New! Shepard’s Pie with a Japanese Twist

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We were receiving a few guests the other day. Some of them had never eaten my food before, however, rumor was apparently around that I was a good cook.

With a little bit of pressure and no knowledge of what they can/cannot eat, I decided to cook this dish. It looks like a normal standard Shepard’s Pie (which I believe everybody likes), but the inside represents my specialty – Japanese Cooking.

The original idea of this dish is from a Japanese Meat and Potato Stew called “Nikujaga”. I realised the ingredients for Nikujaga are very similar to Shepard’s Pie. Why can’t I combine them all together, I thought.

This new Shepard’s Pie with a Japanese Twist was well received by our guests and the dinner party was very much successful. If you would like to make something different for your dinner party, I certainly recommend this recipe.

Ingredients (Serving for 4, using 24cm round baking tray): 

For Mince Filling

150g of your favorite Mince (lamb, beef, turkey kangaroo etc…)

1/4 Teaspoon of Nutmeg

3 Teaspoons of Brown Sugar

3 Teaspoons of Cooking Sake

6 Teaspoons of Soy Sauce

2 Onions – chopped

2 Carrots – chopped

1 Red Capsicum – chopped

1 Zucchini – chopped

For Mash Potato

500g Potato – peel and cut in chunks

1/2 Tablespoon of Sugar

10g Unsalted Butter

2 Tablespoons of Milk

For Toppings

60g Parmesan Cheese

15g Breadcumbs

 

Method:

For Mine Filling

  1. Heat a small amount of oil (not included in the above ingredients) in a medium saucepan on medium/high heat. Once the saucepan gets hot, cook your choice of mince and nutmeg together, while breaking up the mince with a spatula or wooden spoon. In order to bring the best flavour out, please cook 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 brown sugar, cooking sake and soy sauce into the saucepan and then fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add onion, carrot, capsicum and zucchini. Reduce the heat to low. Put a lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables become soft and are well-cooked in the sauce.

For Mash Potato

  1. Boil potatoes from cold water for 10-15 minutes or until they become tender. Drain the hot water. Return the cooked potatoes into the same pot. Add sugar onto the potatoes and heat it over medium heat. Put a lid on and burn off the excess water from the potatoes while tossing the pot.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat. Mash with butter and milk.

Meanwhile, heat the over to 220 °C.

Construction and Baking

  1. Place the mince filling into a baking tray, and the  spread the mash potato over it. Top with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
  2. Bake it for about 20 minutes or until the surface is coloured and the filling in the bottom is bubbling.

Serve while hot.

 

 

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Gari – Pickled Ginger

Today, I would like to share with you my mother’s Gari recipe.

Pickled Ginger Gari 2

Gari is Japanese Pickled Ginger, you might know it as the free side you get with sushi. It is perfect for refreshing and cleansing your palate. To make this pickle, it has to be young Ginger. Young Ginger has paler skin and pink tips. The flavour is much milder and juicier than the normal ginger. It is only around from late summer to early autumn. The season is short, so if you see young Ginger in the store, make the most of it! (if you are in Australia, it is now 🙂

Here is my mum’s recipe. The ginger will be quite spicy as she likes that way. If you would like to make it less spicy, you can boil ginger before pickling (see the method below).  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

800g – 1kg of Young Ginger

30g of Sea Salt

1 liter of White Vinegar

200ml of Caster Sugar

5g of Dried Kelp (if it is too difficult to find, you do not need to use it)

Method:

  1. Wash young ginger. Using a spoon scrape off the brown hard skin part from the ginger.
  2. Slice the ginger VERY thinly. Soak the sliced ginger in water while you are working. ( if you prefer less spicy, boil the ginger for 1 minutes here)
  3. Remove the sliced ginger from the water. Sprinkle sea salt over the ginger and put it aside for 30 minutes.
  4. In the mean time, put white vinegar, caster sugar and dried kelp in a small pot. Heat it over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Put it aside until it is cooled down.
  5. Squeeze the excess water from the sliced ginger and place it into a clean jar. Pour the vinegar mixture (method 4) over it. Store the jar in the fridge for 4-5 days, and then it will be ready to eat.

 

This is before

Pickled Ginger Gari 1

This is after – PINK!

Pickled Ginger Gari 3

Cucumber Tataki – Smashed Cucumber Salad

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It is summer in Australia!! I know that many countries are enjoying the beautiful winter season, but we are having a good time on our beautiful beaches here in the southern hemisphere. I am, today, posting one of my favourite summer recipes  – Cucumber Tataki.

 

Tataki is one of the well known Japanese cooking methods, which is that a piece of protein is seared and the inside is almost raw- such as Beef Tataki or Tuna Tataki.

However “Tataki” has its original meaning; “beat” or “slap” in Japanese. As I have introduced a different Tataki previously (see Salmon Namerou), today, I would like to introduce another “Tataki” which is made from cucumber.

Well…, this is one of the dishes I made on the reality TV show called Chef’s Line last year, which got me kicked out (with the reason being that I made too many dishes!)… In my opinion, it is one of the perfect salads in summer. Maybe you can try it out to see if you like as much as the judges?!

 

Ingredients:

2 Lebanese Cucumbers

2 Teaspoons of White sugar

1 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons of White vinegar

1/2 Teaspoon of Sesame oil

1 red chili – finely sliced

1/2 Teaspoon of Sesame seeds

 

Method: 

1. Bash Cucumbers with a wooden rolling pin. Tear them into bite size pieces by hand

2. Mix all other ingredients. Add the cucumbers into the mixture. Marinade it in the fridge at least for 30 minutes before serving.

Happy New Year – 2018

Happy New Year! May your 2018 be peaceful and fun with a touch of excitement.

I cannot believe that it’s already 2018…. It still sounds like the future to me….

This is this year’s Osechi –  a set of several dishes prepared for New Year’s Celebration. (Please see my previous post about the Japanese tradition of New Year).

Osechi 2_a little bit of soy

Menu is:

Nishime (simmered vegetables – Konjac, Carrot, Daikon Radish, Okra, Shiitake)

Kohaku Namasu (pickled daikon and carrot)

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

Kurikinton (chestnuts and sweet potatoes paste)

Kuromame (Simmered black beans)

Konbu Maki (rolled kelp)

Koya-dofu (simmered dried tofu)

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

Chicken Terini (Chicken simmered in teriyaki sauce)

Hokkaido Scallops Sashimi

Ozoni (soup with mochi/rice cake)

As this was the 4th year for me to prepare Osechi, I have to say that I was pretty organised and it did not take that long. I am quite satisfied the outcome too. Tasty!!! YEYYY!!! I have presented Osechi this year on  a set of beautiful plates which were given to us by my husband’s auntie and uncle. The white plates are so classy and Osechi looks good on them.

Osechi 1_a little bit of soy

Well, I think I made a good start . I am determined to keep it up throughout 2018.

 

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.