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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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.

 

GyozaRoo – Kangaroo Mince Gyoza

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One of the ingredients that is frequently on our shopping list is Kangaroo Mince. Apparently, there are many right reasons to eat kangaroo meat – low fat, low price, low impact to the environment etc…. However, since I am not a scientist, I really cannot say what is right or wrong. I just like to eat something fresh, healthy, tasty and seasonal that is reasonably priced. In my opinion, kangaroo meat appears “right”. I often use kangaroo mince as it is versatile and very easy to cook. The bonus is it is very reasonable- $9ish per kilo!

I have been curious if kangaroo meat works in Japanese cuisine. In this gyoza recipe, I have alternated pork mince to kangaroo. This makes gyoza light and less fatty. I spice the mince up with garam masala, garlic and ginger and it creates a nice flavour. Vegetables make the gyoza juicy and sweet. I think it works.

 

Ingredients: (about 50 Gyoza, serving 4 people, using 26cm frying pan)

50 Gyoza Wrappers (or they may be called Dumpling Wrapper. These can be purchased at most of Asian stores.)

1 Tablespoon of Oil for frying each batch of gyoza

100ml of Hoy Water for frying each batch of gyoza

Filling

130g kangaroo Mince

250g Cabbage leaves (about 3-4 leaves) – finely chopped

100g Bean Sprouts

3 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms -soak them in water for about 10 minutes to reconstitute, then chopped them finely.

Seasonings

1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce

1 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

½ Teaspoon of Garam Masala

2 cloves of Garlic – grated

1.5 cm cube of Ginger – grated

Dipping Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar

1 small amount of grounded Chili (optional)

 

Method:

  1. Place kangaroo mince and seasonings in a large bowl. Mix them by hand until the mixture become sticky.
  2. Add cabbage, bean sprouts and shiitake mushrooms to the meat mixture. Combine them all together. You can break the bean sprouts while you are combining them (so that you do not need to chop them up!). This has to be done quickly to avoid water coming out from the vegetables.
  3. Now wrap the filling with gyoza wrappers. Place a gyoza wrapper on your palm and pit 1 teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of the wrapper. Apply a small amount of water on top half of the edge of the wrapper with your finger. This works as glue. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling. Using the thumb and index finger of your other hand, start folding the wrapper from right to left while making pleats. Repeat this process to make 50 gyoza.
  4. Now we pan-fry the gyoza. Heat a small amount of oil (not included in the ingredients’ list above) in a flat bottomed frying pan on high (I use a 26cm frying-pan). Once the pan gets really hot, turn the heat down to medium. Place the gyoza in a single layer in the frying pan and pan-fry them for a minute. You can probably place about 25 gyoza in the 26cm frying pan.
  5. Gently add hot water to the frying pan and put a lid on it immediately. Keep cooking them for 3 minutes or until most of water evaporates.
  6. Remove the lid. Make sure there is no liquid left in the pan. If nay, cook them over high heat without the lid until the remaining water evaporates. Pour oil into the pan (not over the gyoza) and pan fry the gyoza for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom of the gyoza becomes golden and crispy.
  7. Transfer the gyoza to a serving plate. For dipping sauce, combine all of the ingredients. Serve gyoza while they are hot with the dipping sauce.

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.

 

Happy New Year – 2017

Happy New Year. Wising everyone peace, health and a lot of joy throughout the year.

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Again I prepared Osechi. It takes time but it is very rewarding. Most of all, it is delicious…. I love Japanese traditional food.

Menu:

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Kohaku Namasu (pickled daikon and carrot)

Ebino Umani (prawns cooked in soy sauce, sake and mirin)

Gomame/Tazukuri (dried sardines caramelised with sugar and soy sauce)

Nishime (simmered vegetables)

Kurikinton (chestnuts and sweet potatoes paste)

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)

 

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Koya-dofu (simmered dried tofu)

Simmered Shiitake

Konbu Maki (rolled kelp)

Kuromame (Simmered black beans)

Ozoni (soup with mochi/rice cake)

Grilled Miso Marinaded Salmon

Although Osechi is traditionally meant to be eaten for 3 days from the new year’s day, it did not work like that for us. Most of them are gone now…. They were just so tasty and we (mostly I) kept nibbled them with a glass of white wine!

Well, after the festive season, my stomach certainly became bigger…. I reckon that it is time for me to restart my exercise habit….

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.