Monday, January 29, 2018

Roast beef bowl ローストビーフ丼

I made this dish as a lunch after Christmas since we made a large rib roast and had leftovers. In Japan, "Beef bowl" or "Gyudon"牛丼  is a popular fast food.  One example is "Yoshino-ya" 吉野家  made of braised thinly sliced beef and onion in a soy sauce based broth  (with other "secret" ingredients) placed over a bowl of rice. While braised beef is fairly common, roast beef is not. Roast beef bowl, however, is also getting more popular in Japan. Some appears excessive in terms of the amount of meat they put on the rice. I made a much tamer version. I thinly sliced the rib roast choosing the medium rare part. This is a small bowl and I served it with miso soup.

The Japanese version is often topped with an egg (either raw or onsen-tamago) but I topped this with thinly sliced cucumber, sweet onion and blanched green asparagus.

The miso soup was made of scallion, aura-age and tofu.

For the sauce, I just mixed soy sauce, mirin and prepared horseradish.

This was a just perfect lunch for us.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cornish hen for Thanksgiving, Rib roast for Christmas クリスマスリブロースト

We have given up cooking holiday Turkey for some time. Since Turkey meat is dry and rather tasteless and  produces a large amount of leftovers, we would rather have chickens. As a matter of fact, for this year's Thanksgiving, we barbecued cornish game hens.

For us, half a cornish hen is more than enough.

For Christmas, we cooked a rib roast which is something unusual for us. We did it because prime rib or rib roasts were very reasonably priced at our grocery store. We barbecued it in our Weber with a light hot smoke cooked to medium rare. My wife made "broccoli stuffing balls" and mashed potato with cream cheese and chives.

This was the rib roast before cooking. It was over 5 lbs with ribs attached. I removed the excess fat and seasoned it with onion salt, garlic powder, fresh rosemary from our front garden (finely chopped), Kosher salt and black pepper.

I had a bit of difficulty keeping the inside temperature in the Weber kettle below 400F but managed to keep it below 400F for most of the time the meat cooked. I took the roast out when the internal temperature reached 120F.

After resting in for 20 minutes, I sliced it.

Since this was a rare dish for us on a rare occasion, we throughly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jako braised with Japanese ”sansho" pepper bowl じゃこの有馬煮丼

Sushi taro osechi box inlcudes "Jako" braised with Japanese sansho pepper じゃこの有馬煮 every year. "Jako" is a very young and small sardine or anchovy, boiled and then dried. Many small fish are a symbol of prosperity and a traditional dish for osechi. It was braised with the fruit of the Japanese "Sansho" pepper tree 実山椒. The name "Arima-ni" 有馬煮 came from a spa resort called "Arima hot spring 有馬温泉" near Kobe 神戸.  In the past, inns in Arima served dishes to their guests using the fruit of wild sansho trees which were abundant in the near-by Rokkou mountain (六甲山).  Japanese pepper from the Rokkou mountain is called  Arima sansho "有馬山椒" which supposedly has distinctive flavors different from sanshos from other regions in Japan.

It is a bit difficult to serve this dish as it is, so I decided to make a rice bowl or "donburi" 丼 from it with the other items that remained in the osechi box. I served this as a lunch with miso soup and daikon namasu 大根なます which I made.

I made sushi rice from microwaved frozen rice. I used "Jako",  shrimp (only one left the osechi box, I peeled and cut into half for two bowls), "kazunoko" herring roe, ikura and New Year's omelet rolls.

Although a bit hidden, Jako is the main topping. We put a bit of soy sauce on the other items.

This was a really good lunch. The very distinctive flavor of Sansho was very nice. We really enjoyed  this dish.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Japanese sweet potato rolls さつま芋ロール

My wife found Japanese sweet potato (satsuma-imo) at Whole Foods and had to get them. We like these kind of sweet potatoes because they have firmer flesh than U.S. yams and are very sweet. We made a few of our usual dishes from them. One is cooking them in the Weber grill when we grill chicken. Simply, wash, prick all over with a fork (so they don't explode while cooking), wrap them in aluminum foil and stick them in the Weber at the same time the chicken is put in. By the time, the chicken is done the potato is also done. We grilled 4 sweet potatoes this way one weekend. We ate some of the sweet potato with the chicken for dinner. The next day, my wife made these sweet potato rolls with the leftovers. Although the rolls are based on a recipe she found, as my wife was making these rolls she realized she had lots of extra sweet potato. Since she is particularly fond of rolls with surprise fillings she decided to put the extra sweet potato into the center of the the roll as shown. It turned out to be quite successful.

Although she did not add any sugar to the sweet potato filling, it is really sweet and reminded me of "white anko paste" or "shiro-an" 白あん made of white beans grown in Hokkaido.

8 ounces sweet potato. The sweet potato is divided 1/2 cup for the bread and about 2 cups to use as filling in the bread)
4 1/2 teaspoons (two 1/4-ounce packets) active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface
Oil, for greasing the proofing bowl.

We cooked 3 Japanese sweet potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil in the Weber grill when we barbequed chicken one weekend. Let cool, then peeled and thoroughly mashed in a food mill so it is smooth. You should have 1/2 cup of flesh.

Combine the yeast with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer; proof for 5 minutes.  Add 2 eggs and beat on low speed, then add the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, the butter and salt. Beat on low speed for about 2 minutes (no need to scrape down the bowl), then add the sweet potato and beat for about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the flour at a time, beating to form a slightly stiff dough that has pulled away from the sides of the bowl; add flour as needed.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface; knead for 2 to 3 minutes. When it is smooth and springy, shape it into a ball. Use oil to lightly grease the inside of a large bowl, then place the dough in it, turning it to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; let the dough rest for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. The dough will be ready when you can push 2 fingers into it and the indentations remain.

Punch down the dough. Cut into pieces weighing about 2 oz. each. Flatten the dough (#1) and put a small scoop of the extra, sweet potato (#2) in the middle (#3). Pinch the dough around the sweet potato ball and form into a roll (#4). Place in a greased baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap; let the rolls rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size. Cook in a preheated oven of 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.

These rolls were wonderful. Very light with a lovely mild sweetness. The center of sweet potato was a really good addition. It was soft and also sweet.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Grilled mochi New Year's day 4 lunch 焼きチーズ餅

Using bento-boxes to serve New Year's dishes was good idea and I pushed this idea further for the 4th New Year's day lunch. I used a small square stackable "Juubako" 重箱 box (4 1/4 inches, or 11 cm square) which we used in the past to serve candies and small sweets. I thought the small size would be perfect for lunch.

We started making grilled cheese mochi few years ago. Once we started, this became my wife's favorite way to eat mochi. This time, I put grilled cheese on both the top and bottom instead of just one side. I also served small sheets of "nori" dried sea weed to wrap the mochi.

Most of these items were what I made.

Salmon kelp roll, chicken patty with fig and gorgonzola, red and white New Year fish cakes stuffed with guacamole I made and ikura (the guacamole stuffed fish cake was really good), poached chicken tenderloin dressed in wasabi soy sauce, date-maki, thinly sliced rib roast with horseradish soy sauce, Russian marinated salmon, my version of tataki gobo with sesame dressing, french-cut green beans with sesame-mayo and spicy tofu cubes. Although the box is small, it took quite few items to fill it.

We again used smoked mozzarella cheese which grills very nicely making crispy "wings".

This was a perfect lunch.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New Year 3rd day evening 正月3日夕

The 3rd day of New Year, we started with all small dishes that go with sake including a tasting of three different preparations of herring roe. I wheeled out the miniature covered bowls we got in Kyoto sometime ago.

All are from the Sushi taro osechi box. From left to right are daikon in yuzu sweet vinegar or "Nishiki namasu" 錦なます which was toped with soy sauce marinated salmon roe 青竹いくら.  The center is steamed uni 蒸し雲丹, the right is a rare totally Western-style dish, oil marinated smoked oyster with feta cheese, dried tomato and olive 牡蠣燻製オイル漬け. All the dishes were heavenly. The yuzu flavor was very nice. What's not to like about uni in any form? The oysters were smoked, fat and succulent. We really liked this these dishes. They were good for sake or red wine.

This was followed by a tasting of herring roe or "Kazunoko" 数の子 prepared in three different ways. The top and bottom was what I prepared; the top is marinated in sake lee and miso and the bottom is marinated in dashi broth mirin and soy sauce. The center is from the osechi box; marinated in miso 数の子味噌ずけ (probably sweet miso like saikyo miso.

In the picture below,  on the left is my sake lee miso marinated, the middle is my soy sauce marinated and the right is Sushitaro's miso marinated.

All three were very good and very distinctly different. It was a treat to be able to taste them all together like this. The center one appears a bit darker because I used regular or "koikuchi" soy sauce for the marinade instead of light colored "usukuchi" soy sauce. Although it looked different it tasted ok. (center).

This was followed by assorted dishes from the osechi box. I put the simmered vegetables in a separate bowl and microwaved briefly to take the chill off but didn't really warm them.

The plates included two grilled fish, Spanish mackerel marinated in saikyo miso and Japanese snapper with "kino-me" sauce. Both were heated in the toaster oven. Others included simmered sweet fish with it's roe, pickled myouga, flower cut pickled lotus root, date-maki omelet roll and burdock root dressed in sesame sauce or "Tataki gobo"  たたき牛蒡.

Veggies included simmered Taro root or satoimo, kuwai, flower cut carrot, konnyaku and shiitake mushroom and snow pea.

Now we were in the last stretch of finishing the box. Even for us, this has been a rather wonderful decadent 3 days of New Year.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Year's day 3 lunch 正月3日のランチ

We had "Ozoni" as a New Year's day lunch and Chef Kitayama's "toshikoshi" soba 年越し蕎麦 as a lunch on the 2nd day instead of New Year's eve (I did not take pictures). We made grilled cheese "mochi" for the 3rd day's lunch with some goodies from what I made and from the Sushi-taro osechi box.

Sushi-taro osechi box included  traditional New Year's dish "Kuri-kinton" 栗きんとん (mashed sweet potato with chestnuts).  Since it is a bit sweet, I served it as a desert along with chestnut "shibukawa-ni" 栗渋皮煮.

"Kuri-kinton" included chunks of chestnuts.

To go with these Japanese sweets, we had an interesting green tea which was given to me by a friend last year when we were in Japan. This tea came from "Sakurai baicha research center" or 櫻井焙茶研究所 in Aoyama, Tokyo 青山、東京. This one is a very interesting blend of spearmint from Aomori prefecture and green tea from Shizuoka.

Besides green tea leaves, dried spearmint leaves floated up when pouring hot water with whiff of spearmint.

We initially thought spearmint flavor would overwhelm the green tea but the spearmint flavor is very delicate. It is definitely there but not too overwhelming. We really liked this green tea. It went really well with this desert.

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year's day 2

Encouraged by my previous success,  I again tried distributing the Osechi goodies from the large "mother" box to a smaller mini-osechi box to use as a type of serving container. This was made possible because we found an hexagonal 3 layered stackable container (plastic) with a handle (the handle attaches to the very bottom box) that we completely forgot we had. It was perfect for this purpose and I used the top two boxes. This time, I added some small covered bowls as sides.

One very good thing about this approach is that I can prepared the box ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator and just grab it when we are ready.

Most of the ingredients came from the Sushi-taro osechi box. #1=sweet simmered "Kuromame" black beans 黒豆, #2="Matsukaze" chicken patty 松風焼き (which I made), #3="Konnyaku" simmered with Japanese "ichimi" red pepper 蒟蒻一味煮 (has mild zing), #4="Kuwai" arrowhead fried and simmered くわいの揚げ煮 and Simmered Shiitake  mushroom 椎茸の旨煮, #5=Plum flower cut simmered carrot 梅人参, #6=Poached chicken tender with salted plum sauce 茹でささ身の梅肉和え(which I made, leftover from making New Year's soup), #7=Miso marinated egg yolk with walnuts 黄身胡桃 (this is also one of our favorite delicacies), #8=Salmon kelp roll 鮭の昆布巻 (which I made), #9=Kelp rolled and cured flounder with "gari"vinegared ginger 平目龍皮巻, #10=Date-maki omelet roll 伊達巻 (Osechi box also had this but this one is what I made), #11= Rib roast with Japanese mustard (leftover from Christmas roast), #12= Miso-marinated herring roe 数の子味噌漬,  #13=Pork belly シルク豚味噌漬, and #14=Daikon namasu with "ikura" salmon roe and boiled octopus 大根なますイクラ煮だこ添 (Osechi box did include a more elaborate version of daikon namasu but I served what I made here).

This box contained chicken, beef, pork. I could have added duck since duck "terini" 鴨の照煮 was included in the large osechi box (see below).

This year, I could not get boiled octopus legs and had to be satisfied with the body/head of octopus.

Close up of flounder wrapped and cured in kelp with the center of "gari" ginger. Very refreshing.

"Kimi-kurumi" 黄身胡桃. I think this is egg yolk marinated in miso. Judging from the recipes I found, it would appear that after a few days, the egg yolks attain a very thick unique consistency. In this rendition, walnuts are embedded in the center. We love this dish, although I will not even try to make this myself.

After enjoying these delicacies, we went for the second plates. The big prawns were sake steamed and "bent back" symbolizes long life since old folks in old days all had bent backs or "Koshi-ga-magaru". This dish, in Japanese, was dubbed "longevity prawns" or 長寿海老. We removed the head and, of course, sucked on it and enjoyed the tail. In the center is duck "terini". I suppose this may be similar to what I make. I served this slightly heated.

The fish is sweet miso marinated Spanish mackerel 鰆西京焼. I heated it in the toaster oven for few minutes. I also added my gorgonzola dried fig chicken patty.

We ate something else for ending dish but do not remember. Having all these prepared osechi dishes is wonderful.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Sushi taro Osechi and New Year's day evening 2018 元旦の夕べ

It was a mellow relaxing New Year's day. My wife wanted to see the first sunset of the year at our sunset gazing spot in our house. First rate sunset admiration requires food and libation. Rather than carrying up many plates and bowls,  however, I came up with the idea of using stackable "Tsugaru-nuri" 津軽塗り Japanese lunch box which my friend gave me many years ago.

Although we were ready to dig into our Sushi-taro osechi box 寿司太郎御節箱, I started with what I made, which, to my surprise, mostly filled the boxes. I only added shiitake-umani 椎茸旨煮 and "fu" gluten cake 梅麩 from the Sushi-taro osechi box. For the occasion, I used "Hagoita 羽子板*"-shaped chopstick pillows or "hashi oki" 箸置き.

*Hagoita is a racket for Japanese badminton-like game which was traditionally played in New Year. Now, almost nobody plays the game and "hagoita" rackets are a purely decorative item for New Year, there are special "ichi" or markets before the New Year which specialize in decorative "hagoita".

Recipes for most of the dishes I made are posted in the "Norio's New Year's Dishes" tab in this blog. #1=Salmon kelp roll 鮭の昆布巻, #2= salmon "Nanban" 鮭の南蛮, #3=Russian marinaded salmon 鮭のロシア漬, #4=Date-maki omelet roll 伊達巻き, #5=chicken patty with dried fig and Gorgonzola cheese いちじくとガルゴンゾラチーズの松風焼き (I garnished with my figgy cranberry sauce), #6="Matsukaze-yaki" chicken patty with pine nuts, 松風焼き#7=simmered shiitake mushroom 椎茸旨煮 and "fu" gluten cake 梅麩 (these are from the osechi box), #8=blanched green asparagus with mayo-sesame paste-soy sauce アスパラの胡麻マヨ, #9=Thinly sliced rib roast with wasabi/horseradish Greek yogurt sauceローストビーフ, and #10=spicy tofu cubes ぴり辛豆腐.

After watching the sun set, we came back downstairs and hit the osechi box. The picture below is the top layer. We were excited to find "Karasumi 唐墨" Japanese bottarga. As usual, the box is packed with goodies.

Here is the close up of sun-dried karasumi 天日干し唐墨.

The picture below is the bottom layer.

This is the plate I prepared from the osechi box. I served the karasumi slightly heated in a toaster oven and sandwiched between thinly sliced daikon. The other items are ginko nuts 炒り銀杏, pickled flower-cut  lotus root  花輪蓮根, steamed "uni" sea urchin 蒸し雲丹, caramelized small shrimp "Tsuyani" 小海老艶煮 and grilled Japanese "Madai" snapper with Japanese pepper tree leave/miso or "kinome" sauce 真鯛木の芽焼き. I also heated up the fish in the toaster oven.  Some items especially grilled fish are best enjoyed heated up slightly to take off the chill of cold. Karasumi is, of course, our favorite and we started with cold sake we brought from Japan on the last trip there.

Here is the close up of all the items which go so superbly with sake.

The sake we opened was the limited edition,  "extra premium Jurakudai" daiginjou from Sasaki-shuzou in Kyoto 聚楽第大吟醸エキストラプレミアム, 佐々木酒造、京都. It was brewed from Yamada Nishiki 山田錦 milled to 40% and a special artesian well water from the ruin of "Jurakudai" castle 聚楽第跡, hence the name of the sake. All sounded very promising but it was not as impressive as we had hoped. It has  all the characteristics of daiginjou sake. Very fruity and it almost tasted slightly sweet which may not have been our favorite type of sake. Since this was bought at the duty-free shop in Narita airport, we did not have a large selection and we did not have any foreknowledge of the sake we were buying. Still, this was an excellent sake, especially with karasumi, uni and grilled fish with kinome sauce. Kinome has such a distinctive flavor you cannot miss. So we were warming up for more goodies and proceeded to make a second  plate from the osechi box.

The below are the second plate which included "tarako" cod roe kelp roll 鱈の子昆布巻, flower-cut simmered carrot 梅人参,  sweet simmered chestnut with inner skin 栗渋皮煮, pickled myouga 酢取茗荷 (new this year), Kumquat in syrup 金柑, simmered sweet fish with roe 子持鮎甘露煮, herring roe marinaded in miso 数の子味噌漬. I am not sure if snow pea 絹サヤ came from my own or from the osechi box.

Herring roe was very nice with very subtle sweetness.

Japanese sweet fish "ayu" with it's roe was also perfect.

At this point, we were quite full. As a ending dish, we had my fuccacia bread with Spanish olive oil for dipping.

This was a pretty auspicious way to start the New Year but it's not over yet. There are many more goodies in the osechi box.