Monday, July 31, 2006

Japanese Hamburger

There was another food festival this past weekend; Ballard Seafood Fest. It was similar to Bite of Seattle with similar food stands, but at a much smaller scale. I enjoyed BBQ shrimp, crab clam chowder, and grilled salmon. I didn't see any raw oyster though. My wife told me that people have been getting sick from oysters from Puget Sound this season. The warmer weather is causing virus to grow inside oysters, apparently. That's too bad.

Last week, I introduced Italian fried rice, so this weekend I thought I would make Japanese hamburger. The photo didn't turn out that appetizing, but this is probably my wife's favorite dish.

SERVES: 4 people

3/4 lb beef
1/4 lb pork
1/2 onion chopped
1 egg (mixed with a pinch of salt)
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove of garlic chopped
1 half inch piece of ginger (see TIP: Ginger)

1/2 cup of ketchup
2 TBsp Bulldog Sauce
2 TBsp sake or white wine
1 TBsp butter
3 mushrooms sliced
1 clove of garlic chopped

Chop half an onion and a clove of garlic into tiny pieces and add that into a bowl along with all the ingredients listed on the [hamburger] list, EXCEPT for the breadcrumbs. Mix well with your hands (be sure they are clean!) I use the mixture of beef and pork since that creates more fluffy juicy burger. But if you don't eat pork, then you can omit using it.

After everything is mixed well together, add a cup of breadcrumbs. This time, mix gently so the breadcrumbs will stay as fluffy as they can without mashing everything up.

Grab about half of tennis ball in your hand, and toss it back and forth from one hand to the other to make sure the air escapes from the mixture. After a few tosses, make it flat into burger shapes. Depending on your preference, you could make four fairly big patties or six tiny pieces (my wife prefers small ones, so she can eat two instead of one big one).

Set the pan on medium high with a table spoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, place the burgers on the pan, let them cook for a few minutes until one side turns brown. Lower the temperature to low, flip your burgers, and place the lid, and let them cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the burgers are fully cooked.

If you are in a hurry, after flipping the burgers, you can pour hot boiling water about half way full on the pan, and place a lid. That would steam the burgers and cook them faster. When most of the water has evaporated, your burgers should be done.

Set your burgers aside, and on the same pan (if there are leftover grease and meat pieces, even better), add butter and diced up garlic on medium heat. After the garlic pieces tunr slightly brown, add sliced mushroom, and let it cook for a few minutes until they look cooked.

Lower the heat to low, and add the rest of the ingredients (ketchup, Bulldog sauce and sake) and stir until everything is well mixed.

Place the bugers back in the pan. If you want cheese over them (I recommend chedder), put a slice on top of burgers, and cook with the sauce on low heat until the cheese melt.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Italian Fried Rice

There was Bite of Seattle this weekend at Seattle Center, so we checked it out with a few of our friends. I'm always excited about this event, but every year, I seem to remember that it wasn't that exciting. For those of you that don't know, this event just has lots of food booths from various restaurants in Seattle. You can try tasting lots of different foods, but every year we end up eating the simlilar thing, instead of being bold and try something unique like an alligator on a stick. This year I tried spicy BBQ pork sandwich and collard green, which was pretty good.

Speaking of unique food, here's a dish that sounds interesting. In Japan, a lot of little cafe offer this dish as chicken rice. You usually find this inside an egg omlet in Japan (called Omu-rice). I never had any particular name for this dish, but for this post, I decided to call it Italian Fried Rice. My wife was completely against the idea since there is nothing Italian about it, other than that I use a little of garlic and ketchup. But I think Italian fried rice sounds more appetizing than ketchup rice.

IN JAPANESE: Chicken Rice
CATEGORY: Rice/Noodles
SERVES: 2 people

2 bowls of rice (leftover would be better as opposed to freshly made)
your choice of meat (chicken, bacon, ham, etc) cut in tiny pieces
1 clove of garlic chopped finely
1 TBsp of vegetable oil (omit if you are using bacon)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup of frozen vegetable
1/4 onion chopped finely
1/2 cube of chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon of butter
4 TBsp of ketchup

On a heated wok, pour a table spoon of vegetable oil. When the oil is well heated, add the finely chopped garlic, and let the garlic flavor soak into the oil. Then cook your choice of meat along with the onion.

After your choice of meat and onion are mostly cooked, add 1/2 cup of frozen vegetable. While that is being cooked, beat the egg with the sugar in a separate bowl. When the vegetables are mostly cooked push them to one side of the wok, and scramble the egg on the open side of the wok.

When is egg is fully cooked, mix that with the rest of the stuff in the wok, and add the rice, and 1 teaspoon of butter, and a 1/2 cube of chicken bouillon powder (be sure to smash that into tiny pieces and sprinkle them over evently).

After everything is mixed fairly evenly add the ketchup until everything is evenly red.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yaki Udon

There was a Japanese Bon-Odori festival this weekend near the International District. My wife and I, and a couple of other friends that used to teach English in Japan went to check it out. The guys wore jimbei, which is a traditional summer wear for males, and the girls wore yukata, traditionally worn by women in the summer time. But recently there are cute Hello Kitty jimbei for girls and simple yukata for guys.

We enjoyed some festival foods like somen, yakisoba and teriyaki. There was a taiko drum show, which rocked, and we danced (or pretended like we danced) to bon-odori, a traditional Japanese summer festival dance. It was a lot of fun. On our way home late at night, we walked past some frat guys that were on their way to hit the clubs. One of them saw us in our jimbei and yukata, and yelled, "Memoirs of Geisha!" I was impressed that he was able to get the country right.

Yakisoba is a popular festival food, but I also enjoy yaki udon once in a while. It's fairly easy to make, and has more simple taste than yakisoba.

SERVES: 2 people

1 pack of udon
4 slices of bacon or thinly sliced pork
1 egg
1/4 onion
some carrots
some mushrooms
1 TBsp of vegetable oil
1 half inch piece of ginger (see TIP: Ginger)
1/2 TBsp of sugar
1 TBsp of soy sauce
some salt
some pepper
some pickled ginger (optional)
some fish flakes (optional)

If you have the dried udon noodle, you need to boil and cook it as instructed. But I recommend that you use the non-dried kind. A lot of times, these noodles will come with a packet of soup power, but for yaki udon, you won't be needing that.

Pre-heat your wok and pour about a table spoon of vegetable oil. When the oil gets warm, stir fry your choice of meat, and then vegetables. On a bowl, mix egg with 1/2 table spoon of sugar (or mirin).

When the meat and vegetables are mostly cooked, push them aside, and pour the egg and scramble well. After the egg is cooked, mix well with meat and vegetables.

Add udon in the wok, and stir fry for about a minute. Shred a piece of gigner, pour 1 table spoon of soy sauce, and add some salt and pepper to your taste.

Serve with pickled ginger and fish flakes on top.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Grilled Salmon

Today was the final of World Cup: Italy vs France. It wasn't what I expected (I expected Germany vs Brazil), but my wife and I walked to the nearby pub to watch the game from 11am. I'm not a fan of either of the team, but since I liked some of the players on the France team, I decided to cheer for them. I wore my Japan jersey to the pub (it looks very similar to the France jersey).

We got to the pub right before the kick off, but the place was so packed that we had to wait in line for twenty minutes. During those twenty minutes or so, both France and Italy had scored, so we missed that. I was quite surprised to see so many fans there. But then, this may have been the only pub showing the final in Seattle area. Congrats to Italy for winning, but more than anything, I will remember Zidane head-butting one of the Italian players. I wonder what caused him to do that.

Tonight we had grilled salmon. Salmon is popular in Seattle, but we usually get the Atlantic salmon. It's cheaper and tastes better, in our opinion. This grilled salmon is a popular breakfast dish. If you go to Denny's in Japan, you can order it for breakfast.

SERVES: 2 people

salmon (steak cut)
some salt
shredded daikon (optional)

If you bought the steak cut (like shown on the picture), cut the middle part (so you get two of the same cut).

Pour salt on all sides of the salmon to your preference.

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and grill/bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the outside edge starts to turn dark.

While the salmon is in the oven, shred some daikon and serve it along side the fish. Pour some soy sauce over the shredded daikon, and eat it with fish.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Broccoli & Beef

It's been a week since I started working in downtown Seattle. With my new job and World Cup game, I haven't been cooking much. We've been going to George & Dragaon pub to watch the repeat broadcast (the pub records the game to show in the evenings) almost every night. So we've been eating typical bar food like burgers, fish & chips and chicken strips. Watching the games and drinking beer is exciting, but my stomach has not been happy recently.

During my trip to Europe, I realized along with my Japanese-American friend and Korean-German friend that when you are raised eating rice all the time, your body craves rice after not eating it for three days. We liked the food in Europe, but every three days or so, we found ourselves at a Chinese restaurant or Japanese restaurant just to eat some rice. It was easier in Spain since we could satisfy our need for rice from paella. My wife, who is American thinks if you are in a foreign country on a vacation, you should eat their local food. I completely agree, and as much as possible, I do try all the local goods, except my stomach needs rice once every three days or so. I wonder if this kind of thing happens to other people. Do Italians feel like they need to eat pasta at least twice a week?

Today is Fourth of July here in the States, and we will be going to a BBQ (I don't think there will be rice), so I cooked broccoli & beef for lunch. That's a popular dish at a Chinese restaurant, but it's easy to make, so here it is.

IN JAPANESE: Gyuniku to broccoli itame
SERVES: 2 people

5-6 thin sliced beef
1 head of broccoli
1/4 onions
some carrots (optional)
some mushrooms (optional)
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1/2 TBsp sesame oil
1/2 TBsp vegetable oil
2 TBsp oyster sauce
some pepper

Warm up your wok and pour 1/2 table spoon of sesame oil and vegetable oil. I like to mix oils like that since that gives better flavor.

After the oil gets hot, cook the finely chopped garlic until the garlic flavor soaks into the oil (should be about a minute when the garlic pieces turn slightly brown).

Throw in all the vegetables and stir fry for about a minute, and then add the slices of beef to the wok.

When the beef is 90% cooked, pour the oyster sauce and some pepper into the wok and stir fry for about a minute more until all the sauce is evenly mixed with the beef and vegetables.

That's it! And serve with rice.