Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy donabe lunch with vegetable stock...Koya Tofu & Chicken Zosui

Donabe lunch time.

This is a tea-bag style Japanese vegetable stock.  It's made of all natural ingredients and makes really nice vegetable stock.  It's a popular brand from Fukuoka, Japan, and the company have many fans among Japanese foodies.  I love using it for my quick meals, because it brings a real (and natural) gourmet flavor to dishes.

So, with this instant vegetable stock, I made simmered Koya Tofu.  Koya tofu is basically freeze-dry tofu, and it's a traditional staple food in Japan.  I love it so much, so I almost never ran out of koya tofu in my pantry.  It's also richer in protein and umami flavor than fresh tofu.

Here's my easy simmer Koya Tofu recipe with donabe.  This time, I used large size of classic-style donabe, "Yu Kizeto"

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Rehydrate 4 pieces of koya tofu and drain moisture by pressing by hand.  Cut each piece into half.  Put all the pieces of koya tofu in the donabe, and 1.5C water and add the content of 1 packet of vegetable stock (or just use 1.5C of your choice of vegetable stock).  Also add 2T sake, 2T mirin, 1T raw brown sugar, and 1.5T usukuchi shoyu (light color soy sauce).  Line the surface with a piece of aluminum foil ("drop lid"), and cover with lid.  Set it over medium heat.  As soon as it starts almost boiling, bring it down to simmer.  Simmer for 25 minutes.

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Koya tofu absorbed the broth very nicely.  To finish, add a teaspoon of sansho berries (optional) and continue to simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

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My simple simmered Koya Tofu in vegetable broth was ready.  I like it warm, but I also like it cold the next day.  The koya tofu had a nice meaty texture with deep umami flavor.  So wonderful.  With the mini-size classic-style donabe, "Yu Kizeto", I also made a quick chicken zosui (soupy porridge).  A tiny portion of cooked rice was simmered with chicken tender and edamame  in the vegetable broth and finished with egg.

Life is good.  Thank you for always working so hard for me, my beautiful donabe-chans.

Happy donabe life.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wasabi, yuzui & Irizake-flavored Tuna Tartare

When I want just one more little dish for dinner...
This is a perfect quick dish.

With the addition of my homemade irizake, this simple appetizer tastes so elegantly unique and delicious.

For two, mince 4 oz fresh tuna (for sashimi), and just mix with 1T minced scallion, 1/2tsp wasabi, 1T irizake, 1/4 tsp Maldon salt, and 1 tsp yuzu juice.  Divide the mixture into 2 small bowls.

I ran out of shiso, so I garnished it with a cilantro leaf:-)  Irizake gives such a nice umami taste to the dish.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quick donabe lunch...tofu and leftover vegetables in miso sauce

Making quick lunch is normally a peaceful time for me.

I look inside of the fridge for leftover ingredients which needs to be used soon, then I just come up with a simple donabe dish with these ingredients.

Iga-yaki Steam-roaster donabe, "Tochinsai" is often a very convenient donabe to make a single-serving one pot meal.

A little drizzle of sesame oil in the bottom, then I just added some sliced garlic, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, and put a piece of soft tofu in the center.  Sauce was a simple mixture of 1.5T each sake and homemade miso.  It was poured over the vegetables, then covered with lid and steam-fried over medium-heat gas stove top for about 10 minutes.  How easy isn't it?!

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At the table, I added some homemade chunky la-yu and sliced scallion and mixed everything together with a spoon.  That was it!

What a deep-flavored balanced meal...and it was unintentionally vegan and low-carb.
Donabe magic.

Happy donabe life.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer somen time...chilled in Donabe

Cold somen noodle is one of summer's signature dishes in Japanese culture.
I've been eating somen noodles 3 days in a row, and I never get tired of it.  Rather, I only look forward to eating more the next day.

And the best way to serve cold somen noodle is...with donabe!

I brought back a lot of somen noodles from Japan.  This time, I got different brands of handmade somen from Shodoshima Island of Japan.  Shodoshima is a small island between Honshu and Shikoku, and it's one of the top somen-making regions in Japan.  There are more than 200 somen producers in this island with the population of merely 40,000 people.

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This was an unique semi-dry uncut somen.  It was almost 5-feet long!  So, I cut them before boiling them.

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Chicken tenders were marinated in shio-koji and simply steam-roasted in my donabe steam-roaster, Tochinsai.  In just a couple of minutes in microwave, chicken came out perfectly cooked.  Once the chicken tenders were cooled down, I shredded them by hand and set aside.

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Somen noodles were boiled for a couple of minutes and rinsed in cold water.  They were served on ice cubes in a classic-style donabe, "Yu Kizeto".  Because of the porous body, Iga-yaki donabe is not only great over flame, but also works wonderfully as a "mini fridge".  You put ice cubes in Iga-yaki donabe, and the body becomes insulated and keeps the food cold for a long time.  So, the cold somen noodles stay cold nicely, and it also makes beautiful classy presentation.  Especially with a special wood fork for scooping somen!

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The handmade somen noodles tasted really really nice.  Wow, I just couldn't stop eating.  With my homemade dipping sauce, I served chicken tender and other condiments such as roasted sesame seeds, minced scallion, yuzu-kosho paste, etc.

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This was also handmade but dry somen, made from premium Haruyutaka flour from Hokkaido and sun-dried salt.  Dashi-maki tamago (Japanese dashi-rich rolled omelet) always makes nice accompaniment with cold noodle dish, somehow.

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Another somen noodle from Shodoshima Island.  It was also made from different special flour from Hokkaido (Tokachi region).This kind was aged for 2 years.  Yes, we even take somen and dipping sauce set to the beach!  It tasted especially nice between boogie boarding, even though eating out of plastic containers, last weekend.

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This last one is actually not somen, but it's Hiyamugi, which is also made from flour but a little thicker than somen.  This was Inaniwa Hiyamugi from Inaniwa Town of Akita Prefecture.  Inaniwa is most famous for its handmade udon (Inaniwa Udon) but they also make handmade hiyamugi in very similar manners as making udon.  This traditional noodle with 400 years of history takes 4 days to make.  We enjoyed it with my homemade miso-sesame dipping sauce.  What a treat.

Happy donabe life.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Donabe Steam-fried Eggplant, Tofu, and Pork in Black Miso Sauce

Eggplant, Tofu, and Pork...perfect trio to cook in miso sauce.
I call the sauce "black miso sauce", because it's a mixture of Hatcho Miso (soybean-based dark miso) and soy sauce with other ingredients.  The mixture gives such nice depth in flavor.  But, if you can't find Hatcho Miso, you can substitute it with regular red miso.

For this recipe, I use my Tagine-style Donabe, "Fukkura-san", which does the wonderful steam-fry cooking.  Just like other donabe, this donabe can be served right at the table to make a beautiful presentation.

Donabe Steam-fried Eggplant, Tofu, adn Pork in Black Miso Sauce

Preparation before cooking:
1. Peel the skin of 4 medium-size Japanese eggplants like stripe patterns, then slice the eggplants into thin oblique.  As soon as they were sliced, toss the slices in a teaspoon of salt and set aside for 10 minutes.  Rinse off the salt and squeeze the eggplant slices.  This will help eggplants release excess moisture.
2. Fill the water in the lid of Fukkura-san and drain after 5 minutes.  The lid will absorb moisture and give steam-effect during cooking.
3. Marinade 10 oz of thinly-sliced pork butt in 2T sake, 2tsps soy sauce, and 2 tsps katakuriko (potato starch) in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
4. In a bowl, mix together 4T sake, 1/2T raw brown sugar, 1.5T soy sauce, 1T Hatcho miso, 1 clove garlic (grated), 1T grated ginger, and 2T water.

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Add 1T of each olive oil and sesame oil in the skillet of Fukkura-san.  Arrange the sliced eggplant and 7 oz medium-firm tofu (drained of excess moisture and sliced into thin cubes).  Cover with lid and set over medium heat.  Cook for 8-10 minutes (the ingredients will steam-fry inside of the donabe).

Meanwhile, sauté the pork in 1/2T olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan (both sides) until the meat is 80-90% cooked.

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Add the meat to the Fukkura-san.  Also add the sauce mixture.  Stir and cook for a few minutes or until everything is cooked through.

Turn off the heat and sprinkle some minced scallion.

The dish is such a nice treat to re-energyze my fatigued body during the hot summer.  It's so nice and I can eat extra amount of rice with this dish.

Happy donabe life.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Iga-yaki Grill Week...Beef Tri-tip and Sun-dried Mushrooms

It was time for red meat.

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I got beef tri-tip meat and sliced for table-top grilling on our authentic Iga-yaki Grill, "Yaki Yaki San".  I seasoned half of the slices simply with salt and pepper, and for other half, I marinated in soy-based marinade (grated ginger, grated garlic, 1T sake, 1T honey, 3T soy sauce, 1T sesame oil) for a couple of hours.

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Yaki Yaki San was set on a portable gas burner at the dining table.  Once the grill was ready, we started with the non-marinated meat first.  I love that Yaki Yaki San releases no smoke or very little during cooking.  So, I never need to worry about the room becoming smoky.  Also, to me, the way Yaki Yaki San cooks meat is quite's quite calm and almost like the meat is meditating.  And, when the meat is ready, it's cooked evenly and tastes juicy and so flavorful.  I tried some pieces with Ume-shichimi (plum-flavored 7-spice paste) from Fukuoka, Japan.  Delicious.

No wonder there are many Yaki Yaki San fans among restaurants in Japan and they have menu for cooking with Yaki Yaki San.  I heard that there is a very popular horse meat restaurant in Osaka, where Yaki Yaki San is set at every table and the customers cook different parts of horse meat on Yaki Yaki San...honestly, I want to go there!

I tried grilling (1-day) sun-dried shimeji and enoki mushrooms on Yaki Yaki San, too.  This was a recommendation by Nagatani-en (the producer of Yaki Yaki San) people.  Wow, this was definitely different from grilling fresh mushrooms and I liked it so much!  The texture of the grilled sun-dried mushrooms was so meaty and the more I bit the more I could taste the deep umami flavors.  It was great with my homemade chunky la-yu.

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The last item for the grill was the marinated beef tri-tip.  Just a couple of hours of marinade made the meat even more tender and it was super juicy.  I made a wrap with nori seaweed.

What a great grilling dinner without smoke.  Yaki Yaki San is wonderful!

Happy donabe life.