Friday, September 28, 2012

Oil-marinated Sun-dried Mushrooms (scented with shio-koji)

Just like many other places in the northern hemisphere of the world,  we've experienced very hot summer here in LA this year.  Now September is almost ending, but we are still experiencing unusually hot weather for the season.  So, the good thing is that in the past weeks, it takes very short time to make nice sun-dried mushrooms.

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In the wintertime, I normally let them sun-dry at least 1 full day or 2 days.  But, just 4 hours of sunbathing in the morning make the nice semi-dry mushrooms.

With these mushrooms, you can make a wonderful appetizer. So, here's the recipe.

Oil-marinated Sun-dried Mushrooms (scented with shio-koji)

7 oz  enoki mushrooms
5 oz  shimeji mushrooms
10 oz  shiitake mushrooms
1/4C  olive oil
1/4  medium-size sweet onion, minced
1 clove  garlic, thinly-sliced
2  baby bell peppers, julienned
2T  sake
2T  water
1 tsp  vegetable stock powder (optional)
1T shio-koji
salt and pepper to taste
2T  lemon juice

1T  pine nuts
1tsp  sliced dry red chili

1T  chopped parsley

1.  Cut and discard the bottom part of the mushrooms.  Sun-dry the mushrooms until semi-dry (half day to full day).
2.  Saute onion and garlic in 2T olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is very soft (about 5-7 minutes).
3.  Turn up the heat to medium.  Add the mushrooms and bell pepper, and continue to saute for a few minutes.
4.  Add the sake and water.  All add the vegetable stock powder.  Cover and steam-fry for 5 minutes.
5.  Once the liquid is reduced down to almost nothing, add the shio-koji, and also season with salt (if necessary) and pepper.  Stir.
6.  Add the lemon juice and remaining olive oil.  Add the pine nuts and sliced dry red chili.  Stir again.  Turn off the heat.
7.  Once the mushrooms are cooled down.  Add the parsley and stir again.  Serve immediately or you can refrigerate and keep for 2-3 days.  Bring it back to room temperature to serve.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Honey Saikyo Miso Soy Milk Ice power

Here's my Saikyo Miso & Soy Milk Ice Cream.  If you prefer your ice cream to be made with cow's milk, you can certainly use it instead of soy milk.  Miso is added at the very end of the cooking process, so the flavor and good enzyme of the miso stay alive when the ice cream is ready.  It's one of the most popular ice creams I make at home.

Honey Saikyo Miso Soy Mili Ice Cream

2C soymilk
1C heavy cream
150ml honey
3  large eggs (whole eggs)
1/2C  Saikyo miso

1.  In a pot, combine soymilk, heavy cream, and honey.  Scald over low-medium heat.  Turn off the heat.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs.  Gradually add the scalded liquid as you whisk, so that the heat won't coagulate the eggs.
3.  Transfer the mixture to a clean pot and scold again over low heat.  Turn off the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (this is the custard).  
4.  In a separate bowl, add the saikyo miso and gradually whisk in the strained custard.  Refrigerate the mixture until very cold for a few hours or longer.
5. Set the mixture into an ice cream machine to finish.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This summer's hit Hiyashi Chuka...with Soupy Sesame Sauce

Every summer, one of the dishes I enjoy eating is Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Chinese-style noodle).  There are so many different styles of Hiyashi Chuka.  Different noodles, toppings, and sauces.  I've made a wide variation of Hiyashi Chuka myself in the past years.

This year, the big hit at home was Hiyashi Chuka with Soupy Sesame Sauce.
To make the sauce for 2 servings, I simply whisk together 1T sesame paste, 3T soy sauce, 1.5T raw brown sugar, 2tsps  black vinegar, 1T sake (once boiled), 1C Chinese-style chicken stock, 1T lime juice, 1tsp la-yu (hot chili oil), and 1tsp sesame oil.

Then, enjoy the noodles and sauce with whatever the toppings I feel like for the day...such as shio-koji marinated steamed chicken tender, boiled egg, daikon, radish, seaweed, scallion, cilantro, etc.

I especially like it with extra homemade chuncky la-yu on top.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Donabe-simmered Hijiki & Lotus Root Salad

At our home, our consumption of hijiki seaweed is so high that I keep stock of many packages of dry hijiki in pantry all the time.

Hijiki tastes especially wonderful, when it's cooked in donabe.  Our soup & stew donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe", is always my choice of donabe for hijiki.  It makes effective quick braise/ simmer and hijiki tastes really deep-flavored as a result.

This hijiki dish is very easy and also you can enjoy it as a salad at cold or room temperature.  Lotus root gives a nice crunchy texture.

Hijiki & Lotus Root Salad

2/3 oz (about 20g)  dry hijiki, rehydrated
4 oz  peeled lotus root, sliced into 1/5"-thick crosswise and further cut into quarters
1.5 oz  carrot, cut into short julienne
6  small dry shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated (stems discarded), and thinly-sliced
1/2T  olive oil
1T  sake
1/3C  dashi stock
1.5T  raw brown sugar
3T  soy sauce
1tsp  sliced dry red chili


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1.  In the donabe, sauté the hijiki, lotus root, carrot, and shiitake in olive oil over medium-heat.

2.  Add the sake, dashi stock, sugar, and soy sauce.  Line the surface with a piece of foil or parchment paper and cover with lid.  Bring to simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.

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3.  Uncover and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced to very low.  Turn off the heat and add the dry red chili.   You can serve immediately, but it would taste better after letting it rest for 2-3 hours.  The dish can be refrigerated and kept for 2-3 days.

You can use either long or short hijiki (in the top photo, the dish was made with long hijiki, and the procedure photos shows short hijiki).

Happy donabe life.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trip to Central Coast (Day 4)...Roblar Winery and Demetria Estate

We checked out from the hotel in the morning.

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And, took a stroll in Solvang a little.

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We drove up about 10 minutes to Roblar Winery in Santa Ynez Valley.  Roblar Winery makes wines from a wide variety of mostly estate-grown grapes, while they focus on the quality.

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It was a regular Tuesday, but they kindly let us sit in the beautiful outdoor patio and gave a private wine tasting with pairing hors d'oeuvres.

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The tasting was very nice.  Many of the ingredients were from their own garden.  The wines were good also.  Their Sangiovese-based blend (with Cab) was surprisingly very enjoyable.

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After the tasting, the staff of the winery kindly took us on a vineyard and winery tour!  We tasted Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Merlot from the vines.  We also toured their gorgeous guest rooms.
We enjoyed visiting Roblar a lot and appreciated such a nice hospitality they gave to us.

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We kept driving up on Foxen Canyon Road to visit Demetria Estate where we had an appointment for tasting.  This is a relatively new winery (established in 2005) and focuses on Burgundy and Rhone-style wines.  Their Rhone grapes are grown biodynamically in the estate.  The estate shares a gate with Zaca Mesa, and from the gate, we kept driving up the rolling hills for almost 10 minutes to get to the tasting room...huge property!  The winery has a nice relaxing ambience.

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We had a tasting in the patio, overlooking the gorgeous view of the vineyards.  Their wines were serious and well-made kind.  I enjoyed tasting the lineup in such a nice setting.

It was our last stop in this trip, and we went back to LA in the late afternoon.  It was such a fun trip and assured us how much we love Central Coast.  It was the first time for my mom to visit Paso Robles and Santa Barbara Wine Country, and she said she had the most memorable time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Trip to Central Coast (Day 3)...From Paso Robles to Santa Barbara

Another beautiful morning in Paso Robles.

I woke up before anybody else and enjoyed breakfast in the balcony.
We got ready, and said good by to people at Venteux Winery.  Their hospitality was great and so was their wines.  We will be back there to see them again in October.

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Before we leave Paso Robles, we drove to Jack Creek Cellars in Templeton.  It's another small family-owned winery, which tasting room is situated at the top of the gentle hill, surrounded by vineyards in the estate.  Surprisingly, their signature wine is Pinot Noir.  It's hard to believe such a delicate grape can grow nicely in Paso Robles, but in fact, their Pinot Noir vineyards are only 7 miles from the coast and have a very cool microclimate.

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Wow, their Pinot Noir was indeed very serious and nice!  I liked other wines, too.  So, we picked up some wines.  Outside of the tasting room, guys were working on the freshly-harvested Pinot Noir.  It smelled very nice.

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We headed to Cambria and had lunch at a local cafe.  My mom and I split a plate of club sandwich, and the half portion was still very big!  It was tasty.  Jason had a huge avocado burger.

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It was suddenly so much cooler once we were in Cambria.  It's typical to a coastal town.  The ocean was so beautiful.

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We kept driving down and had a short break in Morro Bay.

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Early evening, we were in Santa Ynez.  We checked in at a hotel in Solvang.  We normally try to stay away from Solvang, because it gets too crowded with tourists during wine event season.  But, it was just a regular Monday and the town was so quiet (and nice)!

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We had dinner at Los Olivos Cafe.  The last time I was there was almost 5 years ago, but the place was as charming as I remembered.

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Wonderful dinner.  My favorite dish was the roasted organic vegetables, which were harvested locally and served with tapenade and smoked mozzarella.  Napoli pizza was good.  Locally-caught black cod with lobster ravioli and corn-lobster sauce was also very nice.  2006 Bernat Wines, Syrah, was a great pairing with the braised beef short rib.

It was "Respect for the Aged Day" (National Holiday) in Japan.  So, we had a celebration of my mom's health.  She was very happy!