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.