Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Duck Soba

Eating soba noodles is a huge tradition in Japanese culture. We eat it for good luck and longevity.

I made Soba with Duck broth dipping sauce and Seared Duck breast. Duck breast was seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and they were pan-fried. To make the skin nicely crispy, they were cooked breast down first over medium-low heat until the skin is nicely golden. Then, they were turned over and cooked until ready.

The dipping broth was made with the very rich duck stock (I made with the carcasses from roasted duck), with mirin and soy sauce. Some thinly-sliced negi (Japanese green onion) were simmered in the broth. Soba was "ni-hachi" soba (high-quality soba, with 80% of buckwheat and just 20% of wheat flour). The condiments were grated daikon, chopped mitsuba, roasted sesame seeds, shichimi pepper, and shredded nori seaweed.

The meal was so tasty, and I felt receiving good luck in my body! The duck was so crispy and juicy. I enjoyed dipping the duck in the broth and eat with some grated daikon.

Since I had extra duck stock, next day for lunch, I further reduced the stock and made Chinese-style duck noodle dish for lunch. So nice!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Donabe hot pot..."Kabura Nabe"

Kabu (Japanese turnip) is one of my favorite winter vegetables.
I made a simple one pot dish, "Kabura Nabe" (turnip hot pot) with the classic-style donabe, "Yu Kizeto".

Making this dish is very easy. Once I get the broth, I can basically just add the ingredients to cook in it. The ingredients I had this evening were...kabu, white part of negi (Japanese green onion), enoki mushrooms, bok choy, abura-age (fried tofu pouch), and chicken tender.

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Everything was cooked in the donabe on the table top. To finish, the broth was thickened with some kuzuko (arrowroot starch), and some sliced yuzu rinds and extra grated kabu was added.

The condiments were simple also...some ground white sesame seeds, black shichimi from Kyoto, and sliced ginger. So delicious.

Kabura Nabe

Ingredients (2 servings)
4 medium-size kabu (Japanese turnip)
1/4 negi (Japanese green onion), thinly sliced diagonally
1 bok choy, quartered
1/4 pound chicken tender, cut into bite-size pieces and season with salt
2 small abura-age (fried tofu pouch), blanched and cut in half
3 oz enoki mushrooms
3.5 cups dashi stock
1/4 cup sake
2 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
salt to taste
1 tablespoon kuzuko (arrowroot starch), mixed with the same amount of water
some thinly-sliced yuzu rind
condiments...ground roasted sesame seeds, thinly-sliced ginger, and black shichimi pepper, or your choice of condiments

1. Grate 2 kabu bulbs and set aside. Cut the remaining 2 kabu bulbs into quarters (wedges).
2. Combine the dashi stock, sake, mirin, and soy sauce in the donabe and bring over medium-heat. Add the kabu wedges and negi, and simmer.
3. Once the kabu wedges are tender, add the chicken tender and abura age. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
4. Stir in the kuzuko solution to thicken the broth. Also stir in the grated kabu.
5. Add the bok choy, enoki mushrooms, and some yuzu rinds. Simmer another minute or two until everything is cooked through.
6. Serve into individual bowls with some condiments.

Happy donabe life.

Trip to San Diego (Winter 2010)...Mexican to Japanese to Vietnamese

Jason and I drove down to San Diego for a 2-day trip this week. I'm sure this would be my last trip of this year.

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On our way down, we made a quick stop in Encinitas for lunch snack. We went to El Nopalito, which is a popular Mexican hole-in-the-wall place in the area. I had a chicken tamale (with mole was a good saue) and a carnitas taco. Jason had a nopalitos & huevos (cactus and egg) plate. I wasn't sure why Jason picked the dish...

Shortly after, we were in San Diego. We hung out at Balboa Park. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. We saw a cute rabbit...I thought it was a lucky sign for us to see the rabbit just before the year of the rabbit!

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Our dinner was at Robataya Oton in Kerny Mesa. The restaurant was absolutely packed and there were also people waiting outside. I was happy to be back here for another authentic izakaya treat. We got a private room and did our own "bonen-kai" (year-end dinner). The dinner was great.

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The next morning was a rainstorm in San Diego. So, we had to change our plan and decided to leave town in the morning. By the time we were in Orange County, the weather was a little better. So, we took a detour and decided to have lunch in Little Saigon (Westminster). It was actually my first time to come to area, and I was so surprised to see all the Vietnamese restaurants/ shops/ businesses over many blocks. We checked out Quan Hy Restaurant, which is one of the most popular places in Little Saigon. We started with Banh Beo (rice cakes, topped with fried onions and crab meat), then Jason had the Bun Bo Hue (spicy soup noodle with's a thick noodle), and I had a vermicelli dish with BBQ pork and shrimp egg rolls.
We got very full.
We came back to LA safely in the afternoon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Donabe rice...Daikon Gohan

Daikon and abura-age (fried tofu pouch) always make a nice flavor combination. I like them together in miso soup ever since I was little.

They are good together in the donabe rice, too! So, I made a simple daikon & abura-age rice dish with the double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san". The recipe is very simple. To cook the rice, I combined 2 rice cups (360 ml) short grain rice with 300 ml dashi stock, 2 tablespoons each sake and light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu"), and a pinch of salt in the donabe (soak for 20 minutes). The mixture was topped with some thinly sliced blanched abura-age (fried tofu pouch) and about 1/2 cup of daikon slices. After the donabe was covered with both lids, the mix rice was cooked over medium+ heat stove top for 15 minutes, then rested for 20 minutes after turning off the heat.

I served the rice with sauteed chopped kabu (turnip) leaves. The dish was so elegantly delicious.

I also enjoyed oven-baked cha-shiu pork (you can find the recipe here) with the rice.

Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recovery lunch...Gobo Nyu-men

After consecutive nights of eating rich dishes from holiday dinner parties past days, my body was screaming for a simple light Japanese soup noodle.

So, I made Nyu-men, which is basically somen noodle in hot broth.

To make the broth (2 servings)...
Combine 450 ml dashi stock, 1 tablespoon sake, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 tablespoon light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu") and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Add some sliced gobo (burdock root, soaked in water for 15 min. and drained) and shiitake mushrooms and simmer in the broth until gobo is tender.

Meanwhile, cook the somen noodles slightly firm. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again. To finish, add the noodles to the broth and heat for 30-60 seconds. Divide in individual bowls and garnish with some chopped mitsuba herbs.

So nice...

I also served a quick roasted yellowtail with ponzu sauce.
Yellowtail was roasted in the 450F oven until done, then served with ponzu, daikon sprouts and scallions.

Really nice...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas wines

I had wonderful Christmas celebrations in different occasions this year. Here are some of the memorable wines from a last couple of dinners...

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2002 Dom Perignon
2006 Jean-Philippe Fichet, Meursault, "Les Chevalieres"...One of my favorite producers (along with his uncle, Coche Dury, and Comtes Lafond) in Meursault. "Les Chevalieres" is arguably the best lieu-dit of Meursault. Very intense minerality and deep texture.
2004 Domaine Bachelet, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, "Les Corbeaux"
1988 Louis Jadot, Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru
2000 Domaine Comtes Lafond, Volnay Santenots-du-Milieu 1er Cru
NV Krug, Champagne, Grande Cuvee, Brut
NV Jacques Selosse, Champagne, Version Originale, Blanc Blanc, Extra Brut Grand Cru...Can I say this turned out to become the best wine I tasted this year?! Unbelievable. Disgorged on Feb 28, 2008. Chardonnay from the 3 successful vintages from Grand Cru vineyards in Avize, Cramant, and Oger. 5 years sur lie. Rich body with extraordinary minerality.
1999 Weingut Knoll, Ried Schutt Durnsteiner Riesling Smaragd
1978 Pio Cesare, Barolo Riserva
2004 Sandrone, Barolo "Le Vigne"
1999 Bruno Giacosa (Falletto), Barolo
NV Vilmart & Fils, Champagne, "Grand Cellier" Brut 1er Cru

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Gougeres, kabocha soup, roasted goose, roasted duck, and delicious. We also enjoyed Eataly's Panettone (from Milano, Italy), which I hand-carried all the way from NYC back to LA! This was one of the best panettones I've ever tasted.

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I also made wholewheat and black sugar chocolate chip cookies, as well as yomogi (mugwort weed) and sweet black bean pound cake. They were both very good!

Happy Holidays.