Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yuzu, Butter, and Donabe

Yuzu, which is a very Japanese ingredient, and butter, which is a very Western ingredient, make a great flavor combination. If you haven't tried them together, you should.

With my tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san", I made Yuzu Butter Cod tonight. I had the rock cod filets marinated with the miso based sauce, which I originally used for Miso Marinated Tofu recipe. The fish filets had been marinated for 3 days. I was originally going to just grill them, but when I was jogging this morning, I came up with this quick donabe recipe.

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I first heated butter and sake in the skillet of Fukkura-san and placed the satsuma yam (Japanese sweet yam) slices. Over the yam slices, I added the bean sprouts, fish, shimeji mushrooms, and yuzu slices.

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After about 7 minutes over medium-heat with the lid on, the dish was ready. It was so delicious. The aroma of butter, yuzu, and sake with the fish was so special. I posted the recipe on toiro's website. So, please check it out.

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The rice dish for tonight was also featuring yuzu and butter! I just call it Yuzu Butter Rice. I cooked the multi-grain rice with my double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", and tossed the rice with butter, sliced yuzu rind and some soy sauce. That's it! This combination made the dish smelled and tasted upscale and gorgeous.

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These donabe dishes were also served with another donabe dish. I made the Mugi Miso Soup with Kabu, Tofu, and Wakame, with the soup & stew donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe". The soup was so soothing and really hit my spot.

I feel like I had the best Sunday supper in L.A. tonight. Gochisosamadeshita.

Tagine on FoodistaTagine

Friday, January 29, 2010

Art of Tofu Making...from Very Scratch

I often make my own tofu by using the purchased soy milk. (I like the quality soy milk from Meiji Tofu in Gardena.)
But this time, I made the tofu from very scrach...with the soy beans.

I got the organic soy beans from Iowa. I soaked 300 grams of their soy beans with 1.2L water overnight.

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Next day, in two batches, the soaked beans and water were blended until very smooth. It looked like the milk shake, but it smelled very raw and "beany" at this point. This mixture, in Japanese, is called "go".

In a large pot, 1.5L of water was boiled and the "go" was added. After it was almost boiling, the heat was reduced to low. I had to keep stirring meanwhile. After the heat was turned to low, I continued to stir for another 5 minutes. The aroma turned from "beany" to the nice "soy milky".

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The mixture was immediately strained through the cotton mesh bag over the strainer to separate the soy milk and the soy pulp (leftover). The bag was squeezed very tightly at the end so that the soy milk was all milked. The leftover soy pulp is called "okara". This is very flavorful and still high in protein and has a lot of nutrients. So, I saved it for cooking. I love cooking with okara! I think I'm going to make okara croquette this week.

Here's the pure soy milk just strained. I started heating it again in the donabe (I used the classic-style donabe, "Hakeme") until the temperature reached 180F degrees. Then, I turned off the heat.

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Once the heat is turned off, 12.5 ml of nigari (natural extract from sea salt making) was added to 50 ml of hot water. The mixture was immediately added to the heated soy milk. The donabe was covered with the lid and let rest for 20 minutes. While the mixture is resting, I got the tofu mold ready. The wooden perforated box was pre-soaked with water for 15-20 minutes. Then, the inside was lined with the cotton cloth.

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After 20 minutes of resting, you see the separation of the solid and water. The solid part is crumbly and curdled. Now it's ready to form in the mold. With the slotted spoon, the solid was carefully transferred to the wooden mold on the rack. Under the rack is a pan which can catch all the water drained.

The top was covered and two cans were placed gently as the weights. With this position, I waited for about 20 minutes.

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After removing the weights, I carefully let the tofu (with the cotton cloth) slide out from the mold in the water in the large bowl. Then I, again, carefully removed the cotton cloth.

My very homemade tofu is ready. I had it with the salt ponzu, shaved bonito/ kombu flakes, and minced scallion. Yes, it's a lot of work to make a piece of homemade tofu, but the homemade is always very special.

I'm loving the art of tofu making as much as the art of miso making.

Tofu on FoodistaTofu

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quick Vegetarian Miso Pot-au-feu with Donabe

I made the quick vegetarian pot-au-feu with my soup and stew donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe".

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This is my lovely Miso-shiru Nabe. What I love so much about this donabe is it does the braising so nicely. With the thick body of porous Iga clay (the region Iga used to be the lake bed about 400 million years ago), once it builds the heat, it cooks each ingredient to the core evenly. Also, the inside glaze contains radium minerals, which releases natural "negative ions" during cooking. Negative ions are considered to give the softening effect to the flavors.

I basically cut all the leftover vegetables from the fridge and added to the donabe with the dashi broth. There were cabbage wedges, large potato cubes, sliced carrot, sliced konbu (leftover from making dashi stock).

After about 10 minutes, I added the sake, mirin, and white miso. Then, to finish, I added the mizuna and yuzu rinds. That's really it! Then, the wonderful hearty Japanese-style pot-au-feu was ready. Because of this soup & stew donabe, the vegetables were perfectly cooked and had such nice natural "sweet" flavors. The humble ingredients turned to a top-quality dish, thanks to this donabe!

Here's my quick miso pot-au-feu recipe.

Vegetable Miso Pot-au-feu
(for the large-size Soup & Stew Donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe")

1/2 small cabbage, cut into rough wedges
1 potato, peeled and cut into large cubes
4-5 shiitake mushrooms, cut if necessary
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into disks
1 used kombu piece from making dashi, sliced into thin strips
1.5 dashi stock
2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 to 1.5 tablespoons white miso

some mizuna, bottom end removed and cut into 2" length
some yuzu rind, thinly sliced

1. In the donabe, combine the first 6 ingredients (up to dashi stock). Bring over medium-high heat.
2. Once the broth starts boiling, reduce the heat down to simmer. Line the surface with a pice of parchment paper or foil. Close with the lid and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
3. Add the sake, mirin, soy sauce, and miso. Stir and simmer for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the mizuna and yuzu rind. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 1-2 minutes.

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To serve with the pot-au-feu, I made multi-grain donabe rice (with the donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san"), and also made the donabe smoked Gouda cheese and chicken (with the donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin").

Everything was made under 60 minutes. How fun and delicious my donabe life is!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mrs. Donabe's Japanese cooking classes - February Schedule

I am very happy to announce the new schedule for our Donabe and Japanese Cooking Classes.

You can find our February schedule here. Please check it out.
We have a very exciting lineup, including Setsubun Temaki Sushi with Donabe, Smoking with Donabe, Chanko Nabe (popular Japanese hot pot) dinner course with Classic Donabe, Surf & Turf Rice Dishes with Donabe, etc.

Each class is a small private setting (up to 5 people). Please sign up not only to enjoy learning about Japanese cooking but also to taste all the delicious dishes & wine and party with us!

February 3 (Wed)
Starts at 7.00pm
“Setsubun” Temaki Sushi Celebration ($70)
“Setsubun” (February 3) is the end of winter in Japanese calendar. We will show you how to make our home’s classic temaki (hand-roll) sushi party with a variety of fresh ingredients to celebrate “Setsubun”. We will also make “Setsubun Eho-maki” (traditional uncut sushi roll, originated in Kansai area of Japan)

*Spinach Ohitashi (spinach in a light soy broth)
*Akadashi miso soup with tofu and wakame seaweed
*Setsubun Eho-maki (We’ll face this year’s lucky direction, West-South-West to eat it)
*Temaki Sushi with donabe sushi rice: assorted sashimi seafood, fish “tataki”, tamago-yaki, etc. We’ll keep making and eating!

February 13 (Sat)
Starts at 11.00am
“Ibushi Gin” Donabe Smoking ($60)
You will learn the easy techniques to make delicious smoked dishes with the donabe smoker. Sakura (Japanese cherry blossoms) tree smoke chips from Japan will be used for the aromatic smoky results. Let’s celebrate the Valentine weekend with the Japanese-style smoked dishes.

*Smoked seafood, cheese and vegetable platter with Saikyo miso dipping sauce
*Smoked chicken with creamy wasabi scallion sauce
*Yuzu butter rice (cooked with the donabe rice cooker, “Kamado-san”)
*Satoimo (Japanese taro) and shimeji mushroom miso soup

February 18 (Thurs), starts at 7.00pm
and February 20 (Sat), starts at 6.00pm
Sumo Power “Chanko” Dinner ($65)
Japanese sumo wrestlers eat protein-rich healthy meals every day, which contribute to their extraordinary strength. (They are big because they eat a huge amount and sleep right after the meal.) Our dinner will highlight sumo wrestlers’ signature hot pot, “Chanko Nabe”, cooked with a classic donabe.

*Winter Sashimi salad
*Tofu okonomi-yaki (tofu pancakes)
*Salt butter “Chanko” hot pot with chicken and vegetables
*”Shime” (end of the meal) “ojiya” with the donabe rice (we will cook it with “Kamado-san”)

February 27 (Sat) and February 28 (Sun)
Starts at 11.00am
Surf & Turf Donabe Rice Dishes ($60)
Rice is a very big part the Japanese diet. We will make two different “one-pot” rice dishes with the donabe rice cooker, “Kamado-san”.

*Salmon and hijiki rice
*Ginger pork rice
*Tofu and Daikon “mizore” soup with barley miso
*Komatsuna (Japanese spinach) and abura-age (fried tofu pouch) “Nibitashi” salad

For more information/ sign-up, please visit toiro's website.
Happy Donabe Life.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Donabe Cooking Class Report...Miso Making and Ishikari Nabe

Last weekend, I hosted two Miso Making Workshops.
It was such an honor to introduce the traditional Japanese miso making to my guests. To me, your own homemade miso really tastes more special than any other miso you find at stores.

Program and Menu

Introduction to miso

Tasting of different types of miso,

including “Tenpo Ninen” Miso with Fresh Vegetables


Miso-making with the premium ingredients from Japan


Tasting of Ama-zake (rice koji drink)


Miso themed dishes

Miso-marinated tofu and eggs


Ishikari Nabe (Salmon and vegetables hot pot in miso based broth)


“Shime” ramen noodles

Sake Selection

Yaegaki, Nigori Sake

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We started with the tasting of different variety of miso and ama-zake (traditional rice koji drink), which was followed by the miso making from scratch. We also tasted our 4-month-old miso, which still needs 5-8 months until ready. But, our guests were impressed how it already tastes so good and "alive". When the miso is complete, there will be about 160 different kinds of good bacteria living in it. It's because of these bacteria that miso is so delicious and has remarkable health benefits.

Special "Toyomasari" soy beans, from Hokkaido, Japan. They are so large and round, and they tasted so rich and delicious when they were just cooked.

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We mashed the beans, and mixed them with the salt and rice koji. Feeling the ingredients by hands is always a precious experience.
Miso was finally ready and it smelled so fresh and nice.

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The "hard work" was followed by the miso-themed dishes. Miso-marinated tofu and eggs were great with the lightly sweet and refreshing Nigori-sake.

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We also made a donabe dish. First, we made dashi stock with Hidaka Konbu from Hokkaido.
Ishikari Nabe is a traditional hot pot dish from Hokkaido. Salmon was cooked with a variety of vegetables in the miso based broth.

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after Ishikari Nabe, in the same broth (which has become very rich), we made the "shime" ramen course.

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It was a lot of fun. I would like to continue my effort spreading the culture of traditional miso making.

The upcoming schedule of Donabe and Japanese Cooking Classes for February is now confirmed. Please visit toiro's website to check out the details and sign up. Look forward to seeing everyone who is interested in home-style Japanese cooking and healthy lifestyle!