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Soboro Chicken

Posted on January 26, 2013 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)



I spent the morning working on a recipe I am going to be using for a cooking workshop in Mountain View.  The theme is rice so I came up with one of my favorite topping for rice - soboro chicken.  Actually, there are more toppings than just the ginger flavored ground chicken.  In this bowl, I topped the soboro chicken with snow peas, scrambled eggs and put a pickled ginger as the garnish.  You can make the soboro chicken and freeze it.  So it comes handy when you are busy, which is often my case.

SOBORO CHICKEN
2-3 servings

12 ounces ground chicken (use thigh meat with some fat) 1/2 onion, minced. 1 carrot, minced. ½ cup of dashi (katusobushi/konbu base stock) 1/4 cup sake 3 tbls soy sauce 2 Tbls mirin (sweet sake) 1.5 tbls sugar 1 tbls juice of grated ginger 1 tbls Vegetable oil for sauteing 1.5 tsp of ground Kuzu powder, mixed with 2 tbls of water to dissolve. (optional) 2-3 cups of cooked Japanese short grain rice. Toppings: (Help yourself to any two or three of your favorite toppings) Sakai suggest 3 toppings: red, green, and yellow toppings for color and flavor. (See picture) • Amazu shoga - Pickled ginger (1 tbls per person) – homemade or commercial brand (without MSG) • Cooked snow peas, blanched and sliced thinly at an angle (2 snow peas per person) • *Scrambled eggs (2 tbls per person) (see recipe below) • Thinly Cut Nori seaweed (1 tbls per person) • Sliced chives (1 tbls per person) • Roasted sesame seeds (1/2 teaspoon per person) SOBORO CHICKEN RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS: Make the dashi in advance. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the ground chicken and fry until the meat is crumbly and loose,
using a bundle of chopsticks to break the meat apart into very fine and even crumbles. To the chicken mixture, add dashi, sake, mirin, sugar, soy sauce and simmer for 7-8 minutes until
80% of the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally. Add the ground ginger. Taste and adjust the
seasonings if necessary. If the Soboro Chicken appears dry, add a few more tablespoons of dashi.
Then add the kuzu mixture into the soboro and stir. When you get a shiny coat, turn off heat. Set the pan aside. To serve: Serve steamed rice with a scoop of warm soboro chicken and garnish with toppings of your choice.
(See above suggestions). *Scrambled egg topping recipe: (2-3 servings) 2 eggs 1 Tbls Mirin 1 pinch salt Vegetable oil for sautéing To make the scrambled eggs, combine the eggs with mirin and salt in a bowl and mix well. Heat the frying pan with vegetable oil, and pour the egg into the pan. Turn heat to a low
and scramble the eggs with a bundle of chopsticks to resemble the soboro chicken.
Be careful not to overcook or burn the eggs. Remove from heat and set aside.

Nikujaga - Japanese style stew

Posted on January 13, 2010 at 9:36 PM Comments comments (0)


Nikujaga with a variety of vegetables

We had our first snow fall of the year in Tokyo earlier in the week. But it quickly turned to rain. Today, it's back to being sunny again.  I still feel cold though, especially at my parents' house, which does not have central heating. I walk around with a wool scarf around my neck. But what works best to combat the cold is to cook and eat something that has a warming effect on the body. I have been alternating between one pot nabe dishes and Japanese style stews -nimono.

When it comes to nimono, one that is particularly popular with my family is a meat and potato based stew called Nikujaga, which literally means Meat and Potatoes. Nikujaga is cooked in a soy-mirin-sake broth. I use thinly sliced sukiyaki-style cut beef or pork; this dish is like a cousin of sukiyaki, What sets Nikujaga apart from Sukiyaki is the inclusion of potatoes.  I also make other versions of Nikujaga by adding carrots, peas and green beans. Basically, what works in stews will most likely work for Nikujaga. What I like about this dish is that unlike western stewd, Nikujaga has no added flour. So it's hearty but light.

Sukiyaki-style cut - potk shoulder

Cut the potatoes in uniform pieces and bevel the edges so they don't fall apart during cooking.  

Shirataki or Ito konnyaku
These zero calorie yam noodles come in a variety. There are 
dark and light type, some with more dietary fibers than others. Flavor   is bland by itself but takes on the flavors of other ingredients when
cooked together. Boil or blanch in hot water to remove the odor. These noodles add volume and dietary fiber to the dish.  It's a great diet food without feeling like you are on a diet.

Shirataki noodles out of the package.  


RECIPE: NIKUJAGA
Serves 4

4 medium size potatoes, peeled  
1 onion, peeled  
3/4 lbs sukiyaki-style cut beef or pork shoulder
1 shirataki noodles, blanched and cut in half
3 tbls vegetable oil
3 cups of water, enough to cover the meat and potatoes

Seasonings:
3 tbls sake
3 tbls mirin
5-6 tbls of soysauce 
1 tbls sugar 

Slice the meat in 2 inch pieces.  Slice the onion lengthwise in half and then cut each half crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces.  Cut the potatoes into six pieces. Bevel the edges.

Cook the shirataki noodles in water for 3 minutes.  Drain. Cut the noodles in half. 

Heat the oil in a medium size pan over medium heat, saute the onions until they are transluscent but still firm. Add the meat, potatoes and shirataki and continue stir frying for a couple of minutes.

Add the seasonings sake and mirin, sugar and 4 tbls of soysauce and the water and turn heat to high. There should be enough water to cover the potatoes but not more. When the liquid boils, cover the pan and lower the heat. Simmer the ingredients until  the liquid is reduced to half the original amount.  Add the rest of the soysauce to make adjustments to the flavor. My Nikujaga is not very sweet.  If you like it sweeter, make adjustments with sugar or mirin.  Cook until the potatoes are done.  

Serve Nikujaga while hot.  Let everyone help themselves to the dish.  Steamed rice and pickles go well.

 

Hot Pot with Meat Balls and Napa Cabbage

Posted on December 15, 2009 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (3)
Nikudango no donabe


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Meat balls, napa cabbage, harusame noodles and scallions
are cooked in a seasoned chicken broth. 

The first and best Chinese food I ever ate was at my Chinese friend Peichun's house in Tokyo. Peichun's father worked for a Taiwanese newspaper. He was the Japan correspondent for many years so Peichun did most of her schooling in Japan but at home, she was completely Chinese.  Her mother was an excellent cook.  Their house always smelt of exotic foods and spices- anise star, peppers, sausages, dried shrimp, dried mango, sesame oil.  Even the soysauce  was different than what I used at home.  I remember how my nose would wiggle from all the unfamiliar aromas whenever I was invited to their house. This was back in the sixties. 

Peichun's mother made cooking look very easy. She would stand at the stove, frying up one dish after another in the sizzling wok. If Peichun's father came home from work early, he would serve us the food. and we girls would giggle and eat. One particular dish that I loved very much was Peichun's mother's hot pot with Meat Balls. The hot pot had four huge meat balls, napa cabbage and spring noodles.  I was thirteen or fourteen years old but could eat a whole meat ball.  My friends still remind me of that. Yesterday, one of my old girlfriend, Yumiko, e-mailed me from Tokyo telling me that she made Peichun's mother's hot pot with Meat balls. I got inspired to make the hot pot too.  Fresh chicken broth is key to making a good nabe My meat balls are smaller than Peichun's mother's meatballs but they are made in the same spirit - joyfully.  

RECIPE
Serves 3-4

Meat balls recipe:
10 oz ground pork
 5 water chestnuts, chopped (optional)
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 tbls sake
1 tbls potato starch (katkuriko) or cornstarch, dissolved in equal amount of water
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 tsp roasted sesame oil
Ground pepper to taste

1 package (5oz) of dried spring noodles (harusame noodles), hydrated
4 oz Napa cabbage leaves, washed and cut into bite sizes, about 2.5 inches wide
1 tsp sliced ginger
2 tbls sake
1/2 -1 tsp salt 

Garnish:
2 tbls sliced scallions or negi

1 hot pot or cast iron pot


Hydrate the Harusame noodles in water for at least 3 minutes.

Put the meat ball ingredients into a food processor.  Add only 1/2 of the chicken broth and pulse until the meat is combined well.  Then add the rest of the broth and pulse again until the mixture is smooth and feels starchy. You can do this step by hand.  The broth makes the meat balls very tender and flavorful.

Bring the donabe hot pot or cast iron pot to the stove or portable burner. Add 8 cups of chicken broth with the sliced ginger, sake and salt and bring to a boil. Then turn down heat to a simmer.
  
Add the harsume noodles and cook for a minute.   

With wet hands, make little meat balls, using about 1.5 tbls of meat mixture.  
Put  the meat balls into the simmering pot.  If you plan to serve the nabe in two stages, only put half of the meat mixture.  You should have about 16 meat balls.

Add the napa cabbage and cook for a couple of minutes, with lid on.  

Test one meat ball to see if it is cooked.  Taste the soup. If it needs more flavor, add a itittle more salt, pepper and sake.

Garnish hot pot with sliced scallions.  Serve in individual soup bowls.


Sukiyaki - A Love Song and A Hot Pot

Posted on December 10, 2009 at 12:30 AM Comments 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.

Recipe:  

Serves 4 


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

 

Konbu dashi:

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

comes next.  


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.

Rosanjin Hot Pot

Posted on November 3, 2009 at 6:52 AM Comments 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.   

 

 

  Rosanjin


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.




Easy Kakuni - Quick Braised Pork Butt with Mustard

Posted on October 14, 2009 at 12:05 AM Comments 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.


RECIPE:

Serves 2-3


3/4 lbs Pork Butt or shoulder

3/4 cup water

4 Tbls sake

2 Tbls sugar

3 Tbls Mirin

3 Tbls soy sauce

Mustard 


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

Fall Camping - Leo Carrillo Beach

Posted on October 7, 2009 at 12:13 PM Comments 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

matches everything.   


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

new house


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

happy.



BEEF TRI-TIP IN A SOY LIME MARINADE 

I served this tri-tip with a salsa (see below)


RECIPE


Serves 6


2 Lbs -2.5 Lbs Beef tri-tip


Marinade:

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.


Salsa


RECIPE 


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.



Kurobuta Pork - Happines in Two Dishes

Posted on September 26, 2009 at 4:17 PM Comments 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.


RECIPE

Serves 4


4 boneless pork chops

2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 cup white flour

1 egg

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


Old newspaper

Cast iron pan

Meat pounder


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.

Little Pork Cutlets - Hito-kuchi-Katsu

Posted on September 19, 2009 at 10:56 PM Comments comments (0)

`

There has been a lot of action in the backyard of our house lately. Sakai and his assistant are chiseling and cuttting stones and wood to make sculptures for Sakai's upcoming art show in LA in October(here is the link) By noon, the guys are tired and hungry so now that I am home, I make them a hearty Tonkatsu lunch with Kurobuta pork.



  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.


Recipe:
Serves 2

2 pieces of boneless pork chops (Kurobata), cut into 2 inch bite size pieces.
1 cup flour, white or unbleached
1 - 2 cups panko
1 egg
salt and pepper, as needed
Canola oil, about 3 cups - enough to fill up to 2 inches of the pan.
Tonkatsu sauce and/or soysauce for the season.
Lemon wedges, optional
Mustard, optional
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage or lettuce or 2 cups of steamed greens of your choice
Heavy cast iron pan

Pound the pieces with a meat tenderizer.


This dish is so simple, you don't even need a recipe.  Basically, you prepare three dishes -
one dish with flour, one with scrambled egg, and one with panko.  Pound the cut size pork pieces with the meat pounder and season them with salt and pepper.  Dress the pork pieces in three coats.  Start with flour.  Coat lightly.  Then dip each piece into the scrambled egg and coat with panko.  Make sure there are no wet spots or lumps of panko on the pork. Put all the pieces on a large plate.

  Popular panko brand

Before you start frying, prepare the cabbage or side vegetables.  Cabbage is the traditional accompaniment to Pork Cutlet.  You can make cabbage very crispy by dunking the sliced cabbage in ice cold water for a few minutes.  Drain the water completely and serve it as a side to the cutlet.

The Pork Cutlet will cook in the oil in less than 10 minutes. Heat the oil over medium heat, The oil should be around 350F. Test the temperature of the oil by adding some panko and see how it sizzles.  It should sizzle but not burn.  Deep fry about 3 pieces at a time.  Don't over crowd the pan.  The pieces should be able to move around freely.  When both sides of the meat are toasted, the cutlet is basically cooked. Always keep the oil free of panko pieces before you put the next batch in. Dry the cutlet on paper towels.  Serve immediately.

For the table, serve Tonkatsu with lemong wedges, soysauce, Tonkatsu sauce and some mustard if you like. I serve steamed rice with Tonkatsu.  


 I made the Tonkatsu pieces somewhat bigger and toastier than usual  for the hungry men. The Tonkatsu sauce I use is Bulldog Tonkatsu sauce (here is the link).



Note: If you clear the used oil of used panko with a strainer, you can reuse the oil a couple more times.  

Chicken in Miso- Sake Marinade

Posted on September 3, 2009 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Just out of the oven.



Everytime I go to the Granada market, I end up buying more chicken than I need but it's Jidori chicken, much better flavor than what I can get at the nearby market so I don't refuse when Mr. Mukai, the shopowner, tells me to get it. I freeze most of them but set aside a couple to put in the Miso-Sake marinade.   It's the same marinade recipe that I use to marinate Black Cod.  It works equally well with chicken. So two days later, I am so glad I put this chicken in the marinade because today was one of those horribly hot and muggy days that I didn't feel like cooking. I finally had to take the fan out of the closet, which doesn't happen often in Santa Monica.  I served the chicken for lunch, with heriloom tomatoes - which are at their peak. Mine heirloom tomatoes in the garden were all eaten so these come from Wholefoods. The colors of the tomatoes brighten up my chicken.  With some rice on the side, we are in business.




I cooked the rice in the donabe.  My electric rice cooker is still broken.
I put soy sauce and salt on the table.  You can also have some olive
oil and vinegar for the tomatoes but their natural flavors need no help.






Recipe
Makes 4 servings

2 large chicken thighs, deboned and skin removed  
Miso-Sake Marinade (Here is the link
1 tsp salt

Salt the chicken on both sides and let stand for 20 minutes.
Make the Miso - Sake Marinade.  
Put the chicken into the marinade and let it marinate for 2 days.
Take the chicken out of the marinade and wrap it in aluminum foil.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake the chicken in the aluminum foil
for 12 minutes on each side   Then open the foil and let the chicken broil
until toasty on both sides.

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before you slice it.
Serve with tomatoes and rice.


MENU SUGGESTIONS: Chicken in Miso Marinade, Steamed Rice, Sliced Tomatoes

Flank Steak and Cold Soba - A Nice Summer Match

Posted on August 10, 2009 at 3:51 PM Comments 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

Serves 4


Ingredients:


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


Serves 4


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.


 




Braised Duck Leg with Ginger

Posted on July 13, 2009 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)


When I started making my own soba noodles, I acquired a new taste for duck as a topping for soba. The morsels of baised Duck with ginger is like eating spicy caramels of duck meat. These gingery sweet little cubes of meat cam be enjoyed with rice or as a topping wtih soba or udon noodles.   


Fresh duck leg meat is not very expensive, about $5 for two legs at Wholefoods.  With two legs, you can make enough toppings to serve 3 to 4 people.  This dish has lots of ginger so it's quite spicy.  You can cut it back if you prefer a milder flavor.  The last bit of soup is caramelied to give the meat a nice glaze finish.  It keeps in the fridge for about a week, so make a batch.   It also makes a nice appetizer with ginger.

 




Recipe:
Kamo no Shigureni
Makes 2 -4 servings

2 Duck Legs (Kamo no Momo), de-boned
2 -3 tbls, peeled and thinly sliced Ginger (Syoga)
1 tbls Sugar, optional
3 oz Sake (Sake)
10 oz Soba Broth (Kake Jiru)


Chop the duck into ½ cm cubes. Blanch the duck meat in hot water to remove odor.
Drain.

Comine ginger and duck in a medium size pot. Add all the seasonings and cook over low heat until most of he liquid is absorbed and caramelizes the meat.  Let cool to room temperature.  
Serve as toppings for soba or udon. It's delicious at room temperature.



Cut it into even cubes. Leave the fat on the meat for good flavor.

First Summer Soba Lunch

Posted on July 3, 2009 at 2:06 AM Comments 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  

Serves 4

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.   

  

  • 4 bunches of dried soba noodles (100 grams per person)
  • 8 oz daikon radish, peeled and grated.  
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly. 
  • Wasabi, Shichimi peper - optional seasonings 
  • Basic Dipping sauce (see below)

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil.   This water will be used to boil the noodles later.
  2. 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 have be juicy but not runny.  Put it in a small bowl.
  3. Slice the scallions and put them in a small bowl.  
  4. Bring the grated radish and scallions to the table along with the other garnishes, such as chopped scallion, wasabi and shichimi pepper.  Pour the dipping sauce in individual serving bowls and bring them to the table.  You will need chopsticks for everybody.  Once you have set the table, you can cook the noodles.  
  5. Cook the noodles in the boiling water for approximately 5 minutes.  You want the noodles to be al dente.
  6. Prepare a large bowl with a dozen ice cubes.   The ice water will be used to chill the noodles.  
  7. Drain the cooked noodles in a strainer and rinse under cold running water to remove the starchy film. Transfer the noodles into the cold ice water and let the noodles chill for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Drain the noodles in a strainer and serve on a flat basket or plate.  
  9. Let everyone help themselves to the soba noodles. The way to do it is to first 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.
  10. Serve the soba noodles with the Steamed Chicken Salad. 

 

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.

  • 1 cup of  Dashi (Link to Basics for Dashi Recipe)
  • 1/8 cup - light color soy sauce (Usukuchi-shoyu) or regular soysauce. (I prefer light color soysauce)
  • 1/8 cup - Mirin, sweet sake
  • 1/2 cup - bonito flakes
  1. 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.
  2. Makes about 11/4 cups of dipping sauce.
  3. Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.

 

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 

(link to Recipe with Picture)

 

Serves 4

  • 2 chicken breast with skin
  • 4 scallions, roots cut off. sliced in halves and then cut horizontially
  • 4 tbls ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 6 tbls sake
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 10 leaves butter lettuce
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 4 tbls cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbls pickled ginger (amazu shoga) - optional

  1. Bring the steamer to a boil over medium heat.
  2. In a soup or pasta bowl, put the chicken. Top with ginger, scallions, sake and sesame oil.
  3. Put the whole plate in the hot steamer. Be careful not to spill the liquid. Cover the steamer and steam for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Let the chicken cool completely. Best if you let it rest in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill. You can keep the chicken in the liquid. This will turn into a gelatin which makes a nice sauce for the chicken.
  4. Just before you plan to serve the dish, take the chicken out of the fridge. Discard ginger and scallions. Peel the chicken skin off or leave it on, whichever you like. Slice the chicken crosswise, about 1/4-inch thick.
  5. To make the salad, slice the butter lettuce leaves into strips, about 1/4-inch wide. Make a bed of butter lettuce strips and scallions. Arrange the sliced chicken on top. Sprinkle with cilantro and garnish with a small mound of pickled ginger (amazu shoga). Serve with soysauce and wasabi. 

 

 

  

Steamed Chicken with Ginger and Scallions

Posted on June 18, 2009 at 2:12 AM Comments 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

 

Serves 2

 

 

  • 1 chicken breast with skin
  • 2 scallions, roots cut off. sliced in halves and then cut horizontially in two.
  • 2 tbls ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 4 tbls sake
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Wasabi
  • Soy sauce
  1. Bring the steamer to a boil over medium heat.
  2. In a soup or pasta bowl, put the chicken. Top with ginger, scallions, sake and sesame oil.
  3. Put the whole plate in the hot steamer. Be careful not to spill the liquid. Cover the steamer and steam for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Let the chicken cool completely. You can keep the chicken in the liquid. This will turn into a gelatin which makes a nice sauce for the chicken.
  4. When the chicken is cool, take it out of the bowl. Discard ginger and scallions. Peel the chicken skin off or leave it on, whichever you like. Slice the chicken crosswise, about 1/4-inch thick. Serve with grated ginger or wasabi and soy sauce. Pour some of that gelatin on top.
  5.  Serve with wasabi or grated ginger and soy sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

A Summer Lunch

Posted on June 9, 2009 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Chicken Gyoza  


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.   

 

CHICKEN GYOZAS

Please also refer to the pictures in my pork gyoza. (here is the link)

  • Makes about 50 gyozas  (Serves 4 or more as appetizers)
  • 2 packages gyoza wrappers (about 50 pieces) 
  • 1 lbs ground chicken
  • 2 cups napa cabbage, chopped finely
  • 3 scallions, chopped finely
  • 1 tbls ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1-2 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tbls soy sauce 
  • 1 tbls sake
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tbls water
  • Sesame oil for cooking
  • Serve gyoza with Chili Oil (La yu) and soy sauce
  1. Combinethe meat, cabbage, scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, water, salt and peper. Mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to marinate the meat. 
  2. Prepare a cup of water in put it to the side of the cutting board where youwill make the gyozas. The water will be used like glue to seal the wrapper.
  3. Put one wrapper on a clean dry cutting board. Place approximately 1.5 teaspoons of meat in the middle of the wrapper and fold in half.  Donot overstuff the wrapper. It will tear. Seal the edge of the wrapper by basting it with water.  You can do this by dipping your finger into the cup of water and use the wet tip of your finger to baste the edge of the wrapper.  Make folds as in the picture or anyway you like.  Use more water to baste and seal areas of the wrapper that are open. You don't want the meat to fall out while frying.  Line wrapped gyoza on a plate. You can refrigerate the gyoza at this stage for a few hours and cook them later but best if you fry them right away.
  4. In a medium size non-stick frying pan, pour about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil or more and heat pan to medium. You will get the best results when the pan is heated evenly.  It's the same idea as making pancakes. Put about half the gyozas in the pan.
  5. When the bottom of the gyozas are evenly brown, pour about 3/4 cup of water or enough to cover the gyozas a third way in water.
  6. Turn heat to a low and cover the pan.  Let it simmer until almost all of the liquid is gone.
  7. Open the lid and bring the pan to a medium high.  Let the bottom of the gyozas get crisp. You can add a teaspoon of sesame oil in the pan if you want to have a really crispy finish.  Loosen up the gyozas with a spatula.
  8.  When all of them look crispy, transfer to a serving plate, brown side up. Serve immediately with chili oil and soysauce.  While everyone is eating the first batch, you can start the second batch.  Makes about 50.


Mapo Tofu

Posted on June 6, 2009 at 11:13 AM Comments 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

Serves 2-3 

  • 3/4 lbs ground chicken, beef or pork
  • 1 medium firm tofu, cot into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbls soy sauce 
  • 1 medium firm tofu (men-goshi tofu)
  • 4 scallions, chopped - white and green parts
  • 1 tbls ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped  
  • 2 Tbls white miso paste or more to taste
  • 1 tsp Tobanjan (Chinese fermented bean paste) or more to taste
  • 2 Tbls Sake 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar 
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 1 Tbls corn starch (Katakuriko) mixed with 1 Tbls water
  • Ground Szhechuan Pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying - I use roasted sesame oil (1-2 Tbls)
  • La Yu (optional hot seasoning)
  1. Combine ground meat with soysauce. Let meat marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix miso paste,  sake, salt, sugar and water in a small bowl and set aside. 
  3. In a medium size frying pan, heat oil and saute ground mea over medium heat until the meat is cooked and a little crispy.  Add the chopped ginger, white part of green onions and garlic.  Mix in the miso mixture and bring the heat to a simmer.
  4. Blanch the tofu cubes in hot water for 2-3 minutes.  Drain.  Gently add the tofu cubes and continue cooking over low heat for another 10 minutes.  
  5. Combine cornstarch with one tablespoon of water to dissolve the starch.  Pour the starch mixture into the frying pan.  Mix it into the meat-tofu mixture.  Be careful not to break and crumble the tofu cubes.  Cook until the cornstarch liquid thickens the Mapo Tofu.
  6. Sprinkle with scallions and ground some Szechuan pepper on top.  Serve immediately with fresh steamed rice.


gyoza

Posted on May 31, 2009 at 4:08 AM Comments 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)

 


GYOZA

Serves 4 (or more as appetizers) 

  • 2 packages gyoza wrappers (about 50 pieces) 
  • 3/4 lbs ground pork or ground chicken
  • 2 cups napa cabbage, chopped finely
  • 6 shrimp, deveined and chopped finely
  • 3 scallions, chopped finely
  • 1 tbls ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1-2 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tbls soy sauce 
  • 1 tbls sake
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tbls water
  • Sesame oil for cooking
  • Serve gyoza with Chili Oil (La yu) and soy sauce

 

  1. Combine the meat, cabbage, scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, water, salt and peper. Mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to marinate the meat. 
  2. Prepare a cup of water in put it to the side of the cutting board where you will make the gyozas. The water will be used like glue to seal the wrapper.
  3. Put one wrapper on a clean dry cutting board. Place approximately 1.5 teaspoons of meat in the middle of the wrapper and fold in half.  Do not overstuff the wrapper. It will tear. Seal the edge of the wrapper by basting it with water.  You can do this by dipping your finger intothe cup of water and use the wet tip of your finger to baste the edge of the wrapper.  Make folds as in the picture or anyway you like.  Use more water to baste and seal areas of the wrapper that are open. You don't want the meat to fall out while frying.  Line wrapped gyoza on aplate. You can refrigerate the gyoza at this stage for a few hours andcook them later but best if you fry them right away.
  4. Ina medium size non-stick frying pan, pour about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil or more and heat pan to medium. You will get the best results when the pan is heated evenly.  It's the same idea as making pancakes. Put about half the gyozas in the pan. When the bottom of the gyozas are evenly brown, pour about 3/4 cup of water or enough to cover the gyozas a third way in water. Turn heat to a low and cover the pan.  Let it simmer until almost all of the liquid is gone. Open the lid and bring the pan to a medium high.  Let the bottom of the gyozas get crisp. You can add a teaspoon of sesame oil in the pan if you want to have a really crispy finish.  Loosen up the gyozas with a spatula.  When all of them look crispy, transfer to a serving plate, brown side up.  Serve immediately with chili oil and soysauce.  While everyone is eating the first batch, you can start the second batch.  Makes about 50.