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Posts Tagged ‘salmon’

Osechi-ryori is the Japanese style of traditional foods eaten on New Years Day. It typically consists of many different small dishes that are served in stacked jubako (fine lacquer boxes similar to bento). To purchase a ready-made Osechi can set you back well into the hundreds of dollars. Or, you can spend all of that money on an airplane ticket to Japan and let your mother-in-law cook all of the food and arrange the jubako for you, Kawabata family style. Now, I’m not completely sure of all of the ingredients that were used, but I’ll sure do my best to fill you in on what filled my belly.

First and foremost was a delicious bottle of sake. My father-in-law always gets a really nice bottle when I come to visit. This is a bottle of Junmai Daiginjo from Aomori (Aomori is the farthest north area of Honshu and I once hitchhiked from central Tokyo all the way up there, but that’s a story for another time) called Denshu. It’s one of the best bottles in Japan and you won’t find it anywhere in the States. Junmai Daiginjo is sake that is made from pure rice without any added alcohol or sugar, rice that is polished at least 50%, and cold brewed at less than 5 degrees celsius. While you can find some Junmai Daiginjo in the States, you won’t find any as nice as this. It’s smooth as a baby’s ass! Even if you don’t love a baby’s ass, you’ll certainly love this bottle of sake.

In this box there was some simple steamed pea pods, shiitake simmered in shoyu (Japanese soy sauce), boiled satoimo potatoes, simmered lotus root, simmered carrots, and koya tofu (freeze-dried tofu, something I’ve never eaten before but really like the texture).

Here we have braised beef wrapped gobo (burdock root), salmon wrapped in kombu, sweet-pickled daikon and carrot, and sweet shoyu glazed yellow tail.

This level of jubako contained dried herring roe, white and pink fish cakes, ikura (salmon roe), mashed sweet potato, soy-glazed dried anchovies, Cool Breeze Amongst Pine Trees (Uichiro’s name for his famous meatloaf, don’t ask me how he came up with that name, some things are probably better unknown), and ham.

Next to the jubako was a plate with some grilled red snapper. I’m always disappointed when I order red snapper in Chicago. I’m never disappointed with I eat it here in Japan. Tamiko got the skin nice and crisp while keeping the flesh moist and juicy. Extremely fresh fish.

Then, she brought out bowls of soup. A clear broth made from kombu and katsuo-bushi (bonito flakes) filled with mitsuba greens, fish cakes with good fortune written in the middle, mochi (an absolute necesity at the Japanese new years table), shiitake, and slices of yuzu peel.

Last, but surely not least, she served up some red snapper sashimi that was cured in kombu. A touch of wasabi was all it needed.

Dessert was simply fresh strawberries and green tea. Strawberries are extremely expensive here in Japan so they’re always a treat.

To wipe our mouths we used “Year of the Dragon” napkins since 2012 is the year of the dragon. I was born in a year of the dragon as well.

Happy new years everyone!

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Since I cooked a few meals for Yuki’s parents when they were in town I thought it was only fair to cook one for my mom last night before she left this morning. Being a woman who could make a meal out just naan, I thought something with Indian curry would be a good idea. She had requested seafood, so I picked up some salmon. It all came together as the dish you see above.

I made the lentils first. I used about 1/3 cup of cilantro chopped up, 1 inch of ginger minced, 3 garlic cloves minced, 1.5 cups brown lentils rinsed, 2 carrots diced, 2 ribs of celery diced, 5 small red potatoes diced, 1/2 onion diced, 1.5 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 cup of chicken stock, and a 14oz can of diced tomatoes.

I heated my pot up, poured in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then threw the ginger and garlic in for about 30 seconds until they became very aromatic. After that I added the onion, carrots, and celery. I let them sweat down for about 5 minutes and then added the potatoes. I didn’t want to cook the potatoes too much to keep them from melting in the chicken stock, so I only stirred them around for a few seconds to coat them with the oil. Then I added the can of tomatoes, curry powder, some salt, and pepper. Once the tomato juice started to boil I poured in the chicken stock. When that started to boil I added the lentils. I let it come back up to, you guessed it, a boil and then covered the pot and turned the heat down to med-low. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the lentils were simmering I grilled up the salmon and zucchini. I had a 1.5 pound salmon filet (enough for 5 portions since my brother was also here and I needed a piece for Yuki’s lunch today) and 2 large zucchini. I cut up the salmon into equal portions. I sliced the zucchini in half lengthwise and cut them into 2 inch pieces. I drizzled olive oil, salt, and pepper over everything.

I put the zucchini on the grill, cut-side down, over med-high heat for about 5 minutes. This gave it nice grill marks. Then, I moved it to the top rack flipping it over. I put the salmon on the bottom rack, skin-side down, and turned the heat down to medium. I let it cook for about 7 minutes or so. This really gave the skin a nice crisp while leaving the flesh beautifully medium.

When the lentils were done I removed the lid, re-adjusted the seasoning, and stirred in almost all of the cilantro. I plated everything up and then garnished the entire plate with the rest of the cilantro. With 4 clean plates about 30 minutes later I’ll assume dinner was a success.

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We had some salmon that needed to be used up, 2 servings worth, so I decided to make this simple recipe last night. The beauty of a pepper sauce like this one is that you can do almost anything with it. I used red bell pepper, but you could use any kind of pepper you like…poblano, green bell pepper, jalapeno, etc. You can also use any kind of green. For example, yellow bell pepper with cilantro (you could even add some ginger) would be great with shrimp. Red bell pepper with basil would be great for Italian flavor. The possibilities are endless once you know learn this simple technique.

On to this wonderful technique. I used 2/3 cup of milk, 1 red bell pepper, 2 cloves of garlic skinned, 1 tablespoon of flour, and a handful of watercress roughly chopped.

Over a burner on my range I roasted the pepper on all sides, until the skin was black and blistered. This takes about 1o minutes or so and can be done on a grill or under a broiler as well. I prefer the grill because it adds a nice smokey flavor, but we saw a bit of rain yesterday so I kept it inside.

Once the pepper was roasted I put it in a glass bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. I let it steam in its own juices for about 15-20 minutes, until it was cool enough to handle. Then I peeled off the skin, seeded it, and gave it a rough chop.

While the pepper was steaming I roasted the garlic on a dry pan for a few minutes on each side. This brings out some of the sweetness of the garlic and mellows the punch.

Then I put the pepper, garlic, milk, and flour into a blender, along with some salt and pepper, and pureed it up into a smooth liquid. I let it blend until there were no chunks left. Then I poured it into a pan, added the watercress, and simmered it for about 10 minutes constantly stirring it. This thickens the sauce up nicely because of the flour. If the sauce gets a little too thick just add a little more milk.

I made a simple miso soup to go with dinner. I made it my usual way using 2 shiitake sliced, 3 small fingerling potatoes chopped, 2 green onions cut up, and 1 tablespoon of miso. I also rinsed off some salted wakame, but didn’t remember to get that out until after I took this photo.

My other side, besides white rice, was some corn. I cleaned off one ear, broke it in half, and boiled it for about 10 minutes. I used some of the sauce on the plate to flavor the corn.

Finally, for the salmon I simply drizzled it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I put it into a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes. When I took it out I topped it with the sauce and we ate.

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I’ve been wanting to do something with artichokes for a while, but fresh one’s are pretty pricey. I found these great frozen ones at Trader Joe’s that taste great and retain all of their nutrients. I whipped this salmon dish up to get them into our guts.

This is a really easy dish that can be made within a half hour or so. I took 1.5 cups of the frozen artichokes (about half the bag) and rinsed them real well, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 1 red bell pepper diced, 1/2 onion diced, 1 carrot diced, 1 14oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed, 1 container of cherry tomatoes, 1 large sprig of thyme, and 5 garlic cloves minced.

I poured about 2 tablespoons into a heated pot and added the garlic. I let that go for about 30 seconds and then added the onion. The onion sweat for about 3 minutes and then in came the bell pepper and carrot. Once that all sweat down for about 5 more minutes I poured in the chicken stock and seasoned with some salt and pepper. When the stock started to slowly boil I added the artichokes, chickpeas, tomatoes, and thyme. I covered the pot, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

For the salmon I simply used some chopped up fennel fronds and about 3/4 pound of salmon cut into 4 portions.

I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper, then topped it with the fennel and drizzled some olive oil all over it. I threw it into a 375 degree oven and let it go for about 10 minutes just until it was cooked through.

I tasted the artichoke chickpeas mix and adjusted the seasoning accordingly then ladled a big scoop onto the middle of a plate. I placed a piece of salmon on top. White rice was on the side, along with a cold beer.

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The other night we made Onigiri for dinner. Onigiri is great because you can pack in smaller amounts of protein which saves cash, while still making a very nutritious meal. It’s also fun to make and eat. We commonly make Onigiri to take with on bike rides and hikes.

Besides warm white rice the main ingredients are typically nori for wrapping and then some sort of cooked fish or dried seaweed. For the dried seaweed the idea is that the warm moist rice will kind of rehydrate it while leaving a little texture. I used some salmon and some of these rice mixes, Mazekomi, that are available at most Asian grocers. The mazekomi in our cupboard are wakame and sesame seed, wakame and cod roe, and wakame and dried sardine.

I made 2.5 cups of rice earlier in the day so that come time to make the Onigiri it’d be warm and not hot. I simply roasted the salmon with a splash of soy sauce at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Once it cooled down a little I broke it apart into pieces.

On a piece of plastic wrap I put down a little of the rice and spread it out. Then I topped it with some of the salmon and mazekomi. I covered it with a little more rice.

Using the plastic wrap I packed it down and formed it into a triangle. With 2.5 cups of rice you should be able to get 6-8 Onigiri no problem.

To eat it you simply wrap it with a piece of nori (if you have the regular sushi width nori sheets you’ll want to cut them in half) and let your chompers do their trick.

To go with the Onigiri I made some Miso Soup. I used about 3.5 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of dashi soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of miso, 1/2 onion sliced, some daikon chopped, 1 carrot chopped, 2 red skinned potatoes skinned and chopped, 3 shiitake sliced, and some salted wakame rinsed and soaked.

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This was about as simple as cooking can get while using up items that were lying around our fridge. I had about 1/4 cup left of the tomato sauce that accompanies the cabbage rolls from Kasia’s that I didn’t want to waste, so I turned it into a tasty sauce for some salmon. I grabbed the veggies I had and put together a well-rounded dinner.

I picked up 1 pound of salmon and cut it into four equal portions, I chopped up some watercress, 1/2 onion, 1 carrot, 2 small yukon gold potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 yellow bell pepper, and mixed together 1/4 cup of Kasia’s tomato sauce with 1 heaping tablespoon of ground horseradish.

In a small saucepan I heated the sauce gently, not to cook anything, just to have a warm sauce. When I tasted it I decided to add 1 tablespoon soy sauce. That really did the trick, it almost made the sauce taste Japanese. I mean, horseradish is basically wasabi.

For the vegetables I heated up a saute pan and added a tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter had melted I tossed in the potatoes and let them start to crisp up for about 10 minutes while occasionally shaking them around. Then, I added the garlic and onion and let them sweat down for about 4 minutes before adding the bell pepper and carrot. I let everything saute for another 5 or 6 minutes and then added the watercress along with salt and pepper.

While that was going on I had drizzled some olive oil on the salmon and then seasoned it with salt and cracked white pepper. I put it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes.

To serve, I put some white rice on the plate next to the veggies and salmon. I spooned some of the sauce on top of the salmon. Perfect for a cold beer to wash down. Simple, healthy, fast, and tasty.

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We journeyed up to Arlington Heights this weekend to stock up on Japanese ingredients, something we do at least once a month. At the Tensuke Market we saw this absolutely gorgeous salmon. They have the best seafood in town, hands down. This salmon was marbled like a real Kobe Ribeye, just made our mouths water. So, that was dinner last night.

We picked up a package of 3 quarter pound slices of filet (Yuki got lunch today, I didn’t get to enjoy that beautiful fish again). I made a quick marinade consisting of 1/2 tablespoon mirin, 1 tablespoon sake, and 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce. In a glass baking dish I let the salmon sit in the marinade while I got everything else ready.

For my veggies I used 1/2 onion sliced, 3 garlic cloves minced, 7 cherry tomatoes halved, 2/3 carton of shiitake sliced, 2 small yellow bell peppers sliced, and about 1/8 of a medium napa cabbage cut into chunks.

In a heated pan I melted about 1/2 tablespoon of butter and poured in 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Once the butter was melted I added the onion and let it saute for about 5 minutes. Then, I added the garlic, shiitake, and bell pepper. About 5 more minutes and I poured in about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and let that coat all of the veggies. Just before the soy was completely boiled off, about a minute or so, I added the napa cabbage. I let that wilt down a little for about 5 minutes, seasoned with a little black pepper, turned the heat to low just to keep everything warm, covered it, and let it sit while I cooked the salmon.

Oh, and during this time I had the tomatoes in the oven roasting at about 375 degrees, I did that for about 25 minutes. I also decided, at the last minute, to make a simple miso soup with some wakame and tofu. I just boiled some water with a little dashi seasoned soy, stirred in some miso, and added the tofu and wakame. That only takes a few minutes.

For the salmon I heated up my large skillet and melted a little dab of butter, just enough to lightly coat the surface of the pan. The salmon had enough fat that I didn’t want to add to much more, but I also didn’t want it to stick. So, a tiny amount of butter. I seasoned the salmon with some crushed white pepper and then seared one side for about 3 minutes. Then I flipped it all over and poured the marinade all over it. I let it cook for about 3 more minutes and then pur the salmon on a plate and served everything up, with white rice of course. I garnished with a piece of parsley (only because I have some in my fridge).

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