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Posts Tagged ‘hijiki’

In order to solidify my role as a good Japanese housewife I decided to make another classic comfort dish from the Land of the Rising Sun. I haven’t made anything with squid in a long time and came across this recipe from a Japanese cook book that I have. Since I had a piece of daikon in my fridge that I needed to use, it all just seemed too perfect. And yes, I am perfect!

The first thing I need to do was make 3.75 cups of dashi. We don’t have any bonito flakes in our fridge, but we do have dried anchovy in our freezer that are also used for various types of dashi. In a soup pot I poured in a little more than 3.75 cups of water knowing that some would evaporate and added about 1/3 cup of the dried anchovy. I brought it to a boil, covered it, lowered the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for about 3o minutes. Then I strained out the fish and had a really nice flavorful dashi.

The rest of my ingredients for this dish included 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of sake, 2 tablespoons of mirin, some lime zest, about 2 pounds of daikon, 1 pound of squid (body and tentacles), and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

I cut the daikon into chunks about 1.25 inches thick and rounded the edges with a pairing knife. I’m not sure why they round the edges, maybe it allows the daikon to cook more evenly or maybe it’s just an aesthetics thing, but you probably don’t need to do it if you don’t want. Being the good Japanese housewife that I am, I went all out. I put the cut daikon into cold water then drained it just before cooking. That helps keep the texture firm. I sliced the squid bodies into 1/2 inch strips and cut the tentacles in half.

I put the daikon and squid into a heavy pot and poured the dashi in. I brought it to a boil and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Every 30 seconds or so I had to skim the surface to keep the dashi nice and clear. It’s amazing that 1 pound of squid seems to have more muck than a 3 pound chicken when boiling. So you really need to skim a lot.

Once the dashi cleared up I turned the heat to low and added the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. I covered the pan and let it simmer for about 45 minutes or so. Every few minutes I gave the pot a good shake to make sure the flavors of the dashi were well mixed.

While the squid and daikon were simmering I made some hijiki-carrot rice. After rinsing 2 cups of rice and measuring out the liquid I added a tablespoon or so of dried hijiki and 1 chopped carrot. I let it sit for a half hour and then started the rice cooker. Actually, I had this ready to go before starting the squid and daikon. But I didn’t hit the start button until the simmering started for timing purposes.

For a side dish to get more vegetables in the meal I made a simple stir-fry. I cut up 1 head of broccoli, had a couple of ounces of bean sprouts, 3 diced garlic cloves, and 1 inch of diced ginger.

I heated a skillet and added 1 tablespoon of sesame oil then added the garlic and ginger. After about 30 seconds I tossed in the broccoli and let it go for about 5 minutes before adding the bean sprouts. About 2 minutes later and it was ready to eat, just a sprinkle of salt and pepper was needed.

For serving I put some of the squid and daikon in bowls with some of the dashi. Then I grated some of the lime zest on top. Yes, as you can see in the picture I do have the hairiest arms you’ll ever see on a Japanese housewife…I hope. In Japan they’d use yuzu instead of lime, but I couldn’t find any yuzu at the store. The lime worked really well though. And the squid, oh brother the squid! It was so soft and tender it literally melted in our mouths. I haven’t had squid that good since we were in Nara, Japan over a year ago during squid season. And if you’ve never eaten daikon simmered in a soy-dashi broth you’re missing out on one of life’s finer flavors. This was the best meal I’ve cooked in a while. OIISHII!!!

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Stanley’s had these cute little Boston Lettuce heads for sale. The leaves looked perfect to make a wrap with. Then I remembered talking to Yuki about how we haven’t had ginger pork in a while, actually her craving for it. Sometimes I get it. Not often, but this time I did. What better way to put some ginger and pork together than in the buttery leaves of some fresh Boston Lettuce?

Laap is simply a Laotian ground meat dish. I can either be raw or cooked. This one is more of a Southeast Asian flavor instead of a typical laap. I used a handful of parsley chopped (cilantro would have been prefered, but I had to use up my parsley), 7 shiitake caps diced, 1 yellow bell pepper diced, 2 stalks of lemongrass tender innards thinly sliced, juice of 1 lemon (prefer lime but thought lemon would match parsley better), 1/2 inch ginger minced, 3 garlic cloves minced, 6 green onions sliced, 1 head of Boston Lettuce large outer leaves used for wraps while the small inner leaves were chopped up, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of sriracha, and 1.25 pounds of ground pork. I also used 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, but that wasn’t in the picture.

I heated up some vegetable oil and added the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic. I let them sizzle for about a minute and then added the pork. I broke the pork up as it cooked through, that took about 5 minutes. Then I added the shiitake, pepper, and green onion. I let those cooked down for about 3 minutes and then added the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sriracha. After the sauces cooked down for a few minutes I turned off the heat and stirred in the parsley, lemon juice, and sesame oil.  

For side vegetables planned on sauteing some baby eggplant and broccoli with garlic, but for some reason I ended up quartering the eggplant and roasting it at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes in sesame oil while steaming the broccoli with ground sesame seeds. I didn’t use the garlic.

The rice I made was Japanese style. Not really the best match, but not bad. In the rice cooker, once I rinsed 2 cups of rice and filled the bowl with the right amount of water I added 1 diced carrot and a few pinches of dried hijiki seaweed. I let it sit for about a half hour before turning the machine on. I made sure to mix the carrots and hijiki in well before serving.

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The other night I made one of Yuki’s favorites, a dish she usually makes. She, like most Japanese absolutely love nabe in the winter time and it’s hard to blame her. You just can’t beat a good table-top soup filled with meat, veggies, and a good broth. I think chicken meatballs rolled in cabbage is her favorite and one she’s made quite a few times for me, so this time I made it for her.

First thing I did was get the meatballs wrapped and ready to go. I used chicken stock as my base for the broth so I used 2 cups of it to soak a heaping tablespoon of dried hijiki seaweed for about 30 minutes before I could do much else. When the hijike was rehydrated I strained the broth into a soup pot. The rest of my meatball ingredients were 1/2 red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 inch of ginger, 1 pound of ground chicken thigh, and a small head of napa cabbage.

To make the cabbage more pliable I dropped it into some salted boiling water and let it boil for about 2 minutes. Then I took it out and shocked it in ice water. The boiling water softened it making it easier to roll while shocking it in ice water helps it retain its color.

In a glass bowl I grated the onion, garlic, and ginger into the chicken meat, added the hijiki, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and mixed it thoroughly. Then I rolled walnut-sized meatballs in the cabbage and secured them with toothpicks.

The rest of my ingredients for the nabe were 6 green onions chopped, 2 small carrots chopped, 1 small daikon chopped, 7 fingerling potatoes halved, 8 shiitake halved, a package of fried tofu sliced, and 1 Honey 1 Rib (yes, I am finding creative ways to finish up those ribs since I over-ordered).

I put the rib in the chicken stock that had already soaked the hijiki and added 2 cups of water. I brought that to a boil and let the rib simmer in the broth for about 15 minutes. Then I strained the broth into our nabe (clay pot). The rib added some nice smokey depth to the broth. It also gave me some moist tender meat to nosh on while finishing up the cooking.

Then I brought the broth back to a slow boil and added the chicken-cabbage rolls. I let them cook for about 15 minutes to make sure they cooked all the way through. Once they were cooked I took them out and set them aside.

I kept the broth at a low boil and added all of the veggies. I let them all cook for about 10 minutes.

Once all of the veggies were cooked I added the chicken-cabbage rolls back and took the nabe to our table-top propane burner.

 To serve, I poured about a tablespoon of ponzu in each of our bowls. We helped ourselves by adding broth, meatballs, and vegetables along with a dash of togarashi. I had white rice topped with ground sesame seeds along with it.

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This year for Thanksgiving we didn’t really have much of a plan. There weren’t a lot of options on the table for us. We could have gone to my mom’s in Merida, Mexico, but flights were very expensive this year. We could have gone to my Grandma’s in the Quad Cities, but no one there cooks anymore, they go to a restaurant in Andalusia. Not exactly a mouth-watering proposition. Almost all of our friends were with their families. It wasn’t until 3:00 Thursday afternoon that we figured out what to do. With so little time we decided to keep it very simple. So, we headed to Stanley’s and Whole Foods to get the fixin’s we needed to make a small dinner of four portions.

First thing I made was a sweet potato puree soup. I skinned and chopped up two medium-sized sweet potatoes and tossed them into a pot with 3 garlic cloves and 2 cups of chicken stock. I brought it to a boil, covered it, and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the potato chunks were nice and soft. Once it cooled down a little I threw it all into my blender with a cup of soy milk and pureed it nice and smooth. I seasoned it with some salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of cinnamon and then poured it back into the pot ready to re-heat once everything else was done.

For the rice I simply rinsed 2 cups of rice and put it in our rice cooker. Once I poured in the water I added one diced carrot and 1.5 tablespoons of dried hijiki. I let it sit for about 30 minutes and then hit the start button. Simple as that.

For the Turkey I just got a 1.75 pound breast. I laid it in a large rimmed baking sheet and covered it with a mix of 2 tablespoons of miso, the juice from one lemon, the zest from half of the lemon, and some black pepper. After evenly coating the top of the turkey with the miso I put it on the lower 3rd rack of the oven at 400 degrees. I let it roast for about an hour. Once the hour was up I took it out and put a bunch of haricots vert all around the pan and poured 3/4 cup of chicken stock around the bird. I put that back into the oven for another 15 minutes. When I took it out I let the bird rest on a board and set the haricots vert aside. I mixed together 1 tablespoon of miso and 1/4 cup of chicken stock and poured that into the pan to mix with the rest of the juices. That was my sauce for the turkey after slicing it.

While the turkey was cooking I melted 1/4 cup of butter and slowly carmelized 1 sliced onion for about 20 minutes.

To serve, I sliced the turkey and laid it on top of the haricots vert. I spooned some sauce on top and then laid down some of the onions. I garnished it all with the other half of lemon zest. The soup and rice were on the side.

I cheated on dessert, we just picked up a pumpkin pie and some vanilla ice cream. It’s a shame we didn’t plan ahead because both Yuki and I make a mean pumpkin pie. I also make a pretty good ice cream. Oh well, we weren’t trying to impress anyone this year, so this worked out just fine. Maybe next year we’ll be more creative and extravagant. In the meantime, everything turned out really tasty and we have no complaints. It sure beats a restaurant in Andalusia.

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I’m just not as young as I used to be. I can tell that I was at an izakaya last night because all of that sake floating around my liver is taking its toll. However, slow-moving Saturdays usually mean fun Friday nights.

A group of Yuki’s co-workers got together last night for food and drinks at Chizakaya, a newly opened izakaya here in Chicago. Actually, it’s probably the only real izakaya in town. While there are a few places claiming to be izakayas, they’re really just sushi places. Chizakaya doesn’t serve any sushi at all. I first heard of Chizakaya a few months ago when my mom sent me an article in the Huffington Post about the very fact that there aren’t any real izakaya’s in Chicago, until now. It also mentioned that the group that opened Chizakaya came from L2O, arguably Chicago’s finest seafood restaurant. Naturally, it made the list of places I wanted to go. With Yuki’s group meeting there last night I took the opportunity and ran with it.

I got there before the rest of the group, except for the two white guys in her work team (everyone else is Japanese). We sat at the bar and had a glass of sake while waiting for everyone else. I will say that the bartender knows his sake! It’s not a huge sake list, but a very well put together one with a good variety at all price points. He also gave us each a sample of sweet potato shochu, something none of us have ever had. It’s actually quite good.

Once everyone showed up they took us to the back room at one of the two big tables. I like it much better back there because the kitchen is open and the atmosphere is a little more izakaya-like.

Our waitress was also well-trained in the art of sake flavors as well as their menu. True to being an izakaya, the menu is based on small plates and nibbles to go along with drinking. We ordered a bunch of things and just grabbed and ate as we went, along with numerous bottles of sake. Since I’m drinking for 3, I’m struggling to keep my eyes focused as I write this.

As we sat they brought out little bowls of miso soup. Really good miso, they got the ratio of miso-to-dashi right. Instead of wakame which is typically put in miso soup they used hijiki.

Japanese sweet potato fries with spiced mayo.

Puffed pig ears with togarashi soy dipping sauce. Move over potato chips, these little cracklins are fantastic!

Crispy pork with a slow poached egg.

Pork shoulder gyoza. The gyoza could have been a little bit crispier, but the braised pork shoulder filling more than made up for that shortcoming.

Oysters with bacon and shishito. I don’t know if the bacon was over smoked or if they added a little liquid smoke, but there was a bit too much smokiness to this one. The natural sweetness of the beautiful little oysters was lost. Cut back on the smoke and this one is a winner.

Grilled ika togarashi with a yuzu vinaigrette. This was some of the most tender squid I’ve had in Chicago.

This was one of the night’s specials, duck liver karaage with scallions. Little deep-fried nuggets of ducky deliciousness!

Home-made basket tofu with bonito flakes, scallions, ginger, and soy sauce. You haven’t had tofu until you’ve had a really good home-made tofu. This was a really good home-made tofu. Totally different beast than the store-bought packaged tofu. Very clean, very light, very tasty.

Crispy-braised lamb belly with chopped edamame. This one was another of the night’s specials and quite honestly, one of the most special dishes I’ve ever eaten! I’ve never had lamb belly before and after eating it am wondering why. You see pork belly everywhere as it’s one of the more trendy cuts of meat these days. As much as I love pork belly, and I do love pork belly, I’d drop it in a heartbeat to sink my teeth into some lamb belly. That layer of belly fat may be the most lamby of all lamb flavors that animal has. I absolutely luz it! The only thing that would have made this dish better would be to puree the edamame into a thick sauce instead of leaving it chunky. Otherwise it was perfect.

Now, I’ll show you all of the kushi-yaki (grilled skewers of meat) that we had.

Chicken skin, mother of schmaltz how I love thee!

Chicken meatballs.

Chicken gizzards, next to liver and sweetbreads my favorite offal.

Beef heart, surprisingly tender and juicy for such a hard-working and lean muscle.

Beets with shiso, both red and golden.

We also ordered a the ramen and oden. Both of which were, quite honestly, very disappointing.

The ramen came with braised pork, fish balls, a slow poached egg, radish, bamboo shoot, shredded scallions, and some nori. The ingredients were all top-notch, but the noodles were overcooked and soft while the broth wasn’t quite were it needed to be. With everything else so high quality I wonder why they’re using regular old store-bought quality noodles. This bowl of ramen just wasn’t up to standards. If it’s ramen you want, head over to Arami instead.

The oden wasn’t even close to what oden is. Oden should be a dashi broth filled with various fish cakes, potato, hard-boiled eggs, konyakku, etc. It’s something that we make at home a couple of times every winter. This was nowhere near oden. This was a soy-based dashi with overcooked soba noodles, a few spinach leaves, a couple of pieces of potato, some slices of radish, and a few adzuki beans. It wasn’t a terrible noodle soup, but they shouldn’t call it oden and they should be more careful with the noodles.

Now, on to desserts, which were all very creative and well-prepared.

Yuzu cake with green tea ice cream.

Tofu cheese cake with kuro mitsu (black honey) and adzuki bean sorbet. Usually you see adzuki bean ice cream, making it a sorbet was a nice touch.

Chocolate ganache with puffed barley and black sesame ice cream.

I will say, that all three desserts are among the best desserts I’ve ever had at a Japanese restaurant.

Overall, Chizakaya is a fun atmosphere with great food. There were a couple of lows, oversmoked bacon and poor noodle soups, but the rest of the food was outstanding. Don’t come here expecting a substantial sit-down meal. Come here expecting a great list of sake, beer, and cocktails with delicious small plates and skewers to match. In that sense, this is a true izakaya. They also use top quality ingredients from local sustainable farms, and you can taste the difference. I will definitely go back, I just have to be more mindful of the amount of sake that I guzzle.

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Yesterday I saw some really nice coho salmon on sale that just came in that morning. Since I haven’t cooked salmon in a while I took that as a sign that it’s time to do it up again. I decided to keep it very simple and use some Japanese flavors to appease my wife.

After lunch I got the rice ready. I rinsed 1 cup of rice and threw it in the rice cooker like normal, then added a couple of large pinches of dried hijiki seaweed and a diced carrot. I let it sit for about a half hour to let the hijiki re-hydrate and flavor some of the water. Then I turned on the machine and let the rice cook. When it was finished I turned it off, mixed everything together, and let it cool to room temperature.

Closer to dinner time I made my teriyaki sauce. In a small saucepan I gently heated 3 tablespoons each of soy sauce, sake, and mirin along with 1 tablespoon of sugar. I let it heat just until the sugar was completely dissolved and turned off the heat before it came to a boil. I let that cool to room temperature.

Here’s my 20 ounce filet of coho salmon. I cut it into 4 equal portions and marinated it in the teriyaki sauce for about 45 minutes at room temperature.

While the salmon was marinating I got the abura-age ready. I had a pack of three here. I cut them in half and rinsed them off with some boiling water. They very oily and the boiling water rinsed a majority of that oil off. Then the packages open up nicely for easy stuffing.

I stuffed them equally with the rice mixture and then sealed them. I didn’t have any toothpicks, so I cut down some bamboo skewers to do the job. In a saute pan I brought 1/4 cup of water to boil with 1/4 cup of seasoned soy. The soy is seasoned with a little dashi and mirin. Once lightly boiling I put the packets in, covered it, and turned the heat to low. This lets the broth flavor penetrate while heating up the rice. I let it go for about 10 minutes then turned off the heat and let it sit until everything was ready.

I also placed the salmon under the broiler, starting with the skin-side up. About 5 minutes later I turned it over, basted the top with the marinade left in the dish, and let it broil for another 5 minutes.

Before cooking the salmon and abura-age I got my vegetables ready. I had two large heads of baby bok choy that I separated the leaves from the stems and chopped them all down, 1/2 onion sliced, 3 garlic cloves minced, 1 package of shiitake sliced, and 1/2 a large red bell pepper sliced.

While the salmon was broiling and the abura-age packets absorbing tasty fluids I heated up a pan and poured in 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and tossed in the onions to let them saute for about 4 minutes. Then I added the peppers and garlic. After another few minutes I added the shiitake and bok choy stems for about 4 more minutes. I seasoned with pepper and poured in about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce. Once the soy boiled off I added the bok choy leaves, stirred them in, covered the pan, and turned off the heat. I just wanted the leaves to wilt a little.

I timed it all so everything would be finished at the same time. I plated it up and scarfed it down.

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Yuki and I picked up some pre-flavored aburaage (deep-fried tofu) for inarizushi at the Assi Plaza the other day. So, last night for dinner she made some sushi rice with hijiki to stuff into them and I made a quick stew with a couple of kielbasa that I picked up from Andy’s last week. I mean really, what matches sushi better than Polish sausage?

Inarizushi is really simple to make. Yuki measured out the rice to make 2 cups in our rice cooker. After she poured in the water the put about 2 tablespoons of dried hijiki in and let it sit for about 30 minutes before turning the cooker on. Once the rice was cooked she dumped it into a large glass baking dish. I stirred it around while she fanned it to release the excess moisture. Then, she poured in a mixture containing 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt. I mixed that all in until the rice was cooled to room temperature. Prior to that Yuki took the aburaage and boiled it for a few minutes. Aburaage is covered in oil and by boiling it you can remove most of the oil. Then, it’s simply a matter of stuffing the rice into the packets, a job that fell into my hands. Make sure to keep a bowl of water nearby to keep your fingers wet otherwise the rice will stick and you’ll never get the aburaage filled.

For the kielbasa I sliced up half an onion, 1 yellow bell pepper, 3 cloves of garlic, half a long napa cabbage, and the two kielbasa. In a pot I heated up a tablespoon of olive oil and tossed in the onion, pepper, and garlic. I let those saute down for about 5 minutes and then added the kielbasa, I let that cook for about 4 minutes. Then I tossed in the cabbage and let it wilt down for about 4 minutes. I poured in 1/4 cup dry white wine and let it boil for a few minutes until it evaporated. Finally, I poured in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of mustard. I let that boil down for about 5 minutes and that was it, just a little black pepper to season.

To serve, we put a shiso leaf underneath the inarizushi. We also served the extra rice because we made more than we could stuff into the aburaage.

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