Recipes and Entries
|Posted on March 4, 2014 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
I have been making anko - azuki bean paste all morning. This is my second batch. I like the way the mound of paste is forming a peak, like a mini- mountain. That was where I wanted to be. Still moist but firm enough to hold a form. The first batch came out drier. I cooked it too much, and this can happen very easily if you are not careful.
Anko, Azuki Bean paste, comes in smooth, creamy and coarse texutres. There are also whole bean anko, which leaves the beans entirely intact. The version I made is semi mashed. I am planning to make Daifuku, using this anko base. The anko will rest until they have cooled down. Hope, I don't eat it all before I make Daifuku. The anko keeps in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
360 grams of Azuki beans, washed and soaked overnight
250 grams cane sugar
Pinch of salt
Bring beans and water in a saucepan and cook the beans until the water starts boiling.
Discard water, and pour fresh water in the pan. Bring to a boil again, and repeat the same step of
discarding the water. Now start again with filling up the pan of beans with water but this time,
just let the beans barely soak in the water. Trun heat to medium and cook the beans until they are soft. Test severa
time for doneness.. If the water exposes, replenish more water. When the beans are soft enough to smash with your
fingers and they are is no hard core, the beans are ready.
Process the beans in a food processor until they are chopped but not pureed.
Put the bean paste in the pot and add half the sugar. Mix well over high heat. Mix for a few minutes,
then add the rest of the sugar. Be careful not to burn the bean paste. The paste is done when you can scoop it up,
drop it on a plate and it forms a peak, and stays put.
Use bean paste to sweeten your desserts or eat straight with a spoon or dilute it with water and make a sweet dessert soup.
|Posted on March 3, 2014 at 1:30 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on March 1, 2014 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on March 1, 2014 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
It's been pouring for two days. How we needed this! It's coming down again, as I write. Rain or shine, Kinchan stays put in her cozy place. Occasionally, she gets up to observe the rain. That's plenty of exercise for a 16 year old cat.
|Posted on February 28, 2014 at 4:50 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on January 24, 2014 at 11:15 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on December 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM||comments (3)|
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 stuck war plane stickers on the glass. Grandmother had everything she needed in that cabinet. It was like a treasure box. My pantry is not in one place like hers. 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. At least 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)|