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Posts Tagged ‘tofu’

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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With Yuki’s dad back in Japan her mom wanted to make some home-style comfort food. Unsure of what to make I suggested Nikujaga. I’ve made Nikujaga before, and it turned out pretty tasty, but I wanted to try Tamiko’s since she has a lot more experience making it than I do.

The basics are the same…beef and potatoes simmered in dashi with soy sauce, sake, and mirin. I’m not sure what her ratio for the broth was, but it was perfect! For mine, I used yukon gold potatoes, she used fingerlings (only because that’s what we had in our kitchen). Also, she used snap peas instead of the edamame in mine. Otherwise, they were pretty similar (both had carrots, a staple in any Nikujaga), only hers was definitely more refined than mine.

For a side dish she had me grill some sawara steaks. Sawara is Spanish Mackerel and we found some really nice steaks at Tensuke Market. Tamiko simply sprinkled it with salt and pepper. All I did was throw it on the grill for about 6 minutes each side. For the sauce, she mixed yuzukosho with some mayonnaise. Yuzukosho is one of my new favorite things! It’s yuzu mixed with pepper making it a citrusy spice that keeps my taste buds begging for more!

She also made a simple miso soup with wakame and tofu. Being a Japanese comfort meal, white rice was also served.

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Sorry I haven’t put a post up in a while, been kind of busy the past week with my beautiful baby boy, Otis. Yeah, I know, badass name. He is a handsome little badass though, so it fits.

At any rate, Yuki’s parents came in from Japan a week ago to help us out. They’ve done all of the cooking and I absolutely love it! I do want to cook, and will in a day or two, but I am definitely enjoying their Japanese homestyle food. The other night they made this classic dish for us, Chikuzen Ni. Chikuzen is the old name for Kyushu, one of Japans main islands. Ni means simmered. It’s basically a simmered dish that comes from Kyushu. Tough to figure that one out, eh?

I don’t know exact measurements because I was busy changing diapers while they cooked. What they did was make a bonito dashi and added soy sauce, sake, mirin, and a touch of sugar. In that they simmered some chopped up skinless chicken thighs, carrots, gobo (burdock root, a root vegetable native to Japan and other countries in that region), lotus root, bamboo shoot, haricots vert, and konnyaku. It is absolutely heartwarming deliciousness!

To go with the Chikuzen Ni they made some pan-fried tofu. After pressing the water out of some silken tofu they chopped it up and fried it in my big skillet with some vegetable oil. After they took it out they poured in a mixture of bonito dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and potato starch. Basically, it’s the same as the broth for the Chikuzen Ni. The added starch gives it a nice gelatinous texture. On top they put a little fresh grated ginger.

White rice was on the side and a cold beer was in hand.

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So, this recipe is loosely based on a Charlie Trotter. The sauce is his, and the overall flavor concept is his, but I added some of my own touches and served the quinoa mixture in lettuce cups. Honestly, I think he’d prefer that I use his recipe for inspiration rather than to have me follow it to the teaspoon.

First thing I did was make the apricot-curry sauce. I took 3/4 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 3/4 cup dried apricots, and 1/2 cup of water and blended it all together in my small food processor until all of the little apricot chunks were hacked up to a pulp.

Then I strained it while pressing it through with the back of a wooden spoon. I covered it in plastic and put in the fridge while I cooked everything else.

For the quinoa I used a handful of fresh chopped parsley, some red leaf lettuce leaves, 1 clove of garlic minced, 1/2 inch of ginger minced, 5 green onions chopped, 1/2 red bell pepper diced, a handful of dried apricots diced, 1/2 cup of quinoa rinsed, and 1/2 lb of skinless boneless chicken thighs chopped up.

In a hot pot I poured in about 2 tablespoons of canola oil and added the garlic and ginger. I let them sizzle for about 30 seconds and then added the bell pepper and green onions. After about 5 minutes I added the quinoa and let it sort of toast in the hot oil for a few minutes. This brings out its nutty flavors.

Then I added the chicken and let it just start to cook. I poured in about 1 cup of water, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, let it come to a boil, covered the pot, turned the heat to med-low, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Then, I turned off the heat but kept it covered for another 15 minutes. After that I took off the lid, added the parsley, and fluffed it up with a fork. I tasted for seasoning and that’s about all there was to it.

To serve, I simply laid some of the lettuce leaves down, spooned on some of the quinoa, then topped with the curry sauce.

I served some white rice and miso soup along side.

For this miso soup I used miso, 3 shiitake sliced, 3 green onions sliced, 1 block of fried tofu diced, and some wakame. I used my typical miso soup making method.

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This is a classic stir-fry dish that I made. Typically it’d be made with snow peas, but I used haricots vert because I had some in my fridge that needed to be gobbled up. Other than that I stuck to the basics for this one.

My ingredients included a bunch of green onions sliced, 1 inch of ginger cut into matchsticks, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, 1/2 pound of haricots vert, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sriracha, and about 1 pound of shelled shrimp.

I started by mixing together the chicken stock, soy sauce, sriracha, and cornstarch. I whisked it together until the cornstarch was completely dissolved. I set that aside and heated up my large skillet. Once hot, I poured in about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and added the ginger. I let the ginger go for about 1 minute. Then I tossed in the haricots vert and let them cook for about 2 minutes. After that came the shrimp. I let the shrimp go for about 1 minute, during that time I re-whisked the liquid because starch won’t stay dissolved for very long. Once the shrimp were partially cooked and turning pink I poured the liquid in along with the green onions and a few cracks of black pepper. I stir fried it all together for about another minute or two and then served it up. After I plated I decided to tear up some cilantro for garnish.

Besides white rice I made some miso soup to go along with the shrimp. You’ve read about my miso soup numerous times so I won’t bore you with how I made it, I’ll just let you know what ingredients I used this time as it’s always different. For this batch I chopped up some rapini, 6 shiitake, 1/2 onion sliced, about 1/2 block of tofu cubed, 2 yukon gold potatoes skinned and cubed, 2 tablespoons of dashi soy (mixed into 3 cups of water for the broth), and about 1.5 tablespoons of shiro miso. I absolutely love potato and onion in my miso soup.

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Just saying Yuki’s Sukiyaki is almost as much fun as eating it. Sukiyaki is a traditional family style one-pot meal in Japan. Vegetables are simmered in a sweet soy-based broth.

Then the pot is brought to the table and, over a table-top burner, thin slices of beef are swished around (similar to shabu-shabu) and cooked in the pot. Each individual has their own dish to put the beef and veggies in. It usually is mixed with a raw egg, but raw eggs aren’t good for prego so we omitted that.

Ingredients for Yakiniku aren’t set in stone, what we used are pretty typical for the most part. I chopped up a carrot, quartered 1/2 onion, cleaned up 1 packet of enoki mushrooms, rinsed and cut up 1 packaged of konnyaku shirataki noodles, 2 large shiitake halved, 1/4 head of napa cabbage chopped, a little more than 1/2 pound of thinly sliced beef, almost 1 block of silken tofu large diced (I had previously used about 1/8th of it for miso soup, use as much as you like), about 5 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons mirin, 3 tablespoons sake, and 1-2 tablespoons of sugar.

In our large pan Yuki poured in the soy, mirin, and sake along with about 1/4 cup of water. She added the sugar and brought it up to a simmer. The onion and carrot had the longest cooking time so they went in for about 5 minutes, covered.

Then she added the rest of the ingredients minus the beef and let them cook for another 5 minutes or so. After that we moved the pan to our table-top burner and swished the beef in the boiling liquid. White rice on the side and cold beer in hand.

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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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