Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Japanese "Satsuma-imo" Sweet potato muffin version2

My wife likes to bake bread and she also likes Japanese "Satsuma-imo" 薩摩芋 sweet potato so she is always looking for ways to combine the two. She made "sweet potato" rolls using Japanese sweet potato roasted in the Weber grill and then mashed and seasoned with butter and soy sauce. She used the mashed Japanese sweet potato in the bread dough and also as a filling. In this variation she used the recipe for "refrigerator potato bread" but substituted mashed sweet potatoes for the white potato called for in the recipe. The result was this wonderful rolls/muffin. It has a very tender delicate texture and you can definitely taste the mild sweetness of the Japanese sweet potato. This muffin does not have a sweet potato filling because all mashed the sweet potato went into the dough.

1 pkg. yeast
1/2 cup sugar (plus 1/2 tsp additional to proof the yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1 1/2 sticks ( 3/4 cup butter softened)
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup mashed Japanese "Satsuma-imo" sweet potatoes (make link to my potato recipe) run through a food mill to eliminate any chunks that may remain after the potatoes have been mashed #1.
4 cups bread flour (with more as needed)

1. Proof the yeast in the warm water and 1/2 tsp. sugar.  Warm the milk with the butter in it. Dissolve the sugar in the milk mixture.
2. Using a mixing paddle on the stand mixer add the warm milk butter mixture, eggs and mashed potatoes blend thoroughly. Add the proofed yeast and salt. Mix completely.
3. Switch to a dough hook and add the flour one cup at a time until the dough clings to the hook and is smooth and springy to the touch. Knead on speed 2 for 7 to 10 minutes.
4. Form into a ball and put into a bowl with a small amount of vegetable oil turning the dough to cover with a coat of the oil. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight (or as the recipe says up to 16 to 18 hours).

1. Next morning punch down the dough. (It will extremely cold and dense so "punch down" may not be the process that is actually possible. Just flatten the best you can) #2. Let rest for about 5 minutes (picture below) #3. Cut off pieces weighing 2 1/4 oz. #4. Form into rolls and place in a heavily greased baking dish several inches apart so they can rise #5. Cover and let rise until doubled. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped #6.

These muffins were amazing. The slow rise overnight in the refrigerator resulted in a very fine texture. The flavor was very delicate but clearly tasted of the sweetness of the sweet potato. The combination of the delicate texture and flavor almost felt like we were actually eating cooked sweet potato rather than bread. So the substitution of sweet potato for regular potato in this recipe worked very well and the end result was equally as good but distinctly different...well worth the variation.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chestnuts in syrup and sweet potato with green tea お茶請け

The North American chestnuts we got this year were not as good as usual. They were kind of dry and chalky. We made our usual chestnut rice  栗ご飯 using the fragmented ones and made "kanro-ni" 栗の甘露煮 or chestnuts simmered in syrup. Since I also made "sweet" Japanese sweet potato, we had both as a snack with green tea which is called "Ocha-uke" 御茶請け.

The tea was sold by Hibikian 響庵 and came from Uji 宇治 . With green tea, something sweet goes well. Although both the chestnut and sweet potato are not "sweet tea cake", they are sweet enough to be "ocha-uke".

As before I boiled the chestnuts after soaking them for a few hours in water. I removed the outer and inner skins while they were hot. I simmered the peeled chestnuts in a simple syrup (equal amounts of water and sugar) for 30 minutes and cooled in the syrup.

Once in a syrup, the chestnuts will last for a while in the refrigerator. As I said, this year's batch was not the best but still, the chestnuts brought an autumn taste.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Japanese "Satsuma-imo" simmered sweet potato さつま芋の甘煮

Since my wife is a big fan of Japanese "Satsuma-imo" sweet potato 薩摩芋, she got three when we were at our near-by Whole Foods.  We cooked them in our Weber grill when I did my our usual pork roast. My wife put "dibs" on two of them. She made mashed sweet potato with butter and soy sauce and we enjoyed it with the roasted pork. The leftover mashed sweet potato became sweet potato rolls. So, I got one potato to use to my heart's content. I made this simple sweetened simmered sweet potato (making sweet potato even sweeter appears to be common in Japan).

I garnished this dish with black sesame 黒胡麻. For some reason, black sesame is often used with sweet potato. I am just following the tradition.

The sweet potato we got was "organic" and had some (read: a lot of) dirt on them. Maybe a thick coating of mother earth is part of the "organic" appeal. My wife would not allow them anywhere near the refrigerator until I scrubbed them with a brush. (below).

1 Japanese "Satsuma-imo" sweet potato, scrubbed clean, skin on, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds and the larger round cut in to two or four.
Water just enough to cover (sweet potato in one layer)
1-2 tbs sugar
A pinch of salt
Black sesame seeds for garnish

In a large frying pan (large enough to hold the sweet potato in one layer), add the potato and water to just cover.
Place the pan in medium-low flame.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes with a lid on until a bamboo skewer goes thorough easily.
Sprinkle on the sugar and keep simmering for 1-10 minutes, add a pinch of salt.
Remove the lid and turn up the flame and shake and cook until the liquid is almost all gone.
Sprinkle the black sesame and serve hot or at room temperature.

Japanese almost always add sugar to already sweet Japanese sweet potato. This recipe was no exception. It is a bit sweet as a side dish but it is good as a snack and also surprisingly goes well with a sake or even wine.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Brazilian corn cookie ブラジル風コーンクッキー

Some time ago my wife got corn flour  (instead of cornmeal) for one of her baking projects. I assume that "cornflour" is just more finely milled than "cornmeal". In any case, the one she got was called "Bob's Red Mill" brand. Since she had much more corn flour that she needed for the original project and the package had a recipe for "Brazilian Corn Cookies", she made this cookie.

1 cup Corn Flour (Bob's red Mill)
1/2 cup White Rice Flour (Bob's red Mill, which is different from Japanese varieties)
1/2 cup Corn Starch 
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut 

1/2 cup Sugar

1 Egg

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter

Mix dry ingredients together; set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, egg and sugar.
Add the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.
Make 1 ½ inch balls with the dough and place on greased baking sheet.
Flatten the balls gently with the palm of your hand.
Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

This is a gluten free cookie. It is a bit on dry side and very crumbly in texture but has a nice corn flavor. (Accompanying liquid is recommended to prevent choking on the crumb dust). My wife asked a Brazilian acquaintance about this (supposed ?) Brazilian cookie but she did not know anything about it?!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Capelin "nanban" シシャモの南蛮漬け

This is another frozen item forgotten in our freezer. My wife drew my attention to a package of frozen capelin or shishamo シシャモ. Although I was not sure how old this was, it did look and smell OK. I usually serve this grilled but I thought "nanban-zuke" 南蛮漬け may be better since deep frying and marinating in sweet vinegar may eliminate any off tastes if they existed.  We tasted just it after it was deep fried and it tasted good but I went ahead and made the nanban.  I served this as a small appetizer with blanched broccoli rabe (rapini).

Along with this dish, I served store-bought "satsuma-age" fish cake 薩摩揚げ, "dashimaki" omelet だし巻き卵, sugar snap スナップ豌豆の塩びたし, simmered kabocha かぼちゃの煮物(center square plate) and boiled octopus leg with rapini. This was quite a big starter.

One package (10) "shishamo" capelin thawed
2-3 Tbs potato starch "katakuriko" 片栗粉 for dredging
One sweet onion, halved and cut into thin strips
One medium carrot, peeled and cut into small julienne
Few dried Japanese "nanban" togarashi 南蛮唐辛子 red pepper, cut into small rings
One cup sweet vinegar (one cut rice vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar and 1tsp Kosher salt, boiled to dissolve)
1/2 vegetable or peanut oil for "shallow" frying

Dredge shishamo with the potato starch (#1)
Add the onion and carrot in a sealable container and pour the hot sweet vinegar and let it cool to the room temperature (#2)
Shallow fry (or deep fry if you so prefer) in 1/4 inch deep oil (#3) for a few minutes and then turn over and cook another minute or two (#4)
Remove half of the vegetables from #2 and add the fried shishamo (#5)
Add back the vegetables to cover the fish (#6)
Put the lid on and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

As a rescue dish for old frozen shishamo, this was quite good. Frying and marinating in sweet vinegar really made it more than edible. Because of the preservative nature of the marinade, we kept enjoying this dish for a week (one small fish at a time). This dish is perfect for cold sake but not great with red wine because of the acidity.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Pork belly chasu and miso ramen 三枚肉チャーシュー と味噌ラーメン

Although we can get ”pork belly” or "Sanmai-niku" 三枚肉 (meaning "three layer meat" referring to alternating layers of fat and red meat) at  specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods, it has not been available at our usual grocery store. But the other day, I found a large package of pork belly (probably 2-3 lb). I could not resist getting one. It was rather large and I made  "Kakuni" 角煮 from half and made pork belly chasu 三枚肉チャーシュー from the other half.  Since this is usually served as a ramen topping, I made miso ramen with pork belly chasu as a lunch one weekend.

I also made "ajitama" 味玉 or seasoned soft boiled egg. I also opened a jar of store-bought "Menma" メンマ seasoned bamboo shoot. I added nori seaweed and finely chopped chives as toppings.

As before, the ramen noodle is  American-made frozen  ones from "Sun Noodle". I also used "miso" seasoning that came with the noodles but instead of hot water, I used Japanese broth made from a "dashi pack" to make the soup.

Pork Belly chasu

1 lb pork belly (half of the piece of pork I got), thinner portion (I assume this is  towards the front) which I rolled tightly and trussed.
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin
1 tbs sake
1 scallion, bruised with back of the knife
2 cloves garlic, crushed and skin removed
5 black pepper corns
3 star anises (optional)
Water to cover

Place the pork in a pot (in which the pork snuggly fits), add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, scallion, garlic, black pepper corns, and star anise. Marinate for a few hours at room temperature turning a few times.
Add water so that the pork is just barely covered. Cover the pork with either a silicon "otoshi buta" 落し蓋 or aluminum foil.
Put on the lid and simmer for several hours turning a few times.
Let it cool in the simmering liquid and then put into the refrigerator for overnight.
Skim off fat.

To serve:
Remove the pork from the now congealed marinade (#1 and #2).
Slice it to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick (#3)
Meanwhile, soft boiled egg was marinated in Japanese concentrated noodle sauce in a Ziploc bag for overnight or longer in the refrigerator (#4).
Cut the egg in half (#5).  After 24 hours, the yolk is still liquid but the more you marinate, the more yolks will jell.
I have "pork belly chasu", "menma" seasoned bamboo shoots, "ajitma" seasoned boiled egg and chopped chives for toppings (#6).

I boiled one serving of the ramen noodle as per the instructions and drained (this is half ramen 半ラーメンfor each of us).
Divide the miso seasoning package into two portions and place it in the bowls. Pour in hot dashi broth and dissolve the miso seasoning.
Add half of the package of noodles into each bowl.
Garnished it with the toppings above and the nori sheet.

This was rather decadent ramen. Compared to pork loin or even shoulder version of chasu, this is much more unctuous.  On other occasion, I made "chasu and egg" チャーシューエッグ using this which was also really good. We have to be careful that all this lovely pork belly will be "too much of a good thing"...Not likely!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Miso soup made with previously frozen Maitake and tobanjan 舞茸のピリ辛味噌汁

This was a lunch one weekend.  Since we still had extra maitake which I bought when I bought the matsutake and I saw this very interesting recipe for maitake miso soup, I  decided to make it. The mushrooms in and of themselves were very filling and combined with the other vegetables in the soup plus the freshly cooked rice and  simmered "kabocha" かぼちゃの煮物 and blanched broccolini I served along side, this turned out to be a very good but very big lunch. (as a result, my wife and I couldn't eat dinner that day.)

The bowls I used were much larger than regular miso soup bowls. The picture doesn't show the ingredients in the soup very well. The unique thing about this recipe, and the thing that caught my attention, was that it called for freezing the maitake (to enhance its flavor) and the addition of tobanjan 豆板醤. This, I just had to try because if it was possible to freeze the mushroom resulting in improved flavor that technique could come in handy for other recipes. I had to make some variations to the recipe, for example, since I did not have Japanese "Kabu" turnip which was suggested in the original recipe, I used daikon, carrot, wakame seaweed, and scallion.

The picture below shows the kabocha and broccolini. To make a typical "teishoku" 定食  i.e. dinner or a lunch set, we would have needed stukemono 漬物 or pickled/salted vegetables which we did not have.

One package of maitake (1/4 lb), hand torn into bit sized pieces, quickly rinsed in water with the moisture removed using a salad spinner. Place mushrooms in a Ziploc bag and freeze overnight. (the recipe indicates that this process enhances the flavor of the maitake).

Daikon, peeled and sliced  in 1/4 inch thick rounds and cut in half (amount arbitrary)
Carrot, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch thick diagonally (amount arbitrary)
Salt preserved  (or dry) "wakame" seaweed, salt washed and hydrated, cut into bite sized pieces (amount arbitrary)

Scallion, finely chopped

2 cups dashi broth (I used a dashi pack which included small dried fish called "iriko", which is more appropriate for miso soup)

1 tbs of miso
1/2 tsp of tobanjan (or more if you like it spicy)

I added the broth, maitake (not thawed), daikon and carrot into a pan. I simmered it until the vegetables were cooked (for 10-15 minutes).
I added the wakame and dissolved the miso and tobanjan. I tasted and add more miso or tobanjan.
Add the scallion and when it comes back to a boil, shut off the flame and serve.

Although I added just a small amount of tobanjan, the soup was still rather spicy. It was ok with me but my wife thought it was too hot. She added yogurt to the soup. She said it calmed it down and tasted good. We are not sure freezing made any difference. I was afraid ice crystals would form in the maitake and make it spongy when it was frozen but that did not happen. It maintained a nice firm texture. This is a good soup and the freezing technique will be useful for making the maitake last longer. However, my wife said maitake is best if it was cooked with some oil.