Simmered Taro Roots (Satoimo no Nikkorogashi)

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For the last decade, I had been wondering if this vegetable called Taro roots in Asian veggie shops was actually the same as “Satoimo”. “Satoimo” is a common vegetable in Japan. It is a small round vegetable with brown and hairy skin. Once the skin is peeled, the inside is white. The texture is very similar to potato, but the difference is that it is slimy.

We sometimes call “Satoimo” as “Taroimo”. OK, the name is similar. Their looks are quite similar too, but the “Taro Roots” that I had seen before was quite big compared to “Satoimo”. So I had never had the courage to try “Taro Roots” as I was not quite sure.

Then the other day, I saw this “Small taro Roots” in an Asian veggie shop in Subiaco, which looked exactly the same as “Satoimo”. I took a photo of it and sent it to my mother to see what she thought. She confirmed that it WAS “Satoimo”. Great!!!

The only dish that I can think of with this “Small Taro Roots” is Simmered Taro called “Satoimo no Nikkorogashi” – one of my favourites among my mother’s simmered dishes. I have to admit that Satoimo might not be for everyone – especially for people with a Western background, as I believe that slimy food might not be as common as in Asia. However, I would really recommend if you would like to try something different or are interested in traditional Japanese food. Of course, the flavour is guaranteed.

When you prepare it, please be careful with your knife as it is slimy – quite slippery. Please also wash your hands carefully after dealing with it. Your hand might feel itchy if the sliminess is left on your skin. Hope you enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

400g of Small Taro Roots (Satoimo)

2 Tablespoons of Salt

200ml of Dashi Stock

50ml of Cooking Sake

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Mirin

 

Method:

  1. Preparation for Taro Roots. Slice a little bit of the top and bottom of the taro off, and then peel the skin. It will be easier and look better if you peel it from top to bottom. If the taro roots are big, cut them into about 3 cm cubes. Place them into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Wash and rinse them by hand. This is to remove the unnecessary sliminess, and to make the taro absorb flavour easily.
  2. Place the taro roots, dashi stock and sake in a saucepan. Heat it over medium/high heat. Once it is boiled, reduce the heat to low/medium and add sugar. Simmer it for 10 minutes with a drip lid.
  3. Add soy sauce to the saucepan and simmer it for another 10 minutes with the drip lid on, or until the taro roots are cooked.
  4. Remove the drop lid and turn the heat to medium/high. Add mirin to it and simmer it for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the sauce becomes shiny.
  5. Turn the heat off and let the taro cook down in the sauce. Serve it warm or at room temperature.
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Simple Kitsune Udon

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Kitsune Udon is one of the Osakan people’s soul foods. We eat Udon when we are sick, before we go for a trip, after we come back from a trip, when we feel a little bit hungry, when we have upset stomach, when we are hungover…well, in short, any time.

The most important is the combination of the Udon Soup and Sweet Kitsune Topping (Aguraage – Deep Fried Tofu Pouch). After biting the sweet and juicy Aburaage, you have to have a sip of Udon Soup straight away. Then have some Udon noodles while the flavour of the Dashi is still in your month…. So yum….  This is my comfort food. Hopefully you enjoy my home town food. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

Udon Noodles

100g Bread Flour

75cc Water

½ Teaspoon of Salt

Soup

400cc Kelp and Bonito Stock Dashi Stock

2 Tablespoons of Mirin

2 Tablespoons of Sake

1 Tablespoon of Light Colour Soy Sauce

2 pinches of Sea Salt

Kitsune Topping

2 Aburaage (deep fried tofu pouch)

160cc Kelp and Bonito Dashi Stock

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake

½ Tablespoon of Mirin

½ Tablespoon of Sugar

 

1 Spring Onion – finely chopped

 

Method

  1. Make Udon Noodles. Mix water and salt. Make sure that the salt is dissolved completely. Place bread flour in a bowl. Pour the salted water over the bread flour bit by bit, while you are combining them by hand. Bring the dough together and knead it until it becomes elastic and smooth. Shape it like a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 15-30 minutes. Keep repeating this process 3 times.
  2. Make Soup. Put all ingredients in a pot and bring it to boil. Turn off and set aside.
  3. Make Kitsune Topping. Pour boiled water (not included in the ingredient list above) over aburaage. This is to remove the excess oil from the aburaage. Cut them into 2. Place stock, soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar in a small sauce pan and bring it to the boil. Place the aburaage into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium/low. Put otoshibuta (drop lid) on and cook it for about 5 minutes. Let it cool down.
  4. Now come back to the udon noodles. Dust the dough with flour. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 5mm thick. Fold the dough into 3. Cut the folded dough into thin strips. Dust the noodles with flour, and pick and unfold the noodles one by one. Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain and wash them with cold water.
  5. Place the udon noodles in a serving bowl. Pour the soup over the noodle and top with Kitsune and chopped spring onions.

 

 

 

SALMON NAMEROU – Another Tataki

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Tataki is one of the Japanese cooking methods. Here in Australia, “beef Tataki” or “tuna tataki” are very common, which is that a piece of protein is seared and the inside is almost raw.

However, today, I would like to introduce another Tataki. This Tataki includes a completely different cooking technique from the seared Tataki. Tataki means “beat” or “slap” in Japanese. To make this Tataki, you need to beat the ingredients with 2 knives (that’s why it’s called Tataki!). And, when you mix the beated version of Tataki with miso, it’s called Namerou.

I cooked my Salmon Namerou for The Chef’s Line, along with my seared Beef Tataki… Well…, Executive Chef Dan Hong seems to not have enjoyed this dish as much as I do…. But I am still a big believer in this dish. Maybe you can try it out and to see if you enjoy the dish as much as I do?

 

Ingredients  (Serving 2-4)

120g of Salmon Fillet ( Sashimi grade, deboned, skin off

1 + 1/2 Teaspoons of Red miso (japanese shinshu red miso)

2 Teaspoons of Soy sauce

1cm cube of Ginger – finely chopped

1 Spring Onion – finely chopped

Method:

  1. Cut up Salmon and Ginger into very small pieces with 2 knives on a chopping board.
  2. Mix the salmon with other ingredients until it becomes sticky,
  3. Serve the salmon in lettuce cups (optional)

 

 

This is how to chop the Salmon!daaaa!!

 

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Lotus Root Kimpira – Renkon no Kinpira

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I was so excited to find fresh Lotus Roots in a shot the other day. In Japan, Lotus Roots are very common and can be purchased throughout the seasons. Since they are so common over there, to be honest, I did not know when Lotus Roots were in season before…, whoops….

Why am I so exited? It is because not only they are rare to find here in Australia, but they are also my father’s favourite vegetable. Especially this recipe, Lotus Roots Kimpira, was his favourite veggie dish. When I cooked it for him, I remember him praising me saying “Yours is better than your mum’s”. which was the best praise you could get from him.

In the shop, I put a small fresh Lotus Root in my basket without hesitation, just to make this dish. I went to the cashier and realised that the small lady cost me $9.00…. Well…, there was no option for me not to buy it, but I felt just little nostalgic….

Here is my father’s favourite recipe. Really hope you enjoy it.

 

Ingredients (Serving 4 as a side dish)

300g Lotus Root (Renkon) – peeled and sliced into thin rounds. Soak the slices in water for 5 minutes. This is to avoid them discolouring.

15ml Dashi stock

2 Tablespoons of Cooking Sake

½ Tablespoon of Sugar

½ Tablespoon of Mirin

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

½ Teaspoon of Sesame Seeds

 

Method:

  1. Drain and dry the Lotus slices with paper towels. Heat a small amount of oil (not included in the ingredients’ lost above) in a fry pan on medium heat. Stir-fry the Lotus for a couple of minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add Dashi Stock, Cooking Sake, Sugar and Mirin. Cooking them for 2-3 minutes or until the liquid is half gone.
  3. Add Soy Sauce and cook them for 2-3 minutes or until the liquid is almost gone.
  4. Turn heat off and sprinkle Sesame Seeds over the lotus. It can be served both warm and cold.

 

 

Roasted Beetroot Salad – Yogurt and Shio Koji Dressing

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Koji is a grain (such as rice, soybeans and barley) that is inoculated and propagated with the Koji culture, which is a microbe. It is natural and used to make common Japanese ingredients such as soy sauce, miso and mirin etc….

Shio Koji is a mixture of Koji, Salt (Shio in Japanese) and water and is a very versatile seasoning. My mother introduced Shio Koji to me as a “current trend” in Japan several years ago. Since then, Shio Koji has been my trustworthy partner in the kitchen. When I feel something is missing, it is the time when Shio Koji comes up. Taste of Shio Koji itself is very salty and strong, however, when you use it as a seasoning, it brings the dish to the next level. I feel, somehow, Shio Koji helps other ingredients to produce the own umami.

I added it into my yogurt dressing this time. I think that Shio Koji smoothes the flavour by cutting the harshness of plain yogurt and lemon juice. I found Shio Koji in my local Japanese food store in Subiaco if you would like to try it out.

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Ingredients (Serving 4)                        

For Salad

5 small Beetroots (or 4 big ones)

1 Carrot – shredded

1 Tomato – roughly chopped

1 Red Capsicum – rough chopped

½ Onion – thinly sliced

For Dressing

4 Tablespoons of Plain Yogurt

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

½ Tablespoon of Shio Koji

1 clove of Garlic -finely chopped

½ Teaspoon of Dried Oregano

Method:

  1. Roast Beetroots – Pre-heat oven to 230 ◦C. Wrap beetroots with alfoil individually and place them into the oven. Bake them for 45 minutes or until they are cooked.
  2. While roasting the beetroots, chop all of the salad ingredients and place them into a large bowl. For dressing, mix all ingredients except oregano in a small bowl.
  3. Once the beet rots are cooked, remove them from the oven. Peel the skin off and cut them into 2cm cubes. Add them into the chopped salad.
  4. Dress the salad with the dressing. Sprinkle the oregano on top to serve.

Note: I found this website explains more about Koji if you are interested.

https://www.clearspring.co.uk/blogs/news/8024723-koji-the-culture-behind-japanese-food-production

Chestnut Rice – Autumn has come

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One thing that I really like in Japanese culture is that we can feel the season through food. Now it is autumn. In Japan, we say “Shokuyoku no Aki”, which means “autumn brings a good appetite”. This is because autumn is the season when a lot of fresh produce is in season, such as rice, ginger, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, mushrooms, salmon, saury pike, apple, persimmon, grape etc… yummmm….

I do not feel much of this “enjoy the season through food” concept here in Australia, however if you try, we can still see some differences in the supermarket in each season. Did you realise that apples are much tastier these days and persimmons are in the shops now? And…, do not forget my favourite, Chestnuts.

I especially love chestnut desserts; Mont Blanc Cake, Chestnut Tart, Chestnut Pound cake (see my recipe!), Chestnut Manju (Japanese sweet bun stuffed with sweet bean paste) and Chestnut Yokan (Sweet red bean past bar)…, yummmm….

However, to satisfy my nostalgia, I would like to introduce this Chestnut Rice recipe today. When my mother cooks it, our family realise that the summer has ended and that autumn is here now. This recipe reminds of my family and of Japanese autumn.

 

Ingredients (serving 4 people)

200g Chestnuts with shell – about 13-15 chestnuts

2 cups of Rice – Japanese Rice, Sushi Rice or Short Grain Rice (Please use Rice Cooker’s cup). If you wish, replace ½ cup of the rice to Sticky Rice (Mochigome), which can be purchased at some Asian food stores.

½ Teaspoon of good quality Sea Salt

2g of Dried Kelp – wiped with a wet cloth

How to prepare chestnuts

  1. Soak chestnuts in water over night. This is to make the shell soft so that it will be easier to peel it off.
  2. Using a knife, slice a little bit of the bottom of the chestnut off.
  3. Using your fingers, peel the hard shell off from the cut end. You can peel it off quite easily.
  4. Then, using a knife, peel the inner skin completely. Place the chestnut into a bowl of water as soon as it is peeled. Please be careful with your fingers when you peel the inner skin, as it is time consuming and slippery to peel small chestnuts.

Method:

  1. Put rice in a rice cooker’s removable bowl and rinse the rice. Rest the washed rice in the bowl for about 20 minutes (if your rice cooker includes this time into the cooking time, it is not necessary to do so).
  2.  Add water up to the line of 2 as marked inside the removable bowl (not included in the ingredients list above).
  3. Add sea salt and dried kelp to the rice.
  4. Place the prepared chestnuts on the rice.
  5. Set the rice cooker and cook it as per the rice cooker’s instructions.
  6. Once the rice cooker has completed cooking, let it sit for about 30 minutes (if your rice cooker includes this time into the cooking time, it is not necessary to do so). Remove the dried kelp. Fold over the rice with a rice paddle and serve it in a rice bowl while it is hot.

 

How to make Japanese Stock : Dashi – Kelp and Bonito Stock (Awase Dashi)

Dashi is Japanese stock. It is a foundation of flavour in Japanese cuisine – it is called Umami. While most of common stock (such as beef, chicken and vegie stock etc…) takes long time to cook, Dashi can be done in a short time. Well…, I have to admit that I often I often use Dashi powder as it is very easy to use…, however, I also have to say that Dashi made from scratch is DELICIOUS. It’s worth it to make it by yourself.

There are a few kinds of Dashi, and I will introduce how to make Awase-Dashi here today. Awase-Dashi is made from Dried Kelp and Bonito Flake. It is very versatile and great for most of Japanese dishes.

As I said, it does not take long to make, but please just make sure to soak fried kelp in water over night or at least 3 hours prior to start heating (I normally soak it before going to work in the morning, so that it is ready to cook when I come home). You can also make a big batch of the stock and store it in the fridge (for a week) or in the freezer (for a month).

Ingredients:

1000ml Water

10g Dried Kelp

20g Dried Bonito Flake (Katsuobushi)

Method:

  1. Gently wipe kelp with a wet cloth or kitchen paper. Place water and the kelp in a large pot. Leave it for over night or at least 3 hours. This is to allow the flavour of the kelp to get into the water.
  2. Heat up the pot on medium heat. Just before the water starts to boil, remove the kelp.
  3. Add dried bonito flake (katsuobushi) to the pot and cook it for 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the bonito sink to the bottom. This will take about  10 minutes.
  4. Strain the stock and squeeze the remained bonito to release extra umami from it.