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Nikuman (Japanese Steamed Buns)

I still have a backlog of recipes/posts to share but got very excited about today’s bake so it jumped the queue. I’ve got several recipes for steamed buns (Chinese bao or Korean jjinppang) in my recipe archives but I went to my favourite YouTube channel, TabiEats, for a small batch of buns, especially as I was able to use up a container of leftover runza filling (shredded corned beef, sauteed red cabbage and shredded cheddar cheese) for them.

It’s also a very fast recipe … no yeast proofing, a few minutes to knead, 30 min bulk proof, shaping and a final 20 minutes to final proof. Steaming took only 15 minutes and my buns were ready to eat. I didn’t bother with the squid ink variation so I added a total of 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the dough in the kneading step.

Before proofing and after steaming

I had about 360 gm of dough so I divided it into six equal portions. There was a lot of filling (about 300 gm) but I shaped into tight balls and used it to fill the buns. There was a high filling (a bit under-seasoned) to bun ratio which was a plus.

REVIEW: Highly recommended recipe. There’s nothing I’d do differently.

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Umeboshi Onigiri (Sour Plum Rice Balls)

Umeboshi are pickled sour ume, a fruit often identified as a plum though it is more closely related to the apricot. They are most commonly eaten with rice which mellows their salty and sour taste. Purple leaved perilla, which colours the ume red, is sometimes added during the salting process. A more modern preparation of umeboshi includes honey to slightly sweeten the finished fruit. I thought I’d dip my toe in the umeboshi pool so I bought the latter.

Recently, I visited a local Japanese grocery store and came home with some goodies including a container of the honey version of the umeboshi and made a batch of umeboshi onigiri.

Clockwise from the top: Adzuki beans, mochiko (sweet glutinous rice flour), katsuobushi (shaved dried bonito flakes) and umeboshi with honey. The sushi rice was purchased from my local grocery store chain because the price was better (8 kg for $13.99).

I DID make a traditional triangular shaped onigiri with the pitted umeboshi in the center but my preferred presentation was made by adding diced umeboshi to the cooked sushi rice and shaping the rice into rounds. Normally one shapes the onigiri using dampened hands sprinkled with salt to season and help in the preservation of the onigiri. However, the salty umeboshi added to the rice eliminates the need for the additional salt.

For the sushi rice cooking instructions, check out previous sushi and onigiri posts.

Whole and pitted umeboshi

Umeboshi onigiri served on home grown green perilla (shiso) leaves.

The onigiri may be wrapped in a half sheet of nori, along with a perilla leaf for flavour, wrapped with plastic food wrap and frozen for quick meals. Or, if you like your nori crispy, wrap the onigiri separately and add it to your lunch box/bento along with a half sheet of nori. You may serve the onigiri with a bit of soy sauce, if you prefer.

Spoiler Alert: Mochiko flour is an ingredient in a number of sweet or savoury Japanese treats. Just sayin’

Asparagus, Mushroom and Shrimp Fried Rice

I’ve been out of potatoes for about a week so when I thought about starch sides to pair with one of the several proteins in my freezer, pasta/noodles, quinoa and rice were among my options. I also wanted to use up the last few stalks of asparagus in my fridge. I finally decided on a Chinese classic … fried rice. Mainly because I had a pound of inexpensive white button mushrooms to pair with a scant half pound of large cooked, peeled and de-veined shrimp in my freezer.

I combined the elements of a couple of recipes I found on-line, mainly using one which featured mushrooms. The egg was added to extend the protein content.

RECIPE EDITED TO FIX GLARING TYPOS:

Asparagus, Mushroom and Shrimp Fried Rice Bowl

Asparagus, Mushroom and Shrimp Fried Rice – serves 3

~1/3 lb/177 gm peeled and de-veined cooked shrimp
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice (or medium-grain)
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4-1 lb/340-454 gm white button mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4-6 green onions including green tops, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup mixed vegetable (diced carrot, frozen peas, sliced asparagus)**
1/4 cup water, or as needed
1 egg, optional
1 tsp Asian sesame oil, for garnish
1-2 green onion tops, sliced thinly, for garnish

** equal parts diced carrot and sliced asparagus (3 stalks) used

Cook the long or medium grain rice the day before you plan on making this dish and refrigerate overnight.

In a large nonstick frying pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Turn down the heat to medium and in the same frying pan, heat another tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the red-pepper flakes, grated ginger, and green onions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Raise the heat back to medium-high and add the mixed vegetables, stirring to char the vegetables for a minute or so. Add the water, cover, and let cook/steam about 5 minutes, to par cook the vegetables.

Push the vegetables to one side, and, if needed add a bit more oil to the pan in the empty spot. Add the rice to the area where you cleared the pan. Break up any rice clumps a bit and then sprinkle the salt and soy sauce over the rice. Stir to coat the rice evenly.

Add the mushrooms and cooked shrimp to the pan, stirring through until everything’s warm, another few minutes.

If adding an egg to the fried rice, again push the rice etc to one side leaving an empty area on one side. Break the egg into the space and let cook for a minute to set the white, then break up the egg yolk gently. Lift and turn the fried rice on top of the partially cooked egg. The heat from the rice will continue cooking the egg. Mix the egg through the rice.

Divide the fried rice among the serving bowls, making sure everyone gets an equal amount of the shrimp, and drizzle a bit of the sesame soil over the top.

Sprinkle green onion over the top for a garnish.

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions on a Hoagie

One of my favourite ways of using freshly made hot dog buns/hoagies is as a transport vehicle for grilled or bbq’d hot (or sweet) Italian sausages, sauteed onions and sweet pepper strips. If you like some tang in your sandwich, you can add a few jarred pepperoncini, along with some of the juice, to the filling.

Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions Hoagie – serves 2

2 6-inch hoagies, sliced like a hot dog bun*
2 6-inch sweet or hot Italian sausages, grilled or bbq’d

Hoagie Filling

1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large sweet pepper (or an assortment of red, yellow and orange), cored and sliced into thin strips
1 clove garlic, peeled, smashed lightly
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp jarred marinara sauce
1-2 pepperonicini (sweet pickled peppers), thinly sliced with some juice, optional

* I used home made hoagie buns made according to this King Arthur flour beautiful burger bun recipe.

In a large pre-heated saute pan, over medium-high heat, add the oil, the sliced onions and the clove of garlic. Let sit until the onions just start to brown a bit then stir and continue sauteing the onions and garlic for a few more minutes. Remove and discard the clove of garlic as it’s seasoned the oil. Add the pepper strips and pepperoncini, if using. Saute for a few more minutes until the peppers start to pick up some colour as well. Add the jarred marinara sauce and some of the pepperoncini juice, to taste.

Add the sausages and warm briefly in the sauce.

Place some of the peppers and onions in each of the buns. Add the sausage and top with the remaining filling ingredients.

Serve with your favourite sides.

Making the Buns – The dough was divided into eight equal portions with half being shaped into hamburger buns and the other half into 6-inch hoagie buns

The hamburger buns were delicious, just slightly sweet and fluffy, though at 105 gms, a bit large for the hamburger patties I had cooked. Next time, I’d divide the dough into NINE portions.

Omurice in a Mug

The classic omurice (watch Tampopo for an intriguing Japanese food referencing movie) is basically an omelette wrapped around fried rice … a delicious repurposing of the leftover rice dish. Ketchup features prominently in seasoning the rice and garnishing the omelette.

TabiEats has a delicious, made from scratch version, which is made in a microwave, in a lot less time. The only tricky part is the wattage of your respective microwave but, after your first omurice, you can adjust quickly.

I’ve written out the list of ingredients and instructions from the video below, with some clarifying information, so you can make your own, but watch the video linked earlier. It’s informative and fun.

Omurice in a Mug – makes 1
from TabiEats

1 1/2 oz/42.5 gm chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/8 onion, finely chopped (or 1 tsp fried onion)
2 tbsp mixed vegetables (frozen corn, carrots, peas)
3 tbsp ketchup, plus an additional 1 tbsp ketchup for garnish
salt and pepper, to taste (1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp to start)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Japanese shortgrain or sushi rice, washed well and drained
1/2 cup water
1 large egg

Put all ingredients, except the egg, into a large mug. (The mug should have a 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup capacity.) Give the contents a good stir so the ingredients are combined.

Crumple a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on the surface of the rice mixture. Loosely cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.

Microwave for 2 minutes 30 seconds at 600 watts (60%). Carefully open the plastic wrap and give the contents a quick mix. Cover and microwave at 300 watts (30%) for 10-12 minutes. (NOTE: Depending on your microwave, you can use defrost mode, which is 30% in my microwave.)

Carefully peel off the plastic wrap and take out the parchment paper. Discard the parchment paper.

Whisk the egg well and pour it over the top of the rice. Cover the mug loosely with the plastic wrap and microwave for 2-3 minutes, at 200 watts, until egg is cooked. Don’t overcook!

Serve the omurice with a tablespoon of ketchup and garnish with peas.

Here’s a picture of the traditional omurice from a previous post.

And the contents of the mug turned out into a soup bowl … you can kind of see the chicken, carrots, peas and corn.

Beef Picspam: Corned Beef Brisket and Braised Eye of Round Roast

Even though my proteins of choice are usually chicken and pork, every once in a while, beef is available at a good price. Here are a few dishes I’ve made featuring those purchases.

A pre-seasoned corned beef brisket bought on sale (~40% off) was featured in both dinners and sandwiches for economical and tasty meals.

Sliced corned beef on demi-baguette with Dijon mustard served with onion rings and salad

Served with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage.

And a large piece of eye of round (often found for a good price) was portioned into three pieces, each of which was prepared in a different fashion, to maximize flavour and tenderness.

Eye of round braised in an onion soup mixture … some of the braising liquid was used to make an onion gravy served over the sliced beef and over the mashed potatoes.

Roast was coated in seasoned flour, seared and simmered in braising liquid.

Velveting Beef and a Spicy Beef Bowl

For some reason, I never shared the results of a recent experiment in turning a relatively tough eye of round roast into a more tender piece of beef. The technique of ‘velveting’ is practiced in Chinese restaurants and is used for both beef and chicken dishes. I velveted in water, not oil, because I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of the latter, nor did I want to waste the oil. I’m frugal that way.

For the spicy beef dish below, I used the recipe/technique found on the YouTube video here. The ingredient list and amounts I used are listed in the bare bones recipe below.

Velveted Beef, Broccoli and Mushrooms over Rice

Spicy Beef, Broccoli and Mushrooms – serves 2

300 gm velveted beef

1 tbsp vegetable oil (and 1 tsp sesame oil)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 inch ginger, minced or grated
3-4 dried red chilis
5 large mushrooms, cut in half and thickly sliced
1 head of broccoli, broken up into florettes

Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2-4 tbsp water

Serve over rice

After marinating the meat

How to Velvet Meat – yields 2 cups

1 pound boneless chicken, beef or pork, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
1 egg white (2 tbsp)
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (mirin or sake)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

Velveting in Water

large pot of water
1 tablespoon oil

Wash meat and drain well.

In a bowl, combine egg white, Chinese wine, oil, cornstarch and salt. Whisk together until smooth and frothy. Add meat and marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. In a colander, drain meat.

In a pot over high heat, combine about 2-inch deep of water and 1 tablespoon of oil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and immediately add meat, stirring to disperse. Bring water back to a gentle simmer and once it’s barely bubbling, continue to cook meat for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, remove meat from pot and drain well.

NOTE: You’ll want to velvet the meat in two or three batches making sure that you add the meat slices a few at a time, rather than in clumps, so they don’t stick but float freely in the pot of water.

After velveting in water and the stir fry

Review of the Velveting Technique: While delicious and noticeably more tender than previous attempts at the dish using the same cut of beef, WITHOUT velveting, the beef wasn’t quite as meltingly tender as the beef I’ve eaten in Chinese restaurants. I think the technique and dish will continue to be a work in progress.

 

Creamy Chicken Piccata for Two

Meal planning strategy: I haven’t cooked anything Italian in some time, there was a jar of capers languishing in the fridge and a couple of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts in the freezer, so I looked for a recipe for Chicken Piccata that used ingredients that I already had. The breasts weighed a bit over a pound so I split them horizontally into four, more or less equal sized portions, and made some adjustments to the recipe I found here since I wanted to toss the pasta in the sauce.

Chicken Piccata – serves 2, generously

200 gm fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ~1 pound/454 gm
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

For flouring chicken cutlets
1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 1/2-2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

For lemon sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock, or a dry white wine
1/4 cup whipping cream (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brined capers, drained
1 clove garlic, finely minced or 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or 1-2 tsp dried parsley, for garnish
3-4 thin slices of lemon, for garnish

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, stop the cooking by transferring the noodle to cold water and then, if needed to wait for the sauce, transfer the noodles to warm water.

To make chicken cutlets, cut each chicken breast horizontally into two equal sized pieces or butterfly and cut in half. If the thickness of the cutlets is uneven, put them between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat hammer to 1/4 inch thickness.

In a shallow pan or pie tin, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Rinse the chicken pieces quickly in water, drain well and dredge them in the flour mixture, until well coated.

Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat and when heated, add the chicken cutlets. Do not crowd the pan to ensure even cooking. Cook in half batches. Brown well on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate with a rim to retain any juices that may be released by the breasts. Cook the other breasts in the same manner. Cover to keep warm.

Add the chicken stock or white wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. (NOTE: For additional lemon flavour, add the sliced lemons at this point so the lemon oil from the zest can infuse into the sauce. If your sauce volume seems low or you want a creamy sauce, whisk in the whipping cream and let reduce for a few minutes.)

Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (cut into 2-3 pieces), a piece at a time until each piece just melts. This may not be necessary if you’re using the whipping cream as that will thicken the sauce.

Drain the pasta well. Add the pasta to the saute pan so it can warm in the sauce, if it’s cooled down. Divide the pasta between two plates.

Plate the chicken over the pasta and serve with the sauce poured over the top. Sprinkle with parsley before serving and add a slice or two of the lemon for garnish.

I didn’t notice that I hadn’t sprinkled the parsley over the top until after I’d plated the dish. Oh well…

I set aside two of the cutlets for use in other dishes as there was too much chicken for two servings.

Bread, Loco Moco, Tortillas and Ice Cream

PICSPAM WARNING

I’ve got a backlog of pictures that I wanted to share but couldn’t come up with a good way to tie these disparate items together, so I’m just going to lump them into one post, and let you sort them out.

Since I gave up buying bread at the grocery store, I have to restock whenever I run out of bread in my freezer. And, of course, pizzas are on the roster of regular meals at home or for work lunches.

Instead of making my usual two pizzas, I used half of the dough to make a foguasse, a sort of pull apart French bread. The shaping (leaf-like) is designed for easy tearing and sharing. Or you can just eat it all yourself dipped into a small bowl of herb, sea salt and freshly ground pepper infused extra virgin olive oil. I rolled it out a bit too thinly so by the time I slashed and opened up the dough, it got too thin in some areas. They got crispy rather than remaining puffy and being a sponge for the oil. But I dealt with the hardship.

I turned a small sweet potato, into a loaf of regular sandwich bread (700 gm of dough) and four small (60 gm, pre-bake weight) buns. Two of the buns were used for mini hamburger patties.

The hamburger patties for the buns were leftover from making loco moco. Loco moco is a Hawaiian dish consisting of a bed of hot steamed rice (long or short grain works) topped with a hamburger patty and beef/brown gravy. It is often topped with a fried egg, runny yolk preferred, and served with a side of pasta salad. Two slices of fried Spam may be served along side. I’ve made the classic burger loco moco and one featuring Spam served with eel sauce instead of the beef gravy in the past and it’s a delicious and easy meal to put together.

Loco Moco with hot sauce … runny yolk adds flavour to the rice along with the beef gravy

Flour Tortillas … a version with all purpose flour and masa harina

Chicken fajita with home made flour tortillas and Mexican rice

Top and bottom of tortilla

I wanted something sweet and had a bit of nostalgia for my mom’s favourite ice cream flavour. This was a boozier version than she ever tasted.

Rum and Raisin No Churn Ice Cream

Rum and Raisin No Churn Ice Cream – makes ~2 cups

1/3 cup raisins
2-3 tbsp dark rum
3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Soak raisins in rum for one hour or overnight. Drain off the excess rum and add the raisins to the condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the heavy cream in second large bowl. Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk/raisin mixture. Pour into freezer container and freeze for at least 6 hrs or overnight.

Easy Japanese Dishes Pt. 3 – Japanese Hamburger Steak (Hambagu)

The last post on the theme of easy Japanese dishes features a Japanese version of the classic Western hamburger, hambagu, or hamburger steak patty. I’m including a couple of miso soups, a vegetable side dish and some pudding (or purin, in Japanese) to finish things off.

The recipe for the hamburger comes from TabiEats and the result was meant to be used in a bento box. Instead, I used it as a topping for leftover Japanese mixed rice.

Hamburger Steak Mixed Rice Bowl

Hamburger Steak Patty – for 2 patties

100 gm /~1/4 pound ground beef or chicken
30-40 gm enoki mushroom base, shredded
1/8th finely diced onion (or 1 tsp fried onions)
1/4 tsp salt
few grinds of pepper

Ground beef and shredded enoki mushroom base

Mix all the hamburger patty ingredients together well. Shape into patty to get out the air. Divide into 2 and reshape into hamburger steak patty. Make a small depression in the center as the middle puffs up during frying. Pan fry over medium heat in 1 tsp vegetable oil for a few minutes on the first side and then turn and finish.

Since the burger on its own seemed a bit dry, I borrowed a recipe for a wine reduction hamburger steak sauce from Nami’s Just One Cookbook. Halve the ingredient amounts for the sauce, from the recipe below, if you’re only making two patties.

Hamburger Steak (Hambagu) – for 4 hamburger steak patties

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4 hamburger patties, about 90 gm each
~1 tbsp red wine
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Sauce for the hamburger steak

3 tbsp red wine
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp tonkatsu sauce (or Worcestershire sauce)

Heat a cast iron or non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the hamburger patties and fry 3-4 minutes on the first side. Flip, and add a couple of teaspoons of red wine into the pan.

After you flip, pour 2-3 tsp red wine into the saucepan and then lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minute, or until the inside of the patty is no longer pink. Take the lid off and increase the heat to medium-high to let the red wine cook off. When the pan is almost dry, remove the patties to a serving plate and reserve.

Combine the liquid sauce ingredients in a bowl. In the same pan in which you fried the hamburger patties, add the butter the and sauce ingredients and mix well. Lower the heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol. With a slotted spoon, remove any meat bits or scum from the sauce so it’s nice and smooth.

When the sauce has thickened to your liking, pour it over the hamburger steaks.

Serve with vegetable sides and rice.

Shira-ae is a tofu ‘dressing’ made of ground sesame seeds/tahini, miso and tofu and added to shredded vegetables.

I used it to dress some blanched broccoli florettes and served it with one of the hamburger patties and a bowl of miso soup.

Two kinds of white miso soup … egg drop/egg flower and tofu or a clear soup.

To finish up … dessert. Cause you ALWAYS need to finish up with something sweet. (Ok, I like cheese and fruit and nuts too but they weren’t in my budget nor did I know any savoury Japanese afters.)

Dessert was pudding, or purin, in Japanese. Both these desserts were made with the same vanilla bean custard mixture. For the flan/creme caramel, I made a hard caramel and poured it into the bottom of the large ramekins. The smaller ramekins were turned into creme brulee and bruleed under the broiler.

Vanilla Bean Flan/Creme Caramel and Creme Brulee