Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cha-shiu Pork two ways...donabe smoked, and oven-roasted

I keep having cravings for Chinese flavors since my last trip to Taipei.

I made Cha-shiu Pork this time, and cooked in two different ways.
First, 2.5 pounds of pork butt was sliced into 1" thickness and marinated in the sauce. The followings is the list of the marinade ingredients.

1/2C Okinawa "Kuro-sato" (black sugar) (you can substitute it with brown sugar)
5T soy sauce
1T white sesame paste
1T oyster sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2T juice from grated ginger

After just a few hours of marinating, I used some pork for smoking in the donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin". Marinade was wiped off, then rubbed with some Chinese-five-spice. It was air-dried in the fridge for a couple of hours before added to the donabe smoker.

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The pork was so smokey and juicy! It was so easy and such a success. I also smoked some regular items...chicken drummettes, boiled eggs, and Swiss cheese. Smoking is so fun.

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The next day, I oven-roasted the marinated pork. I lightly wiped off the marinade from the meat, rubbed some agave syrup (for shine), and roasted in the 400F oven for about 25 minutes. I rubbed the surface again with some more agave syrup to make it even shinier right before finishing baking.

It was another super-delicious dish. The meat was so succulent and flavored so nicely.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftover Ideas...

We had wonderful dishes created with the leftovers from Thanksgiving.
Cranberry sorbet swirled rum vanilla ice cream was a huge hit! I made simple vanilla ice cream (with a good amount of rum!), and when the ice cream turned creamy, I poured the leftover cranberry sauce and mixed together. It was so delicious that I want to make it again.

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With the roasted turkey, I made turkey and potato gratin, served with braised fennel. It was fantastic, too!

Donabe Niku-miso Rice

I was in a mood for making a rice bowl dish one night.

The very rustic Lu Rou Fan I had in Taipei was so delicious that I just couldn't forget the experience. So, as an homage to their incredible comfort food, although it's not quite the same, I made my version of pork-over-the-rice dish with my donabe.

It's a quick Niku Miso Gohan (miso-flavored ground pork over rice), cooked with soup & stew donabe, "Miso-shiru" Nabe. This very thick-body donabe does a great quick braising (also great for slow cooking).

For my regular Niku Miso Gohan, you can find it on toiro's website. It's really good! But this time, I tweaked the recipe to make it more like Chinese-style, by sauteing garlic & ginger in sesame oil, adding doubanjiang (Chinese hot bean paste), and garnishing with cilantro. The miso was our homemade miso. Oh, and I also simmered boiled eggs with the meat sauce, too!

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In less than 15 minutes, my new Niku-miso Gohan was ready and smelled so nice. It was served over the freshly made rice, cooked with the double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", and garnished with some cilantro, blanched asparagus, and quick-stewed boiled egg. Bravo! This dish was so complete and so tasty. I actually had a second serving after so quickly finishing the first bowl. So, here's the quick recipe:

Chinese-style Niku-miso Gohan

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 to 1.5 teaspoons doubanjiang (Chinese hot bean paste), optional
14 oz ground pork (fatty kind)
4-5 shiitake mushrooms, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup miso
2 tablespoons brown sugar
soft boiled eggs
blanched cut asparagus

1. In Miso-shiru Nabe, saute the garlic and ginger with the sesame oil over medium to medium-low heat.
2. Once they are fragrant, push them to one side. Add the doubanjiang to another side and let it cook until it's fragrant.
3. Add the pork and stir. Once the pork is almost cooked through, add the shiitake mushrooms and stir.
4. Add the sake, miso, and brown sugar. Stir.
5. Add the boiled eggs. Cover with the lid and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
7. Serve over the rice with cilantro and asparagus.

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One of the side dishes was steam-fried Taiwanese spinach, with the tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san". It's also super-easy to make, and such a delicious one-pot side dish. I just sauteed garlic in sesame oil until browned, covered the skilled with the spinach, steam-fried with the lid on for 3 minutes. Uncover to add 1 tsp of chicken powder, some salt and pepper, toss, and cover again. Turn off the heat and the dish is ready.

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It was a perfect collaboration of three different donabe pots. Donabe did all the magic.

Happy donabe life.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Donabe one-pot dish...Tara-chiri Nabe

The weather is getting colder here in LA, and I am happy because it's becoming the "high season" for donabe hot pot dishes. Hot pot is meant to cook ingredients on tabletop (you just need a portable burner to set on the table), and served family-stye right out of the pot.

The other night, I made the super-simple hot pot called, "Tara-chiri nabe", with the classic-style donabe, "Hakeme". (You could actually make a better presentation if you have a Kyto-style shallow donabe, "Ame-yu".) The reason why this hot pot is so simple is because you don't even need to season the broth. You just need to cook the ingredients in the broth which is infused dashi kombu (dry kelp), and enjoy with the ponzu sauce and condiments.

*To make the simple broth, I simply soaked a couple of pieces (2"x2" each) dashi kombu in about 1.2-liter of water in the donabe for 15 minutes. Then, the donabe was brought to simmer over medium-heat. Right before it started simmering, I removed the dashi kombu.

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As soon as the broth was ready, I just added ingredients into the donabe. The ingredients for the night were gin-dara (black cod), as well as seasonal buri (adult yellowtail), and vegetables such as napa cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, tofu, yomogi-fu (mugwort-flavored wheat gluten) etc. The cooked ingredients were served into individual bowls with some homemade ponzu, grated daikon, yuzu kosho, etc.

By the time we'd cooked 2-3 batches, the broth had become so much richer with the flavors from all the ingredients cooked in it. So, it was time for the "shime" (the end of the meal) course! For this, I finally seasoned the broth with a couple of tablespoons of light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu"), then added the Chinese noodles. After about 30 seconds, the "shime" ramen was ready. I served it with some quick stir-fried daikon leaves.

The simple dinner was so incredible...I never get tired of donabe hot pot.

Happy donabe life.

Roast Turkey with Donabe Rice

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at home this year.
After spending past few Thanksgivings out of town, it was really nice to do it at home and I got to roast a turkey, too!

The turkey was dry-cured for 2+ days with the salt and mixed dry herbs/ spices (bay leaves, fennel seeds, red peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, etc.) inside out. The cavity was stuffed with orange wedges, fennel stalks and fronds, bay leaves. After about 2.5 hours (425F for the first 30 min. then 325F for the rest) in the oven, the shiny roasted turkey was just ready.

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While the turkey was in the oven, we enjoyed the cured mullet roe (we call it "Karasumi") which I brought back from Taipei. I simply sliced these Taiwanese "bottarga" and served with thinly sliced daikon radish. The Karasumi was so nicely chewy with the very pure flavors. It was one of the best kinds I've had. I also served my 3-day miso-marinated tofu. It was very nice.

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With the soup & stew donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe", I made a kabocha & prune soup. The addition of a few dry prunes to the soup (then blended together) made this soup taste more upscale. So hearty and so tasty.

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Turkey was carved and served with the special donabe rice, which was cooked with the double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san"! The reason why it was special was because the rice was Iga rice, which I got as a gift. So, I cooked the iga rice in the iga donabe. The rice (2 rice-cups) was mixed with Japanese black beans, sprouted brown rice, sweet rice, pressed barley, and roasted soybeans. Once the rice was cooked, I quickly mixed it with 2 tablespoons of each soft butter, light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu"), and thinly sliced zest from one orange. It was so perfect with the roasted turkey, and the turkey was so perfectly juicy while the meat had the nice density.

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I also made cranberry jelly, gravy, as well as oven-roasted heirloom carrots, and steam-fried miso brussels sprouts with the tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san". Yes, and dessert...I made Kabocha flan with black sugar sauce.

Dinner was a lot of work (and I cut my finger while slicing the turkey!), but it was so worthwhile and I had a great time with my husband, Jason.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Donabe smoked sweet Italian sausages

When I came back to LA from the trip, I found the fridge was almost empty. But, I found some sausages, Swiss cheese, and eggs, which Jason picked up while I was out of town. So, I immediately wanted to smoke them with the donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin". This cute round donabe can turn these simple ingredients to fancy smoked dishes. The only preparation I had to do in advance was to boil the eggs (to a soft stage this time) and peel them, slice the cheese, and let all the ingredients air-dry in the fridge for a few hours before starting to smoke.

This time, I used hickory smoke chips. Over high-heat, 6 min. uncovered, 9 min. covered, then turn off the heat and 20 min. resting (covered). That's it.

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Very nice aroma, and the ingredients were very nicely colored with the smoke. I served them simply with the Dijon mustard. They were so tasty. Eggs were perfectly soft.

Happy donabe life.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Donabe Chapchae (Korean-style vermicelli with vegetables)

I returned to LA after 2+ weeks back in Japan (and Taiwan). That means I'm ready for my regular home donabe cooking.

With a few simple ingredients, I made vegetarian chapchae (Korean-style thread noodles with vegetables) with my tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san". Thanks to this wonderful donabe, instead of just stir-frying the ingredients, I could steam-fry them and the result was fantastic! It tasted like a upgraded version of chapchae, thanks to Fukkura-san. Also, it was an easy one-pot cooking.

For this dish, I used some dry trumpet mushrooms (they were a gift - harvested by my friend, Jeffery), which gave wonderful big flavors to the dish. They looked like beef! You could substitute them with fresh mushrooms of you choice.

Steam-fry Chapchae

4 oz Korean vermicelli noodles (bean threads), cooked slightly firm, rinsed, and cut shorter by scissors
1 tablespoon
a good handful of dried trumpet mushrooms, rehydrated with hot water
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 knob ginger, sliced into thin threads
1/2 medium-size carrot, julienned
some colorful bell peppers, julienned
4-5 medium-thick asparagus, thinly sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons Korean red chili flakes
1 tablespoon roasted white sesame seeds
1-2 teaspoons black vinegar ("kurozu")
Some thinly sliced scallion

1. Heat the sesame oil in the skillet of Fukkura-san over medium-high heat.
2. Turn the heat to medium. Saute the mushrooms for a minute.
3. Add the sake to deglaze.
4. Add the garlic, ginger, carrot, bell pepper, and asparagus, and stir.
5. Combine the soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar. Top the vegetables with the noodles, and pour the mixed sauce.
6. Cover with the lid, and steam-fry for 3 minutes.
7. Uncover, and add the chili flakes, sesame seeds, and black vinegar. Stir well.
8. Cover again and turn off the heat. Let it rest for 3-5 minutes.
9. Garnish with the scallions and serve.

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Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back in Japan (November 2010)...Some more food and wine photos

Leftover photos...

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Lunch at a Korean restaurant in Ginza Mitsukoshi. I had Sundubu lunch set and it was superb.

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Yay, Spicy Ja-ja men at Nyan Nyan in Kita-Urawa. Only 400 yen (about $5). So rustic and tasty.

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Tororo (grated mountain yam) with multi-grain rice lunch in Urawa.

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Kuri-mushi Yokan (steamed azuki bean paste jelly with chestnuts) from Iga! The chestnuts were cooked with their "shibu-kawa" (inner skin) on, so the flavor was so deep.

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The trip to Taipei was so great that it made me want to eat more Chinese food after returning to Tokyo. The next day, we had Chinese lunch at a local restaurant. My seafood noodle soup was very nice.

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Another noodle lunch. I had an unique beef ramen. The broth was made with the beef-bone stock. Over the medium-thick noodles, there were braised beef shank and roasted beef slices. Although it's obviously very different from the Taiwanese beef noodle soup which I fell in love with in Taipei, this beef ramen was pretty good. The broth was much cleaner and light taste than I thought.

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Some of the wines I enjoyed drinking at home...
2004 Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaut, Ladoix...Especially after my last trip to Bourgogne, I feel more strongly that Ladoix is an under-rated appellation. This wine, to me, was a text-book with the lighter ruby and the very soft palate. Beautiful balance. I wanted to order more from the store but it was already sold-out when I tried.
2008 Domaine G. Roblot-Marchand et Fils, Chambolle-Musigny...by a young winemaker (still in his early 30's) Frederick Roblot, who learned after Burgundy's influential winemakers such as Christophe Roumier and Dominique le Guen (Hudelot-Baillet). Average 40-year-old vines. Aroma of rose, spice, and earth. Rich minerals on the palate. Long finish.
2004 Domaine Anne et Herve Sigaut, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru, "Les Charmes"...The first impression was the wine tasted very young and still tight. It opened up in the glass after 15-20 minutes with the floral aroma, blackberry, herb, and leather. Elegant and complex.

Whenever we had dinner at home in Urawa, we made rice with Kamado-san!

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My 9-year-old nephew, Wataru, loves dessert. Chez Matsuo's vanilla cream puff was brilliant.

It was another great stay back in Japan.