Imaginary Folklore

Christian Suzuki | San Francisco

Bartender Christian Suzuki wanted to create a dirty Martini variation that would employ only a few ingredients, each one packing a punch while still playing off the delicate flavors of the gin. Drawing inspiration from the flavors and memories of his grandparents’ restaurants in Tokyo, he uses sherry fat-washed with sesame oil alongside a nori-infused brine to lend a sharp, savory kick. St-Germain adds a touch of sweetness and body, and the rice puff garnish recalls the scent of toasting rice at the city’s outdoor food markets.

Ingredients

Serving: 1

  • 2 parts BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin
  • 3/4 parts sesame oil fat-washed manzanilla sherry (see Editor’s Note)
  • 1/4 parts ST-GERMAIN elderflower liqueur
  • 2 dashes nori brine (see Editor’s Note)

Garnish: rice puff (see Editor’s Note)

Directions
  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir until diluted.
  2. Pour into a large rocks glass. Serve in a bowl over crushed ice to keep the cocktail cold.
  3. Serve “otsumami” (snack) style with the rice puff garnish on side.
Editor's Note

Sesame Oil Fat-Washed Manzanilla:
750ml bottle manzanilla sherry
1/2 ounce toasted sesame oil

Empty 1/2 ounce of manzanilla from a bottle. Add 1/2 ounce of sesame oil. Give it a shake, then freeze for 24 hours, shaking it occasionally. If the manzanilla freezes, let it thaw, and proceed to shake. Once the 24 hours are up, pour the manzanilla through a coffee filter into a deli quart container. Keep refrigerated when not in use.

Nori Brine:
2 cups nigori sake
2 cups vodka
20 sheets nori
3 tablespoons table salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin

Break apart 20 sheets of nori into a container. Add all ingredients, then refrigerate. (Because of the nigori sake, it will look creamy and cloudy.) After 48 hours, filter the brine through a mesh strainer to collect the nori. Place the leftover nori in a dehydrator set at 125° F for 4 hours, or until completely dried. Set the nori to the side for later use. Use a coffee filter to strain the remainder of the brine. The filter will collect the kasu, the rice particles in nigori sake that give it a creamy appearance. Save the kasu for later use, as well. The brine should look dark brown, with no cloudiness.

Rice Puff:
100 grams white rice
400 grams water
Leftover kasu (from brine preparation)
Leftover nori (from brine preparation)
20 grams table salt
15 grams toasted sesame seeds
16 fluid ounces grapeseed oil

In a medium-sized pot or rice cooker, add the leftover kasu from the brine into the water and rice. Stir the rice so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. Overcook rice until the grain falls apart, approximately 20-25 minutes. Add the overcooked rice to a Vitamix, and blend until the rice becomes a paste. Spread the paste onto a Silpat or foil, and put in a dehydrator set at 125° F for 4 hours or until there is no moisture in the rice paste. While dehydrating, use a spice grinder to pulverize the dehydrated nori from the brine. Add salt and sesame seeds, mix evenly and set to side. Once the rice paste is done dehydrating, add the grapeseed oil to a pot and heat until 400° F. Peel off the rice paste and drop into the oil. The paste will immediately puff up. Fry on each side for about 40 seconds each. Once done frying, use chopsticks to fish out the rice puff. Sprinkle the nori blend onto the rice puffs while still hot. Let the rice puffs cool before serving aside Imaginary Folklore, “otsumami” style.