Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cold mint tea 冷ミント紅茶

This cold mint tea was served to us by a neighbor in the town where my wife grew up. It was a very hot summer day and we were waiting for the plumber to come take care of the inevitable plumbing problem that always seemed to manifest whenever we went to work on my wife's parent's house in rural Pennsylvania. We were frustrated, hot and tired when our neighbor suggested we retire to her front porch for some cold mint tea.  It was so refreshing, nicely minty and restorative.  Sitting, rocking on the porch, catching the occasional breeze, watching the cars go by on the street, discussing recent "doings" in the town, we became wrapped in a relaxing calm. What did it really matter the plumber hadn't shown up yet? My wife asked for the recipe for the tea. The neighbor explained how to make it and took my wife to a patch in the back garden where the mint was growing in profusion. Just then the plumber pulled in.

After the plumber left, the neighbor showed up at the back door with a bag full of mint cuttings for us to take home and plant in our garden. My wife started to say "Thank you..." when the neighbor stopped her and wagging a finger said "Never thank someone for a plant cutting or it won't grow; it is an old Pennsylvania Dutch custom."  Not missing a beat my wife said "...for helping with the house." The neighbor smiled, nodded approval, handed over the bag full of cuttings then said, "you're welcome." We planted the mint in several places in our yard after coming home and this year it has become established enough that we can make mint tea using the neighbor's recipe. Every time we taste this tea it reminds us of the time we first tasted it.

We served it in our favorite very thin Japanese tumbler (called "Usuhari"うすはり) which we bought several years ago when we visited Japan.

Several handfuls of mint (to taste) (#1)
8 cups of water
1/4 cup sugar
3 Lipton (cold brew or iced tea) bags. Cold brew can be made without hot water but according to the package, it can also be made using hot water.

Tear up the mint leaves (the neighbor stressed they should be torn, not cut) to increase the flavor.
Add the sugar (#2) and add the water (#3). Bring the water to the boil. Immediately turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Steep the tea for 5 minutes (#4). Strain the tea into a glass container and let cool. Serve cold.

The way my wife makes this tea it is not too sweet. The mint really comes through and this is very refreshing summer drink. We even occasionally take some to work to drink in the afternoon.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rich sour cream bread 豪華サワークリームパン

This is another one of my wife's baking. I may have to change the title of the blog to something like "Uncle and Auntie "N" on Wine, Food, and Bread". This recipe is also from the "Beard on Bread" cookbook and sort of high in fat (butter, sour cream and egg yolks). Its also a bit sweet. It requires some quite lengthy and rather complicated steps. My wife even glazed it a with brandy and marmalade wash. This is somewhat similar to the Pistachio bread she made before from the same cookbook.

The stuffing adds a sweet cinnamon flavor and walnuts.

This is when it was removed from the pan. She glazed with brandy and marmalade (The recipe called for apricot jam but we did not have it).


(for the bread. This is half the recipe shown in the book. I only had one tube pan and one loaf seemed more than enough)

2 packages yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 cup cold milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon flavoring
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 sticks butter
4 to 6 cups flour

for the filling
1 Tbs. melted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar (or more to taste)
1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts (toasted). I used walnuts

for the glaze
1/2 cup marmelade (or apricot jam)
1 Tbs. triple sec

Bloom the yeast in the warm water and granulated sugar. Combine the next 7 ingredients (from the salt to the egg yolks). Using a pastry cutter cut the butter into 4 cups of flour as you would for pastry dough to produce a dry meal-like consistency. Put the butter/flour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the yeast and other combined liquid ingredients and knead to start forming a dough. Add as much additional flour as needed to make a soft smooth dough. Knead on speed 2 for 7 to 10 minutes. Form into a ball, put into a bowl and lightly coat with vegetable oil so it doesn't dry out. Cover tightly and put into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until doubled. (The recipe said the dough could stay in the fridge for up to 3 days but should be punched down twice a day until it is finally rolled out.) I kept it in the fridge overnight. The next day I took it out and it was a solid ball (#1). Roll out to a 10 X 14 rectangle. Brush with the 1 tbs. melted butter for the filling (# 2). Sprinkle on the brown sugar combined with the cinnamon, followed by the chopped nuts, then the raisins. Using a rolling pin press the filling into the dough (#3). Roll up from the wide end like a jelly roll (#4 & #5). Seal the ends as best you can. Fit the roll into the 9 inch tube pan (#6) until the ends meet and seal them together (#7). Cover and let rise until doubled (#8). Bake in a preheated 375 degree over for 45 to 55 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped (#9). Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Combine the ingredients for the glaze and and brush the glaze on when the bread is still hot (#10).

This is good bread but I am not sure it is quite worth the effort unless it is for a special occasion. It is rich and sweet with nice walnuts taste. This would be good for the holidays and a special treat for breakfast. We enjoyed it with a cup of coffee.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Potato salad stuffed "chikuwa" fish cake 熊本惣菜ちくわサラダ

I saw this recipe on line. According to the recipe, this was invented by a side-dish store (called "Sozai-ya" 惣菜屋 ) of  Kumamoto city 熊本市 on Kushu Island 九州, the southern most island of Japan. It was invented as a way to use up an excess amount of potato salad. Since I had frozen "chikuwa 竹輪" fish cake and leftover potato salad, I made this one weekend. The original recipe calls for chopped boiled eggs in the potato salad but I just used my usual potato salad which included myouga 茗荷 in sweet vinegar (home grown, harvested and made) and rakyo ラッキョウ, Japanese cocktail onion in sweet vinegar (store bought).

The recipe suggested tartar sauce or "chu-nou" sauce 中濃ソース but I only had "tonakatsu sauce".

Three "chikuwa"fish cakes (frozen, I had one open package with three left), thawed (#1).
Potato salad (enough to stuff the three chikuwa (#3)
Oil for deep frying
Tempura batter (3 tbs of cake flour and about 1/3 cup cold water or additional water as needed to obtain the appropriate thickness of the batter).
Tonkatsu sauce

Slit open the sides of the chikuwa along the length (#2).
Stuff the opening with the potato salad (#3) (over stuffing is recommended to get the right ratio of fish cake to potato salad).
Dredge in the tempura batter and deep fry until the crust is done and crispy (#4). Do not over fry since the fish cake may expand.
Drain the oil (#5).
Cut on bias into two pieces and serve (#6).

This is a good combination. I served this with skinned Campari tomato and baby arugula. The center was still cold (which was good). This is definitely a nice snack. After we ate one each, we went back to finish off the third and last one.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Bread made with cooked oatmeal オートミール入りパン

This is my wife's baking. Again this is from the "Beard on Bread" cookbook. It is rather unique in that it is made with "cooked" oatmeal.  The oatmeal isn't visible in the final product but the texture is nice and while raising and cooking, we can definitely smell oatmeal. Instead of making a loaf which was in the original recipe, my wife made it into rolls. Mainly because it is easier to take a roll to work for breakfast than a loaf or slice of bread.

2 packages of dry yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water

1 cup rolled oats (toasted, optional)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup warm milk
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 - 5 cups of bread four

Directions: Bloom the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp. of sugar. Add the 1 cup water to a sauce pan. Dissolve the salt and brown sugar in the liquid and bring to a boil. Add the milk and the rolled oats and cook until the oats are softened and thick. Let cool to room temperature. Add 3 cups of bread flour to the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough paddle. Add the oat mixture and blend. Add additional flour 1 cup at a time until a nice smooth, elastic dough is formed. Knead on speed 2 for 7 to 10 minutes. Turn the dough into a bowl and lightly coat with vegetable oil to keep it from drying out. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Punch the dough down and using a scale form into 2 1/2 oz. balls. Place in a well buttered baking dish (picture below).

Cover and let rise until doubled in size and the rolls are touching each other (about 30 minutes) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the rolls for 18 to 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

To make the crust more tender, paint the tops with melted butter immediately after the bread comes out of the oven (picture below).

We really like this bread. If I had not been told  this bread contains cook oatmeal I would never have guessed. The oatmeal added a tender but just lightly chewy very pleasant texture. This bread had a very distinctive and divine yeasty oatmeal smell as it proofed in the bowl and later cooked in the oven which really added to the enjoyment of the baking process.  This is a very versatile roll. You can eat it for breakfast or dinner. It is also a great way to use any left over breakfast oatmeal that may be hanging around. The addition of raisins would also be nice.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Fried vegetables やさいの素揚げ

Since I had Kabocha Japanese pumpkin カボチャ, shishi-tougarashi 獅子唐芥子 or shishitou (both were from our regular grocery store) and "Gobo" 牛蒡 burdock root (from the Japanese grocery store), I decided to make this simple vegetable fry. It came our a bit too oily for our taste but still it was still quite good.

I precooked and seasoned the Gobo since I used a part of it for another dish. Alternatively, I could have used raw gobo just salted in acidulated water and then drained.

Ingredients (#3 below):
"Gobo" burdock root, about 1/3, skin scrabbled clean with a food brush but not removed.
Japanese "shishitou" peppers, 5-6, stem removed and slits cut in to the middle to prevent explosion in hot oil.
Japanese "Kabocha" squash, 1/4, innards removed and skin shaved off, cut into half inch thick pices
Oil for deep frying
Kosher salt

For preparing Gobo
Rice vinegar (making acidulated water for initial cooking)
Japanese dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce and mirin

Cut the gobo into 3 inch lengths. First cook in water with a splash of rice vinegar for 10 minutes and then in plain water for another 10 minutes. Finally, cook in a seasoned Japanese broth (Kelp-bonito broth seasoned with soy sauce and mirin) in 10 more minutes.
Let it cool down in the broth and then cut into 4 long pieces and return to the broth to soak (#1) (I soaked it overnight in the fridge but it could be fried immediately).

I deep fried each items separately. Kabocha takes the most time (4-5 minutes) and shishitou takes the least time (1 minute). I served these sprinkled with a bit of Kosher salt. The kabocha came out very sweet. The gobo was still a bit fibrous but not bad. My wife removed the skin and seeds from shishitou and I ate all. Fortunately, none of them was atomically hot.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Fried taro root cake in broth 里芋まんじゅうの揚げ出し

This recipe is again from "a Buddhist  Monk" which regularly appears in Asahi-shinbun Japanese newspaper. Since I got taro root or "sato-imo" 里芋 from our regular grocery store and saw this recipe video, making this dish was a "no-brainer". I did not follow the original recipe precisely since I only had oyster mushroom (it calls for shimeji mushroom).

For  greens, I used blanched rapini instead of spinach just because I had it.  Of course, I did not used vegetarian broth and instead used bonito and kelp broth. I also did not have edible lily roots called "Yuri-ne" 百合根 or wood ear mushroom "ki-kurage" 木耳 which were called for in the original recipe.

Ingredients (for 5 dumplings):
Sato-imo "taro", 4 medium, peeled, parboiled and washed in cold running water (to reduce the slimy surface).
Fresh mushrooms (Original recipe calls for Shimeji mushroom, I used oyster mushroom), arbitrary amount.
Green vegetables (Original recipe calls for spinach, I used blanched rapini), arbitrary amount.
Dashi broth 200ml (I used a "kelp and bonito flakes" dash pack but to make it a vegetarian dish one can use kelp broth)
Soy sauce 1 tbs
Mirin 1/2 tbs
Prepared chestnuts, 5, (I used bottled preserved chestnuts in syrup called "kuri-no-kanroni" 栗の甘露煮 (#1 below), cut into small chunks.
Potato starch or "Katakuri-ko" かたくり粉 for dredging.
Oil for deep frying

I added the parboiled sato-imo into the seasoned broth and cooked for 15-20 minutes or until a tooth pick goes through easily.  I let it cool down in the broth and mashed it in a Japanese suri-bachi mortar すり鉢 then mixed in the chestnuts (#2).
I made small flat rounds (#3), dredged in potato starch and deep fried in 350 F oil for 3-4 minutes until the surface was nicely browned (#4).
I addeds the green and mushroom in the broth the sato-imo was cooked in and heat it up for a few minutes. I tasted and adjusted the seasoning (I added a small amount of additional soy sauce).
I placed the sato-imo cake in a serving bowl and arranged the mushrooms and the greens then
poured the warm broth over everything and served.

This is a very nice and interesting dish. The sato-imo cake has a thin crust, very soft creamy texture with the chestnuts being nicely firm and sweet. I think the blanched rapini with its slight bitter distinctive taste went better than spinach would have. This is also a rather filling dish.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Burdock root wrapped in prosciutto プロシュート巻きごぼうの照煮

This is a modification of a Japanese recipe. Japanese really like to wrap cylindrical vegetables in meat or ham. I read a recipe in which whole burdock root or gobo 牛蒡 was first simmered in seasoned broth and then wrapped in thinly sliced pork belly and cooked in "teriyaki" 照り焼きsauce. Since I bought a package of gobo which contained 2 good sized root stalks, I needed to come up with new way of serving it. So, inspired by the recipe I had read I made this wrapped gobo. Since I didn't have thinly sliced pork belly, I used prosciutto as the wrap. This was the first dish for one evening. It went fairly well with the red wine we were having.

I used whole gobo cooked skin on.

Since I also made my usual "Kinpira-gobo"金平ごぼう, I served it as well.

Ingredients (for 2 servings seen above):
Gobo, three 3 inch lengths, skin scrubbed with a vegetable brush but skin not removed.

For initial cooking:
3-400 ml of water
1 tbs rice vinegar

For final cooking
Japanese dash broth about 300 ml (I used my usual bonito flakes and kelp dash pack)
Soy sauce, 1 tbs
Mirin 1 tbs
Sake 1tbs

Prosciutto, three slices

For Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce 2 tbs
Sugar 2 tsp (Optional, I did not use).
Mirin 2tbs
Sake 2 tbs

1. Cook the pieces in water with vinegar (to prevent darkening) for 10 minutes on low flame.
2. Wash the pieces in cold running water and cook it in plain water for 10 minutes to remove the vinegar taste (water may turn dark).
3. Simmer in the seasoned dash broth for another 10 minutes (#1) and let it cool down in the broth.
4. Separate one thin slice of prosciutto (#2) and wrap the gobo (#3 and #4)

5. In a dry non-stick frying pan, brown the prosciutto starting with the seam side down (#5).
6 Add the teriyaki sauce and cook shaking and rolling the gobo rolls until the sauce thickened (#6).
7. Let it cool and cut each gobo roll into 4 pieces and serve.

Despite the rather long cooking the gobo maintains a nice crunch and the prosciutto added nice flavor as well as some saltiness. I could have used more prosciutto to make a thicker layer but this was just fine as it was. The original recipe used thinly sliced pork belly which may have been better but we really liked this version.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Japanese "Kabocha" pumpkin salad カボチャサラダ

I occasionally see Japanese pumpkin which is a type of winter squash in our regualr grocery store and when I see it I buy it. This time, I made pumpkin salad with the squash I brought home. I read the recipe somewhere but I could not find it again when it came time to make the salad so I made it from memory.  It came out quite good and its easy to prepare especially since I used the microwave to cook the squash. Since I had a "Kabocha"-shaped "hashi-oki" 箸置きor chopstick pillow that we bought in Kyoto last year, I used it in this picture to complete the Kabocha theme.

I added cottage cheese on top (I remember this was a part of the recipe I read). I added freshly ground black pepper.

Ingredients :
Kabocha pumpkin, half, innards removed and skin shaved off but leaving some (or you could just leave the skin), cut into a bite sized pieces, microwaved in a silicon container for 3-4 minutes or until a bamboo skewer went through easily.
Salt and pepper for seasoning while it is cooling.

For dressing:
Mayonnaise 2tbs
Greek yogurt 2tbs (my wife makes it by straining regular yogurt).
Cottage cheese 2-4 tbs
Soy sauce to taste (optional and our addition)

When the pumpkin cooled to room temperature I dressed it with the mayo and greek yogurt (see below). Taste and add salt or soy sauce to taste. I served it with topping of the cottage cheese and freshly grated black pepper (my addition).

This is a really good salad. The natural sweetness of the pumpkin really comes through. We found out it is actually rather filling--a small serving goes a long way for us. Since I microwaved it, it was really easy to make.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pistachio nut bread ピスタチオナッツ入りパン

My wife has been making different kinds of  breads from a bread cook book entitled "Beard on Bread". This bread is a very interesting bread with pistachio nuts. It is a kind of a sweet bread but not too sweet and perfect for breakfast. You can see pistachio nuts on the cut surface.

One morning, we had a combination of the blueberry bread my wife made (it was frozen) and the pistachio nut bread. They went very well with a cup of cappuccino.

for bread 
1 Package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 Tbs. sugar (to bloom the yeast)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter softened
2 tsp. salt
3 to 4 cups all purpose flour

For filling 
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup (additional) sugar
1 cup shelled salted pistachio nuts roughly chopped

1 egg lightly beaten for egg wash

Bloom the yeast. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a mixing paddle add the milk, softened butter, salt and 1/2 cup sugar, yeast mixture and stir. Change to a dough hook. Add the flour one cup at a time until dough forms around the hook. Form into a ball and put into a bowl with a small amount of vegetable oil. Coat the surface of the dough with the oil (so it doesn't dry out) cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Punch dough down. On the floured board covered with parchment paper roll it into an 18 X 12 inch rectangle. (Since the dough is very tender, to make the transfer to the cookie sheet easier,  I measured a piece of parchment paper the same size as the sheet I was going to use to cook the bread. I rolled out the rectangle and formed the loaf on the parchment paper. Then I dragged the parchment paper over onto the cookie sheet. I did not remove the paper, I cooked the loaf on it. ) Brush the surface of the rectangle with the 1/4 cup melted butter. Sprinkle on the 1/3 cup sugar and the pistachio nuts. Beginning with the long edge roll the dough like a jelly roll pressing the seams and edges together. Form into a circle. At 3/4 inch intervals slice 2/3 of the way down into the ring (#1). Twist each slice to the right so the interior the slice is facing up (#2 & #3). Let the ring rise until doubled. Brush with egg wash. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until browned (#4).

I was not around when she started and I have no pictures of the rolled out dough, filling or rolling up process. In any case, this was rather elaborate and will have some impact if it was served whole and cut into individual servings. Of course, for us, my wife cut them into a manageable size, double wrapped in a plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and froze it. This bread has a fairly dense but still soft texture. It is slightly sweet. The saltiness from pistachio  appears to enhance the sweetness despite relatively small amount of sugar in it. This bread is extremely good and would be perfect for a holiday.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Spinach Spaetzle ホウレン草スペーツル

After a great success of making spaetzle using our newly acquired spaetzle maker, my wife made this spinach spaetzle. (What's the old adage, "the right  tool for the job"). She made this basically because we had a bit of spinach left over from another dish. This was light supper and I served spinach spaetzle with meat balls in tomato sauce and green beans.

With the spaetzle maker, the size of the spaetzle is just right and it is much easier to make. By-the-way, it may look like there are peas on the plate in the picture above but it is actually the spaetzle as shown in the close-up below. I heated it up by sautéing in a bit of olive oil.

1/2 cup thawed, drained frozen spinach (we used fresh spinach cooked without any addition of water).
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for cooking spaetzle

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

In a blender, combine spinach, milk, egg, oil and nutmeg (#1 and #2); blend until spinach is puréed. Whisk flour and salt together in a large measuring cup (using a measuring cup makes it easier to pour the batter into the hopper of the spaetzle maker). Stir in spinach mixture. (#3).  In several batches pour the batter into the hopper of the spaetzle maker.  Slide the hopper back and forth over the base plate with holes (#4 & #5). Cook until noodles float and firm up, about 1 minute. Lift spaetzle out with a strainer and transfer to a colander to drain and drizzle on some olive oil to keep them from sticking together. (#6)  Repeat with remaining dough.

When ready to serve, melt butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add spaetzle and cook, tossing frequently, until spaetzle just begins to brown.

Although we really did not taste the spinach, it adds a nice green color. This is a welcome change from our usual forms of pasta. Despite a good amount of nutmeg, it is not at all overwhelming. The texture was firm enough to hold together but still very tender.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Kawaki-mono" dry Japanese drinking snack 乾き物酒の肴

I found "Assorted Japanese Junk Food for Sake" at the Amazon website through a 3rd party vendor.  The advertisement said, "Japanese junk food to go with Alcohol"--a somewhat literal translation of the more polite expression  "drinking snacks". Somehow, for Japanese, "Junk food" or drinking snacks may not have the same negative connotation it has for the U.S. audience. In general Japanese don't drink without eating something, so at the very least, such a snack is a "must have" to go with sake. In any case, this product on Amazon is "known as "Kawaki-mono" 乾き物 or "dry drinking snacks". This type of snack or "otsumami" おつまみ is widely sold in Japanese convenience stores and stand-up drinking joints called "Tachinomi-ya" 立ち飲み屋 or "Kaku-uchi" 角打ち.

Digression alert: On our last trip to Japan, in the evening, when we had a several hour train ride from our site seeing destination back to our hotel, we really liked stopping at the convenience store usually located next to the station before boarding the train to purchase some sake and snacks to eat on the ride. It was a mobile cocktail hour (imbibing sake on the train is completely legal, acceptable and civilized. If you don't have time to stop at the convenience store before boarding you can even buy some from a cart on the train). It was a great way to relax after a hard day sight seeing--munching on flavored dry squid or cheese snack thingies sipping sake watching the sun go down. Come to think of it, our experience in Japan may have led us to try the snack sold on Amazon.

This package consisted of 10 different kinds of snacks. The individual packages are rather small and we could finish one or two packages easily in one sitting. It is rather expensive since one package is about $3 but they are rather authentic Japanese snacks.

1. Grilled dried squid strips (it is labeled as "hand-grilled" with "direct (charcoal) flame".
2. Grilled dried fins of ray ("soft finish").
3. Spicy dried and grilled squid legs.
4."Kimuchi" flavored dried "himo*" or gills of scallops.
5. "Spicy cod roe" flavored grilled squid legs.
6. "Otsumami" dried small flying fish (lots of calcium!).
7. "Butter and soy sauce" flavored dried squid strips.
8. Dried and grilled sea eel.
9. Sea urchin flavored grilled and dried squid strips.
10. Dried squid strips in squid ink.

* membranous tissue on the periphery of the scallop muscle .

Many of these items tout that they used all domestic (Japanese) ingredients. As you may or may not have noticed "dried squid strips" with different flavors are the most popular snacks in this round up.

We tasted several of these snacks. In our opinion, they go best with bourbon and water and certainly sake but definately not with wine. In general the items we tasted so far, were pretty good, the only one we did not like was #4. It was extremely chewy even for me. My wife characterized it as chewing a rubber band and just could not handle it. In addition, its "kimchi" or "kimchi" flavor is not one we liked.

The picture below shows the amount you get in one bag. So this is a bit on expensive side ($3 per pack). But on the "up-side" they are exactly like the ones available in Japan which are generally not available here. #1 is "Butter and soy sauce" flavored dried squid strips. #2 is dried and grilled sea eel. #3 Spicy dried and grilled squid legs. #4 "Kimuchi" flavored dried "himo*" or gills of scallops.

They are good and available on Amazon. With the small packages, my wife and I can have two different kind in one sitting. We are not sure if I will reorder, however.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Crumbled tofu with miso and sesame くずし豆腐汁

I again got silken tofu labled "Sincere silken tofu, just right firmness 誠実の絹" the last time I made a dish on a whim without following any recipe. This time, I used 1/4 of the tofu in mackerel ball soup. I decide to use up the remaining tofu the next day. This is based on the recipe but with some modification. It is sort of a soup with tofu, deep fried tofu, shiitake mushroom and seasoned with miso and sesame.

Silken tofu 3/4 (this tofu come is a smaller package)which is roughly equivalent to 1/2 for regular size tofu)
Fresh Shiitake, 3, stem end cut away, stem torn along it's length in thin strips and the caps sliced in thin strips.
Deep fried tofu pouch or abra-age 1/4, cut into small strips.
Japanese dashi broth, 400ml (I made this from my usual dash packs)
Miso 2 tbs
Roasted sesame seeds, 3 tbs, dry roasted in a frying pan and ground with a Japanese pestle and mortar or suribachi すり鉢.
Egg, medium, beaten

Add the mushroom to the broth and simmer for a few minutes and add the deep fried tofu pouch (below).

Add the tofu by crumbling by hand (below).

Simmer for a few minutes and add half of the sesame and the scallion (below).

Mix and cook for few more minutes and resolve the miso. At the last moment, add the egg and mix.

Serve immediately and add the remaining sesame.

This is a very gentle conforting dish with a nice sesame flavor. This can be a drinking snack or even ending "shime" dish.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dill onion wheat roll ディルオニオン全粒小麦ロール

This is another contribution from my wife. This is a dill onion wheat roll. Although this is a whole wheat roll, it is soft and moist with nice flavors of dill and onion. This roll can be eaten on any occasion but we really enjoy it for breakfast. Although, we put in lots of chopped fresh dill, you cannot see it in the cut surface yet the flavor is unmistakable. Since it is so soft and moist with lots of flavors no need for butter.

2 package of active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup honey
2 cups cottage cheese
2 Tbs. grated fresh onion
4 Tbs. butter melted
1 cup dill weed
3 Tsp. salt
1/2 Tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
4 - 4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Put cottage cheese, honey, onion, butter, dill weed, salt and soda in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a paddle beater mix thoroughly. Add the eggs and continue stirring. Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tsp. sugar dissolved to bloom. Add the yeast to the other liquid ingredients. Switch to a dough hook and add 3 cups of whole wheat flour. (my wife forgot to switch to the dough hook and continued kneading with the paddle. The mixer made a really strange racket but it processed the dough anyway) Add the remaining whole wheat flour. If more flour is needed to make the dough come together use regular white bread flour. When the dough comes together knead for 7 to 10 minutes until smooth. (Dough may not form a ball on the hook but as long as it comes in contact with the hook it is being kneaded). Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down and make into 3 Oz. round balls. Place in a greased baking pan with enough room for them to continue rising. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes until they are browned and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pan immediately and cool on a rack.

Although we put a large amount of fresh dill, as the picture shows it is hardly visible but the flavor is definitely there along with a pleasant muted flavor of onion. It also had a slight sweetness. When my wife realized that the bread had been kneaded with the paddle instead of the dough hook she was worried the rolls might turn out dry and dense. Yeast bread, however, is very forgiving and the rolls were really soft and moist especially for whole wheat bread. We really like this bread. This can be good for breakfast or with dinner.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

salmon tataki 鮭のたたき

This is the last of the salmon sashimi we defrosted for hanami. I served it with small baby arugula, tomato, and red onion salad.

Just for variation, I made one portion as "Tataki".

I seasoned the small block of salmon with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and using a kitchen torch, I seared one side and sliced. This treatment works well with oily fish in general and added nice flavor and texture. This was quite good and finally we finished the frozen salmon sashimi.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Mackerel meatball soup 鯖のつみれ汁

My wife really likes mackerel simmered in miso sauce or "Saba-no-misoni" 鯖の味噌煮. So,  every time we see fresh whole Spanish mackerel for sale at the near-by Whole Foods store, we get it to make this dish. This time we got two good sized mackerels. I had them gutted with heads off. I filleted them myself. If I do this myself, I can save more fish meat and I can scrape any remaining meat from the bone using a spoon. I also removed the meat from the tip of the tails since it is too narrow to make into "misoni". Using these scraps, I made fish meatball soup or "saba-no-tsumire-jiru" 鯖のつみれ汁. This was a lunch on one weekend. In addition to the fish meatball soup (lower left), I served blanched rapini with scrambled eggs (upper left), mackerel simmered in miso sauce with broccoli (upper right), and butter and soy sauce rice (lower right).

I made clear soup with mackerel meatballs, silken tofu and sliced scallion and added (frozen) yuzu zests just before serving.

Ingredients: (the amount is for two servings from the recipe I saw on line as a reference. The amount of mackerel I used was less than indicated in the recipe and, as usual, I did not precisely measure quantities. I also made minor modification.)
For the meatballs:
Mackerel, skimmed from backbone or filet with skin removed (160 gram or 5.6oz)
Salt, scan pinch
Sake or water 1 tbs
Miso and potato starch, 1/2 tbs each
Sesame oil, 1 tsp
Scallion, 1/2 finely chopped
Ginger root, skin removed and finely chopped, 1/2 tsp

For broth:
Japanese dashi broth, 3 cups (I used my usual "dashi pack" with bonito and kelp).
Light colored soy sauce, 1 tbs
Scallion, 1 stalk, thinly sliced on bias.
Silken tofu 1/4 block, cut into bite-size cubes
Yuzu zest (I used frozen ones)

Using a chef's knife, mince the fish meat and mix in all the ingredients for the meatballs.
Mix well (see below). Adjust the liquid (either sake or water, I used sake) to make the consistency (not too firm and no too soft, it has to stay together when cooked in broth but you want it to make soft tender meatball).

Bring the broth to a gentle simmer and using two teaspoons first dipped in the broth to prevent sticking, make small balls (or quenelles) and gently drop it into the broth (below) and let it cook through (a few minutes).

When the meatballs are cooked, season the broth with light colored soy sauce. Taste and if you need more saltiness, either add more soy sauce or add salt if you do not want the broth to become too dark.
Add the tofu and the scallion. When the tofu warms up, serve in a bowl and garnish with the Yuzu zest.

For a starch side, I served a variation of butter and soy sauce rice. Since I only had cold leftover rice, I first melted butter in a non-stick frying pan, added the cold rice and fried it to warm it up. Then I added a small amount of soy sauce to finish. I garnished with nori.

I have posted that the substitute for "Nanohana" 菜の花 in the U.S. is either rapini or broccolini. I like rapini since it has a slight bitterness similar to Nanohana. To complete the spring theme (color-wise) I added the bright yellow of scrambled eggs seasoned with sugar and salt. The rapini was blanched, cooled in cold water, drained and dressed with a mixture of Japanese mustard, sugar and soy sauce or "Karashi-jouyu" 辛子醤油.

Of course, we had to test some of the mackerel in miso. I served it with blanched broccoli for color.

Although I served this with only a small amount of rice, this was quite filling for us. The soup and fish balls were really good with ginger and yuzu flavors coming through but not at all "fishy".