Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chicken breast with yuzu flavor 柚子鶏

I saw this recipe in one of the blogs I follow (in Japanese). Interestingly, this is all done in the microwave oven in a fashion similar to my saka-mushi  or sake-steamed chicken. This is a quite good drinking snack and we enjoyed it.

I followed the recipe with very minor modifications (I did not add sugar to the marinade).


Chicken breast, boneless skinless (one, large)
Salt (1/4 tsp)
Potato starch (1 tsp)

For marinade:
Soy sauce 1 tbs
Mirin 1.5 tbs (original 1 tbs)
Sake (rice wine) 1/2 tbs (original 1 tbs)
Rice vinegar 1 tbs
Soy sauce 1 tbs
(Sugar 1 tbs, I omitted this)
Yuzu koshou 2tsp

For the side:
Onion, sliced, 1 medium
Scallion for garnish

I first removed the tenderloin from the chicken breast. Following the original recipe, I "stabbed" the chicken breast with the tip of my knife to make multiple cuts across the grain of the meat. Then, I flattened it using my  meat pounder (with a smooth flat bottom). I placed the marinade and the chicken in a Ziploc bag, massaged, removed as much air as possible and sealed it. I let it marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

I placed the chicken breast in a silicon microwave container. sprinkled in the potato starch, poured the marinade over and place on the lid. I microwaved it on high for 2 minutes and checked (it appeared that the sauce was getting thick and I added a small amount of hot water). I flipped the chicken over and microwaved for 1-2 more minutes. (Our microwave is 800KW, and this timing has to be adjusted depending on the wattage of your microwave oven). I let it cool down a bit with the lid on for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile I put the sliced onion in a separate silicon microwave container, put the lid on and microwaved it on high for 2 minutes. I then put the cooked onion in the sauce with the chicken.

When the chicken was warm but cooled down enough to handle, I sliced it (The first picture is one small serving which is half of the breast), put the onion on the side and garnished with chopped scallion (green part for color).
I thought this was quite good and had a nice yuzu-citrus favor from yuzu-koshou. It is not spicy at all despite the yuzu-kosho. My wife thought this was on par with my microwave sake steamed chicken. I thought this tasted more interesting. In any case, this is a perfect snack with sake or even wine. Actually we had a cold ginjou 吟醸 sake from Shizuoka 静岡 prefecture called "Wakatake Onigoroshi 若竹鬼ごろし" Devil slayer. This is a slightly sweet gentle sake but has a nice fruitiness and went well with this dish.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sesame "udon" noodle salad うどんの胡麻和えサラダ

I got this idea many years ago from “sesame noodle salad” which was available in the delicatessen section of a near-by grocery store. This is a sort of hybrid dish and could go well as a side for American style barbeque or could be served as a Japanese style drinking snack.I

I used the thin Udon noodles you see below on the left called “sanuki udon” 讃岐うどん. These are the dried kind and take about 13 minutes to cook. They have some texture and won’t dissolve or get too soft even if used in chicken noodle soup. Another needed ingredient is “nerigoma” ねりごま which nowadays comes in a plastic pouch (rather than in a can, below right) similar but slightly different from tahini. Nerigoma is from roasted white sesame seeds and appears much finer or creamier than tahini but tahini can be used in this recipe. Udon noodle: I used two bundles (2 servings) of dried sanuki udon. As per the package instructions, I boiled them for 13 minutes and rinsed under running cold water and then drained. I used the noodles without cutting them but you may want to cut them into short segments. I put just a dash of dark roasted sesame oil on the noodles and mixed well using my hands to add sesame flavor as well as preventing the noodle from clumping.

Other vegetables;
Carrot (2 medium, peeled and thinly julienned)
Haricot vert (or green beans): (1/2 cup, boiled and cooled, cut on bias)
Scallion: 4 stalks chopped finely (below, lower right).

Sesame past or nerigoma: 3 tbs
Soy sauce: 2 tbs
Rice vinegar 1 tbs
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds 2 tbs, dry roasted.

The secret to a good sesame dressing is to use both sesame paste and dry roasted sesame seeds which are coarsely ground. The combination will give a nice smooth texture to the dressing as well as bursts of strong sesame flavor.

I mixed the first 4 ingredients in a small Japanese mortar (or suribachi すり鉢) (above, left upper). Of course, you can use any small container or bowl to do this. I dressed the mixture of noodles and vegetables (above, right lower) using this dressing. Meanwhile I roasted sesame seeds on a dry frying pan until the surface of the seeds started developing dark brown color and became fragrant (above, right upper). I tipped the roasted sesame seeds, preserving a small amount for garnish, in a suribachi and ground it coarsely (above left lower). I mixed this into the salad. You could add more soy sauce and/or vinegar after tasting it.

I served this with a garnish of sesame seeds. In this presentation, this is a perfect sake snack. The nice slightly chewy texture of udon noodle and sesame dressing is a good combination.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stir fried "kinpira" daikon 金平大根

When I recently made a simmered daikon dish, I removed the sharp edges (called mentori 面取り). This additional step makes the appearance of the daikon better and also prevents the edges from coming off after long simmering (called nikuzure 煮崩れ). Since I did not want to waste these scraps of daikon, I made this dish in a way very similar to “Kinpira” gobou or burdock root.

Digression alert: I first tasted this dish many years ago while bar hopping with friends in the Susukino 薄野 district of Sapporo 札幌, One of our favorite watering holes was a bar where the mama-san happened to be a high school classmate of one of my friends. One time, we stayed until closing and she suggested we move the party to another place that was still open. (Some places stayed open very late to serve people working in the industry and “night owls” the likes of us). As we walked (staggered?) to our destination we passed a fruit and vegetable stand. Such stands were not unusual in the Susukino area at that time (I always thought they were meant for drunk fathers and/or husbands to lessen the guilt of their imbibing by buying a souvenir/peace offering to take home to their families—or for bar hostesses, who were wife and/or mother, to get some vegetables for their family on the way home after a long night’s work ). The stand was open and brightly lit displaying baskets of fruits and vegetables…and they were expensive! The mama-san, urged us to stop and look around a bit. Of course, we did not buy anything especially since none of us was a father and/or husband or wife and/or mother at that time and especially since we were not going home yet.

When we finally arrived at our destination; a small bar with a lone master behind the counter, the mama-san whipped out a rather large good looking “daikon” and asked the master to make something with it. We did a double-take. Where had that come from? She apparently lifted the daikon from the fruit stand we had just visited.  Her explanation was that the fruit stand charged exorbitant prices for vegetables and this was her way of exacting justice. We were not in a state to argue. The master cooked up this dish and we enjoyed it very much. When I told this story to my wife, she just kept asking, “where did she hide the thing when she heisted it?” (Come to think of it, having divulged this story what is the statute of limitations on daikon theft?)

The amount of the vegetables are all arbitrary but this is the amount I used for two snack sized servings (below left). Since the daikon scraps were not enough, I also added 1 inch round of daikon which was peeled, sliced and julienned. I also did the same for one medium  carrot. I added julienned aburage 油揚げ which was thawed in hot water, water squeezed out and cut into thin strips.

I placed a small amount of vegetable oil (1/2 tbs) and a dash of sesame oil in a frying pan on medium heat and added flakes of red pepper (to taste). When the oil became hot, I added daikon and carrot and stir-fried  (above right). When the oil coated the vegetables, I added aburage and stirred for one more minute. I then braised with mirin (2 tbs) and soy sauce (1 tbs). I stirred until the liquid was almost completely evaporated. I garnished with white roasted sesame seeds.
I don’t remember if the dish I had at the Susukino bar included carrot and aburage. This dish could go with any drink but sake is the best match. Compared to Kinpira gobou, this has a different texture and taste, although the basic seasonings are the same.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Poached egg with curry sauce 温泉卵のカレーソース

This is another quick dish perfect for a late night after drinking or, for that  matter, as a breakfast the morning after. ( Of course we are not implying that was the case here). I just came up with this since we had leftover Japanese curry but most of the meat and vegetables were already consumed. As long as you happened to have leftover Japanese curry sauce, this is quick to make.
We just toasted a piece of bread (This happened to be English muffin bread my wife baked). My wife toasted and buttered it. She put on three slices of smoked cheddar cheese (below left). Meanwhile I heated up the curry sauce, added slices of leftover roasted pork filet, and dropped two eggs (one per serving) into the sauce and put the lid back on. I took it off from the heat when the surface of the yolk was just barely opaque and the yolks were still runny (below right). Of course, we used safe, pasteurized eggs for this.  I poured the sauce over the cheese/toast and placed the poached egg on the top. Because of the heat from the sauce, the cheese melted/softened.
Curry porched egg
We broke the egg yolk and enjoyed. The smoky flavor of the smoke cheddar cheese really worked here. The eggs yolk mixed with the curry sauce and made it richer. Since the curry sauce was rather mild, heartburn after breakfast was not a worry. This was a very hearty satisfying breakfast.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lamb stew with kidney beans 子羊肉とインゲン豆のシチュー

This is a lamb stew made from leftover roasted leg of lamb. Since my wife likes lamb, we occasionally make roasted or grilled lamb either in the oven or on the Weber grill. This time, we oven-roasted a butterflied leg of lamb which was simply seasoned with salt (smoked sea salt), pepper, and chopped fresh rosemary. We enjoyed this as a dinner with green beans and couscous one evening. We made a few sandwiches and this stew from the leftovers.CIMG5870
In saying this I am probably dating myself but this recipe is based on the one in Graham Kerr’s Mini-max cookbook. This is a very quick and simple dish using leftover and canned items but, it is quite good.

Ingredients for generous two servings:
Cooked lamb, about 1 lb (cut into bite sized chunks)
Garlic (2 fat cloves, finely chopped)
Olive oil (1 tbs) plus dash of dark roasted sesame oil
Parsley, stalk and leaves finely chopped (4 sprigs)
Kidney beans,(15 oz can, drained and washed)
Stewed whole plum tomato (12 oz can, drained and crushed by hand)
V8 juice (or tomato juice, two 5.5oz cans))
Ketchup (2 tbs)
Black pepper (to taste)
Broccoli florets (about 1 cup, separated)

I first put the olive and sesame oil in the pot and sautéed the garlic on medium low heat. When the garlic became fragrant but not browned, I added the chopped parsley and stirred for one more minute. I then moved the garlic and parsley to one side of the pan and added the ketchup to the empty part of the pan. I cooked the ketchup, occasionally stirring it until it became darkened. (Carmelizing the ketchup is one of the secrets of this recipe. It really givens it an added dimension). I then added the cooked lamb, kidney beans, tomato, and V8 juice. I mixed well, put the lid on and simmered for 30 minutes (below). Just 5 minutes before serving, I added florets of broccoli (submerged into the stew) and cooked until the broccoli was just done. Ketchup and  V8 juice have enough saltiness but taste and, if needed, adjust the seasonings including cracked black pepper to taste.
The original recipe calls for adding arrowroot slurry at the end but I did not bother.  I served this with white rice (the original recipe calls for turmeric rice which looks nice with yellow color but I am not sure if it really contributes to the taste).

This is a very comforting dish to end your evening and goes perfectly well with red wine such as good Syrah or Cab.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hash brown potato and egg casserole ハッシュブラウン キャセロール

This was yet another breakfast dish made by my wife. She saw this recipe on line. The original recipe used packaged frozen "hash brown" potatoes and "chicken sausage". In general we don’t stock premade frozen foods but we always have potatoes so we replaced the frozen hash browns with finely julienned potato. We also replaced the sausage with leftover roasted pork filet. As you can see below, the exposed portion of potatoes got “high done”—the recipe requires some further refinement. This was served with sweet onion, cucumber salad dressed in rice vinegar and Greek yogurt and my wife's whole wheat dill rolls.

Using a Japanese mandolin (Benriner), I finely julienned white potatoes. I tossed them in about 1 tbs. of olive oil to coat and added salt and pepper. Then I put them in two small ramekins (#1). We baked this blank in a 400F toaster (convection) oven for 10 minutes (#2).(Next time we need to lower the temperature). Meanwhile, my wife mixed together two eggs,small cubes of roasted pork, and cheddar cheese. We poured this egg mixture into the nests of potato and baked for another 10 minutes or until the egg was cooked (#4).

This was a quite nice small breakfast. If we can prevent the edges of the potato from getting overcooked, this will be perfect.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crostini with pesto and sundried tomato ペストとサンドライドトマトのクロスティニ

We have a potted basil plant growing at our house. I bought it to provide a continuous supply of fresh basil during the winter. Since it became rather lanky and started flowering, I decided it was time to harvest most of the leaves. My theory is that these annual plants die after flowering no matter how much sun and water are available to them. But I left two branches since my wife’s theory is that it may survive the winter (as of this posting it still hasn’t died…could my wife be right?) Faced with a large amount of  fresh basil leaves, the only thing I could do was make pesto. One evening, I used the pesto I made as a sort-of crostini with sundried tomato.
My pesto is nothing special but I do not add garlic since I keep this for one week or so in the refrigerator. Raw garlic in an olive oil mixture may not be safe (it may have a risk of botulism). Also when I use this in our sandwiches for lunch, I do not want garlic. If needed, I add crushed garlic to the pesto just before I use it. This time my wife made baked garlic and I am adding this (much milder) before using my pesto.
I did not measure anything but this is the amount of fresh basil leaves I harvested (#1). I dry roasted the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until slightly browned and oil started coming out on the surface (#2) and set them aside to cool. I added the basil leaves, the pine nuts, grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese into the cuisineart. I added good fruity olive oil as I pulsed the machine (#3). I tasted it and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I placed it in sealable containers. This should last at least one week in the fridge and much longer in the freezer.
For crostini, I first toasted the slices of baguette. dripped small amount of olive oil on the bread, smeared on the pesto, add more grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  I toasted it again briefly and added sundried tomato on the top (I should have used oil packed rather than dry). The crostini was good and went very well with our red wine.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crispy nagaimo "isobe" fry 長芋のカリカリ磯辺焼き

I had half a small nagaimo 長芋 left. I previously posted quite a few ways to prepare nagaimo . So I decided to do something a bit different. I remembered seeing recipes similar to this on the internet but the details are probably different since I just made this dish from memory without looking for the original recipe. Essentially, this is a pan-fried nagaimo. Instead of using the usual butter and soy sauce or salt, I made a breading with panko, dried powdered seaweed or "aonori" 青海苔 and also added grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Just for kicks, I served it with mayonnaise-Sriracha (the yellow stuff shown in the picture below) and my home-made pesto.

I first peeled and cut the nagaimo into 1/4 inch thick medallions (#1). I mixed panko (3tsp), aonori (1 tsp), Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (grated, 3 tbs), salt (1/2 tsp), and black pepper (to taste). I put this mixture in a Ziploc bag added the nagaimo and shook the bag to coat the nagaimo medallions (#2). To a non-stick frying pan, I added light olive oil (1/2 tbs) on low flame. I fried one side for 5 minutes (or longer) without moving or touching the pieces (I leave them alone to prevent the forming crust from breaking). Once a nice brown crust formed I flipped them over and fried the other side for another 5 minutes (#4).

I decided to make some dipping sauces; one is a mixture of mayonnaise with Sriracha (or any hot sauce) and the other is a pesto sauce I made some days ago.
The cooked nagaimo is quite different from raw or grated nagaimo. The slimy surface almost disappears. The crust has lots of flavor and a crispy texture. The nagaimo itself has nice firm crunch. For sauce, we liked the mayonnaise/Sriracha the best.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Baked crepes in Béchamel sauce クレープのホワイトソース オーブン焼き

Since I had leftovers from the large batch of crepes I made, I came up with two near near-identical dishes to have with wine in the evening. One was made with my leftover roasted pork filet (below). I served it with cucumber and onion salad with yogurt sauce. I also made a similar dish using my (leftover) sake-steamed chicken breast. I took only one picture of the chicken dish after it came out of the oven (the last picture) but I forgot to take pictures of the final plated product. So this time, I made a point of taking a few more pictures including some of the final dish. Both dishes are almost identical. The differences are types of cheeses and meat I used. 
Essentially, I made a Béchamel sauce starting with sautéing finely chopped shallots and shiitake mushroom adding flour, sautéed them together for few minutes. I added milk at once and stir until the sauce thickened. I seasoned it with salt , white pepper and freshly ground nutmeg as posted before. I then added cubes of sake steamed chicken or roasted pork filet and sautéed spinach into the  Béchamel sauce. I placed a small portion of this mixture on the crepes (#1) and rolled them into a tube. I placed these stuffed crepes in a small baking pan (#2) and covered them with the remaining Béchamel  sauce. I covered this with grated smoked cheddar and parmigeano reggiano cheeses. I baked it in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes.
I used a mix of grated smoked Gruyere and cheddar cheese on the dish I made with the sake-steamed chicken (below).
For both dishes, I let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.This was a nice dish to have with wine. It was also extremely satisfying—bordering on comfort food (how could it be anything else with a nice Béchamel sauce and melted cheese). Although I do not remember exactly which wine we had with this, I am sure, one of our favorite reds.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stuffed crepes 沢山具入りクレープ

After making a batch of crepes, we had quite a lot left over. I made this stuffed crepe one morning for breakfast.

Stuffing: Actually, I do not remember precisely what I did. I am sure this is thinly sliced onion, fresh shiitake mushroom, left over roasted pork, all sautéed together and seasoned with salt and pepper. I placed the crepe on a cookie sheet and then put the stuffing and cheese (My guess is either smoked gouda or gruyere  on top. I folded the crepe over the filling and put them into a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until they were heated through and the cheese melted.
Compared to omelet, the crepes added a more interesting texture and a faint vanilla flavor that actually works. Of course, my justification for posting this is “any good hearty breakfast will be a good alcohol-soaking ending dish after indulgence”.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Crepe クレープ

We may have to change our blog title from “Izakaya” to “Breakfast”. This is another suggestion for breakfast from my wife. We had our share of pancakes especially in the summer when blueberries are in season. For this crepe, instead of cheese fillings such as Mascarpone, she suggested Greek yogurt flavored with Clementine orange.

Here is the crepe we had one weekend.
Next weekend, we had similar crepe but with a slight variation.
As usual, my wife made the batter and I cooked the pancakes.

Ingredients for crepe batter:
3/4 cup All purpose flour
1/2 Tsp. salt
1 Tsp. double-acting baking powder
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 Tsp. vanilla
grated lemon rind

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. Mix together the sugar, eggs, milk, water and vanilla (make sure the sugar dissolves completely). Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Although some recipes call for resting the batter for 5 to 6 hrs or overnight (I suppose to relax the gluten and make tender crepes), we did not do this since we were rather hungry. Add more milk or water to get proper runny consistency.
Since we do not have a special crepe pan, rake or a crepe machine, I just used our non-stick frying pan. I preheated the frying pan for few minutes and added light olive oil (the amount of oil has to be just enough to coat the bottom). When it started to shimmer (but not smoke), it is the opportune time to add the batter. The batter has to be runny enough to spread very thin and the pan has to be hot enough that the batter can be spread thinly but the portion in contact with the bottom of pan immediately starts cooking. I tilted and turned the pan to spread the batter. I took the pan on and off heat to get the right heat level (#1). When the surface looked dry, I flipped the crepe using a spatula (#2). This definitely requires some practice. Just 10-15 seconds on the last side and the crepe was done (#3). I stacked them up on the plate (#4).
Yogurt sauce:
Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt drained using cheese cloth in the refrigerator over night)
Clementine orange, peeled and cut up in small chunks
Juice of the orange, add sugar to taste

This is quite good for a relatively low fat recipe. The original recipe calls for a mixture of Mascarpone flavored with fresh orange/orange juice as the stuffing but Greek yogurt and Clementine are good substitutes. You just can’t beat the texture and lovely mouth feel of a crepe. The mild vanilla flavor of the crepe went very well with the orange flavored yogurt.