Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Japanese "Satsuma-imo" Sweet potato muffin version2

My wife likes to bake bread and she also likes Japanese "Satsuma-imo" 薩摩芋 sweet potato so she is always looking for ways to combine the two. She made "sweet potato" rolls using Japanese sweet potato roasted in the Weber grill and then mashed and seasoned with butter and soy sauce. She used the mashed Japanese sweet potato in the bread dough and also as a filling. In this variation she used the recipe for "refrigerator potato bread" but substituted mashed sweet potatoes for the white potato called for in the recipe. The result was this wonderful rolls/muffin. It has a very tender delicate texture and you can definitely taste the mild sweetness of the Japanese sweet potato. This muffin does not have a sweet potato filling because all mashed the sweet potato went into the dough.

1 pkg. yeast
1/2 cup sugar (plus 1/2 tsp additional to proof the yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1 1/2 sticks ( 3/4 cup butter softened)
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup mashed Japanese "Satsuma-imo" sweet potatoes (make link to my potato recipe) run through a food mill to eliminate any chunks that may remain after the potatoes have been mashed #1.
4 cups bread flour (with more as needed)

1. Proof the yeast in the warm water and 1/2 tsp. sugar.  Warm the milk with the butter in it. Dissolve the sugar in the milk mixture.
2. Using a mixing paddle on the stand mixer add the warm milk butter mixture, eggs and mashed potatoes blend thoroughly. Add the proofed yeast and salt. Mix completely.
3. Switch to a dough hook and add the flour one cup at a time until the dough clings to the hook and is smooth and springy to the touch. Knead on speed 2 for 7 to 10 minutes.
4. Form into a ball and put into a bowl with a small amount of vegetable oil turning the dough to cover with a coat of the oil. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight (or as the recipe says up to 16 to 18 hours).

1. Next morning punch down the dough. (It will extremely cold and dense so "punch down" may not be the process that is actually possible. Just flatten the best you can) #2. Let rest for about 5 minutes (picture below) #3. Cut off pieces weighing 2 1/4 oz. #4. Form into rolls and place in a heavily greased baking dish several inches apart so they can rise #5. Cover and let rise until doubled. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped #6.

These muffins were amazing. The slow rise overnight in the refrigerator resulted in a very fine texture. The flavor was very delicate but clearly tasted of the sweetness of the sweet potato. The combination of the delicate texture and flavor almost felt like we were actually eating cooked sweet potato rather than bread. So the substitution of sweet potato for regular potato in this recipe worked very well and the end result was equally as good but distinctly different...well worth the variation.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chestnuts in syrup and sweet potato with green tea お茶請け

The North American chestnuts we got this year were not as good as usual. They were kind of dry and chalky. We made our usual chestnut rice  栗ご飯 using the fragmented ones and made "kanro-ni" 栗の甘露煮 or chestnuts simmered in syrup. Since I also made "sweet" Japanese sweet potato, we had both as a snack with green tea which is called "Ocha-uke" 御茶請け.

The tea was sold by Hibikian 響庵 and came from Uji 宇治 . With green tea, something sweet goes well. Although both the chestnut and sweet potato are not "sweet tea cake", they are sweet enough to be "ocha-uke".

As before I boiled the chestnuts after soaking them for a few hours in water. I removed the outer and inner skins while they were hot. I simmered the peeled chestnuts in a simple syrup (equal amounts of water and sugar) for 30 minutes and cooled in the syrup.

Once in a syrup, the chestnuts will last for a while in the refrigerator. As I said, this year's batch was not the best but still, the chestnuts brought an autumn taste.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Japanese "Satsuma-imo" simmered sweet potato さつま芋の甘煮

Since my wife is a big fan of Japanese "Satsuma-imo" sweet potato 薩摩芋, she got three when we were at our near-by Whole Foods.  We cooked them in our Weber grill when I did my our usual pork roast. My wife put "dibs" on two of them. She made mashed sweet potato with butter and soy sauce and we enjoyed it with the roasted pork. The leftover mashed sweet potato became sweet potato rolls. So, I got one potato to use to my heart's content. I made this simple sweetened simmered sweet potato (making sweet potato even sweeter appears to be common in Japan).

I garnished this dish with black sesame 黒胡麻. For some reason, black sesame is often used with sweet potato. I am just following the tradition.

The sweet potato we got was "organic" and had some (read: a lot of) dirt on them. Maybe a thick coating of mother earth is part of the "organic" appeal. My wife would not allow them anywhere near the refrigerator until I scrubbed them with a brush. (below).

1 Japanese "Satsuma-imo" sweet potato, scrubbed clean, skin on, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds and the larger round cut in to two or four.
Water just enough to cover (sweet potato in one layer)
1-2 tbs sugar
A pinch of salt
Black sesame seeds for garnish

In a large frying pan (large enough to hold the sweet potato in one layer), add the potato and water to just cover.
Place the pan in medium-low flame.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes with a lid on until a bamboo skewer goes thorough easily.
Sprinkle on the sugar and keep simmering for 1-10 minutes, add a pinch of salt.
Remove the lid and turn up the flame and shake and cook until the liquid is almost all gone.
Sprinkle the black sesame and serve hot or at room temperature.

Japanese almost always add sugar to already sweet Japanese sweet potato. This recipe was no exception. It is a bit sweet as a side dish but it is good as a snack and also surprisingly goes well with a sake or even wine.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Brazilian corn cookie ブラジル風コーンクッキー

Some time ago my wife got corn flour  (instead of cornmeal) for one of her baking projects. I assume that "cornflour" is just more finely milled than "cornmeal". In any case, the one she got was called "Bob's Red Mill" brand. Since she had much more corn flour that she needed for the original project and the package had a recipe for "Brazilian Corn Cookies", she made this cookie.

1 cup Corn Flour (Bob's red Mill)
1/2 cup White Rice Flour (Bob's red Mill, which is different from Japanese varieties)
1/2 cup Corn Starch 
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut 

1/2 cup Sugar

1 Egg

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter

Mix dry ingredients together; set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, egg and sugar.
Add the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.
Make 1 ½ inch balls with the dough and place on greased baking sheet.
Flatten the balls gently with the palm of your hand.
Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

This is a gluten free cookie. It is a bit on dry side and very crumbly in texture but has a nice corn flavor. (Accompanying liquid is recommended to prevent choking on the crumb dust). My wife asked a Brazilian acquaintance about this (supposed ?) Brazilian cookie but she did not know anything about it?!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Capelin "nanban" シシャモの南蛮漬け

This is another frozen item forgotten in our freezer. My wife drew my attention to a package of frozen capelin or shishamo シシャモ. Although I was not sure how old this was, it did look and smell OK. I usually serve this grilled but I thought "nanban-zuke" 南蛮漬け may be better since deep frying and marinating in sweet vinegar may eliminate any off tastes if they existed.  We tasted just it after it was deep fried and it tasted good but I went ahead and made the nanban.  I served this as a small appetizer with blanched broccoli rabe (rapini).

Along with this dish, I served store-bought "satsuma-age" fish cake 薩摩揚げ, "dashimaki" omelet だし巻き卵, sugar snap スナップ豌豆の塩びたし, simmered kabocha かぼちゃの煮物(center square plate) and boiled octopus leg with rapini. This was quite a big starter.

One package (10) "shishamo" capelin thawed
2-3 Tbs potato starch "katakuriko" 片栗粉 for dredging
One sweet onion, halved and cut into thin strips
One medium carrot, peeled and cut into small julienne
Few dried Japanese "nanban" togarashi 南蛮唐辛子 red pepper, cut into small rings
One cup sweet vinegar (one cut rice vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar and 1tsp Kosher salt, boiled to dissolve)
1/2 vegetable or peanut oil for "shallow" frying

Dredge shishamo with the potato starch (#1)
Add the onion and carrot in a sealable container and pour the hot sweet vinegar and let it cool to the room temperature (#2)
Shallow fry (or deep fry if you so prefer) in 1/4 inch deep oil (#3) for a few minutes and then turn over and cook another minute or two (#4)
Remove half of the vegetables from #2 and add the fried shishamo (#5)
Add back the vegetables to cover the fish (#6)
Put the lid on and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

As a rescue dish for old frozen shishamo, this was quite good. Frying and marinating in sweet vinegar really made it more than edible. Because of the preservative nature of the marinade, we kept enjoying this dish for a week (one small fish at a time). This dish is perfect for cold sake but not great with red wine because of the acidity.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Pork belly chasu and miso ramen 三枚肉チャーシュー と味噌ラーメン

Although we can get ”pork belly” or "Sanmai-niku" 三枚肉 (meaning "three layer meat" referring to alternating layers of fat and red meat) at  specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods, it has not been available at our usual grocery store. But the other day, I found a large package of pork belly (probably 2-3 lb). I could not resist getting one. It was rather large and I made  "Kakuni" 角煮 from half and made pork belly chasu 三枚肉チャーシュー from the other half.  Since this is usually served as a ramen topping, I made miso ramen with pork belly chasu as a lunch one weekend.

I also made "ajitama" 味玉 or seasoned soft boiled egg. I also opened a jar of store-bought "Menma" メンマ seasoned bamboo shoot. I added nori seaweed and finely chopped chives as toppings.

As before, the ramen noodle is  American-made frozen  ones from "Sun Noodle". I also used "miso" seasoning that came with the noodles but instead of hot water, I used Japanese broth made from a "dashi pack" to make the soup.

Pork Belly chasu

1 lb pork belly (half of the piece of pork I got), thinner portion (I assume this is  towards the front) which I rolled tightly and trussed.
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin
1 tbs sake
1 scallion, bruised with back of the knife
2 cloves garlic, crushed and skin removed
5 black pepper corns
3 star anises (optional)
Water to cover

Place the pork in a pot (in which the pork snuggly fits), add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, scallion, garlic, black pepper corns, and star anise. Marinate for a few hours at room temperature turning a few times.
Add water so that the pork is just barely covered. Cover the pork with either a silicon "otoshi buta" 落し蓋 or aluminum foil.
Put on the lid and simmer for several hours turning a few times.
Let it cool in the simmering liquid and then put into the refrigerator for overnight.
Skim off fat.

To serve:
Remove the pork from the now congealed marinade (#1 and #2).
Slice it to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick (#3)
Meanwhile, soft boiled egg was marinated in Japanese concentrated noodle sauce in a Ziploc bag for overnight or longer in the refrigerator (#4).
Cut the egg in half (#5).  After 24 hours, the yolk is still liquid but the more you marinate, the more yolks will jell.
I have "pork belly chasu", "menma" seasoned bamboo shoots, "ajitma" seasoned boiled egg and chopped chives for toppings (#6).

I boiled one serving of the ramen noodle as per the instructions and drained (this is half ramen 半ラーメンfor each of us).
Divide the miso seasoning package into two portions and place it in the bowls. Pour in hot dashi broth and dissolve the miso seasoning.
Add half of the package of noodles into each bowl.
Garnished it with the toppings above and the nori sheet.

This was rather decadent ramen. Compared to pork loin or even shoulder version of chasu, this is much more unctuous.  On other occasion, I made "chasu and egg" チャーシューエッグ using this which was also really good. We have to be careful that all this lovely pork belly will be "too much of a good thing"...Not likely!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Miso soup made with previously frozen Maitake and tobanjan 舞茸のピリ辛味噌汁

This was a lunch one weekend.  Since we still had extra maitake which I bought when I bought the matsutake and I saw this very interesting recipe for maitake miso soup, I  decided to make it. The mushrooms in and of themselves were very filling and combined with the other vegetables in the soup plus the freshly cooked rice and  simmered "kabocha" かぼちゃの煮物 and blanched broccolini I served along side, this turned out to be a very good but very big lunch. (as a result, my wife and I couldn't eat dinner that day.)

The bowls I used were much larger than regular miso soup bowls. The picture doesn't show the ingredients in the soup very well. The unique thing about this recipe, and the thing that caught my attention, was that it called for freezing the maitake (to enhance its flavor) and the addition of tobanjan 豆板醤. This, I just had to try because if it was possible to freeze the mushroom resulting in improved flavor that technique could come in handy for other recipes. I had to make some variations to the recipe, for example, since I did not have Japanese "Kabu" turnip which was suggested in the original recipe, I used daikon, carrot, wakame seaweed, and scallion.

The picture below shows the kabocha and broccolini. To make a typical "teishoku" 定食  i.e. dinner or a lunch set, we would have needed stukemono 漬物 or pickled/salted vegetables which we did not have.

One package of maitake (1/4 lb), hand torn into bit sized pieces, quickly rinsed in water with the moisture removed using a salad spinner. Place mushrooms in a Ziploc bag and freeze overnight. (the recipe indicates that this process enhances the flavor of the maitake).

Daikon, peeled and sliced  in 1/4 inch thick rounds and cut in half (amount arbitrary)
Carrot, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch thick diagonally (amount arbitrary)
Salt preserved  (or dry) "wakame" seaweed, salt washed and hydrated, cut into bite sized pieces (amount arbitrary)

Scallion, finely chopped

2 cups dashi broth (I used a dashi pack which included small dried fish called "iriko", which is more appropriate for miso soup)

1 tbs of miso
1/2 tsp of tobanjan (or more if you like it spicy)

I added the broth, maitake (not thawed), daikon and carrot into a pan. I simmered it until the vegetables were cooked (for 10-15 minutes).
I added the wakame and dissolved the miso and tobanjan. I tasted and add more miso or tobanjan.
Add the scallion and when it comes back to a boil, shut off the flame and serve.

Although I added just a small amount of tobanjan, the soup was still rather spicy. It was ok with me but my wife thought it was too hot. She added yogurt to the soup. She said it calmed it down and tasted good. We are not sure freezing made any difference. I was afraid ice crystals would form in the maitake and make it spongy when it was frozen but that did not happen. It maintained a nice firm texture. This is a good soup and the freezing technique will be useful for making the maitake last longer. However, my wife said maitake is best if it was cooked with some oil.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Another five "otoshi" appetizers お通し5種類

This is another example of 5 starting appetizers. This time, all five items were made by me--no store bought. Again, I used the long rectangular plates with five depressions.

From left to right; spicy tofu cubes ぴり辛豆腐, chicken square with dried fruit and gorgonzola cheese *ドライフルーツとゴルゴンゾーラチーズ松風焼き topped with figgy cranberry sauce イチジククランベリーソース.

*Instead of the usual dried figs, I used a combination of hydrated dried fruits (peach, pear, apricot and prune)

Sugar snaps blanched and soaked in dashi seasoned with salt スナップ豌豆の塩びたし and Cauliflower Montparnasse モンパルナスのカリフラワー. The next is  blanched  broccoli rabe and dressed with mustard soy sauce and wedge of Campari tomato skinned.

Finally, pork meat ball with ricotta and parmesan cheese  リコッタチーズ入りミートボール with my home made marinara sauce.

I heated up the tofu, chicken squares, and meat balls in the toaster oven. This is a good combination of vegetables and proteins.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Buttermilk muffin バターミルク マフィン

My wife is very fond of buttermilk. Besides using it for baking or other cooking, she sometimes just drinks it. (A vestige of growing up in Pennsylvania Dutch country). Although I do like dishes and breads made with buttermilk, I don't enjoy just drinking it. In addition, she is very particular about the brand of buttermilk. Her favorite is Harrisburg Dairies. Our regular grocery stores do not carry this brand but Whole Foods does, so when we are in near-by Whole Foods, she stocks up by getting multiple containers.  I am not sure if we can get buttermilk in Japan. Several times we looked for it but we could not find it. In any case, she made this buttermilk muffin using the recipe from "Beard on Bread" cookbook. His original recipe was for buttermilk white loaf bread however we find muffins are more convenient to take to work for breakfast. Actually my wife has made this several times but we forgot take pictures and by the time we realized there were no pictures we had finished all the muffins. After making the 1st batch my wife decided to reduce the amount of salt called for in the original recipe. The 1st batch was good but both of us felt the muffins were too salty. She found that the Beard bread recipes in general use a lot more salt than other bread recipes and the end result actually tastes salty to us. Reducing the salt also doesn't seem to make a difference in the bread.  This buttermilk muffin is very similar in appearance and texture to regular white bread but it has a subtle "tanginess" or "sharpness" (in good way) somewhat reminiscent of sour dough bread but not as strong. This muffin can be served as dinner rolls or breakfast bread.

We freeze the muffins and just microwave them for 20 seconds in a silicon container for microwaving and it come back nicely with a soft texture. If you make it to a loaf, toasting it may be better.

The cut surface is that of yeast bread with nice soft texture.

2 pks. dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar (plus 1/2 tsp additional to proof the yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. melted butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Proof the yeast in the warm water and 1/2 tsp. sugar. Add the flour, remaining sugar and salt in a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the proofed yeast, melted butter and buttermilk. Add additional flour as needed to make a smooth dough that sticks to the hook. Knead on speed 2 for 7 to 10 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl with some vegetable oil in it. Turn the dough to coat with oil so it won't dry out while rising. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down and form into rolls weighing 2 1/2 oz. Put the rolls in a heavily buttered large pyrex baking dish. Cover and let rise until double in size (about 1/2 hour). Bake in a 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes. (It can also be made into loaves in which case it is baked for 30 to 40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped.)

My wife commented, "The first time I read the recipe the description said it was made with hard wheat flour. I thought that meant whole wheat flour. So the first few times I made the muffins I used whole wheat flour and the rolls were quite good. Then, sometime later, when I read the recipe I wondered why the title called it white bread when it was made with whole wheat flour which results in a brown colored bread. Then it dawned on me that the hard wheat flour to which they were referring was high protein white wheat flour or in laymen's terms "bread flour". (duh!!) but the recipe  seems to work well with whole wheat flour too."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Squid "somen" イカ素麺

I am rather fond of squid and I posted many dishes. So, when I saw a new squid product in the freezer case at our Japanese store, I naturally bought it. It was called "Squid somen" イカ素麺. "Somen" 素麺 is a type of very thin Japanese noodle indicating this is raw squid cut in very thin strips. I served it dressed in the sauce which was included in the package and also added finely chopped chives.

It came in a bag containing three small cups and sauce. I thawed two cups in the refrigerator.

The amount in a cup was meant to be one serving and it is a small serving.

This was not bad but we prefer our regular squid sashimi package. It appeared that some of the squid strips still had the skin attached which stuck to my teeth. Oh, well. At least we tried it once.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Fennel ricotta muffin フェンネル リコッタチーズ マフィン

This another one of my wife's muffin project.The recipe came from "Pastries from La Brea Bakery". The muffin has fennel flavor and has ricotta cheese stuffing with pecan and walnuts on the top.

This is again quite successful muffin. I will let my wife take over.


For the batter
1 tsp. fennel seeds toasted and pulverized
3 cups AP flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup vegetable oil

For the filling

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

For the topping 

walnuts or pecans toasted and chopped

Mix the fennel, flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and combine. In another bowl mix the yogurt and vegetable oil. Combine the dry and liquid ingredients. In a third bowl mix the ingredients for the filling. Place a scoop of the batter in heavily greased muffin tin. Add a scoop of the filling and top with another scoop of the batter. Top with the toasted chopped nuts. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then remove from the muffin tin.

These were very good muffins. They had a nice tender texture with a surprise moist layer of ricotta in the center. The fennel gave it a pleasant spicy taste which set these apart from the usual muffin. These were very creative and pleasantly different--characteristic of the muffin recipes presented in the La Brea cookbook. We actually ate them all before we could take all the usual pictures so we couldn't show the nice layer of filling. Also, my wife has made several batches of these muffins all with the same "short-lived" effect so these were the best pictures we could salvage.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Moon gazing and "Tsuki-mi" dango 2019 月見と月見団子

This year's "15th night moon" or "Jugoya" 十五夜, which corresponds to the "Harvest moon" in the U.S., occurred on September 13 which was a Friday--Friday the 13th (!). Since it was a work day there was no time to make ”tsukimi dango" 月見団子  to celebrate the beauty of the moon. In addition it was cloudy, and the moon did not make an appearance so "tsukimi" or "moon gazing" was not happening. The next day,  I made the tsukimi dango in the morning so it was ready. In anticipation, we waited for moon rise. As you can see from the picture below the sky was crystal clear and the moon rose like a large round silver platter, even though it was a 1 day waning moon...Tsukimi was on.

We had our "tsukimi dango" with "mitarashi" みたらし sauce as a desert. I never thought (especially when I was in Japan), I would ever make this dish myself but this is very good and the sauce really makes it.

Speaking of moons, in addition to the real moon, this year we had the pleasure of viewing moon flowers blooming, after a long absence, in our garden--the white flower shown on the right in the picture below. They bloom in the evening and glow softly in the ambient light as it gets dark withering in the morning light. In contrast this year we also had morning glories called "asa-gaoa" 朝顔 (morning faces) in Japanese, (shown on the left in the picture below). The morning glories and moon flowers have a counter cyclical blooming cycle. The morning glories bloom in the morning when the moon flower is fading and fade in the evening when the moon flower is blooming. The result is that there is always a flower in bloom.

Digression alert: Many years ago we used to grow moon flowers and morning glories in our side yard. We planted the seeds in the ground and the plants climbed up strings reaching the trellis which screened one side of the deck from sight of our neighbor's backyard. We had enough sun for these plants to cover the entire side of the deck trellis. As shown in the picture below we had a glorious wall of morning glories providing a beautiful privacy screen.  

Even more impressive were the large moon flowers, some as large as small plates, which mysteriously opened in the evening.  Some survived until morning so we could see both flowers at the same time as shown in the picture below. While enjoying the soft glow of the moon flowers one evening we saw something big flying and sounding like a hummingbird feeding on the nectar of the moonflower. It was way too late for a hummingbird to be about so what in the world was this creature? Turns out it was something call a hummingbird moth. They fly like a hummingbird and drink nectar like a hummingbird. What a treat! We had no idea something like this even existed but we were privileged to have the opportunity of see one.

For various reasons we have not been able to plant these flowers for many years. This year my wife found a space along the fence that she thought might work. So we planted the seeds, strung the string and waited and waited and waited. Finally in late August the first moon flower made its appearance. The picture above is of this year's crops. They were rather pathetic compared to the our old morning glory and moon flower display, but this is quite an improvement especially since we did not have them for many years.

So back to the subject at hand; tsukimi. It may be difficult to celebrate tsukimi on the exact day of "Jugoya", but this was certainly a fine second best. The homemade dango were much better than the ones that we have bought commercially. They are very tender in texture with a pleasant rice flavor. The absolutely crucial ingredient to this dish is the sauce. It adds a burst of salty sweetness that is irresistible.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Mackerel ceviche しめ鯖のサビーチェ

In our household, once an item goes into the freezer, it tends to "fall off the radar screen" and gets lost. When my wife digs deep into the freezer in search of something, she always finds some very old item. On one such occasion, she pointed out a package of pickled mackerel or "shime-saba" しめ鯖. I knew it was old but I had no idea how old. I defrosted it one weekend and it was not edible. So, on a subsequent weekend, I bought some "fresh" frozen pickled mackerel. I did not take any chances this time and, the next day, I made this dish. I got this idea from a recipe on line.

This is a good dish. Perfect with cold sake.

The addition of vegetables added more volume.

One package frozen "shime saba" pickled mackerel (#2), Thin skin peeled off and cut into a
bite sized pieces (#3).
1/2 sweet  onion (I used Vidalia), cut into thin slices (#1)
2 skinned Campari tomatoes, cut into thin wedges (#1)
1 Jalapeño pepper, seeded, veined and cut into fine dice (#1)
lime juice (from 1 lime) or lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tsp olive oil (I used our favorite Spanish olive oil)
1/2 cucumber (I used American mini cucumber), thinly sliced for garnish

Just mix it all up (#4) and dress with the lime juice, and olive oil. Season it with salt and black pepper (#4). Let it stand in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
I garnished with the cucumber

This is better than just eating the mackerel like sashimi with soy sauce, wasabi or ginger. Since the shime-saba had just been bought, it was nice and not overly pickled. This is indeed a very good way to serve shime-saba. This dish is not as challenging to people who are not into sashimi and mackerel in particular.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Avocado prosciutto muffin アボカド プロシュート マフィン

I had an excess of ripe avocados. I asked my wife if she could use some. As she is a devotee of muffins, she found this avocado bacon recipe on-line. Since we also had an excess prosciutto, she modified the recipe to avocado prosciutto muffin. This turned out to be a great and unique muffin, a complete breakfast.

This is the cut surface just cooled down to room temperature after coming out of the oven, You can see the melting cheese, avocado and prosciutto. Unfortunately, this is a rather rich muffin with eggs and cheese as well.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):
3 cups flour (#1)
2 tbs baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 1/2  tsp sugar
1 pinch cayenne pepper (#1)
1  1/2 cup grated cheese; we used a mixture of smoked gouda, sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses (#2).
2 tbs chopped chives
4 slices prosciutto, cut into small pieces and cooked until crispy (#3).
113 grams (whole stick) of unsalted butter melted
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 avocado, stone and skin removed and cut into small cubes (coated with lemon juice to prevent discoloration) (#4)

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cayenne in a bowl. Shred the cheeses. Cook the prosciutto until crispy. Cut up the avocado and coat with lemon juice so it doesn't discolor.
In another bowl combine the egg, butter and milk. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the prosciutto and avocado #5. Scoop into a heavily greased muffin tin. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes #6. Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from the muffin tin.

These muffins are a meal in themselves. They are decadently delicious. We would never have considered adding avocado to a baked good but it maintains it's shape and consistency. It adds a nice moist texture element. The smoked cheese did not melt completely while the other cheeses amalgamated into the bread. This added yet another texture element and burst of flavor. We will be making these again.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Maitake and chikuwa kinpira 舞茸と竹輪のきんぴら

Since I got maitake 舞茸 (hen of the woods) when I got matsutake 松茸 from Oregon mushrooms, this is the second dish I made from the maitake. This is loosely based on a recipe on-line. I made this as a first "otoshi" appetizer of the evening. I also served dried and seasoned squid strips or "saki-ika" さきいか.

This is a perfect  dish for sake. Fish cake and maitake are a good combination with contrasting texture.

Saki-ika is the last remaining from the package I opened a few days ago. This is a good very popular drinking snack in Japan. We think this goes best with Bourbon and water but sake will do as well.

One package (1/4 lb) maitake, torn into bite sized pieces, rinsed in water and excess water removed by a salad spinner (#1).
One medium carrot, peeled, sliced on the bias and cut into julienne (#2)
One package (six) small yaki-chikuwa 焼き竹輪 fish cakes, thawed, one cut into 4 long strips (#3)
1 tsp of peanut oil and a splash of dark roasted sesame oil
A pinch of  dried red pepper flakes (as much as you like)
1 tbs mirin
1 tbs soy sauce
Roasted white sesame for garnish

In a non-stick frying pan on medium flame, add the peanut oil with a dash of sesame oil and add the red pepper flakes and let it cook a little until fragrant.
Add the carrot and the mushroom and sauté for several minutes until the mushrooms start showing few brown spots (#2).
Add the chikuwa fish cake (#3) and keep sautéing for a few more minutes.
Add the mirin and then soy sauce and braise until the liquid is almost gone. Taste and adjust the seasonings (I added a bit more soy sauce).
Serve immediately or at room temperature with a garnish of roasted white sesame.

The maitake has a meaty texture and earthy flavor. The chiku-wa is soft and slightly sweet. The contrast in textures is very intriguing.The red pepper flakes gave a slight heat to the basic "kinpira" flavor of soy sauce and mirin. Everything comes together. This is a good starter. We had this cold later and it was still quite good.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Nori and butter fried noodles 海苔とバターの焼うどん

This was sort of our (mostly my wife's) invention. One evening, we needed something to finish the meal (shime〆). We found leftover precooked very thin udon noodles or "Ito udon" 播州糸うどん, which we happened to have since we had "cold pasta with fresh tomato sauce" earlier. My wife suggested that we simply fry it in butter and soy sauce (reminiscent of how she adds butter and soy sauce to her rice). The reasoning being 'if butter and soy sauce taste good on rice why not noodles?' I also added strips of seasoned nori. I added the nori as the noodles were cooking not as garnish.

The garnish I used was finely chopped chives.

The udon is extra thin and the nori is well incorporated into the noodles.

This is not a recipe. Just add a thin pat of unsalted butter to a non-stick frying pan on medium flame, add cooked udon noodle, fry for a few minutes, add strips or hand-crushed seasoned nori or "ajituske nori" 味つけのり and keep frying. then add a small amount of soy sauce to finish. The amount of the ingredients and seasoning is totally arbitrary.

This is a simple and very satisfying dish. Perfect for the shime at the end of the meal. This has become our "go-to" dish whenever we have left over udon. As a variation, I also used "nori tuskudani" 海苔佃 which was ok but did not particularly add much.