Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunny and fun day in Sonoma

December 27 (Thurs)

It was a beautiful sunny morning in Sonoma.

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Wine country style breakfast...granola with yogurt by a local artisan maker, and gourmet coffee. The view from our friends' house balcony was gorgeous.

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In the afternoon, we drove up and visited a couple of wineries. The first stop was Chalk Hill.

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We also went to Quivira Vineyard and Winery in Dry Creek Valley. They are an artisan winery with focus on biodynamic farming. I like their Rhone varietals and blends. They make one of the best Zinfandel wines in Sonoma, too.

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Our lunch snack was at The Wurst in Healdsburg. Our friend said that this place makes simply the best grilled sausages in town. The place is popular among local chefs also. They have a wide-variety of homemade gourmet sausages to grill to order. They have a wide selection of both tap and bottle artisan beers. I had a hot dog with different kinds of condiments, onion rings, sweet potato fries, and local brewery IPA...totally hit my spot.

In the late afternoon we went to a local Whole Foods and picked up more groceries for the donabe dinner tonight. I love Whole Foods in Santa Rosa...they have the super fresh items, and they even ground meat to order. There is a cool beer tasting space and they even sell so many different kinds of hops for home brewing. I want this Whole Foods in LA.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Donabe Dinner in Sonoma 1...Hokkaido-style Seafood Hot Pot & Lobster Donabe Rice

December 26 (Wed)

Jason and I left LA in the morning and drove all the way up to Santa Rosa in Sonoma to see our friends there. With a few break stops, it took us more than 7 hours to finally get to Santa Rosa. I was quite exhausted after the long road trip, but I bet Jason was even more exhausted because he drove the whole time.

We are going to stay with our dear friends, Kyle & Katina for 3 nights in their beautiful wine country home. One of the main purposes of this trip was to do a lot of donabe cooking with Kyle for some development work for the next days. But, for the first night, Kyle made the entire dinner just for us.

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Some aromatics were being sautéed in donabe, while the rich lobster and kombu stock was standing by.

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Aromatics were combined with some kimch, miso (my 2-year-aged homemade kind) and the strained stock was poured in.

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Tons of seafood - lobster, shrimp, salmon belly, clams, and mussels were added, along with tofu and vegetables.

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He also made decadent lobster rice with the double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san".

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Decadent donabe seafood hot pot and donabe lobster rice. Heavenly first night dinner in Sonoma.

Happy donabe life.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shio-koji Chicken Tender & Tofu Stew, "Mizore" Style

Here's another easy donabe stew recipe by using chicken and tofu.
And, this recipe is especially healthy, because I use chicken tender.
Chicken tender for stew?! Some people might think that such lean meat would become too tough. But, by marinating the meat in shio-koji for several hours, the meat not only becomes more flavorful, but also stays tender after simmering in the broth.

Also, my Soup & Stew Donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe", helps achieving the rich flavor in a short time because this thick-body donabe gives the even and steady heat distribution to the ingredients. This quick stew is really tasty with layers of flavors and textures. The last addition of the grated daikon really adds the special touch to this stew. "Mizore"means sleet, because grated daikon resembles it. And, it adds the nice gentle texture and flavor to the dish.

Shio-koji Chicken Tender & Tofu Stew, "Mizore" Style

10 oz  chicken tender, cut into bite-size pieces
1T  shio-koji
1T  sesame oil
1T  thinly-thredded ginger
5 oz  white shimeji mushrooms
3 oz  enoki mushrooms, cut into half

10 oz  silky tofu
3 oz  haricot vert, cut into 1"-long

7 oz  dashi stock
1.5T  sake
1.5T  mirin
1.5T  light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
7 oz  daikon, grated and drained well
some minced yuzu rind for garnish

1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the chicken tender and shio-koji and mix well. Tightly-seal with the air out and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to overnight.

2. In Miso-shiru Nabe, heat the sesame oil over medium+ heat. Add the ginger and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the shio-koji chicken and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.

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3. Add the mushrooms, silky tofu (break by spoon), haricot vert, dashi stock, sake, and mirin.  Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. *You might think that there is not enough broth to simmer at the beginning, but it will rise as you cook in the donabe!

4. Add the soy sauce and grated daikon. Stir.

5. Garnish with minced yuzu rinds and serve.

Perfect light soothing dish for winter.
Happy donabe life.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Donabe Butter Scallop Rice

Scallop and butter make such a beautiful combination, and it's not limited to western-style cuisine. In Japanese cooking, these two ingredients are often used together with one more (our national) ingredient...yes, soy sauce. Scallops cooked with soy-butter flavor is classic especially in Hokkaido.

So, I made a donabe rice dish by using the magical combo of these three ingredients.
I used jumbo scallops for this dish, and they infuse so much umami flavor for the rice.

For this dish, I used 3 rice-cup size double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san".

Butter Scallop Rice (バター帆立ご飯)

8 pieces (8-9 oz or 240-270 g) jumbo scallops
about 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3.5 oz (100 g) lotus root

2 rice-cups (360 ml) short grain rice, rinsed and drained
300 ml water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sake
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 ml) light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
1 piece (2" x 2" or 5 cm x 5 cm) dry kelp ("dashi kombu")
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 scallion, thinly-sliced crosswise

1. Season the scallops with the salt. Refrigerate (no cover is necessary) for 30 minutes.
2. Peel the lotus root and slice into 1/8" (3 mm) thickness crosswise. Further cut into quarters. Soak in cold water for 3-5 minutes and drain. Set aside.
3. In Kamado-san, combine the rice with the water, sake, and soy sauce. Add the dry kelp on the top. Let the rice soak in the liquid for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add the lotus root and spread evenly on the surface.

5. Pat-dry the scallops with a paper towel and arrange on top of the lotus root.
6. Cover with both lids and cook over medium-high heat for 13-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 20 minutes.

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7. Uncover and remove the dry kelp. Add the butter. By using a rice paddle, coarsely break the scallops and fluff with the rice until the butter is completely melted. Garnish with thinly-sliced scallion.

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The aroma of this rice dish was so incredible and the flavor was so pure and great. Scallops were so sweet. This dish pairs super nicely with Champagne, especially highly-minerally Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay). We had Le Mesnil Champagne Grand Cru Brut with this dish.

Merry Christmas and Happy donabe life.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chinese-style Donabe-steamed Spicy Kalbi

This is a great steamy dish for meat lovers.
The flavor is so bold and the "meaty". Jason says this is now one of his favorite home steamed dishes with our donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe".
I was inspired by Chinese steamed spare-rib for this dish, so I use different kinds of Chinese ingredients, which are easy to find at local Asian grocery stores. I love the hot & spicy kick from the dobanjiang (Chinese hot bean paste), but you can use less or completely omit it if you prefer less spicy version.

Steamed Spicy Kalbi (beef short ribs)

1/2 pound  boneless kalbi (beef short rib), cut into 3/4" cubes
1/4C  domyoji-ko (corsely-ground sweet rice...if you can't find it, you can substitute it with regular sweet rice and grind them into coarse grains by mortar and pestle)
1/4  small-size cabbage
1/2 cup  soybean sprouts

(for the marinade)
1/2T  Chinese fermented black beans
1/2T  dobanjiang (Chinese hot bean paste)
1/2T  dark miso
1T  Chinese rice wine or sake
1tsp  soy sauce
1 clove  garlic, grated
1 teaspoon  grated ginger
a pinch of each sugar and black pepper
1/4tsp  Chinese five spice
1/2T  potato starch
1/2tsp  sesame oil


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1. Whisk together the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Add the meat and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.  Add the domyoji-ko and mix again. Set aside.

2. Get Mushi Nabe (donabe steamer ready). In a basket or a shallow plate which can fit the donabe, arrange the cabbage and soybean sprouts in layers. Spread the meat mixture on the top.

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3. Set the basket in Mushi Nabe. Cover and steam over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Serve immediately.

The meat was super flavorful and really great. We were so excited that I even forgot to garnish the dish with some sliced scallion! Another great thing about this dish is that it's served with a lot of vegetables, so it won't taste too heavy. Also, the cabbage soaks all the wonderful meat juice and tastes amazing.

If you can't find thick cut of kalbi, you can make the dish with thinly-sliced kalbi, too. I could only get the thinly-sliced kind for yakiniku the other day, so I cut them into smaller pieces and made the same dish. It was really tender and nice, too.

Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Miso-flavored Pork and Tofu Lettuce Wraps

I had a lot of lettuce in the fridge, so I decided to make lettuce wraps. This dish makes a great appetizer.

Miso-flavored Pork and Tofu Lettuce Wraps


(for the filling)
6 oz  ground pork
1tsp  egg
1/2T  potato starch
1/2T  sake
1/4tsp  black pepper

(for the sauce)
2T  miso
1/2T  oyster sauce
1T  sake
1tsp  raw brown sugar

1T  sesame oil
1/2T  minced ginger
1T  thinly-sliced scallion
 5 oz  medium-firm tofu, drained well and sliced into small cubes
3 oz  enoki mushrooms, cut into 1" length
1 oz  rice noodles (optional)
some thinly-sliced scallion
some lettuce leaves
condiments such as la-yu or garlic sauce (optional)

1. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. In a ramekin, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
3. (optional) Set a deep fryer at high heat (about 400F) and add the rice noodles. They will puff up immediately. Take them out in just a few seconds. Set aside.
4. In a saute pan, heat the sesame oil and sauté the ginger and scallion for a minute over medium+ heat. Add the pork and push by a wood spatula to break the meat into small pieces as you cook.
5. Once the meat is almost cooked through, add the well-drained tofu and enoki mushrooms.
6. Add the sauce and stir well for additional 2-3 minutes.
7. In a serving bowl, spread the fried rice noodles (optional), and make a mound with the meat on top of the rice noodles. Garnish with some thinly-sliced scallion.
8. Serve immediately with lettuce leaves and condiments.

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This dish is so easy to make and so satisfying. We use our homemade miso for the sauce, so the flavor is really deep and complex.