Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Make-Your-Own Sushi Bowl Dinner with Donabe Sushi Rice

Make-your-own style sushi bowl is not only very easy to prepare, but also it's fun to make for everyone.

A few nights ago, on a week day, I prepared a salmon & ikura "oyako" style (= mother and child) make-your-own sushi bowl dinner for two of us.

With doble lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", my sushi rice comes out always so shiny and perfect.

Here's the recipe for donabe sushi rice:

Donabe Sushi Rice

2 rice cups (360 ml) short grain rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water (option: substitute 2 tablespoons of water with sake, for extra layer of flavor and shine)
1 piece (2” x 2” or 5 cm x 5 cm) dry kelp ("dashi kombu") (optional)

(vinegar seasoning "sushi su" for the rice)
50 ml (3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon) rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 teaspoon salt

Combine the rice and water in Kamado-san. Put the kelp on the top. Cook the rice according to basic rice-making procedure for Kamado-san. Let the rice rest (with both lids on) for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for "sushi su" and stir until everything is completely dissolved.

As soon as the rice is rested for 20 minutes, uncover and quickly add the "sushi su" to the rice. Fluff immediately so that the rice is seasoned evenly. Set aside with just a top lid on until ready to use.

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With the rice, I got ready salmon sashimi slices, soy seasoned ikura (salmon roe), sesame seeds, shredded nori, pickled ginger, wasabi, and aromatic herb mix (sliced shiso, scallion, and micro shungiku). I also prepared a few other dishes, such as donabe miso soup, donabe hijiki salad, and spinach in black sesame sauce.

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Here's my version of make-your-own "oyako" sushi bowl. I made myself two bowls!

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With salads and miso soup, it was a real happy donabe meal.

Happy Donabe Life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Donabe Photoshoot Aftermath...All the happy donabe leftovers

Ama-ebi (sweet shrimp) heads, smoked in donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin"

One of the highlights of the photoshoot in LA was having Mori-san as a guest chef for our temaki (hand roll) sushi party! It took place on the final day of the 9-day shooting. So, it became our "wrap" party, too.

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Chef Morihiro Onodera (a.k.a. Mori-san) is one of the most highly respected sushi chefs in the US. He came to support our DONABE Cookbook photoshoot! Now, his big project is growing premium Japanese variety short grain rice (Koshihikari) in Uruguay!  So, it was a special collaboration of Mori-san's Uruguay rice x donabe x Mori-san's artistic technique. Our friend Peggye (Lee Fish) contributed beautiful fresh seafood including Madai snapper which came straight from New Zealand, and Mori San showed us his knife techniques with them.

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Once all the ingredients were ready, we set up a table for the temaki (hand roll) sushi dinner party. The donabe sushi rice was so special. I wish I had a photo of the dinner setting to show, but I got too excited to take any photos at the dinner table! But, of course, our photographer, Eric, took so many beautiful will see them once our DONABE Cookbook comes out. It was the most gorgeous temaki dinner I've experienced, and it was a perfect final evening of the long shooting days.

Also, in this book project, all the short grain rice we used are Mori-san's Uruguay koshihikari rice ("Satsuki"). In the 9 days of shooting, we used up more than 35 pounds (15 kg) of his rice!! As Mori-san says, it's the "best rice outside of Japan"!

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The next day, we enjoyed the leftover ingredients to do another round of temaki dinner. With the ama-ebi (sweet shrimp) heads, I made simple smoked crunchy appetizer with donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin". They were so good. I also made fresh sushi rice and miso soup...all with donabe!

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Mori-san also gave me a sample of new crop Uruguay rice (just harvested), which just arrived in LA a few days ago and polished right before he gave it to me. So, the following night, I cooked it plain with my double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san". It was AMAZING!!! Each grain was so shiny and had a perfect chewy texture. I thought, if I had blind tasted it, I would've thought it was one of the premium rice varieties from Japan. And, because it was the Kamado-san, it brought out all the best components from the rice. With such a high quality donabe rice, you don't really need anything, I made quick pickles with baby radishes and turnips from the Chef's Garden as a condiment.

Happy Donabe Life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Donabe Cookbook Production Update...Successful Photoshoot in LA!

We just ended 9 days of very intense photoshoot for our upcoming DONABE Cookbook in LA. It was our second big shooting (the first time was in Iga, Japan in last November), and this time was all about Naoko's home donabe recipes and omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) concept!

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I had to spend so many weeks to prepare just for this shooting. Out of hundreds of my original donabe recipes (most of them are handwritten in my small notebook) which I created over years, I selected about 80 recipes to shoot for the book this time. It was so hard for me to make selections, as I love most of the recipes equally but I somehow had to narrow them down, while carefully making sure the selections will create a nice balance of styles, ingredients, etc. between the recipes.

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Another thing I've been wanting to express in this cookbook strongly was not just the recipes alone, but also different themes and scenes of donabe meal settings. And, that's what I have been offering in my donabe cooking classes. What's so important and unique about donabe is donabe gathers people and bring them closer. Yes, you can definitely achieve it with just one donabe dish. But, I also love giving "omotenashi" (Japanese-style hospitality) to people by multiple donabe dishes in different scenes and seasonal settings. So, we had a great time shooting different themes of donabe  meal settings to hopefully give nice inspiration to the readers.

It was a real intense schedule, as we shot not only the donabe recipes but also so many other recipes (sauces, condiments, etc.) plus techniques, products, etc. etc. in those 9 days. Every morning, I started around 6.30 am to start prepping. Everybody else arrived around 11 am or after to start shooting, then we cooked and shot all day long. After everybody left at night, I finished cleaning, started prepping for the next day, and made the whole menu/ shooting schedule, shopping list, for the following day.

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The shooting was a great success, thanks to the great teamwork (Donabe Dream Team) with my co-author, Chef Kyle Connaughton, and photographer, Eric Wolfinger, who came down from Sonoma and San Francisco to work with me. They made my dishes look really beautiful! In this shooting, I also got great support by Asami Tanaka (she also took most of the photos in this post!), Alison Christiana, Jason (my husband), and many sponsors, including Lee Fish/ Kai Gourmet (for seafood and caviar), The Chef's Garden (for vegetables), Mutual Trading Co. (for seasonings and dry ingredients etc.), Morihiro Onodera/ Tamaki Farms (for Uruguay koshihikari short grain rice), Amabito no Moshio (for ancient-style seaweed seasalt from Setonaikai Sea) my distribution partner Saikai (for jumbo size Kamado-san), and Nagatani-en (for the extra donabe and tableware)!!!

We have one more shooting period up in Sonoma (to shoot Kyle's chef-style donabe recipes) and sooo much to write to complete the book.

The DONABE Cookbook is scheduled to publish by Ten Speed Press in Fall 2015. Please stay tuned.

Thank you for all your support.
Happy Donabe Life!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Donabe Cookbook Project Update

Japanese-style seafood paella, cooked in Kamado-san
Thank you so much for following my blog.
The big photoshoot for the donabe cookbook project is scheduled to begin later this week and will last for about 2 weeks. I'm very excited!
Because I have been spending so much time and energy for this donabe cookbook project, and it's going to require more time and energy until the production is almost done in the next months, I need to take a break from updating my blog for a little while.

Meanwhile, I plan to continue posting photos on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter (you find the links on the right side of this page). So, please follow me and check out all the photos of donabe cooking!

The cookbook will feature wonderful donabe pots you can find from our online donabe shop, toiro kitchen. So, it's going to be very exciting.

Once the main production process is over, I would like to resume, please stay tuned.

Thank you so much for your big support for our authentic donabe from Iga, Japan, and healthy Japanese donabe cooking.

Happy donabe life!