Monthly Archives: July 2020

Menchi Katsu (Japanese Fried Hamburgers)

Some years ago, I made the Hungarian fried burgers/patties/balls called “fasirt”. These panko breaded and fried Japanese hamburgers, or “menchi katsu”, reminded me of them. They’re flavourful and the coating seals in the moisture making for a juicy patty.

I found the idea and basic recipe for these burgers on my favourite Japanese Youtube channel, TabiEats. I’ll post my rewritten version of the recipe at the bottom of the page.

Menchi Katsu – serves 2-3
from TabiEats

Meat patties
150 gm onion, diced, sauteed and cooled
300 gm ground beef, pork or a mixture of the two
1/3 tsp salt
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
pinch nutmeg, reduces smell of pork
couple of pinches of black pepper
1 egg

Coating
flour
1 egg, beaten
Panko

Side dish
thinly shredded cabbage
rice
sliced tomatoes

Combine ground beef with everything, except the sauteed onion, by hand until sticky. It will be a very soft mixture. Add the onions. Mix again for 3-5 minutes. If it seems too wet, you can add a bit of bread crumb but it shouldn’t be necessary.

Shape into 4-6 evenly sized patties. If the meat mixture is very sticky, you may oil your hands lightly to prevent that. Throw the meat patty from one hand to the other to firm up the patty by eliminating excess air.

Coat with flour (be gentle so the patty doesn’t fall apart), dip into beaten egg to coat and then generously roll in the Panko bread crumbs.

Shallow fry at 350 deg F about 2 1/2 min on each side.

(Strain and reuse the oil for stir frying.)

Serve with tonkatsu sauce, as part of a complete meal or “set”, or include in a bento lunch.

Delicious with a bowl of miso soup, a side of ramen noodles and steamed broccoli.

Convenience Food: Instant Ramen Noodles

I haven’t been a university student in a LONG time but I have been known to buy the occasional package (or six) of those instant ramen noodles for single serving soup or just to use the noodles inside for some other dish. Like these ramen burger buns or as a side (dragon noodles) for chicken patties.

In anticipation of a long period of minimizing grocery shopping outings, I decided to stock my pantry with a selection of the noodles for quick meals. I was amazed at the variety of noodles available… Japanese, Indonesian and South Korean.

You can always eat them simply as a soup or fried noodle, especially the Indonesian Mie Goreng brand, but with some imagination, and a selection of toppings, you can almost make something nutritious. I limit myself to one package a week. Eggs (ramen or plain soft boiled) are a common topping as are fresh green onions. Fried onions add a crunchy texture. Pretty carrot flowers add both colour and nutrition.




Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

In my last post about the rice burger options, I mentioned chicken karage, or “Japanese fried chicken”. Karaage is characterized by its very light coating of potato starch, or cornstarch or even just all purpose flour, before deep frying. It differs in that way from the heavier breading in that other, classic, fried Japanese dish, the cutlet or katsu. In Japan, skin-on chicken thighs are preferred for their juiciness and taste.

Knowing how much I don’t like frying, it took a long time to get psyched up enough to make this dish. And, it was mainly driven by the fact that I had made a batch of fried donuts earlier and wanted to use up the oil for a second time before recycling it. (But that’s another story.)

After watching some Youtube videos and researching a simple recipe that I thought I could manage, I finally did it. (PS: I passed on the recipe that required frying the chicken THREE times at differing temperatures. I wonder why?) This is the recipe I came up with after combining elements from several. I ‘borrowed’ the spicy mayo dip from the site cited.

Chicken Karaage – serves 2-4

4 boneless, skin on, chicken thighs (~1 lb/450 gm)
1/2-2/3 cup of cornstarch, or half cornstarch and all purpose flour
4 cups (~1 litre) vegetable oil, for frying

For serving

lemon wedges
mayonnaise, Japanese Kewpie mayo or Hellman’s are delicious

Chicken Marinade

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp ginger juice (grate about 1-2 inches of fresh ginger and squeeze out the juice)
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated

Spicy Mayonnaise Dip/Sauce
recipe from the Just Hungry web site

1/2 cup of Kewpie Mayonnaise
3 tbsp Sriracha
3 tbsp soy sauce

Combine the dip ingredients and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.

Cut up the thighs into fourths. Marinate the chicken thighs for at least 30 minutes, but less than 1 hr, as the salt in the soy sauce will draw out the moisture from the chicken and toughen it.

In a large bowl, add cornstarch. Drain each piece of chicken of marinade, one at a time, and evenly coat with the cornstarch. Shake off the excess cornstarch. Place coated chicken onto a clean dry plate and let dry for about 5 minutes before frying.

In a large container, suitable for deep frying, add the oil and preheat to 350 deg F. You want the oil level to cover the chicken by about an inch or an inch and a half.

Set up a plate with paper towels on it for draining/wicking the fat off the chicken before transferring the chicken to a wire cooling rack

When the oil is at the proper temperature, fry a few pieces of chicken at a time for 5-6 minutes total, turning after a few minutes. You want the chicken to be a golden brown colour and crunchy. Small bubbles may begin coming off the chicken as the fat in the skin begins to render out.

Remove the chicken pieces from the fat with a slotted spoon or wire scoop, shake for about 10 seconds to remove most of the oil and then place onto the paper towels for a few minutes, turning over to drain off both sides, then transfer to the wire rack.

Serve the chicken with a squeeze of lemon juice and dip into mayonnaise if desired.

I had some leftover karaage so I served it on top of leftover asparagus couscous with a drizzle of spicy mayonnaise on top.

Grocery Shopping in the Era of Covid-19

So, I combined a trip to The Beer Store (Ontario, Canada) to return some empties (beer and wine bottles and cans, money donated to charity) with a trip to Food Basics to pick up some pantry items (giant package of paper towels) and snacks.

I MAY have finished all the chips and the Jos Louis snack cakes.

On the plus side, I haven’t popped open a can of beer yet. (Cause I’m not a barbarian … my beer accompanies the matching cuisine.)

Sushi Rice Burger a la Mos Burger

NEWSFLASH: The Japanese fast food chain, Mos Burger, serves a hamburger on a rice bun.

I first heard about this dish on the Youtube channel, TabiEats, and was intrigued enough to give it a try. Especially after seeing a similar dish that they made, a grilled cheese sandwich, using a rice bun in place of sandwich bread. Searching Youtube revealed many other people who had the same idea. The Tasty channel, for example, presented four different versions of such a burger including, chicken karaage, shrimp tempura, teriyaki salmon and shrimp cake. I hope to give some of them a try in the future.

The following recipe was inspired by the TabiEats channel and is a written account of how I made it.

Japanese Rice Burger a la Mos Burger – serves 1

Additional ingredients

cooked hamburger patty
slice of cheese
mayonnaise (Kewpie or Hellman’s or Miracle Whip salad dressing)
thinly shredded lettuce
ketchup
mustard
crispy bacon (optional)
sliced pickle (optional)

Rice Burger Buns – makes 2 x ~4-inch rice patties

1 1/2 cups hot/freshly cooked Japanese sushi rice
2 tbsp cornstarch, sifted to eliminate lumps
salt, to taste (~1/8 tsp)

In a medium bowl, add the freshly cooked sushi rice and sift the cornstarch over the top. Cut the cornstarch in with a wet wooden or silicone spatula so as not to mash the rice grains. Season with salt to taste.

Line a 1 cup ramekin with a sheet of plastic food wrap leaving a generous amount of overhang to be able to fold over the plastic wrap around the rice bun. Add half the rice to the ramekin, pressing down firmly to form into an even patty. Remove the rice patty from the ramekin using the pastic wrap as a sling. Wrap the excess plastic around the patty. Repeat with a fresh sheet of plastic wrap and the remaining rice. Refrigerate the two rice patties for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat and add a tsp or so of vegetable oil to the pan. With a folded paper towel wipe the oil over the pan, leaving just a thin coating behind.

Remove the rice patties from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap and toast the patties in the preheated saute pan until golden brown on both sides. Transfer the patties to a plate and assemble.

Brush the inside of both rice patties with a bit of mayonnaise. Top one of the patties with shredded lettuce, slice of cheese, bacon, the hamburger patty, ketchup, mustard and pickles.

Place the second patty, mayonnaise side down, on top, and serve.

Orange Castella Cake

The Castella cake is a light sponge cake popular in Japan and seems to be sold often as a plain bar cake. It is classified as a kind of ‘wagashi‘ or Japanese traditional confectionery, according to Wikipedia.

I found a recipe on Youtube that seemed simple enough and flavoured with orange juice and zest for a unique touch.

Of course, with such a simple palate to work with, adding garnishes like fruits and berries and sauces seems obvious. The cake itself is only slightly sweetened. This plating used fresh raspberries and raspberry coulis combining the tartness of the fresh berries with the sweet raspberry sauce.

The recipe was transcribed from the ingredients given in the Youtube video and the instructions described what I actually did to achieve the results above.

Orange Cotton Sponge Cake/Castella Cake – 18 cm x 18 cm x 6 cm/8 inch square glass pan, ended up 4 cm/1 1/4 inches tall after cooling and some shrinking
by LoveSweets

Egg Yolk Mixture

5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
50 ml/3 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil
65 ml orange juice
2-3 tbsp orange zest
75 gm cake flour**

Egg White Mixture

5 egg whites
60 gm caster sugar (try increasing sugar to 90-100 gm)
1/4 tsp lemon juice

** I didn’t have any cake flour so I substituted it with 60 gm all purpose flour (Canadian Red Roses, 13% protein) and 15 gm cornstarch sifted together.

Oil the glass pan and line it carefully with two cross-wise strips of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 5 egg yolks and the whole egg. Add the vegetable oil. Whisk in the orange juice. Add the zest.

Sift in the cake flour. Whisk in gently until you have a homogeneous mixture.

In a large bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the lemon juice and sugar and beat until you have stiff peaks. Fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the egg yolk mixture. Add the rest of the whites and gently fold in.

Preheat the oven to 140 deg C/285 deg F.

Smooth the surface using an off-set spatula. Place the pan into a larger pan for a water bath and fill with water about 3 cm/1 inch deep.

Bake 70-80 min. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean and dry, the cake is done.

Remove the pan from the oven and then the cake pan from water bath. Bang the pan firmly on the counter (to set the cake??).

Let the cake pan rest for 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack before removing the cake from the cake pan. Peel off the parchment paper. Let cool to room temperature before cutting.

Pizza … and a Teaser

For spikesgirl58:

This is the pizza I made today. It was delicious. Just my usual pizza dough, frozen, thawed in the fridge overnight and baked today. I threw everything I had on top. Hot Italian sausages, spicy pepperoni, green pepper, mozzarella and sharp cheddar cheese on a jarred portabello mushroom sauce.

And this is a Japanese orange Castella/sponge cake I made back in May. I’ve wanted to make a Castella cake for a while and this was the result. Because it’s a very simple, barely sweet, cake, it benefits from some garnishes. I had no fresh berries or mint so I put a scoop of French vanilla ice cream on top, warmed up some plum jam and diluted it with water and poured it over the top.

I really should do a proper post of this cake, one of these days.