Friday, September 30, 2011

New wine arrival...Gramercy Cellars

Yay, the first wine club shipment from Gramercy Cellars of Walla Walla Valley, WA was delivered yesterday!

I was so excited to open the box to find out what wines were included.

Wow, one of the wines was 2007 John Lewis Reserve Syrah. When shall I open it?

Crepe Brunch at Local

Last weekend, after shopping, Jason and I stopped by at Local in Silverlake...indeed a local place in our neighborhood. Their brunch hours are always very crowded. Their quinoa burger is one of the best veggie burgers I know!

This time, I had one of their's got filling of spinach, tomato, etc., and topped with avocado and fake bacon. The fake bacon was kind of like a bacon flavored fried chip. Interesting. The crepe was very nice and filling!

I tried bottled Kombucha for the first, it has nothing to do with Japanese kombucha (kelp tea) we know. American Kombucha is a type of tea brewed with good bacteria. It was slightly fizzy and I enjoyed the taste.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Toban (donabe skillet) cooking...Mixed Mushrooms & WP24 Peking Duck Izakaya-style

I took home some leftover Peking Duck slices fro dinner at WP24 the other night...
Instead of just reheating it to enjoy it again, I decided to use it for a quick izakaya-style dish with my beautiful Iga-yaki Toban (donabe skillet). Because this is made of 100% special Iga-clay, this Toban builds the heat very nicely and cooks the ingredients fast and juicy. And, you can just take it directly to the table as the nice presentation. How convenient! Here's how I made's so easy and so tasty!

Toban Mushrooms & Peking Duck "Tamago-toji" (finished with egg)

First, just pile the leftover roasted peking duck (about 4 oz, further sliced into strips), some minced ginger and garlic, one package (3.5 oz) shimeji mushrooms, and 5-6 medium-size shiitake mushrooms (thinly-sliced) in Toban, and set over medium-high heat gas stove top. Because the duck skin has good amount of fat, the ingredients starts to sizzle nicely without additional oil.

Turn down the heat to medium, stir for a couple of minutes until mushrooms are soft. Add 2T sake, 1T mirin, and 1T soy sauce, and stir. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn down the heat further if necessary.

Whisk together 2 large eggs in a bowl, and drizzle over the duck/ mushroom mixture. Cover with a lid (or a piece of aluminum foil), and cook for 1 minute (or longer according to your preference of egg doneness). Turn off the heat and let it sit for another 1-2 minutes.

Garnish with sliced scallion and shiso leaves. Serve with sansho pepper powder, if you like.

*Leftover roasted Peking duck can be substituted with fresh meat, such as cut chicken thigh. In this case, add 1/2T sesame oil to Toban before piling up the ingredients.

The dish was so flavorful and great with some freshly made donabe rice!
Happy donabe life.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Donabe black magic...steam-fry gobo & hijiki in shio-koji

This is my lazy evening cooking, which is also very tasty and healthy.
My tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san", helps me so much on a busy night when I don't have time to cook.

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I first sauteed some ginger and garlic in olive oil. Then, added 10 oz gobo (burdock root).

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Hijiki seaweed (3 T dry - reconstituted) was added and sauteed. 2T sake + 1/4C water was added. Fukkura-san was covered and steam-fried over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

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Fukkura-san was uncovered and 2.5-3 T shio-koji and 1 tsp sansho berries were added. Stirred and covered again. It was let sit for 3-5 minutes.

Simple steam-fry gobo & hijiki in shio-koji was ready! I loved the earthy deep flavor so much.

Happy donabe life.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Donabe microwave one dish supper

On one night, I was so busy doing tons of prep cooking for the following day. By the time it was dinnertime, I was too tired to spend time to cook a meal. For the kind of situation, my handy Microwavable Steam Roaster, "Tochinsai", becomes a real savior.

I took a piece of frozen udon (1 serving) and just microwaved it in Tochinsai (without the grate) for 3.5 minutes (700-watt). Even frozen udon cooks so nicely with Tochinsai! Then, I had leftover sauteed mushrooms, so I tossed the udon with them. The dish was garnished with generous amount of mix herbs (chopped mitsuba, scallion, and shiso leaves) and drizzled with some homemade chunky la-yu (hot oil) and squeezed lime juice.

The dish was so tasty that it revived my energy level!

Happy donabe life.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Crazy about Shio-koji ("salt-koji") Tofu!

My journey of cooking with Shio-koji ("salt-koji"...salt-fermented rice koji) is unstoppable.
When an existing batch of shi-koji is half gone, I normally start making a new batch, and after 10 days of fermenting, it's ready to go. (Here's the shio-koji recipe posting.)

This time, I made shio-koji Tofu. After pressing out the excess moisture of medium-soft tofu (I put a weight on a medium-soft tofu and leave it in the fridge overnight, then pat dry with papertowel.), tofu is cut in half and each piece is rubbed with just enough amount of shio-koji paste all sides. Then, they are individually wrapped in plastic and put in a tight-sealed bag.

It's ready in 3 days, but I waited for 4 days...shio-koji is gently wiped off and I ate the 4-day-marinated shio-koji tofu in simple slices like sashimi-style. AMAZING!! The texture is so dense and creamy (like cream cheese), and the flavor is super deep. Wow, it's pretty addictive.

It's also great as a base for dipping sauce. This time, I simply mixed equal amount of shio-koji tofu and creme fraiche and blended in food processor until creamy. You can add seasoning if you like, but I did just the super-simple 50/50 shio-koji tofu and creme fraiche, and the taste was fantastic!

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So, to enjoy this dipping, I roasted simple salt baby potatoes with my tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san", and served with the salt-koji dipping. (Here's the recipe for tagine-roasted potatoes.) It was so hard to stop eating...the combination was unmistakable.

Then, guess what, I also marinated very soft-boiled eggs in shio-koji paste! It can be ready in just over night, but I waited for 2 full days. The egg yolk has become almost translucent and so shiny over time. The flavor was insane...the salt-koji flavor penetrated to the core of the yolk and the whole egg was like a special treat. Wow.

Ahahahaha...I have one more from the same night! I made Broccolini & Shio-koji Tofu Goma-ae. I cooked broccolini with the donabe steam-roaster, "Tochinsai", tossed them in my sesame-miso sauce, and added some cubed shio-koji tofu and tossed them again. Another WOW.

Shio-koji banzai.
Happy donabe life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Donabe-smoked chicken drummettes time!

One of my favorite ingredients for donabe smoking is chicken drummettes.
So, I picked up some Jidori Chicken drummettes from McCall's Meat and Fish. The quality of their meat is always top notch.

With the Donabe Smoker, "Ibushi Gin", I can make premium-quality smoked dishes in such a short time. It's a smokeless donabe, and so easy to use!

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First, I put a small handful of wood chips (this time, I used hickory) in the bottom of the donabe. Then, I laid chicken drummettes, which were seasoned simply with salt & pepper and rested overnight on the bottom two layers of grates. In order to maximizing the smoking effect, it's good to wipe off any excess moisture with paper towel before putting the chicken on the grates. On the top grate, I put soft-boiled eggs and Swiss cheese.

Donabe was set over high-heat on gas stove-top for 15-17 minutes total. Then, after turning off the heat, it was rested for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, with the intense carry-over heat, the ingredients were continued to be heat-smoked.

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My easy smoked chicken was ready! Eggs and cheese looked very nice, too.

Sooo delicious! I couldn't stop eating.

Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Donabe microwave cooking...Octopus head, okra, and shiitake, steamed with shio-koji

I picked up a boiled octopus head from Marukai in Gardena.

Sake lovers love octopus head, as it has deeper (more acquired?) flavor than octopus legs. It was about 10 oz. I cut it into small cubes and set aside.

I came up with the recipe while I was driving back home from Gardena. I decided to use my versatile microwavable donabe steam-roaster, TOCHINSAI, to cook the octopus. It's a very simple recipe and for this recipe, I don't use the grate.

JUST ASSEMBLE INGREDIENTS AND COOK IN MICROWAVE. In the skillet of Tochinsai, I first drizzled about 1/2T sesame oil, spreaded sliced shiitake mushrooms (about 6 medium-size), cut okra (about 6-7), some minced ginger and garlic. Then, put the cut octopus head on the top. Over the octopus, I drizzled about 2 tablespoons dashi stock and 1 tablespoon shio-koji (you can substitute shio-koji with 1/2T soy sauce). Meanwhile, I soaked the lid in water for a few minutes and drained (so that the lid absorbs moisture and gives nice steaming effect during cooking).

Tochinsai skillet was covered with lid and heated in the microwave (700-watt) for 5 minutes. Then, it was rested for a few minutes (with the cover on).

Voila! The quick steamed octopus dish was ready. I lightly stirred the ingredients and finished with thinly sliced cilantro+scallion and some drizzle of my homemade chunky la-yu (hot oil) on top. The aroma was exquisite and the flavor was so rich. You just wouldn't believe it was cooked in microwave in just 5 minutes! Amazing.

Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Poached Chicken Gyoza

Jason was craving for my, I made poached gyoza the other night.

With the microwavable donabe steam-roaster TOCHINSAI, prepping ingredients is much easier and faster. Instead of blanching the napa cabbage, I simply set the leaves in TOCHINSAI and microwaved (with the lid on) for 2 minutes. Once the leaves were cooled down, I squeezed out the excess moisture out of them.

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Ground chicken, minced napa cabbage, onion, grated ginger, garlic, etc. were mixed together. Then, the filling was wrapped in each skin.

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Some drizzle of olive oil was added to the boiling water, then gyoza was poached for a few minutes until they floated to the surface. Simple poached gyoza was ready. They were served with my special dipping sauce. My homemade "fermented black bean la-yu (hot oil)" + vinegar + soy sauce + sesame oil. Super good.

Here's my simple poached chicken gyoza recipe:

Poached Chicken Gyoza


11-12 oz ground chicken
1 clove garlic, grated
1 small knob ginger, grated
4 leaves medium-size napa cabbage, steamed and excess moisture drained, then minced
1/4 medium-size sweet onion, minced
1 tablespoon katakuriko (potato starch)
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (or sake)
salt and ground Szechuan pepper to taste

25-30 gyoza wrappers

some sliced scallion

soy sauce
fermented black bean la-yu (or regular la-yu)
sesame oil

1. Mix together the ingredients for the filling in a bowl until smooth by hand. Tightly cover with a piece of plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 mintues.
2. Take the filling out of the refrigerator and wrap in gyoza wrappers.
3. Boil water in a large pot. Drizzle some olive oil. Poach the gyoza for about 3 minutes or until the filling is cooked through. (They starts to float once gyoza are cooked.)
4. Drain and transfer into a plate. Garnish with sliced scallion.
5. Serve with the dipping sauce (approximate ratio...1.5 soy sauce, 1 vinegar, 1 fermented black bean la-yu, or 1/4 regular la-yu, 1/4 to 1/2 sesame oil)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Okazu (side dish) for Hollywood Bowl...Donabe-steamed vegetables in miso sesame sauce

Here's one of the "okazu" (side dishes) I made to take to Hollywood Bowl last Sunday.

I simply piled up cubed yam, okra, and king oyster mushrooms on a grate in my super-handy microwavable donabe steam-roaster, "Tochinsai". It was covered and cooked in the microwave for 5 minutes (700-watt).

Then, These nicely steamed vegetables were tossed in my homemade miso-sesame sauce with some thinly-sliced radish. That was it, and the dish was great! I will post the miso-sesame sauce recipe next time.

Happy donabe life.