For ours, we were just using what we had on hand. We had used some katsuobushi recently to make a somen noodle dipping sauce, and that involved soaking the katsuobushi in soy sauce, mirin, and some other things, so we strained out the katsuobushi, squeezed it out, and kept it for filling. We didn't have any nori on hand, though I do usually prefer wrapping a small piece around the onigiri. We did have some nanami togarashi (a ground spicy pepper and sesame seed mix), so I used that to decorate the onigiri, and provide a little extra zing when eating them.
Other fillings we have used in the past include miso paste and pickled vegetables, miso pork and pickled ginger, and ginger chicken, but really you can put anything in there that will fit. Soy-soaked shiitake mushrooms chopped finely would be delicious. Any other cooked and chopped vegetables would be nice. Other types of dried or cooked fish could also be good.
The process is very simple. You just need rice and filling. For six onigiri (using the mold we have), I made 2 cups of rice.
If using a mold, moisten the inside, and press enough rice in the bottom to fill it up about halfway, then press a divot into the center. If doing it by hand, moisten your hands, and take a large bunch of rice in your hand, and press a divot in the middle.
Anyone who knows us - and probably you've all guessed from this blog as well - knows that we love Japanese food. It's simple, yet tasty, and usually not overly heavy or extremely time-consuming (not like Cassoulet or Boeuf Bourguignon). As with pretty much any national cuisine, I feel like the rustic, country dishes are often some of the best. With Japanese cuisine, nabe (hot pot) and Japanese curry are two of our very favorites.
Japanese curry is kind of a twist on Indian curry - it uses many of the same spices, but it also has a sweetness that Indian curry doesn't have, and it is made with a roux (mixture of flour and fat of some sort), so it is thicker and a bit more like a stew than Indian curry.
Typically when we have made Japanese curry, we have used the little blocks of solid roux that you can get in a box at the store, and just melt into your hot water to cook everything in. However, we don't usually like to have to depend on a pre-made thing, because you don't know if you'll always be able to find it, and you may have to go out of your way to get it, when you could just make it from normal ingredients that you have already, or are easier to find.
So, we wanted to try making the curry from scratch. We found this recipe at No Recipes, and decided to give it a try. We made a few modifications from the recipe. I used 1 lb ground beef, and 1 lb ground pork, as we kind of like ground meat in our Japanese curry. I used 2 apples, as we really like the sweet apple flavor. I used 2 cups water, and 2 cups homemade chicken stock. We used half garam masala, and half curry powder. I also used Okonomi sauce instead of Tonkatsu sauce, because we had one and not the other :) We have also made this both with butter, and with coconut oil, and both ways were very good. We have also used ground turkey instead of beef and pork, and that was also very good. Mix it up and find your favorite way to do it.
Here is what we did:
- 3 tbsp butter or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp (or slightly less) cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp okonomi sauce
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lb ground beef, lean
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 carrots sliced diagonally
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 large yukon gold potatoes, cut in small chunks
- 2 apples, peeled and pureed
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat, then plop in the sliced onions. Cook until they are nice and brown and caramelized.
- Turn up the heat to high, and add the beef and pork. Cook until browned.
- Add the carrots, cook briefly, then add the water and chicken stock.
- Bring liquid to a boil, then lower the heat, and add the potatoes, apple puree, some salt, and 1 tsp of garam masala.
- Simmer until you can easily poke a fork through the carrots and potatoes.
- In a small saucepan, melt the 3 tbsp of butter or coconut oil.
- Add the 1/4 cup flour, 1 tbsp curry powder and 1 tbsp garam masala, mix until you have a thick paste.
- Add the cayenne pepper, and some fresh-ground black pepper, and mix it into the paste.
- Add ketchup and okonomi sauce, and again, mix together. Cook until the paste starts to crumble a bit.
- Remove the saucepan from heat, and set aside.
- Once the vegetables in the pot are tender, ladle about 2 cups of the liquid into the saucepan with the paste you made, whisking to make sure you make a smooth sauce with no lumps.
- Pour this thick sauce back into the pot, and mix it around well.
- Simmer for a few more minutes to allow the whole curry to thicken.
- Serve over a bed of rice, with a little bit of pickled ginger (kizami shoga).
Both Japanese and Korean cuisine have what is essentially a bowl of rice with stuff on top, often topped with egg. In Japanese, it's called donburi (丼), in Korean, it's bibimbap (비빔밥). Of course the typical ingredients and method of preparation are a bit different, but it's generally a similar idea. In Japanese cuisine, often toppings are made as a kind of stew, and then dished over the rice. Gyudon is exactly this way, and one of our favorite types of donburi. Sweet and savory, a bit of ginger spice, very hearty. It also makes great leftovers, so make plenty, and you'll have a nice lunch the next day.
- 1 lb beef, thinly sliced. We used flank steak.
- 1 onion, thinly sliced.
- About 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced.
- 1 1/2 cups dashi stock.
- 2-3 tsp grated fresh ginger.
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten.
- 6 tbsp soy sauce.
- 2 tbsp brown sugar.
- 2 tbsp sake.
- 2 tbsp mirin.
- Sliced green onion.
- Pickled ginger.
- Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, sake, and mirin together in a small bowl or measuring cup.
- In a medium-large pot, bring your dashi stock to a boil.
- Add the thinly sliced onion, reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce mixture, and simmer for about another 5 minutes.
- Add the grated ginger, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the beef and mushrooms, and simmer until the beef is cooked and the mushrooms are tender.
- Pour the beaten egg on top, and stir in lightly, then allow the egg to cook.
- Once the egg is cooked, serve over rice, garnished with the sliced green onion and pickled ginger.
We recently found this delicious recipe for tomato miso soup (do try it, it's fantastic), and while the recipe itself is brilliant, what is maybe even more brilliant is the way she peels fresh tomatoes.
If you have a gas stove or burner, you're in luck! Simply remove the tomato stem, skewer the stem end with a fork, and hold the tomato over the gas flame until the skin chars and breaks and separates from the flesh a bit. This takes about 30 seconds or so. Then just peel the skin right off.
Just thought we'd share this with you all, as it totally blew our minds :)
I don't know about you, but we often find when we're cooking meals that go with rice, that we have just a little bit of leftover rice. Not enough to make another meal out of, but too much to just munch down really quickly after just having eaten a full meal.
A great way to save and use that leftover rice is to wrap it up in plastic wrap, freeze it, and then when you've accumulated enough, make rice porridge with it. It's quick, easy, cheap, and very versatile, as you can basically put anything you want in it.
For this recipe, we are cooking the rice porridge in our Japanese donabe, but you can just use any pot you have, if you haven't got a donabe.
In terms of rice to liquid ratios, you want approximately 2 cups of cooked rice to 4 cups of liquid. You can use water, or some kind of stock or broth or a mixture. This will make enough rice porridge to feed about 4 people a full meal, or even more people if you're having it with something else.
- Dice or slice any vegetables you might like in the porridge. I used carrots, celery, radishes, spinach and ginger this time. You can use anything that sounds good to you.
- Take out your frozen rice, and unwrap it. Place it in the bottom of the donabe/pot.
- Pour the water, broth or combination into the donabe/pot.
- Turn on the heat to medium.
- As the rice starts melting, break up the frozen clumps.
- Once the rice clumps have basically all broken up, toss in any hard vegetables you're using, such as carrots, celery, turnips, radishes and any seasoning ingredients like ginger, garlic, salt, pepper.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer, then reduce the heat a bit, and cover the pot/donabe and let it cook, stirring periodically, until the porridge is about the desired thickness. You want to keep it at a simmer, not boiling.
- Once the porridge is almost done, stir in any leafy greens you may be using, such as turnip or radish greens, spinach, mizuna, etc.
- Replace the lid and finish cooking to desired thickness.
- Test for taste and add salt, pepper or other seasoning as desired.
While the world of green teas, including matcha, is rich and varied - it is nothing compared to the world of oolongs. The processing that makes an oolong an oolong makes room for so many styles and variations, it can be dizzying.
Oolong is a traditionally Chinese style of tea (though now also heavily produced in Taiwan as well), and is produced by combinations of drying, oxidizing, and rolling or twisting the tea leaves. Some of the teas are even oxidized by allowing a small insect to bite the leaves, and enzymes secreted by the insect start the oxidation process.
Because of this varied processing, as well as differences in growing region, elevation, and weather, the characteristics of oolongs can be exceptionally varied. Good quality oolongs can also be steeped multiple times, and the characteristics can change with each steeping. Some are very floral, sweet, and light-flavored. Some are nutty, rich and warm-flavored. Some are very toasty, even almost char-flavored. Some are nearly green, and taste very vegetal. The one in the photos here is an aged oolong, and begins with very deep fruity tones like prune, gets more smoky after 3-4 steepings, and then ends by becoming more sweet and floral after 6-8 steepings.
Oolong tea is often brewed in the Gongfu style, in which the unglazed clay pot and cups are first warmed with hot water. The tea is then added to the pot, and hot water is poured on the tea from a pot held well above the tea pot. This water is immediately poured into a pitcher - this is just in order to rinse the tea. The tea pot is then filled back up with fresh hot water, and the water used to rinse the tea is poured over the outside of the tea pot. The tea is steeped for around thirty seconds to a minute. Sometimes it is poured evenly into the drinking cups after steeping, and sometimes into a pitcher. Sometimes a sniffer cup which holds the same volume as the drinking cup is used, and filled first with the tea, which is then transferred to the drinking cup, and the aroma of the tea can be smelled in the sniffer cup.
In terms of typical home preparation, a small clay pot unglazed on at least the inside, or else a gaiwan are typically used. The water is heated to just a few degrees below boiling, and a relatively large amount of tea is used for the size of the pot. Many oolongs can be steeped 3-8 times with steepings of 30-60 seconds. We still usually rinse the tea as in the Gongfu style by pouring hot water onto the dry tea and then immediately pouring it off, though we usually just discard this water. If you are drinking it by yourself, either use a large drinking cup and pour off all the tea into the cup, or pour the tea into a pitcher first, and then refill your drinking cup from that. In any case, don't leave water sitting on the tea, or it will over-steep. After each steeping, tilt the lid of the pot or gaiwan so that the tea can breathe and doesn't steam itself inside the pot.
Most of all, drink consciously and enjoy what you're tasting!
We've always wondered how restaurants that serve boiled eggs in soup (such as ramen) get them done so perfectly, with the whites hard, and the yolk creamy and liquidy. Well, finally we've discovered the secret.
Most instructions for boiling eggs tell you to start them in cold water, and heat them up with the water to boiling, then let them sit with the heat off for some minutes. This results in the egg being evenly cooked all the way through. But what if you want the middle softer? Think of it like pan-searing a steak that you want well cooked on the outside, but rare in the middle.
You cook it in high heat, for a shorter period of time. Of course.
So here are the instructions for the perfect egg for your ramen (or other soup of choice):
- Add enough water to a pot to cover your eggs, and bring it to boil over high heat.
- Very carefully lower your eggs into the boiling water. Reduce heat slightly, but keep water boiling. It's ok if small cracks develop in the egg shells, or if you see some bubbles coming from small holes in the shells.
- Boil the eggs for about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the eggs from the boiling water, and submerge in cool/cold water to stop them cooking.
- Peel the eggs, and slice them in half. Be sure to cut them long-ways, and be quick, as the yolks will run once you cut them.