Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vidalia onion salad with garlic chive and chicken skin 玉ねぎのサラダ、ニラ、雛皮入り

This is another quick dish I concocted. The main ingredient is Vidalia onion which is known for its sweetness (Vidalia onion is a particular cultivar growing in low sulfa soil in Vidalia, Georgia). I am not sure if there is something similar in Japan. In any case, raw onion salad is a regular izakaya affair, a variation of which I have posted before. This is another variation of raw onion salad using Vidalia onion with the addition of blanched garlic chives and chicken skin which is the by-product of the sake-steamed or “sakamushi” 酒蒸しchicken.

The amounts are for two good sized servings (good size for us, any way).

Onion: I first halved the onion and then sliced very thinly (my ceramic “nakiri” knife is the best for this) to make long strips (half of medium sized  Vidalia onion). Although Vidalia onion is sweet and less astringent than regular or red onion, I added some salt, kneaded, let it stand for few minutes and then soaked  in cold water for 5 minutes or so, I drained and then wrung out the excess moisture in a paper towel. If you like the strong flavor of onion, you can skip this step.

Garlic chive: These are our home grown garlic chives. The amount is arbitrary but I used a half inch diameter bundle. I blanched it in rapidly boiling salted water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, drained and spread out on a paper towel lined plate to cool down quickly. I squeezed out the excess moisture and cut it in 2 inch segment.

Chicken skin: I just used the skin of the sakamushi chicken breast (from 4 breasts) cut into thin julienne. This is optional or can be substituted with julienned cooked meat, ham, or even with grilled deep fried tofu pouch “abura-age” 油揚げ.

Dressing: I was still out of Ponzu sauce, so I made dressing from semi congealed liquid in the container in which I kept the sakamushi chicken or you can use dashi broth (3 tbs), soy sauce (3 tbs, reduced salt kind), and rice vinegar (1 tbs). For good measure, I added Yuzu koshou (1/2 tsp).
I dressed the ingredients and garnished it with slices of Campari tomato (skinned).

This is nothing spectacular but mild raw onion and blanched garlic chive are a good combination. This is a very refreshing salad or sunomono 酢の物 to start the evening.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cold thin udon noodles with dipping sauce 冷たいうどん

We are having some very hot and humid days including a sudden big storm called a (derecho). The storm was incredibly violent. Large trees with trunks several feet in diameter were split in half by the high winds. This happened to a number of trees around us. All of the debris from the downed trees ended up in our neighbors yard but luckily they did not cause any significant structural damage. In addition we lost our power for just a short period of time. In our area, many other people were not so fortunate. Eleven people lost their lives due to the storm. In addition, many households went without electricity for almost a week in temperatures hovering around 100 F. One evening, I made a cool and easy to eat dish for the hot humid summer evening.
Initially, I thought I would like to make "soumen" 素麺  but I found out that I was totally out of it. The reason, I remembered, was that I threw away all the dried soumen I had few month ago. "Soumen"  has a coat of oil on the surface in the process of making noodles very thin without sticking together. The oil will eventually oxidize. So, soumen does not last as long as other dried noodles.  I looked around and found I had some very thin dried udon which was perfect for eating cold with dipping sauce. This one is called "Harima's thread udon" 播磨の糸うどん (see below left). I have to assume it came from Hyogo prefecture 兵庫県 area where the noodles, especially soumen, are one of their well-known local food items.
Udon noodles: I followed the package instruction and boiled the udon noodles for 8 minutes in rapidly boiling water (no salt) and then quickly rinsed in cold running water. I added ice cubes on top while it was in the colander to cool it down completely.

Condiments: This could be as Spartan as just chopped scallion to anything you like. I went for a rather deluxe (sounds dated) version and included the followings:
1. Chicken breast: This is the leftover barbecued chicken breast which was teased into thin strands.
2. Cucumber: One mini-cucumber was sliced on a slant and then julienned.
3. Golden thread omelet: "Kinshiran" 金糸卵 from one egg.
4. Scallion: Two, finely chopped.
5.  Nori: This is one package of seasoned nori cut into thin strips.

Dipping sauce: I used a bottle of concentrated noodle sauce. According to the instructions on the bottle label, I diluted it to 1 part sauce and 2 parts water. I tasted it. It was slightly less potent than I would have used for dipping sauce but I felt it was fine.
I could have placed the udon on a small serving bamboo basket which is called "zaru" ざる in Japanese (which I have and, if I did use it, this dish could have been officially called "zaru udon" ざるうどん (I did serve cold udon a few days later in a special serving dish with a bamboo mat on the bottom which qualifies this dish as "zaru udon" -see picture below- but, instead, I served these noodles in a rather cool looking square shallow glass bowl (see above picture). I topped the cold udon with slices of pickled okra and cherry*. Since I did not have perilla, I julienned fresh basil leaves and pretended it was perilla.

*Cherry: This is how my wife prepares cherry. She removes the stone or pit using a handy-dandy cherry pitter. She then cuts the pitted cherry in half to make sure no pits were left behind by the pitter (biting into an unsuspected pit is extremely unpleasant not to mention lethal to teeth). Then she marinates the cherries in a small amount of triple sac. This tends to preserve the fruit making it last longer while still retaining its fresh flavor and texture. We used this as our fruit with lunch etc.

The above picture is the "zaru udon" I served on a different day. This time, the green strip (2nd from the top) was indeed a julienne of perilla and the white strip (top) was Vidalia onion (salted, kneaded and briefly soaked in cold water) instead of scallion.  The 3rd strip was sake-steamed chicken, the 4th threads of omelet, and the last cucumber. The condiments were for two of us.

Back to the Udon dish: When I served the dish I of course, placed a bottle of  Japanese 7 flavored red pepper fakes 七味唐辛子 on the same tray to add a little kick (mostly for me). This was a perfect cold dish to finish. We liked this thin udon much better than soumen. It has a nice al dente texture and is nicely smooth as it comes into the mouth.  All the condiments made this noodle dish a full-fledged meal.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baked chicken tenderloin with mayonnaise crust 鶏の笹身のマヨ焼き

This is another small and quick dish. Whenever I make sake steamed chicken, I use split, bone-in, skin-on, chicken breast. When I remove the meat from the bone, I also separate the tenderloins from the breast meat. So I often make a small dish from the tenderloins.

Japanese appear to like mayonnaise (so much so some call themselves “Mayoler” マヨラー or those who like mayo fanatically). Even if you are not “Mayoler”, many baked Japanese dishes call for mayo. This one is such a dish.

Tenderloin: I opened it along the long edge like a book and flattened and lightly salted both sides.

Mayonnaise sauce
: There are many variations but I added a bit of soy sauce and dried “aonori” 青海苔 into store-bought mayonnaise.

I smeared the mayo sauce on one side of the chicken and baked it in a 400F toaster oven for 10-15 minutes or until the surface browned and the meat was done.

I served this with our coleslaw and potato salad. This is a curiously good dish.The mayo forms a crust. It took some time before my wife realized the crust was mayo. She thought it was some kind of melted cheese.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fried Marinated "Kon-nyaku" こんにゃくの竜田揚げ

Kon-nyaku. 蒟蒻, some times spelled “konjac ”, and  called “Devil’s tongue” in English, is a rather peculiar food item made out of the starch extracted from a particular vegetable root. It has the consistency of hard jelly and practically no taste and no calories. Japanese traditionally use it as an oden おでん item. I have posted a few dishes using konnyaku. This is another konnyaku dish but, with the deep frying it loses its no calorie status. You do not find this type of dish anywhere but at an Izakaya.

I made two different versions which mostly provide differences in texture rather than taste. I served this dish on a funky triangular shaped plate on which a folded “tempura shikishi 天婦羅敷き紙 paper fits perfectly. I garnished it with deep fried and crispy parsley and sprinkled single flavored  Japanese red pepper flakes or “Ichimi tougarashi” 一味唐辛子.

Preparation of konnyaku: I first washed and drained one cake of konnyaku (#1 below). To make two versions, I first divided one cake into two equal portions. For one half, I halved the thickness by slicing horizontally as I pressed down using my palm flat on the surface of the konnyaku. I then applied a series of shallow cuts obliquely in one direction, turned it around and added another series of cuts perpendicular to the previous cuts (#2 below). I then turned the pieces over and did the same cuts on the other side. You need to be careful not to cut through. I then cut it into I inch wide strips (#3 below). The other half of konnyaku, I just cut into 1 x 1.5 inch rectangles and poked multiple holes using a fork (#4 below). The idea here is to change the texture of knonyaku as well as make it absorb the marinades (see below) better. After this preparation, I placed the konnyaku pieces in a pot with amplen a amount of water on medium flame. I allowed it to come to the  boil and cooked it for 2-3 minutes. I then drained and washed it in running cold water. This process removed a the peculiar (and rather unpleasant) smell characteristic of konnyaku.

Marinades: I made two marinades. Since no matter how you do it, konnyaku will not absorb marinades or any seasoning easily, I use undiluted soy sauce; one with grated ginger and one with yuzu-koshou. The amounts are again arbitrary but I used about 4 tbs soy sauce and 1/2 tsp each of grated ginger or yuzu-koshou. I marinated the cross hatched ones with the ginger and the rectangular ones with the yuzu koshou. I ended up marinating this for two days in the refrigerator for reasons beyond my control. Ordinarily just a few hours of marination would suffice. There is no worry of over marinating since the konnyak itself does not absorb, instead, the marinades are held in the holes and crevices I created in the konnyaku.

Just before frying, I took the konnyaku pieces out of the marinades and blotted the surface with a paper towel but did not squeeze out the absorbed marinades. I then dredged in potato starch or katakuriko 片栗粉.

Deep frying: I put peanut oil in a frying pan to the depth of about 1 inch on a medium flame. When the oil was 170C (325F), I deep fried the konnyaku pieces for 3 minutes or until the surface got crispy.

I served this piping hot with a sprinkling of one flavor Japanese red pepper flakes 一味唐辛子. The marinades provide enough saltiness and I did not serve this with any dipping sauce. The difference between the two marinades was very subtle but the yuzu-koshou version added more heat and a citrus note. Although it was not bad—how can anything deep fried be bad, we quickly dispatched the entire dish between two of us. Considering the rather tedious preparation and the fact this is “deep fried”, we are not sure if this dish is worth making often. We prefer a simpler dish such as spicy konnyaku stir fry I made previously.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Saki ika" dried and seasoned squid tempura さきイカの天ぷら

As I mentioned in previous posts, Japanese have many pre-packaged drinking snacks. The variety of which far exceeds American counterparts of mixed nuts, gold fish– cracker not the real fish, beef jerky and mini-pretzels. One rather common snack is thin strands of semi-dried and seasoned squid called "Saki ika" さきイカ meaning "torn squid". This is a modern commercial product derived from an old fashioned dried squid or "Surume" スルメ.
surumeWhen I was growing up, "surume"  was a rather common snack, not necessarily just a drinking snack. This was a dried whole flattened squid. To eat, you have to first grill it lightly and then tear it along the grain into thin strips (it can easily be torn into strands by hand with an occasional application of teeth). It is very chewy like old leather and you have to work on it for a while in your mouth before it’s soft enough. As you chew, more flavors will come out. In fact a Japanese saying, "The more you chew, the more flavor you get" 噛めば噛むほど味が出る equates the effort you need to extract full flavor from dried squid to the effort you need to extract meaning and joy out of life; or subtle but real goodness can only be appreciated with substantial effort. But even in Japan, vigorous use of the masseter muscle is not an exercise people like to do. So much-easier-to-eat pre-cooked, seasoned, and pre-torn dried squid in a package is more common, replacing the old-fashioned "surume".  You could just eat "saki ika" as is (there are many variations but, in general, it has a somewhat sweet seasoning). Or you could used it in a dish. This tempura or fritter version is supposedly a classic Izakaya affair.  I have not seen or eaten it before so I decided to try it.
I checked a few recipes but, in the the end, as usual, I used my common sense and altered or combined several recipes.
The picture to the left is the "saki ika" I bought from the near-by Japanese grocery store. It said "a letter from shore" and "directly sent from where it was caught" but, who knows, this may have been made from squid caught off African shores and previously frozen. In any case, this is how I made this dish.

Dried and seasoned "saki ika" squid: I am not sure how much is in one package but I used the whole thing for two good sized servings. I first soaked the squid in an equal mixture of sake and water (2Tbs each) in a bowl and let it soften for 30 minutes. I then wrung out the excess moisture and wrapped it in a paper towel.

Tempura batter: I have experimented in the past what made the best tempura batter including the use of Vodka in a mix. This time I used cake flour, club soda (carbonated water) and dried "aonori" 青海苔 seaweed. I first mixed the flour and aonori in a bowl (the amount is arbitrary, the proper consistency is what you are after, you have to adjust the amount of flour and the water, accordingly). Just before frying, I mixed in the cold club soda and quickly mixed to make a runny pancake batter consistency. I added more flour and water as I needed to make the amount of batter I needed. But do not over mix otherwise the gluten will develop.

Oil: I used peanut oil for deep frying. I heated the oil to about 170C (335F). I placed the softened squid strips in the batter to make a small bite size portion. As I placed it in the hot oil, I tried to spread it into a flat disk-shape so that the strands of squid didn’t bunch up too much. I fried for few minutes turning once. The oil may have been too hot. The edges got a bit too dark (the seasoning of the squid apparently contains sugar) but it was not burnt and did not affect the taste too much.

As you can see in the first picture, I served this with a wedge of lemon and mayo mixed with soy sauce and Japanese 7 flavor red pepper flakes 七味唐辛子.

This is an excellent drinking snack. The "saki ika" squid has just right consistency, not chewy but not too soft, with very light crispy tempura crust. I was afraid the squid may became too fishy but that was not the case. Using carbonated water in the tempura batter really worked. Among other methods I tried, this is the simplest and most effective. As much as we liked this dish very much, it is not particularly "healthy". To compensate, I served a simple refreshing "sunomono" 酢の物 salad dish following this.
This is just cucumber, wakame (did not show up well in the picture) and tomato dressed in seasoned sushi vinegar and topped with crumbled soft semi-dried scallop from Hokkaido 北海道.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grilled fava beans 焼きそら豆

Fava beans or soramame 空豆 are in season. I found some nice fava beans in pods in a grocery store near us. Compared to our stand-by frozen fava beans, fresh ones are not as mushy and always taste much better. Only trick is when you are selecting the pods, press them between your fingers to make sure they are full. Sometimes you may come across a very large nice looking pod but inside is almost empty. When I posted fava beans before, we compared boiled and grilled (in a toaster oven) and said there was no difference but I wanted to try grilling on a charcoal fire. Since we were grilling some trout, this was a good chance to grill fava beans as an appetizer.

The first picture shows some very nice looking fava beans in pods (see below, left). I simply grilled them over the charcoal fire until the surface of the pods were charred (5-6 minutes) and then turned them over and grilled 2-3 minutes more. I had to let them cool down a bit before we could bust into the pods.

I served this with a small mound of Kosher salt on the side as a starter for the evening. Some people eat the skin of the beans but we are in the group of people who insist on removing the thin skin. Again, we did not taste the difference between "beans-removed-from-the-pods-and-boiled" vs. "beans-grilled-in-the-pods". But if you already have a charcoal fire for other reasons, this is a very simple and good way to cook fava beans. Also serving fava beans in charred pods is more spectacular than serving individual beans.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Grilled and hot smoked trout 鱒の薫塩焼き

We always use pasteurized shell eggs, especially for dishes where the yolk is not fully cooked such as poached or fried eggs. (we love runny egg yolks). They also come in handy for sauces that use undercooked or raw egg yolks such as Hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise. For some reason, one of the near-by grocery stores where we regularly got pasteurize eggs stopped carrying them. We asked around and found another store from the same grocery chain, which is slightly farther away, apparently carried them. So we drove there in one afternoon—believe it or not just to get the eggs. Although both stores belong to the same chain, there appeared to be significant differences between them. This new one was much more upscale. Among other things, the most important difference, of course, was that they carried pasteurized shell eggs. In addition, the fish were displayed better and appeared to be of better quality.We passed the fish department on the way to the dairy case to get the eggs and my wife stopped dead in her tracks. She was “on point” for some particularly good looking trout--very fresh, with clear eyes. She wasn’t budging until two were bagged in plastic with ice.

When we lived in Los Angles, trout was about the only fresh whole fish we could get and we frequently ate them. But, for some reason, we have not eaten them that much trout after we moved back East; probably because other types of fish are available.

I decided to simply grill them. Obviously the fish monger did not expect that someone would  like to eat the skin as we do and these trout were not scaled. (When my wife pointed out the two trout she wanted he asked in surprise, “you want the whole fish”?) I guess that meant scales and all. So first,  I had to scale them. I salted inside and out and let them rest in the refrigerator for several hours before grilling (#1 below). Instead of placing the fish directly on the grill, I decide to do it Japanese style. I put two long metal skewers through the fish, from the tail, slightly fanning out through the head in a wavy fashion (#2 below) to simulate a fish swimming.

I used lump hard wood charcoal and direct heat. I also sprinkled soaked apple wood chips over the hot charcoals to grill and hot smoke at the same time. To raise the fish above the grill, I just used the metal baskets I use to put hot charcoals for indirect heat (#3 above). The distance between the charcoal bed and the fish was about 15 inches. Because of the oppressive heat, humidity and mosquitoes we were having in our area, I could not attend to the fish closely. Although I initially covered the tail fins with aluminum foil (#3), it came off or the entire tail came off and the end result was tail-less trout (#4). I grilled about 5-6 minutes per side until skin is nicely blistered and browned (#4).

I simply served the grilled trout with grated daikon or daikon-oroshi daikon 大根おろし, a wedge of lemon, and soy sauce. Of course, we had to have a bowl of freshly cooked rice. My wife, as usual, added butter and soy sauce to her rice.

We really enjoyed simply grilled tout since we have not had this for some time. The skin was the best part. My wife was very proud of her chopstick dexterity and the fact that the bones of her fish were cleaner than mine (above). The only disappointment was that she could not find cheek meat since the fish head was too small.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Baked green bean salad with sliced almond ささげのオーブン焼きサラダ

This is a rather simple dish made from baked green beans. As long as the green beans are good, this is a wonderful dish. To us, it is always hit-or-miss when it comes to green beans. Some have very tough skins and no matter how long you cook them, the skin remains tough and you might as well throw them out. Other times, the green beans are very nice and just a little of cooking, either boiling, sautéing, or baking, makes them nice and sweet, slightly crunchy--no tough skin. When the green beans are good, our favorite way of cooking is to just bake them with olive oil and salt (about 30 minutes in 350F oven). Beans cooked this way are wonderful as is but we went a step further making them into a nice salad.

: This is my regular dressing. I finely chopped shallots (1 medium), Dijon mustard (2 tbs), honey (2 tbs), rice vinegar (3 tbs), salt and black pepper to taste. I drizzled in a good fruity olive oil while whisking vigorously. Because of the mustard, it will make an emulsion. I am not sure how much olive oil but I just taste every-now-and-then until it does not taste too acidic (probably 1/3 cup).
Just dress the baked green beans. My wife roasted whole almonds (4-5 minutes in a toaster oven). While they were hot, I sliced them and let if cool down. We sprinkled them on top as a garnish.

The acidity and slight sweetness of the dressing really enhances the baked green beans. The almonds add a nice crunch. Toasting them really adds to their flavor.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chicken skin salad with yuzu-koshou 雛皮の柚子胡椒サラダ

This is a variation on the theme of chicken skin. I was going to make a simple chicken skin dish but found out I was out of Ponzu (-shouyu) sauce. So I made the sauce with soy sauce, rice vinegar and yuzu koshou 柚子胡椒. This is a perfect refreshing sunomono 酢の物 salad to start.

Dressing: I made a mixture of soy sauce (reduced salt, 2 tbs), rice vinegar (3 tbs) and the juice accumulated in the container of saka mushi or sake-steamed chicken (2 tbs).  You should taste it and if it is too salty or vinegary, you might want to dilute this with dashi broth if you did not make saka mushi chicken. This dressing is similar to  a Japanese vinegar dressing called “Nihaizu” 二杯酢. I added about 1/2 tsp of yuzu-koshou in 7 tbs of the soy sauce vinegar mixture but the amount of yuzu-koshou is up to your taste.

Chicken skin: This is again the skin from two spilt breasts I made into saka mushi chicken. As usual, after removing any fat layer I could remove I sliced it into a thin julienne and marinated in the above dressing overnight in the refrigerator.

Other items: I just used whatever was available cutting it into julienne of similar size to the chicken skin pieces. From the left, wakame seaweed (1/4 cup after hydration, hydrated and roughly cut, gold thread egg or “kinshiran” 金糸卵 (from one egg), cucumber (one mini-cucumber, sliced on a slant and julienned, and daikon radish, 2 inch segment, peeled, sliced and julienned. The cucumber and daikon were salted, kneaded, and let stand for a few minutes, with the excess moisture squeezed out.

I added the wakame, cucumber and daikon into the container in which the chicken skin marinated in the yuzu-koshou sauce and mixed. I served this in a shallow grass bowl making a small mound in the center and topped them with golden thread egg as seen in the first picture.

This was much better than I expected. The yuzu-koshou gave it a nice zing of yuzu citrus flavor. This is a very nice refreshing sunomono salad. You could easily substitute the chicken skin with ham or any cooked meat. I can also add threads of jelly fish or kurage くらげ to this for the texture. I could also add sesame oil to this but without sesame oil, this is more refreshing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Meatloaf hash ミートローフハッシュ

I keep posting leftover dishes. This one is also made from leftover meatloaf my wife made one day. "Hash", most commonly "corned beef hash", is a very popular breakfast dish in American diners. Essentially diced potatoes, meat, and onion fried together in a skillet and often served with eggs and toast. As I said before, any hearty breakfast can be had as a late night snack after drinking to absorb the excess alcohol. Along with German omelet, any variation of hash should be served at any Izakaya in my opinion.

This is for two servings as a breakfast or late night snack.

Meat: Any precooked or cured meat such as corned beef (typically from a tin or you could make it yourself), roast beef, or even sausage (uncooked, out of the casing). Since I had leftover meatloaf that my wife made the other day, I crumbled it and used it. The amount was about two slices worth (about 2 inches thick).

Potato: I microwaved Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium) for about 6 minutes (take care not overcook.  I tested doneness using a bamboo skewer towards the end of the 6 minutes and adjusted the cooking time). While it was hot, I removed the skin (holding the hot potato using a paper towel) and diced.

Onion: I first halved the onion and then sliced it to make thin strips (one medium).

I added olive oil (2 tbs) in a non-stick frying pan (or a seasoned cast iron skillet if you have one) and sautéed the onion for 5-7 minutes on medium heat until soft and edges browned, I then added the diced and cooked potatoes and crumbled meatloaf. After sautéing for one minute or so I seasoned with salt and black pepper. I pressed the hash to the bottom of the pan (picture below) and let it brown for a few minutes and then turned it over using a spatula (in small segments) to brown the other side and make it crusty. I repeated this process several times until a nice brown crust covered most of the hash.

This was a lot of food for us. We did forgo the eggs and served this with Campari tomato (skinned and lightly salted) and pickled okra (from the jar). I garnished it with fresh basil and ketchup. My wife also added slices of smoked cheddar. Althought it did not melt well it tasted good.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ground pork curry ひき肉カレー

I mentioned that pork gyouza stuffing is very versatile and can be used as the base for other dishes. This is another example of that kind of versatility. Of course you could make this curry dish with just simple ground meat. In any case, I had some leftover gyouza stuffing (about 9 oz or about 250 grams) and decide to use it up before it went bad.

This may have been inspired by keema curry but this version is not at all authentic. Japanese have created many Japanese variations of curry beside the classic Japanese curry which in itself is a variation based on British modification of the classic indian curry. These Japanese variations include "dry"curry and a rather modern invention in my home town, Sapporo 札幌, Hokkaido 北海道 called "soup" curry. This curry I made is sort of cross between these latter two.

I included chunky potato and served this a closing dish or "shime" 〆 or ending dish. I made this curry a day before I served it.

Meat: Leftover gyouza stuffing (9 oz or 250 grams) made of ground pork mixed garlic chive, ground ginger and ground garlic.

Vegetable: I used onion (one medium, finely chopped), celery (2 stalks, finely chopped), carrot (2 medium, peeled, finely chopped), yellow squash (half with seeds removed and finely diced, optional, I happened to have it), garlic (1 clove, finely chopped), and ginger root (1/2 tsp finely chopped). I also peeled some small white potatoes (6-7).

I added light olive oil (2 tbs) in a pot on medium flame. When the oil was hot, I first sautéed the garlic and ginger and then onion and celery. I added curry powder (2 tsp or more, this time I used S&B brand Japanese curry powder) and kept sautéing. After the curry powder became fragrant, I added flour (2 tbs) and kept stirring until well incorporated. I moved the vegetables on one side of the pot and added tomato paste (2 tbs) in the empty area of the pan. I sautéed the tomato paste until the color slightly darkened and mixed thoroughly into the remaining ingredients. I added the remaining vegetables except for the potatoes. I added chicken broth (1 cup, my usual Swanson low-salt no fat version). Using a silicon spatula, I mixed and scraped off any "fond" that developed on the bottom of the pot. I also added Garam masala (1 tsp, this particular one had a strong cumin flavor) and more chicken broth (2 cups). I put in the potatoes and let it simmer for 40 minutes. I tasted and adjusted the seasoning using salt and black pepper. It was moderately spicy. We did not eat this immediately. I heated it up few days later and served over rice with sautéed asparagus and Japanese curry condiments (rakkyou ラッキョウ and fukushinzuke 福神漬け).

The addition of tomato paste made this curry sauce a bit unique. The sauce mellowed and it was only mildly spicy but had lots of flavors. The use of all the finely cut vegetables also gave it an undertone reminiscent of a french mirapois.  As an impromptu, leftover control cuisine, this was not bad at all.