Tag Archives: japanese

“Jiggly” Japanese Cheesecake… Trial 1

I’ve been curious about this cheesecake for some time and finally got around to giving it a try.

“Jiggly” Japanese Cheesecake

Since some recipes called for as many as 8 yolks and 12 whites, which I didn’t want to commit to the recipe, I looked for one which seemed more restrained in its egg use, and didn’t give complicated baking instructions involving adjusting the temperature during baking.

As a final complication, I didn’t want to make a full sized recipe.

I don’t have the 7 or 8 inch diameter springform pan (mine is a 9 inch) called for, in the first place, and, secondly, a full sized cake is too much for a single person. Based on the recipe, I used, I guesstimated that a full recipe, would make about 4-6 cups of batter. So, I thought that the batter from a half recipe would distribute nicely among three or four one-cup ramekins with room for souffleing. I prepared four, to be safe, and added four inch tall parchment paper collars to accommodate the expected souffleing. (The collars didn’t turn out to be needed.) I filled each ramekin about three-quarters full and baked the ramekins in a water bath for 40 minutes, at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. A wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of a cheesecake came out clean, at this point. Even though the top was as pale as when I put the cheesecakes in the oven, I decided not to bake any further and shut off the oven, leaving the cheesecakes in the oven for another 30 minutes to cool and set fully.

ETA (03/30/19): Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before eating. The cold temperature sets the cream cheese and improves the flavor and texture. Store any remaining cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To freeze, wrap the cake tightly with plastic food wrap and then a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.

For aesthetics, I brushed some apricot glaze, made from stirring together 1 tbsp of apricot jam with 1 tbsp of warm water until smooth, over the top of the cheesecake.

I ate the first one warm because … well, I couldn’t wait until the next day to eat it cold.

Review: The recipe isn’t very challenging technique-wise, especially if you’ve ever made meringues or any cake involving folding flour etc into a fluffy egg white base to minimize deflating. It was very tasty warm, with just a bit of added sweetness from the glaze to contrast with the slight tang from the lemon juice and cream cheese. I liked the texture which was more similar to a moist pound cake than to a classic cheesecake.

NOTE: Refrigerating the cheesecake overnight transformed the cheesecake. It became more CHEESECAKEY and less ‘cakey’.

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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


Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Redux)

I haven’t made this delicious, fluffy bread in years.

And I DO mean, years.

This was my first attempt. And then I made it again.

It’s easy enough to make … except for the fact that you should really use a stand mixer to knead it for the 10-15 minutes needed to get it to the point where it passes the “windowpane test” and my inexpensive stand mixer travels across the counter, risking falling off, with the effort. Still, I decided to make it again, because I wanted to ‘sort of’ participate in a bread baking challenge on the Bread Baking FB group. I’ve actually made the recipe they used before, so I decided to try a slightly different recipe. That’s why it’s a ‘sort of’ participation.

The technique behind this bread is based on making a cooked ‘roux’ of flour and water which is incorporated into the bread dough. This roux is called a ‘tangzhong’.

Here’s a picture of the tangzhong … it’s glossy from the cooking process or ‘gelatinization’ of the flour and water.

The name refers to the milk or cream and milk powder used in the recipe. And Hokkaido … well, it seems that the milk produced in Hokkaido, the second largest prefecture, or district, in Japan, is something special. Incidentally, the capital of Hokkaido prefecture is Sapporo. Where that famous beer comes from.

I like Sapporo beer. A lot.

Anyway, this is the recipe I used. I was going to knead by hand, but after about five minutes, I dug out my stand mixer and let it do the job.

Shaping

 

Characteristically, three or four mini-loaves are shaped and baked together in the loaf pan. (I greased the loaf pan but it still stuck and tore one of the mini-loaves. Next time, I’m lining the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper.)

And the result.

Tearing the mini-loaves apart gives you an idea of the texture of the bread.

It’s a very tasty bread. Light and fluffy. A bit sweeter than I like, which I knew, but, rather than reducing the sugar, as I was tempted to, I stuck to the recipe. The bread is long gone, by the way.

I’m in the process of making the current “bi-weekly challenge” … an artisanal loaf using lager beer. Fortuitously, my brother brought over a 4-pack of Dos Equis Premium today/yesterday when he came to take me out for lunch. The challenge before this was a 2-hour no knead bread.

Here are a few pictures.

 

Easy Japanese Dishes Pt. 2 – Japanese Mixed Rice (Takikomi Gohan)

This Japanese mixed rice dish was inspired by a recipe posted on TabiEats. I had to make several changes since I didn’t have either the burdock root or any of the mushrooms they used. I transcribed the instructions from the video and rewrote them to make reproducing the recipe as simple as possible.

Japanese Mixed Rice (Takikomi Gohan) – serves 2

1 cup uncooked Japanese rice, washed and soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 cup cold water

Rice Seasonings

2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sake
1 tsp instant dashi powder

Rice add-ins/Toppings

1 1/2 inch piece carrot, cut into thin planks and halved
2 large white mushrooms, cleaned, cut in half and sliced thinly
1 large broccoli florette, cut into smaller pieces
nametake, to taste (I used about 2 tbsp, see recipe below)
40-80 gm firm tofu, drained and cubed

Other options for toppings

40 gm boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
40 gm beef, thinly sliced
canned tuna, drained
konnyaku/konjac, sliced and cubed
bamboo shoots, sliced and julienned
water chestnuts, sliced and jullienned
peas, edamame or french beans
sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

In a medium sized sauce pan, add the washed, drained rice and the soy sauce, sake and instant dashi powder. Stir well.

Top the rice with vegetables and other toppings. Do not stir.

Bring the water to a boil, cover turn the heat down to medium and cook for 2 min. Turn the heat down to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, remove the pan from the heat and let the rice and veggies steam for another 5-10 minutes. With a sushi rice paddle or large spoon fold to mix the toppings into the rice.

Serve with a piece of grilled fish, a bowl of soup and some pickled vegetables. Make onigiri with leftover mixed rice.

Nametake is a condiment of cooked, seasoned enoki mushrooms. It may be added to soups, rice or noodles as a topping. There are more elaborate recipes or preparations for making your own, but the one below is fast and tasty.

Nametake – makes about 1 cup

7 oz/200 gm enoki mushroom, cleaned
3 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp soy sauce

Preparation of the enoki mushrooms

Trim off the brown ‘root’ end of the package of enoki mushrooms. There’s about an inch/an inch and a quarter of edible mushroom between the trimmed off portion and the white stalk portion of the enoki mushrooms that may be cut off and reserved, as it’s still edible. I’ll show you what you can do with it in the next post on this theme.

Cut the enoki mushrooms in two lengthwise, about 2 inches long (note: I forgot to do this but didn’t find it was an issue) and break up into smaller pieces. Rinse if needed and drain well.

Add the mushrooms to a saucepan along with the soy sauce and mirin. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms have picked up some of the colour of the soy sauce.

Transfer to a small jar and refrigerate. Use within a week or two.

Easy Japanese Dishes Pt. 1 – Easy Cheeseburger Ramen

For anyone wishing to try Japanese dishes, yet not fond of sushi, the recipe below is simple and requires few specialized ingredients. It is the first of two or three posts I will be making on this theme.

Dried ramen noodle soup packages may be used for more than just cheap university food. I found the recipe for this Cheeseburger ramen on the TabiEats YouTube channel. I made a couple of changes to their recipe, such as cutting the lettuce (romaine) into three-quarter inch strips, to make eating the lettuce easier. I also reduced the amount of the dried seasoning package used to 1/8-1/4 tsp. Using the full package is just excessive as no one needs that much salt and/or MSG in their diets.

Easy Cheeseburger Ramen – serves 1

3 lettuce leaves, iceberg or romaine, cut into 3/4 inch strips
2 slices cheddar cheese, sliced about 1/2 inch wide
150 gm ground meat (beef and pork mixture)
1 tsp vegetable oil, for frying the burger patty
1 pkg ramen noodles
small pickle, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)
ketchup and mustard, garnish

Add the sliced lettuce strips to a serving plate and reserve.

Shape the ground meat into a 3-4 inch diameter patty. Add the vegetable oil to the frying pan and cook the patty over medium heat for 2-3 min on the first side. Turn the patty over and cook on the second side until no longer pink inside. Break the patty into six to eight pieces or wedges after a minute or so. It helps to cook the meat more quickly and you’ll be able to tell when the meat is done.

Bring 4 cup of water to the boil in a medium sized cooking pot. Cook the the ramen noodles as per package instructions. Set aside the seasoning package. Reduce the cooking time as you’ll be cooking the noodles further with the meat.

Drain the ramen noodles and add to the frying pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Toss the noodles with the meat to coat with the meat juices. Scatter the sliced cheese over the top and toss gently. Sprinkle about 1/8 tsp of the ramen seasoning packet contents over the noodles and meat. Mix well and taste. Add an additional 1/8 tsp if needed.

Turn the noodles and meat out over the lettuce lined plate.

Add the pickle slices over the top, if used. Garnish with ketchup and mustard and serve.

Note: You can make your own version of this dish using the pasta of your choice. Season with salt and pepper or Maggi seasoning sauce or bouillon/dry soup mix.

Okinawan Taco Rice (Tako Raisu)

Sadly, I’ve never been to Japan, so my only exposure to Japanese cuisine has been through television programs, cookbooks and, more recently, YouTube videos.

I first ran across this Tex-Mex/Japanese fusion dish originating in Okinawa on the channel TabiEats and copied the recipe from there.

It’s a simple idea … a basic taco meat recipe, with the addition of some soy sauce to give it that Japanese touch. Instead of being served in a soft or crunchy taco shell, the meat is served over a cup of steamed rice. You can use short grain sushi rice or long grain, like the basmati rice that I accidentally pulled out of the fridge.

Okinawan Taco Rice (Tako Raisu)

Mise en place: Lean ground beef, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, soy sauce, tomato paste, cooked rice, salsa and salt (not pictured). Avocado and firm tofu are for the variations.

Rice and taco meat ready to be garnished

Variations

1. Taconari – Inari sushi tofu pockets filled with a combination of sushi rice and the taco meat (or the tofu option below)

 

2. Tofu taco rice – Crumbled firm tofu replaces the ground meat (beef, beef and pork, chicken or turkey) in the taco meat recipe and is combined with the sushi rice … may be eaten stuffed in inari pouches or in endive cups.

 

3. Avocado Taco – Avocado half, center scooped out and filled with the taco meat before being garnished with your favourite taco toppings

   

 

Sushi at Home – Purple Sushi Rice

Even if the only sushi fillings you have in your fridge are cream cheese (home made Boursin) and smoked salmon, you can turn your boring old Philadelphia roll into a dramatic visual by colouring your sushi rice and then using it to make an inside out roll.

The ingredient responsible for that change … red cabbage. Grate a fist sized wedge finely on your microplane zester, drain off the liquid, add a bit of lemon juice to the liquid to make the colour ‘pop’ and stir it into your cooked sushi rice. Easy peasy. (NOTE: My method involved adding 2 tbsp of seasoned rice vinegar to a generous handful of finely shredded red cabbage, pureeing it and then straining the resulting liquid into a cup or two of hot, freshly cooked sushi rice.)

Inside out Purple Philadelphia Roll

Onigirazu (sushi rice sandwich) with cream cheese, smoked salmon and red cabbage. Sliced avocado may also be added.

Colouring the Sushi Rice

Making the Inside Out Roll

Making the Onigirazu

Sweet Japanese Thin Omelettes

I found the recipe for these omelettes on the “Just Hungry” blog as well as some interesting ways of using them. I’ve rewritten the recipe posted below to reflect the number of omelettes I made

Inari Sushi Topped with Thin Omelette

Sweet Japanese Thin Omelette (Usuyaki Tamago)

Sweet Japanese Thin Omelettes (Usuyaki Tamago) – makes 4  9-inch omelettes

3 large eggs
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1/8th tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tbsp water (optional)*
vegetable oil to oil the pan

* The cornstarch adds extra body to the omelette so that it can be used as a wrap for beggar’s purses and shell-shaped sushi.

Beat eggs and water together in a small bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to the egg mixture and beat together to combine. If you want an extra smooth omelette batter, you can sieve your mixture before making your omelettes

Place a cast iron or non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat and when heated, wipe the surface with a paper towel that has been dipped into a bit of vegetable oil. Add about 1/4 cup of the egg mixture and swirl to evenly cover the surface of the frying pan. When the edges of the omelette are dry and start to curl just a bit and the surface of the omelette is still a bit shiny, free the edges and flip the omelette out onto a large plate. Swipe the frying pan surface with the oiled paper towel and repeat until you’ve used up all the egg mixture.

NOTE: Your pan may gradually get hotter so watch that the bottom of the omelette doesn’t brown for a professional omelette quality. Remove the pan from the heat briefly to cool it down if you’re making a lot of omelettes at a time. If you don’t care that the omelette gets a bit brown, it won’t BURN, don’t stress. Expert omelette makers may be able to use only about 3 tbsp per omelette for a truly THIN omelette but, as with crepes, I find that 1/4 cup of the mixture is perfect for my pan and I don’t rip the omelette when removing it from the pan.

Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

I was reminded of this elaborate variation of okonomiyaki today while playing with a sourdough adaptation of the basic recipe and decided to share the LJ post from four years ago.  It’s a lot more work than I normally have the energy for these days so I’m unlikely to cook it again in the near future.

It’s been a while since I made this tasty Japanese pancake so I decided to take it to the next level with a Hiroshima style okonomiyaki.

It’s a bit labour intensive because you have to do a lot of prepping of the ingredients, but the actual execution is a breeze. So, once you have everything in its own bowl, you can crank out 1 or 2, or 4 okonomiyaki in a row and everyone can have their own flavour combinations.

Overview of the Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

1 portion of yakisoba noodles
1 egg, fried sunny side up and yolk still runny
1 okonomiyaki with desired garnishes

Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

1. Make the Yakisoba noodles

Yakisoba Noodles – you can divide this batch of noodles in half to serve as the base of 2 portions if you wish.

1 bundle of Y&Y brand 3 minute chow mein noodles (from a 1 pound package)
1 recipe of yakisoba sauce
1-2 tsp vegetable oil

In a medium saucepan boil 4-5 cups of water. Add the bundle of chow mein noodles and gently tease apart. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain well. If using immediately, heat a large non stick frying pan to medium and add vegetable oil. Add noodles and fry for a few minutes until the noodles start getting some colour. Pour the yakisoba sauce over the noodles and stir through.

If making ahead, drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water. Drain again and store in a plastic wrap covered bowl so they don’t dry out. When frying make sure the noodles warm through before adding the yakisoba sauce.

Yakisoba Sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sake/mirin/water
1-2 tsp soy sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp wasabi paste (add more if you like it hotter)

Stir together in a small bowl and pour over the noodles as required.

2. Fry the egg

3. Make the Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki – makes one pancake

2-3 strips bacon, cooked, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix)
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) all purpose flour
pinch or two of salt
3 tbsp water or dashi soup
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped green onion (optional)

Other meat choices
– a few cooked shrimp, shredded surimi, 3-4 pieces thinly sliced pork

Okonomiyaki Sauce – mix the following together

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Okonomiyaki Toppings

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (diluted with 1 tbsp milk to make it easier to pipe)
Aonori (ground dried green seaweed) or shredded nori and dried bonito shavings (to taste)

Mise en place – From left to right. Top row: yakisoba sauce, cooked yakisoba noodles, shredded coleslaw/carrot mix, 2nd row: shaved bonito flakes, egg, 2 stalks of sliced green onion, okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise in squeeze bottle, bottom row: sliced surimi, fried bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

Making the Okonomiyaki batter

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Gently mix in the water and egg. A whisk will assist with this. Next, add all the remaining ingredients and mix them together thoroughly with a large spoon.

Okonomiyaki batter and surimi

Heat the griddle (or frying pan) to medium or medium-high and lightly oil. Spoon the okonomiyaki mixture onto the griddle and spread it into a round shape about 1/2 an inch (1.2 to 1.5 cm) thick.

When air bubbles start to rise in the middle of the okonomiyaki, lay the cooked bacon pieces on top, turn the pancake over with a spatula and fry while pressing down on the pancake slightly until done.

Bacon and Okonomiyaki – before turning over to cook the top of okonomiyaki

Underside of okonomiyaki

Transfer to a serving dish, bacon side up.

Yakisoba noodles and fried egg – waiting for their okonomiyaki top

Okonomiyaki (top side up) on top of noodles and egg and ready to be garnished

Spread the okonomiyaki sauce over the pancake, top with mayonnaise in a pretty pattern.

Sprinkle on the aonori and dried bonito flakes, if using, as well as any other garnishes. The okonomiyaki is now ready to eat.

ETA: Version #2 with avocado garnish and green onion mixed into batter. Bean sprouts are good inside the batter as well.

Playing with the toppings … and what is inside the pancake as well

Closeup with oozing egg – I’m still working on cooking the yolk less.

Convenience Foods: Inari Sushi

Inari sushi are one of my favourite specialty sushi at the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants I frequent. If you’re watching your pocket book, however, they’re a snap to make at home with just a few ingredients. Traditionally filled with cooked and seasoned sushi rice, they may be served plain or topped with egg salad, tuna salad or a variety of other sushi fillings. I’ve also filled the tofu pockets with a somen noodle seafood mixture and with leftover Arborio seasoned Korean style (Yubu Chobap).

You can make your own fried and seasoned tofu pockets, but why bother, when you can buy a can of 16 half pockets for a fairly reasonable price (~$5 CDN, locally) and save yourself the mess? Leftover tofu pockets freeze well in the seasoning liquid once the can has been opened, so they’re practical for single diners.

Seasoned Fried Tofu Pockets

Lap Cheong Sausage Inari Sushi

Lap Cheong Sausage Inari Sushi – makes 15-16 inari sushi

1 cup raw sushi rice, cook as per package instructions
4 lap cheong sausages
2-3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar to season the cooked sushi rice
1 can Hime brand inarizushi

Optional add-ins:
1/4 cup of finely cubed cooked carrot, thawed frozen peas or thawed corn kernels (omitted)
6-8 shiso leaves, julienned
a couple of sweet Japanese thin omelettes (usuyaki tamago), rolled and cut into 1/8 inch strips

Once cooked, you’ll have about 3 cups of rice, enough to fill 15-16 inari sushi. When cooking the sushi rice, lay the sausages over the top of the rice, cook, then remove the sausages and dice. Add the diced sausage to the cooked rice and cut in along with the rice vinegar.

For ease of stuffing the tofu pockets, use 2-3 tablespoons of the rice mixture, shape into an oval and insert it into the opened tofu pocket.