Monday, September 08, 2008

Baby Bok Choy in Garlic Oyster Sauce

It's been three months since my last update. This time I have a real excuse. My wife and I bought our first home, and we have been super busy renovating it to have a nicer kitchen. When I say nicer kitchen, some of you may picture luxurious looking kitchen you see in movies, but if someone hadn't seen how it looked before, they probably wouldn't think much of our "new" kitchen.

First of all, for an odd reason, there was a laundry machine next to the fridge, and that took up a lot of space. There was also no venting fan for the range. When I make stir-fry, I definitely need the fan on. We also didn't like the cracked floor. So what we did was put a brand new tile on the floor, which raised our floor a bit, meaning we had to lower the cabinet so the refrigerator can still fit under the cabinet. We then moved the washer/dryer to a separate room, and installed fan vent. And those were a lot of work. But now it's done and I'm able to cook again.

IN JAPANESE: Chingensai no Garlic Oyster Sauce itame
CATEGORY: Vegetable
COOKING METHOD: Stir-fried/Steamed
SERVES: 2 people

2 Baby Bok Choy (Chingensai)
1 TBsp of vegetable oil
1 clove of garlic chopped
1 tsp of salt
4 TBsp of sake
2 TBsp of oyster sauce

Peel the bok choy into individual pieces and rinse. It's ok if they are still wet.

Pre-heat your wok (about medium high) and once the rim of the wok is hot to touch, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.

When the oil is heated, throw in chopped garlic until they turn slightly brown.

Add bok choy into the wok (be careful for the splashing oil), and stir fry for about a minute.

Have a lid that is big enough to cover all the bok choy (the lid does not have to be as big as the rim of the wok), pour in the sake and close the lid right away. This will steam the bok choy in sake, which gives nice flavor. Keep it steamed for about 2 minutes.

Take the lid off, add salt and oyster sauce to the mix, and stir for about a minute until the sauce is warm, and you are ready to serve!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shrimp Seaweed Salad

I haven't had much chance to cook recently. I've been going out to lots of concerts. In the past month, I must've gone to at least 5 shows. I got to see KT Tunstall, Yoshida Brothers, and at the Sasquatch Festival I was able to check out R.E.M., The Cure, Tegan & Sara, Death Cab For Cutie, just to name a few. In the next week, I am going to three more concerts! That's a lot of money I've been spending on concerts, so I need to stay home and cook some.

I was trying to cook something healthy for a side dish, and I realized that I didn't have any fresh vegetables. But I did have some dried seaweed that can expand when you soak in water for 10 minutes, and some shrimp and edamame in the freezer. So, here's what I came up with.

IN JAPANESE: Ebi to wakame salad
SERVES: 2 people

6 uncooked shrimp (see TIP: Shrimp)
12 edamame (green soybeans)
2 TBsp of dried seaweed cut wakame
Ponzu (citrus seasoned soysauce) for dressing

First and foremost! Be sure to get the right kind of dried seaweed. Don't get the kind you see on the sushi. This is the kind that's in miso soup, and it's the kind when you soak it in the water, it expands into kelp like seaweed. With that said, soak the dried seaweed in water. Normally those things take about 10 minutes to rehydrate.

While the seaweed is being soaked in water, boil water in a pan with about a teaspoon of salt, and once the water is boiled, add edamame and shrimp (still in shells) together. Both of those only take 3 to 4 minutes to fully cook, so be sure to not overcook them.

After they finish cooking, rinse both edamame and shrimp under cold water. Place them under several ice cubes to make sure they get really chilled for a couple of minutes.

Once they are chilled, peel the shrimp, and slice it in half length wise (so that it will be thin).

Take the beans out of the pod.

When the seaweed is completed rehydrated, drain all the water, and add the thinly sliced shrimp and edamame beans and mix together.

Serve on a small bowl, and add the ponzu dressing to your liking!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mushroom Tofu

A lot of the people in Seattle have been forgetting what month it is. Yes, it is in fact May, but the weather hasn't been too kind to us, and the temperature had been somewhere from 10 to 18 degrees celcius, except this past weekend, the temperature was 31 degrees celcius.

We had some tofu and mushroom that had been in the fridge for some time, and wanted something warm, so I decided to improvise and make mushroom and tofu with sweet thick sauce.

IN JAPANESE: Mushroom to Tofu no ankake
CATEGORY: Vegetable
SERVES: 4 people

1 package of Tofu (cut in blocks)
1/2 lb of mushroom sliced (15-20 mushroom)
2 TBsp Soy Sauce
2 TBsp Sake
2 TBsp Mirin
1 half inch piece of ginger (see TIP: Ginger)
1 tsp of dashi powder
1 cup of water
1 TBsp of corn starch
1 green onion (optional)

On a heated wok, add about a table spoon of vegetable oil, and when the oil is also heated, add the sliced mushroom and cook.

When the mushrooms look fully cooked, lower the heat to low-medium and add the blocks of tofu. You are mostly trying to warm up the tofu, so there's no need to stir too hard and destroy the tofu.

Add the soy sauce, sake, mirin and the shredded ginger and stir the wok gently not to break the tofu (instead of using chopsticks or spatula, just lift up the wok and twirl it around). Once that sauce gets mixed, add a cup of water and some dashi powder.

While that water heats up in the wok, take 1 Tablespoon of corn starch and mix that with enough water (about 2 Tablespoons should do it) so all the powder dissolves.

When the water (more like soup now) begins to boil, slowly add the dissolved corn starch to the wok and stir gently. As the wok continue to boil, the soup should get thicker.

Serve on a bowl with chopped green onions on top

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Miso Chicken

I was craving some chicken, but I didn't want anything greasy. I tried to think of what I could possibly do with chicken breast pieces we had in the freezer, so I tried to bake it with a miso sauce, which turned out to be better than I expected! The photo makes it look like crossaints or some kind of dinner rolls with cheese on them, but it's chicken with special miso sauce.

IN JAPANESE: Tori no Miso Yaki
SERVES: 4 people

1 lb Thin sliced Chicken breast (about 12 pieces)
2 TBsp of Miso (white would be better, but red is fine, too)
1 TBsp of Sake
1 TBsp of Mirin
1 tsp of Sugar
1/2 tsp of lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, mix miso, sake, mirin, sugar and lemon juice until you get a creamy sauce.

Lightly grease a baking pan (9x13inch pan), and spread the miso sauce on each side of chicken pieces and spread them into the pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked. You can cut the fattest piece to see if the juice from the meat is clear instead of red (clear means fully cooked, red means still bloody and raw). That's it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Boiled Tofu Salad

Growing up when I was a hungry big appetite teenager, this was one of my least favorite dish as it was so brand, boring and most of all, not meaty! But yudofu, which I don't know the good translation, so I will call it Boiled Tofu Salad, is a popular traditional dish in Japan. Yu means hot water, and dofu, is tofu.

But now that I am an older man, who no longer can eat two Big Macs, I have more appreciation for this kind of food than McDonalds. If you want to get really into it, you can get a fancy kelp to get dashi and fancy tofu, but simple kelp powder and tofu from your local grocery store will do plenty good.

CATEGORY: Vegetable
SERVES: 2 people

1/2 pack of tofu (firm or soft, it's up to you)
1 tsp Kelp powder
2 Green Onions
2 TBsp of fish flakes [katsuobushi]
1 half inch piece of ginger (see TIP: Ginger)
Soy sauce or preferably Ponzu for dressing

Fill a sauce pan up with water (about 3/4 full) and add the kelp powder. Heat the water in medium high.

While the water heats up, chop the green onions into tiny pieces.

When the water is close to boiling, add the tofu, which should be cut into small enough size that it can be scooped up by a regular sized spoon.

While the tofu is cooking in the kelp-based soup, add the chopped green onion into a small serving bowl. Shred some ginger and add a table spoon of fish flakes (katsuobushi) per bowl. Pour some Ponzu (or soy sauce if you don't have Ponzu) into the bowl, and that's pretty much it.

Serve with the pan/pot with tofu in middle of the table, and have each person scoop up their own tofu into their bowl. Use the spoon with holes in them so you are only scooping up tofu and not excessive amount of soup. Be careful when taking a big bite. The tofu gets really hot inside! When done eating, I normally add the kelp soup into my bowl and drink that as soup.

*Ponzu is a citrus soy sauce based dressing that is really good!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bamboo Rice

My mom loved to cook, and everything she made tasted good, but of course, there were a few favorites. One of my younger brother's favorites was bamboo rice. It's a simple dish, but it's so good. I remember when we were kids, my brother who normally only ate a bowl of rice ate 3 or 4 bowls when my mom cooked bamboo rice.

IN JAPANESE: Takenoko Gohan
CATEGORY: Rice/Noodles
SERVES: 4 people

2 Cups of rice
1/2 lbs of ground beef or pork or chicken
1 can of green bamboo shoots
1/4 carrot or 4 baby carrots chopped thin
3 TBsp soy sauce
2 TBsp sake
1 TBsp mirin
1 TBsp sugar
1/2 tsp dashi powder
1 half inch piece of ginger (see TIP: Ginger)

Wash 2 cups of rice and set it on your rice cooker with slightly less than regular water measurement. For extra flavor, I add a couple shake of dashi powder to the cooker for this partiuclar dish.

While the rice is being cooked, open up the can of bamboo shoots. You can find these at most Asian groceries, or bigger supermarket on the Asian food isle. There are pre-chopped sliced kinds, but I like getting the whole ones and chop them into chunkier pieces like shown on the photo. Also chop some carrots into thin slices.

Heat up the frying pan, add some oil and cook your choice of ground meat on medium high. While the meat is still half cooked, go ahead and add the carrots and bamboo.

Add sake, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, ginger (shredded) and 1/2 teaspoon of dashi powder and stir well. When everything is mixed (should only take a minute), change the heat to low, and place a lid and let it simmer and have the flavor soak into bamboo and meat for about 5 minutes. Make sure the heat is low enough that all the liquid doesn't dry up.

After about 5 minutes, most of the liquid should be gone (it's ok if there's some, just as long it's not more than 5 TBsp of it.

When the rice is finished cooking, mix all of the bamboo and ground meat mix into the rice and serve!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Happy April Fool's day. It seems like Google is playing another April Fool's joke on Gmail. This year, they claim to have a new function that let's you send email with time stamp from the past. If you forget to send birthday wish or anniversary note, you can set your email sent time to whenever, and claim that you did actually sent it. I liked last year's joke better, where they claimed that they can print all of your emails and ship it to you for free.

Now, onto today's recipe. This one is super easy, and at the same time super good, and popular at BBQs. Whenever there's a BBQ potluck, we are usually asked to bring this. Bacon wrapped shrimp is a great izakaya menu and goes excellent with ice cold beer. And don't worry, this is a legit recipe (not an April Fool's joke).

IN JAPANESE: Ebi no bacon maki
CATEGORY: Meat, Seafood
SERVES: 4 people

16 shrimp peeled (see TIP: Shrimp)
8 slices of bacon
4-8 mushrooms (optional)
8-12 asparagus (optional)
1 TBsp sake (optional)
salt & pepper (optional)

Cut the slices of bacon into half. The portion of bacon and shrimp should look like the photo here. Place the shrimp on top of the bacon and just wrap it up. If you are going to be using the BBQ grill, I recommend using the toothpick to hold it into place. If not, just place it on baking sheet. Both the shrimp and bacon are salty enough so you don't need to add salt.

If you want some veggies, I recommend grilling some mushrooms and asparagus with the bacon wrapped shrimp. On the mushroom, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and on the asparagus, sprinkle salt and pepper, but also pour a bit of sake (1 TBsp for about 10 asparagus) if you will be grilling in your oven.

If you are using your oven, set it to broil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the shrimp and the bacon looks crisp on the outside. If you are using a BBQ grill, both the shrimp and bacon cook much faster (usually 5 minutes will do) so stay by the grill for this one.