Mapo Tofu “ish” – Quick and Easy

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Mapo Tofu is one of the popular Chinese dishes in Japan. The dish contains Tofu and meat (normally beef or pork mince) quickly simmered in a spicy sauce. It originated from Sichuan province, from which you can easily imagine that the dish is very hot and spicy! Although the Japanese version is much milder, it still has some kick and we love eating it with rice.

It is very easy and quick to cook, well…, if you already have the 2 important ingredients in your kitchen – Doubanjang (fermented broad been and chilli paste) and Dou-chi (fermented black bean paste), which make this dish “Mapo”.

Yes…, I know some Asian stores sell them…, however if you are like me and do not cook much Siuchuan food, these 2 jars will be sitting and doing nothing in the kitchen cabinet for a next 3 months… So I asked myself “Can I replace them with something that I already have to make Mapo Tofu- ish dish??”.

The Answer is YES. In this recipe, I use very common Japanese ingredients – Miso, Soy Sauce, Cooking and Chilli, which gives a depth and spiciness to the dish. I also add a lot of vegetables, so that this will be a complete dish especially when you serve it on rice (like me serving it on brown rice in the picture).

For meat, I like using Kangaroo mince as I love its leanness and sustainability in Australia, but you can use any meat you like. Beef or pork mince will be lovely. Same with vegetables. Although I recommend Daikon Radish (or normal while radish) as the freshness and crunchiness works in this dish well.

If you need something quick, easy, and something different, please try this recipe. Hope you like it.

 

Ingredients (Serving for 4):

350g Kangaroo mince (or any meat you like, such as beef or pork mince)

1 clove of Garlic – minced

1cm cubes of Ginger – minced

1 Red eye Chili (or as many as you like) – minced

1 Onion – diced

1 Zucchini – diced

½ Red Capsicum – diced

200g Daikon Radish – about 10cm long – diced

200g Silken Tofu – cut into about 2cm cubes

1 Teaspoon of Corn Starch or Potato Starch

½ Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

2 Spring Onions – finely chopped

 

Sauce A – combined all together

1 Tablespoon of Miso

½ Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

½ Tablespoon of Sugar

½ Teaspoon of Chili Powder

 

Sauce B – combined all together

150ml Water

1.5 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake

1 Tablespoon of Miso

 

Method:

  1. In a frying pan, heat a small amount of oil (not included in the ingredients’ list above) on medium/high heat. Stir- fry kangaroo mince, garlic, ginger and red eye chilli, while breaking up the mince with a spatula or wooden spoon. In order to bring the kangaroo’s best flavour, please stir fry it very well. When the mince starts becoming brown, oil from the mince will come out. Even though the mince has become brown and looks cooked, please keep cooking until the oil has disappeared.
  2. Add Sauce A and cook all together for about 1 minute or until the mince is well coated by the sauce. If the sauce starts burning in the frying pan, add s splash of water to it (not included in the ingredients’ list above).
  3. Add onion, zucchini, capsicum and daikon radish to the frying pan. Stir fry them for about 2 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent.
  4. Add Sauce B to the frying and and bring it to the boil.
  5. Place the tofu into the frying pan. Stir and cook the tofu gently in the sauce. Please work gently not to break down the tofu. Simmer it for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Take 3 tablespoons of the sauce out from the frying pan to a small bowl. Add corn starch to the bowl and whisk it until the corn starch has completely dissolved. Add the mixture back to the frying pan and mix it into the sauce gently. Cook it for another 1-2 minutes until the sauce becomes thickened. Turn the heat off and add sesame oil.
  7. Top with spring onions and serve while hot. You can serve it on your choice of rice.

 

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Japanese Sesame Dressing

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You might feel “strange” or even “modern” when you hear that I use a well-know Middle Eastern food – Tahini in Japanese cooking.

In fact, roasted sesame seed paste is called “Neri Goma” and is commonly used in Japan. Apparently Neri Goma has a nuttier flavour than Tahini as sesame seeds for Neri Goma are roasted longer than for Tahini…. Well.., from my point of view (taste), they taste pretty much the same.

We often use Neri Goma to make Sesame Dressing. This dressing is very versatile and matches with both vegetables and most meats proteins (beef, chicken, pork and tofu). It can also be used as a dipping sauce for Japanese Hot Pot (Nabe). The bonus of my recipe is the measurement – very easy to remember!

Middle East and Japan might be far away, but I like the fact we enjoy the same food in spite of the distance.

 

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon of Tahini (hulled)

1 glove of Garlic – minced

1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 Teaspoon of Dark Sugar

½ Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

Method:

Place tahini in a bowl. Using a whisk, stir all other ingredients one by one into the tahini. Mix them very well until the dressing becomes smooth.

Lupin Banana Bread

Healthy Banana Bread with my new super food – Lupin Flakes.

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Well…, after enjoying the beauty of “doing nothing” on Hamilton Island, I have 1.5 kg to get rid of from my body….  Since I LOVE eating sweets and it is really hard for me to carry out any diets without a small pleasure, I have made this recipe – my healthy “go-to” sweet using Lupin Flakes. I quite like the unique texture of Lupin Flakes in this cake – kind of popping or chewy.  It is a light and yet very satisfying dessert.

I would recommend using a small loaf pan, as it does not raise as much as normal banana bread due to no sugar and only a small amount of flour added.

Ingredients (1 x small loaf pan 17.5cm x 8.5 cm x 6cm)

3 well ripened Banana – mashed

2 Eggs

2 Tablespoons of Honey

30g of Milk

60g of Olive Oil

½ Teaspoon of Vanilla Paste

50g of Self-raising flour- sifted

100g of Lupin Flakes

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180◦C. Line a loaf pan with baking paper. Sift self-raising flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat mashed bananas, eggs and honey well.
  3. Add milk, olive oil and vanilla paste to the bowl, and combine them well.
  4. Add the self-raising flour and lupin flakes into the mixture. Combine them gently until they disappear. Do not mix as gluten will come out and the cake will be dense*.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake them for 40 minutes or until it is just cooked (until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean).
  6. Take it out of the oven and cool it down on a wire rack.

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Note: *how to combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients gently.

I use a whisk. Scrap and scoop the mixture with the whisk and lift up and drop it. Repeat this until dry ingredients disappear into the mixture. It helps to work quickly when you turn the mixing bowl in the opposite direction of the whisk scrapping the mixture.

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.

The Easiest Ever Japanese – Agedashi Tofu (No Dashi Stock Required)

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A super easy Agedashi Tofu Recipe. This Agedashi Tofu can be made without Japanese Dashi Stock. When you are in a hurry but you would like to impress someone, it is a good recipe. I think it is a good introduction to Japanese cooking. Hope you like it.

Ingredients (Serve for 4 people)

500g Momen or Classic Tofu

200ml Water

50ml Soy Sauce

50ml Mirin

20ml Cooking Sake

5g Dried Bonito Flakes

2 Tablespoons of Corn Flour (or Plain Flour if you do not have Corn Flour)

Oil for shallow frying

Topping Options

4 pinches of Dried Bonito Flakes

Shredded Daikon Radish

Spring Onions – finely chopped

Method:

  1. Cut tofu half to make it 1.5 – 2 cm thick. Then cut each piece into 8 (Total 16 pieces of tofu).
  2. On a flat plate or a chopping board, place 3-4 layers of paper towels and lay the tofu on it. Place another 3-4 layers of paper towel on top of the tofu, and then place a flat plate or a light chopping board on top of it. Leave it for 15 minutes. This process is to remove excess water from the tofu. Please do not leave it too long, otherwise the tofu will be too dry.
  3. Now we make the sauce. Place water, soy sauce, mirin and sake into a sauce pan and bring it to the boil. Once it is boiled, turn the heat to medium and add bonito flakes to the pan. Keep simmering for a minute. Turn off the hat and put it aside.
  4. Now we shallow-fry the tofu. Heat oil to 180 ◦C. Remove the tofu from the paper towels. Coat the tofu with corn flour. Shallow-fry the tofu until the tofu becomes crispy and lightly browned (about 2 minutes each side).
  5. Remove the tofu from the oil and drain excess oil on a wire rack or paper towels.
  6. Now come back to the sauce. Strain the sauce to separate the sauce and the bonito flakes. Keep the bonito flakes.
  7. Pour ¼ of sauce on a serving plate. Place 4 pieces of the tofu in the sauce. Top with the cooked bonito flakes from Method 6, along with your choice of toppings.

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Gluten Free Vegetarian Lasagna

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I am very excited to introduce this recipe – my first Gluten Free + Vegetarian recipe.

While I’m very fortunate not to require any special diet, I always love eating vegetables, and recently I realised that my body functions better after eating a lot of veggies. On the other hand, my husband seems to like eating less carbs these days. I think that we both started realising changes in our bodies (aka aging!).  To meet our body requirements, and furthermore, to feel better in ourselves, I have been trying to change my cooking tendency as well (cool less & serve less by my husband…. As Japanese, this is very difficult to do….).

Then, I met Lupin Flakes – my new Super Food. Once I learnt how to use Lupin, while I understand Lupin is good to “Add” to normal meals, I thought that we can “Replace” too, just like I did for Lupin Hummus. Then, this idea came up to me, “how about Lupin Béchamel Sauce”. Lupin Béchamel still has the creaminess. I also used smoked paprika to add a bit of funkiness to the sauce.

For other ingredients, I use Zucchini to replace Lasagne sheets. Zucchini has to be cooked on a very high heat to make Zucchini smoky and funky. Mushrooms give a similar texture to beef mince to Bolognese sauce.

This Lasagna is quite light and does not make your stomach heavy, and yet it is quite satisfying. Hope you like it too.

Ingredients (serving for 4 people. I use 24cm round baking dish.):

For Mushroom Bolognese Sauce

1 Onion – finely chopped

1 Carrot – finely chopped

5-6 Flat Mushrooms – roughly chopped

1 clove of Garlic – finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 tin of Tomato

2 pinches of Salt

For Zucchini Lasagne Sheet

2 Zucchinis

4 pinches of Salt

1 teaspoon of Olive Oil

For Lupin Béchamel Sauce

100ml of Lupin Flakes

100ml of Milk

40g of Parmesan Cheese – grated

¼ teaspoon of Smoked Paprika

A pinch of Black Pepper

For Topping

20g of Parmesan Cheese – grated

 

Method:

For Mushroom Bolognese Sauce

  1. Heat olive oil and garlic on medium/high heat in a medium size pot. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add onion, carrot and mushrooms to the pot and keep cooking for 1 minute or until the onion becomes translucent. Reduce heat to medium – low and put a lid on. Keep steaming the vegetables for 2-3 minutes while stirring them occasionally. This method helps to bring the sweetness of vegetables out.
  2. Add a tin of tomato and salt to the pot. Put the lid back on and simmer it for 30 minutes or until the sauce is well reduced and the liquid has almost evaporated. While cooking, please stir the sauce occasionally.

For Zucchini Lasagne Sheet

  1. In the meantime, we prepare Zucchini Lasagne Sheet. Slice zucchini lengthwise into 4. Sprinkle 2 pinches of salt on each side of the zucchini slices. Lay them on 3-4 layers of paper towels, and then place another 3-4 layers of paper towels on top of the slices. Leave them for 10 minutes. This is to remove some moisture from the zucchini, to avoid them becoming soggy when they are cooked.
  2. Pan-fry the zucchini. Heat olive oil to high in a frying pan. Once the frying pan gets really hot, lay the zucchini slices into it. Cook them for 1 minute on each side or until the zucchinis’ surface is nicely coloured. Transfer them to a place and put them aside.

For Lupin Béchamel Sauce

  1. Place Lupin Flakes in cold water and bring to boil. Boil it for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the lupin a few times, and then drain off the water from the lupin very well. Place it into a bowl or a food processor if you have one.
  2. Add milk to the lupin. With a hand mixer (or a food processor), make the lupin a little bit smoother. It does not need to be super smooth. It is fine even if a few of the grains are still left.
  3. Put the mixture into a small sauce pan. Heat the pan to medium/low and warm the mixture up slowly. When the milk is just before boiling (please do not allow it to boil), turn the heat off. Add parmesan cheese, smoked paprika and black pepper. Stir to make the cheese melt and put it aside.

For Construction and Baking

  1. Preheat oven to 220◦C.
  2. In a baking dish, spread 1/3 f the Mushroom Bolognese Sauce first. Arrange 4 slices of the Zucchini over the sauce. Spread another 1/3 of the Mushroom Bolognese Sauce and then spread ½ of the Lupin Béchamel Sauce over it. Again arrange another 4 slices of the Zucchini and spread what’s left of the Mushroom Bolognese sauce. Spread all of the Lupin Béchamel Sauce over. Sprinkle 20g of Parmesan cheese over it, as a topping.
  3. Bake it for 20-30 minutes or until the surface becomes golden. Once it is done. Remove it from the over and serve it while hot.

The-Easiest- Ever Muffins – Chocolate and Strawberries

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Another flavour of my Easiest Ever Muffins -the classic combo, Chocolate and Strawberries.

These muffins are so easy to make. All you need to do is just place a large mixing bowl on a scale and keep adding and mixing all ingredients in order. If you are looking for something to do with your kids during this school holiday, maybe this is a good one.

Ingredients (about 8-9 small muffins)

80g of Almond Meal

50g of Self-raising Flour

30g of good quality Pure Cocoa Powder

2 Eggs

50g of Sugar

30g of Milk

40g of Unsalted Butter- melted

20g of Olive Oil (or any of your favourite oil)

60 of Dark Chocolate Chips (or nay of your favourite chocolate)

For Strawberries

200g of Strawberries

2 Teaspoons of Lemon Juice

2 Teaspoons of Sugar

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200◦C. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Shift almond meal, self-raising flour and cocoa powder together.
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the strawberries in a small microwavable bowl. Cover it with gladwrap and microwave it for 1 minute. Put it aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until the sugar is dissolved completely. Add milk, melted butter and olive oil to the bowl and combine them well.
  4. Add the almond meal, the self-raising flour and the cocoa powder into the mixture. Combine them gently until they disappear. Do not mix as gluten will come out and the muffins will be dense*.
  5. 5 add chocolate chips and the strawberries including all of the juice into the mixture. Fold them into the mixture gently. Again do not mix.
  6. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake them for 15-18 minutes or until they are just cooked (until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of muffin comes out clean).
  7. Take them out from the oven and cool them down on a wire rack.

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Note: *how to combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients gently.

I use a wire whisk. Scrap and scoop the mixture with the whisk and lift up and drop it. Repeat this until dry ingredients disappear into the mixture. It helps to work quickly when you turn the mixing bowl in the opposite direction of the shills scrapping the mixture.