Friday, May 31, 2019

Asparagus stir-fry アスパラガスの炒め物

In our regular grocery store, we often find bags of colorful mini sweet peppers. My wife likes these peppers especially broiled with the skin and seeds removed. It is a bit of effort to prepare them this way.  I broil them in the toaster oven then place them in a Ziploc bag to steam. Once they have cooled I remove the skin and seeds. Despite the work, they are nice to have around because they are flavorful, colorful and when added to a dish can add a nice bright note. I made this dish just to use up some left-over vegetables  (I had green asparagus, some shimeji mushrooms, Campari tomatoes and the prepared mini sweet peppers).   I also added scrambled eggs for additional color. I did not follow any recipe.

I was not sure how I would season this dish when I started making it, Chinese? Italian? I ended up just using salt and pepper and let the vegetable flavors speak for themselves.

I used my wok and everything came together quickly.

5 fresh green asparagus, woody bottoms removed and skin of the bottom half peeled, tips cut across, and the stalk sliced on a bias.
1 small onion, halved and cut in thin strips.
1/3 package of shimeji mushroom, root potion removed and separated.
4 skinned Campari tomatoes, cut into quarters.
1 Jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins removed and finely chopped.
4 prepared mini-sweet peppers (see above), cut into thin strips.
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes.
1 tbs olive oil
2 eggs (for scrambled eggs, optional).

I heated up the olive oil in a wok and added the red pepper flakes until the oil was hot.
I then added the onion and the Jalapeño pepper and stirred until the onion was slightly brown for 5 minutes, then add the asparagus stems and cooked for another 3 minutes. I added the asparagus tips, the shimeji mushrooms, the sweet peppers and the tomatoes.
I seasoned it with salt and pepper and cooked it for another 3-4 minutes.

The red pepper flakes and the jalapeno pepper gave a mild slow heat. You could taste all the flavors from the vegetables which also gave the dish a slight sweetness. This was a good side dish.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Crab cake sushi クラブケーキちらし寿司

 I made crab cakes, using a recipe I posted some time ago . From one container of crab meat,  I made 5 cakes. We ate two immediately but three were left (see below). This time, I made the crab cake with sautéed onion, shiitake mushroom, jalapeño pepper and fresh dill. I also added Meyer lemon zest (micro-grated), lemon juice and seasoned it with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and bound it with panko, dijon mustard and mayonnaise.

Since we had gotten the crab meat to make California roll, my wife suggested we could (sort-of) stick to our original objective by using the crab cakes to make scattered sushi ちらし寿司. Also, we had discovered, on our last trip to Japan, that ingredients such as tuna salad made with mayonnaise work really well with sushi rice. So since the crab cakes included mayo, my wife thought they should work well over the sushi rice. She made fresh rice for the occasion and I made it into sushi rice.  First, I warmed the crab cakes in the toaster oven and the broke them into small chunks on the sushi rice.

Taking the cue from California rolls, I also added cubes of avocado, dressed in lemon juice and a bit of mayonnaise.

Since perilla has started coming out in profusion in our herb garden, I added a chiffonade of perilla 青じそ.

Finally, I topped it with thin strips of nori.

We had this on our day off as an ending "shime" dish. As my wife predicted this was really good. We thought that since it was a shime, the amount of rice may be too much but it tasted so good we couldn't stop and ended up eating the whole thing. As opposed to just using crab meat as is done with classic California roll, using crab cake added more complex flavor dimensions and texture.  For this, we switched to our "Tengumai daiginjo" sake 天狗舞大吟醸酒.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Spinach and mint cake ホウレン草とミントの緑のケーキ

We posted green pancakes made with a combination of spinach and mint and we really liked them. We had some left over spinach that we had to use up. In addition, the mint was growing profusely in our garden. My wife found a recipe for cake made with spinach and she decided to make it. That took care of the spinach. Then she remembered the spinach mint pancakes and decided she would get the mint somewhat under control by substituting some mint for some of the spinach in the recipe. The cake is a bit like green tea cake  in appearance but the taste is completely different--and it is really good.

My wife made icing from cream cheese and honey.

The icing is not too sweet but added a nice taste and texture.

1 cup raw spinach (packed)
1 cup raw mint (packed)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs. lemon juice
2 cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and then set aside (#1).  Put the spinach, mint, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and sugar in a blender and puree. Then with the blender on a slow speed add the olive oil to make an emulsion (#2). Add the vanilla and mix in. Add the spinach/mint mixture to the flour (#3 & #4).  Put into a greased 9" x 13" inch baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper (to made it easier to get the cake out of the pan when it is done #5.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean (#6).

cream the cream cheese in a mixer. Add the honey and the vanilla and continue creaming until it becomes light and fluffy. Slather it on the the cooled cake.

This is a great cake. As with the green pancakes, the mint flavor predominates and is very refreshing. This is not too sweet and we had this even as a breakfast and was great with coffee. Although my wife found another way to use our prolific mint, it is still taking over.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Uni Miso Ika Zuke 雲丹みそいか漬

This blog is to highlight another item called "Uni Miso Ika Zuke"雲丹みそいか漬 that we got from Maruhide (shown in the little round dish on the right). We got it just before New Year with some other items including fresh uni. We finished all the other items sometime ago. I rediscovered this one "hiding" in the freezer and decided that unlike wine, frozen fish generally doesn't improve over time so it was time to open the jar and taste the contents. We had it as a starter with cold sake one weekend evening.

"Uni miso ika zuke" is similar but different from squid "Shiokara" 塩辛 or "Shutou" 酒盗.  The "sauce" is concentrated uni sea urchin. The below is the description from the Maruhide web site.

"Maruhide's "Uni Miso" is Sea Urchin paste made with California Red Sea Urchin. Steamed at low temperature to condense to 1/2 of its weight, to make it rich and flavorful. The combination of "Uni Miso" with Sashimi grade Mongo-Squid ("Ika Zuke") makes the perfect complement for sake."

We wholeheartedly agree with the statement. It has a concentrated uni flavor but not too salty and the squid has a nice "sashimi"-like texture. This is indeed perfect to go with sipping cold sake.

I added few other items from my usual stash. From left back clockwise; chicken tsukune square つくね (instead of making into into a ball or sausage shape of tsukune, I put it in a baking pan and baked in the toaster oven at 350F for 30 minutes like the  other chicken squares I make. Since I had fresh garlic chives, I added them), blanched rapini dressed in mustard-soy sauce 菜の花の辛子醤油, blanched sugar snap marinated in seasoned dashi スナップ豌豆の塩びたし, simmered "Kabocha" pumpkin かぼちゃの煮物, Dashi-maki Japanese omelet with garlic chive だし巻き and spicy baked tofu ピリ辛とうふ.

We had this while sitting outside on our deck on one of the first warm days of spring which made it taste even better. Now we have two house sakes; "MU"daiginjo 大吟醸 ”無” and "天狗舞”. Both are quite good with a bit more complexity in "tengumai".