Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cauliflower Rice with Safran カリフラワーライス

I saw this interesting recipe in the food section of the WashingtonPost. Since I had a package of Iranian saffran (the second picture upper left) from one of my friends, I thought this is the dish I must try.  I served it with my wife's indian style lamb curry and homemade naan.

Ingredients: (for 2-3 servings)

Cauliflower, medium
Saffron, generous pinch
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Olive oil 1/2 tbs
Salt to taste

Using a box grater (coarsest side), I grated the cauliflower by holding the stem end. I only grated the florets.

I added the saffron threads to a small bowl with a small amount of hot water (below, right upper).  I added the olive oil to a frying pan on medium high flame and added the cumin seeds. I sautéed it for one minute until fragrant and added the grated cauliflower (below, lower left) and cooked for 2 minutes. I then added the saffron and the water it soaked in and salt. I sautéed for 1 more minute (below, right lower).

Cauliflower rice

When I read the recipe, the combination of cumin seeds and saffran sounded good but we did not particularly like this flavor profile. I may change the seasonings in the future.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

PD Lebanon Bologna roll-up レバノンボロニャロールアップ

This is continuation of the Pennsylvania Dutch Lebanon Bologna saga. After making sandwiches, my wife made this snack several times. It goes so well with red wine. She said it was a classic PA Dutch snack. It is very simple to make and tastes great, although may not be good for you.

I am not sure, but I suspect, my wife did not enjoyed this with wine as a child.

It is rather simple to make. It is usually made with Philadelphia cream cheese (of course). This time, however, my wife used "cream cheese spread". We like the one with onion and chives. Just smear the cream cheese spread on one side of the bologna and roll it up, then cut into small tubes. If you wrap the rolls with a plastic wrap and refrigerate, it could probably be cut more neatly but it will taste the same. We tried this with both the sweet and the regular bologna and I have to say that although both taste good we much prefer the sweet variety.

This is a good snack for Cabernet. The bologna has nice smokey note with some sweetness, particularly if we use the sweet variety.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Super frozen Otoro from Fish-for-sushi, follow-up 超冷凍大トロ

I posted super-frozen Otoro from Fish-For-Sushi. The piece I got was not the best with large amounts of pure fat. Aside from writing my review, I did not contact the company to complain about the tuna we received. I was surprise when Fish-for-sushi customer support contacted me via email. Apparently, they came across my less than stellar review of their super-frozen otoro tuna and decided to take the initiative to reach out to a clearly less than satisfied customer. They said that the amount of fat varies and since I was not 100% satisfied, they offered to send another otoro tuna for me to taste.

The picture below is one of two servings I made from this otoro. As you can see, I sliced rather thick pieces. One set (on the right) was done in "aburi" 炙り or seared with a kitchen torch.

For libation, we opened American brewed dai-ginjou from California Yamadanishiki, "Shou-Chiku-Bai" 松竹梅. 

We are happy to report, this otoro was much much better than the previous one. It was nicely fatty and melted in the mouth. The Aburi" preparation adds an almost rare beef-like texture and additional charred flavor which nicely cuts the unctuous fattiness.

This is how it arrived 260 grams.

After thawing as per the instruction. Nice layering of fat.

We were impressed with Fish-for-sushi. They really redeemed themselves with their response. Adding them to our repertoire gives us two good sources of tuna sashimi (Catalina offshore products and Fish-For-Sushi). Having frozen sushi fish is nice since we can buy and hold it until needed like for New Year's Eve.

Addendum: Since I was so delighted I decided to order another otoro. The below was what I received.

Again, it had a quite large amount of pure fat which I removed (below).

Since the fat has a very firm texture, I generally don't include it as part of the otoro slice.  So, as usual, I cut the fat which I had separated from the block into small cubes and mixed with chopped chives and dressed with karashi sumiso 芥子酢味噌.

I sliced the rest of the otoro. I served this with ankimo 鮟肝 and vinegared octopus also dressed in karashi sumiso.

Here is the close up.

When all was said and done of the 260 grams (the same amount as in the first pictures above) the amount of otoro itself was just enough for two servings of otoro but there was not enough for the serving of aburi included in the first pictured serving above. Instead we had a nice serving of fat, as they said, things could be variable.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Steamed brown bread with honey cream cheese 蒸し黒パン

When I made pork buns, I remembered that my wife at one time made steamed brown bread and reminded her of it. She immediately got into action and, on one weekend, made this steamed brown bread. According to her, the classic should have been steamed in a can but she made it in deep ramekins. She said she reduced the amount of molasses since I am not particularly fond of strong molass-y flavor. According to her, this bread is eaten with honey cream cheese which she also whipped up by mixing honey and cream cheese. She sliced thin disks of the bread and smeared on the honey cream cheese. This was really good as a snack or even breakfast.

First, she arranged thusly (above). I said it looks like packman. So she rearranged below.

Here I ask my wife to take over.

This recipe is from a book entitle “Quick Breads” by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
2 cups All Purpose flour
2 cups cornmeal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup karo syrup + 1/3 cup dark molasses (This combination is what Pa Dutch recipes call “table molasses”. I did this to tone down the molasses flavor to accommodate my husband who is not overly fond of it. If you really like molasses then just use molasses and no Karo for  2/3 cup molasses).
2/3 cup raisins.

In a large mixing bowl stir the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt until blended. Combine the buttermilk and molasses. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry. Mix until well blended. Add the raisins. This bread is steamed. I prepared a Dutch oven by putting a steamer on the bottom and filling with enough water to come half way up the side of the container I was using. In this case I used several deep ramekins. I spooned the batter into the ramekins until they were 2/3 full. I tightly covered them with aluminum foil then put them in the steaming pot, water gently boiling so the water came 1/2 the way up the ramekin. I covered the pot and steamed them for about 45 minutes or until a tooth pick came out clean. I removed the bread from the ramekins and let it cool. I sliced the small round loaves in 1/2 inch slices and slathered them with cream cheese with honey mixed in.

This is a very hearty flavorful bread with a bit of tang from the molasses and the buttermilk. The texture is pleasingly dense but moist. The cream cheese offsets the tang and is a perfect accompaniment.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gravlax グラブラックス

Some years ago, I made gravlax but somehow I have not made it for some time. I even forgot that I had made it. But this year, my wife requested I make the gravlax for New Year. She even remembered and was able to specified the recipe I had used. I have been serving this with my "Russian" marinated salmon for several days of the new year.

Although both are "chemically" cooked or cured salmon, the flavor and texture are totally different giving a nice contrast of two salmon dishes. Here I served my gravlax on a bed of thinly sliced Japanese cucumber with capers. The "Russian" marinated salmon was garnished with Ikura salmon roe and fresh dill. The gravlax has the texture of smoked salmon (without smoke) but also nice flavors of coriander seeds and tequila predominate with subtle fresh herbs (mint, dill, basil and citrus). The marinated salmon has soft "cooked" texture with lemon flavor. The onion (I used sweet onion) became marinated and goes so well with the marinated salmon.

In another serving example, I served the gravlax (arranged in a rose flower shape) on a bed of water cress (mostly leaves removing large stems) with my wife's home made creme fraiche and "ikura" salmon roe garnish. I also added salmon-kelp roll 鮭の昆布巻き and daikon namasu 大根なます with thinly sliced boiled and vinegar seasoned octopus 酢だこ.


My wife's creme fraiche took some time (4 days as opposed to usual 2 days) to form (probably due to the rather cool room temperature but it tasted great.


Although sake or Champaign will go well with these dishes, we decided either scotch or good bourbon is better. Here we served Kentucky's Maker's mark (now a part of Suntory of Japan along with Jim Bean),

The recipe for the gravlax came from Julia Child's "In Julia's Kitchen with Master chefs" and by Monique Barbeau. Although I followed her recipe, some of the measurements are clearly off and I made adjustments.

Salmon: Side of fresh salmon, skin on all pin bones removed.

  1. The recipe states 1 and 1/2 lb side of salmon but if that was the case, it is a very small salmon indeed. Mine weighted at least 2 and 1/2 lbs. even after I removed the very thick head and very thin belly portions. Next time I will use the mid portions of two sides of salmon with identical size and thickness. The meat of the thin tail portion got cured too much and became a bit leathery and salty (but still very edible). 
  2. I prefer scaling the skin as well because while slicing the final products, the scales did come off sometimes and attach to the slices of gravlax.
Dry cure:
3/4 cups kosher salt
1 and 1/2 cups of light brown sugar
(In contrast to a very small side of salmon, the amount of the dry cure is way too much in the original recipe which specify 1 and 1/2 cups of kosher salt and 2 cups of brown sugar. I only used 1/3-1/2 of the total of 3 and 1/2 dry cure I prepared for my 2.5 lb side of salmon. I will cut the amount of the dry cure by half next time which is listed above.)

Liquid cure: ( the amount of liquid cure was perfect)
1/2 cup tequila
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Zest of one lemon (I used my micrograter)
Zest of one orange (I used my micrograter)
2 tsp of whole coriander seeds
3 sprigs of fresh dill, with stems
3 sprigs of fresh mint, with stems
3 sprigs of fresh basil, with stems

Day one - Dry cure
I used a rectangular Pyrex baking dish (13 x 9 inches) in which my side of the salmon just fit. I lined the inside with plastic wrap with excess portions on both ends so that I could wrap the salmon completely. I layered the dry cure in 1/4 inch thick on the bottom (preserving at least 1/3 for the next day). I placed the salmon skin side up (or meat side in contact with the cure). I placed additional cure on the sides and the ends and wrapped the salmon with plastic wrap. I covered (loosely) with aluminum foil and placed it in another Pylex baking dish which was slightly smaller than the bottom baking dish. I put 3 heavy cans of vegetables (I think they were either beans or tomato but the weight is what needed here, about 5 lb) on the top. I placed this in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Day two - liquid cure
I roughly chopped the herbs and mixed them with the tequila, lime juice, and orange and lemon zests. I placed whole coriander seeds in a small Ziploc bag and using a heavy pot, I crushed the seeds and added to the liquid cure.

When I removed the vegetable can weights and unwrapped the salmon, the dry cure was all melted and a quite good amount of liquid had exuded from the fish. The salmon was noticeably dark and firm.  I removed the salmon and set aside. I discarded the liquid and plastic wraps, washed and dried the baking pans. I lined the bottom pan with plastic wrap exactly as I did for the dry cure process. I poured in the liquid cure and spread the  herbs and spices evenly on the bottom. I sprinkled the dry cure on the liquid bed (no exact amount specified, so I just lightly sprinkled) and placed the salmon back with fresh side down. I also placed the dry cure on the cut end and on the sides. I wrapped the salmon using the excess ends of plastic wrap, loosely covered with a sheet of aluminum foil, placed it in the upper baking dish and the weight (3 cans) and placed back to the refrigerator for another 24 hours.

If the curing is completed, the salmon fresh should be uniformly firm and dark red (That was the case for me at the end of 24 hours liquid cure). But if not, the original recipe recommends to place it back in the liquid cure for 1-2 more days. The original recipe indicates that the gravlax will last for 10 days stored in the liquid cure.

I forgot to take pictures during these curing processes.

I happened to have a long flexible knife (Global) for slicing smoked salmon and gravlax. I sliced it very thinly turning the knife blade horizontally to release it from the skin. I sliced the thin tail portion of the meat obliquely but as the meat became thick, I slanted my knife only slightly.

The thin tail meat got a bit over cured in the dry cure process and got slightly too firm and salty. Next time I will use two portions of salmon of equal size and thickness rather than one side with a thin tail portion. Since we had consumed all the tail portion at this point, I poured the liquid cure into a gallon Ziploc bag, put in the gravlax, removed the air as much as possible before sealing. This made it much easier to store in the refrigerator.

After the salmon feast, we switched to cold sake and enjoyed more small dishes from the box. From right to left are; herring roe on kelp, steamed sea urchin, kumquat simmered in syrup, sweet fish with its roe simmered for 10 hours, chestnut "shibukawa-ni", and sake braised prawn.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sushi Taro's New Year's eve soba noodle 寿司太郎の年越しそば

As before, Sushi Taro osechi also included “Toshikoshi soba” (New year’s eve soba). As before, we could not eat soba on the new year’s eve. So this was, new year soba for lunch. This year, I made warm soba in broth or “Kake-soba” かけ蕎麦. Since it also included kelp and rather thick shavings of dried bonito (Katsuobushi 鰹節), I used them to make a broth and seasoned it with soy sauce and mirin. I added shrimp, red and white fish cake sliced and blanched snow peas in addition to chopped scallion. I served it with Japanese red pepper flakes or “Ichimi tougarashi” 一味唐辛子.

I also served some items from the box as well as ones I made. A piece of fish (the second from the right) is from the box, grilled Japanese snapper with sansho miso paste 真鯛の木の芽焼き which I heated up in the toaster oven which made it much better than when it was cold. This time, new year’s omelet roll or “date maki” 伊達巻き was from the box, although I also made my own. The rest are from what I made for the new year.

Even though this was lunch this type of food, calls for sake and it is very difficult to resist. We succumbed but restrained ourselves to only one small sake glass full.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Simmered chicken wings and daikon大根手羽煮物

We like chicken wings. Short of grilling them over hot charcoal Yakitori style, our most common way of cooking wings is to coat them with a flour and curry powder mixture and bake them at a  high temperature (450F in convection mode). They come out almost as if they had been deep fried. I bought the wings last weekend and placed them in a Ziploc bag with sake. I did not have a chance to cook them during the week so I wasn’t sure they would still be good when I turned my attention to them the next weekend. Because they were soaked in sake, they survived. Instead of our usual way of cooking them, I decided to make something different and came up with this dish, especially since I had some good daikon which also needed some attention. This is a rather common method of cooking and the "collagen" from the wings makes the simmered dish very unctuous. The daikon absorbed all the goodness of the wings.

Chicken wings,  6, drummets and wings separated (wing tips removed and discarded or use it to make broth) (#1)
Daikon, Skin peeled and cut into 1 inch thick (#1).

I first added vegetable oil (2 tbs) in a frying pan, browned the chicken wings (turning once few minutes each). Once the wings were browned, I moved the wings to make room for the daikon and browned it next (few minutes for each sides until the edges browned). I added some chicken broth (my usual Swanson) to just cover the wings and daikon (about 300ml, #2).

chicken wings and daikon comp

I put on the lid and simmered it for 30 minutes. I then added soy sauce (2tbs), mirin (1tbs) and sake (1tbs) and sugar (2 tsp) and put the lid back on and simmered for another 30 minutes (#3). I then removed the lid and turned up the flame and let it reduce by half shaking occasionally (10-15 minutes). I tasted it and added a bit more soy sauce. I served one wing and drumett and two wedges of daikon  as a drinking snack (#4).

My wife asked if we needed a fork and knife. I said "chopsticks would do. The meat will just come off the bone like butter." I was right. The daikon is very soft and absorbed all the flavor and was easy to cut with chopsticks. Removing the bones from the wings was equally as easy with chopsticks (need moderate - not "jedai"-chopstick skills). My wife was impressed with this dish. We quickly switched to sake.

P.S After refrigerating, I removed all congealed fat from the surface. The broth was totally congealed because of the collagen from the wings. It heats up well by microwaving.