|Posted on January 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on January 13, 2010 at 9:36 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:55 PM||comments (3)|
|Posted on December 10, 2009 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
The ingredients for sukiyaki
Sukiyaki-style cut beef
Finally we have some cold weather in Los Angeles. Even during the day, I felt like turning the heater on but I made sukiyaki and steamed rice, and put on a heavier sweater instead.
Sukiyaki is the most famous kind of nabe - it is a beef based dish that is cooked in a cast iron pot. Sukiyaki is also the name of the most famous Japanese love song by Kyu Sakamoto (here is the link to the song). This song has nothing to do with the food but a DJ who could not pronounce the original Japanese title "Ue wo muite arukoo" came up with it. To call this love song Sukiyaki, which means to cook on a hot cast iron plate (Suki is a metal farm tool), is absurd but this is back in the sixties when Japanese culture and music were quite exotic and remote. A Newsweek columnist noted that the re-titling was like issuing "Moon River" in Japan under the title "Beef Stew." Still Sukiyaki made it to the top of the US music charts, and Kyu Sakamoto was invited to appear in the Steve Allen Show. (here is the link). When I hear the song play I get nostalgic and almost teary eyed. Sakamoto did a lot of charity work for old, handicapped and young people. Sadly, he died in an airplane crash in 1985 but his beautiful song lives.
Back to Sukiyaki, the hot pot. Making Sukiyaki was a great way to use up the left over vegetables from last weekend's nabe workshop. I am the type of Sukiyaki eater who nibbles on the beef, and goes more for the tofu and vegetables which have been seasoned by the umami of the beef and the Warishita sauce. My boys go for the beef so it balances out nicely.
Tofu, enoki, shungiku, onions, napa cabbage, negi and
shitake mushrooms add flavor, moisture, texture and
nutritious balance to the sukiyaki.
To make Sukiyaki, you can use a traditional Japanese cast iron pot or any heavy cast iron pot or enamelware with enough depth to hold the saucy ingredients. Since beef is a precious and expensive food in Japan, sukiyaki dinners are a real occasion. When I was growing up in Japan, we had sukiyaki once or twice a year. The beef is sliced paper -thin and cooked in a sweet soy sauce broth with tofu, shirataki (yam noodles), napa cabbage, shitake mushrooms, and shungiku (chrysathemum leaves). As a condiment, a raw beaten egg, into which each morsel of food is dunked before being eaten, accompanies the dish. The raw egg dip is optional, but it gives the dish a special rich flavor. If you like the sauce sweeter, you can add more sugar. My grandmother made a Kansai style Sukiyaki where you start the nabe with just beef, which is seasoned with sugar and soy sauce. If you saw the amount of sugar she put on top of the beef, you would shiver. Sugar was as precious as beef in my grandmother's generation. It was a treat to have both beef and sugar in abundance. My sukiyaki is Kanto-style. Instead of seasoning the sukiyaki with sugar and soysauce at the table, I make a Warishita sauce. It is made with soysauce, mirin, sugar and Konbu seaweed dashi (stock); Some people use sake too. That can't hurt. Depending on who makes the sukiyaki, it can be very strong or it can be mild like mine. I don't like my sukiyaki too sweet, so I hold off on the sugar. Like with all nabe cooking, the flavor of the sauce can be adjusted with the broth or seasonings. Make sukiyaki a few times and get used to the rhythm and flavor of nabe. It's a bit like making music.
Sukiyaki -simmering in a cast iron pot. The beef and negi are
ready. Other ingredients need to simmer longer. Be careful
not to overcook the food.
2 lbs beef sirlioin, sliced paper-thin, sukiyaki style, 1/8 inch thick
6 scallions or 2 Negi, sliced diagonally, about 2 inches wide
1/2 bunch chrysanthemum leaves (shungkiku). ends trimmed, cut crosswise in 1/3
1 tofu cake - grilled tofu (yaki-tofu) or firm tofu (mengoshi)
1 package - shirataki noodles, blanched and cut in half.
8 shitake mushrooms, stems removed and cut into four pieces
4 napa cabbage leaves, sliced crosswise into 2 inch pieces
1 spanish onion, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 bunch enoki mushrooms
Warishita (the Sauce):
3 cups konbu dashi (see recipe below)
1 cup soysauce
1/2 cup mirin
2-3 tbls sugar or more to taste
4 cups water
2 - 3 inch piece of dried konbu
Make the konbu dashi by hydrating the dried konbu in the measured water for 20 minutes. Combine soysauce, mirin, sugar and 3 cups of konbu dashi to make the Warishita. Put the Warishita in a pitcher. Set aside 1 cup of plain konbu dashi in a separate pitcher.
Cut scallions or negi diagonally in 2 inch pieces. Wash chrysanthemum leaves well to remove sand and cut them in thirds. Cut the tofu cake into 8 cubes. Cut the mushrooms into four. Arrange on a platter.
Arrange beef on a plate.
Blanch the shirataki noodles. It can have a unpleasent smell but the blanching will take it away. Drain and cut in half. Arrange in a bowl.
Set the table and heat the pot on the burner. Add beef suet (remove from the beef) and use it to oil the pot. Add the sliced negi or scallions first. Then add about a quarter potion of the beef, let it cook halfway, and pour in a quarter portion of the Warishita and cook over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Turn the beef and vegetables with chopsticks to cook both sides.
At this point guests may help themselves to the beef and negi or scallions with chopsitcks, dunking them in the beaten egg (the egg is optional).
As they are enjoying the beef, add roughly one quarter of tofu, onions, shirataki, napa cabbage, mushrooms to the skillet. Add more Warishita and let the nabe simmer for a couple of minutes, turning the ingredients to cook both sides evenly. Add the shungiku and cook for a couple of minutes. If the nabe gets too salty or looks dry, dilute it with about 1/2 cup of dashi. The plain dashi prevents the foods from becoming too salty or sweet, and restores the proper consistency to the sukiyaki. Don't put too much dashi as it would make the meat and vegetables soggy. Add more meat while the guests serve themselves. Keep alternating.
Rice and pickled vegetables are traditionally served with this nabe.
Start with the negi. Get is browned on both sides and then
push them to one side to make room for the beef, which
Cook the beef half way through and add the Warishita.
Add the vegetables and more Warishita. Cook for a couple of
minutes. Turn over the meat and vegetables to make sure
they are evenly cooked. Let the guests help themselves when
the food is cooked. Don't let the food overcook. If the sauce is too salty, sweet or dry, add a little bit of plain dashi. Continue replenishing the pot.
Break the egg into a bowl. You can serve the rice at the
same time as the nabe or later, with pickles.
Dunk the beef and vegetables into the raw egg and
eat. The raw egg is optional. Serve Sukiyaki with rice
and pickled vegetables.
|Posted on November 3, 2009 at 6:52 AM||comments (0)|
Every night after the soba workshop, Akila Inouye was standing in the kitchen with me cooking dinner for everyone. I know he was very tired from the workshop, and so was I but we still wanted to eat a nice meal. We didn' t even discuss eating out because we both knew we could eat better at home, and we did.
On the final evening before going back to Tokyo, Akila made us a memorable meal. It was Rosanjin Nabe and Tempura. Nabe is Japanese hot pot cooking. It is one of my favorite ways to eat and entertain. Since I am doing a Japanese hotpot this month, I was excited that Akila included a hot pot dish in the menu.
Rosanjin is the multi-talented Japanese artist, ceramist, scholar, calligrapher and gourmet, who found the Bishoku-kai, gourmet club in the 1920s. He looks a little intimidating in this picture. Many say he was rather arrogant, and had uncompromisingly high standards when it came to food.
Once I made Rosanjin's roasted eggplant dish, yakinasu. It was a simple dish. You roast the eggplant, peel the skin, and serve it whole, with grated ginger and soysauce on the side. Serving it whole is the essential part of this dish. Rosanjin didn't want you to slice the eggplant in the kitchen. He believed that the best way to enjoy the fragrance and flavor of the roasted eggplant was to bring it to the table in its whole form, and then split it open with a pair of chopsticks to eat it. The seasonings and condiments were there to enhance the flavor of the eggplant but never to mask it. He was meticulous about freshness and seasonality of foods, and how they should be served. I love his food philosophy and his pottery.
The Rosanjin hot pot follows a similar philosophy as the roasted eggplant dish. It's pure and simple. Akila served the hot pot as an appetizer. The hot pot consisted of only two ingredients: thin slices of pork and Komatsuna, a leafy vegetable like spinach but much milder in flavor. Komatsuna is something you can always find at the Japanese markets. The two hot pot ingredients are cooked shabu-shabu style in a light dashi based broth, seasoned with Usukuchi-soysauce, sake and salt, and some Mirin. Rosanjin used soysauce to make the final adjustments to the flavor. Akila kindly walked me through the steps.
First step: Making the dashi base stock.
Akila at the stove, making the dried bonito and konbu dashi.
The degree of "umami" in the dashi stock defines how much to season. Use the recipe as a guide, and make adjustments as you go. This is true especially with hot pot cooking. The dashi base seasoning is determined by the quality of the stock you make, so start with good konbu and dried bonito flakes.
Most of the time, Akila was measuring with his eyes but later he explained to me that he tries to keep the salt level to about 1.1%. to 1.2% of the total dashi base. He added a teaspoon or two more of the Mirin and Soysauce than what the recipe calls for. The saltiness of the salt and soysauce, and the sweetness of the mirin are there, but never to overwhelm the umami of the basic dashi.
The pork is sliced Shoga-yaki style, between 1/8-inch -3/16-inch thick. This is slightly thicker than Sukiyaki-style cut. We did all our shopping at Mitsuwa Market in Venice.
We needed a group picture. So Japanese. My son Sakae and his girlfriend Bina flew in from Portland for the weekend. I hadn't seen my son in 3 months so I was happy that they could join this special dinner. Plenty of sake and wine are on the table, with all the hot pot utencils ready to go. A refreshing tomato salad was served before the hot pot.
Second step: Constructing and serving the nabe.
First, you poach the pork in the simmering dashi broth, and eat it straight. It's simple. One person puts the meat into the pot. When the meat is cooked, we each take our serving bowls and help ourselves to the the meat. It was so tasty, we didn't need any condiments.
When the pork is gone, Komatsuna comes next. You put the leaves into the pork infushed dashi, and let them absorb the savory flavors of the broth; this only takes a few seconds. You pick the komatsuna leaves out of the dashi with your chopsticks, and eat them before they go limp or darken in color. Everything was flavorful and pure. Sorry no time to take a picture of the cooked Komatsuna. It all happened so fast and I wasn't about to miss out on the experience.
Mmmm, smells so good.
The finish: Making the rice porridge
To finish the hot pot, Akila made a rice porridge in the rich dash. Akila tasted the dashi again. He added a little soysauce.
We added 3 cups of rice to the hot pot, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes over medium low heat until the rice absorbed most of the broth and turned into porridge.
Akila added two scrambled raw eggs into the simmering porridge when the porridge was nearly cooked. You don't want to over cook the eggs or the rice.
We put the lid back on the donabe while the porridge was cooking. The heat was turned off.
Only a pinch of yuzu zest is used to accent the porridge.
Porridge with egg and yuzu zest, ready to be served.
Mostly gone. The rice was served with pickles.
Thanks to Akila for making this beautiful Rosanjin hot pot. And this was only the beginning of this meal. Tempura was next! I tell you, it was a feast.
ROSANJIN HOT POT RECIPE
Serves 6 (as a appetizer)
1 bunch Komatsuna or Mizuna if you can't find any Komatsuna. Ends removed.
Don't use spinach.
1.5 lbs 1/8-inch -3/16 inch thick pork slices - shogayaki-style cut (This is slightly thicker than sukiyaki style cut)
1/4 tsp Yuzu zest for garnish
Dashi broth base for Rosanjin hotpot:
41/2 cups Dashi - dried bonito and konbu seaweed
1 tsp usukuchi soysauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sake
2 tsp Mirin or more to adust flavor
1 tsp or more soysauce to adjust flavor
Wash the Komatsuna and discard root ends. Put the leaves on a platter.
Arrange the sliced pork next to the spinach.
Prepare the yuzu zest. If yuzu is not available, use lime.
Make dashi broth base. You can do this earlier in the day or
the night before and keep it in the fridge
Add the seasonings to the broth. Before adding the soysauce, taste
the broth. It should be strong flavored but drinkable.
Adjust flavors with more Mirin and/or Soysauce but do not put too much.
About a teaspoon more if you need to make such adjustments.
Once you make a hotpot by yourself, you can figure out
what best suits your palate.
Bring the broth to the table and bring it to a simmering level.
Start with the pork and then follow with the Komatsuna. Use chopsticks or wooden paddle
to spread the pork evenly around the hot pot. The komatsuna only needs to
be cooked for less than 10 seconds. Every body picks up their chopsticks
and bowl and serves themselves.
Finish with porridge. It's usually the host that makes the porridge.
Porridge with eggs Recipe:
3 cups cooked medium or shortgrain white rice
5 cups of dashi broth infused with pork.
Taste the dashi broth. If it tastes good and a little
stronger flavored than soup, it's about right. Add rice to the
simmering broth, put the lid on the hot pot, and cook it over
medium low heat for about 5 minutes,
or until the rice absorbs most of the broth. Add two scrambled
eggs in a swirling pattern. Do this about 1 minute before
the porridge is done. Cover the rice with donabe lid. Turn off the heat.
Open the lid and serve immediately in individual rice bowls.
Pickles go well with this porridge.
|Posted on October 14, 2009 at 12:05 AM||comments (2)|
My cooking buddy Fred has been making some wonderful Mexican pork dishes lately. It got me thinking about pork. The classic Japanese dishes I make are Tonkatsu and Kakuni. Kakuni is originally from China but it has become so popular in Japan that it is basically considered a Japanese comfort food. There are all kinds of theories about how to make Kakuni. The goal is to make it tender and juicy without it being too fatty. One classic way to remove the excess fat is by cooking the unseasoned meat in tofu curds, okara. Another way is to steam it with grated daikon radish. I was thinking about doing a traditional kakuni but I didn't have any okara or daikon radish in hand. So I decided to make a quick and easy Kakuni. I slice up the pork in bite size pieces instead of cooking it whole. Since pork butt is fatty to begin with, this method doesn't dry out the meat while cooking. I made the dish earlier in the day and went downtown for a meeting. We almost stopped to get some food on the road but decided, even though we were crawling through traffic, that it was better to have the kakuni, which was waiting for us at home. We were right.
3/4 lbs Pork Butt or shoulder
3/4 cup water
4 Tbls sake
2 Tbls sugar
3 Tbls Mirin
3 Tbls soy sauce
Slice the pork butt horizontially in half. Discard only the very fat ends. Then slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Put the meat in a medium size saucepan. Add enough water to cover the meat. and bring to a boil. Blanch the meat for 2 minutes. Drain water.
In the same saucepan, add the measured water and the meat and bring to a boil. Turn heat to a simmer. Put the sake and sugar and cook the meat for 3 minutes. Turn the meat over once. Now add mirin and soy sauce. Remove scum from the surface, as the meat cooks. Turn the meat over again. Cook until half of the braising broth is absorbed into the meat, about another 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the sauce pan and let the braising broth cook further until it gets syrupy, about 2 minutes more over low heat.
Serve the Kakuni in a medium size bowl while hot. Pour braising broth over the meat and serve with a dab of mustard.
If you like to go leaner with this dish, you can let the meat sit in the braising broth at room temperature. When the fat comes up to the surface and coagulates, remove it with a spoon and discard. To serve, reheat the meat, pour some hot broth on top. Mustard is a nice counter-flavor to the sweet, soysaucy pork.
Slice the piece in half.
Then into 1/2 inch pieces. The pieces look like fresh tuna sashimi.
I blanched the meat for 2 minutes to remove the meaty odor.
I strained the blanched meat. At this point, the meat looks blah
but keep going.
Braised in the soy based broth, the meat picks up color again.
Braise until half of the liquid is absorbed into the meat.
See how syrupy the broth gets.
The meat comes out very tender and juicy.
It s delicous with mustard.
Menu suggestions: Kakuni, steamed rice, cucumber sunomo, suimono and pickles
|Posted on October 7, 2009 at 12:13 PM||comments (4)|
I haven't had a chance to tell you what else I did to slow down after Sakai's art opening last weekend besides taking some old cookbooks out of storage. I went camping! Don't say the season is over for that because it never really is in Southern California. Just drive an hour North on Pacific Coast Highway and you will find Leo Carrillo Beach State Park. It is a local campsite that offers both the sea and easy trails to hike. We had perfect fall weather and a gorgeous full moon night on Saturday.
Every year, our friend Edward, books the campsite, e-mails everybody, and sets up camp before the rest of us arrive. This year Edward booked a little late but we still made it. It's good to have a dependable self-designated camp leader like Edward. Back when we started camping together twenty years ago, we all had our kids around so it meant a lot to get them out of the city and be in nature. But what you realize is that even after the kids have left the nest, there is still a good reason to go camping. To get out of the city and be in nature. What's great about going to Leo Carillo is that it's not a very big commitment to drive out there. If you don't like to spend the night on a hard and dusty surface, you can go home. I admit, I have become one of those light weight campers who prefers the comfort of my own bed. But we have become forgiving in our middle age. You do what you can. You bring the food, some wine and enjoy each other's company. I made a Beef tri-tip with salsa. The soy-ginger-lime marinade invention worked! It came out very tender and flavorful.
The table setting is usually a funky miss match.
I decided to bring china and cloth napkins since there was
only seven of us this year. Edward's apple print vinyl
table cloth he got from a garage sale coincidentally
Annie brought Turkey Enchilada Casserole - a recipe
she got from Sunset magazine. Usually she does beans and corn but
we decided on a Mexican theme this year because Edward
bought a house in San Miguel de Allende. We wanted to show
him we could all cook Mexican food so he will invite us to his
Terry made frijoles and shrimp ceviche. Her friholes
are cooking or shall I say burning in hell.
She got up and started stirring the beans. No problema.
An assortment of drinks. It's a hit or miss but no one complains.
There is more in the ice box.
Ana guarding the Tri-tip. She got a little piece. Everyone was
BEEF TRI-TIP IN A SOY LIME MARINADE
I served this tri-tip with a salsa (see below)
2 Lbs -2.5 Lbs Beef tri-tip
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 cup sake
2 tbls frshly grated ginger
2 tbls honey
1 bls crushed red chili peppers
Combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Marinate trip-tip for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
Remove from marinade and bring to room temperature. Barbecue the tri-tip over hot coals and sear both sides. Then move Tri-tip where heat is lower and cook 15 minutes per side for rare or until desired doneness. Before slicing, let the tri-tip rest for 10 minutes. Then slice thinly, about 1/4-inch thick across the grain and serve with the salsa (recipe below).
Beautiful 2 lbs beef tri-tip.
I wanted to use up these key limes that were sitting around
waiting to be used in a Key Lime Pie. Never made it so I used them
all up for the marinade.
I marinated the tri-tip over night. Spread the grated ginger
on the tri-tip.
After I seared the trip tip over hot coals.
I moved it to the side where the heat was lower.
4 -6 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 lime juices
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients except the avocado and let stand for 2-3 hours. Just before serving, add the diced avocado.
MENU SUGGESTIONS: Shrimp ceviche, Beef Tri-Tip, Salsa, Friholes, Tortillas.
|Posted on September 26, 2009 at 4:17 PM||comments (2)|
My kitchen is bicultural today. I am making a Mexican bean dish, Friholes Mexicanos, for a friend's birthday party. The recipe calls for fresh lard. I could use vegetable oil but the beans will taste more delicious with lard. Did you know that lard has less than half the cholesterol and 1/3 less saturated fat than butter? So it's not going to hurt anyone to put a couple of tablespoons of lard in the beans. There are some nice pieces of Kurobuta pork that I defrosted last night. I take that out and fry it to make fresh lard. Eddie, Sakai's Oaxacan assistant, is impressed with my friholes. I gave him some to take home. Now I want to use up the meat. I see that the oil from last week's HItokuchi-katsu - Little Pork Cutlets is still sitting on my stove. How about another round of Tonkatsu- deep fried pork cutlet for lunch? Today, Sakai got a truck from Rent-A-Wreck and is transporting all the artwork to the gallery in downtown. I am sure the guys will be very hungry by noon and wouldn't mind a repeat menu. This time I will use whole pieces to make a standard Tonkatsu. I am happy the kurobuta found happiness in two dishes.
4 boneless pork chops
2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup white flour
3 cups Vegetable oil for deep frying (Canola, Peanut, vegetable oil)
2 cups - shredded cabbage to serve as a side dish
Mustard, Soysauce, Tonkatsu Sauce
Cast iron pan
Trim the fat around the edge of the meat. Gently pound the meat on both sides to tenderize.
Line up three plates. One of flour, one of scramble raw egg and one of panko.
Lightly flour the meat on both sides. Pat the meat using both hands to remove excess flour.
Dip the floured meat into the egg.Coat the meat with panko. Be generous. Make sure you give it an even coating.
In a cast iron pan, pour about 2 inches of oil or more for deep frying. Heat the oil to 350F over medium heat. When you put the meat in the oil, the oil should sizzle. It takes about 2-3 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of the meat and temperature of the oil. Take one meat out of the oil when it is toasty on both sides and test doneness. The meat should not be pink inside. Be careful not to overcook the pork though. You want it to be tender and juicy. Dry fried meat on newspaper of papers towels.
Slice and serve with shredded cabbage. Serve with Tonkatsu sauce or soysauce and mustard.
Pound the meat on both sides to tenderize.
Lightly flour the meat on both sides.
Pat the meat using both hands to remove excess flour.
Dip the floured meat into the egg.
Coat the meat with panko. Be generous. Make sure you give it
an even coating.
Finish coating all the meat and put them on a plate.
Heat the oil to 350F. The oil here is a little too high. I was adjusting
my camera and the temperature went up The bubbles should be gentler.
Remove from oil when toasted on both sides. Dry the cutlet
on newspaper or paper towels.
Take out any crumbs in the oil before you put in the next
cutlet. Do not put more than one or two at a time. The
pork should have plenty of room to float around in the oil.
Slice the cutlet about 1.5 -inches wide at a diagonal and
serve immediately with shredded cabbage, mustard
and Tonkatsu sauce or Soysauce.
MENU SUGGESTIONS: Tonkatsu, shredded cabbage and Steamed rice.
|Posted on September 19, 2009 at 10:56 PM||comments (0)|
Classic Panko batter - it's an all purpose batter.
I used it to coat pork, chicken, shrimp and vegetables
I like to deep fry once in a while and watch how food sizzle. I often run into cooks who will do everything but that. The use of oil and clean up afterwards shuns them away. For reasons I am not clear, my mother didn't do much deep frying either. Maybe it was because we had a neighborhood butcher who sold deep fried foods. She would order Hito-kuchi-Tonkatsu and the butcher's son would hop on his bicycle and deliver them whle they were still piping hot in the bag. Hito-kuchi means mouth-size pieces. The Hito-kuchi Tonkatsu was intended to be eaten at dinner time but we couldn't wait. My mother didn't get upset if half of what she ordered was gone. She always wanted to make sure her children were not hungry. The hito-kuchi-tonkatsu I make for lunch today are similar to the ones I ate as a child. The pork is cut up in mouth size pieces. They cook faster and easier to eat than the large size Tonkatsu. I recommend you use kurobuta pork because the fat is nicely marbelized and the flavor is good. You can also use any good pork.
|Posted on September 3, 2009 at 3:20 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on August 10, 2009 at 3:51 PM||comments (0)|
I have been back in Santa Monica for almost a week but I am still on Tokyo Time. I would love to slurp some of that handmade soba I had in Tokyo. But I don't have the tools to make handmade soba, not yet, so I am just going to make a quick lunch with dried soba noodles, which is also very good.
I already have the dipping sauce for the soba because my sister, Sachiko, and my little niece Miki and nephew Mako were over at my house for noodle slurping a few days ago. The left over batch is still fresh. In fact, the dipping sauce tastes better because I threw in a a couple of dried shitake mushrooms to enhance the flavor.
Normally, I make just a simple tamago omelete to accompany soba but there is a beautiful Wagyu flank steak marinating in some sesame oil, ginger and green onions. It looks too good. I want to eat it for lunch. Meat and Soba! A traditional soba eater would not serve beef with soba but, hey why not go modern. With some sliced tomatoes from my garden, chopped lettuce and green onions, the flank steak will make a very nice "side dish" to go with the soba. Yes, even a Wagyu-style steak is a humble being before soba.
Now you want to slurp the soba right away before they go limp. So grill the steak first grill and whle the steak is resting, boil the soba. Then while the soba is cooking, slice the steak. This way, you will have perfect timing.
FLANK STEAK WITH GINGER AND SCALLIONS
1 1/2 lbs pounds Kobe style Wagyu flank steak
1/4 cup roasted sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbls soy sauce
2 Tbls wine vinegar
2 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbls grated ginger juice
1/2 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
Garnishes - chopped lettuce, green onions, sliced tomatoes, lime wedges
In a flat container, mix the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, scallions, garlic, ginger juice, black pepper and salt to taste. Marinate the steak in the mixture for six hours to overnight, turning meat once or twice to coat thoroughly.
Preheat frying pan or grill for medium-high heat.
WIpe off the marinade. Grill or pan fry steak for 3-4 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. It is more tender and flavorful on the rare side.
Let the flank steak rest for a few minutes. Then Cut across the grain at an angle, about 1/2 inch or slightly wider. Serve the steak with sliced lettuce, tomatoes, chopped onions, and lime wedges.
Kitchen note: This piece of American Wagyu beef comes from the State of Washington. Like the true Wagyu (Japanese beef such as Kobe) , the American Wagyu (a cross between Angus and Wagyu) has nice marbelized juicy fat. It is pricy but less pricer than its Japanese cousin. I get American Wagyu beef at Vincent Foods Market in Brentwood. They have one of the best meat sections on the Westside.
COLD SOBA NOODLES WITH DIPPING SAUCE
For this lunch menu, make your life easy by fixing the dipping sauce the night before so it doesn't become a big cooking project on the day of the lunch. This is one of the easiest Japanese lunch I can think of if you follow what I do.
4 bunches of dried soba noodles (100 grams per person)
8 oz daikon radish, peeled and grated.
4 scallions, sliced thinly.
1 sheet of crumbled or cut nori seaweed (optional)
Wasabi, Shichimi peper - optional seasonings
Basic Dipping sauce (see below)
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. This water will be used to boil the noodles later.
First make the grated radish sauce. Peel and grate the radish. What you will get is a watery substance. Pour out most of the daikon juice and use the grated part but do not squeeze too much of the juice out. You want the grated radish to be juicy but not runny. Put it in a small bowl.
Slice the scallions and put them in a small bowl or next to the grated radish.
Cook the noodles in the boiling water for approximately 5 minutes. You want the soba noodles to be al dente. Prepare a large bowl with a dozen ice cubes. The ice water will be used to chill the soba noodles. Drain the cooked soba noodles in a strainer and rinse under cold running water to remove the starchy film. Transfer the soba noodles into the cold ice water and let the noodles chill for 1 minute. Drain the soba noodles in a strainer and serve on a flat basket or plate.
This bamboo basket serves as a strainer and a serving basket.
Bring the grated radish, wasabi and scallions, nori seaweed and the shichimi pepper to the table. Set the table with chopsticks, bowls for the dipping sauce.
Pour the chilled dipping sauce in the individual bowls.
Let everyone help themselves to the soba noodles. The way to eat soba is first you put some grated radish (about 1 teaspoon) or wasabi and a sprinkle of shichimi pepper into the dipping sauce. Take approximately one or two mouthfuls of noodles with a pair of chopsticks and dunk them into the sauce and eat them. Repeat until the noodles are gone.
Serve the soba noodles with the grilled Flank steak.
BASIC DASHI DIPPING SAUCE
This is an all purpose basic dipping sauce that I use for dipping Tempura, Soba, Somen noodles. You can use this as a basic recipe and make some adjustments with the seasonings to suit your palate. The sauce is sweetened with Mirin, sweet sake, which unlike sugar has more depth in flavor.
1 cup of Dashi (see Basics for Dashi broth recipe)
1/6 cup - light color soy sauce (Usukuchi-shoyu) or regular soysauce. (I prefer light color soysauce)
1/6 cup - Mirin, sweet sake
1/2 cup - bonito flakes
Bring the Dashi broth, soysauce and Mirin, sweet sake in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bonito flakes and let the flakes sink to the bottom. Strain broth. Discard bonito flakes. Let the broth cool down to room temperature. Refrigerate.
Makes about 11/4 cups of dipping sauce.
Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.
|Posted on July 13, 2009 at 1:35 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on July 3, 2009 at 2:06 AM||comments (1)|
It's finally feeling like LA summer weather. The patio is turning into an oven. Perfect temperature to dry my laundry in the sun. I have worked out a primitive system for drying clothes. The sheets go on the big limestone table and get stretched like canvas. I hang the shirts on the chairs. Towels on the side table. The wrinkles don't come out and the clothes feel coarse but everything smells incredibly sweeter and cleaner, not to mention, I save energy. The last two summers I spent in Brittany turned me onto drying clothes this old fashion way. I haven't gotten around to putting up a clothesline in my house but that's coming soon. Drying clothes in the sun also brings me back to my childhood in Kamakura. There was a merchant that used to come around to our neighborhood selling bamboo for hanging clothes. They were freshly cut bamboo that was still very green. My grandmother bought new bamboo every year. Then one day, some of the bamboo merchants switched to plastic bamboo. I can still remember the first time I heard them calling out, "blue bamboo, blue bamboo that never fades." The bamboo was cobalt blue. I didn't care for plastic bamboos but I can still hear the man singing.
The sun also helps me decide what to cook. sunny weather calls for cold soba noodles, which brings us into summer. I am going to also make a fresh batch of dipping sauce.
With the steamed chicken I made last night I make a chicken salad. I chop some butter lettuce and scallions to make a bed of green. I slice the chicken and on top/. I get a little carried away and sprinkle way too much cilantro on the chicken. This dish is a failed work of art but the little red mound of pickled ginger (amazu shoga) gives a nice color against the turqoise plate.
COLD SOBA NOODLES WITH DIPPING SAUCE
For this lunch menu, make your life easy by fixing the dipping sauce and steamed chicken the night before so it doesn't become a big cooking project on the day of the lunch. This is one of the easiest Japanese lunch I can think of if you follow what I do. The noodles only take about 5-6 minutes to cook so do this part last minute. If you let cooked noodles sit long, they will go limp and starchy.
soba noodles chilling in ice water
BASIC DASHI DIPPING SAUCE
This is an all purpose basic dipping sauce that I use for dipping Tempura, Soba, Somen noodles. You can use this as a basic recipe and make some adjustments with the seasonings to suit your palate. The sauce is sweetened with Mirin, sweet sake, which unlike sugar has more depth in flavor.
NOTE: To make the sauce a little stronger in flavor, do 1/6 cup of soy sauce and sweet sake each instead of 1/8 cup. Use koikuchi soy sauce for soba.
STEAMED CHICKEN SALAD
|Posted on June 18, 2009 at 2:12 AM||comments (0)|
Steamed chicken breast with wasabi and chopped scallions,
shiso, scallions and sliced tomatoes. Serve with soy sauce.
If someone offers me chicken, I am inclined to go for dark meat and chicken breasts would be my last choice. It's probably due to all the rubber chicken breasts I have eaten over the years at business conventions and on airplanes. But there is one good recipe that tells me not to give up on chicken breasts. It is a steamed chicken breast dish that my Grandmother taught me.
The recipe is simple. It's steamed chicken seasoned with sake, scallions and ginger. What's great about this dish is that there is hardly any cooking involved. I usually serve this chicken with noodles or as a salad. I leave the skin on or take it off depending on my mood. It tastes good with wasabi or grated and soy sauce or a little mustard.
STEAMED CHICKEN BREAST WITH GINGER AND SCALLIONS
|Posted on June 9, 2009 at 5:25 AM||comments (0)|
Turnip Miso Soup with Scallions
Vinegared Cucumber with Shiso
I am making gyozas again this week. It was a last minute lunch just in case our guest showed up hungry. I made the gyozas with chicken not pork to be on the safe side. It turns out that our guest Brent does not eat meat at all. "I am a "pescaterian"," he said, "I have also been called a "vegequarian". New word for me. This means he eats fish and vegetables. He loves to go fishing so there is a hunter in him. He just doesn't eat meat. Too bad I didn't know in advance. Since Brent had already eaten lightly before he came, he was happy sipping the turnip miso soup and eating cucumber pickles, which I made as an accompaniment to the Gyozas.
As I watched Brent nibble the cucumbers, he told us how his mother raised him on Julia Child's cooking. "it was good French food made with lots of butter, cream and cheeses." Who would have guessed? One day, however,she stopped cooking out of Julia's recipes because she realized it wasan unhealthy way of eating. Brent said he still loves cheese and eats a ton of it. So a pescatarian/vegaquariam can have dairy!
When it comes to Julia Child, she lived passed her 90s so her food could not have been all that bad. It's all about eating in moderation if you ask me. My Grandmother lived to be 102 and her favorite food was steak and potatoes but she was a sensible eater. I own one Julia Child's cookbook, out of which I made my first quiche when I was a teenager.That was a big accomplishment since I didn't grow up eating cheese in Japan and it was one of my first English language cookbooks to tackle.The quiche, as I recall, came out lovely as did my gyozas.
Please also refer to the pictures in my pork gyoza. (here is the link)
|Posted on June 6, 2009 at 11:13 AM||comments (0)|
I took Ana on a long walk and came home around 7pm. I still didn't know what I was going to make for supper. I looked inside the fridge and found 3 blocks of tofu and ground chicken. I wanted to use them up so I decided Mapo Tofu.
MapoTofu is a very popular Szechuan dish in Japan. It's a "Teiban" - a"standard" fast food that I make at home. My Mapo Tofu is milder than the original Szechuan dish. This is what happens to most foreign dishes when it reaches the Japanese kitchen. We adjust the recipes to suit our milder palate. I still use Tobanjan - the hot Chinese fermented bean paste but sparingly because the heat is rather intense. I combine it with Japanese miso paste which tones down the intensity and gives it a nice beany flavor of miso.
If anyone wants the dish tobe hotter, I pass the hot chili sauce at the table or you can add more Tobanjan or La Yu while you are cooking the dish. The tofu cubes can be cut small or big. Smaller tofu cubes make the dish look fancier. Also, a dash of ground Szechuan pepper at the end adds a nice fragrance and spice to the dish. With bowls of steamed rice, this makes a quick and satsifying meal.
MAPO TOFU WITH CHICKEN
|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)