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Perfect Eggs for a Japanese Omelet's Elegant Swirls

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my favorite passtime is making a Japanese omelet.  If I have pastured eggs, the occasion becomes even more special.  Here is the omelet story I wrote for Zester Daily.  The pastured eggs I used to make this omelet came from Linda Vista Farms.



 

Breakfast Miso Soup

Posted on December 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (3)




In our family, breakfast is not complete without miso soup.  My son likes to dip his toast in miso soup, which is something I have never seen Japanese people do, but he says it's good.


My own mother never made miso soup for breakfast, even though it is part of a traditional breakfast in Japan. But when we moved to the US in the 70s, she yearned for good miso.  One day, she cooked a pot full of soybeans and blended them to make a mushy white paste, to which she added salt and koji, a miso starter made from fermented rice, and created a huge mess in the kitchen.


The resulting miso was kept it in a lidded clay jar in the cool and dark corner of the garage to ferment for years. I used to sneak in there and stick in my finger  to lick the thick, grainy paste that looked like mud. Later, when I was much older, I realized I was snacking on a healthy protein, minerals and vitamin-rich live food. 


Miso comes in various shades of white and red varieties. Red (aka) miso like sendai and haccho are dark brown in color, and robust in flavor. Miso can be made by mixing fermented rice, koji, salt and grains, including barley, wheat, and legumes like fava beans and azuki beans.  White (shiro) miso pastes like saikyo are yellow in color, lighter and sweeter than red miso paste, and made primarily of koji. My miso soup is hearty.  I like to have a variety of vegetables from the land and sea. You can experiment with different types of miso. Some are saltier than the others, so when making miso soup, always taste the soup and make adjustments.  I always keep a variety in the fridge and some fermenting in the garage. I let my whim dictate which miso to use for my breakfast miso soup.

 

Miso Soup With Fava Beans, Zucchini and Tofu

 

3 1/2 cups Dashi 

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1/4 cup, cooked and shelled fava beans

1/4 block -tofu, diced in to 1/4 -1/2 squares

1/2 zucchini, sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick

1 scallion, sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick

Bring the Dashi and the turnip o a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and add the zucchini for a couple of minutes.

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.

Add the tofu and fava beans and simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat.

Pour the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Serve immediately.

 

 


The Secret of Japanese Breakfast

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)




Of the couple of stoies I have written for Zester Daily about Japanese cuisine, the Japanese breakfast has been a popular one.  In this story I wrote for Zester Daily, I focused on how I go about putting together a Japanese breakfast nearly every morning with miso soup, rice and for sidees,  left overs grilled salmon from the night before and lightly fermented vegetables.   Here is the link: Live till 102: Secrets of a Japanese Breakfast.

Miso Soup with Fava Beans, Zucchini and Tofu

Posted on August 13, 2011 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)


A warm bowl of miso soup with fava beans, zuchinni and tofu.  This is a simple soup to make, and of course, like all my other miso soups, I have it for breakfast.   You can still find zucchinis and fava beans that are still tender.  When you buy fava beans, make sure the shells are not bruised or browned. Feel the pods and try to find the ones that are firm and large.   I cook the fava beans and pop them out of the shells before I put them to the miso soup.  You can prepare the fava beans a day in advance so you don't have to do the work in the morning, if you are going to serve the soup for breakfast.  You can also serve it any time of the day.

Recipe:

3 1/2 cups Dashi or Dried shitake and konbu seaweed Dashi (go to Basic Broths category on my blog)

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1/4 cup, cooked and shelled fava beans

1/4 block -tofu, diced in to 1/4 -1/2 squares

1/2 zucchini, sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick

1 scallion, sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick

 

Bring the Dashi and the turnip o a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and add the zucchini for a couple of minutes.

 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.

Add the tofu and fava beans and simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat.

 

Pour the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Serve immediately.




Grilled Onigiri Breakfast

Posted on August 11, 2011 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Grilled onigiri and yogurt with blueberries

My friend Atsuko who works at a Japanese Food Import Export company gave me a variety of Japanese rice to try.  Last night, I tried Nigata's Koshihikari short grain rice. The grains are smaller and shinnier than California Koshihikari.  The flavor is different too. Koshihikari from Niigata is more polished than the California cousin so the texture is smoother, like eating soft pearls. Some people prefer to have some bran in the rice, in which case Niigata Koshihikari might be too polished.  I usually go for brown rice but I had two bowls of this rice. It was delicious.  I 

With leftovers, I made onigiri this morning. I grilled the onigiri in the broiler.  I toasted both sides of the onigiri, and then brushed it with soysauce several times to give it the brown toasty look.  If you want to read more about Onigiri, you can do a onigiri search on my blog and find it. But it is so simple, you don't really need a recipe. Just steamed rice and soysauce are all.

I also whipped up some miso soup.  The dashi was prepared last night so all I had to do was add the miso and chop some vegetables.  No brainer.  The miso soup contains chopped savoy cabbage, zuchinni and seaweed. I sprinkled chopped scallions on top.  I also had some blueberries with a little greek yogurt.  I have to say, it was a beautiful breakfast.  

New Years Soup with Mochi - Ozoni

Posted on January 4, 2011 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)



   Ozoni

The first week of New Year is Ozoni time. Ozoni is a clear soup composed around a piece of Mochi, which is made with pounded steamed rice.  We drink this soup for good luck along with a dozen other New Years dishes called Osechi-ryori.  The stretchy nature of Mochi symbolizes flexibility and endurance. 

Some people boil the Mochi but I like mine grilled or broiled so you can enjoy both the toasty outer skin and the gooey inside. It's the same idea as grilling marshmallows.  When I was a child, the grown ups told me to eat as many mochi as our age. I couldn't do that today!   

For the clear soup, I make a large batch of basic dashi, using bonito flakes and konbu seaweed. It's enough soup to last me a week. You can make Ozoni with a variety of ingredients.  Bright colors, especially red, like a piece of shrimp or salmon roe, a slice of carrot is welcome. The only thing red in my Ozoni picture is the red bowl.  That's okay too. Each family and region have their own recipes. My friend Yumiko whose family comes from Kyushu uses miso to season Ozoni. Seafood, such as yellowtail, shrimp and crab are popular in Ozoni. I make my ozoni with mochi, small pieces of chicken, greens such as spinach or komatsuna, sweet peas, and a slice Kamaboko, fish cake. The morsels are thoughtfully arranged for visual appeal.  I put a yuzu peel on top to enhance the fragrance and color of the soup. 

Since Mochi is quite sticky, remember to chew before you swallow!  No kidding.


Recipe:
Serves 4

4 cups of Basic Dashi
1-1.5 teaspoons light soysauce (Usukuchi shoyu)
1 tbls sake
Salt to taste
1 chicken thigh, skin removed and cut into small 1/2 inch morsels
4 sweet peas, blanched
1/4 bunch of spinach or komatsuna, blanched and cut crosswise into 2 inch pieces
4 pieces of grilled or broiled Mochi
4 yuzu or lemon peels

Make the dashi

Blanch the sweet peas. 

Slice the Kamaboko into 1/4 inch slices, crosswise.

Blanch the spinach or komatsuna.  Squeeze out excess water.  Bunch it up and cut crosswise into 2 inch pieces.

Blanch the chicken pieces in hot water to remove odor.  
Add to the dashi and cook the chicken over medium heat.  Add sake, soysauce and salt to taste.
You can do up to this step in advance.

While the chicken is cooking, grill the mochi.  Peel the lemon or yuzu. All you will need is a small sliver per serving.

Heat the broth. Divide the Kamaboko, sweet peas, spinach into four.  When the mochi is grilled, put one mochi in each bowl, together with the other ingredients.  Pour the hot soup half way up the Mochi and put a Yuzu peel for fragrance.

Serve immediately.  Chopsticks are handy for eating this soup.



BESs

BESs

BESs

BESs


Buckwheat Pancakes with Blueberries and Bananas

Posted on November 21, 2010 at 12:26 PM Comments comments (0)


A perfect day for Buckwheat pancakes

I talked to my son Sakae in Portland last night. He was telling me how suddenly it's gotten cold and wintery up there.  He said he likes the plaid wool shirt I sent him for his birthday.  


I woke up this morning to the sound of rain tapping hard on the skylights.  It feels like winter in Santa Monica, too.

 It's a perfect day for pancakes. There is still some Anson Mills buckwheat flour that Glenn Roberts sent me to try. Buckwheat flour is made from uncooked groats. Anson Mills makes a very dark and earthy buckwheat flour. The darkness comes from the black hull in the flour.  The hull is rich in Lysine, an important amino acid. I like the flavor of dark buckwheat flour but when using four that contains the hull, you have to be sure that the buckwheat is not sprayed with chemicals.  




I was first going to put some sliced persimmon into the batter but the fruit was not ripe enough. So I switched to blueberries.  I also had some bananas on the counter, so I sliced one up and threw that into the pancake mix, too.


Big fat blue berries 


My pancake look likes the surface of Mars.


Recipe:
Makes 2-3 pancakes

Pancake mix:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
 2 tsp maple syrup
1 egg
1 banana, sliced thinly
1 cup blueberries
2 tbls Vegetable oil

Maple syrup
Butter


Combine all the ingredients except for the fruit and vegetable oil.   Mix well.  
Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the vegetable oil. Use about 1 tablespoon of oil per pancake.

Pour 1/3 to 1/2 of the pancake mix. Add the fruit.  Fry the pancakes. When bubbles appear on the surface and pop,
turn the pancake over.  Cook the other side.  Make 1-2 more pancakes.

Serve with butter and maple syrup.





Sobagaki - Buckwheat Porridge

Posted on November 18, 2010 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (0)



Sobagaki with maple syrup and butter

One of my favorite ways to eat buckwheat is Sobagaki made from freshly milled flour. Sobagaki resembles oatmeal or cereal that is boiled with water.  Sobagaki is what the Japanese ate before soba noodles were discovered.  I  used the fresh groats from the last soba workshop to make the flour. The little mill is working fine for home use.  I am  learning how to adjust the settings and sift the flour so I get the ideal texture and balance.  Nothing beats a freshly milled flour.

Hulled groats

Freshly milled buckwehat  flour - mmmm smells good

Recipe:
Serves 3-4

1 cup buckwheat flour
2 cups water
Butter to taste
Maple Syrup or brown sugar to taste

In a bowl, mix the buckwheat flour and water until dissolved.  

In a non stick saucepan, heat the buckwheat mixture over medium high and mix vigorously and without stopping, until the mixture becomes the texture of mashed potatoes.  This will take about 3 minutes.  Turn off heat 
and serve immediately with butter and maple syrup or brown sugar.



In 2-3 minutes, the batter gets lumpy like mash potatoes.
Don't over cook the Sobagaki or it gets dry and hard.


Toast with Bordier butter and Quince Jelly

Posted on November 12, 2010 at 6:41 PM Comments comments (0)


Two things I always bring home from europe are butter and jam (cheese too, but that's a whole other story).  If I am lucky, I will pick up Bordier's butter in Paris.  This butter comes from Brittany where I spent a couple summers - one of my favorite destinations for good food in France.  iI I am even luckier, I get Caroline's homemade jam in London. Her jam also comes from her fruit trees in Brittany.  This Time, I got double lucky.  I got both.  Bordier makes a variety of butters.  His Bordier's smoked butter is particularly tasty.  I hardly use butter in my cooking but when I have butter like this, I do.  I spread it rather generously on my toast and think about my grandmother who did the same.
  

Spreading butter and jam with my grandmother's butter knife.

BESs


Japanese Breakfast - Miso Soup brings me to my comfort zone

Posted on July 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (1)

    

What's a Japanese breakfast?

Good morning!  Did you have a good breakfast this morning?  I did.  Here is a picture of my breakfast and a breakfast story I did for Zester Daily  (here is the link). Have a nice day! 

 

On a Galette roll - My First Arabiki Galette

Posted on July 20, 2010 at 11:44 AM Comments comments (0)


Buckwheat galette with maple syrup

On Sunday, I made Breton Galettes, using stone milled Japanese soba flour. They came out so nice that last night, around 10 pm, I suddenly felt hungry for more.  It was actually the perfect time to crave for them because I can make the batter in the evening, and let it rest in the fridge overnight.  Yes, it would be awhile before I can eat the galette but this batter does improve with some resting, just like people. 

The flour I used to make these galettes is very special.  I milled the buckwheat seeds myself, using a German engineered electric  Howa's grain miller , which is a marvelous machine to make wholegrain flour.  I had never used a mill in my life until I started milling flour at the Tsukiji Soba Academy this winter, and let me tell you,  milling flour can become an obsession.  

Whole grain buckwheat flour is called Arabiki.  It contains all the nutrients in the flour so it's the healthiest way to enjoy the seed, and while Arabiki is quite grainy in texture and difficult to handle, especially when making soba noodles, the flavor is unbeatable. 

Post note: Was it worth the wait?  You bet.  I ate three galettes!



For this recipe, I used butter.  Between oil and butter, I like the flavor of butter in these galettes better.  I love butter period but be careful, butter tends to burn so don't turn the heat too high.  


Galettes in the making
Recipe:

Serves 2


1/4 (1/2 stick) cup butter or vegetable oil

3/4 cups buckwheat flour, preferably stone milled soba flour

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk


Maple Syrup or powdered sugar


If you tilt the pan while the batter is runny, you can achieve a

nice round galette shape.

Preparation:

If using butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool.


In a large bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt. Make a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and the milk, and gradually add it into the flour to make a smooth batter.

Add half of the melted butter or oil, an d mix well. Allow to stand in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.


Just before cooking, stir and check the consistency of the batter. It should be like thin cream. If necessary, add more milk to achieve the right consistency. Use the remaining butter or oil to coat the pan.

 

Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan over med-high heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan.

Brush with melted butter or oil.  Lower heat to a medium.


Using a ladle, pour enough batter into the skillet to make a gallete, about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Loosen the edges of the crepe with a metal spatula. Turn the galette over when one side is cooked, and brown on the edges. Unlike pancakes, galettes will not rise and will remain thin.


Cook the other side until lightly brown, about a minute and slide it out onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.


Serve like you would pancakes, with maple syrup or powdered sugar.



Buckwheat crepes - Breton Galette

Posted on July 18, 2010 at 3:28 PM Comments comments (0)




Breton Galettes



I can eat soba everyday, but there are other ways to enjoy buckwheat flour.  The French make a delicious buckwheat pancake called galettes.  A few years ago, I spent the whole summer at my friend Caroline Forbes' farm in Becavin, which is a small village in Brittany not far from the walled city of St. Malo.  This region is known for their galettes.  Galettes are much larger in size than crepes, and usually served with some type of filling, such as ham, cheese, onions, mushrooms or a sweet filling like honey, chocolate, etc.  Caroline made me this dish on the day I arrived to Becavin; we also tasted gallettes in the nearby villages.  I got hooked. Galletes are delicious with a cold glass of cidre, a sparkling apple cider; it's a typical Breton beverage.  


My galette in this picture is made with stone milled Japanese soba flour. I made them for my friend Mimi who was visiting from Kansas city. I served these galettes like pancakes, with hot maple syrup. They are also nice with powdered sugar. Mimi also wanted to try my soba noodles, so I cooked those, too.  Our breakfast turned into a brunch.


Recipe:

Serves 3


 

1/4 (1/2 stick) cup butter or vegetable oil

3/4 cups buckwheat flour, preferably stone milled soba flour

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk


Preparation

If using butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt. Make a well in the center.

 

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and the milk, and gradually add it into the flour to make a smooth batter.

Add half of the melted butter or oil, an d mix well.  Allow to stand in the fridge for 1 hour.


Just before cooking, stir and check the consistency of the batter. It should be like thin cream. If necessary, add more milk to achieve the right consistency. Use the remaining butter or oil to coat the pan.


Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick pan over med-high heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the pan.

Brush with melted butter or oil.


Using a ladle, pour enough batter into the skillet to make a crepe, about 5-6 inches in diameter.   

Loosen the edges of the crepe with a metal spatula. Turn the crepe over when one side is cooked, and brown on the edges.  Unlike pancakes, buckwheat crepes will not rise and will remain thin.


Cook the other side until lightly brown, about a minute and slide it out onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.


To serve:

Serve like you would serve pancakes.  I had butter and maple syrup on the table.  Also, some mixed fruit and yogurt. 



Miso Soup with Peas, Turnip and Pearl Onions

Posted on July 10, 2010 at 12:32 PM Comments comments (0)






We have yet to have a real summer day in Santa Monica.  A cup of coffee is not enough to warm me up in the morning. So here comes the miso soup.  I found some nice fresh peas and pearly onions at the market yesterday. The white pearly onions can be eaten raw. I sliced them into quarters and threw them into my soup along with the peas, turnip, and age-tofu.  No chopsticks here.  The peas sit better in a big spoon. Yummy.

Recipe:

3 1/2 cups Dashi or Dried shitake and konbu seaweed Dashi

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1/4 cup, shelled peas

1 age-tofu, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces, crosswise

6 small pearl onions, peeled and quartered

1 baby turnip, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces


 

 

Bring the Dashi and the turnip o a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for a couple of minutes.  


 

 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.

 

 

Add the Age tofu and peas and simmer  for 1 minute. Turn off heat.


Pour the soup into individual bowls.

 

Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 



Pumpkin, Tofu, and Green Pepper Miso soup

Posted on July 9, 2010 at 3:31 PM Comments comments (0)






I made this miso soup with the intention of keeping the pumpkin in tact but I got distracted and walked away from the stove. When I returned, the pumpkin had overcooked and was beginning to fall apart, so I mashed them and made a puree, and then seasoned it with miso.  I actually enjoyed the flavor of this pumpkin miso soup. The sweetness of the kabocha puree blended nicely with the dashi.  I added some tofu and chopped green pepper from my garden, and  garnished it with sliced Negi. Sliced scallions will work too. I had this soup for breakfast, then for lunch and the last sip for dinner.


Recipe:

3 1/2 cups Dashi or Dried shitake and konbu seaweed Dashi 

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1/4 kabocha pumkin, peeled and sliced thinly, 1/4 inch thick bite size pieces

1/2 of tofu, soft or firm.

1/4 green pepper, chopped

1/2  negi, sliced thinly or 1 scallion sliced thinly


 

 

Bring the Dashi and the kabocha to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer until kabocha is tender and can be mashed into a puree. You should be able to mash the pumkin with a fork.


 

 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


 

 

Add the tofu and green pepper, and simmer 1 minute. Turn off heat.

Pour the soup into individual bowls.

 

 

Sprinkle each bowl with negi.  Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 


Eggplant, Age tofu and Mitsuba Miso Soup

Posted on July 2, 2010 at 5:23 PM Comments comments (0)



While Akila was staying with us to do the soba workshops for three weeks,  we ate most of the meals at home, except for the three times we went out - to eat a hamburger at Apple Pie, Mexican food at La Parilla in East LA, and the final thank you dinner at Italian at Piccolo in Venice.  No matter how busy we were, we always made a sumptuous Japanese breakfast that consisted of miso soup, rice, fish or meat (usually some leftover from the previous day), natto, pickles, and sometimes fruit.  Akila said it was no different from being in Japan.  Akila prefers rice over bread so during his visit, I hardly ate bread.  He likes bread emergency food. He only eats it when the rice in the rice cooker is empty. I went to Huckleberry once to get a scone, otherwise, I stuck to rice for breakfast.

One of the essential breakfast food is miso soup.  Akila's miso soups were exceptionally good. He even brought his home made miso from Tokyo.  He often used leftover ingredients from the cooking classes to make the soup.  This miso soup was one of the soups he made that became my favorite: eggplant, age-tofu with Mitsuba or Myoga.  The dashi stock was made with dried sardines.  It's a fragrant miso soup with lots of umami.

Niboshi- dried sardines

Remove the head and guts


The sardines are soaked in water overnight and simmered for
5 minutes to make the stock.


Recipe: 

 

Eggplant, Age and Mitsuba Miso Soup

 


Serves 4

3 1/2 cups Dashi or Vegan Dashi or Sardine Dashi

3 Tbls or more of Miso to taste

2 eggplant, peeled and sliced vertically into 1/2 inch pieces

1 age tofu, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces, crosswise

4 mitsuba leaves, chopped



 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add the eggplant.

Cook for three minutes over medium heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.


Put the age and cook for another minute. In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes. Turn off heat. 


Pour the soup into individual bowls. Ganish with mitsuba leaves.

 

Serve immerdiately. Do not boil the soup.

 

 



Dried sardines stock:
7-10 large dried sardines, head and guts removed and discard.
4 cups of water

Soak the cleaned sardines in water overnight.
Put the sardines and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn heat to low and simmer for five minutes.  Strain the dashi and discard the sardines. The stock is ready.  This stock keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Miso Soup and Bagels for Breakfast

Posted on June 1, 2010 at 11:14 AM Comments comments (0)




Good morning! It's nice to have a wholesome breakfast from time to time. Wholesome, it's been.  I've been eating bagels 3 days in a row. This is the last one, accompanied by two beautiful eggs and miso soup.  I used turnip, fresh Meiji tofu, scallions and wakame for the soup.  (here is the link to the recipe, which is made with Napa cabbage and enoki mushrooms. Just slice up some turnips and use them in the place of the napa cabbage and mushrooms).

Miso Soup with Tofu and White Vegetables

Posted on May 3, 2010 at 1:42 PM Comments comments (0)


  


Chicken soup helps with a cold. Miso soup has the same medicinal effect but it much easier to put together than chicken soup, especially when your sick neighbor needs a quick boost. My neighbor Ellen hadn't eaten well in two days, and was planning to go to the market to buy some soup after our routine walk.  I said. No, don't do that.  I will make you some miso soup.

 I made the soup from scratch in less than fifteen minutes.  First,  the bonito based dashi broth.  While I waited for the dashi to cook, I checked my fridge and found vegetables to make a Winter Nabe, but made this soup instead.  I sliced the tofu, turnip, enoki mushrooms, napa cabbage and green scallions.  I used a white miso paste to match the white winter vegetables.  It's actually early summer for us here in LA but the farmers are still producing these winter vegetables.  The miso soup came out delicious. You don't see the wakame in this picture but I put some in the soup to give Ellen an extra  mineral boost. She mailed me the next morning to say, "No more chicken soup for me!"  She's turned Japanese. 


RECIPE:

Serves 4

 

3 1/2 cups Dashi or Vegan Dashi

3 Tbls or more of Miso (white or saikyo miso) to taste

1-2 teaspoon or more of of Usukuchi-light colored soysauce to taste

1/2 bunch of enoki mushrooms

2 turnips, peeled and sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick

1/2 tofu, medium or soft, cut into small cubes, about 1/4 inch

1 leaf, napa cabbage, sliced in to bite size pieces, about 1 inch square in sizze

1/2 cup hydrated wakame (optional)

1 tbls chopped chives or scallions


 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Put the napa and turnip and simmer for 3 -4 minutes.

Add the enoki mushrooms, tofu, wakame and cook for another minute.

 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Add the soysauce. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes. Turn off heat.

 

Pour the soup into individual bowls. Ganish with scallions or chives.


Serve immerdiately.  Do not boil the soup.





Nanakusa-gayu - Rice Porridge with Seven Herbs

Posted on January 7, 2010 at 8:03 AM Comments comments (0)
Nanakusa Gayu


Seven herbs - nanakusa 

I don't think I have ever eaten as many good luck foods as I did this year. On January 7th, there was yet another occasion.  The Japanese celebrate the Festival of Seven Herbs, Nanakusa no Sekku. This is a new years custom of eating a rice porridge with seven-medicinal herbs to bring good health and longevity. 

The chosen herbs go by their ancient names and used mostly for this occasion, so it's hard to remember all of them by heart. Even my father could only name three but when the festive day arrives, you find out.

Seri, Japanese parsely
Nazuna - Shephard's purse
Gogyo - Jersey Cudweed
Hokobera - Common chickweed
Hotokenoza - Nipplewort
Suzuna - turnip
Suzushiro - daikon radish

The seven herbs sold in packages.

The recipe for making the porridge is quite easy.  You can start with day-old rice or fresh cooked rice.  Put the rice in a medium size saucepan and add four to five times the amount of water.  Simmer the rice for forty minutes until it becomes like a soft oatmeal in its consistency. The porridge is seasoned with salt and soysauce. The seven herbs are added, just before serving.  

My eight year old nephew took one look at the porridge I made and said it reminded him of the emergency food that he got at his school's earthquake drill.  He was referring to the ready made porridge that came in the earthquake kit.  Porridge is not something he eats that often at home.  But when he tasted mine, he liked it a lot, and even asked for seconds.  

After a couple of weeks of heavy holiday eating, this simple vegetarian rice porridge is easy to digest and very refreshing.

If you do not have these Japanese herbs, come up with your own lucky seven.  Japanese also make do with what they can find locally.  Think of a combination such as dill, mint, coriander, basil, parsely, chervil, baby spinach, mizuna, kale and baby radish, carrots and turnips. The idea is to choose young green sprouts and roots that bring vibrancy to your life. You can serve this dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I served this as an appetizer before dinner on January 7. It was a hit.  I can eat this porridge all year around.

RECIPE: NANAKUSA GAYU- Rice porridge with Seven Herbs 
Serves 6

1 package of Nanakusa or a handful of herbs of your choice, including baby radishes and turnips
2 cups cooked white short or medium grain rice
8 -10 cups of water 
salt and soysauce to taste, about a 1/2 teaspoon of each.

Wash the herbs and roots. Cut the root ends. Blanch them in hot water for a minute.  Drain.

In a medium saucepan, bring the rice and water to a boil. Then turn heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, until the consistency of the rice becomes thick and porridgy like a soft oatmeal.  Some people like their porridge, Okayu, thick; some like it thinner.  This is a matter of preference. Be careful not to burn the rice. You can add more water if it gets too thick.

Add the nanakusa and serve immediately with salt and soysauce for those who like a stronger flavor.


Note: Don't overcook the herbs or they will loose their vibrant green color.  

Menu suggestions: This Okayu (generic word for rice porridge) is traditionally served as a hearty Breakfast dish with pickles.  But you can also serve it anytime of the day.  Some consider Okayu as Japanese comfort food.

Miso Soup with Mushrooms, Tofu and Mitsuba

Posted on November 30, 2009 at 12:43 PM Comments comments (0)

Shitake, Enoki and Tofu Miso Soup with Mitsuba

I still have some beautiful vegetable stock left over from the Butternut Squash soup I made for Thanksgiving.  Both the stock and the soup came from Thomas Keller's recipes in his Buchon Cookbook.  It took more than 5 lbs of leeks, onions, fennel and carrots to put the stock together and more vegetables, including the butternut which was partially roasted, to make the soup. But it was well worth the effort because everyone loved it. I used this left over stock to make miso soup this morning.  I hesistated to put miso in it at first, thinking that the scent of fennel, thyme, garlic, sage might be overwhelming in a miso soup but on the contrary, it came out delicious. This soup can also be made quickly with any fresh vegetable stock of your choice or regular dashi, using dried Bonito flakes and Kombu.  I used Mitsuba, as a garnish.  Mitsuba is a very refreshing Japanese herb. It has hints of mint, parsely, celery and chervil. You can find Mitsuba at the Japanese markets all year around.   

RECIPE:
Serves 4

3 1/2 cups Dashi or Vegan Dashi  
3 Tbls or more of Miso (Mugi Miso or Koji Miso) to taste
1/2 bunch of enoki mushrooms
2 shitake mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick
1/2 tofu, medium or soft, cut into small cubes, about 1/4 inch
1/2 bunch chopped mitsuba leaves or 3 tbls chopped chives

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Put the tofu and the shitake mushrooms and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add the enoki mushrooms and cook for another minute.


In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes. Turn off heat.


Pour the soup into individual bowls.

 


Serve with chopped mistuba or chives.



Dissolve the miso paste with some dashi before you add
it to the soup.

Tororo Kombu Soup with Umeboshi

Posted on November 28, 2009 at 12:08 PM Comments comments (4)


Tororo Kombu, sliced negi and umeboshi

Yesterday, I was still feeling full from the Thanksgiving feast.  Since there are no leftovers except for the one reject apple pie that stayed home, I am almost back to my regular eating pattern.  I made a tororo kombu soup for breakfast this morning.  The combination of the slightly vinegary taste of tororo kombu and the salty umeboshi has a calming effect on the tummy.  It was delicious.


Tororo Kombu Soup with Umeboshi

RECIPE:

31/2 cups Dashi or Vegetarian Dashi
4 small umeboshi, pitted and minced, about 3 1/2 teaspoons 
3 tbls sliced negi or scallions
4 tbls tororo kombu
3 tbls sake
1 tbls mirin
1 tsp soysauce

Remove the pit and mince the umeboshi.  The citric acid
in umeboshi helps digestion.

The tororo is one fine lumpy mass of kombu so cut and separate it into bite size pieces.  
In a saucepan, bring dashi over medium heat.  Add the sake, mirin, and soysauce.  Simmer for a couple of minutes.  Turn of heat and add the tororo kombu, minced umeboshi and sliced negi or scallions.  Gently mix the soup a couple times to incorporate  all the ingredients.  The soup is slimy but amazingly good. (yes, it looks like I scooped algae out of a pond!)  Serve it in small bowls.   


Tororo kombu in its hydrated form.