Turkey & Tofu Tsukune (Japanese Meatballs) with Soy and Balsamic Sauce

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Easy and healthy Japanese Meatball (Tsukune) recipe. Tsukune is normally made from Chicken, but I used Turkey for this recipe as I like the distinctive flavour. Celery leaves give freshness to it and tofu makes the texture fluffy and light.

For the sauce, using Balsamic Vinegar is not really traditional in Japanese cuisine, but I really believe in the combination of Balsamic and Soy Sauce. When Balsamic Vinegar is cooked, the sweetness comes out and that really matches with Soy Sauce. Hope you like it too.

Oh, by the way, my favourite sauce is Soy Sauce and my husband’s is Balsamic Vinegar hehe 🙂

 

Ingredients (8 small meatballs)

For Meatballs

150g Turkey Mince

100g Silken Tofu

The top of 2 stalks (including leaves) of Celery – finely chopped

½ small Onion – finely chopped

1 clove of Garlic – minced

1cm cube of Ginger – minced

½ Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

A pinch of Salt

2 Teaspoons of Corn Flour

For Sauce

2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

 

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and knead them with your hand. Keep kneading until the mixture becomes pale in colour and sticky.
  2. Heat a small amount of oil (not included in the ingredients’ list above) in a fry pan to medium/high.
  3. We use 2 tablespoons to make meatballs. Scoop a spoonful of the meatball mixture with one tablespoon and make a small ball shape using two tablespoons. Place the ball in the fry pan and push it down in the centre to make a 6-7 cm circle in diameter. Repeat this to all of the meat mixture.
  4. Pan-fry the meatballs for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom of the meatballs becomes golden and crispy. Flip them and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes or until they become golden and crispy.
  5. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and put it aside.
  6. Once the meatballs become golden and crispy, add the sauce into the fry pan. Keep cooking for a minute or until the sauce is reduced and becomes sticky and shiny. While cooking, scoop the sauce in the fry pan and pour it over the meatballs.
  7. Transfer the meatballs and the sauce to a serving plate. Serve while they are hot.
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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.

 

 

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.

 

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

Penne with Celery Sauce – How to use up a big bunch of Celery

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We buy celery very often. It is reasonable and often on sale. It can be eaten raw and is good in any cooking. It is just, especially with 2 of us in the household, sometimes it is difficult to use up a big bunch of celery while it is still fresh.

The other day, I was looking in the fridge and thinking what I can do with this “better to eat now” celery. A new idea came to me when our manager took us for lunch. One entrée we were sharing was “chilli octopus with CELERY PUREE”. I thought this is it!

While the sauce features celery’s flavour,  garlic + chilli + parmesan cheese bring richness and funkiness to the sauce. I add bacon because I think the smokiness makes a good contrast to the celery’s freshness, however if you are after vegetarian option, it can be removed.

Ingredients: Serving for 2-3 people

For Celery Sauce

3 Celery Stalks including leaves – roughly chopped

3 cloves of Garlic

300ml Water

A good pinch of Salt

A pinch of Black Pepper

50g Parmesan Cheese

For Pasta

250g Penne

3 slices of Bacon – roughly chopped

½ Onion – finely chopped

1 clove of Garlic – finely chopped

1 Red Chilli – finely chopped

Method:

  1. Firstly make celery sauce. Place celery stalks, garlic and water in a pan and cook them until the celery stalks become soft. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once the celery stalks are soft, remove the pan from the heat. Blend and mash them with a hand blender or food processor until it becomes smooth. Once it becomes smooth, add parmesan cheese and combine with it. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Put aside.
  3. Start cooking pasta as per instructions on the package.
  4. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a frying pan over medium/high heat until it becomes crispy. Add onion, garlic and chilli. Cook them for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery sauce into the frying pan. Add a ladle of the pasta cooking liquid (from Method 3), if the sauce becomes too thick.
  5. Add the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss to combine. Serve hot.