Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Donabe-steamed Pork & Lotus Root Shumai

Simple steamy donabe dinner courses on a weekday...
With donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe", everything is cooked and enjoyed right at the table.

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Started with simple steamed vegetables (you can find the basic recipe here)...colorful carrots, lotus root, kabu (Japanese turnip), shimeji mushrooms, asparagus, and green garlics. I served with simple mixture of shio-koji and olive oil. Really tasty!

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Then, I made pork & lotus root shumai. Instead of regular pork shumai, by adding coarsely minded lotus root, you can enjoy its nice crunchy texture with juicy pork.

You can find the recipe (for both standard pork shumai and pork & lotus root shumai variation) in toiro kitchen's website.

Happy doanbe life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Classic Donabe Recipe...Niku Dango Nabe (pork meatball hot pot)

Since I was in a mood some pork meatballs, I decided to make a simple pork meatball hot pot, Niku Dango Nabe for dinner the other night. I went to McCall's Meat and Fish to pick up the ground pork, as they have the best quality you can find in LA. Their ground pork is rich in flavor and has just the good amount of fat.

While this recipe can be made with any classic-style donabe (medium-size or larger), my pick of the night was Kyoto-style shallow classic-style donabe, "Kyoto Ame-yu". This donabe has the shallow bowl with wider surface area, the meatballs are cooked beautifully in one layer.

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I used my homemade Japanese-style chicken stock this time, but you can use instant Asian chicken stock powder (make sure there is no MSG if possible) or dashi stock works perfectly, too. Napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, and meatballs are cooked together in the broth first, then bean thread (cellphone noodles) and nira (garlic chives) are added to finish.

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As a variation, you can add some grated daikon right before serving. Really nice.

You can find the full recipe in toiro kitchen's website. So, please check it out.

Happy donabe life.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Back in Japan (Spring 2015)...Sakura-viewing wine party, then back in LA

Goodies from Japan

(April 2015)

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It was our final full day together in Tokyo. We started our morning in Tsukiji.

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From Tsukiji, we walked to Ginza and enjoyed lunch at a local izakaya. In the afternoon, we spent our final hours shopping.

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For our final evening, I took them to a party with my wine friends. Every year, they have a sakura (cherry blossoms) viewing wine party, and it happened to be this particular evening this year. So, it was nice to see my wine friends and also introduce my American chef friends to them.

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I brought a magnum bottle of Venteux Vineyards' 2011 Grenache, and it was a hit! We had a fun time together.

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Wow, it was such an intense and also fun 3-week visit back in Japan and traveling with people from the US. It was a big success! After having a final chirashi sushi lunch, I went back to LA. I can finally see Jason (my husband)!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Back in Japan (Spring 2015)...Donabe Home Party!

Very seasonal donabe hot pot

(April 2015)

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In the morning, Namae-san and his friend who organizes Farmers Market in Shibuya came to pick us up. We drove to Tsukuba area of Ibaraki Prefecture for a day trip. It was about 2 hours by car. We first toured a local (permanent) farmers market. Then, we had a tour at a small soy sauce brewery. They have been making soy sauce over generations there.

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After lunch at a local Italian restaurant, we had an appointment with a local farm. They specialize in organic farming. It was very interesting.

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Back in Tokyo, we were invited to Akiyo-san (Isako's older sister) and Takahiro-san's home for dinner. I was so excited to see them at their home again. Takahiro is an amazing cook, and I was also excited to introduce my friend to them and experience their special home-style dinner. The appetizers were beautiful seafood dishes. He got the ingredients from Tsukiji Fish Market.

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Main dish was, of course, donabe! He made hamaguri clam hot pot with nanohana (rape blossoms) and new harvest wakame seaweed. The broth was made from extra clams. It was like the feeling the season with all my body. So wonderful.

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The "shime" finishing course was somen noodles with slices of kabosu citrus. Perfect ending. With Champagne and a lot of sake, we were super happy and wild.

Happy donabe life.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Back in Japan (Spring 2015)...From Kaga back to Tokyo by GranClass

Light Meal in Hokuriku Shinkansen's GranClass Car

(April 2015)

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We had another nourishing breakfast including simmered tofu at Beniya Mukayu. And, it was already time to check out. They gave us such generous hospitality over two nights stay there and we were sad  to leave. We had such an amazing time in Kaga, thanks to them.

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Before we headed to the station to go back to Tokyo, we had a detour and visited a traditional lacquer artisan house in Kaga.

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They make famous Yamanaka lacquerware in very traditional manners. It was so impressive.

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From Yamanaka Onsen Station, we took a local train to Kanazawa. Then, from Kanazawa, we took Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) all the way back to Tokyo. This shinkansen line connecting between Tokyo and Kanazawa just started operation a couple weeks ago and has been hot news in Japan. It used to take more than 4 hours to go between Tokyo and Kanazawa by connecting trains, but now this shinkansen connects these two cities straight by only 2.5 hours! I got to book us their GranClass (it's like a first class cabin)! The seats and service are both so nice and luxury. They also serve light meal and endless drinks with no additional cost. We had a great 2.5-hour ride!

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We came back to Tokyo and checked in at the hotel in late afternoon. In the evening, we had dinner at our friend, Chef Shinobu Namae's L'Effervescence. It was great to see Namae-san again.

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Namae-san's creations were so beautiful.

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So complex, unique, and delicious.

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We had a wonderful time.