Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hoshigaki & Kabu in Shio-koji

This time, I experimented to make an appetizer dish by using hoshigaki.
I've been so crazy about hoshigaki from Otow Orchard. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, hoshigaki is great on its own, but I'm also finding versatility of hoshigaki to make combination with other flavors.

Hoshigaki and Japanese turnip ("kabu" or it's also called "Tokyo turnip") are actually not an unusual combination and they are sometimes tossed together in vinegar sauce. But, I thought that they would be great with shio-koji, so I tried it.

Peel and slice 2 small-size kabu into half. Then, cut into thin slices (about 1/8" or 3 mm thick). Cut leaves from 1 kabu into 2" or 5 cm thick. Mix both in 2 teaspoons ship-koji by hand. Put them in a pickle-making container (or just use a bowl and weight) and marinade for 30 minutes.

Drain the liquid and gently squeeze the turnip and leaves to drain any excess moisture. Slice 1 hoshigaki into 1/8" or 3 mm thick, and toss with the turnip and leaves.

That's it. And the flavor was incredible! Wow, it tasted just so delicious and elegant. The textures of the quick-pickled turnip and chewy hoshigaki worked so nicely together, and the gently saltiness of ship-koji actually amplified the complex flavor of the hoshigaki. It tasted like a first course at a fancy Japanese kappo restaurant. This recipe is a real keeper.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Donabe rice recipe...Chicken Ginger Rice ("Tori Shoga Gohan")


Today's menu is Chicken Ginger Rice, or we call it "Tori Shoga Gohan" (鶏生姜ご飯) in Japanese.
Ginger is a magic ingredient, indeed. The generous amount of ginger in this dish makes this rice so aromatic and gives nice accent to the flavor of the chicken, too.

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

Chicken Ginger Rice (鶏生姜ご飯)

8 oz (240 g) chicken thigh (boneless and skinless), cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp  sake
1.5 Tbsp  light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
1/2 Tbsp  fish sauce ("nampla")

2 rice-cups (360 ml) short grain rice, rinsed and drained
300 ml dashi stock (can be substituted with chicken stock or vegetable stock)
1 tsp  sesame oil
1 oz (30 g)  peeled ginger, sliced into needle thin (1" long)

1 scallion, thinly-sliced crosswise
some toasted white sesame seeds

1. In a bowl, combine the chicken, sake, soy sauce, and fish sauce. mix well by hand. Cover tightly with a plastic and let the chicken marinade in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in Kamado-san, combine the rice, dash stock, and sesame oil. Let the rice soak for 20-30 minutes.

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3. Add the ginger to Kamado-san and spread over the rice. Add the chicken with the marinade liquid and spread on the top.

4. Cover with both lids and cook for about 15 minutes. If you want the nice crust ("okoge") on the bottom cook for extra 1-2 minutes.
5. Turn off the heat and let Kamado-san rest (with both lids on) for 20-30 minutes.

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6. Uncover and fluff the rice. Garnish with some scallion and sesame seeds.

Happy donabe life.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hoshigaki is not just dried persimmon


Hoshigaki is like an artwork, and the making of hoshigaki is also like an art.
Hoshigaki means dried persimmon, and it's a traditional Japanese treat in the winter time. Making Hoshigaki is a long process which requires skilled techniques. Hoshigaki was originally brought to America by immigrants of Japanese farmers.

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I've been enjoying American Hoshigaki, Penryn Orchard's special Hoshigaki so much this winter. I got a box of about 10 Hoshigaki as a gift from friend. It has the nice complex flavor and dense chewy texture.

Hoshigaki is typically enjoyed on its own, but recently, I learned from a friend of mine that Hoshigaki goes really well with butter. Hoshigaki and butter together?! So I tried. I sliced Hoshigaki into small pieces and topped each piece with a small cut of butter. My friend even suggested that I try this with Campari orange cocktail. So, I made it, too. I took my first Hoshigaki-butter combo into my mouth...and wow, he was right, they created something so special together! And, with a sip of Campari orange cocktail...he was right again! What a great pairing.

This combo with Campari orange became my regular aperitif for the next days.

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Then, I thought of a different about Hoshigaki and cheese? So, I made small Hoshigaki amuse with Comte cheese. Bravo!! In fact, I liked this combo even more than Hoshigaki-butter! And, yes, it was also great with Campari cocktail. Then, I also tried with 2007 Dergi, Qvevri Rkatsiteli (Kakheti, Georgia), which is an unfiltered white wine, aged in qvevri (amphora), with the deep orange color. This rich wine complimented the rich Hoshigaki-Comte nibbles even more perfectly.

Since I got so into American Hoshigaki, I wanted to try a different producer's and found Otow Orchard in Northern California. My order of Hoshigaki was just delivered Saturday. It was $43 including shipping.

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The package contained 8 large hoshigaki. As soon as I saw them, I could tell they were going to be something really special. Otow Orchard's Hoshigaki was even better than my high expectation! Super amazing Hoshigaki with the beautifully soft-chewy texture and really complex flavor. True art of nature. These were, of course, wonderful on their own, and also really nice with French Mimolette cheese. I better order more before their extremely limited stock will run out.

I feel the Hoshigaki power.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Donabe rice recipe...Pork & Lotus Root Rice


With tender juicy Kurobuta pork and crunchy lotus root, this donabe rice dish can be a very satisfying main dish. You cook slightly-firm rice with double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", then just mix in the sautéed pork and lotus root, which was seasoned with oyster sauce.

Pork and Lotus Root Rice

2 rice-cups (360 ml) short grain rice, rinsed
360 ml water
10 oz Kurobuta pork butt (thinly-sliced for sukiyaki), cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
1/2 tablespoon potato starch ("katakuriko")
1 tablespoon sake
1T sesame oil
1 clove garlic, thinly-sliced
3 oz lotus root, sliced into 1/8"(3 mm)-thick crosswise, then further cut into half
1/4 orange bell pepper, julienned

2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 scallion, thinly-sliced crosswise

In Kamado-san, combine the rice and water. Let the rice soak for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, combine the pork, salt, pepper, potato starch, and sake, and mix well by hand. Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
In another small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
Cover Kamado-san with both lids and set over medium-high heat over gas stove. Cook for about 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let Kamado-san rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, lotus root, and bell pepper. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
Move the vegetables on one side of the pan, and add the marinated pork to the empty side of the pan. Stir-fry until the pork is almost cooked through.
Add the sauce mixture and stir-fry with all the ingredients in the pan for a couple of minutes. Add the scallion and quickly stir again. Remove the pan from the heat.
When the rice is ready, uncover both lids, and add the cooked meat and vegetables. Fluff gently with a spatula until the rice is nicely mixed with the meat and vegetables. Serve immediately.

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Happy donabe life.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Donabe & Leftover Dumplings

We found a great rustic and authentic Chinese (Beijing-style) dumpling house in Monterey Park.
The place is called, Fortune Number 1, and their menu has a long list of steamed buns, boiled dumplings, as well as hot pot dishes, etc.

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For two of us, two orders of dumplings were more than enough. We also ordered a scallion pancake. Both the pork buns and pork dumplings were really steamy and the doughs were perfect. Scallion pancake was really tasty, too. There were 8 knuckle-size buns in the steam basket, and each of us ate 3! I want to go back to this place to try other dishes, too.

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The next day, I heated leftover pork buns in my microwavable donabe, "Tochinsai". I know how buns normally get too firm and lose good texture if you just wrap them in plastic and microwave. But, with this donabe, the buns came out like they were just out of the steamer! So, I could really enjoy the steamy Chinese buns two days in a row.

Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Super One-pot Donabe dish...Hot & Sour Pork Sesame Sukiyaki

I call this dish "Super" one-pot donabe dish, because it's basically you assemble all the main ingredients in a donabe and just cook them together all at once. You cook and serve in one pot and it tastes really great. I love the combination of the spiciness and a slight tangy kick from the black vinegar. You can adjust the amount of doubanjiang according to your taste. With pork and different kinds of vegetables, it's also nutritiously-balanced. Serve with freshly-made donabe rice, then it makes a tasty meal.

For this dish, I used my beautiful classic-style donabe, "Hakeme" (medium-size).

Hot & Sour Pork Sesame Sukiyaki

Ingredients: (3-4 servings)
1 clove garlic, grated
2-3 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon doubanjiang (Chinese hot bean paste)
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon raw brown sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) ground white sesame seeds

10 oz Kurobuta pork, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 head medium-size napa cabbage, sliced crosswise into 1/2" (1 cm) thick
1.5 oz (50 g) burdock root ("gobo"), thinly sliced by using peeler
4 medium-size shiitake mushrooms, thinly-sliced
3.5 oz (100 g) enoki mushrooms, roughly separated by hand and cut into half
7 oz (200 g) medium-firm tofu, drained and sliced into 12 pieces
1 oz (30 g) carrot, thinly-sliced crosswise
1/2 cup (120 ml) Chinese chicken stock or dashi stock
1/2 tablespoon black vinegar ("kurozu")
some extra ground sesame seeds (optional)
2 scallions, thinly-sliced crosswise

1. In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade until smooth. Add the pork and mix well by hand. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. In donabe, spread the napa cabbage evenly on the bottom. Add the burdock root, shiitake mushrooms, and enoki mushrooms in layers.
3. Add the tofu pieces and arrange them to make a circle along the rim. Arrange the carrot slices next to tofu pieces. Add the chicken stock.

4. Lay the pork with the marinade in the center and press gently to make a even layer.

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5. Cover and set donabe over medium heat. Let it cook for 8-10 minutes or until the broth starts simmering and the pork starts to cook. Stir.

6. Cover again and cook for additional 3-4 minutes or until everything is cooked through. Add the black vinegar and stir again. Remove from the heat.

7. Garnish with more sesame seeds (optional) and sliced scallions. Serve immediately.

Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Yose-nabe" Hot Pot...It's all about dashi

It's in the hight of donabe hot pot sesason right now.

With classic-style donabe, we make so many different (often whimsical) kinds of hot pot dishes, and the most frequently made donabe hot pot dish by far is "Yose-nabe" or hot pot with assorted ingredients. While there is no strict rule about Yose-nabe ingredients, typically yose-nabe has at least one kind of animal protein (often one of seafood fish and meat) and various kinds of vegetables.

For me, broth is the core of Yose-nabe and it's all about the quality of dashi stock, especially since Yose-nabe broth is typically simply seasoned with only sake, soy sauce, salt, and mirin. I like to keep the seasoning as minimum as possible, because I want to really appreciate the soothing flavor of the dashi stock which was further infused with the ingredients. Adding too much soy sauce, etc. would simply ruin the flavor of the dashi stock.

I love making dashi stock and here is how I do. But, if you don't have time or ingredients, you can use high quality tea bag style dashi stock starter.

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Honkare-bushi is the top category of dry bonito. It's the hardest food in the world, too. I shaved about 2 oz (60 g) of Honkare-bushi to flakes to make dashi with 2L water. It's twice as much amount of bonito flakes compared to regular dashi stock recipe and you might find it's too much, but it actually gives nice extra layer of umami flavor without overpowering your palate.

Meanwhile, about 2/3 oz (20 g) dry kelp ("dashi kombu") was low-simmered for almost 1 hour (at a low heat), if you want to save time, you can start with medium-heat and remove the kelp when the water is almost boiling (20-30 minutes). Either way, soaking the kelp in water for a few hours (or at least 30 minutes) before heating is recommended.

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Once the kelp was removed, turn up the heat to high. Once the stock is almost boiling, add the bonito flakes all at once and turn off the heat immediately. Let it rest for 2 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve to a bowl. The aroma was so beautiful that I just wanted to take a bath in it.

Now that the broth was ready, it was time to cook Yose-nabe with my classic-style donabe, "Hakeme".

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Ingredents to cook in the broth...some napa cabbage, shirataki noodles (blanched and cut), shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, carrot, chrysanthemum leaves ("shungiku"), black cod ("gindara"), thinly-sliced scallion, and thinly-sliced kurobuta pork. Cod filets were seasoned with salt, refrigerated for 30 minutes, then pat-dried.

Optional dipping sauce and condiments. Sesame-miso dipping sauce (1T each red miso and Saikyo miso, 1T ground white sesame seeds, 1/4tsp Chinese hot bean paste, 1T rice vinegar, and 1/2 tsp sesame oil), yuzu-kosho, and wet plum shichimi

In donabe, 1L of dashi stock, 100 ml sake, 2T (30 ml) mirin, 2T (30 ml) light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu"), and 2/3 to 1 teaspoon of salt are combined. Bottom part of napa cabbage, shirataki noodles, and shiitake mushrooms were added and brought to simmer.

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Once the first ingredients are cooked and tender, soft tofu, black cod, carrot, thinly-sliced scallion, and enoki mushrooms were added. After a couple of minutes, chrysanthemum leaves and sliced pork were added. Because the meat was paper-thin, they were picked up once the color turned and enjoyed with the dipping sauce. The rest of the ingredients were served with the broth and condiments. The broth got the super soothing nice flavor.

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After we cooked and savored most of above ingredients in two batches,  it was time to do the finishing ("shime") course. I cooked udon noodles in the remaining broth with some leftover enoki mushrooms and chrysanthemum leaves. Udon was served with grated daikon, and sliced scallions. Really wonderful.

Happy donabe life.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Donabe ramen lunch...with leftovers

Exciting leftover donabe lunch.

I had the super-rich pork broth from making slow-simmered kurobuta pork...infused and reduced down with pork, Tokyo negi, ginger, garlic, sansho pepper corns, and sake.

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So, I used the broth to make ramen lunch. The broth was tasting perfect, so I seasoned it with just a pinch of salt.

I also had leftover simmered ground chicken ("tori soboro").

So, I used it as a topping for the ramen, along with boiled egg, chopped cilantro and scallion plus a little drizzle of la-yu at the end. Great one-pot quick donabe lunch made in mini-size classic-style donabe, "Rikyu Tokusa". I used dry instant ramen, and it tasted super!

Happy donabe life.