Tag Archives: tofu

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


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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.

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

   

 

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.

Wakame Soup with Ajitsuke Tamago (Seaweed Soup with Marinated Soft Boiled Egg)

I recently came home with a bag full of goodies from a local Japanese grocery store I visit occasionally. Along with the canned inari-zushi on my list, I also picked up a package of dashi granules, a stick of kamaboko (cured surimi or fish paste), in the pretty white and pink swirl Naruto-maki style, and a tub of gochujang (Korean red chile pepper paste).

I was particularly excited at the idea of adding the kamoboko as a garnish to a bowl of ramen noodle soup, so I divided the kamaboko into four portions, and then wrapped and froze three of them while keeping the last portion in the fridge.

Circumstances led me to skip making the planned noodle dish and instead I made a very simple seaweed and tofu soup. Mostly because I soaked one tablespoon instead of one TEASPOON of dried wakame (seaweed, sea mustard in English). And because the marinated soft boiled eggs, another commonly seen garnish on the ramen noodle soup, were more fragile than I imagined. While peeling the first egg, it cracked … a LOT. Even the second and third egg weren’t perfect, though my peeling got progressively better. These last three eggs were placed into a soy, mirin and dashi stock mixture to marinade overnight.

And, even though the first bowl of seaweed soup I assembled wasn’t particularly pretty, it was delicious even without using a marinated egg.

I marinated the remaining eggs for 3-4 hrs and then refrigerated the eggs until the next day when I used one of them to top a second bowl of soup. (I hope to be able to replace this picture … soon.)

Wakame Soup with Ajitsuke Tamago (Seaweed Soup with Marinated Soft Boiled Egg)

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.

Bean Sprouts … what to do with them?

Whenever I make Pad Thai, I always have about a pound of bean sprouts to use up in a couple of days, before they go bad.

Usually, I make hot and sour soup, because I have things in the pantry to make it with. Like a can of bamboo shoots. Dried seaweed I can rehydrate in five to ten minutes. And diced tofu in the freezer, where I keep it for a quick pot of miso soup. I THOUGHT about making chop suey but, I didn’t have any protein thawed and limited time available, about half an hour.

Of course, summer rolls (the ones with the rice paper you have to soak) or egg rolls are a possibility too, but you have to plan ahead for them. And then there’s the frying with the latter.

What do YOU do with your bean sprouts if you buy them?

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.

Japanese Trio

I’ve had a sushi craving for a while now, but the budget doesn’t allow for an outing as I’m saving up for b’day dim sum next weekend. So, I dug into my freezer (duh!) for a couple of ingredients.

No recipes cause they’re all things I’ve posted YEARS ago, so you’ll have to go looking. (I’ll try to add links back to the recipes.)

I started with a savoury pancake, okonomiyaki, which features shredded cabbage (I used a bagged coleslaw mix as a time-saver) and sliced surimi aka fake crab ‘legs’. Instead of the sauce from the recipe, you can use bbq, tonkatsu or eel sauce, as I did.

Following up with inari sushi, which are seasoned fried tofu pockets filled, traditionally with sushi rice. I topped them with spicy fake crab legs and egg salad. I was tempted to make a third topping of tuna salad but I’d made too much of the other two toppings for the leftover inari from the can which I’d frozen away. For an interesting and tasty variation, you can fill your tofu pockets with somen noodle salad.

The spicy crab was garnished with masago (capelin roe) and the egg salad with shichimi togarashi (chili pepper condiment).The inari was served with the last of my sake. The bottle is pretty too. 🙂

And since I had a couple of cups of leftover cooked sushi rice, I decided to make a donburi or rice bowl. For a topping, I used one of the larger chicken cutlets/katsu made previously and an egg poached in the simmering sauce. I only used 1 cup of the rice so I think I’ll freeze away the rest. The only recipe you need is for the simmering sauce as the topping choices for the rice bowl are very flexible.

The egg stuck to the bottom of the pan while poaching so I lost a lot of the yolk to the simmering sauce. Oh well. What was there was still somewhat runny, the way I like it.

General Tso’s Tofu and Tofu Miso Noodle Soup

I’m a proud carnivore but every once in a while I bring home a tub of tofu and make something relatively ‘healthy’ with it.

To date, “Mapo Tofu” is my favourite way of eating this soy product, though cubes of tofu added to miso or hot and sour soup are tasty as well.

NOTE: Baking is a healthier option in making this dish, than the one I chose, which was to shallow fry the sliced tofu planks in 1/2 inch of oil until browned on both sides, and then draining the fried tofu on paper towels.

General Tso’s Tofu over Rice

I’m including the healthier baking version of this recipe below.

Baked General Tso’s Tofu – serves 3

3 cups water with 2 tsp salt, boiling
12 oz block of firm or extra firm tofu
2 tsp oil, divided
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha (rooster) sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds and/or 2 sliced green onions, optional garnishes

Cooked white or brown rice, to serve

Prepping the tofu:

Drain the tofu and cut into 3/4 inch thick slices.

Lay the slices of tofu in a glass baking dish and pour the boiling salted water over the tofu. Let the tofu soak for 15 minutes. Drain, lay tofu on several sheets of paper towelling and cover with several more. Press gently to dry tofu as much as possible.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a cookie sheet with 1 tsp of your oil.

Arrange the tofu pieces on the cookie sheet and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Mise en place for General Tso’s Tofu

While the tofu is cooking, combine brown sugar, hoisin sauce, sriracha, soy sauce and rice vinegar in one small bowl.

In another small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water.

Mince or grate ginger and garlic and set aside.

When tofu has cooked for 15 minutes, flip the tofu and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm 1 tsp of oil in a non-stick saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add ginger and garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or so. If the ginger and garlic sticks to the bottom of the pan, don’t be concerned.

Add the 1/4 cup water and as the water simmers, use a spatula to release the ginger and garlic from the bottom of the pan. Keep scraping until all of the ginger and garlic comes off of the bottom of the pan.

Add the brown sugar, hoisin sauce, sriracha, soy sauce and rice vinegar mixture. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to low until tofu is ready. Once the tofu is ready, add the corn starch mixture to the sauce and increase the heat to medium. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens and darkens.

Toss the tofu in the sauce to coat and serve over rice.

Tofu in Sauce

Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and/or sliced green onion.

Tofu Miso Noodle Soup – seaweed, rice noodles, Sriracha sauce and green onion along with the fried tofu cubes