Sunday, October 4, 2015

Marinated Bonito bowl 鰹のたたきの漬け丼

We had a frozen bonito tataki on Saturday but we had other dishes with it and could not finish it. So I quickly marinated the leftovers in a mixture of mirin, sake and soy sauce (1:1:2 ratio) with all the condiments (grated ginger, slices of garlic and scallion, and perilla) and made a bonito-tataki-zuke donburi 鰹のたたきの漬け丼 for lunch on Sunday. I also topped it with a poached egg with runny yolk (I used pasteurized eggs).

When we had tataki, I also made fried garlic chips in addition to raw ones, which I also added as a garnish.

As usual,  I used frozen rice, mixed in a few teaspoons of sushi vinegar and microwaved to make sushi rice. I placed strips of nori, myoga, and perilla on top followed by slices of marinated tataki of bonito. I poached 2 eggs for 4-5 minutes and then soaked them in ice water to stop the cooking. After draining the eggs on a paper towel, I placed the poached eggs in the center of the bowel. I added more strips of nori, perilla leaves and garlic chips. I poured a small amount of the marinade over the rice as well.

I made miso soup with abura-age, wakame sea weed and tofu. I added thinly sliced myoga since I had it.

I also made cucumber and myoga salad (thinly sliced myoga and cucumber), salted, kneaded and let it stand  for 10 minutes. Moisture squeezed out and then dressed in sushi vinegar.

For leftover control, this was a rather luxurious lunch. The poached egg with runny yolk was also very nice mixed in with rice and bonito.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Tuna and egg plant with mizore dressing 鮪とナスのみぞれ和え

This is another installment in my continuing quest to find a way to enjoy low-quality frozen blocks of yellowfin tuna.  This is based on a recipe I saw on the web. But for a few reasons, this dish turned out to be not as good as it could have been. It is combination of cubes of tuna sashimi, steamed (microwaved) egg plant dressed in grated daikon.

Since we had just harvested fresh myoga, I use it for garnish.

Since I could not get a Japanese eggplant, I used a small Italian eggplant. As per the recipe, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in a silicon microwave container and microwaved it for a few minutes then let it cool with the wrap still on. After it reached room temperature, I cooled it further in the refrigerator. I cut both the eggplant and tuna into similar sized block pieces. I gave it my usual "yubiki" treatment and then coated with sashimi soy sauce (below).

I grated the daikon and drained out the liquid using a fine mesh strainer. I added a small amount of rice vinegar and soy sauce and mixed the tuna and eggplant with the grated daikon.

We had two problems with this particular dish and they both had to do with the quality of the ingredients we used (not the tuna this time). One was that the grated daikon was ridiculously and atomically hot! This is a bit unusual but daikon is from the horseradish family and some, like this one, exhibit their heritage to greater or lesser degrees. We actually had to remove the daikon in order to be able to eat the rest of the dish. Another problem was the quality of the egg plant. It had good amount of seeds, which I mostly removed, but it did not have the wonderful texture and taste of a Japanese eggplant. I would like to try this dish again using a milder daikon and better quality egg plant.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Vinegard sanma sashimi 〆さんま

When I pontificated about sanma  さんまor pacific saury, I mentioned that "sashimi" of sanma is not unusual now.  (This is because of the improvements in distribution that get these perishable "blue" fish quickly to the market.  One aspect of this improvement is that this formerly lowely  fish has been “up-graded” in status and has become much more expensive in many sushi bars). I was surprised to see frozen and vinegared sanma or shime-sanma 〆さんま in the freezer case of our Japanese grocery store. Although vinegared mackerel or シメサバ is very common, I have never seen sanma sold this way and promptly bought it.

I served it with two kinds of cucumber salad (one with thinly sliced myoga and one with thinly sliced red onion, both salted, washed and then excess moisture wrung out and dressed in vinegar dressing). I also put both grated ginger and wasabi.

As you can see below, this is very well vinegared and the meat is all opaque (i.e. chemically cooked) which is the same in packaged frozen vinegared Mackerel.

The below was how it came. One package had three filets of sanma.

After thawing, I blotted excess moisture and sliced it slightly obliquely.

The shime sanma tasted very similar to shime saba or mackerel. The vinegar was a bit sweeter than I would like but my wife thought it was fine. As I mentioned, the meat was throughly vinegared and opaque. If the center was a bit closer to raw would have been better but I am asking too much.

The only drink  that goes with this is sake. This sake called "Tozai Living Jewel" is widely available in US and appears to be an export only brand from Kizakura brewery 黄桜酒造 in Kyoto, Japan. We have tasted turbid sake from them before called “snow maiden” “Tozai Yuki musume” 東西雪娘.

The current one is "junmai shu" 純米酒  and it is not too yeasty, Although it does not have depth or complex flavors or fruity note (which is more from ginjo and daiginjo flavors) and the taste disappears quickly in the palate (i.e. short finish),  it is quite a drinkable sake. This one went particularly well with a strong oily fish with vinegar and sweet taste of vinegared sanma we were having.

So, we enjoyed this dish and sake.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pumpkin cheese spread パンプキンチーズスプレッド

This is another installment in the pumpkin puree recipe series. This was originally a cheese ball recipe but we did not make it to balls and just used it as a cheese spread. This is perfect with sipping wine.

8 ounces goat cheese,
2 cups grated manchego,
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika and kosher salt.

The original recipe said "pulse" the goat cheese but that does not work--the goat cheese is too thick to "pulse" successfully. (sometimes you have to wonder if the folks who publish the recipes have actually made them.) After the food blender stalled out I removed the half blended ingredients and mixed them by hand with a spatula (you can see the white specks of unblended goat cheese in the picture). My suggestion is to cream the goat cheese in a mixer then add the other ingredients. It would probably also be useful to have all the ingredients at room temperature

In any case, the mixture of manchego and fresh goat cheese gives very nice texture and taste. The addition of smoked paprika and pumpkin puree adds an interesting and complex flavor with a slight sweetness. We like this as a cheese spread and as I said before it tastes great with red wine.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pumpkin pancake パンプキンパンケーキ

Our favorite pancake is blueberry butter milk pancake. During blueberry season we make a batch of these pancakes almost every weekend and freeze the extras we make. They freeze very well. After making the “super secret” pumpkin bread we had canned pumpkin left over so, in keeping with the season, we decided to make pumpkin pancakes. I usually use 4 identical non-stick 8 inch frying pans to make a batch of pancakes. I could make the pancakes without oil or butter in the pan but my wife informed me that the oil is essential for the crispy "fried" edges she likes. My wife found this recipe on line.

Compared to our buttermilk pancakes, these really puffed up much higher. We enjoyed them with small amount of maple syrup and a side of espresso coffee.

The below is a direct quote from the original recipe (italicized) with our modification in parentheses.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Evaporated Milk (We made our own
1/2 cup Pumpkin puree
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Chopped pecan (we first roasted and chopped) 
Toast about a cup of pecans, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in large bowl. Combine evaporated milk, pumpkin, water (we actually just used regular milk), egg and 2 tablespoons oil in small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; batter may be lumpy. (Stir in chopped pecans.)

HEAT griddle or skillet over medium heat; brush lightly with oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle; cook until bubbles begin to burst. Turn and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with  Pumpkin maple syrup (We just used straight maple syrup). 
This made a total of 10 pancakes. Here is the picture of the 8 remaining pancakes (we ate two). In addition to the pumpkin pie spice called for in this recipe, we did not have evaporated milk either. We have not used or bought evaporated milk for ages. So in addition to making our own pumpkin pie spice, we also made our own evaporated milk. I know what you are thinking; that we have entirely too much time on our hand to do something as silly as that but there were extenuating circumstances. First, we really wanted to make these pancakes, second we had some excess milk that we were wondering what to do with before it went bad. We consulted the internet and found it was fairly easy to make evaporated milk--just simmer a quart of milk until it is reduced by half. (While the process of actually making the evaporated milk was easy, cleaning the pan was not. Trust me, it is worth it to buy it in a can). It took half a day to make and the end product had chunks of "scum" or "membrane" (I assume from the milk protein). We strained the liquid and the end result was fairly thick, deep cream color and tasted pretty good. The funny thing is that this recipe calls for evaporated milk and then adds water. Why not just use regular milk? After all that work we were not about to add water so we used enough regular milk to make the batter of pouring consistency. We have a feeling that just adding milk or a mixture of milk and cream may do just as well as evaporated milk and water.

We really like this pancake. It has a nice pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavor and is nicely moist and fluffy. The canned pumpkin adds some mild sweetness. The toasted pecans added a nice crunch. These pancakes, like the blueberry pancakes also freeze very well. We took these to work for breakfast and they revived nicely in the microwave oven.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pacific saury "Sanma" Fry さんまのフライ

We have been enjoying sanma sashimi at Tako Grill in the past few weeks (seasonal sanma from Japan), when we get frozen sanma ourselves, we like it simply salted and grilled on a charcoal fire.  Since I got another frozen sanma from the Japanese grocery store, I decided to do something I have not done before—fry it, especially since I saw fried sanma in one of the food blogs I follow.

I served with my version of tartar sauce and a side of tomato and cucumber onion salad.

The preparation takes some effort since you need to filet and debone the sanma or "san-mai-ni-orosu  三枚におろす" in Japanese.  "San-mai" is what you end up with after filleting. It means three sheets ("mai" is the counter for sheets of paper or something  thin). There are 3 pieces; two filets and one back bone. (#1 in the picture below). To do this, I first washed and gutted the sanma. I then fileted sanma starting by inserting my filleting knife just beneath the front fin, and cutting perpendicular into the fish. When I hit the bone, I turned the blade 90 degrees, parallel to the back bone and cut through while applying some pressure on the skin side of the filet with the flat of my palm. I repeated this on the other side and viola I had two filets and back bone (#1).

Using a Japanese bone tweezer, I removed all the small bones  (belly part and along the center line of filets). Since the belly portion does not have much meat and with the bones removed mostly skin remains I merely cut off the excess skin. I made four cleaned sanma filets (#2). I removed the moisture using paper towels and salted both sides. I placed it on a paper towel lined plate and left it in the refrigerator until I was ready too fry them up (for several hours).

sanma prep composit

I blotted the excess moisture which appeared on the surface of the filets. I cut the filets in half (for easier fit into my frying pan) and dredged in flour, coated in egg water and then rolled in panko crumbs in the same manner as any cutlets (#3). I fried in a 350F oil for 1-2 minutes each side turning once until done (#4).

I made a quick tartar sauce. I chopped up coins of "bread and butter" pickles. I also chopped up one slice of pickled jalapeno pepper since I had it for some heat. I added these to some store-bought mayonnaise, a bit of lemon juice and zest of the lemon (micrograted).

The sanma fry was crispy and good. The only thing is that once it is fried up, somehow it tasted like any blue skin fish. We still enjoyed this sanma. Call me traditional, but I still like salted and grilled sanma with grated daikon the best.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pumpkin Quesadilla カボチャ入りケサディヤ

 After making the "super secret" pumpkin bread we were on a "pumpkin" roll. My wife came across this recipe and we tried it one day as a snack.

When we make any kind of quesadilla, instead of using the authentic one-tortilla-folded method, we usually use two tortillas mostly for efficiency. The recipe also calls for the "sauce".

  • 1 tsp canola oil (we used light olive oil)
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced jalapeno pepper (we de-seeded and de-veined)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree, canned or homemade (we used canned)
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle hot sauce, (such as Tobasco) or more to taste (we used Sriracha)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, optional
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla (We used regular wheat tortilla)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated 50% reduced fat jalapeno cheddar cheese (We used combination of smoked cheddar, gruyere, and Manchego just because they were available, sliced)
  • we added thinly sliced roast pork
For sauce or pumpkin crema
  • 1/4 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt (we used home made from 1% milk)
  • 1 Tbsp pure pumpkin puree, canned or homemade (We used canned)
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle hot sauce, or more to taste (we used Sriracha).
Pumpkin quesadilla ingriedients

  1. Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet set over medium heat.
  2. Add in the chopped onion and minced jalapeno, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low. Add in the drained black beans, cumin, and salt & pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add in the pumpkin puree, hot sauce, cilantro (if using) and stir until warmed through, about 2 additional minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and wipe out skillet.
  4. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over 1/2 of the tortilla (we just covered with slices of cheeses). Spoon the pumpkin & black bean mixture evenly over the cheese. Top with remaining cheese and fold empty half of tortilla over filling like a book (we used two tortillas and also added thinly sliced roasted pork).
  5. Place filled tortilla into the clean skillet and cook, turning halfway through, until the cheese has melted and the tortilla is crisp, about 4 minutes total.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the chipotle pumpkin crema: in a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, pumpkin puree, and hot sauce until smooth and well combined.
  7. Cut the quesadilla into wedges and serve with the crema.
Pumpkin quesadilla assembry

This was mighty fine! The pumpkin went very well with the black beans making a very creamy flavorful mixture. The addition of the hot sauce in the pumpkin mixture and crema gave it a pleasant spicy buzz. BTW the crema is a must! It adds another textural element. We never would have imagined this recipe but once we found it we'll make it again.