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One of my favorite passtime is making a Japanese omelet. If I have pastured eggs, the occasion becomes even more special. Here is the omelet story I wrote for Zester Daily. The pastured eggs I used to make this omelet came from Linda Vista Farms.
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Scraping the mold off the mochi is a little laborious but I find it rather meditative.
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1 cup dried hijiki, hydrated
3 -4 dried shiitake mushrooms, hydrated
1 large or 2 small pieces Age (deep fried tofu pouches) optional
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into matchsticks, 1/8 thick
1 tsp peeled and thinly sliced ginger
2 tbls roasted sesame oil or vegetable oil
2 tbs mirin
1 tbs sake
1 tsp sugar or honey (optional)
1/4 cup soy sauce, or to taste
Salt if needed
Garnish: 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (optional)
Soak hijiki in cold water to cover for at least one hour. Drain. Rinse a couple more times to remove impurities.
Hydrate shitakes in cold water to cover, about 20 minutes. Slice shitakes into 1/8 inch pieces. Reserve soaking liquid for the stock if you like.
Put oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Stir fry the carrots, age, mushrooms and ginger first for 2-3 mintues.
Add the hydrated and drained hijiki. Stir a couple times; add the stock or shiitake soaking liquid, mirin, sake, sugar and soy sauce. Stir, turn heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated. Mixture should not be soupy or dry. Taste, and make adjustments with soy sauce, sugar and salt, if needed.
Serve as a salad or appetizer, about 1/3 cup servings per person. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds.
|Posted on November 7, 2009 at 5:07 AM||comments (1)|
We are approaching yuzu season. This aromatic citrus is a bit pricy at about $1 or $2 for a tiny fruit, and at the moment, I can only find green unripe yuzus.The ripe yellow, mini-grapefruit shape beauties should come out soon though. You can still use the green Yuzus in the same way as the yellow ones. A little zest adds lovely fragrance to the food, and to the hand that holds it. Yuzu is a nice brightener for gammadoki, tofu fritters. Gammodoki is a tofu based, vegetarian fritter.
These fritters are fried at a low temperature of 250 degrees F. If you deep fry it in higher temperatures, it will brown faster but you will end up with cold tofu inside so keep an eye on the thermometer. To this tofu mixture, I added edamame and shitake mushroom, which gives the bland tofu a lot more flavor. Other possible fillings are chopped carrots, ginko nuts, lotus root, hijiki seaweed, black sesame seeds, chopeed shrimp, squid, octopus. Make sure these vegetables and seafood don't exceed forty percent of tofu, or it will not hold together in the oil very well. Gamodoki's other name is Hiryozu, Flying Dragon's head, and as in its name, I find the best way to eat it is piping hot with soysauce and yuzu or lemon; it makes a nice appetizer. Ganmodoki is a popuar ingredient in braised dishes and Nabe, Japanese Hot Pots. Prepare the ganmodoki a few days ahead of time, and have them ready to throw in your hot pot! And don't forget the yuzu. You can add yuzu rinds into the hot pot or enjoy the cooked hot pot ingredients with a squeeze of yuzu.
Serves 4 - about 12 tofu balls
1 firm tofu, about 14 oz
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
4 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cups of vegetable oil for deep frying
Garnish - Yuzu wedges (if you can't find yuzu, use lemon or lime)
2 teaspoons of grated ginger
Soysauce for the table.
Wrap tofu with a clean cloth or paper towels and put it on a cutting board. Place another cutting board or plate on top of the tofu to press out the water, about 20 minutes. Put tofu, egg, salt and flour in the food processor. Process to make a paste. Add the edamame and shitake mushrooms.
In a cast iron pan, heat oil to 250-275F. With slightly wet or oiled (use vegetable oil) hands, make tofu balls the size of a golf balls. The oil or water prevents the tofu mixture from sticking to your hands. You should be able to make about a dozen. Slowly drop the tofu balls into the heated oil. Deep fry the tofu balls slowly until they are golden. Drain well on paper towels or newspaper. Serve them with yuzu or lemon weges, grated ginger and Soysauce on the side.
Wrap the tofu in a clean cloth or paper towels. Place a cutting
on top to press out water.
Deep fry the tofu balls at around 250F-275F until golden.
Do not put too many balls in the oil.
Remove excess oil with newspaper or paper towels
Serve with yuzu wedges, grated ginger and soy sauce.
|Posted on August 23, 2009 at 1:22 AM||comments (0)|
EBI NO SUNOMONO
Shrimp is one of the most popular and easy to find seafood in the world but I have had my set of hit and misses, especially with boiled shrimp. The texture of boiled shrimp can often be rubbery and the flavor blah. I would avoid ordering shrimp coctails at restaurants because they almost always disappoint. I think shrimp deserves better.
Recently, I found a way to boil shrimp and make it come out with a lot of flavor and texture. What I do is coat the shrimp in a little potato starch (katakuriko) before boiling it. You can use other starches like kuzu or cornstarch. The Chinese have used this technique for centuries.. They coat cornstarch on both meat and seafood. You don't need a lot. In fact, you need to use just enough to put a thin coat. I did it with this vinegared shrimp. My shrimp looks a little prettier on the plate and the shrimp has much better flavor and texture.
|Posted on July 13, 2009 at 1:35 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on June 25, 2009 at 1:55 AM||comments (1)|
There are so many ways to cook an omelet. What I often make at home is a Japanese style omelet called tamago or tamago-yaki. This is a good recipe when you want to use up your eggs. I've got lots of eggs in the fridge. If I don't cook them before I leave town, noone else will so I better get on with it. I use five to make one tamago-yaki.
You have probably ordered tamago at a sushi bar. The -yaki from tamago-yaki is dropped and is simply called by its principle ingredient: tamago which means egg. I take the quality of tamago at a sushi bar as seriously as a piece of tuna. It is one of the few things that the sushi chef serves cooked. The secret of a good tamago is in the ingredients, which are eggs, dashi broth, sugar and light soysauce. Some sushi bars buy ready made tamago from a tamago-maker; they can be horribly sweet and dry. A good sushi chef will make his own tamago . Fresh everyday. If you are lucky, it may be sitting on the counter top still cooling off. The chef will slice you a fluffy hot piece, which you will have to blow at while eating it. It's so good.
I often make tamago-yaki to serve with noodles or put in the bento box. Or sometimes as an appetizer. I stuff tamago-yaki with herbs and vegetables such as Mitsuba, tomato, scallions, mushrooms, etc. Also, meat and seafood. I made one with cut pieces of grilled eel the other day. It was great. I will have to blog about that recipe.
This is my everyday non-stick pan, which I use for making tamago.
Since I made a big batch of somen and soba noodle dipping sauce, I decided to serve noodles and make tamago-yaki as a side dish. I haven't made tamago-yaki in awhile. My tamago making skills will be a bit rusty. I can make it in a rectangle tamago pan or a round non-stick pan. I will make it in a pan that everyone recognizes and probably owns - the round non-stick pan. Most Japanese home cooks don't bother to invest in a rectangle tamago pans. The shape of the tamago can be molded with a bamboo mat while the tamago is warm. My grandmother made hers from a round pan. She would serve it right out of the pan on a small cutting board and slice the hot tamago-yaki right at the table. It was one of the last beautiful dishes she made for me when she was 100 years old and still living on her own in Kamakura. I remember eating tamago with sashimi. She cooked rice on the wood burning stove and seasoned it to make sushi rice. Grandmother always tried to make the occasion of our visit, the best onel ever. It always was.
Pop the air bubbles with a fork or chopstick before folding the tamago into three.
TAMAGO - Japanese style omelet
Roll it up in the mat and let the tamago rest for a few minutes or long
The ends are for nibbling
|Posted on June 22, 2009 at 2:00 AM||comments (2)|
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella Bufala and Spaghetti with Ragu alla Bolognese
Russ Parson's Roasted Cherry Tomates and Mozzarella Bufala.
I am having a Japanese guest over for lunch today. I figured she might be hungry for Japanese food after being in LA for 5 days. So I made some fresh dipping sauce for the noodles last night and checked the pantry to see what kind of noodles I have in stock. I have plenty of soba and somen noodles. I am in good shape. It would be a no brainer simple lunch. But later in the evening, I did what I usually do almost every night. I took a cookbook to read in bed. Whenever I read about food, I either get involved with it or it knocks me right to sleep. What came with me to bed was an old issue of Savuer (April 2008), which featured Classic Pasta. I've read this issue countless times but when it comes to classic recipes, I like to reread and cook them in my imaginary kitchen. This practice hones my skills and deepens my appreciation for cooking, without any pressure. This issue discusses various Ragu alla Bolognese recipes. Ground meat, tomato sauce, red wine, onions, carrots and celery are the basic ingredients. The modern recipe spices the ragu sauce with coriander, star anise, cardamon, sherry vinegar, fish sauce, tabasco and tons of garlic. Another recipe in the same issue doesn't ask for garlic or a single sprig of parsely. An Italian ragu recipe with no garlic or parsely? I reread the recipe to make sure I didn't skip a line. So funny what keeps me up in the middle of the night. Some where between looking for the garlic in the recipe and thinking about tomorrow, I fell asleep. When I woke up this morning, I was still thinking about the ragu alla Bolognese so I decided that I will serve Spaghetti with Ragu alla Bolognese and forget the Japanese noodles.
Spaghetti with Ragu alla Bolognese
You can almost never go wrong feeding Italian food to Japanese people. They adore it. If you go to Japan, the second most popular flag next to the Japanese flag is the Italian flag. This is because there are so many Italian restaurants that fly them. I basically combine three recipes from Saveur but use ground chicken as a base because that is all I have in the fridge. Ground beef, lamb or pork are more common meat for making a ragu sauce. From the modern ragu recipe, I use a dash of coriander and with some hesitation, star anise but I skip the fish sauce, tabasco and the sherry vinegar. That would too adventurous. Then I go to the old recipe I already have in my head, which is no recipe. I add some dried herbs - basil and oregano. Now I feel in my comfort zone. I cook the sauce for about two hours over low heat. I get a little nervous about what the star anise is doing to the sauce. What if my guest doesn't like the flavor? I don't want it to overwhelm so I scoop it out. I taste the tomato sauce. It has a hint of the anise scent. That's exactly what I was going for. I make a few adjustments to the sauce with a teaspoon of sugar to help neutralize the acidity of the tomato and a generous splash of red wine just for fun. It can't hurt. My kitchen smells Italian. The Ragu came out light because I used chicken. My guest thought it was nice and healthy.
There is time to make an appetizer. I decide to do the dish that my friend Russ Parson made for Marisa Roth's party the other night. It is Roasted cherry tomatoes and Mozzarella Bufala which is served on slices of toasted baguette. Russ is not only a very good journalist but also a very good cook. This appetizer was so popular at the party that people took turns sitting in front of the plate. Unfortunately, the Bufala I bought is not the creamy Puglia type that Russ used. I cut my soft but not creamy soft Bufala into bite size morsels and make a sheet of white on the plate. My guest arrives just as I am taking the roasted tomatoes out of the oven. "It smells very good, " she says. "I hope you don't mind, we are eating Italian?" "I love Italian, she said smiling. See I told you. My guest is walking around the house taking pictures of my funky vegetable garden and Sakai's sculptures. While she is snapping away, I put the roasted cherry tomatoes on top of the bufala. I start the water for boiling the spaghetti. Then I go back to the appetizer plate. I garnish the roasted tomatoes with chopped basil and serve it with the toasted baguettes.I offer her wine but she opts for ice tea. I have the same. I will have a glass of wine in the evening.
RUSS PARSON'S ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES AND MOZZARELLA BUFALA
Roasted cherry tomatoes
SPAGHETTI WITH RAGU ALLA BOLOGNESE (Revised from Savuer recipe - Anna Nanni's Ragu alla Bolognese -April 2008)
Serves 4 people
And she left for the airport.
|Posted on June 16, 2009 at 2:17 AM||comments (0)|
No, this is not an eraser or a piece of conceptual art. Though there is a lot of thought that goes into making Japanese fishcake - Kamaboko. The shape alone is a work of art that has withstood the test of time.
I was hungry when I got back from Portland so I went to the fridge to see what I can snack on. Of course, most of the fridge looks pretty barren. But in the meat compartment, I find kamaboko (fish cake). Like salami or cheese, I can always count on this fellow. I also found some Persian cucumbers in the vegetable compartment that I picked up from Teheran Market. With a piece of ginger, which I always have, I could fix a little Sunomono - vinegared salad. That with a glass of wine will comfort me.
If you wonder what Kamaboko is made out of, it is mostly of cod or sea bass. The fish paste is placed on a piece of wood and shaped into a half moon and steamed like a sausage . There are many ways to eat kamaboko. Straight like cheese. You sliced it up. It's chewy and on the bland side in flavor. If you find kamaboko bland in flavor, you can dip it in soy sauce or even have it with soy sauce and wasabi like sashimi. Chinese and Vietnamese also make steamed fish sausages but the color, texture and seasonings are quite different.
Here, Kamaboko is served with sliced cucumbers to become a refreshing salad. It is a simple variation of vinegared Cucumber and Octopus I blogged about on June 7. This dish is really a no-brainer. Kamaboko keeps in the fridge for about a month, so it's good to have a block around. I said, the cucumbers should be sliced thin, about 1/8-inch but they definitely look thicker in my photograph, don't they. Doesn't make a good picture so be careful. Slice them thinner than mine!
Vinegared Cucumber and Kamaboko
VINEGARED CUCUMBER WITH KAMABOKO
|Posted on May 31, 2009 at 4:08 AM||comments (0)|
Today, I invited a few neighbors for Happy Hour. Everyone bought a bottle of wine. I served a L'Estandon rosefrom Cote de Provence. I love to drink roses in the summer. I love its color and refreshing taste. Dan came with a red wine from La Vieille Ferme from Cotes du Ventoux. He said it wasa good one and a great buy - under $10. He was right. Ellen brought a beautiful Santa Barbara Chardonnay from Gainey Vineyard. This one was a hit.
I decided to make Gyozas for everyone. They are the perfect food for a casual gathering. People love to participate in the wrapping process . No one quite wraps gyoza the same way. I once made gyozas for a party of sixty Brazilian and Canadian film crew in Toronto. There were about 7 or 8 people who volunteered to help and the volunteers kept growing. The kitchen got chaotic and Tommy, one of my volunteer wrappers, ended up slicing his finger with a glass he was using to cut the wonton skins into roundshapes. He had bought square wrappers by mistake instead of the roundones we commonly use for gyoza. Austin, his boyfriend had to rush him to emergency. I felt really bad. Some of the gyozas that we made that evening turned out like empanadas and charcoal but we managed to fry them all up and feed the hungry crowd. They were ecstatic but it was a lot to manage.
I make my gyozas with three folds on each side. I have tried folding them in one direction but they don't come out as nice. Gyoza making is similar to knitting. Once you get into a certain habit, it sticks with you. In my meat Gyoza, I use ground pork or chicken, shrimp,scallions, napa cabbage, garlic and ginger. It's all chopped up evenly and I marinate the meat mixture in sesame oil, sake, and soy sauce for a few hours. For today's happy hour, I made two packets worth of gyoza,about fifty in all. They disappeared along with the wines, lemon cillo and the strawberry buckle that Ellen and Liz each went back home to get. It's good to have neighbors over. We were one happy bunch. Since I was out of town on Memorial day, this really felt like my first day of summer. Please also refer to the pictures in the Gyozas I made for a Summer lunch. (here is the link)
Serves 4 (or more as appetizers)
|Posted on April 10, 2009 at 2:33 AM||comments (0)|
While living in Paris last spring, I discovered French peas. That's all I wanted to eat for days in a row. A little butter on top and the peastasetd like heaven. California peas have the same effect on me. I wantto eat them everyday while they are in season.
Ohitashi is another heavenly way to enjoy fresh peas Ohitashi in Japanese means "to gently soak". No drowning of dressings. Just soaking. The flavor of Ohitashi dressing is a very mild dashi based stock that is seasonedwith soy sauce and sake. The idea is to taste the fresh peas.
Use usukuchi soysauce to make Ohitashi. It is a little saltier but milderin flavor than koikuchi soy sauce. Other vegetables that like to soakgently in Ohitashi dressing are cooked asparagus, spinach, enoki andshimeji mushrooms, tomatoes, okura, edamame, cabbage and bean sprouts. Just be careful not to overcook the vegetables.
FRESH PEAS SALAD - Ohitashi
Makes 4 servings