Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Vegetables: I used whatever was available. I used cucumber (American mini-cucumber, sliced into long ribbons for s change), carrot (likewise cut into thin ribbons), Vidalia onion, sake steamed chicken breast, hydrated wakame わかめ sea weed.
Dressing: I used ponzu shouyu ポン酢醤油 sauce (from the bottle) with a dash of dark sesame oil.
Especially if you already have cold udon, this is a very quick dish for lunch or ending or “shime” 締め dish. By cutting the veggies lengthwise they are similar in dimension to the noodles. And believe-it-or-not they have a slightly different consistency and taste than if they were cut the usual way.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Salmon fillets: I divided a 1lb fillet into two equal pieces (scales and pin bones removed).
Scallion: I cut on bias into 1-2 inch pieces. I used one scallion per packet.
Mushrooms: I used a combination of hon-shimeji (brown clamshell) and white clam shell mushrooms but any mushroom such as shiitake or enoki will also do. I just used whatever amount I had. I cut off the root end and quickly washed and drained it.
I took a large sheet of aluminum foil, greased it with sweet butter. Next came the sliced scallion and the salmon fillet skin side down. I placed thin pats of butter(1/2 tbs) and miso (1tbs) (#1 below) on the fillets and topped with the mushrooms (#2 below). I closed the packet by folding and crimping the edges together (#3) but just before I closed it completely, I added sake (3-4 tbs). I placed the packets into a pre-heated 400F toaster oven (convection) for 30 minutes. When I opened the pouch (#4), I discovered the miso had not dissolved but got baked and darkened. I simply removed the miso and dissolved it into the juice/sake accumulated in the bottom of the pouch.
I served this with baby bok choi (quartered) which was boiled in water with splash of sake and salt (The first picture). Since I cooked this ahead of time, it lost its green color. Although I did not use sugar or mirin, the sauce was sweet enough. The salmon had a poached-like consistency that was nicely tender. The baked miso, added a very nice nutty flavor and richness.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Egg mixture: As usual, I used “dashi pack” (bonito flakes ad kelp) and made dashi broth. After I measured two eggs, I added a bit less than 3 times of the volume of dashi broth and seasoned it with light colored soy sauce (1 tbs), mirin (2 tsp) and salt (1/2 tsp, kosher). I added more dashi to make it to exactly 3 times of the voluvme of the eggs.
I placed, slices of chicken breast (this time I used sakamushi 酒蒸し chicken breast), slices of matsutake and boiled and peeled chestnuts (see below). I poured the egg mixture through a fine mesh strainer into two bowls.
I used an electric wok and steamed the bowls for 5 minutes in medium-high continuous steam and then reduced it to low-continuous steam. After 6-7 minutes when the surface of the egg mixture was congealed enough, I placed shrimp, more sliced matsutake, and scallion slices (picture below). I continued steaming for another 7-8 minutes until the egg mixture became firm.
I served this with a dab of real wasabi and a wedge of lime.
Despite the large amount of matsutake slices, the matsutake flavor was very subtle (i.e. almost nonexistent). Next year, I will go back to Oregon mushrooms to get my matsutake. Otherwise, the chawan mushi was quite good with the nice sweet taste of the chestnuts and rather filling because of the size.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
When I barbecue whole chickens, I usually discard the neck, gizzards and liver which are packaged in paper and tucked inside the cavity. (These are usually meant for making the American classic gravy-with-giblets). This time, I used the liver to make this small Yakitori while we are waiting for the whole chickens to finish cooking.
Since the Webber grill was otherwise occupied with the whole chickens and the mosquitos were still around making me reluctant to stand around outside tending the grill, I cooked these Yakitori in the toaster oven in “Hi-broil”.
Chicken liver: I removed attached fat, vessels etc and soaked them in sake for 20-30 minutes. I used a flat metal skewer. From two whole chickens, there was enough liver to make two small skewers (picture below).
Sauce: I made quick “tare” たれ or dipping sauce. It is a mixture of sake (1 tbs) mirin (1 tbs), sugar (2 tsp) and soy sauce (1 tbs). I first heated the sake and mirin mixture to boil, then dissolved sugar and added soy sauce. I then made a potato starch slurry (katakuriko 片栗粉 or potato starch plus sake). I streamed it in until the sauce was slightly thickened.
Chicken tenderloins: This is a variation of shiso and salted plum roll 梅しそ巻き which I previously posted. Instead of making it into a roll, I butterflied the chcken tenderloins, lined it with 1 or 2 leaves of perilla and smeared bainiku 梅肉 (I removed the meat of umeboshi 梅干 plum and minced it into paste with a small amount of mirin to make it a paste consistency). After closing the butterflied portions, I used a sawing motion to thread the skewer (see below).
I cooked the skewers on Hi-broil in the toaster oven (with the upper heating elements about 1 inch from the skewers) turning once or twice for 10-15 minutes. For the liver, I coated the surface of the cooked liver with the dipping sauce and broiled it for one more minute turning once. I put on one more coat of “tare” sauce and sprinkled “sansho” 山椒 or powdered Szechwan pepper corn on the liver.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Since I had fresh chestnuts I also used them in this dish. I could not get an appropriate fish (“hamo” 鱧 or Pike or Conger eel are the most appropriate for this dish), I just used shrimp as you can see in the picture below.
I also added boiled and peeled North American chestnut.
Here is the slice of Mastutake. As mentioned before, this years batch was not really good. Although I used a lot, It was not as aromatic as it should be.
Of course, you should start by pouring the broth into a small sake cup and enjoying the subtle aroma of mastutake.
Broth: I used “dashi pack” which is a mixture of kelp and bonito flakes. I seasoned it with light-colored soy sauce (“usukuchi” 薄口), mirin and salt. Other items beside thinly sliced fresh mastutake were shrimp, boiled chestnuts, and sliced scallion. If I had some available, I would have used “mitsuba”三つ葉 and some kind of mild tasting white meat fish. Since I did not have “sudachi” すだち, a Yuzu-like Japanese citrus, I used a wedge of lime.
This was good enough to evoke the sense that fall has arrived.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Friday, October 12, 2012
I cut two small blocks of pork belly (probably less than 1/2 lb), put them in a small Ziploc storage bag (It is thicker than a similar size "sandwich" bag). I added shio-koji (10% of the weight or just enough to thinly coat the surface of the meat) and massaged it to coat the meat completely. I then removed as much air as I could from the bag and sealed it (#1 below). I placed the bag in the inner pot of the rice cooker (#2 below) and poured hot water to the highest level (#3 below)
I kept the cooker on “warm” mode for 4 hours and then let it cool down to room temperature (another several hours). I removed any excess fat and shio-koji from the surface (#4 in the picture above).
I sliced it and served it with Japanese hot mustard and yuzu-koshou (The first picture). This is certainly an OK preparation. The pork, however, was missing that unctuous melt-in-your-mouth feel and subtle sweetness which this dish is all about. The meat was cooked, but it was somehow too “solid” and dry. If you’re going to flirt with eating this much fat it should be at its superlative best. For this reason, we much prefer the more tradtional “Kakuni”. At least, we learned that this poor-man’s sous-vide sort of works.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The dipping sauce was made of mayonnaise (2tbs), ketchup (1 tbs), finely chopped sweet onion (2 tbs), finely chopped sweet pickles (1 tbs) and parsley (1 tbs), grated lemon zest (1/2 tsp) and lemon juice (1 tbs). The mixture of mayo and ketchup is popular in Japan and often referred as “aurora” sauce.
I shelled the boiled shrimp and served it with wedges of lemon and baby arugula. We had this with sparkling wine from California “Domaine Chandon” Reserve Brut. (We are partial to this winery since we had several memorable times at their restaurant). The shrimp was impeccably fresh, sweet, succulent and jumbo size—almost like small lobsters. They were shrimp at their finest something we have found to be consistent here.
The fabulous shrimp were followed by a main course of fillet mignon (which was a very good cut of beef from a local gourmet grocery store) with green asparagus and my wife’s smashed potatoes. We switched to “Darioush” 2009 Cab. This was a bit on the decadent side but we were on vacation. Sitting on the balcony in the candle light (we had a combination of LED candles and real candles. The LED candles were included because the wind from the ocean sometimes makes it impossible to keep the real candle lit), watching the moon rise over the ocean, listening to the surf and looking out at the bobbing lights of the shrimping boats as well as the lights from several large freighters on the horizon heading to Savannah, we could not have had a better dinner at any restaurant.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
We made this in a rather simple way. Some traditional recipes suggest making Tasso ham gravy and using chicken broth to make the grits. We made the grits using the shrimp broth, ham, onion and leftover boiled shrimp. For two servings like you see above we used;
Grits – 1/4 cup Quaker oats quick (5 minutes) grits. Real stone-ground hominy (alkali-treated corn) takes too long to cook and “instant” kind does not have the right consistency.
Shrimp broth – 1 and 1/4 cup. This was salted when we boiled shrimp. Just enough saltiness that you could drink it.
Onion 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped.
Ham – two slices of good packaged ham, cut into small bite sized pieces.
My wife first sautéed the onion in a small sauce pan with olive oil (1-2 tbs) until soft and slightly browned (about 5-7 minutes), added the ham and the shrimp broth. When the broth came to a boil, she added the grits, stirred and turned down the heat to simmer for five minutes with a lid on. Then she added a tablespoon of butter and several gratings of parmesan cheese.
We served this in a small bowl with the boiled shrimp and chopped Italian parsley as a garnish.
This dish was the essence of “shrimpiness”. The grits had a lovely light fresh shrimp taste and sweetness from the broth. The broth was what really made the dish. Although we did not make Tasso ham gravy, the onion and ham added a nice dimension. Something this good can only be made with the impeccably fresh shrimp available here. Especially with the view of ocean and shrimping boats from our balcony, this was a perfect dish.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Again, I spotted monk fish fillets in our grocery store. Since I am on a shio-koji 塩麴 kick, I thought this may be a good fish to try.
Monk fish: I bought two small monk fish fillets (combined, about 1 lb). I removed the slimy membrane as much as I could
Shio-koji marinade: I made some variation and added olive oil (2 tbs), mirin (2 tbs) to shio-koji (2 tbs). I placed two Monk fish fillets in a Ziploc bag, poured in the marinade, massage it a bit and removed as much air as I could and sealed. I let it marinade in the refrigerator overnight for 24 hours.
Since monk fish has the texture, but not the flavor, of lobster tail and is sometimes referred to as “poor man’s lobster), I decided to cook the Monk fish fillets as mock lobster tails. After the 24 hour marinade, I removed the fillets, blotted the excess moisture from the surface and sprinkled on smoked paprika (powder) (to simulate the color of cooked lobster) and then made shallow slit on top length wise—doesn’t it look like a lobster tail?. I placed them in a pre-heated 400F toaster oven for 10-15 minutes or until center of the thickest part was opaque (cut and peek).
I served this on a bed of couscous (from a box, this one was parmesan flavored). On the side, I served boiled sugar snap peas(seasoned with salt) and a tomato (skinned and shaped like a rose with salt and a dab of mayonnaise).
This was really good. The change in the texture of fish reminded me of “kasuzuke” 粕漬け or fish marinated in sake lee. The addition of mirin gave a bit more sweetness. Both of us really liked this preparation. Although Monkfish without marinating is very good, this one really made it better.