Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Poached egg with Indian-style sauce 落とし卵とインド風ソース

Recently, I had surgery on my right hand and ended up sporting a large cast which made it impossible for me to cook anything for several weeks. During this time, my wife did all the cooking (quite admirably, I might add, despite the dearth of Japanese dishes). Recently she has become interested in Indian food particularly the use and combination of spices that provide complex flavor without a lot of heat. Although we have posted her dishes before, I asked her to “pinch hit” for me posting her Indian-inspired and other dishes exclusively until I am back in action. This is the first installment. The Indian dishes are all based on recipes from two books; "Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking" and "Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking". In most cases she took considerable liberties with the recipes (our apologies to the cookbook’s author) but they still tasted good.

We had this for breakfast. It is a type of curry sauce with a poached egg on English muffin bread. (My wife also baked the bread. Instead of making round muffins she made it into a loaf). I think the original recipe called for the use of hard-boiled eggs but we like runny yolk. Of course, we used pasteurized shell eggs for this dish. Breaking the yolk and mixing it with the sauce and eating it with the bread (you’ll need a fork and knife) was wonderful. Again, it was very flavorful with lots of spices but not spicy hot. Perfect for breakfast or a late night snack.

1 medium onion chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 jalapeño chopped
1 cup of light cream
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cumin seeds
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp garam masala
2 tsp. tomato paste
2/3 cup chicken stock

My wife cooked the onion until it was browned and caramelized. Then she added the ginger and jalapeño followed by the cream, lemon juice, cumin seeds, cayenne, salt, garam masala, tomato paste and chicken stock. She cooked the mixture until everything was combined and the sauce had thickened a bit. (The original recipe call for putting 6-8 hardboiled eggs, cut in half, face side up into the sauce and spooning the sauce over them cooking for 5 minutes). Instead, she toasted some english muffin bread, buttered it, put the sauce on the bread and topped it with a poached egg—voila, Indo-eggs Benedict (?). 

As I said earlier, when the poached egg was broken the yoke ran into and mixed with the sauce. It was a luscious combination because the sauce was not too hot (spicy) but full of flavor. The toast added a lovely crunch.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Barley salad 大麦のサラダ

This is a salad my wife makes as a “side” for lunches and we really like it. We made it recently and found out that we have not blogged it. This salad will go well with sandwiches or any Western-style entree but, it’s also a good drinking snack on its own.  This will go with red wine or sake.


There are many ingredients and we like them all together but you can omit or substitute. Besides the barley, Feta cheese, walnuts and onion are “musts”.

Barley: We used Quaker oats Medium pearl barley* (1 cup). My wife first dry roasted the barley in a dry frying pan until it started smoking. After it cooled down somewhat, she rinsed it under cold running water. (Although she would have rinsed the barley after roasting anyway, in this case the rinsing “put out the fire”)… despite the pyrotechnics the barley had a nice roasted flavor. This appears to add flavor and the step should not be skipped.

Instead of water, she used non-fat reduced salt chicken broth from Swanson. Following the recipe, she added 4 and 1/3 cup of liquid but, in retrospect, 4 cups would have been enough. At the end of 1 hour of simmering with a lid on, there was still liquid left and she strained the barley and then again washed it under the cold running water (to remove the "sliminess").

*My understanding of this product is that the outer hulls are removed, and grain polished (pearled) to remove bran on the surface. I am not sure about "Medium" designation (cooking time on the box was 40-45 minutes).

Onion: I finely chopped (two small).

Celery: I chopped celery finely after removing the veins (3 stalks).

Walnuts: My wife first roasted them in the toaster oven and removed the brown skin by rubbing between the dish towel and coarsely chopped (1/2 cup).

Olives: I used mixture of oil-cured black olives and spicy green olives, pits remove and coarsely chopped (amount arbitrary but about 1/2 cup combined).

Feta cheese: I crumbled a block of feta cheese (about 1/2 cup).

Parsley: finely chopped (the amount is arbitrary, I used 4 sprigs).

Dressing: mixture of olive oil, rice vinegar and Dijon mustard (about a 4:1:1 ratio).

I mixed all the ingredients and the dressing up and seasoned it with cracked black pepper. I tasted it and it had enough saltiness (from chicken broth in which the barley was cooked, olive and feta) and I did not add any salt.

This tasted better after sitting in the refrigerator for few hours since all the flavors will meld together. The barley has a nice texture and nutty roasted flavor, the walnuts provide additional crunch, and the olives give bursts of saltiness along with the feta. It’s a nice complex salad.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Marinated Salmon and salmon roe “Oyako” rice bowl 鮭のマリネといくらの親子丼

I still had some leftover Russian marinated salmon from the New Year. One evening I made this small "donburi" 丼 as an ending dish. In Japanese culinary parlance, "Oyako" 親子, meaning parents and offspring, denotes dishes in which both offspring (eggs) and parent (meat) are used in the same dish.  The most common is a combination of egg and chicken in a donburi called "Oyako donburi" 親子丼. Another rendition is the combination of salmon (grilled, cold smoked, or sashimi) and salmon roe "Sake Oyako donduri". Since I had marinated salmon and I prepared Ikura in sake and soy sauce a few days ago, I came up with this dish.


I just made vinegared rice, added nori strips and julienned perilla leaves, I then placed Russian marinated salmon and onion and topped it with Ikura in soy sauce and sake.

The combination of saltiness with vinegar flavor both from the rice and the marinated salmon works well.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Kuromame" black beans in Greek yogurt 黒豆の水切りヨーグルト和え

Kuromame 黒豆 or "black beans" are practically only eaten as part of the New Year’s dishes. Reportedly, it is not related to Western "black beans" but are a type of black soybean (Recipe in English is also found here). I have not ever prepared New Year’s black beans myself but instead bought them from the Japanese grocery store. More recently, they have been included in Sushitaro Osechi.  Although we always enjoy kuromame on new year's day, we tend to forget we have kuromame and find them much later tucked in the back of the refrigerator. I saw an interesting recipe to use kuromame on the Internet and decide to try it.

I did not do a good job presenting this dish (some embellishment such as some parsley etc would have helped) but it is too late.

I used Greek yogurt (or you can drain regular yogurt to make “greek” yourself). Using my own instinct, I added a bit of good fruity olive oil and salt to the yogurt and mixed in the cooked black beans.

It tasted good but I  mainly tasted the Greek yogurt. The black beans added texture and some sweetness in contrast with the sourness from the yogurt. This is a good way to finish off the kuromame .

Friday, February 14, 2014

New Year's eve soba noodle from Sushi Taro Osechi 寿司太郎の年越しそば

This should have been posted earlier but somehow got delayed. New year's eve soba noodles or "Tosh-koshi soba"年越しそば appears to be a common custom in Japan (with about 57% of the population participating according to Japanese Wikipedia). When I was growing up, however, our household did not have this custom at all. We usually had a feast on New Year's eve that did not leave any room to eat soba even if we wanted to. It appears that the custom started in Edo period 江戸時代 for good luck/longevity (longevity because soba is thin and "long" and to "cut" bad fortune from the previous year as soba is brittle and easily can be cut). In any case, Sushi Taro Osechi also included hand cut or "teuchi" 手打ち "Toshikoshi soba". We were too full to eat this on the New Year's eve but we ate this as a  lunch on the second day of the New Year.

There appears to be many variations of toshikoshi soba (cold or hot in a broth etc), I made it to "zarusoba" ざるそば as you see above. ("Zaru" means "bamboo basket" as the noodles are served a special flat bamboo basket or in a special container like I used).

The Sushitaro soba came in a separate box with instructions. According to Chef Kitayama's description, it was made from specific soba and wheat flours produced in Hokkaido. A pieces of kelp and "Katsuobush" 鰹節 dried bonito flakes (real "MaCoy", probably shaving from the ends of the dried bonito or katsuobushi were included and were perfect to make dashi). I followed the instructions and prepared the soba and dipping sauce. For garnish, I served thinly sliced scallion and nori strips. I also added Japanese red pepper flakes ("Ichimi tougarashi" 一味唐辛子)

The noodles had a nice al-dente texture and we enjoyed it although it was not the "end-of-the-year" but "beginning-of-the-year" soba.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kampachi collar dressed in grated daikon カンパチかまのみぞれ和え

The package of frozen amber jack collars I got from the fish for sushi contained three. I grilled all three in the toaster oven at the same time and served two. That left one over. A few days later, I decided to make this dish. I briefly warmed the fish up in the microwave oven and asked my wife to debone it (since she is the resident expert in this area).


I mixed the fish meat with grated daikon (drained), (the amount is arbitrary) and soy sauce. I garnished with finely chopped chives.

As a small starter dish, this is simple and good.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Grilled Amber Jack collar カンパチのカマ焼

One of our favorite dishes at Tako Grill is grilled "Hamachi" collar and whenever it is available we order it. We have found frozen Hamachi collar at the near-by Japanese grocery store but it happened only once. When we got frozen tuna and kampachi sashimi for "Fish for Sushi", they also had "Kampachi" collars カンパチのかま so we ordered them along with the sashimi fish.

Since it has been bitterly cold in Washington, DC, grilling these small items on a charcoal grill outside in the evening was out of the question. Not to be deterred, I decided to grill them in our toaster oven (on "broil" mode). Half way through the cooking, it started smoking. “Eau de Fish” started permeating the house. On my wife's advice, I hastily moved the entire toaster oven under the hood vent for the stove and turned the vent on high. The smoke cleared and I managed to finish the cooking (see below).  Next time, I will move the toaster oven under the hood from the start. (Born of necessity we actually found a method to cook other “smelly” items in the toaster oven such as roasted Brussels sprouts which taste good but leave the house smelling of sprouts for days.) I served this with grated daikon and wedges of lemon. It is not as oily as Hamachi but almost equally good. Since it is smaller than Hamachi collar, I served one each.


One package contained three collars (see below). I thawed them slowly in the refrigerator (for 2 days). I salted them and started cooking them on the meat side using the toaster oven on broil after 7 minutes I turned them over so it was skin side up. That’s when it started smoking. After moving the toaster oven under the hood, I continued broiling for another 7 minutes until the skin was crisp and brown and the meat was done.


Japanese kitchen stoves usually have a "fish grill" which appears to do a better job than my toaster oven. But we will be prepared next time, the toaster over will go under the hood the minute I even think of broiling fish.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Pinot noir we can love with two curries 気に入ったピノノワールと合いがけカレー

We usually do not particularly like Pinot noir including Burgundy. (We are not sophisticated enough to enjoy the subtleties of these Pinots). But occasionally, we come across a Pinot we really like such as the one we had recently.  So I decided it was worthwhile to post something about it. This wine was a bit unusual for Pinot (may be that is the reason we liked it). It was unusually dark in color for a Pinot—it was almost dark like Cab. The wine is called "Belle Glos Pinot Noir" Clark and Telephone from Santa Barbara. The grapes are from the vineyard located at the corner of Clark and Telephone roads. This is a young wine (2012 harvest, 9 month aging in an oak cask). It bursts with dark cherry, blueberry, caramel and vanilla up front  leading to a smooth silky tannin. We can really enjoyed this Pinot.

The appetizers may not have been a perfect pairing for this wonderful California Pinot but the threesome I served were (from left to right); Indian spiced braised cabbage with raisins (my wife made this, a subject of a future post), baked spicy tofu cubes, and baked chick peas. These dishes were not too spicy hot but had layers of spice flavors. For the tofu dish, this time I used Sriracha which added a nice flavor and heat.

For dinner, we had two quite different curries which my wife made. These two curries were made for a dinner for our friends; a mixed population of vegetarians and omnivores but because of bad weather they weren’t able to make it to the dinner. The left "red" curry is  lamb curry and the right "green" curry is spinach curry. For the spinach curry, instead of home-made cheese curd, we used cubes of Feta and smoked gouda cheeses. In Japan, "Aikake" curry 合いかけカレー is rather popular in which two different curries are served over rice on a single plate. The idea is you first enjoy the two curries and rice individually and then mix them up to create a new flavored curry.

My being carnivore/omnivore, I liked the lamb curry better but the spinach curry was totally different in flavor and texture and was excellent. Both curries had complex layers of Indian spices but were not too spicy hot. For some reason, this Pinot really went well with these curries.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tender simmered octopus 蛸の柔らか煮

When I made extra octopus legs to Galician octopus tapas, I also made a Japanese-style simmered octopus.

This is a rather simple recipe. I started simmering the octopus legs and head (body) in water with a dash of sake with an Otoshi-buta 落とし蓋 (see below) and a regular lid. I cooked it for over 1 hour before I seasoned the broth. I did not measure but added sugar first (1 tbs to about 3 cups of boiling liquid). I simmered it for 30 minutes and added soy sauce (about 1 tbs). I removed the lid and turned up the flame to low-medium and reduced the broth to 1/3 (took another 30 minutes).

The sauce became thick and clingy (The first picture). I cut  the cooked meat into bite sized pieces and served. We like this preparation better than Galician octopus. The meat became really tender after long hours of cooking. With this dish we congratulated ourselves for completely finishing the whole boiled octopus.

P.S. Once the simmer octopus was refrigerated, it got chewy again. heating up in the microwave did not improve.