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.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Chicken & Daikon in Vinegar Soy Sauce Soup

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Tonight my wife made me corned beef with cabbage and potatoes, and of course, I had some Guinness as well. That was tasty.

During cold winter months, I made chicken and daikon boiled in soy sauce, mirin and sake numerous times. A couple of months ago when I held a potluck party, a friend of mine made chicken and egg boiled in soy sauce and vinegar (and mirin and sake), which tasted quite similar to my chicken and daikon (which I never had the chance to post here). My friend told me that using vinegar makes it healthier and it also makes the meat very tender. He also added that even though there are quite a bit of vinegar in it, you don't really taste the sourness. So, I had to give it a try myself.

IN JAPANESE: Tori to Daikon su nikomi
SERVES: 4 people

2.5 lb Chicken thighs, drumsticks or wings with bones in it
1 whole daikon (cut in about 1/2 inch thickness)
1 package of Tofu (optional)
2 boiled eggs (optional)
6 cups of water
1 TBsp of Dashi powder (about 6 shakes)
8 TBsp of Soy Sauce
6 TBsp of Vinegar
6 TBsp of Mirin
6 TBsp of Sake
1 clove of garlic chopped in half

Place the chicken in a large pot and cover that with water and set the burner to medium high. I measured about 6 cups of water, but if you are using smaller chicken pieces or larger pieces, the water you put in should cover most of the chicken. Add the dashi powder (I would say about 1 shake per cup of water you use).

While that pot is starting to cook, wash the daikon, slice it about 1/2 inch thickness. Peel the skin from each of the slices, and cut those in half (so each pieces look like half a circle). This really depends on how big of a daikon you got, but for 4 servings, you should have total of 12-18 of half circle daikon pieces. When you are done cutting them, the water should be boiling, and add the daikon to the pot and lower the heat to low.

Also peel one clove of garlic, and chop that in half and throw that in the pot as well.

By this time there should be some foamy stuff on the top. Be sure to take those out with spoon and throw it out (but try not to take out the oily part as that gives the rich flavor!).

When most of the foamy stuff is taken out (as you continue to cook, more will appear, which you can take out) add the soy sauce, mirin, sake and vinegar. For every cup of water you used, use 1 TBsp of everything, except soy sauce use about 1.25 TBsp. And like I said before, you can hardly taste any vinegar when everything is cooked.

If you want to make this dinner more filling, you can put in some tofu and boiled egg, which I ended up doing.

Put on the lid, make sure the heat is still set to low, and let it simmer for about an hour. Some of the chicken or daikon or anything else you put in may be above the soup, so occasionally stir the pot around so everything can get even amount of flavor soaking.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Crab Lettuce Fried Rice

Wow. It's been over a year now since the last blog entry. I hadn't updated this blog or answered people's comments, but recently I've noticed a sudden surge of traffic to this blog and some nice comments from people that have tried my recipe. Thanks!

So, I decided to start this blog again. Not sure how often I can update it, maybe once a week, but realistically let's say at least a couple of times a month. And to celebrate this re-start of this blog, I wanted to do something fancy, but I knew that would delay my start again, so I'm going with another easy recipe. I guess this is why this blog is called Easy Japanese recipes.

IN JAPANESE: Kani Lettuce Cha-han
CATEGORY: Rice/Noodles
SERVES: 2 people

2 bowls of rice
1 can of crab meat (or shrimp for cheaper alternative)
4-5 Finely chopped shrimp (optional)
1/2 onion
1 egg (beaten with 1 TBsp of crab juice from the can)
1/2 TBsp vegetable oil
1/2 TBsp sesame oil
1 half inch piece of ginger (see TIP: Ginger)
1 green onion finely chopped
1 TBsp mayonaise
2 handful of lettuce leaves
some salt
some pepper

This is another great thing to cook when you have some leftover rice. On a heated wok, pour both vegetable and sesame oil. When the oil is well heated, saute the onion until it is well cooked, and add the chopped shrimp now if they are raw (if they are pre-cooked ones, add it when you add the crab later).

While that is being cooked, beat the egg with some crab juice from the can (about 1 table spoon) in a separate bowl. When the onion (and raw shrimp) are mostly cooked push them to one side of the wok, and scramble the egg on the open side of the wok.

When the egg is fully cooked, add the rice, chopped green onion, crab meat (and cooked shrimp if you are adding) and a tablespoon of mayo and mix well. Don't worry you won't taste this mayo. It's mostly in there to give it a bit of shine. When all that is mostly mixed, add the lettuce. How much lettuce? I normally tear a few leaves to be about a little larger than a bite size (they shrink), and I add one handful of that per serving (so in this case, two handfuls, which is about 1/4 of the whole lettuce).

Right after the lettuce is added, shred the ginger, shake some salt and pepper to your liking and serve. I tried to serve it by putting it in a bowl first and flipping that out onto a plate to make it look like regular fried rice presentation, but for this one with lettuce in it, it's better to just scoop and serve on a plate.