Friday, February 28, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Winter Local Gourmet

Lunch set including donabe rice at Akomeya Tokyo in Ginza

I've been back in freezing Japan since last week and have been enjoying seasonal treats.

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At a local French bistro in Urawa. I love that the chef here uses a wide variety of local and seasonal vegetables every time. Sakuradai fish and vegetable tagine was amazing. I want to make it in tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san" next time!

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Another vegetable-theme dinner with friends. All the vegetables come from various farms directly contracted with the restaurant. We started with bagna caudal with fresh vegetables. Then, we were ready for vegetable hot pot.

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In the vegetable broth, beef cheek slices were added to enrich it (and we could also eat the meat later...delicious!). Once the broth was ready, the vegetables were added one after another.

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We cooked vegetables as well as duck "tsukune" (meat balls) and pork. Although the hot pot in a metal pot, it was a delicious dish.

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I am glad they had a donabe dish. It was sweet potato flan.

Happy donabe dessert.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Iga-yaki Collection and Donabe Nikujaga

So, we got a new cabinet to store all the precious Iga-yaki bowls and plates.

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I admire them so much. I can never get tired of even just staring at them. These are all hand-crafted by artisans of Nagatani-en, and they make me feel the power of the earth and fire from Iga, Japan.

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With my new Iga-yaki bowls, my regular dishes taste even better. Shungiku and asparagus salad, and donabe steam-roasted lotus root and jako (baby fish).

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Main dish was Nikujaga! I always make nikujaga in my soup & stew donabe, "Miso-shiru Nabe". I served it in a new Iga-yaki bowl, too. You can find my Nikujaga recipe in toiro kitchen's website.

Happy Donabe Life.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My love for Mini Donabe!

Whether making a dish for one or "izakaya" style small dish to share, small size donabe is so handy, convenient, and makes my donabe life delightful.

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Sweet azuki bean stew with round moch. Makes my body warm and happy in the winter time.

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One pot lunch dish for one! Ramen lunch and "ojiya" (soupy porridge) lunch. Both were made with leftover broth from the previous nights donabe hot pot dinners.

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When I found "kuwai" (arrowhead) from a market, I made a light simmer of these cute tubers.

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Izakaya-style side dishes...Brussels sprouts (the photo is before they were cooked), yuba (tofu skin) & komatsuna green stew, and simmered tofu and yuzu-kosho flavored ground chicken.

You can find a variety of mini-size donabe at toiro kithen's website.

Happy Donabe Life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Donabe Miso-Saffron Bouillabaisse

I was in a mood for a seafood hot pot.

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So, I got salmon, kinki (rock fish), head-on shrimp, and clams to cook in my classic-style donabe, "Hakeme". I made Japanese-style bouillabaisse with the combination of miso, saffron, and tomato sauce.

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The process is quite simple. I sautéed onion, ginger, garlic, and saffron first, before the eringi mushrooms were added. Sake, tomato sauce, and kombu + fumet de poisson were added. Once the broth started simmering, seafood and turnip were added and cooked until done. Miso was stirred in to finish.

Miso Saffron Bouillabaisse
(for medium-size Classic-style donabe)

Ingredients: 4 servings
600 - 700 g (1 1/2 pound) fish, such as salmon, rock fish, and/ or tai snapper
4-5 head-on shrimp
300 g (10 oz) clams
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium-size onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small knob ginger, minced
1 pinch saffron
150 g (5 oz) eringi mushrooms, cut into smaller pieces
60 ml (1/4 cup) sake
120 ml (1/2 cup) tomato sauce
800 ml (3 1/3 cup) kombu dashi
2 sticks fumet de poission powder (optional)
3 large kabu (Japanese turnip), peeled and cut into wedges
2 tablespoons miso
salt and pepper

  1. Season the fish with salt. Set aside. Pat dry the moisture released by the salt.
  2. In the donabe, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger over medium-low heat.
  3. Once the onion is very soft, add the saffron and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the eringi mushrooms and sauté for additional couple of minutes.
  5. Deglaze with sake. Add the tomato sauce, and kombu dashi. Add 2 sticks of fumet de poisson powder (optional). Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer.
  6. Add the kabu wedges and fish. Cover and simmer for a few minutes.
  7. Add the shrimp and clams. Continue to simmer until everything is cooked through.
  8. Add the miso and dissolve in the broth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.
With the leftover broth, as a "shi-me" (finishing course), I made "ojiya" (quick soupy rice porridge) by adding the donabe rice. It was super delicious.

Happy donabe life.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Donabe Hot Pot Dish...Shrimp Wonton Nabe

Shrimp wontons is something I make often very casually. I sometimes like to steam them in donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe", and serve with dipping sauce. Or, like the other night, I make hot pot style dish with them.

Once the wontons are made, this hot pot is really fast to prepare, especially since it takes very short time for the wontons to cook.

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To make this dish. I like to use my super cool extra-light weight handleless donabe, "Yu Kizeto". It's a real simple soothing dish, with dashi broth, wontons, and shaved daikon.

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Here's a variation. Shromp wontons in a chicken broth, with nira (garlic chives) and bean sprouts.

Shrimp Wonton Nabe

 Ingredients: (3-4 servings)
(for medium-size Classic-style Donabe)

240 g (8 oz) peeled and deveined shrimp, rinsed and pat-dried with paper towel
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon  katakuriko (potato starch)
2 tablespoon egg white
1/2 tablepoon sake
a pinch of each sugar, salt, and pepper

about 20 small size wonton skins

800 ml (3 1/3 cups) dashi or Asian-style chicken stock 
2 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon usukuchi shoyu (light-color soy sauce)
1 teaspoon salt
150 g (5 oz) daikon, shaved into thin strips by using vegetable peeler

some ground black pepper or Szechuan pepper (if using the Asian-style chicken stock)
some minced scallion

Optional: ponzu sauce for dipping the wontons in

  1. Combine the ingredients for shrimp filling in a bowl. Mix well by hand and set aside.
  2. In donabe, combine the ingredients for the broth and bring to simmer.
  3. Wrap the shrimp filling in wonton skins. 
  4. As soon as the daikon is tender, add the shrimp wontons into the donabe. Simmer until all the wontons are cooked through. Sprinkle ground pepper and scallion. 
  5. Serve immediately at the table.
Happy donabe life.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Donabe Hot Pot...Kamo Tofu Nabe (Duck and Tofu Hot Pot)

It's been over a week since my last blog post. Meanwhile, I've been cooking so many donabe dishes, but I simply didn't have any time to write my blog. My non-cooking time has been completely occupied with writing for my upcoming donabe cookbook. At last, I finally finished the very first draft of the 1st chapter (the first chapter is mostly narrative and it's all about donabe, its history, culture, Iga, and Nagatani-en, the donabe producer). It took me weeks and it was so hard, but I'm very happy with the content! Hew.

Here's one of my recent hit donabe dish. Kamo Tofu Nabe (duck and tofu hot pot).
I was inspired by a dish I had in Kyoto a few years ago (their donabe rice was wonderful, too). So, I wanted to make it in my own version, and of course, I used Kyoto-style shallow donabe, "Kyoto Ame-yu", to make this dish.

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I seasoned the duck breasts with sea salt and left overnight in the fridge. Then, I lightly browned just the skin side over low heat in a pan before slicing. This way, the excess fat is released before the meat is put in a donabe and also the skin gives nice (slightly toasty) flavor.

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The basic ingredients....300 g (12 oz) duck breast, 1 package (400 g)soft tofu, white part of negi (Japanese green onion), shimeji mushrooms, mitsuba, and negi's green part. The ingredients were piled up (starting with the white part of nevi, shimeji mushrooms, tofu, and duck breast. The broth (480 ml or 2C dashi stock, 150 ml or 5 oz sake, 5 tablespoons miring, 50 ml usukuchi shoyu - light color soy sauce) were gently poured in.

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Green part of the negi was added on the top, and the donabe was covered with lid and set over medium-high heat. Once the broth starts simmering, the heat was turned down to medium-low and simmered until the meat was almost cooked through (about 8 minutes).

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To finish, mixture of 3 tablespoon kuzuko (arrowroot starch) and 4 tablespoons dashi stock was gently stirred in, and 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger, some sliced yuzu rind, and chopped mitsuba green were added. The dish was ready.

I loved the tenderness of the meet and the rich and slightly thick texture broth. It was superb. I served the dish with some black shichimi from Kyoto.

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With the leftover broth, as a final "shi-me" course, we did soba!

Happy donabe life.