|Posted on June 1, 2010 at 11:14 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on April 10, 2010 at 5:48 AM||comments (0)|
I keep finding things in Japan that makes me say, Wahhh Kawaii! This basically means "Oh, how cute!" but it can also mean "I like it." Japanese use this word in almost any context. Kawaii rhymes with Hawaii so it is easy to remember. Here is what I found today while shopping at SUPER VIVA HOME, a gigantic store that reminds me of HOME DEPOT, only it's got tons of fun and Kawaii merchandise. Take a look at this egg mold. It molds a hard boiled egg into the following Kawaii shape.
Car shape egg mold. This one didn't work very well. The
design was too complicated for the delicate egg. The egg fell apart
when I closed the mold.
The fish shape egg mold worked much better.
The egg is beige because it has been marinated in
a dipping sauce for noodles.
It was Kawaii and delicious.
Marinated soft boiled egg recipe
2 peeled soft boiled eggs
1 cup Basic Dipping sauce (see below)
Marinate the peeled soft boiled eggs in dipping sauce for four hours or overnight.
Put it in the egg mold and lightly press to make your favorite shape. Keeps in the
fridge for 4-5 days.
Basic Dipping Sauce
This is an all purpose basic dipping sauce that I use for dipping Tempura, Soba, Somen noodles. You can use this as a basic recipe and make some adjustments with the seasonings to suit your palate. The sauce is sweetened with Mirin, sweet sake, which unlike sugar has more depth in flavor.
1 cup of Dashi (see Basics for Dashi broth recipe)
1/6 cup - light color soy sauce (Usukuchi-shoyu) or regular soysauce. (I prefer light color soysauce)
1/6 cup - Mirin, sweet sake
1/2 cup - bonito flakes
Bring the Dashi broth, soysauce and Mirin, sweet sake in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bonito flakes and let the flakes sink to the bottom. Strain broth. Discard bonito flakes. Let the broth cool down to room temperature. Refrigerate.
Makes about 11/4 cups of dipping sauce.
Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.
|Posted on November 7, 2009 at 5:07 AM||comments (1)|
We are approaching yuzu season. This aromatic citrus is a bit pricy at about $1 or $2 for a tiny fruit, and at the moment, I can only find green unripe yuzus.The ripe yellow, mini-grapefruit shape beauties should come out soon though. You can still use the green Yuzus in the same way as the yellow ones. A little zest adds lovely fragrance to the food, and to the hand that holds it. Yuzu is a nice brightener for gammadoki, tofu fritters. Gammodoki is a tofu based, vegetarian fritter.
These fritters are fried at a low temperature of 250 degrees F. If you deep fry it in higher temperatures, it will brown faster but you will end up with cold tofu inside so keep an eye on the thermometer. To this tofu mixture, I added edamame and shitake mushroom, which gives the bland tofu a lot more flavor. Other possible fillings are chopped carrots, ginko nuts, lotus root, hijiki seaweed, black sesame seeds, chopeed shrimp, squid, octopus. Make sure these vegetables and seafood don't exceed forty percent of tofu, or it will not hold together in the oil very well. Gamodoki's other name is Hiryozu, Flying Dragon's head, and as in its name, I find the best way to eat it is piping hot with soysauce and yuzu or lemon; it makes a nice appetizer. Ganmodoki is a popuar ingredient in braised dishes and Nabe, Japanese Hot Pots. Prepare the ganmodoki a few days ahead of time, and have them ready to throw in your hot pot! And don't forget the yuzu. You can add yuzu rinds into the hot pot or enjoy the cooked hot pot ingredients with a squeeze of yuzu.
Serves 4 - about 12 tofu balls
1 firm tofu, about 14 oz
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
4 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
4 cups of vegetable oil for deep frying
Garnish - Yuzu wedges (if you can't find yuzu, use lemon or lime)
2 teaspoons of grated ginger
Soysauce for the table.
Wrap tofu with a clean cloth or paper towels and put it on a cutting board. Place another cutting board or plate on top of the tofu to press out the water, about 20 minutes. Put tofu, egg, salt and flour in the food processor. Process to make a paste. Add the edamame and shitake mushrooms.
In a cast iron pan, heat oil to 250-275F. With slightly wet or oiled (use vegetable oil) hands, make tofu balls the size of a golf balls. The oil or water prevents the tofu mixture from sticking to your hands. You should be able to make about a dozen. Slowly drop the tofu balls into the heated oil. Deep fry the tofu balls slowly until they are golden. Drain well on paper towels or newspaper. Serve them with yuzu or lemon weges, grated ginger and Soysauce on the side.
Wrap the tofu in a clean cloth or paper towels. Place a cutting
on top to press out water.
Deep fry the tofu balls at around 250F-275F until golden.
Do not put too many balls in the oil.
Remove excess oil with newspaper or paper towels
Serve with yuzu wedges, grated ginger and soy sauce.
|Posted on September 25, 2009 at 2:10 AM||comments (4)|
The only people I know who call Inari sushi Footballs are my Japanese-American friends. When I first heard it called that way, I laughed. I didn't understand anything about the game because I had just moved from Japan but I knew what a football looked like and I could see the resemblance. In Japan, we call Inari zushi Oinari-san, with an honorific "o" and "san" at the beginning and end. It's because Inari also happens to be the Japanese mythological God of fertility. It turns out that this God has a fox servant who loves deep fried tofu.
Don't ask me how a fox acquired a taste for such food but if you visit a shrine or temple in Japan where Inari is worshipped, you will sometimes find an Inari sushi or a piece of deep fried Tofu hanging in a place as an offering to Inari and the fox. I hear Buddhist monks don't encourage this practice but worshipers do it. Now God Inari, the Fox and the Sushi share the same name: Oinari-san.
In the last ten years, Inari sushi has become very popular in the US. If there is a market that sells sushi, I usually find Inari along with California and Spicy tuna rolls. But I never buy them. I find store made Inaris terribly sugary and the sushi rice is often dry from sitting in the refrigerated display. I know the health department imposes certain rules but sushi should never go in the fridge. Inaris should be eaten right away when they are plumpy and juicy.
Inaris are easy to make at home. Kids love them. When my son Sakae was in highschool, I would make a large plate of inaris as an afternoon snack He would bring a half a dozen of his waterpolo team mates ( big guys) over and within minutes, all the inaris would disappear along with everything else in the fridge.
Marking an inari is like stuffing a pillow with feathers. Same theory applies. Try to get the stuffing to reach the corners but don't over stuff. Start by stuffing the seasoned tofu pouches with plain sushi rice. When you get comfortable making inaris, you can try mixing plain sushi rice with vegetables. If braising vegetables like I did in this recipe is too much work, you can shred raw carrots or slice up some cucumbers, rub them with a little salt, squeeze out the excess water and put them in the sushi rice. Be creative.
FOOTBALLS WITH PLAIN SUSHI RICE - Junior Varsity
What you need to make Footballs - Inaris are two things: Seasoned Tofu Pouches and Sushi Rice.
SEASONED TOFU POUCHES:
16 Deep fried tofu pieces (Four pieces in a package. See picture.) - In Japanese deep fried tofu is called Age or Abura age
3 1/2 Tbls Sugar
1 1/2 Tbls Mirin
3 Tbls Soy sauce
This Oagesan brand contains 4 inari pouches.
Deep fried tofu pouches are sold in either small or large pieces. The small ones are the size of one Inari pouch. If they are large, slice them crosswise in half and you have two Inari pouches. Blanch the pouches in hot water to remove the excess oil before seasoning them. Drain well.
Cook the blanched tofu pouches in dashi, sugar, mirin and soy sauce over low heat until the deep fried tofu pouches absorb most of the broth. Remove from heat. Store in a tupperware.
The inaris will absorb most of the seasoned broth. You want
the inaris to have some broth left in them so they come out
moist when you eat them
(makes enough rice to stuff 16 inari sushi)
1 3/4 cups short or medium grain white rice
1 3/4 cups water
2 inch piece dried konbu seaweed (optional)
Vinegared dressing for Rice:
4 Tbls rice vinegar
2 1/2 Tbls sugar
2/3 tsp salt
Rinse the rice and drain. Cook the rice with the measured water and a piece of
dried konbu seaweed in the rice cooker or in a pot. Follow manufacturer's instructions
for steaming rice. Discard the seaweed.
When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the vinegared dressing by pouring it evenly all over the rice. Cut the vinegar into the rice with a rice paddle or wooden spatula. Toss gently. Make sure the vinegar is incorporated into the rice evenly.
Slit one side of the seasoned pouch. "Gently" squeeze some of the broth and open the pouch using your fingers. Don't squeeze too much of the broth out and be careful not to tear the pouch. If you do, chop it up and put it into the sushi rice or eat it! You should be able to put 1/3 cup or more sushi rice in each pouch. Close the pouch so the rice doesn't spill out. Fold one end on top of the other to seal and then the pouch over to the other side so the seal is at the bottom. That will hold the pouch together. Makes 16 footballs.
4 Tbls roasted sesame seeds
Sushi Ginger Recipe (here is the link)
Braised Carrot and burdock
1 medium carrot
1 Tbls vegetable oil
1 Tbls sugar
2/3 Tbls soy sauce
Peel the carrot and burdock and cut them into 1/8 inch cubes.
Heat oil in a frying pan and saute the cut vegetables over medium heat. Add sugar and soysauce and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Slice The braised mushrooms and then chop finely.
Combine the chopped braised Shitake, Burdock and Carrots and mix them into the sushi rice. If there is too much juice in the vegetables, squeeze out excess before mixing them into the sushi rice.
|Posted on August 25, 2009 at 4:42 PM||comments (0)|
SUIMONO WITH TOFU AND MYOGA GINGER
Makes 4 servings
2/3 tsp of salt
1 Tbs Light color soysauce (Usukuchi-Shoyu)
2 Myoga, sliced thinly
2 Tbls scallion, sliced thinly (optional)
1/2 Tbls Yuzu or Lime rind, very thinly sliced
1/2 Soft silken Tofu
Make the Dashi. You can make Dashi in advance. See Basic recipe for instructions.
Season the dashi. Heat the soup but do not boil it. Turn to a low simmer.
Slice the tofu in long rectangles or small cubes. Add the tofu and turn the heat t the lowest.
Let the tofu warm up for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour the soup in individual soup bowls. Arrange the sliced Myoga, the scallions and
garnish with Yuzu. Serve immediately.
Note: Reheating Dashi does not improve in flavor. Make fresh dashi and use it right away for best flavor.
|Posted on August 24, 2009 at 3:13 PM||comments (0)|
SHIRA AE is a tofu based dressing that goes well with vegetables and seafood. It is one of my favorite ways to eat tofu since I was a child. My grandmother would sometimes make it just for me. That meant a lot because I had four other siblings and many cousins to compete with. I would help her grind the sesame seeds in the mortar. The grinding of sesame seeds took time but that was okay, we talked stories while we worked.
Traditional Japanese mortar and pestle -suribachi and
The ridged interior of a Japanese mortar works efficiently to grind
sesame seeds and nuts.
This pestle which is made from the branch of a pepper tree
is more than 20 years old.
My grandmother made Shira Ae to dress a variety of vegetables - spinach, green beans, eggplant, taro potatoes, carrots. I still remember the day she suggested making Shira Ae with Taro potatoes. I thought it was a bizzare idea but I loved it. Shira ae is very mild in flavor. It is pureed tofu with a little soy sauce and sugar. You can add ground nuts or roasted sesame seeds and even add a tablespoon of heavy cream, if you want a richer and creamier sauce. Today, I wasn't really thinking about putting any nuts in the sauce but I remembered that I had some fresh trail mix, which I got at the farmers market. Okay, so why not throw a few pieces in to make it a little nutty? I picked out the fresh walnuts and pecans, enough to make a 1/3 cup. The amount of nuts will depend on how nutty you want the sauce to be. I tried this sauce on shimeji mushrooms, broccoli and banana, yes, fruit too.
Broccoli with Walnut and Pecan Tofu Sauce
Strawberries, kiwi, apples, kaki work well but not the citrusy kind. I could be wrong but I think the general rule is to leave out the watery and citrusy fruit because it will make the tofu sauce watery. Don't combine the sauce with the vegetables or fruit until the last minute because that will also make it watery. You can serve fruit with tofu dressing at the end as a dessert.
What's a Banana doing here?
Banana with Walnut and Pecan Sauce - a good dessert
TOFU DRESSING - Shira Ae
1/2 Firm (Mengoshi-type Tofu)
1 Tbls sugar or maple sugar
1 Tsp Light color soy sauce (Usu-kuchi shoyu)
1 tsp white miso (such as Saikyo miso) (optional)
1/3 cup unsalted mixed nuts (roasted, unsalted) - pecan and walnuts * (optional)
1 Tbls heavy cream (optional)
Grind the nuts in a blender or mortar until it is as fine as you can get them to be. You want to extract the oil out of the nut. Aadd the tofu, sugar, heavy cream and soy sauce to the ground nuts and blend well to make a smooth sauce. You can also do the whole thing in the mortar if you have one. It will be more textural. If you want a creamy finish, you can press it through a strainer. That will mean more work though. It's good either way.
BROCCOLI WITH TOFU DRESSING
Make the tofu dressing that contains miso.
Makes 4 servings
1/4 broccoli, cut into florets
Make the Tofu Dressing (See recipe above)
In a medium size saucepan, cook the broccoli with a pinch of salt until its cooked but still firm. Drain. Chill in ice cold water for a couple of minutes. Drain again.
Serve with the Tofu dressing. Either put the sauce on top or serve it on the side like a dip.
You can make the broccoli in advance but do not combine it with the dressing until you are ready to serve.
SHIMEJI MUSHROOMS WITH TOFU DRESSING
Make the tofu dressing that contains the miso.
Makes 4 servings
1 package of shimeji mushrooms, ends removed and mushrooms separated
into small mouth-size bunches
In a medium size saucepan, blanch the mushrooms with a pinch of salt in boiling water for about 10 seconds. The mushrooms should hold their shape after cooking so be careful not to over cook them. Gently drain. Set aside and cool.
Combine with tofu dressing or serve it on top of the mushrooms. Serve immediately.
BANANA WITH TOFU DRESSING
Makes 4 servings
Make Tofu dressing.
Slice the banana into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Each person should get 3-4 pieces.
Combine the pieces with the tofu sauce and serve immediately.
* You can use other seeds and nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and sesame seeds.
|Posted on August 19, 2009 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
We've had cool weather in LA. It was perfect weather for the eight mile hike we did up Westridge fire road last Sunday. I got my arm stung by a bee as we were coming down the mountain but otherwise, it was nice to be outdoors. My hiking pal Ellen always asks the same question when we get to the top of the Santa Monica mountains, "So what does this remind you of?" and we all have the same answer, "TUSCANY!" (...........without the vineyards!). See, you don't have to spend all the money or free miles to see Italy. If you have never done this hike before, try it. it's very nice. You can bring your dog along.
On cool summer days like this, you can have warm soup in the middle of the day and get a nice lift of energy. I made some miso soup. It only took a few minutes to whip it up since I already had the Dashi broth ready. Good girl.
For this miso soup, use the freshest tofu you can find. I love Meiji Tofu. You don't have to cut the block of tofu in cubes. Just put the half or whole block of tofu into the saucepan and break it up with the ladle to get uneven size pieces of tofu. It is more fun and textural this way.
MISO SOUP WITH TOFU
Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 10 minutes
3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons koji, white or red miso
6 ounces soft tofu, drained
1 green onion, chopped, optional
Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
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 to the soup. Break up the tofu in the saucepan.
Pour the soup into individual bowls.
Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.
|Posted on July 19, 2009 at 1:30 AM||comments (0)|
So this week brings me to Paris. Yes, I am hopping around the world a lot this summer. Tokyo then Paris, then back to Tokyo again before I go home to Santa Monica. It's business combined with a little pleasure. When I travel to a place like France, food is almost always good. So I love eating out but since I will take a good home made meal anytime over a restaurant meal, I get very excited when somebody invites me to their house. This time I got very lucky.
I was invited to Rudy and Brien Chelminski's home for lunch in Fontainbleau, which is about three quarters of an hour by train from Gare de Lyon in Paris. The Chelminskis are Americans who have lived in France for more than 30 years. Rudy is a journalist and Brien is a homemaker. Rudy has written several books on wine and French cuisine. So he always gtives me good insight on French culture and food. Their house sits right at the edge of the famous forest of Fontainbleau. I have visited them a dozen times. I always take the same 11 am-ish train and get there just in time for lunch. If it is warm, Brien sets the table outside and we eat in the beautiful garden. Something is always blooming. This time of the year, the hydrangeas dotted the garden in pink. Today, it is a little cold so Brien set the table in the dining room. She is expecting two other guests. Her neighbors Joe and Benedictine who live across the street.
Every space in this house is used efficiently and reflects the Chelminski's artistic taste. I love the kitchen. It has a warm country feeling. Whenever I am here, I feel like cooking.
Brien painted the ceiling green.
All the pots and pans hang comfortably on the wall and they feel like they could be mine.
Rudy cooked a "more vegetables than egg frittata" - a recipe he found in the New York Times. The final garnish was chopped basil. It was really more vegetables than egg. He used zuchinni, broccoli, red onions, peas. The red onions made the frittata a little brownish in color but still, we all loved it a and there were very little left over. It's nice to see a man cook. I saw this happen in all three French kitchens I was invited to. Which I think is a good thing.
Everyone pitched in.
The table setting was very French. There was five of us. I was starving.
Dessert consisted of Brien's homemade apricot clauffouti and macarons from Pierre Herme. I ate a lot of claffouti and macarons this month. It started out with my sister's cherry claffouti in Tokyo, then Fran's cherry claffouti in Paris and Brien's apricot clafouti in Fountainbleau. Fran said that Clafoutti is as homey as desserts come in France. It is so simple to make. You can make it with crust or without. I loved the claffouti with fresh apricots. The classic claffouti is made with whole cherries, with the pit and all. The pit adds flavor to the dish.
Pierre Herme's macarons, the other dessert, were a big hit as always. Pierre Herme worked at Le Notre, Fauchon, then at La Duree where he did a whole makeover of their pastries. He then opened his own open shops in Paris and Tokyo. I think his macarons, the variety and freshness of taste, are remarkable. He even makes Yuzu and Wasabi flavors, which the Japanese clientele love.
From The New York Times - Mark Bittman
2 Tbls olve or or butter
1/2 onion, sliced
salt and ground pepper
4-6 cups of any chopped or sliced raw or barely cooked vegetables
1/4 cup fresh basil or parsely leaves, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or mint leaves, or any other herb
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Put olive oil or butter in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When fat is hot, add onion, if using, and cook, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until it is soft, 3-5 minutes. Add vegetable, raise heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, from a couple of minutes for greens to 15 minutes for sliced potatoes. Adjust heat so vegetbles brown a little without scorching. (With precooked vegetables, just add them to onions and stir before proceeding.)
2. When vegetable are nearly done, turn heat to low and add herb. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
3. Meanwhile, beat eggs with some salt and pepper, along with cheese if you are using it. Pour over vegetables, distributing them evenly. Cook undisturbed until eggs are barely set, 10 minutes or so; run pan under broiler for a minute or 2 if top does not set. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or a t room temperature.
Yield: 2-4 servings.
|Posted on June 25, 2009 at 1:55 AM||comments (1)|
There are so many ways to cook an omelet. What I often make at home is a Japanese style omelet called tamago or tamago-yaki. This is a good recipe when you want to use up your eggs. I've got lots of eggs in the fridge. If I don't cook them before I leave town, noone else will so I better get on with it. I use five to make one tamago-yaki.
You have probably ordered tamago at a sushi bar. The -yaki from tamago-yaki is dropped and is simply called by its principle ingredient: tamago which means egg. I take the quality of tamago at a sushi bar as seriously as a piece of tuna. It is one of the few things that the sushi chef serves cooked. The secret of a good tamago is in the ingredients, which are eggs, dashi broth, sugar and light soysauce. Some sushi bars buy ready made tamago from a tamago-maker; they can be horribly sweet and dry. A good sushi chef will make his own tamago . Fresh everyday. If you are lucky, it may be sitting on the counter top still cooling off. The chef will slice you a fluffy hot piece, which you will have to blow at while eating it. It's so good.
I often make tamago-yaki to serve with noodles or put in the bento box. Or sometimes as an appetizer. I stuff tamago-yaki with herbs and vegetables such as Mitsuba, tomato, scallions, mushrooms, etc. Also, meat and seafood. I made one with cut pieces of grilled eel the other day. It was great. I will have to blog about that recipe.
This is my everyday non-stick pan, which I use for making tamago.
Since I made a big batch of somen and soba noodle dipping sauce, I decided to serve noodles and make tamago-yaki as a side dish. I haven't made tamago-yaki in awhile. My tamago making skills will be a bit rusty. I can make it in a rectangle tamago pan or a round non-stick pan. I will make it in a pan that everyone recognizes and probably owns - the round non-stick pan. Most Japanese home cooks don't bother to invest in a rectangle tamago pans. The shape of the tamago can be molded with a bamboo mat while the tamago is warm. My grandmother made hers from a round pan. She would serve it right out of the pan on a small cutting board and slice the hot tamago-yaki right at the table. It was one of the last beautiful dishes she made for me when she was 100 years old and still living on her own in Kamakura. I remember eating tamago with sashimi. She cooked rice on the wood burning stove and seasoned it to make sushi rice. Grandmother always tried to make the occasion of our visit, the best onel ever. It always was.
Pop the air bubbles with a fork or chopstick before folding the tamago into three.
TAMAGO - Japanese style omelet
Roll it up in the mat and let the tamago rest for a few minutes or long
The ends are for nibbling
|Posted on June 6, 2009 at 11:13 AM||comments (0)|
I took Ana on a long walk and came home around 7pm. I still didn't know what I was going to make for supper. I looked inside the fridge and found 3 blocks of tofu and ground chicken. I wanted to use them up so I decided Mapo Tofu.
MapoTofu is a very popular Szechuan dish in Japan. It's a "Teiban" - a"standard" fast food that I make at home. My Mapo Tofu is milder than the original Szechuan dish. This is what happens to most foreign dishes when it reaches the Japanese kitchen. We adjust the recipes to suit our milder palate. I still use Tobanjan - the hot Chinese fermented bean paste but sparingly because the heat is rather intense. I combine it with Japanese miso paste which tones down the intensity and gives it a nice beany flavor of miso.
If anyone wants the dish tobe hotter, I pass the hot chili sauce at the table or you can add more Tobanjan or La Yu while you are cooking the dish. The tofu cubes can be cut small or big. Smaller tofu cubes make the dish look fancier. Also, a dash of ground Szechuan pepper at the end adds a nice fragrance and spice to the dish. With bowls of steamed rice, this makes a quick and satsifying meal.
MAPO TOFU WITH CHICKEN