Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Donabe Hot Pot...Gyoza Nabe

I've been making different kinds of donabe hot pot dishes almost every day past days.

I make poached gyoza (水餃子) sometimes, but I was never really interested in doing gyoza hot pot. It felt to me cooking gyoza along with other ingredients in one pot would end up either easily overcooking the gyoza or other flavors would overpower the gyoza.

But, somehow I suddenly wanted to make gyoza hot pot. So, I decided to make the broth very light, in fact just kombu infused dashi with no seasoning, and enjoy the dish with different dipping sauces.

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I made kombu dashi, with 1 large piece of kombu and 1 liter of water, by soaking the kombu in water for a few hours, then slowly heated.

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I got ingredients to put in the hot pot ready. Pork gyoza (12 oz ground pork, 1T potato starch, 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger, 1T sake, 1tsp soy sauce, 1tsp sesame oil, salt and pepper, were mixed together and wrapped in gyoza skins), bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and nira. First, I put the cabbage, and once the cabbage is almost tender, I added the gyoza and shiitake mushrooms and cooked for 5 minutes. To finish, I added the nora and bean sprouts and cooked for a couple of minutes. Gyoza was served with two kinds of dipping sauces (ponzu and spicy miso - both homemade).

The dish was fantastic! I loved how gyoza came out so juice and plump.

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As a finishing "shime" course, I seasoned the broth with a little addition of sake and light color soy sauce, then added some udon. Happy donabe ending!

Happy donabe life.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Donabe steam-roasted vegetable with Saikyo miso aioli

In our neighborhood in Echo Park in LA, there is a cute grocery store called, Cookbook, which sells quality ingredients and deli items. I love walk by there to pick up organic vegetables from California farms and just cook simple way to enjoy their natural flavors.

I made simple lunch with vegetables from Cookbook.

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With purple kale, I made crispy kale. I simply tossed kale leaves in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted in the 450F (230C) oven for 10 minutes. It's a quite addictive snack!

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Beautiful red turnips, cauliflowers and kabocha were steam-roasted in my tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san". To make it, in the skillet of "Fukkura-san", I tossed the vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread in a single layer. Added 1/4 cup (60 ml) water, cover with lid and cooked over medium heat until all the vegetables are cooked to tender (about 10-12 minutes. Right before turning off the heat, I added a few leaves of the turnips.

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The donabe was served at the table. It came out so nice. This donabe does the real wonderful steam-roasting job and makes the vegetables cook very nicely.

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These vegetables were served with my homemade Saikyo miso aioli. Here's my quick recipe:

Saikyo miso aioli

Put the following ingredients in Vitamix.
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Saikyo miso (or sweet white miso)
1/2 shallot
1 small clove garlic
1 small knob ginger
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil
a pinch of each salt and pepper

Blend until the mixture becomes thick paste.

Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

3-course Donabe Steaming Dinner with Leftover Ingredients

I had a lot of leftover vegetables plus house-cured salt pork belly in the fridge.
So, I had an exciting idea what to do with them.
I wanted to steam everything with my donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe"!
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I just got all the ingredients ready to be steamed, then I prepared different sauces to enjoy the steamed dishes with.

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The first course was simple steamed vegetables. I served them with miso-marinated tofu and cream cheese mixture.

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The main course was house-cured salted pork with cabbage and shiitake mushrooms. I served it with ponzu sauce.

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As a "shime" (end of the meal) course, I made steamed udon! It's been one of our favorite "shime" course for steam dinner lately. You just put frozen udon in the donabe, and after a few minutes, the shiny udon is ready! I cooked udon with cabbage and chrysanthemum leaves ("shungiku") and finished with some yuzu zest, so the flavor got totally upgraded. The udon was served with sesame dipping sauce. It was fantastic.

Happy donabe life.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Donabe-simmered Arrowhead ("Kuwai")

I found arrowhead at a Japanaese market in LA Little Tokyo recently. It's very hard to find in LA, so I was nicely surprised.

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We call it "Kuwai"(慈姑)in Japanese, and it's a popular ingredient in Japanese cooking. We eat the tuber of it, by peeling and cooking it. There are different ways of cooking the tuber, including simmering and deep-frying.

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I cut off the bottom stem and peeled the skin by a pairing knife. The tip of bud should be cut off by leaving about 1/2" (1.2 cm) long. I blanched them for a few minutes (to remove the bitterness), then cooked in a broth - 180 ml dashi stock, 1 tablespoon sake, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon miring, and 1 1/2 tablespoon light-color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu") in small classic-style donabe, "Hakeme" for about 15 minutes.

These cute tubers came out so tender and delicious. "Kuwai" is one of the traditional ingredients for Japanese New Year dishes ("osechi ryori") because it has the but shooting upward which symbolizes good luck. So, I'm glad I got to make myself a good luck dish this new year.

Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year Good Luck Donabe Porridge - LA Style

January 7 is a day of "Nanakusa" in Japan. It means 7 herbs, and we eat "Nanakusa-gayu" (7-herb porridge) on the day to wish for good health.

Because it's almost impossible to find all the 7 herbs for "Nanakusa-gayu" in LA, I improvised and made my own version of herb porridge with "Nanohana" (rape blossoms), which is also difficult find in LA but I happened to find at a Japanese market.

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My double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", makes wonderful porridge always.

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I used partially-polished brown rice to make the porridge this time and it came out really nice.
I got another good luck today!

Rape Blossoms Porridge ("Nanohana-gayu")
  1. Boil 3 cups (720 ml) water in "Kamado-san". Add the rinsed 2/3 rice-cup (120 ml) rice and cook over high-heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook for 12 minutes or until the rice is just tender. Meanwhile, stir from time to time.
  3. Add 5 oz (150 g) rape blossoms (cut into 2/3" or 1.5 cm length) and cover with lid. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Serve into individual bowls with salt on the side.
*Rape blossoms can be substituted with broccoli rabe.
*For richer flavor, you can use dashi stock instead of water to cook the rice.

Happy donabe life.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year "Osechi" Dinners

New Year has arrived, and I've had wonderful first days making and enjoying traditional Japanese New Year dishes with festive feelings!

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Prepping of dashi stock. Jason helped me with shaving dry bonito while watching a football game..haha. I made dashi with a little more kombu than I usually use in my classic-style donabe, "Hakeme". The aroma was so gorgeous that I wanted to bathe in it.

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Because we were going to have a New Year party on the 3rd day, on New Year's Day, we had a rather quiet celebration just two of us. the new year soup ("ozoni") was made with the rich dashi stock, and it tasted so soothing.

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On January 3, we invited friends for a big New Year celebration ("Osechi") dinner. We started with sake and traditional New Year appetizers. I made egg and fish rolls ("date-maki"), Satsuma-yam puree and sweet chestnuts ("kuri-kinton"), and burdock root in savory vinegar and sesame sauce ("tataki-gobo"). I also made braised black beans ("kuromame-ni") and spinach in black sesame sauce ("horenso goma-ae"). I forgot to garnish the black beans with gold leaves!

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Tai snapper, cured in seasoned shaved kelp ("tororo konbu"). Tai is a lucky fish, so we gotta have it!

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Middle course was donabe-braised root vegetables and chicken ("chikuzen-ni"), made in classic-style donabe, "Hakeme".

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Main donabe course was with house-cured pork belly hot pot! I cured a big block of pork belly with "Moshio" seaweed salt for 4 days, and sliced into thick pieces.

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In the donabe, I cooked konnyaku shirataki noodles, tons of cabbage, shimeji mushrooms, and white wood-ear mushrooms with pork belly. The kombu-base broth was infused with all the vegetables and meat flavors and so wonderful. The final "shime" course was with Inaniwa udon from Akita and extra pork belly. I used my large donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe", without a steam grate for these, and everything was gone quite quickly among 7 of us. I was so happy that everybody enjoyed the hot pot!

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The ending was Tanba black beans, coated in Uji matcha, Satsuma sweet potato and peanut crackers, and donabe-steamed matcha cakes . We had such an amazing evening together...ate, drank (emptied 6 bottles of sake and wine!), chatted, and laughed for 7 hours until almost 2 am!