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Monday, August 8, 2016

Udon w/ Grilled Fish & Scallions | The Ninja's Daughter

Udon w/ Grilled Fish & Scallions
Today I'm happy to be hosting another Shinobi Mysteries book tour stop, this one featuring the latest book in the series by Susan Spann called The Ninja's Daughter. I was first introduced to Spann's writing when I hosted a stop for book three in the series last summer, and couldn't wait to read the latest installment in this series that takes place in 16th century Japan.

While this is a mystery series, Spann seems to focus on an aspect of Japanese culture and weave it into each story, infusing them with a bit of history (which I love)—this one being Japanese theater, the previous being the production of sake. Our main characters, as always, are Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest and his "translator" and protector Hattori Hiro, a shinobi assassin.

This mystery begins when Jiro, a young apprentice for a Kyoto rice merchant, wakes up next to the dead body of the girl he loves. He had gotten drunk on sake the night before when Emi was still alive. He begs Hiro and Father Mateo to help him figure out whether or not he killed her.
Udon w/ Grilled Fish & Scallions
When they hear that the pair are once again investigating, local authorities forbid Hiro and Father Mateo's involvement, threatening to throw them into jail (or worse) if they don't comply. There is also political unrest in Kyoto and rival samurai threatening war, but Mateo's conscience and Hiro's unexpected connection to this case ensure their investigation continues in secret.

I binged this book in a single day, which is easy to do with the familiar characters, intriguing mystery, interesting historical facts, and desire to find out whodunit! I had an inkling of the culprit, but that didn't spoil the big reveal, when all of the puzzle pieces were finally revealed.

As far as food goes, there is some to be found. So far, it's seemed fairly consistent from one book to the next. I always seem to crave udon, grilled fish, and plums by the final page. Hiro's favorite food is udon, so I thought it would be a fitting dish to make for The Ninja's Daughter. This bowl was inspired by some udon that Hiro, Father Mateo, and Haru got from a vendor just outside the Fushimi Inari Shrine, which lies southeast of Kyoto.

Udon w/ Grilled Fish & ScallionsHiro ordered three bowls of noodles and watched the vendor ladle dark, rich broth across the piles of steaming udon. After adding a sprinkling of scallions and slices of fish that bore the lines of a charcoal grill, the vendor handed the bowls to Hiro and the others one by one. p.165

This book (and the whole Shinobi Mystery series) should appeal to fans of Japanese culture, mysteries, historical fiction. Oh, and you'll definitely want a steaming bowl of udon in the near vicinity.

The Ninja's Daughter book cover

The Ninja's Daughter

author: Susan Spann
series: A Shinobi Mystery (book 4)
publisher: Seventh Street Books (August 2, 2016)
genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Paperback : 248 pages

"foodie" read: No, but Spann's descriptions of Udon and grilling fish and meat never fail to make my mouth water.

opening sentence: Knocking echoed through the silent house.

teaser: Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival samurai threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

about the author: Susan Spann is a transactional publishing attorney and the author of the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was named a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. Susan has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University, where she studied Chinese and Japanese language, history, and culture. Her hobbies include cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, and horseback riding. She lives in northern California with her husband, son, two cats, and an aquarium full of seahorses.
author Susan Spann

connect with the author: website | facebook | twitter

recipe inspired by the book: Udon w/ Grilled Fish & Scallions


Udon w/ Grilled Fish & Scallions
Hot noodle soup with scallions and marinated grilled fish.
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Udon w/ Grilled Fish & Scallions
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 30 minutes (mostly unattended)
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Keywords: entree soup/stew fish onions Japanese

Ingredients (serves 2-4)
    for the fish marinade:
    • 2 tablespoons sake
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons mirin
    • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
    • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    everything else:
    • 2 (6 ounce) snapper fillets, skin on see notes
    • olive oil
    • 6 ounces udon noodles, cooked and held warm
    • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions or green onions
    • 2 to 3 cups rich fish, vegetable or beef stock/broth, hot see notes
    • salt, to taste
    • pepper, to taste
    Combine all of the ingredients for the fish marinade in the bottom of a glass dish and stir to combine. Add the fish fillets, turning a couple of times to coat. Let sit in marinade for at least 15 minutes, but up to 30 minutes.

    While the fish is marinating, preheat your grill (or grill pan).

    Lift the fish from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle a little oil on the fish and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Rub a thin layer of oil on the grill grates. Set the fish on the grill, flesh side down, and cook for 3 minutes; flip and cook until skin is crisp and fish flakes easily, 8-10 minutes total. Remove to a plate.

    Divide the noodles and scallions between two bowls, pour the steaming broth into the bowls, top with a piece of fish (remove skin first, if you wish). Enjoy immediately!

    Feel free to substitute a different type of fish in place of the snapper. If you choose an oily fish such as perch, mackerel, trout, or catfish, you can marinate the fish for 4 hours in the fridge before proceeding with the recipe (non-oily fish should be marinated for no longer than 30 minutes or it will start to fall apart).

    To make a rich broth, start with a basic unsalted stock or broth and simmer it for an hour with extra veggies, bones, meat, herbs and/or spices. Strain season to taste. Fish sauce is a nice addition here. I like to use a mixture of fish and beef stock/broth, but stick with fish and/or veggie if feeding pescetarians.

    -fish marinade adapted from epicurious

    Also inspired by a Shinobi Mystery:
    Whole Roasted Trout with Plums and Sake_027

    I received a complimentary ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.