Recipes and Entries
|Posted on December 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
In our family, breakfast is not complete without miso soup. My son likes to dip his toast in miso soup, which is something I have never seen Japanese people do, but he says it's good.
My own mother never made miso soup for breakfast, even though it is part of a traditional breakfast in Japan. But when we moved to the US in the 70s, she yearned for good miso. One day, she cooked a pot full of soybeans and blended them to make a mushy white paste, to which she added salt and koji, a miso starter made from fermented rice, and created a huge mess in the kitchen.
The resulting miso was kept it in a lidded clay jar in the cool and dark corner of the garage to ferment for years. I used to sneak in there and stick in my finger to lick the thick, grainy paste that looked like mud. Later, when I was much older, I realized I was snacking on a healthy protein, minerals and vitamin-rich live food.
Miso comes in various shades of white and red varieties. Red (aka) miso like sendai and haccho are dark brown in color, and robust in flavor. Miso can be made by mixing fermented rice, koji, salt and grains, including barley, wheat, and legumes like fava beans and azuki beans. White (shiro) miso pastes like saikyo are yellow in color, lighter and sweeter than red miso paste, and made primarily of koji. My miso soup is hearty. I like to have a variety of vegetables from the land and sea. You can experiment with different types of miso. Some are saltier than the others, so when making miso soup, always taste the soup and make adjustments. I always keep a variety in the fridge and some fermenting in the garage. I let my whim dictate which miso to use for my breakfast miso soup.
Miso Soup With Fava Beans, Zucchini and Tofu
3 1/2 cups Dashi
3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso
1/4 cup, cooked and shelled fava beans
1/4 block -tofu, diced in to 1/4 -1/2 squares
1/2 zucchini, sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick
1 scallion, sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick
Bring the Dashi and the turnip o a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and add the zucchini for a couple of minutes.
In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.
Add the tofu and fava beans and simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat.
Pour the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with sliced scallions.
|Posted on December 7, 2013 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
As a child, I used to love looking inside my grandmother's pale green kitchen cabinet of seasonings and utencils. It was an old cabinet that my mother tried to get rid of, but my grandmother rescued it and put it in her kitchen to store food. My brother had stuck war plane stickers on the glass, and the sliding doors squeeked. Grandmother had everything she needed in that cabinet. It was like a treasure box. My pantry is not in one place. I keep my salt, pepper, sugar and soysauce on my kitchen counter. The bottled staples like soy sauce, sake, mirin (sweet rice), and rice vinegar, and the oils, are on the shelf next to the range. The dried staples - bonito flakes, seaweeds, noodles, and beans fit snugly in one of my kitchen drawers. Everything is within reach, except my aromatic fermented nuka pickles and miso, which I keep in the garage. All my grains and flour are kept in the fridge or freezer, year round to ensure freshness.
|Posted on November 23, 2013 at 12:45 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on November 22, 2013 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
I have been collecting pottery and utencils since I was a child. It's sort of an obsession. Whenever I go back to Japan, there is often a pot or a bowl in my carry-on between my clothes and bags of buckwheat flour. I got my pottery collecting obsession from my mother who used to comb through the flea markets and thrift shops looking for things. Once, I found some plates in a thrift shop that were Made in Japan, probably from the fifties. Paid less then $10 for the set of five. They are not fine china but they have a story. I also collect beautiful objects in nature like a pretty rocks or twigs to rest chopsticks or a leaf to decorate the serving plate. Then, there are those special occasion utencils like my inlaid daffodail blossom lacquerware bowl, which comes out only during springtime. I look forward to eating out of the bowl and thinking about my childhood days in Kamakura.
|Posted on November 22, 2013 at 8:45 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on November 22, 2013 at 8:30 AM||comments (0)|
Basic Dashi Recipe
Makes 3/1/2 cups, or 4 servings of stock to make miso soup. Dashi will keep fresh for a week 3-5 days in the refrigerator, so you can make it in advance and just add miso paste and vegetables for quick breakfast of miso soup.
4 cups water, 4 cups of loosely packed bonito flakes, One 3-inch piece of konbu seaweed. Using scissors, make several crosswise cuts in the konbu. This helps to extract the flavor during cooking.Place konbu and water in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook on medium heat until water almost boils. Remove kombu just before water boils to avoid fishy odor. When the water boils, turn off the heat. Then add bonito flakes. Do not sitr. Let stand for 3-5 minutes to let the flakes steep. Then strain the dashi them through a very fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Don't stir or press the bonito flakes because it will cloud the dashi. Discard the bonito flakes and konbu seaweed or cook them in 4 cups of water to make a secondary dashi. I slice the left over konbu and use it in my salads and pickles to add umami.
|Posted on November 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
Pickles are like the period of a sentence. It has a way of finishing a meal to clear the palate. Some Japanese pickles are lightly salted and quick to make and others go through fermentation and can take months. Pickles are enjoyed for their flavors and aid in digestion. Eating them in moderation is a good thing.
|Posted on November 12, 2013 at 10:30 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on November 12, 2013 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
If I ever get this cookbook project off the ground, I will probably divide it into three sections. The first section will be called Simple meals and Quiet moments. It will consist of small routines I do in the kitchen. Grinding sesame seeds would be one. I use the fragrant sesame paste in salad dressings and toss it with vegetables. Grating daikon radish is another simple routine. Grated daikon radish is anessential condiment to brighten my tempura, grilled fish or noodles dishes. Then, I have a repetoire of easy, soul pleasing meals I make like onigiri, rice ball. There is also miso soup, my favorite morning ritual. These simple rouitnes gives me a chance to be quiet and cook.
In the second section, Seasons, I will share simple, Japanese family style meals. In my menus, you won't find nigiri zushi or multi-course Kaiseki or Kappo style cuisine. I am a home cook, not a restaurant chef. Japanese home cooking and restaurant food are two different things. Chefs may try to include something homy on their menu and call it, "Ofukuro no aji," which means Mom's cooking to add that comfort factor. I am often inspired by chefs but I cook for my family and friends, with seasonaiity, beauty, simplicity and economy in mind. Don't expect to see knife acrobatics in this book.
In the special section, Grain Workshop, I will show you how I make noodles and dumplings by hand, and use grains to make miso and fermented pickles, and beans to make Japanese dessert . These kitchen projects will be inserted throughout the book. These cooking projects are more time consuming but the reward is big and helps deepen your appreciating for traditional Japanese food, which is centered around grains and vegetables.
|Posted on November 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Freshness is delicious. Japanese cooking is about sourcing fresh ingredients and not fussing with them too much. Because Japanese foods are largely saucless, spiceless, and oil-less, the ingredients themselves must be beaituful, flavorful, and fresh. This usually means foods in season. Kabocha squash and pumpkins must feel heavy. Eggplants mush be shinny and unbruised. Fish fresh from the market don't need the disguise of a heavy sauce. Visit the farmers markets and the Asian markets frequently. Talk to farmers. Do grow your own vegetables. Don't hesistate to improvise with non-Japanase foods like chard, artichokes, and zuchinni.
|Posted on November 12, 2013 at 4:25 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on November 4, 2013 at 10:30 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on October 30, 2013 at 11:05 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on October 4, 2013 at 1:15 AM||comments (0)|
October 1. Mark Stambler, LABB Founder and baker, and I headed out to Tehachapi at 1pm. That morning, Mark baked bread for his customers and set aside a rye loaf for me. The smell of freshly baked bread is so nice to have as a travelling companion. If I didn't think of giving this loaf to Alex Weiser, the farmer in Tehachapi that we were going to visit, I would have started eating it in the car.
We were going to meet Alex and his friend, and nature writer John Hammon to discuss the wheat experiment - a project that I got started last year with a seed grant from Anson Mills. A gift of Mark's artisan bread was the perfect way to start the project in Southern California. I have been talking to Alex about growing grains in SoCal for about six months, since I met him earlier in the year.
Slowly it grew from keeping it to a few rows at Weiser but doing something on a larger scale at John Hammond's ranch. Hammond's family has been Tehachapi for three generations. His grandfather used to grow grains. The old barn and other structures are still being used for animal husbandry. John is the local nature and history writer. He also does a lot of writing on the Kawaiisu Indians in Tehachapi. I was delighted to hear that we would be doing the wheat experiement on his land because I only knew him through his writings and was a fan ever since Sakai and I bought a ranch in Tehachapi.
Driving out to Tehachapi is a weekly routine for me. Mark had been out here before to look at the train tracks - the famous Tehachapi Loop.
Here is Mark and Alex Wesider with Mark's loaf of bread.
We will plant 2.5 acres - on John's land and at Weiser Farms - both very near each other, and just 10 minutes away from my ranch. Alex is looking at the fallow land that we ill use at John's place. His grandfather used to grow red fife - an heirloom variety and oats. Alex also wants to grow oats.
Here is a picture of the Tehachapi grain gang - from right, Alex, Kim, Kiya, John and me.
Kiya is feeding the baby chicks. Kiya is a Kawaiisu Indian name.
John gave us a tour of the farm. He has an old mill that still works. John is demonstrating how the grain is fed. You get him talking about local history and plants, he is a wizzard.
Alex brought some peppers for John and Kim.
A lovely day in Tehachapi - A good beginning.
|Posted on September 7, 2013 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
Last month, Glenn Roberts from Anson Mills sent me 150 lbs of buckwheat seeds. He has been giving me seeds of all types to start a grain hub in Southern California. Buckwheat is a grain that we treasure in Japan. When the seeds are milled and made into flour, they make delicious noodles. But what is essential is that the seeds are picked, dried, milled and made into noodles in a timely manner so they don't loose their freshness and flavor.
I have been buying my sobako (buckwheat flour) but as I get more passionate about the practice of making noodles by hand, I have developed a desire to grow my own buckwheat. We tried growing it in late October on ou ranch in Tehachapi two years ago and the frost killed the buckwheat. This time, I have tilled one long row, irrigated it and planted seeds in late August and the buckwheat is growing. Some deer have picked on the sprouted leaves but I keep putting more seeds in and hoping that the deer will go away. They are in some ways doing the job of thinning the buckwheat sprouts so it may all work out in the long run. I am hopeful.
|Posted on September 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM||comments (1)|
Tara Duggan of SF Chrnoicle introduced my zaru soba recipe in this articled titled Everyone Loves Asian Noodles.
Here is the link.
|Posted on August 1, 2013 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on June 23, 2013 at 8:50 PM||comments (2)|
I am offering fresh soba-to-go at Cookbook in L.A. again this summer. I am starting in July and I may go on till August. It is always good to be kneading and sharing my noodles with Los Angelenos.