Happy New Year – 2016

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FAQ

“Do you celebrate Christmas in Japan?”

Answer

“No, we don’t. We enjoy Christmas.”

Japanese people love different cultures. We know how to adapt and enjoy to make our life more colourful. Christmas is one of them. Although we roast chicken (not turkey), Father Christmas comes to give presents to Japanese children, Christmas cake is sold at a bakery and streets are decorated. It is party time.

Instead, we celebrate New Year, just like we do for Christmas in Australia. The day is the most important holiday for us in Japan. Traditionally it is the event to invite a god (one of Shinto’s gods) who brings a household happiness for the new year. In modern days, at least for me and my family, the day is for family or the loved ones to get together, and celebrate and pray for each other’s health and happiness for the new year. What we do is pretty much the same though. We clean our house before New Year, decorate our house in certain way, go to a shrine to pray and cook&eat the traditional food- Osechi.

Osechi is a set of several dishes prepared for New Year’s Celebration and normally packed in Jubako – which is like a big bento box (but 3 layers!). Just as an obento, Osechi contains several kinds of dishes. Each dish in Osechi has each meaning to describe the reason why it is served for this celebration. Osechi is prepared a day before New Year. The amount is big since Osechi was traditionally meant to be eaten for the next 3 days, and women should not work in the kitchen during those 3days except for preparation of Ozoni (Mochi/ Rice Cake in soup).

As you can imagine, my mum’s Osechi is wonderful. I went back to Japan to eat her Osechi every New Year on the first 4-5 years in Australia (I have stopped doing that now since Japan is too cold for me in winter). And then, it was last year. I realised how much I missed my mum’s Osechi! So I decided to make it by myself. Of course my mum assisted me with some tips and advice over the phone. I have to say it was pretty good for the first time. This year I did it again. Here is the menu:

Kuromame (black beans cooked in sugar and soy sauce): While mame means beans, it is also used to describe the person who has dedication. This is a wish to become a person who can dedicate.

Konbu Maki (rolled kelp): Kobu sounds associated with “Yorokobu” , which means joy.

Kohaku Namasu (pickled daikon and carrot): Red and white is the colour for celebration in Japan.

Tazukuri (dried sardines caramelised with sugar and soy sauce): My family calls as “Gomame”. “Tazukuri” means making a rice field, describing an abundant harvest.

Ebino Umani (prawns cooked in soy sauce, sake and mirin): It is to wish for a long life until we stoop from old age, just like a shape of prawn.

Kurikinton (chestnuts and sweet potatoes paste): The yellow colour describes gold and richness.

Nishime (simmered vegetables): traditional Japanese dish which was eaten from a long time ago. I use Daikon, Carrot and Konnyaku.

Koya-dofu (simmered dried tofu): The square shape looks like a shield for protection.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette): This is the substitute for Datemaki- egg and seafood extended mix omelette, which I cannot obtain here. It represents knowledge and learning from the rolled shape (books in ancient time were rolled).

It takes so much time to make Osechi since there are several dishes involved. But I feel so happy to look at the completed Osechi. Don’t you think it is beautiful? It is beautiful for both your eyes and mouth. I believe that it is the best dish to eat on the first day of the year.

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Chilean Aji Sauce

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Ingredients

2 Tomatoes – finely chopped

½ Red Chilli – finely chopped (include seeds if you like it hot)

1/3 Onions – finely chopped

1 small bunch of Coriander – finely chopped including the root

1 clove of Garlic – minced

2.5 Tablespoon of Lime (or Lemon) Juice

2 of Tablespoon of White Wine Vinegar

A pinch of Salt

 

Method

Mix all ingredients except a small amount of Coriander leaves. Taste if and add more Salt if necessary. Rest it in the fridge until serve. Put the Coriander leaves on top as decoration when you serve.

Very Moist Pan-fry Chicken

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Serving: 2-3

Ingredients:

1 Chicken Breast – about 300g – skinless (Recommend to use a good quality Chicken as it is a very simple recipe which features a flavour of the Chicken)

½ Teaspoon of Sea Salt

A pinch of Black Pepper

 

Method:

  1. Sprinkle Salt and Black Pepper on both side of the Chicken Breast. Wrap it with paper towel and rest it for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a frying-pan over high heat. Once the frying-pan becomes very hot, place Chicken on the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
  3. Cook it for 5 minutes and then turn. Cool the other side for 8 minutes and then turn the heat off. If you see any red raw part of the Chicken, just put the side down on the frying-pan for 20 seconds to seal it.
  4. Remove the Chicken from the pan and wrap it by alfoil immediately. Put it on the still-hot frying-pan (with heat off) and res it for 20-30 minutes.*
  5. Unwrap the alfoil and thinly slice the Chicken like slicing roast beef, then serve. **

 

Note:

*When the Chicken is removed from the flying-pan, it is ok that Chicken is not completely cooked. The Chicken will be cooked while resting in the alfoil by afterheat. This makes the Chicken most.

**When unwrap the alfoil, you will see the juice from the Chicken. His is the goodness of the Chicken! The easiest way to utilise this juice is adding into soup (if you make soup as a side dish). Otherwise you can make sauce for the Chicken by adding a little bit of Soy Sauce and Sugar

Sushi Christmas Cake – Quirky Christmas @ Secret Cake Club Perth

It is not so long ago that I started baking. I reckon it was 3 years ago. I made a New Year’s Resolution to be able to bake. I have been trying since then.

So, I was so excited when I found “Secret Cake Club Perth”. This club is all about food. People who love cooking, baking and eating bring their own dishes in line with the event theme. On the day of the event, all what we do is eat! And then if there are any left-overs, we can take them home. We can share recipes and ides too. To be honest, I still feel nervous to go to the event and show my baking to the members, however, I really enjoy working on new ideas and expanding my repertoire.

At the most recent event, the theme was “Quirky Christmas”. This was the 3rd event o attended to.  I have not brought any cakes yet ( I does not need to be a cake, buy you know, the club’s name is…). This had to be something strange, unique and funny. I knew what to make straight away.

Sushi Christmas Cake – This is the first cake I brought to the Secret Cake Club. I know this is not baking involved, but, it is Quirky enough isn’t it? Sushi itself is the adaptation from my original Chirashi Sushi recipe so the taste is guaranteed. It looks gorgeous and original. It is also quiet easy to construct.

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Here is the recipe.

Ingredients for 15 cm round cake tin

2 cups of Sushi Rice (see the Chirashi Sushi recipe)

4 slices of Smoked Salmon – roughly chopped

3 slices of Smokes Salmon – for decoration

½ Avocado – sliced, drizzle with lemon juice

Simmered Dried Shiitake Mushroom – roughly chopped

A handful of Rocket Leaves

Scrambled Egg (3 Eggs, 1.5 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce, 1.5 Teaspoon of Sugar, 3 Teaspoon of Milk, A pinch of Salt)

 

Method

Once the Sushi Rice has cooled down and all of the other ingredients are ready, we can start contracting the cake.

  1. Place plastic wrap over the cake tin. Make sure the wrap is much bigger than the tin.
  2. 1st layer – Scrambled Egg. Place Scrambled Egg over the bottom of the tin.
  3. 2nd layer – Sushi Rice. Spread 1/3 of the Sushi Rice over the Egg. Put a little bit of water on your hands when you place he rice, so that the rice does not stick to your hands. Push the rice gently.
  4. 3rd layer – Shiitake Mushroom. Spread the chopped Shiitake over the rice.
  5. 4th layer – Sushi Rice. Spread 1/3 of the Sushi Rice over the Shiitake. Push the rice gently.
  6. 5th layer – Smokes Salmon and Avocado. Place them on the rice nicely.
  7. 6th layer – Sushi Rice. Spread the rest of the Sushi Rice over the Shiitake. Push the rice gently.
  8. Wrap over the surface with plastic wrap and rest it for 1 hour in the fridge.
  9. Take it out from the fringe. Remove the Sushi Cake from the tin by turning it upside down (just like a cake). Remove the wrap.
  10. Make a rose from Smoked Salmon. Cut a slice of Smoked Salmon lengthwise into 3. Roll the smallest slice and then loop others around. Make 3 roses.
  11. Place the roses on top of the Sushi Cake and sprinkle some Rocket Leaves round.2015-11-23_16.19.20

EoY 2015

I have to write this down. It might sound like that I am showing off, but I have to. This is about my husband.

He won the Employee of the Year 2015!!!

This award is from the company where he has been working for 2 years. He was very lucky to get into this company – a good WA company expanding their business all over Australia. He is also very lucky that he has a good and agreeable manager. But, you know, luck always comes and goes to everyone. It is totally up to you to grab it, put it in your pocket and grow it bigger. I am so proud of him that he has done it.

Anyway after the Celebration Ball, I asked him what he would like me to cook for dinner next day. He said seafood. I really wanted to get fresh seafood for him, but we have a supplier issue since we lost the one who we had been buying fresh seafood from. We just cannot find any trustworthy seafood supple since then (at a decent price, not like $50 per kilo for salmon or $80 per kilo for non-fat red part of tunaL.).

So this is the dinner table for that night.

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No alcohol since we had enough at the ball the day before. Although it looks nothing different from the normal weekend dinner table, I certainly made effort, especially considering I was hungover. I started cooking the side dish – Oden from the morning so that the flavour will be absorbed to vegetables by dinner time. The Ode soup was made from Dashi (Stock) of Dried Kelp and Bonito Flakes, while I normally use Dashi Powder. It is not really common to drink Oden’s soup, but you can do it with this one since I made it very light.

During the dinner, he made his usual comment “good”. After the dinner –before bed time, he said “ I thought you would cook seafood tonight LL”. All I can say was “Sorry….”. We will get seafood next weekend definitely.

Chestnuts Pound Cake

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Serving: 18 cm Pound Cake Tin (Rectangular)

Ingredients:

100g of Butter (unsalted) – softened

80g of Brown Sugar

2 Eggs – room temperature

60g of Self Raising Flour

40g of Almont Meal

A Jar of Preserved Chestnuts in Syrup (80g for Chestnuts in a Jar)

A pinch of Salt

Method

  1. Firstly do all preparations. Grease the cake tin with a small amount of butter and line it with baking paper. Sift Self Raising Flour and Almond Meal together, and add a pinch of Salt in it. Beat Eggs.
  1. Put 4 Chestnuts aside from the jar. The rest is to be chopped into 1cm cubes. For the 4 Chestnuts, cut in half. Keep the Syrup as well.
  1. Beat Butter in a large bowl until it becomes creamy and light yellow colour. You can do it either by hand or by electric mixer.
  1. Add Sugar in the butter and beat together until it becomes creamy, light colour and fluffy. It should become very smooth and be creamed until you do not feel the roughness of Sugar.
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degree C.
  1. Add Eggs in 3 parts. Mix very well every time until the egg disappears in the butter. It is important to mix it very well and speedy to avoid separation. If it is separated, add 2 tablespoon of flour so that it will be fixed.
  1. Add Self Raising Flour, Almond Meal and Salt. Fold them gently until it becomes very smooth. Stir very gently with a spatula without mixing too much, but still flour needs to be well incorporated in the butter and the batter needs to become smooth and silky.
  1. Add the chopped Chestnuts and 2 Tablespoon of the kept Syrup in the batter. Fold them well and gently.
  1. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Align the halved Chestnuts in a straight line in the middle. During baking, the Chestnuts will be sunk in the bottom by leaving a nice centre line on top.
  1. Bake it for 40 minutes, or until a long wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.
  1. As soon as taking the cake out from the oven, apply 5 Tablespoon of the kept Syrup on the surface of the cake evenly. Cool it down in the tin for 10 minutes, and then remove it from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

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Oden (Mini)

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Serving: 4

Ingredients:

6 slice of Daikon (Chinese radish) – cut 3 cm thick rounds and the peel the skin deeply.

4 Boiled Egg

1 Konnyaku (Konjac)

Negi Kinchaku (Spring Onion Bag)

2 Abura age (Deep-fried bean curd)

6 Spring Onions – chopped

1 small amount of Ginger – minced

Soup

1000cc Water

15cm x 7cm of Dried Kelp

10g Bonito Flakes – put the Bonito Flakes in empty tea bags.

A pinch of Sea Salt

2 Tablespoon of Cooking Sake

3 Tablespoon of Mirin

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

Method

  1. Preparation of Daikon. Trim the cut edges (This helps to keep the nice shape of Daikon even after simmering.). On one side of the Daikon, cut a cross shape incision (This helps to penetrate seasoning and flavour into Daikon.). Put the Daikon in a pot and pour in just enough water to cover. Make it to boil. Once it is boiled, reduce the heat to low to medium and simmer for about 1- 1.5 hours or until the Daikon is cooked.
  1. Preparation of Konnyaku. Boil water in a small pot. On one side of Konnyaku, make a grid shape incision. To do so, make small lengthwise cuts (2-3mm between each cut) and then make cross cuts. Put the Konnyaku into the boiled water and cook it for about 30 seconds (This helps to remove the smell of Konnyaku.), and then remove. Cut Konnyaku into 6 of triangles. To do so, cut it into 3 of rectangle first, and then cut each rectangle on the cross.
  1. Preparation of Negi Kinchaku. Mix Spring Onions and minced Ginger. Halve the Abura age and open the middle like a pouch. Stuff the Spring Onion mixture into the pouch. Close the pouch with a toothpick. Make 4 of them.
  1. Preparation of Soup. Put 1000cc of Water and Dried Kelp in a big pot. Leave it for about 20 minutes. After that, bring it to boil. Once the water is boiled, remove the Dried Kelp and put nags of Bonito Flakes. Reduce the heat to low and cook it for 3 minutes. Remove the Bonito Flakes. Add a pinch (or two) of Sea Salt. Taste it here to see if you need more Salt. If so add a little bit more. Add Cooking Sake, Mirin and Soy Sauce.
  1. Place 1, 2, 3 and Eggs into the Soup. Simmered for 1.5 hours with low heat, and then turn the heat off. Leave it and cool it down with a lid on. Before serving, warm it up with medium heat to serve. 2015-08-30_21.40.42[1]