Bernie Madoff made me write this. What I love about food and culture is that it travels. Sometimes it is obvious, as with the introduction of pizza to New York in the 19th century, but sometimes it travels stealthily and circuitously. Ponzu sauce is a food that has taken a curious route.
Ponzu shoyu (sauce) is used in Japan to spoon over grilled meats or fish. It is also used as a dipping sauce for sashimi. It is a sauce made with mirin rice wine, rice vinegar, katsuobushi flakes and kombu seaweed. It is finished off with a little lemon juice or citrus-ey yuzu.In the 90s, when my daughter was little, my husband and I became host parents to a series of English language students, some from Spain, some from Austria, and most of them from Japan. It was my way to contribute to our finances and still be able to take care of our daughter. Here are Kayo and Lizzie. When this whole thing came down with Bernie, I immediately thought, Ponzi -- Ponzu and Bingo!, a blog topic. Stay with me -- I know I cast far afield, but I always bring it back.
While I was playing around with saying Ponzi -- Ponzu, I did a little research and found out that the pon in Ponzu comes from the Portuguese word for orchard, pomar. The zu in Ponzu comes from the Japanese word for vinegar, or sour. Well that was all I needed to know and I was off. My mother always said that her father was Portuguese, I am currently reading Salt, a World History, by Mark Kurlansky, and I've been learning about preserving fish with salt and how the Greeks and the Romans made Garum, a fermented fish sauce, and how what we are after as humans is Umami and that is why we love grilled meat. All these disparate, tenuous details are what led me to create my version of Ponzu.
Ribeye Steaks with Citrus Sauce
4 Tbs. Meyer lemon juice
1 Tbs. Fish Sauce
2 Serrano chiles, minced
1 Tbs. Cilantro, minced
4 Tbs. Olive oil
1 Tbs. Butter
3 Lbs. Boneless ribeye steaks, patted dry and well-salted and peppered
Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high and put the pat of butter in the pan and immediatey after put the ribeyes in, being careful not to crowd them. Salt and pepper the other side of the ribeyes and cook undisturbed for 7-8 minutes on each side. When they are done, transfer the steaks to a platter and cover and let them rest in a warm oven for 8 minutes. On a cutting board, slice the steaks into strips and place them on another warm platter, pour the collected juices from the original platter and then spoon the Ponzu Scheme Sauce over the strips of steak.