Traditional Japanese Cooking : Simmered Sardines with Ginger

Fremantle Sardines in Japanese Way !

Raw = Fresh

It is my food formula. When you think about Tsukiji Fish Market, you can see where my idea comes from. For this reason, I feel really strange to see a lot of fish shops in this city selling frozen fish.

We buy our favourite New Zealand King Salmon from this fish monger. His NZ King Salmon is always beautiful, sashimi-grade and “freshly raw”. On the other hand, he also sells frozen seafood – even his oysters are frozen. One day he told me his belief. He believes freezing seafood straight away on the boat is the best way to keep the freshness. Ummm… OK…

When we visited him to pick up the beautiful raw salmon the other day, we found Fremantle Sardines sold at a reasonable price (not $3 each like other shops!!). Frozen, of course. According to him, they were “freshly frozen”.

Sardines are one of my favourites…, but I have never seen frozen sardines (except bait)… By the way, is “freshly frozen” a possible term?

When he say disapproval on my face, he threw a few of these frozen Fremantle sardines into my bag, saying “I supply them to most of the high-end restaurants in Perth”.

Verdict?

I had to rush back to him for a kilo of them.

Of course, you do not eat them raw (especially when it comes to sardines which are commonly known as perishable fish. Even we eat them raw only a the trusted restaurant). However, they were fresh. Yes, they are “freshly frozen”. Although my “fresh” and his “fresh” might be slightly different, I must admit that it is possible, and he knows what he is doing with fish!

SO!!! I am really excited to be able to add sardines to my regular repertoire.

As my first sardine recipe on this blog, I chose this traditional Japanese dish called “Iwashi no Shoga ni” – Simmered Sardines with Ginger.

This is sardines simmered in sake, soy sauce and mirin (called Japanese Three Sacred Treasures by me!) with ginger. Ginger gives a freshness and sweetness to the dish and matches with the unique and strong flavour of sardines.

The key of this dish is to use “fresh” sardines, either raw or frozen, whichever are available!

I really feel like home when I eat this sardine dish with Japanese rice (aka my precious)… This is so Japanese… If you miss Japanese home cooking like me, please try this recipe. I guarantee you will feel like you are in Japan.

Ingredients:
6 Sardines (if you use frozen sardines, defrost them in the fridge)
10g of Ginger - cut into julianne

For Simmering Sauce
150ml of Water
50ml of Cooking Sake
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Mirin
How to Clean Sardines

1. Under gently running cold water, rinse the sardines and scrape off the scales with a knife.

2. Cut off the heads.

3. Cut an incision along the belly. Remove the guts from the opened belly. 

4. Wash both inside and outside of the sardine under gently running cold water and pat dry. 
Method: 

1. In a small/ medium size pan, in which the sardine can fit perfectly, put all ingredients for the simmering sauce and half of the ginger. Bring it to boil.  

2. Once it is boiled, reduce the heat to medium/low. Lay the sardines in the pot. Cover with a *drop lid (Otoshi-buta) and simmer for about 10 minutes.  

3. Remove the drop lid and add the remaining ginger. Put the drop lid back on and simmer for another 10 minutes. 

4. Turn the heat off and let it stand for about 3-5 minutes to cool them down slightly (so that it is easier to lift the sardines up without breaking the meat). Plate sardines up with some ginger and sauce while warm. 
*Otoshi-buta (drop lid) 

Otoshi-buta is a lid which is smaller than the dimension of the saucepan. The lid floats on top of the liquid in a pan. Otoshi-buta helps heat to be distributed and flavour to be observed into each ingredient evenly. It also assists ingredients with holding in the position, so that they can keep their shapes. 

Otoshi-buta is commonly made by wood, but if you do not have one, you can substitute it with aluminium foil or baking paper.

<How to make Otoshi-buta with aluminium foil or baking paper> 

Cut aluminium foil that covers a saucepan that you are using. Make a circle shape by tucking the edge, so that it can be fit inside of the saucepan. Make a cross incision in the middle that will work as a vent during simmering.
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Delicious! Salmon Mizore-ni (Salmon with Grated Daikon Radish) + about store-bought Dashi Stock

Salmon Mizore-ni (Salmon with grated daikon radish) – a little bit of soy

Even though I do not like cold weather, I have a few things to look forward to in winter, such as Riccaldo Banfi long boots, Cue grey wool coat, Hot Cocoa, Hojicha Latte, mulled wine etc…

And… (It maybe sounds a bit funny but!), Daikon Radish is one of them.

You might see Daikon Radish throughout the year, but Daikon in winter is much sweeter. I enjoy it raw, in soup, simmered, stir-fried… in any form really! I love its juiciness, freshness, sweetness, crunchiness…, I just love everything about daikon.

In today’s recipe, my daikon is “grated”. After pan-frying salmon, I simmer it in the grated daikon sauce. Fatty & flavoursome salmon cooked in sweet & fresh daikon radish melting in Japanese Dashi stock. It sounds very Japanese hey? Yes, it is very Japanese and is very delicious!

This dish is called “Mizore-ni”. “Mizore” means “Sleet” and “Ni” means “simmered” in Japanese. Grated daikon looks like sleet, therefore, dishes using it is are called so.

I think it is quite a pretty name…

As it is really delicious I want many people to cook this recipe (or any of my Japanese recipes really), I would just like to talk about Japanese Dashi Stock here a bit.

You might feel a bit foreign about Dashi Stock, which I definitely think is one of the key ingredients in Japanese cooking. I introduced my Awase Dashi recipe here. It would be wonderful if you are keen to make it. But, if not, please do not hesitate to use store-bought dashi stock powder. I use it really really often! I even use it as a substitute for chicken and vegetable stock when I cook non-Japanese food.

If you are sensitive about food additives, go for “additive-free” ” All Natural” (無添加)or “MSG free” (化学調味料不使用).

They are available at any Asian/Japanese supermarkets.

If you are happy to go for something super good but a bit pricey, this is the brand I like ( https://usa.kayanoya.com/ ). I am not actually sure if you can find it in Australia… but if you see this brand, go ahead!

Hope this information encourages you to cook this recipe – Salmon Mizore-ni. I guarantee it is delicious!

Ingredients (Serving for 2)

For Salmon

2 fillets of Salmon (about 350g - 380g in total) - skin off and cut into 3cm cubes

2 pinches of Sea Salt

1 Teaspoon of Plain Flour (or your choice of your flour)

For "Mizore" Daikon Sauce

300g Daikon Radish - grated

100ml Dashi Stock (or 100ml Water + 1/2 Teaspoon of Japanese Dashi Powder)

1 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake

1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce

Chopped Spring Onions as a garnish
Method: 

1. Sprinkle sea salt over salmon fillets and wrap the salmon with paper towel. Leave it for about 20 minutes. This is a good method to remove excess water from the salmon, which contains the fishy smell. 

2. Heat a frying-pan with 1 teaspoon of cooking oil (not included in the ingredients' list above). Coat the salmon with plain flour. Pan-fry the salmon until both sides becomes nicely browned.  

3. Remove the salmon from the frying pan. Wipe and remove the excess oil from the frying pan. Add grated daikon (including the liquid), dashi stock, cooking sake and soy sauce into the same frying pan. Bring it to the boil. 

4. Once it is boiled, reduce the heat to medium/low and add the salmon into the sauce. Simmer it for about 1 minute. Plate the salmon with the grated daikon sauce. Top with chopped spring onion to serve.  

Healthy! Wasabi Prawn Cocktail – NO MAYO

This is a super easy and super yummy recipe – A Classic British with a Japanese Twist – Wasabi Prawn Cocktail (This may be called “Modern Australian cuisine”? I guess?).

Wasabi Prawn Cocktail No Mayonnaise_a little bit of soy

 

A hit of spiciness from wasabi matches with the rich and creamy avocado which makes this dish interesting! A slight sourness from lemon and saltiness from soy sauce harmonise the flavours. I have to say that this is QUITE yummy….

I use plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise. If you are like me who does not have a jar of mayonnaise in your pantry, this is a perfect recipe for you.

You can serve this as an appetizer or party nibbles. Hope you like it as much as I do 🙂

Ingredients:

8 King Prawns – boiled, peeled, deveined and then medium diced

2 Avocados – medium diced

2 Tablespoons of good quality Plain Yogurt

1 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

1 Teaspoon of Wasabi Paste

1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce

Method:

  1. Put plain yogurt, lemon juice, wasabi and soy sauce in a bowl and combine well together.
  2. Add prawns and avocados into the bowl and mix them together. Wasabi Prawn Cocktail No Mayo_a little bit of soy

Healthy! Tuna Spread – without mayo

We do not store mayonnaise at home as we do not often use it. However, I sometimes feel that it would be convenient if there were one in the fridge.

2018-03-31_18.16.51

The feeling came to me last week. It was Easter Weekend and I was making some nibbles for a platter. I just thought that something with mayonnaise flavour would add variety to the platter. And then, this idea came to me – why not using Yogurt instead! That would be much healthier!

My new Tuna Spread without mayonnaise can be served as part of a platter, served with crackers, veggie sticks, or can be used for sandwiches. Even  though there is not mayonnaise involved, I guarantee it still has richness. It is super easy to make as well, so it will be a good recipe to have in your hand. Hope you like it 🙂

Ingredients:

1 tin of Tuna in spring water (185g) – drain the water

2 Tablespoons of Plain Yogurt

1/2 Tablespoon of Lemon Juice

1 Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

1 Pickled Onion – finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon of  the liquid from a jar of pickled onions

A pinch of Sea Salt and Black pepper to season

1 small spring onions – finely chopped

Method:

In a small bowl, mash the tuna with a fork. Add all other ingredients to the tuna. Mash and mix all together until it becomes very smooth. Season it with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

 

Note: If you do not normally have picked onions in your pantry, you can use a small amount of capers instead. 

 

 

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!!

 

IMG_20170610_183338

Hot and Sour Soup with Salmon

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My version of Chinese Hot and Sour Soup. It might be an old remedy, but, I somehow believe in Ginger and Garlic to beat a cold. I like cooking this soup when my family is not feeling 100% in the cold winter.

While I use Salmon in this recipe, you can use a different protein instead (I reckon Chicken works very well). You can also use any vegetables in your fridge too.

One thing I recommend not to remove is Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, since Shiitake stock adds the rich flavour into the soup. Hope you enjoy the recipe.

 

Ingredients (Serve for 3-4 people)

For Broth

500ml Chicken Stock

500ml Soaking Liquid of Dried Shiitake Mushrooms – see “For other ingredients” and Method 1 below

1.5 Tablespoons of Light Soy Sauce

A pinch of Sea Salt

2 Tablespoons of White Vinegar

3 Teaspoons of Corn Starch

½ Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

For Salmon

180 – 200g Salmon Fillet – skin removed, chopped into small bite size pieces

1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce

1 Teaspoon of Cooking Sake

For Other Ingredients

25g Dried Shiitake Mushrooms + 500ml of Water to reconstitute them – keep the soaking liquid

1 Onion –sliced

1 Carrot – cut into long sticks

1/6 Chinese cabbage – cut into small bite size pieces

1 Green Capsicum – sliced

1 or 2 bird eye red Chili (depends on your liking) – finely chopped

2 cloves of Garlic – finely chopped

10g Ginger – finely sliced

80g Dried Potato Noodles (“Malony” in Japanese, you can use Glass Noodles instead)

10 Green Beans – ends trimmed and cut to the same length as the sliced green capsicum

5 florets of Broccoli – separate into smaller florets

1 Egg

 

Method:

  1. Preparation of Dried Shiitake Mushrooms. Rinse the Shiitake. Soak them in 500ml of water to reconstitute. This will table about 10-15 minutes. If you are in a hurry, use warm water instead of cold water. Once they are reconstituted, slice them finely. Keep the soaking liquid.
  2. Preparation of Salmon. Cut and place the Salmon into a small bowl. Marinade the Salmon with Soy Sauce and Cooking Sake. Put it aside.
  3. In a large pot, put Shiitake, Onion, Carrot, Chinese cabbage, green Capsicum, Red Chili, Garlic and Ginger with Chicken Stock and the Shiitake Soaking Liquid. Bring it to a boil. Turn heat to low/medium and simmer it for 15 minutes with a lid on.
  4. Add Light Soy Sauce and a pinch of Salt. Simmer it for 10 minutes with the lid on.
  5. Add Dried Potato Noodles, Green Beans, Broccoli and the Salmon including the marinade to the pot. Put the lid back on and keep simmering for 10 minutes.
  6. Add White Vinegar and stir gently.
  7. Take 2 ladles of the broth out from the pot to a bowl. Add Corn starch to the bowl and whisk it until the Corn Starch is completely dissolved. Add the mixture to the pot and mix it into the soup gently. Add Sesame Oil.
  8. Beat an egg and pour it over the surface of the soup. Turn a heat off. Put the lid on and let it sit for 10 seconds. Serve while it is hot.

 

Salmon Misoni – Simmered Salmon in Miso Sauce

2016-11-26_09-40-54Misoni is a classic Japanese way to cook fish, simmering in miso sauce. In Japan, Mackerel (Saba in Japanese) is commonly used for Misoni. I use Salmon here because Mackerel in Australia is not as fatty as the Japanese one, and I believe that fatty fish matches this miso sauce more.

I use the tail side of Salmon in this recipe. This is just because the fillet can be soaked in the sauce completely while it is simmering and it looks more authentic (as we normally use a fillet of Mackerel – flatter!). But, as long as the fish is fresh, I think that the body side of Salmon would be nice as well.

The key for Misoni is a preparation for fish which is called “Shimofuri”. This is to clean fish and remove the fishy smell. When you do the preparation properly, the dish will not be fishy.

Ingredients – for 2 serves

2 fillets of Salmon – tail side

120ml Water

80ml Cooking Sake

1 Tablespoon of Mirin

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1cm cube of Ginger – cut into fine strips

1 Tablespoon of Miso

½ Spring Onion – finely chopped

 

Preparation – Shimofuri

  1. Boil a general quantity of water (not included in the above ingredients).
  2. Score a cross on the surface of salmon skin. Place the salmon fillets into a large bowl. Cover the salmon with aluminium foil.
  3. Pour boiled water in the bowl. The foil protects the salmon skin from the hot water (the skin is often torn by hot water)
  4. Remove the foil. Add cold water to the bowl to make the water temperature right, so that you can pick the salmon up by hand.
  5. If there is any blood on the salmon, clean it in the water.
  6. Once it is cleaned, remove the salmon from the bowl and dry it with paper towel gently. 

 

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, cooking sake, mirin, sugar, say sauce and ginger. Bring it to boil. Make sure that the sugar is dissolved completely.
  2. Place the prepared salmon fillets in the saucepan – skin side up.
  3. Once it is boiled again, reduce heat to medium – low. Remove scum if any.
  4. Add miso to it by dissolving it gently with some of the stewing liquid.
  5. Cover it with Otoshi-buta (a drop lid)*. Simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave it and let it cool down for about 20 minutes**.
  7. Remove the salmon fillets from the saucepan and plate them.
  8. Put the saucepan back to the heat.
  9. Bring the remaining sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium once it is boiled. Keep cooking the sauce until it becomes thick and shiny. It will take about 3-5 minutes.
  10. Pour the sauce over the salmon. Garnish with spring onion. Serve while it is warm.

 

Note:

*Otoshi-buta / drop lid

Otoshi-buta is a lid which is smaller than the dimension of the saucepan. The lid floats on top of the liquid in a pan. Otoshi-buta helps heat to be distributed and flavour to be observed into each ingredient evenly. It also assists ingredients with holding in the position, so that they can keep their shapes. Otoshi-buta is commonly made by wood, but if you do not have one, you can substitute it with aluminium foil.

<How to make Otoshi-buta with aluminium foil>

Cut aluminium foil that covers a saucepan that you are using. Make a circle shape by tucking the edge, so that it can be fit inside of the saucepan. Make a cross incision in the middle that will work as a vent during simmering.

 

**This is for the flavour to penetrate into the salmon. In Japan, it is said that flavour penetrates to ingredients while they are cooling down.