How to avoid getting a raw deal with sushi
Andre Burgener has been immersed in all things food since she took over the making of the family's lunch box sandwiches aged eight (her mom could make a mean creme brulee and a staggering souffle, but could never butter the bread all the way to the edges.
LONG ago and far away - oh, maybe 20-something years back - Japanese food was still a relative novelty in South Africa.
And what there was, was very good. How things have changed.
Sushi has been the main victim in a sad story: from fridge-cold two-days-old supermarket sushi to strawberry and cream cheese maki, we've seen it all and it's horrible. Tempura has fared no better: at best leaden, at worst a greasy sponge.
But there are a few (very few) places which have kept serving perfect Japanese fare.
In Johannesburg, you can't do any better than Yamato. Some may imagine the place has closed, having moved to new and more hidden premises in Illovo, but thankfully it's going strong. After 15 years, owner Christina Sato is amazingly hands-on, and still admirably obsessed with the quality of her dishes.
The wakame seaweed salad is a quiet and lovely thing, the huge udon and ramen broths are all made with the proper stocks, the tuna sashimi is crimson and beautifully flavoured.
Yes, you'll pay more than you will at the local sushi-go-round, but it'll be worth every penny.
Yamato is at 198 Oxford Road, Illovo. Open Monday to Sunday lunch and dinner. 011-268-0512
I'VE raved about David Lebovitz before. The pastry chef used to work at the legendary La Panisse. He is now a cookbook author and recipe blogger at large and has a cult following for a good reason.
Bake his famed ginger cake and you will join the legions. Dangerously gingery, and further spiked with black pepper, this is a very grown-up cake indeed.
Serves 10: 120g peeled fresh root ginger, finely chopped / 1 cup molasses (I used golden syrup - more readily available and works brilliantly) / 1 cup sugar / 1 cup vegetable oil / 2½ cups flour / 1 tsp ground cinnamon / 2 tsp ground cloves / ½ tsp ground black pepper / 1 cup water, just boiled / 2tsp baking powder / 2 eggs.
How: Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 24cm to 30cm diameter springform cake tin. Mix together the syrup or molasses, sugar, and oil in a large bowl.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. Add baking powder to the just-boiled water, then mix this into the molasses mixture.
Add the ginger. Gradually whisk dry ingredients into wet.
Add eggs, and mix thoroughly till combined. Pour the batter into the lined cake tin and bake for about one hour, until a thin blade inserted into the centre comes out clean-ish. Start checking at 50 minutes. Cool for at least an hour before carefully removing from the tin. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, as David suggests.