Tag Archives: japanese

Picspam: Smoked Ham & Bean Soup and Japanese Purple Sweet Potato Bread

Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to make a comprehensive recipe post but you still want to share something you think is worth while. I made both of these dishes over the last few days.

The first dish, a smoked ham and cannellini bean soup that I’ve made in the past, is an easy, fast and filling dish, especially if you use canned cannellini beans. Or, you can be like me and soak about a pound of dried beans overnight and cook them when you finally get up on a lazy, Saturday morning.

I didn’t have any smoked ham hock but I had a chunk of smoked ham so I diced some of it up and threw it in along with the veggies at the end. If you’re cooking for a family of four, you’ll have enough for a second serving for everyone. If you’re cooking for one, it freezes very well for future meals. For my friend, spikesgirl58 on LJ, who doesn’t care for ham, I think you could use smoked turkey leg in its place.

I stocked up on some pantry items from a local international (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese) grocery store, a few days ago. One of the things that caught my eye in the fresh fruit and vegetable section was a small display of Japanese purple sweet potatoes. I was bored so I decided to try a fun purple sweet potato bread recipe I found on the Bake with Paws blog. (PS: The name made me think of the Youtube channel Cooking with Dog which I recommend for anyone interested in Japanese cooking.)

The recipe is relatively straight forward but I thought I’d throw in some pretty pictures … just because I took a LOT. The potatoes were peeled, sliced and steamed until tender and then riced to get a nice even texture.

I was pleased with the colour of the dough

Unfortunately, the post-bake colour was a lot less vibrant … sort of lavender in colour. Toasting it seemed to pep up the colour a bit. The texture was nice and fluffy and the taste was somewhat sweet due to the sweet potatoes. I wouldn’t use the bread for an egg or tuna salad sandwich but it provided a nice contrast to the salty peanut butter.

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.

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.

Japanese Chicken Curry with Roux from Scratch

Chicken curry (kare) is quite popular in Japan and most households apparently purchase the ready made packages of roux instead of making it from scratch. Over the years, I’ve made Japanese curry several times, always using the boxed roux cubes. However, as I looked at the box of Glico Curry ($2.29 CDN) in my pantry recently, I had a though … how hard can it be to make my own?

So I gave it a try.

I used the recipe for roux found here and ended up with about 120 gm of roux. I was debating on whether to use all, half or one third of the roux for the small amount of chicken curry that I was going to make. In the end, I decided to use half, or 60 gm, of the roux I made and freeze the rest.

Japanese Curry Roux from Scratch

Japanese Chicken Curry

Japanese Chicken Curry – serves 3-4

<1/2 lb/200 gm chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into roughly triangular pieces
1 medium onion, half finely diced and the other half sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups chicken stock
salt, to taste (start with 1/2 tsp)
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper *
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup/60 gm curry roux**
1/4 cup frozen peas
water, as needed

* Start with the smaller amount of cayenne pepper, the larger amount makes it HOT.
** The roux is made with unsalted butter so all the salt in the dish is added here.

In a medium sized saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the finely diced onions. Saute the onions until they start getting golden brown around the edges. Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the chicken and saute until no longer pink and starting to get browned.

Add the minced garlic, carrots and the potatoes and saute for 3-5 min until the potatoes begin to get tender. Add the salt, sliced onions and chicken stock. When the stock comes to a boil, cover and turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for another 10-15 minutes until you can pass a fork through the carrots and potatoes and the meat is tender.

Break up the roux into small pieces and add to the stock, stirring to dissolve. (NOTE: If you didn’t add any cayenne pepper to the roux and decide you want it a bit spicy, add the lower amount of cayenne pepper and stir through.)

Add the honey and stir well to mix through. Taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt if needed. You may also add more cayenne pepper.

Add the frozen peas. The heat will be enough to thaw and warm them through.

Your curry will gradually thicken while cooking. If you decide it’s too thick, add water as needed to dilute. Remember if will thicken even more on sitting.

Serve chicken curry over rice or noodles.

Honetsuki Dori (Crispy Bone-in Chicken)

This Japanese dish features chicken legs prepared very simply. The result is a juicy piece of meat inside with a crunchy skin on the outside.

The only ‘fussy’ aspect of the cooking process is preparing the chicken oil or fat flavoured with ginger and garlic, in which the chicken is roasted. If you have some rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) in your fridge … what do you mean you don’t … you can save yourself a lot of work by poaching a peeled and crushed clove of garlic and a slice of fresh ginger in the chicken fat for 10 minutes.

A bonus from rendering down the chicken oil or fat is the resulting crunchy chicken skin.

The recipe I am including below was transcribed from a Youtube video and edited for clarity.

In Japanese restaurants that serve this dish, you’re given a choice between hinadori (young chicken) or oyadori (adult chicken). Apparently, although the former is more tender and easier to chew, the latter is preferred by many for its distinctive flavour. They seem to be equally juicy.

Honetsuki Dori (Bone-In Roast Chicken) – serves 2 people

2 bone-in chicken legs (drumstick and thigh)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
large amount of coarsely ground pepper (1 tsp)

4 tbsp Chi-yu (see below), for roasting

Chi-yu (Chicken oil)

300 gm chicken skin
1 slice ginger (~1/4 inch thick)
1 clove garlic

Preparing the chicken legs:

Split open the chicken legs on the underside (not the skin side) down to the bone. Trim off the excess skin and fat.

With a fork, prick the meat and skin side thoroughly.

Finely grate the garlic and spread it over the meat (flesh side). Sprinkle the salt all over the meat. Then the pepper. Massage the garlic paste and spices into the meat. Sprinkle some more pepper over the meat. Place the legs into a dish, cover tightly with food wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The two legs after being split open along the bone and rubbed with garlic paste, salt and pepper.

To cook, bring the meat to room temperature.

Preparing the chicken oil:

Smash the slice of ginger. Smash the peeled clove of garlic as well. Set aside.

Cut up the chicken skin into roughly 1-1 1/4 inch pieces.

Preheat a wok over low heat. Add the coarsely chopped chicken skin and fry for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally. Add the smashed clove of garlic and the ginger slice. Stir fry for another 10 minutes. Drain off the chicken oil.

(NOTE: Reserve the crispy skin for eating as a snack.)

Cooking the chicken legs:

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F/200 deg C.

Add 2 tbsp of the chicken oil to each of 2 trays. Add the chicken ( skin side down) and roast for 10 min. Turn over and roast for another 10 min (skin side up).

Raise the heat to 480 deg F/250 deg C and roast for another 5 min, until golden brown. Serve on preheated plate. Pour some chicken oil over the chicken.

NOTE: The skin wasn’t crispy enough so I turned on the broiler to HI and broiled the chicken with the pan in the middle of the oven for 3-5 min.

To Serve: Tear apart a leaf or two of cabbage, wash and spin dry.  Make 2-3 onigiri and garnish with black sesame seeds and yellow pickled radish (takuwan). Dip both the chunks of cabbage and the onigiri into the chicken oil.

Review:  Delicious. The skin loses its crispy texture when reheated but is still nice and juicy. If possible, only roast as many legs as will be eaten at one time.

Shokupan … Japanese Eating Bread

Shokupan is a very popular daily or “eating bread” in Japan.

In light of my summer obsession with expanding my repertoire of Japanese foods, I couldn’t pass up giving it a try. The blog where I found the recipe has two easy-to-follow versions. The easier of the two is kneaded very briefly in a food processor … and I’m all about EASY recipes or techniques.

I always find sight of the risen dough appealing, don’t you?

And, of course, the crumb shot … delicious spread with some sweet softened butter.

For a second attempt at the recipe, I shaped the dough into stuffed buns.

I choose both anko (sweetened red bean paste, on the left) and lotus seed paste (on the right) for the filling.

I was experimenting with a coloured whipping cream wash (not necessary in baked buns but should give a nice golden colour in a future steamed bun version) and the crease in the middle for the lotus seed paste filled buns. It’s supposed to resemble the dried lotus seeds after removing the germ.

REVIEW: The bread is fast and easy to make in the food processor and the taste is delicious. What more do you need? Give it a try.