Friday, March 21, 2014

Donabe-steamed Shrimp Wonton

I always have a special spot for dumplings.
One of the regular dishes is Shrimp Wonton Hot Pot, which I make with classic-style donabe.

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Shrimp Wonton also tastes wonderful when steamed in donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe".

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Set the Mushi Nabe ready, and steam the cut cabbage for a minute or so first, then spread some bean sprouts and shrimp wontons. Steam for 5-6 minutes or until the wontons are cooked through.

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They are nice and ready. You can enjoy with ponzu or your choice of dipping sauce.

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As a "Shime" final course, I made simple steamed udon (topped with some "shungiku" leaves) and served with dipping sauce. The steam grate of Mushi Nabe can be easily removed by using the tongs for it. So, you can either serve right out of donabe at the table or cook in donabe in the kitchen and just take the dish with the grate to the table.

Happy Donabe Life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Back in Japan (March 2014)...Local sushi night

On a final night in this stay back in Japan, we went to our regular sushi place in Urawa.

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Lots of seasonal small dishes.

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We had 5 kinds of sake among 3 of us!

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I lost count of how many nigiri I had...all were great. I will miss sushi in Japan until next time.

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The final meal before returning to LA was soba lunch in the neighborhood. Urawa is full of handmade soba and unagi restaurants, so I love going to different places. At this place, they make soba noodles from freshly ground buckwheat flour (by a large stone mill set by the entrance) every day. I had their"Ju-wari" (100% buckwheat) soba with shrimp tempura and egg. Super nice. Again, I will miss something so simple and so good like this until I next time.

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I returned to LA safely and unpacked immediately. As always, I came home with so much stuff! Besides the items I came home with, I actually have 2 more boxes which were shipped separately and will arrive soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Seasonal Treat with "Shinshu" Sake

Seasonal "Hassun" Course at Ichirin in Tokyo

I had a girls' lunch with mom and Tomo-chan (my sister).

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We went to a small place called, "Ichirin", where the chef serves Kyoto-style cuisine. My mom is a big fan of the chef Hashimoto-san. I was excited to find a full page of all "Shinshu" (seasonal freshly bottled unpasteurized sake).

Extremely seasonal dishes were made entirely from ingredients from various parts of Japan.

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We had a lunch course of vegetable-rich dishes. Every dish had a full flavor of the early spring. Steamed homemade yuba and uni, mountain vegetable tempura, and clear soup of bamboo shoot, zenmai, and wakame.

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It was like a personal "omotenashi" by Hashimoto-san. His signature "Hassun" (8 dishes in a wooden board) was followed by baby an anago (sea eel) in vinegar sauce, and lotus root and yomogi (mugwort) mochi dish.

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The rice course was Tai-meshi (sea bream rice), cooked in donabe! I had such a great time with the amazing dishes. Hashimoto-san is such a sweet and generous person and he taught me so much about the ingredients, cuisine, and cooking, over the meal. Thank you so much, Chef!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Relaxing day with sake and food

My sister and I went to a local Japanese restaurant in Urawa for lunch.

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This place is always so unpretentious and very good. We had a wonderful kanburi (winter yellowtail) and Zuwai crab from Himi, Toyama for shabu shabu and enjoyed sake, too.

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In the evening, after dinner, we had Hakkaisan's Junmai Nama Genshu (un pasteurized and undiluted) sake with Sake cake and truffle chocolates with different flavors such as rum, cognac, etc. I was so happy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Italian Day in Tokyo

It was another sunny warm day in Tokyo.

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I met Rie for lunch in Omotesando. We went to an Italian restaurant which is known for vegetable dishes. I had onion potage, mixed vegetables salad with 10 kinds of small antipasti, and komatsuna green and pine nuts cake...all really nice.

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In the evening, I joined an Italian wine tasting group's meeting at a regular spot in Yotsuya 3-chome. They are all my friends whom I traveled to Italy together past two years. The theme of the night was Southern Piemontese wines...anything but Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, or Cortese. It was such an interesting tasting with some rare white grapes and reds. We tasted 5 kinds of wines.

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Our group is always fun. After the tasting, we had a fun time with dinner and more wine.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Elegant Kaiseki Lunch with Sparkling Sake

I met an old friend of mine for lunch in Meguro on a sunny day.

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It's a beautiful former residential house, which was turned into a restaurant. They serve elegant kaiseki-style cuisine. We started our lunch with Nagai Sake's Mizubasho Pure. It's a sparkling sake made in Champagne method. Really clean and beautiful.

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One after another, small individual courses were very seasonal early spring treats in elegant ceramics.

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More courses in lacquer bowls. The rice was Iga rice cooked in donabe! We had the Iga rice in 3 ways. First, they served the rice from the very center of the donabe. It's the most delicate and soft part. Then, we were served more rice after it was mixed in the donabe. The lids were turned over and also used as serving bowls. How nice.

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The third rice was "ochazuke" style (hojicha tea poured over rice), with the guji fish and miso topping. It was very light and perfect as the last savory course. The dessert with the matcha was also perfect.

My body was feeling the beautiful early spring.