Tag Archives: japanese

Home Made Sushi featuring a Volcano Roll and a Red Dragon (sort of) Roll

I get periodic sushi cravings and try to shop appropriately for making it at home cause I’m trying to be financially responsible when it’s a choice between a tank of gas (or getting my grass cut) and going out for sushi.

I had bought an avocado a week (or more) ago, and I had a package of tempura shrimp in the freezer. I was going to make tempura shrimp onigiri, but … plans change.

I had good quality salmon in my freezer and decided to risk raw salmon rolls. When I cut into my avocado it was bruised and yucky. I couldn’t save any of it so it went into the garbage. Luckily, I bought a mesh bag of little avocados a few day ago so I cut into the ripest looking of the bunch.

After making four pretty boring regular rolls on Saturday: spicy raw salmon, spicy tempura shrimp, tamago (sweet omelet) and avocado, and baked teriyaki salmon and avocado, I challenged myself with two specialty rolls on Sunday.

Volcano Roll  – There are different kinds of volcano rolls depending on where you go. Classically, julienned cucumber sticks and cream cheese fill the rolls. Then, they’re sliced and topped with a mixture of mayonnaise, Sriracha and some sort of seafood. (I’ve had shredded fake crab legs but you can use diced raw shrimp, salmon and scallops, alone or in combination.) The topped rolls are placed in a toaster oven, or put under the broiler in your regular oven, until the topping is hot and bubbly and browned and the raw seafood is cooked. I’ve read that shrimp may take a bit longer to cook so you can partially saute them before adding them to the mixture. Or just use cooked and thawed shrimp.

Since I didn’t have any cream cheese and I don’t care for cucumber, I was going to use sliced avocado in my volcano roll filling. But I got distracted and used the strips of raw salmon that I was going to use in the red dragon roll. You can also use roasted asparagus, sweet potato or yam.

I didn’t have any fresh green onion to garnish with so I topped the roll with frozen sliced green onion before baking. A bit wilted but they gave the volcano rolls a nice look.

Red Dragon Roll – This is a roll within a roll. The red dragon roll I’ve had at my favourite sushi restaurant is an inside out roll filled with tempura shrimp, sliced avocado and julienned cucumber. Thin slices of raw salmon are overlapped over the top. The green dragon roll is covered with overlapping thin slices of avocado. There’s a rainbow roll which has alternating bands of salmon, sea bass (or white tuna) and avocado. The latter is my favourite but I didn’t have a second kind of raw fish so I stuck to the salmon. The filling was just sliced avocado.

 

Cover the roll with a sheet of plastic wrap and use your sushi rolling mat to press down and firm up the salmon covering.

Leave the plastic wrap on the roll and cut through it so you don’t mess up the salmon layer. Then, garnish with black sesame seeds or nigella seeds and volcano sauce (mayonnaise and Sriracha).

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Bakudan Onigiri (Bomb Rice Balls)

ETA (08/23/2017) : Some additional notes on onigiri ideas added to bottom of post.

In these last couple of weeks, before school starts again, I’ve been in a frenzy of cooking.

I broke open the one kilo bag of frozen raw shrimp, from Costco, and made two different pasta dishes (I’ll post a picture of the second one soon) with home made semolina pasta. Sales on fresh fruit meant that I finally made another batch of raspberry curd so I could take some pictures. It’s hard to believe the last time I made raspberry curd was before I owned a camera. I made red chile pulled pork for tamales … and then changed my mind and made a vegetarian filling instead and froze away the rest of the pork.

The nigiri in this post had been planned for on the same weekend that I did the last bbq. In fact, I was going to grill a foil wrapped package of teriyaki basted salmon belly meat on the grill, for the onigiri, at the same time. And then I forgot the salmon in the fridge. So I had to bake it off in the oven. Instead of shaping the onigiri into the most commonly seen triangles, I made rice balls or ‘bombs’.

Bakudan Onigiri Platter

Two different ways of serving the rice balls

Instead of stuffing the salmon, or other seasoning, in the middle of the balls, it was stirred into half of the hot rice. Wrapping the rice balls in a half sheet of nori keeps it moist longer. For including in your bento/lunch bag, wrap the rice ball up tightly in food/saran wrap. Biting into the neat package can be a wonderful surprise if you’ve made an assortment.

And for something even simpler, a couple of tablespoons of furikake (rice seasoning or topping) were stirring into the other half of the rice.

Making the Rice Balls:

1 cup of raw sushi rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp of salt
6-8 half sheets of nori
90-100 gm cooked salmon, flaked for ver. 1
2 large shiso leaves, julienned for ver. 1
2 tbsp furikake (rice seasoning) for ver. 2

Garnishes (optional)
tobiko (fish roe)
bonito flakes, moistened with some soy sauce

The cooked rice was divided into two halves and the salmon (and julienned shiso leaves) and furikake were stirred into each respective portion. The salmon portion was divided into 4 larger rice balls as the salmon added a lot of bulk, while the furikake half only made 3 somewhat smaller rice balls.

Various Types of Onigiri/Omosubi

1. Filled onigiri

fish – salmon (sake), tuna, shaved bonito moistened with soy sauce (okaka), shrimp
umeboshi (pickled plums)
tempura shrimp
tsukudani style kombu (sheets cooked with soy sauce and mirin until tender, shredded and tucked into rice ball)
meat – Japanese friend chicken (karaage) or regular friend chicken ***
miso glazed baked eggplant
fish roe – tobiko (flying fish), tarako (salted sac of cod roe) and mentaiko (spicy sac of cod roe), ikura salmon

*** very perishable, transport refrigerated or on ice packs

2. Mixed rice

sushi and brown rice

3. Seasoned

a) Stir the flavourings into the rice after it is cooked
furikake (nori seaweed and egg, ume (pickled plum), shiso, shrimp, and dried fish)
shredded baked, fried or smoked fish
veggies ie sauteed onion, shaved carrot, edamame, green onion
sesame seeds
pickled ginger

b) Cook along with the rice
julienned gobo (Japanese root vegetable)
peas
hijiki (Japanese dried seaweed)
julienned carrot
dashi kombu/soy sauce/sake/sugar

4. Shaped

triangular (traditional)
bakudan (bomb)
hockey puck – dimple and fill then serve filling side up
cylinder shape or tawara (bale of hay)

5. Grilled (Yaki) – brushed and grilled ** Usually NOT filled

soy sauce
miso butter

6. Wrapped

nori is traditional
takana mustard greens
ooba leaf
tororo kombu kelp
salted lettuce
salted green shiso
parcooked bacon and then grilled

7. Coating

furikake
sesame seeds or salted sesame seeds (black is more striking)
ground shiso leaves

8. Onigirazu

Herbs, A Flower and Miso Soup Revisited – Tofu and Mitsuba

Miso soup is my ‘go to’ quick soup when I want a light, clean tasting soup with a flavourful broth. Although I COULD make a dashi stock with a sheet of kombu (dried salted seaweed) and katsuobushi (thinly shaved bonito flakes), I use hon-dashi powder for the convenience. MSG is a component so if that’s an issue, you may want to avoid it. I usually have white and red miso paste in my freezer and the kind I use depends on what I’m in the mood for. Or what’s left over in this case.

Some medium firm tofu and a beaten egg drizzled into the simmering broth gives my miso soup substance. As does some soaked and thinly sliced wakame (edible seaweed also called ‘sea mustard’).

For a fresh element, I snipped in a few stalks of mitsuba (wild Japanese parsley) from a pot that’s been overwintering surprisingly well on the front windowsill. With the sunlight streaming in, my little plant is producing fresh whorls of new leaves regularly, in spite of the less than proper care that it’s been getting. Watering it regularly is about all I do. Regular parsley, green onion, or even fresh spinach are other options.

Instead of salt, I added a few dashes (close to a teaspoon to 5 cups of water, to be honest) of Chinese soy sauce and a few shakes of ground pepper.

It takes longer to write this than it does to bring the water to a boil and make this soup. A bigger challenge is taking a good picture of miso soup. If you stir it up, it looks cloudy, while if you let all your ingredients settle, it just looks like water with a bunch of stuff on the bottom.

I just wish I had a nice Japanese/Chinese spoon for the aesthetics of the picture but I’m too cheap to spend $2-3 on a single spoon. Oh well, my big sushi bowl will have to do.

Mitsuba – Trim your stalks close to the soil and use the entire stalk in your soup. Even the roots are edible especially if grown hydroponically.

Shiso – It’s hard to tell which was the plant which self seeded as several of its late siblings have really shot up after I scattered the seeds from the dried out twig over the soil and watered it. I really need to thin and separate these plants but I don’t want or need that many shiso plants and I hate to throw them away after their surprising survival.

Close-up of the shiso leaves – Unfortunately, my single red shiso plant didn’t flower so I lost it.

Lavender and basil (Mammoth Italian and Thai) – The three lavender seedlings in the pot on the left seem pretty scraggly but they’re the only successes from a planting of about a dozen seeds. I planted the four outer egg carton cups with the Italian basil but only one had any growth, two measly plants. The two center cups have a total of six Thai basil seedlings ready for transplanting.

Mammoth Italian basil and some oregano that overwintered pretty well on the window sill.

U is for Udon (Noodles that is)

Noodles are ubiquitous in many cuisines and udon, a soft, thick and chewy wheat noodle, is one of the many Asian forms I hadn’t tried until I found them fresh at my local, cut-rate, grocery store.

Vacuum sealed in individual portions, they’re removed from the package and added to a pot of boiling water where they take only three minutes to cook to the al dente stage. Rinsed thoroughly in cold water and then well drained, they can be served either hot or cold.

Closeup

Dan Dan Noodles … the noodles are topped with the meat sauce, sambal oelek and green onions … stir it up and dig in.

Tofu and red miso soup served over a half package of udon noodles with a poached egg for garnish.

Hokkaido-Style Corn, Chicken and Milk Miso Soup

A recent purchase of a bundle of kale and a sparse pantry led to some net surfing where I ran across a recipe for this hearty version of miso soup.

It’s similar to a corn chowder, which can be kept vegetarian with tofu as the protein instead of the chicken the recipe called for. I included both as I had some diced tofu in my freezer, as well as what turned out to be 6 oz of diced chicken breast. The recipe called for cabbage as the vegetable. Funnily enough, kale is considered a member of the cabbage family. (I did NOT know that.)

Hokkaido-style Corn, Chicken, Milk and Miso Soup – serves 5

4 cups of water and 1 vegetable stock cube (or 2 tsp dashi powder)
1 cup milk (or soy milk)
1 cup white cabbage, finely shredded (or kale)
1 green onion, white only, finely sliced
1 cup of fresh, canned or frozen corn
1 tbsp butter, vegetable or sesame oil
6 oz (~ 200g) chicken breast or leftover cold chicken, cut into pieces (or firm tofu, TVP or quorn)
1 tbsp dried seaweed, soaked in 1/4 cup warm water, drained and julienned
~1/2 cup of white miso** (adjust for taste)
salt and pepper (white or black) to taste
green onion tops, sliced thinly, for garnish

** All I had was red miso paste so that’s what I used

Heat up the water in a pot and dissolve the vegetable stock cube or the dashi powder in it.

Prepare the veggies while the water comes to a boil.

Saute the cabbage and onion in a large saute pan with the butter or oil until it’s just turning limp. Add  the chicken cubes if added raw and brown briefly. Add the corn and briefly saute at the same time.

Add the soup stock to the saute pan and simmer until the chicken is just tender.

Place the miso paste in a small bowl and add about 1/2 a cup of hot stock. Mash up the miso as much as possible. Add an additional 1/2 cup of stock and stir until the miso paste is dissolved.

Add the milk to the saute pan, and bring up to a simmer. (Add the cut up chicken if using leftover chicken and heat through.)

Add the dissolved miso and drained seaweed to the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with green onion tops and serve.

Repeated … Asian Themed Dishes

I’ve been craving sushi again … and you know what THAT means.

I make a bunch of my favourite Chinese and Japanese dishes, take pictures of them and share them with you all.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) – I diced some fake crab legs (surimi) and added it to the pancake mixture. The cooked strips of bacon are added to the top of the pancake before it’s flipped over and the top is cooked. I’m wrapping the two I made and freezing them away for future meals.

Szechuan shrimp and broccoli over longevity lo mein noodles – 3/4 of a pound of white Pacific shrimp in a spicy sweet and sour type sauce. I bought a bundle of broccoli cheap (88 cents). It was most mostly stem and very little florette so I threw in all the florettes and froze some of the stem for vegetable stock.

Sticky Asian drumsticks

Sushi hand rolls (temaki sushi) – A shiso (perilla) leaf gives these hand rolls a great fresh flavour. And they’re so inexpensive. Cook up a cup of sushi rice and you have enough rice for 8-10 hand rolls.

All you need is a drizzle of soy sauce before devouring these beauties.

Shiso (Perilla) and Mitsuba Seeds

This post features my first attempts to germinate shiso and mitsuba seeds … the timing isn’t the best but I think I learned a lot for next spring.

As a fan of Japanese dishes, especially sushi, I’ve heard of shiso, also known as perilla, and its various uses in both its green and red forms.

Most simply the green version can be included in hand rolls or as an edible garnish under sashimi. The red form is most famously used for coloring pickled plum, or umeboshi. I happened to whine express my culinary interest in acquiring some in correspondence with a blogging Swiss friend and she offered to send me some seeds from her plants. I emailed her my snail mail addy, and as it was almost the end of summer, thought I’d have something to look forward to in the spring. I was pleasantly surprised to find an envelope in the mail in almost no time as well as detailed growing instructions and the assurance that more seeds would come for spring planting.

So, with nothing to lose, I gave it a shot.

The shiso seeds are small and round, similar to basil seeds in size. And like with basil seeds, you get the first embryonic leaves peeking through a light covering of soil about 4-5 days after planting. Wait until the first TRUE leaves appear and the stalk is about an inch in height before thinning and transplanting the seedlings into larger pots. I planted 10 seeds and got 5 germinating.

Shiso seeds were planted in the back row … you can see the first 3 seedlings.

D-shaped embryonic leaves with more normal oval shaped leaves in the middle.

Shiso leaves have their 2nd and 3rd set of ‘true’ leaves. Only one of the mitsuba seedling has its first set of ‘true’ leaves. They were planted at the same time.

Also included in the package were seeds for mitsuba, also known as Japanese parsley, which is said to have a celery like flavour with a number of uses, including as a garnish in soups and as a sushi ingredient.

Mitsuba seeds are long, thin and black, similar to cumin seeds. I attempted to germinate about 10-12 seeds but only 3 sprouted. The embryonic leaves reminded me of leaves of grass so I wondered if I had actually managed to sprout one when the first hint of green peeked through the soil. Only the husk of the seed coat, which was still attached let me know I had succeeded.

At first I thought only one seed had germinated but over the course of the next 10 days, a second and then finally a third sprout was seen. It took almost 3 weeks for the first ‘true’ leaf to appear.

And even longer before I felt confident enough to transplant them into pots. Parsley like ‘true’ leaves.

ETA: 10/10/2016 Since I was having so much trouble with the mitsuba germination, I tried a method suggested by the friend who sent me the seeds to germinate the shiso – on damp cottonballs misted with water daily after 2 days of refrigerating.

It took a bit over 3 weeks but 2 out of the 11 seeds germinated… so far. I covered 6 of the seeds with a damp paper towel as well, as a test.

International Cooking

What country/nationality’s cooking, other than your own, do you enjoy?

I live in Canada and other than poutine and butter tarts, I can’t really claim that I cook anything that is particularly CANADIAN. Throwing maple syrup into a dish doesn’t make it Canadian, does it?

I enjoy a variety of national cuisines. This past week … I made Chinese (kale and white miso soup), Japanese and Tex-Mex dishes.

Donburi, or Japanese rice bowls, are a great way to use up leftover sushi rice. Chicken is one of my favourite proteins to top the rice bowl. The beef version was a new one for me though I didn’t have the paper thin fatty beef that is usually used and ended up with some chewy strips of sirloin steak. It still tasted good, though.

Chicken katsu (cutlet) with scrambled egg poached in the simmering sauce …

… and gyudon (beef) with egg. In Japan a raw egg is broken over the hot rice bowl but our eggs aren’t safe to eat raw so I poached mine. Paper thin cut fatty beef is preferred for quick cooking time and flavour. I garnished the rice bowl with shredded pickled ginger and green onion. And the pink, white and green colours looked pretty too.

I made a half dozen crab stick and avocado hand rolls with the rest of the sushi rice.

As for Tex-Mex … well, it’s better than going to Taco Bell. (Even if it IS an occasional guilty pleasure.)

Beef fajitas

Tamales are more Mexican than Tex-Mex but I’m going to throw them into the mix.

And, lest I forget … an iced Thai coffee to beat the heat. One of these days, I’ll make a more expansive Thai menu.

Iced Thai Coffee

Make double strength coffee and let cool to room temperature. If you like cardamom, a pinch or two added to the coffee while you’re brewing it is tasty.

In a tall glass, add a few ice cubes, 1-2 tbsp of sweetened condensed milk depending on how sweet you like your coffee. Pour the coffee over the ice cubes.

Re-imagining Basic Recipes

So much for my ‘break’. But I’ve been having a lot of fun and couldn’t resist sharing some pictures.

Taking a recipe and re-thinking some elements to come up with something new and exciting is important for the daily cook. And those of us on a budget who can’t run out and buy exotic or expensive ingredients.

So, adding beet puree (only 2 tbsp to a 2 egg pasta recipe) to a basic pasta recipe and coming up with a very pretty pink pasta doesn’t take a lot of money, just some imagination, or google-fu in case your imagination is as limited as mine.

Making the Beet Pasta

Dressing the resulting pasta is another fun pastime.

Shrimp Scampi … a very romantic shrimp supper for two

Browned Butter and Sage … a more modest meatless pasta dish with a generous grating of Grana Padano cheese

No changes in this dish from the basic recipe I posted before, but the pictures are MUCH nicer.

I haven’t made these onigiri (Japanese rice patties) in ages. You can leave them plain or fill them with anything from the classic umeboshi which are a type of pickled ‘plums’, dried bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce or a very Western tuna salad. The onigiri may also be eaten as is or grilled, basted with soy sauce and then grilled again briefly. Wrapping a strip of nori around the rice patty keeps your fingers clean, but you’ll want to wait til the last minute so the seaweed stays nice and crispy.

I learned a fun way to shape/pack sushi rice into a round ball. Simply take 2 small round bottomed bowls, rinse them with water so the rice doesn’t stick, add your rice to the bottom bowl, put the other bowl on top and SHAKE back and forth for a minute or so.

Crack open the ball of rice on a moistened sheet of food wrap over which you’ve sprinkled some salt, and add your filling. Tighten the plastic wrap around the ball and filling and squeeze it tightly, then form into a triangle shape.

Plain Onigiri – wrap a strip of nori around the patty before eating

Yaki Onigiri – I like to add a bit of wasabi to the onigiri before wrapping the nori around it and eating.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies become cookie cups … I used 3-4 tbsp to make balls which were placed into muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray. The cookies and cups were baked together for 15-16 min at 350 deg F and then I used the bottom of a shot glass to press down the cookie in the muffin tins to make a ‘cup’. The cups were allowed to cool for 5 minutes before being removed from the muffin tins and transferred to the cooling rack to cool completely.

I’ll fill the cups and share pictures soon.

Mushroom Miso Soup with Butternut Squash Ravioli

You can whip up a great soup in 15 minutes with a few simple pantry and fridge/freezer ingredients, like this white miso soup with fresh mushrooms and frozen butternut squash ravioli. A sprinkle or two of green onions and you’re all set.

Mushroom Miso Soup with Butternut Squash** Ravioli – serves 3, generously

6 cups chicken, vegetable or dashi stock (6 cups water and 2 tsp dashi powder)
2 tbsp white or red miso paste
1 tsp dried wakame (seaweed), soaked in 1 cup cold or warm water, thinly sliced
5-6 sliced white button mushrooms
9 frozen butternut squash ravioli
1-2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced as garnish
salt and pepper to taste

** Use whatever kind of ravioli, tortellini or wontons you have available

Place the miso in a small bowl.

Bring the stock to a boil in a medium sized soup pot. Add the soaked seaweed and mushrooms to the pot. Season with about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.

With a ladle, transfer about a cup of the hot liquid to the miso in the bowl and mix gently with a spoon or whisk to dissolve the miso.

Add the frozen ravioli to the remaining hot liquid in the soup pot, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes until the ravioli are tender.

Take the soup pot off the heat, and stir in the dissolved miso. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Spoon a couple of cups of soup into each bowl and add 3 ravioli per person. Sprinkle green onion over the top and serve.