Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tokyo Chinese, French, Italian...and many wines

I didn't take many pictures during my stay back in Japan a couple of weeks ago. But, I did eat and drink very well, as always.

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Don't know how many bottles of wines we opened in just 1 week. From bottle-fermented non-disgorged bio Lambrusco, frizzante-style Gavi, to super traditional 2005 Antoniotti Bramaterra, I enjoyed mostly unique and serious wines by small producers.

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Chinese, French, Italian...I did all course meals. It's hard to miss Chinese friend rice in Tokyo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oyster & Burdock Root Rice ("Kaki Gobo Gohan")

Oyster and bordock are such a great combination, and they are winter's seasonal ingredients. Both ingredients have distinctive savory flavor profiles, and I just love the m so much.

Once you get the ingredients, this dish is really easy to make, and double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san" will do the work for you. For oysters, I get a quality kind in a jar, and I rinse them throughly after mixing with some potato starch ("katakuriko") and salt. This quick process will help removing any gritty stuff from the oysters.

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Rinsed oysters are cooked in seasoning just for a few minutes and set aside.

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I used lightly-polished brown rice (I polished right right before cooking with my home rice polisher). Burdock root was cooked with rice in dashi stock.

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Once the rice was cooked, the oysters were added and tossed with rice.

Here's the full recipe:

Oyster and Burdock Root Rice ("Kaki Gobo Gohan")

8 oz (240 g) medium-size oysters
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon potato starch ("katakuriko")
2 tablespoons sake
1/2 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
about 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) dashi stock
2 rice-cups (360 ml) short grain rice, rinsed and drained
3.5 oz (100 g) burdock root ("gobo"), thinly-sliced by using a peeler
1 knob ginger, sliced into thin shreds (about 1 tablespoon)
1 scallion, minced

  1. In a bowl, combine the oysters with the salt and potato starch. Mix throughly by hand. Rinse well and drain. Set aside.
  2. In a small pot, combine the sake, mirin, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the dashi stock and set over medium-heat. Once the broth starts simmering, add the oysters and simmer until the oysters become plump and just cooked through (about 2 minutes). 
  3. Strain the broth into a measuring cup and add the remaining dashi stock so that it becomes 1.5 cup (360 ml). Refrigerate until it cools down to a room temperature or lower. Keep the oysters separately in refrigerator also.
  4. In "Kamado-san", combine the rice with the broth. Spread the burdock root over the rice. Let the rice soak in liquid for 20 minutes.
  5. Cover "Kamado-san" with both lids and cook over medium-high heat for 13-15 minutes, or until 2-3 minutes after the steam starts puffing out of the top lid. 
  6. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes. Remove the lids and very quickly add the cooked oysters and cover with lids again. Let stand for 5 more minutes.
  7. Remove the lids and gently fluff the rice with a rice paddle. Garnish with ginger and scallion and serve.

Really lovely. I think the next time, I will even double the amount of the oysters to make it decadent-style!
Happy donabe life.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Kamado-san duo...Yu-dofu & Oolong Tea Rice

With leftover half of tofu by Meiji Tofu, I wanted to a simple "Yu-dofu" with donabe.
"Yu-dofu" is basically a simple simmered tofu in broth, which is infused with dry kelp ("dashi kombu")You don't even need to season the broth. Once the tofu is simmered, you can serve with your choice of seasoning (ponzu, salt, etc.)

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For Jason and I, I used a baby-size "Kamado-san", because it's a perfect size for half tofu.

I recreated the style of yu-dofu I really enjoyed at Tofu-ya Ukai in Tokyo last week. I combined 2.5 cups of water with 2 pieces (2" x 2" or 5 cm x 5 cm size) of "dashi kombu". Half block of medium-firm tofu was cut in half and placed over the "dashi kombu". I covered the donabe with just an outer lid and slowly brought it to simmer over low heat, so that the broth would be nicely infused with the "dashi kombu". When the broth started simmering, I added a small handful of shaved vinegar-seasoned kelp ("tororo kombu") and served immediately. Tofu, tororo, and broth were served into a bowl. The dish was served with just a little drizzle of soy sauce. So healing. So nice.

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For the rice dish, my standard 3 rice-cup size double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san" played a role. Because I brought home some nice oolong tea leaves from Japan, I've been thinking about different recipes by using oolong tea. This time, I tweaked my regular English Pea & Hijiki Rice recipe by replacing the water with oolong tea...and it worked really great! Oolong tea gave the subtle aroma to the rice and the dish tasted so elegant.

Donabe rice, donabe tofu, and tamago-yaki. Simple happy lunch.

Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making Tamago-yaki

I'm back in LA from cold Tokyo now.

Yes, I did tons of shopping (mostly food and clothes) in my short stay in Tokyo...I went there with an almost empty suitcase, and came back to LA with each extremely packed suitcase, carry-on bag, and large box. For tea only, I spent more than $200 worth. These are basically all for my personal consumption. I do this at least a few times a year, but I always feel I forgot to buy something.

I brought back a professional-use copper "Tamago-yaki" (Japanese omelet) pan. This gorgeous seamless traditional omelet pan is a handmade by an artisan maker. The size is about 7" x 7" (18 cm x 18 cm).

Before the use, you need to season the pan. You fill the pan up to 75 - 80% full, and heat over very low heat for about 20 minutes. Once it's cooled down, you drain the oil and wipe throughly so that the oil coats all over the inside. I used about 3 cups (750 ml) oil for this!

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The pan was seasoned, so I was ready to make a simple "Tamago-yaki". Wow, this pan worked so good! Because the copper conducts the heat so well, with low heat, eggs can cook really nicely. It made the nice even brown marks, and I could also roll the omelet very easily. Fabulous. Here's my very homy Tamago-yaki recipe.

Japanese Omelet ("Tamago-yaki")

Ingredients: for 7" x 7" (18 cm x 18 cm) square pan
5 large eggs
1.5 tablespoons raw brown sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon white soy sauce ("shiro shoyu") or light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
1/2 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil

Some grated daikon and soy sauce, optional

1. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and salt. Set aside.
2. Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a omelet pan and heat over low heat for a few minutes. Make sure the oil coats all over the inside of the pan. Drain the oil, and wipe the inside of the pan with paper towel.
3. Set the pan back to low heat. Test the pan by dropping a little splash of the egg batter. If it makes the nice sizzling sound but doesn't burn too quickly, it's ready.
4. Pour a ladle of the egg batter (about 1/3 cup or 75-80 ml) to the pan and evenly distribute it by moving it. Turn the heat to medium Once the surface is still wet but not runny, roll the egg from the further end in 3-4 times with chopsticks or spatula.
5. Rub oil to the empty part of the pan. Slide the rolled egg to the further end from you and rub more oil to the just emptied side. Add another ladle of the egg batter and distribute it evenly.
6. Repeat the process (4 and 5) until all the batter is used.
7. Press the omelet gently to closer side of the pan to you with a spatula to make sure it's a nice rectangular shape.
8. Transfer to a plate. Let it cool down, slice, and serve with grated daikon and soy sauce.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Back in Tokyo (February 2013)...Tofu Kaiseki at Tofu-ya Ukai

I had a lunch date with a friend and her almost 2-year old sone.

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We met at Tofu-ya Ukai, located right by Tokyo Tower. Tofu-ya Ukai offers elegant kaiseki-style cuisine, with their homemade tofu. The restaurant is a traditional Edo-style house in a huge property.

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We were escorted to a private room by a koi pond.

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Oyster and tofu "shinjo" (dumpling) and early spring bamboo in light broth. "Age-tofu dengaku" (fried tofu pouch, grilled over charcoal) was so crispy, aromatic, and excellent.

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"Chu-toro" (medium fatty tuna) sashimi. "Furofuki Daikon" (simmered daikon with hatcho miso paste). Shrimp pressed sushi, clams in miso-vinegar sauce, etc.

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The highlight was the most humble "Yu Dofu", which is a simple homemade tofu, simmered in kombu (from Rishiri, Hokkaido) infused broth with tororo kombu (shaved vinegar-seasoned kelp). It was served in a donabe. Just amazing. I want to eat this every day (or even every meal).

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Rice dish was "Yurine Gohan". Rice was cooked with lily buds, and topped with seasoned salmon roe. Dessert was tofu jelly with Hokkaido azuki paste sauce.

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Totally hit my spot. Donabe Yu-dofu was the best.
Happy donabe life.