Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Natto stuffed Tofu pouch納豆詰め油揚焼

Initially, I thought I did not post this item.  Since a search of my blog did not yield anything. But it turns out I posted this item many years ago (2009)  It was one dish among several I served that time.  Grilled deep fried tofu pouch or "Yaki abura-age" 焼き油揚 is a rather common Japanese appetizer or breakfast item. It can be eaten with soy sauce or stuffed with various items, melting cheese being one of the most common items(Kitusne Raclett)). I thawed a small package of natto without thinking about how I would serve it and came up with this rather easy solution.

Natto is a difficult food item for Westerners to approach and even some Japanese shy away from it. It took some time and effort before my wife could enjoy (tolerate?) natto. The secret is to mix it well (in my case, using a special Natto mixing tool). Mixing it well with air, appears to reduce the smell and stickiness.

After cooking, I cut it diagonally showing natto inside.

Ingredients (for two small appetizers):
2 small deep fried tofu pouches (abura-age) for Inari sushi or a rectangular one cut into two.
One package of natto
1 stalk chopped scallion
1 perilla leaf (optional, finely julienned)
Soy sauce and Japanese mustard (or use  packages came with the natto).

If using frozen aura-age, thaw and then pour hot water over the tofu pouches to remove any excess oil, pat dry with a paper towel. If not easily opened, roll it with a rolling pin and open the pouch trying not to tear it.

Prepare the natto by mixing with the scallion, soy sauce and mustard. The more you mix the less oder and stickiness it will have. Stuff the pouch with the natto and close the opening using a tooth pick. You could grill this in a toaster oven but this time I cooked it in a frying pan until both sides were nicely browned and the natto was hot.

While it is hot, pour on some soy sauce and serve. This is still natto and may not appeal to everybody but we enjoyed it with cold sake. You need a bit of sake as a chaser after enjoying this dish.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Pork belly with spicy sauce 茹で豚のピリ辛ソース

We were served this dish at our friend's home while we were in Japan. It is a pork belly dish but quite different from my usual "Kakuni" 角煮. The hostess graciously shared the recipe with me and I made this dish.  The key is the spicy sauce. Without it, the pork is rather bland.

Compared to Kakuni, not much fat gets rendered out. The piquant sauce (mine turned out much spicer than we had in Japan) really makes the dish.

This is much simpler and easier to make compared to Kakuni. I made some changes to the original recipe for the sauce.

About 1lb pork belly.
Several slices of ginger
Several stalks of scallion
Sake 1tbs

For sauce
4tbs of roasted sesame oil
4tbs soy sauce
2 dried Japanese hot peppers, seed removed and chopped
1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 stalks of scallion finely chopped

1. In a large pan, boil water and dunk the block of pork belly for 30 seconds, pull it out and wash it in cold running water.
2. Replace the water in the pan with fresh water and add the slices of ginger, the scallion, and the sake. Submerge the pork belly in the water and let it come to a boil and then turned down the heat to simmer (see below).
3. Remove the scum that will form on the surface of the water as it simmers and cook it for one hour.
4. Let it cool down in the cooking liquid to room temperature.

For the sauce:
In a small sauce pan, heat the sesame oil and add the red pepper, scallion, ginger and garlic. When fragrant, add soy sauce. When it comes to boil, cut the flame and let it cool to room temperature.

To serve, slice the pork belly and add the sauce.

This is a good pork belly dish. The red meat portion gets a bit dry but overall, it is nice and unctuous. Eating the meat alone, it is rather bland but the sauce really makes it. My sauce was much more spicy than the one we had in Japan. My wife usually does not like overly spicy sauce/food but she liked the sauce. It is sort of a variation of "Ra-yu" ラー油. We kept the meat in the cooking liquid in the refrigerator. After, slicing, I briefly micro waved it (20 seconds) to take off the chill. It was as good reheated as when just cooked. The sauce can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Seared Tuna with soy sauce and Balsamic vinegar レアマグロステーキのバルサミコ醤油ソース

This was an on-the-fly recipe I came up with one evening. We had our usual frozen yellow fin tuna block thawed. Although I have made quite a few dishes designed to make this low-quality tuna sashimi palatable, I was pressed with time and came up with this quick dish. 

This is "shimo-furi" 霜降りor very rare tuna steak with the surface seared in with a small amount of oil in a frying pan. I made a sauce which was mixture of aged balsamic vinegar and soy sauce in the same pan.

This was not bad and went well with the red wine (I am sure it was California cab) rather well.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Enoki and shiitake mushrooms in miso butter sauce えのきと椎茸の味噌バーター

This is a variation of what I posted some years ago. For some reason, our regular grocery store stopped carrying shiitake mushrooms.  So, when we were at Whole Foods, I got enoki and shiitake mushrooms. I made this small dish to go with wine.

Some sweetness from mirin and nutty miso mixed with butter is a good combination.

This dish goes well with wine or sake.

I made this in an aluminum foil pouch in our toaster oven. So, the clean up was easy.

1 package of enoki mushroom, root portion cut off and separated.
2-3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and caps cut into thin strips.
2 scallions, finely chopped.
1 tbs of mirin
1 tbs of miso
1 tsp of butter

In the center of a sheet of aluminum foil place the butter, scallion, mushrooms and fold to make a pouch. Before sealing, add the mirin and miso. Pinch the opening to close.
Place it in 350F toaster oven  for 30 minutes.
Open the pouch and mix the miso and liquid to make sauce and serve.

This is a quick comforting dish with nice texture and the flavors of enoki (with a texture almost like noodles) and shiitake (meaty and earthy) mixed with butter and miso tastes. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mackerel simmered in miso on new crane plate サバの味噌煮

The purpose of this post is to show our new acquisitions from Japan. These items are from Kyoto. I served mackerel simmered in miso.

This plate depicts a Tancho crane 丹頂鶴 famous in Hokkaido with red head and black wing tips. This one came from Kawazen touki 河善陶器 in Nishiki market 錦市場, Kyoto 京都.

We also got hashi-oki 箸置きor chop stick rests. These came from a small store called "Gallary Chihata" ギャラリーちはた in Arashiyama 嵐山, Kyoto, which is on the main street to the famous bridge called "Togetsu-kyo" 渡月橋 on Katsura river 桂川. We got four of these all depicting vegetables (Artist name was associated with these but we lost the information).

At the same store, we also bought two sake cups of "Kiyomizu-yaki" 清水焼 which is the kiln in Kyoto.

One appears to depict some flowering tree but we are not sure what it is.

The other one depicts iris.

It is always nice to have these new cups and plates from Japan. Even the same sake and food taste better.

Monday, November 13, 2017

steamed fig in sesame sauce 蒸しイチジクの胡麻酢あえ

This is the second attempt at figs in sesame sauce. This time, I removed the skin and steamed them instead of grilling them. This one came out very similar to what we had in Japan.

Steaming does not soften the figs but adds some texture and a subtle difference in taste.

The sauce was the same sauce I used for the grilled version.

Ingredients (2 small servings):
2 mission figs, stem removed and skin removed (see below.

For sesame dressing sauce.
2 tbs white sesame seeds
2 tbs white sesame paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sake
1/2 tsp soys sauce

Directions: 1. Steam the skinned figs for 7 minutes (see below).

For the sauce:
1. In a small dry frying pan, add the sesame seeds and roast until slightly brown and fragrant.
2. Put the roasted sesame in a Japanese suribachi すり鉢 and grind them until oil comes out and they are evenly ground.
3. Add white sesame paste (nerigoma 練り胡麻), sugar, rice vinegar, sake, and soy sauce and mix well. Adjust the consistency and taste by adding more vinegar/sake or sauce.

This is much better than the previous version (skin on and grilled). It has a nice gentle flavor and texture which goes well with the dressing. This dish goes best with sake.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Grilled fig in sesame dressing イチジクの胡麻酢和え 

We usually do not go to expensive restaurants when we visit Japan. We end up in Izakayas or similar establishments. Only a few exceptions occur when we dine with our Japanese friends. Most of our hosts would take us to more formal restaurants than an Izakaya. We really liked one appetizer dish we had in such a Japanese "ryoutei" 料亭 in Niigata 新潟. It was figs dressed in sesame, vinegar dressing. After coming back, I looked up recipes and tried to make a similar dish. This is the first try.

I used nice ripe mission fig.

This was good but not exactly the same as the dish we had in Japan. The one we had in Japan, appeared to have no skin.

Ingredients (for two small servings):
2 ripe mission figs
Sugar to coat the figs.

for sesame dressing:
2 tbs white sesame seeds
2 tbs white sesame paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sake
1/2 tsp soys sauce

For figs.
1. Cut the stem of the figs, cut into quarters. Roll the skin side in sugar to coat.
2. In toaster oven, toast the figs until sugar melts and starts bubbling (see below).
3. Take them out and let them cool down.

For sesame dressing:
1. In a small dry frying pan, add the sesame seeds and roast the sesame until slightly brown and fragrant.
2. Put the roasted sesame in a Japanese suribachi すり鉢 and grind them until oil comes out and they are evenly ground.
3. Add white sesame paste(nerigoma 練り胡麻), sugar, rice vinegar, sake, and soy sauce and mix well. Adjust the consistency and taste by adding more vinegar/sake or or sauce.
4. Dress the figs and serve.

This is not bad but the skin on the figs did not particularly go well. It was a little tough and distracting from the over all texture of the dish. I will try a different version.