Crazy Sushi Fever – Atascadero, CA

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What had initially started out as a joke turned out to be an awesome dinner date. To celebrate our three-year anniversary, Martin and I took a few days off work and drove up to the Central Coast. Searching our Yelp! app for a place to eat near our hotel in Atascadero, we noticed a distinctly odd and kitschy name – Crazy Sushi Fever. You’ve got to be kidding me. But the reviews were great, the photos looked appetizing, and it was a mere half mile away. We looked at each other and decided, let’s go for it!

Crazy Sushi Fever - Pismo Boat

Crazy Sushi Fever – Pismo Boat

After an abysmally long walk (GPS, you lied to me), we arrived at this humble sushi joint exhausted. Fortunately, our spirits were immediately lifted by the welcoming smiles of the chefs behind the counter. We grabbed seats right in front of the main counter and ordered a pair of Asahi Kuronama to quench our thirst.

Asahi Kuronama (Asahi Black)

Asahi Kuronama (Asahi Black)

We typically enjoy Asahi Kuronama with yakitori, but it paired surprising well with our sushi as well. Noticing the prices of the a la carte nigiri sushi ($4+ per pair), we decided to share a boat – the Pismo Boat, an omakase creation of 10 pieces of nigiri sushi and 20 pieces of sashimi. All for $60. Meanwhile, we admired the gleaming slabs of salmon and maguro sitting in the refrigerated case. I couldn’t wait.

Ginger, Wasabi, and... Banchan?

Ginger, Wasabi, and… Banchan?

Okay, so it turned out that the chefs behind the counter were actually Korean. On the bright side, that meant that our customary dish of wasabi and gari (pickled ginger) was served alongside generous mountains of cucumber sunomono and wakame (seaweed salad)… suspiciously reminiscent of the variety of banchan at the start of any Korean meal. No complaints from me!

The Pismo Boat

The Pismo Boat

At last, the glorious boat was proudly presented to us. From left to right: maguro (tuna), hamachi (yellowtail), sake (salmon), shiro maguro (albacore), and ono (escolar). All of which looked stunning and tasted wonderful. We dug in, nigiri first. After just one or two pieces, the chef who made our boat caught my attention by waving a mysterious white packet.

Fresh Wasabi

Fresh Wasabi

“Would you like to try some fresh wasabi?” he offered. Of course I said yes! I think I remembered to say please… In any case, he hooked us up with a dollop of chopped wasabi root marinated in a bit of salt. OMG SO GOOD. It’s infinitely better than the pale green paste from the tube or can, and though some may say it’s not the same as fresh grated wasabi root, I think the salt really makes a difference in this prepared version. It pulled out some of the liquid and made this saucy, spicy glaze that tasted amazing on the fresh fish. I’m now on a mission to track down this elusive pouch of kizami wasabi.

Back to the Boat

Back to the Boat

I’m usually not a huge fan of maguro, but the one here was a gorgeous bright red. The hamachi was buttery and shimmered with fat. Salmon is always our favorite, and theirs was sweet and melt-in-your-mouth good. We were thankful for the ridiculously thick sashimi slices of all of the varieties, but especially the salmon! Finally we moved on to the sauced pieces – shiro maguro and ono. Typical preparation on the shiro maguro, with a drizzle of ponzu and sprinkling of negi (green onions). The ono, which I had only seen served at Sushi Central here in West LA, was drizzled in a ponzu and chili oil dressing and topped with a mound of masago (Capelin roe). By the time we polished off the last bite, we were both completely satiated… although, they say there’s always room for dessert…

Tempura Green Tea Ice Cream

Tempura Green Tea Ice Cream

Tempura green tea ice cream is my guilty pleasure. A perfect sphere of matcha ice cream dipped in tempura batter and rolled in panko bread crumbs, then deep fried to a golden hue. The artsy swirls of chocolate syrup really brought the dessert together and we enjoyed each decadent bite. They also have a tempura cheesecake on their menu… talk about avoiding temptation!

If you ever find yourself in the Central Coast / Paso Robles area with a craving for sushi, we suggest stopping by Crazy Sushi Fever. Peculiar name aside, they are a great place with prompt, friendly service and delicious sushi. And if you ask nicely, maybe they’ll share a bit of their fresh wasabi stash.

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Check out Crazy Sushi Fever:

8050 El Camino Real
Atascadero, CA 93422

See their Yelp reviews here!

Steamed Fish with Scallion-Ginger-Soy Sauce

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My dad is a master at sampling dishes at restaurants, deciding he could do it himself, and going home to replicate (and most times, improving on) said dishes. I’d like to think that I got that culinary gene from him, but in the meantime, at least I get to benefit from the magician finally revealing his secret (recipe, that is!).

Steamed fish fillets, swimming in a ginger-soy sauce and topped with bright julienned scallions, is a prime example of a simple yet intricately flavored dish found on the menus of many Chinese restaurants. There’s just nothing quite like spooning the sweet and salty sauce over a bowl of white rice and flaking apart the tender fish with my chopsticks to make me feel right at home.

NomCat tip for the ingredients:

The Fish: Costco. My parents love to keep it easy, and once they introduced the frozen, individually vacuum-sealed tilapia loins from Costco to us, we never looked back. It’s easy to pull as many (or as few) fillets as you need, thaw them in the sink, and have dinner on the table in 15 minutes, which works perfectly for us coming home from a long day at work. They are packaged by weight, so one $14 bag will have about 10-12 fillets.

From frozen fillet to this in just 15 minutes:

Picture-perfect steamed fish topped with lots of scallions!

Ingredients:

2 tilapia loin fillets, frozen or thawed (you could also use any white fish)

1 bunch of green onions (just the whites, save the greens for another dish)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons cold water

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger (or ginger paste)

The fish can be cooked in two ways: in a steamer or (my favorite) in the microwave. Yes, I said it. The Microwave. Maybe it’s because we were college students not long ago, but I love healthy, homemade dishes that can be prepared by microwave. If you have time, you can thaw the fillets in the sink for about an hour or overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re short on time, fear not! Simply adjust the cooking times – it may even be for the better since the fish will have extra time to soak in the delicious sauce.

We like to eat this with white rice, so you’ll want to start by getting the rice cooker going. If you’re using a steamer (or a steam pot?) to cook the fish, you’ll want to get the water boiling. Then it’s time to show off your knife skills by slicing the whites of the green onion into a fine julienne.

Julienned Scallions

I know, mine aren’t that finely cut. That’s okay too. The finer the cut, the better the scallion wilts as it sits over the hot fish. The wilting helps it lose the bitter onion-y flavor. (So yes, by not cutting very well, I literally tasted my defeat.)

The sauce is pretty easy. Just throw the last 5 ingredients together in a small bowl. You may want to adjust the proportion a bit to your own preference. Some like it saltier, some like it sweeter. It’s okay to make it a bit more potent that you’d expect, because the cooking process will let the juices from the fish mingle with the sauce and dilute (and at the same time, add flavor to) the sauce. Whipping it with chopsticks or a fork will be the best way to break up the globules of sesame oil.

(Soy) Saucy, isn’t it?

Now just unwrap the fish fillets, give them a quick rinse, pat dry with paper towels, and arrange them in a microwave safe dish. The Pyrex pie pan is unconventional but perfect for this. Drizzle the sauce over the fish fillets, flipping if necessary to coat them. I like to fish (pun intended) out the floating bits of ginger and lay them over the fish pieces. At this point, it is ready to go into the steamer or microwave. For the microwave route, tightly cover the dish in plastic wrap to create a hot and steamy cooking environment. Steam until the fish is opaque and flakes cleanly. Times will vary depending on the method and whether the fish is frozen or thawed. We did frozen fillets in the microwave for about 5 minutes on high.

Ready to go!

Be careful when opening the steamer or removing the plastic wrap as the steam will be very hot! The sauce will have settled, so baste the tops of the fillets before topping with the scallion. Bon appetit!