. Apart from the rice (Japanese, always white), the proteins and vegetables vary every time, so every bowl feels like a completely different dish, especially since the seasonings (sauces, chilli oil or paste, sprinkling of furikake or sesame seeds…) and fresh herbs vary every time too.
This time I brushed fresh tuna pieces with Japanese sesame oil, pan-fried them and had them in a rice bowl with microwaved (yes!) asparagus, some furikake (Japanese seasoning to sprinkle on rice, soups, noodles…) and wasabi leaves from my balcony. This is a very simple and quick dish (that is, if, like me, you always have a portion or two of frozen rice), but one of the best I can imagine with tuna. Actually, it’s so simple, it felt ridiculous to specify amounts and volumes, so I’ve skipped them.
fresh tuna steak
thin green or violet asparagus
fresh herbs (coriander, chives, green onion leaves, mitsuba or wasabi leaves!!!, whatever you have or like)
furikake (Japanese sprinkling, usually based on dried bonito and eaten with rice or noodles)
sesame oil, cooking sake, soy sauce, chopped garlic
taberu rayu (Japanese chilli oil sediments)
Remove the asparagus tough lower parts and cut the rest into 2cm pieces. Place into a bowl and mix with some soy sauce.
Reheat the rice if it’s frozen.
Cut the tuna steak diagonally into two-bite pieces. Brush them with oil and pan-fry until it’s cooked but still pink inside (or raw inside, if you prefer).
Remove the tuna from the pan, add soy sauce, sake, chopped garlic and heat until it boils. Put this “sauce “aside.
Cook the asparagus in the microwave for about 2 minutes, maximum power. Taste and if it’s cooked but still crunchy, it’s perfect. If it’s too tough, cook it for 30 more minutes.
Place the rice into a bowl, add the tuna pieces, the asparagus, sprinkle with furikake and wasabi leaves. Pour the garlicky sauce on tuna.
Serve with taberu rayu and soy sauce.
MY BALCONY GARDENING : PRUNING/TRIMMING/TOPPING/PINCHING CHILLI PEPPERS
I couldn’t publish this post without talking about my balcony garden’s development! Since my last post, I have been transplanting both the chilli and tomato seedlings into bigger pots, eating my mini-greenhouse-grown herbs, sowing quickly growing one-off herbs, such as coriander or dill…. and I started to prune my chilli plants, the stage (also called topping or trimming) I never skip in chilli growing process.
Topping strengthens the stalk and most of all, encourages branching.
If an early flower bud appears, pinching it stops small plants from flowering and having fruits too early (e.g.. in my climate it’s if they’re still indoors in March or April…). Early flowers mean that the plant puts all its strength into flowers and fruits instead of growing and becoming strong enough to bear lots of fruits.
In recent years I’ve been making experiments with pruned vs. untouched chilli plants and I’ve never regretted putting my scissors into action!
If you have a real big garden, you might choose not to worry about branching, but if you have a balcony or a patio, the shorter the plants, the better, so I prune all those which don’t branch naturally.
Topping can be done at different stages, but I prefer to start when the chilli plant is about 15cm high and has already about ten leaves. There is however an exception: when I see chilli buds too early (before they are placed outside), I pinch them off, regardless the size of the seedling.
Remove, cutting diagonally, the upper stalk part with two top bigger and also the upper tiny leaves, leaving 75-80% of the plant untouched.
If it’s because of the early buds, I either remove only them (if the seedling is small) or cut them off together with the surrounding upper leaves and upper part of the stalk.
I also prune other plants, but only chillies at the the young plant stage. The container tomato varieties I sow are tiny and seem to branch even at the small 5-cm seedling stage, so I don’t need to touch them. I do prune them later, but I’ll talk about it some other time.
I use special thin-stalk plant scissors, but well sharpened medium-sized scissors are also ok for small plants. For pinching you can use your fingers, but I prefer scissors too.
Do you also top the plants you grow? I’d love to learn about other gardeners’ experience!