Friday, May 31, 2013

Donabe Soup Recipe...Creamy Corn and Kabocha Potage (vegan recipe)

As the summer is getting closer, I find more fresh and sweeter corn in the market.

With fresh corn and kabocha, I like making simple potage. It’s a complete vegan dish and I make it with my soup & stew donabe, “Miso-shiru Nabe”.

 photo file_zps1282c8b2.jpg  photo file_zps23a892b4.jpg
After sautéing sweet onion, ginger and garlic in olive oil, cubed kabocha pumpkin is added, followed by vegetable stock. Once the broth starts simmering, corn is added (save some to add later).

 photo file_zps03329e0a.jpg  photo file_zps059606b5.jpg
When kabocha becomes tender, the entire components in donabe are transferred to a blender (I like to use Vitamix for the very smooth result), and pureed along with some Saikyo miso (sweet white miso), shio-koji, and white pepper.

 photo file_zpsfd41ba5b.jpg  photo file_zpsb8f6bfc7.jpg  photo file_zps25f0a8f8.jpg
The soup is transferred back to Miso-shiru Nabe, and saved remaining corn is added and heated through. That’s it. To serve, just drizzle a small amount of very fine olive oil and sprinkle some white pepper.

 photo file_zps8636dd3d.jpg
The flavor is so pure, sweet, and just wonderfully packed with corn and mild kabocha. You can serve it hot or cold. Here’s my recipe.

Creamy Corn and Kabocha Potage 

Ingredinets: (serve 8 – 10)

1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ medium sweet onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small knob, ginger, minced
1/6 medium kabocha, peeled and cut into cubes
3 cups (750 ml) vegetable stock
4 ears corn, sliced off from cobs
2 tablespoons Saikyo miso (sweet white miso)
1 tablespoon shio-koji (can be substituted with 1 teaspoon salt)
some white pepper
some very fine olive oil

  1. In “Miso-shiru Nabe”, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium heat until the onion is very soft (about 5 minutes). Add the kabocha and sauté for 1 minute.
  2. Add the vegetable stock. Turn the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to simmer.
  3. Add all the corn except for 1 cup (240 ml). Simmer until the kabocha is cooked through (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the content to a blender. Add the miso, shio-koji, and some white pepper. Blend until smooth.
  5. Transfer the blended mixture back to “Miso-shiru Nabe”. Add the remaining corn and bring to simmer over medium-heat. Simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Serve into individual soup bowls and with some drizzle of fine olive oil and sprinkle of white pepper.
*You can also transfer to a different container and refrigerate to serve it cold.

Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Donabe temple-style hot pot dish..."Shojin Nabe"

With just two main ingredients...mushrooms and friend tofu pouch ("abura-age"), you can make a wonderful healthy one pot donabe hot pot meal.

This is a "Shojin", or buddhist temple-style vegan dish. It's a regular dish at my home, because it tastes so soothing and nice. For this dish, I use Kyoto-style shallow donabe, "Kyoto Ame-yu".

 photo file_zps8717ef1c.jpg  photo file_zpsb92c620a.jpg
Just combine the ingredients in the donabe and heat.

 photo file_zps7e7b4df4.jpg
Add some kabu or other green leaves right before serving.

 photo file_zpseb1f670f.jpg
With the remaining broth and components, I like making finishing ("shime") udon noodle course. So good.

Shojin Nabe with Mushrooms and Abura-age

2 1/2 C (600 ml) water
1/4 C (60 ml) sake
2 pieces 2" x 2" (5 cm x 5 cm) dry kelp ("dashi kombu")
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
4 medium shiitake mushrooms, cut in half
5 oz (150 g) shimeji mushrooms
2 rectangular pieces fried tofu pouch ("abura-age"), blanched and cut into 4 strips each
5 oz (150 g) Tokyo turnip ("kabu") leaves or mizuna leaves, cut into 1" long
1 serving udon noodles, optional

Suggested condiments: ground roasted sesame seeds, yuzu kosho paste, etc.
*I sun-dry mushrooms half to full day before use, so that the mushrooms will release more umami flavor to the broth.

  1. In the donabe, combine the water, sake, and dashi kombu. Let the kombu soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the mirin and soy sauce, followed by both kinds of mushrooms and abura-age.
  3. Cover and set the donabe over medium heat. Bring to simmer.
  4. Once the broth starts simmering, let it continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms are very tender and the broth is richened. Add the kabu leaves and simmer for 1 more minute.
  5. Serve with your choice of condiments. Leave half of the content, if you want to make udon noodle course.
  6. Heat the leftover broth and ingredients over medium-heat. Add the udon noodles and simmer until your desired doneness. Serve with your choice of condiments.
Happy donabe life.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Donabe Bento

I was invited to a pot luck brunch at a friend's house in Hollywood last Sunday.

 photo file_zpsba0d1d90.jpg  photo file_zpsb651df0b.jpg
We did a nice outdoor meal in the balcony with the nice urban view.

 photo file_zps91d3e35b.jpg
I made two donabe dishes and packed in my picnic bento 2-tier boxes.

 photo file_zps18af2c73.jpg  photo file_zps9764fd74.jpg  photo file_zps275071a5.jpg
With double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", I made green tea onigiri (rice balls). I mixed in coarse ground "tencha" (very delicate baby green tea leaves used for making matcha powder) and plum kombu tea powder. Combination of green tea and plum kombu tea flavors bring the nice aromatic character to it.

 photo file_zps37225ed5.jpg  photo file_zpscd329438.jpg  photo file_zpsadf80df1.jpg
With donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin", I smoked salmon filets with Japanese apple wood smoke chips, and served with baby kale and kumquat salad in apple cider vinaigrette.

I'm glad everybody enjoyed my dishes.
Happy donabe life.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shiitake, Haricot Vert & Bacon Rice with Yuzu Shichimi Salt

We had extremely warm couple of days last week, and I wanted to make something with stamina and nice spicy kick.

So, I decided to make mixed rice dish with my double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", and season with this really tasty Yuzu Shichimi Salt I brought back from Japan. t's a mixture of shichimi togarashi (mixed pepper spice) with powdered yuzu rind, dry shiitake mushrooms, dry kelp, dry scallop, etc. So, it's like ultimate umami-packed spice salt.

If you don't have yuzu shichimi salt, for this recipe, you can substitute its recipe amount below it with 2/3 teaspoon of each salt and shichimi togarashi.

 photo file_zps387f9f42.jpg  photo file_zpsadb20296.jpg  photo file_zps4a164580.jpg
Just sauté the ingredients while the rice is cooking.

 photo file_zpsdd09749d.jpg  photo file_zps5c123376.jpg
Once the rice is ready, just mix together and serve. It's so good!

Shiitake, Haricot Vert & Bacon Rice with Yuzu Shichimi Salt

Ingredients: (4-5 servings)
2 rice-cups (360 ml) short grain rice
360 ml water
3 slices (about 3 oz/ 100 g) bacon, sliced into thin strips
1 Japanese green onion ("Tokyo negi") green part only, thinly-sliced crosswise
1 clove garlic, coarsely minced
4 medium shiitake mushrooms, thinly-sliced
4 oz (120 g) haricot vert, cut into 3/4" (2 cm) long
2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons yuzu shichimi salt (by Rokusuke) or 2/3 teaspoon each salt and shichimi togarashi

  1. In "Kamado-san", combine the rice and water, and cook according to the basic plain rice instructions. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, sauté the bacon over medium-heat. Once the bacon is almost cooked through, add the Tokyo negi (save some for garnish) and garlic. Sauté until aromatic (1-2 minutes).
  2. Add the shiitake mushrooms and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the haricot vert and sauté for additional couple of minutes. Add the sake to deglaze. Once the sake is reduced down, add the soy sauce and yuzu shichimi salt. Stir. Once Haricot vert is cooked to crisp tender, turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. When the rice is ready, add the sautéed ingredients to the rice and mix. Garnish with the remaining Tokyo negi.
 photo file_zps2ac755e6.jpg
Happy donabe life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Donabe "Takenoko Gohan"...Sweetshoot Bamboo Rice

With the rest of the California bamboo shoots from Penryn Orchard, I knew what I was going to make.

I made "Takenoko Gohan", it's bamboo shoot rice and my favorite bamboo dish! When I was a child, I always requested my mom to make Takenoko Gohan over and over in the spring season.

 photo file_zps891d2631.jpg  photo file_zps3e3d9764.jpg
And, with doubld-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", I make almost as delicious Takenoko Gohan as mom's.

Bamboo Shoot Rice ("Takenoko Gohan")

Ingredients: (5-6 servings)
2 1/2 rice-cups (450 ml) short grain rice (I use partially-polished brown rice), rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups (420 ml) dashi stock
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 medium-size shiitake mushrooms, thinly-sliced
1 rectangular piece fried tofu pouch ("abura-age"), blanched and thinly-sliced
7 oz (200 g) pre-cooked bamboo shoot, sliced into bite-size pieces
5 shiso leaves, thinly-sliced

  1. In "Kamado-san", combine the rice, dashi stock, mirin, soy sauce, and salt. Let the rice soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Spread the shiitake mushrooms over the rice, followed by "abura-age") and bamboo shoot in layers.
  3. 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. If you want the nice crust ("okoge") on the bottom cook for extra 1-2 minutes. 
  4. Turn off the heat and let Kamado-san rest (with both lids on) for 20-30 minutes. 
  5. Uncover and fluff the rice. Garnish with some sliced shiso leaves.
 photo file_zpsf6f7f093.jpg
Happy donabe life.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Donabe "Wakatake-ni"...Classic Simmered Bamboo Shoot

Pre-cooked packaged bamboo shoots are available all year round. But, they are nothing compared to freshly-foraged bamboo shoots, which are only available in the short window of the spring time.

So, now is the time...with Penryn Orchard's bamboo shoots...fresh from their farm in California.

 photo file_zps4a26f80e.jpg  photo file_zps19e14fc6.jpg
I decided to make "Wakatake-ni", which is an extremely classic bamboo shoot dish. To best showcase the fresh and pure flavor of bamboo shoot, making the rich pure broth is extremely crucial. So, I shaved a generous amount of my special "honkare-bushi" dry bonito to make dashi stock. It was the end of this piece, so shaving a little piece was quite tough and time consuming (because you don't want to shave off your skin!). At the end, instead of cutting my finger with the bonito shaver's blade, I had a small blister in my finger and a part of skin peeled. I've been through so many dry bonito pieces over years and it happens every time I deal with a last leftover piece. But, it's worth it.

Once you make nice dashi stock. Making "Wakatake-ni" is very easy.

 photo file_zpsb5f5d88c.jpg  photo file_zps55a648a8.jpg
Combine the ingredients for the broth with cut bamboo shoot (and abura-age). Simmer with additional shaved bonito flakes ("katsuobushi"). This process is called "Oi-gatsuo", or literal translation is "chasing with more bonito". When cooking ingredients with very clean or less strong flavor, dashi stock is further fortified with additional bonito flakes for more umami flavors and most importantly for the aroma. I used a large tea bag and put freshly-shaved bonito flakes to infuse in the broth.

 photo file_zpsf25e4486.jpg
Once the bamboo is simmered and seasoned long enough, "katsuobushi" bag is removed and wakame seaweed is added to finish.

 photo file_zpsc1cb4434.jpg
The simple and classic "Wakatake-ni" is ready. Traditionally, the dish is garnished with "kinome" leaves, but it's hard to find them in Los Angeles. So, no garnish:-)

For this dish, I used a mini-size classic-style donabe, "Yu Kizeto". Here's my recipe.

Simmered Bamboo Shoot in Dashi Broth ("Wakatake-ni")

8 oz (240 g) bamboo shoot, cut into smaller pieces
1 rectangular piece fried tofu pouch ("abura-age") blanched and cut into strips
1 3/4 cups (420 ml) dashi stock
1 tablespoon sake
1/2 tablespoon raw brown sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/6 oz (5 g) dry bonito flakes ("katsuobushi")
2 oz (60 g) fresh wakame seaweed, cut into bite-size pieces (or you can use rehydrated dry wakame)

  1. In the donabe, combine the bamboo shoot, "abura-age", dashi stock, sake, sugar, and mirin. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the soy sauce and salt. Put "katsuobushi" in a sachet and add. Put a drop lid ("otoshibuta") on the surface, cover with lid, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the sachet of "katsuobushi". Add the wakame seaweed. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15-30 minutes. You can enjoy it at a hot, warm or cool temperatures. 
Happy donabe life.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Prepare Bamboo Shoot in Donabe

I got a really great gift the other day.

 photo file_zpseef9548b.jpg
It was a package of extremely seasonal, bamboo shoots...these are grown by Penryn Orchard (yes, the same grower who makes awesome hoshigaki) in California.

 photo file_zpsbb66d883.jpg
For (almost) any Japanese people, bamboo shoot is one of the most highly-praised seasonal ingredients in the spring. During the season, in Japan, we eat tons and tons of bamboo shoot. As I had never tried California bamboo shoot, I was so thrilled to cook it myself. These American bamboo shoots are much smaller than regular Japanese bamboo shoots, yet they look really fresh and pretty.

Because freshly foraged bamboo shoot contains toxic hydrocyanic acid, before it's ready to be used in cooking, bamboo shoot needs to be pre-cooked with rice bran flour ("nuka") to remove the toxin. By cooking bamboo shoot with rice bran, bran's starch removes the toxin from bamboo shoot and absorbs it. Also, by adding dry red pepper, it helps removing bitterness from bamboo shoot. It's a traditional simple process, which we still practice every time we get fresh bamboo shoot. And, every time, I feel high respect for our ancestors with such wisdom. It's also very important to do this process as soon as you get the fresh bamboo shoot, whether you use it soon or not. The longer you keep it (without pre-cooking), the more the bitterness in bamboo shoot increases.

Here's how you can prepare fresh bamboo shoot in donabe. For this process, I needed a large-size donabe, so I used donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe" without the grate as a classic-style donabe.

How to Prepare Fresh Bamboo Shoot

 photo file_zps34c84b63.jpg  photo file_zps4ec9d5fb.jpg
1. Cut off a tip from each bamboo shoot at an angle. Slash to make an incision just deep enough to barely touch the tender part lengthwise.

 photo file_zpsfeb8e1a6.jpg  photo file_zpsd013a9a8.jpg  photo file_zps864d6be6.jpg
2. Combine the bamboo shoots, and enough amount of water to cover them in the donabe. Add a big handful of rice bran ("nuka") and a couple of dry red peppers. Bring to simmer and put a drop lid ("otoshibuta") on the surface. Simmer over low heat until the thick part of a bamboo shoot is just tender when inserting a skewer. (35-40 minutes for a small to medium-size bamboo shoot.) Turn off the heat and let it cool down completely.

 photo file_zps094a29ea.jpg  photo file_zps5a1080d4.jpg  photo file_zpsfa025996.jpg
3. Peel the tough leaves of each bamboo shoot to reveal the tender interior. Cut off the firm tip and bottom parts. Also, shave off the bumpy part from the bottom part's outer layer.

 photo file_zpsb10c8dad.jpg  photo file_zpscbd8d023.jpg  photo file_zps5c50d468.jpg
4. Once all the bamboo shoots are peeled out of tough leaves, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes to remove any excess bitterness. Pre-cooked bamboo shoots can be kept in water and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Meanwhile, water needs to be replaced once a day.

 photo file_zpscf598d92.jpg  photo file_zps508bc817.jpg
Because, I couldn't wait until I use the freshly prepared bamboo shoots for cooking later, I sliced and ate one of them just as is. The tenderness, sweetness, and all the natural pureness of the bamboo shoot was just so special. Amazing.

In the next postings, I would like to introduce a couple of donabe dishes with bamboo shoot.

Happy donabe life.