Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring is here...Sakura Gohan (Cherry blossom rice) with Yellowtail Sashimi

Spring is here. In LA, this past week was actually so hot and it was like a summer.

In any case, my spirit is feeling spring, so I decided to make a rice dish with Sakura no Shio-zuke (salt-pickled cherry blossom flowers). It's not very easy to find salt-pickled cherry blossom flowers in the US, but you can order online from some specialty shops (both imported and domestic made), or you can also make your own salt-pickled cherry blossom flowers if you can get the flowers.

Once you have the salt-pickled cherry blossom flowers, it's so easy to make cherry blossom rice with double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san"!

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Addition of black rice (sometimes called "forbidden rice") made the finished rice become slightly pink and look really pretty with the cherry blossom flowers. The rice has the beautiful floral aroma from the cherry blossoms. The rice is great on it's own or with something else on the side to make it a complete meal. I like to serve with hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi. Tai (sea bream/ also called tai snapper) sashimi is also nice, too.

Sakura Gohan (Cherry blossom rice)
(3 rice-cup donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san")

Ingredients: (3 to 4 servings)
1 rice cup (180 ml) short grain rice, rinsed and drained
2/3 rice cup (120 ml) sweet rice (can substitute with short grain rice)
1/3 rice cup (60 ml) black rice (can substitute with short grain rice)
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water
2 tablespoons sake
2/3 oz (20 g) sakura no shio-zuke (salt-pickled cherry blossom flowers, stems included)

8 oz (240 g) or more sashimi-grade yellowtail, sliced
gari shoga (pickled ginger; optional)
soy sauce
wasabi paste (optional)

  1. Soak the pickled cherry blossom flowers in cold water in a bowl for 5 minutes. Drain and gently rinse. Pat dry. Reserve a few pieces for garnish, and mince the remaining (including the stems). 
  2. In “Kamado-san”, soak the rinsed rice (all kinds) with the water and sake. Soak for 20 minutes. 
  3. Add the minced cherry blossom flowers. Place both lids of “Kamado-san” so that the holes of the lids are positioned perpendicular to each other. 
  4. Set “Kamado-san” over medium-high heat and cook for 13-15 minutes, or until 2 minutes after the steam starts puffing out of the top lid. 
  5. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 20 minutes. 
  6. Remove both lids of "Kamado-san", and gently fluff with a rice paddle. Garnish with the reserved cherry blossom flowers.
  7. To serve, plate in serving bowls and serve with some yellowtail slices and gari shoga on the side. Lightly dip the fish in soy sauce in a saucer with a dab of wasabi on the side, if you like.
Happy donabe life.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Donabe Sunday Brunch...Smoked Salmon and Egg Salad Plate

On one sunny Sunday, we didn't have any special plans, so I wanted to just relax at home and take a walk to the park in the afternoon. It was a perfect kind of day for a quick donabe smoked dish for lunch. I made quick smoke of salmon, boiled eggs, and macadamia nuts with my donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin", and made a salad dish. It was  so delightful!

Smoked Salmon, Eggs, and Macadamia Nut
(Donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin")

Ingredients: (2 servings)
12 oz (360 g) about 3/4"-inch (2 cm) thick salmon filet (skin on or off), cut into 4 pieces
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
some freshly ground black pepper
2 boiled eggs (soft runny yolk is preferred), peeled
a good handful raw macadamia nuts
2 lemon wedges

Ohter things you will need:
a piece of aluminum foil
a small handful (about 1/3 oz or 8 g) of smoke chips

  1. Season both sides of the salmon filets with salt and pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes. Pat-dry.
  2. Line the bottom of "Ibushi Gin" with a piece of aluminum foil. Spread the smoke chips so that they make a ring shape. Make sure the foil is tightly attached to the bottom.
  3. Arrange the salmon pieces on the bottom and middle grates. Set the top grate and arrange the boiled eggs (pat-dry first) and macadamia nuts. Set "Ibushi Gin" over high heat.
  4. Once the chips start smoking (about 7-8 minutes), cover with lid and fill the rim with water. Continue to heat for 5 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and let "Ibushi Gin" stand for 20 minutes (with lid on).
  6. Serve with lemon wedges with tossed green salad (optional).
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Sooo good!
Happy donabe life.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

DONABE Cookbook Update: Fall 2015 Release Catalogue from Ten Speed Press

Here's the very early sneak-peak of our upcoming DONABE Cookbook, from Fall 2015 release catalogue from our publisher, Ten Speed Press. We are finally on the designing stage right now and it's already looking really good! The books co-authored with Chef Kyle Connaughton (upcoming Single Thread Farms) and photographed by Eric Wolfinger. DONABE Cookbook is scheduled to publish in October 2015! 

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To see the enlarged catalogue page, click here for the link to the PDF version.

Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Aromatic Ikura Rice (Part 2)

Here's another version of Ikura rice, with double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san". This time, I made sushi rice and topped with smoked salmon and ikura. It's so easy! Here's the recipe.

Smoked Salmon and Ikura Chirashi Sushi
(3 rice-cup size double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san")

Ingredients: (4 - 5 servings)
2 rice cups (360 ml) short grain rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) minus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sake
1 piece (2” x 2” or 5 cm x 5 cm) dry kelp ("dashi kombu") (optional)

(vinegar seasoning "sushi-zu" for the rice)
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon (50 ml) rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (120 ml) or so micro greens (Asian kind is preferred)
6 oz (180 g) smoked salmon (pre-sliced, if available)
4 oz (120 g) ikura (salmon roe)
lemon wedges
wasabi paste (optional)

  1. In “Kamado-san”, soak the rinsed rice with the water and sake and put the dry kelp on top of the rice. Soak for 20 minutes. 
  2. Place both lids of “Kamado-san” so that the holes of the lids are positioned perpendicular to each other. 
  3. Set “Kamado-san” over medium-high heat and cook for 13-15 minutes, or until 2 minutes after the steam starts puffing out of the top lid. 
  4. Turn off the heat and let it stand for 20 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for “sushi-zu” and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved. (You can heat it in the microwave for 25-30 seconds first to make it easier to dissolve.) 
  6. Remove both lids of "Kamado-san". Remove the kelp and quickly add the “sushi-zu” to the rice and fluff with a rice paddle.
  7. To decorate, spread the micro greens (save a few pieces for garnish) over the rice, followed by the smoked salmon and ikura. Garnish with a few sprigs of remaining micro greens.
  8. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and some wasabi paste.
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Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Aromatic Ikura Rice (Part 1)

Ikura (salmon roe, or often called as "salmon caviar" in English) is regularly sold all year round at Japanese markets or specialty stores in the US. The already seasoned kind is convenient to use as a topping for your appetizer or rice. Yes, it tastes fantastic over freshly-made rice in double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san"!

This is a very simple ikura rice dish and tastes fantastic. You make plain rice with Kamado-san, and top with some roasted nori seaweed (break by hand first), chopped mitsuba (Japanese parsley) or your choice of aromatic herbs, ikura (salmon roe), and chopped yuzu (or meyer lemon) rind.

That's it! Serve immediately with a little soy sauce, if you like.

Happy donabe life.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Donabe recipe...Dashi-flavored Fish and Napa Cabbage

I've been making so many new donabe dishes, but it's been too busy and I haven't been able to update my blog with recipes past months. So, starting today, hopefully I can post donabe recipes more often!

I have been enjoying seafood from Kai Gourmet past months, and they provide such high quality seafood. They deliver to anywhere in the US, so I highly recommend! Many of the seafood come from New Zealand (both wild-caught and sustainably farmed kinds) and is delivered within 36 hours from the waters. I order different kinds of seafood every week, and my donabe life has been even happier.

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They offer the best quality barramundi (of course, never been frozen) you can get in the US. It's a white flesh fish like sea bass or snapper. But, I think barramundi has more buttery texture, which I really like. I made a simple steam-fry dish with barramundi and napa cabbage in my tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san". You can substitute barramundi with sea bass, snapper, grouper, or even salmon, if you like.

The dish takes no time to prepare, and the flavor is so wonderful.

Dashi-flavored Barramundi and Napa Cabbage
(Tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san")

Ingredients: (3 - 4 servings)
1/2 cup (120 ml) dashi stock
2 tablespoon sake
2 tablespoon usukuchi shoyu (light color soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin

1 pound (450 g) barramundi filet (skin on or off), cut into 6 to 8 pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 small knob ginger, sliced into very fine threads
6 to 8 medium napa cabbage leaves, cut the bottom half into strips, then cut the leafy half into large bite-size pieces
5 oz (150 g) shimeji mushrooms, bottom trimmed
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 scallion, thinly-sliced

  1. Combine the ingredients for the broth. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle the salt all over the fish and set aside for 15 - 30 minutes. Pat dry.
  3. In the skillet of "Fukkura-san", heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Sauté the ginger for 1 minute. Add the bottom half of the napa cabbage and sauté for another 1 - 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the broth. Break apart the shimeji and add, then spread the fish pieces on the surface.
  5. Cover with lid and cook for 7 - 8 minutes or until everything is cooked through.
  6. Garnish with scallion slices, and serve into individual bowls at the table.

You can also find the recipe in toiro kitchen's website.

Happy donabe life.