Friday, October 30, 2009

Daikon no Miso Soba

This is a side dish I put together from an idea I read in the Samurai book Yojokun by Kaibara Ekiken. In it he describes the idea of simmering sliced daikon root in miso. This seemed like an idea to try. After all, if it was good enough for the Samurai it was good enough for me.

So what I did here was take half a daikon root and made thin slices that included slicing around the edges.

Next I took some miso paste and prepared it for simmering. But this didn't seem like it was going to be enough for my American-jin taste. So when in doubt, improvise.

So up until now I followed the Yojokun's mention of simmering thinly sliced daikon root in miso.

But here is where I deviate from the Samurai who stirred this over a hearth in the Edo Period. You see being Latino, we love cooking with onions. So instinctivly I added half a white onion and cut the slices into thirds. To add some color, I took half a carrot and after peeling it I cut the carrot into wedges. You can use a whole carrot if you choose. I just used half a carrot because I am still out of work and never like to be without some carrot. You just never know when you'll need one!

Taking your sliced vegetables, throw them into a pot with your miso and simmer for a minimum of five minutes. I like to leave it in there longer but that's just me! When everything is firmly simmered, add one package of Yaki-Soba noodles and stir. You won't need to use more than one package. Trust me!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beef Shumai

I've always loved shumai dumplings even before I knew what they were called. You can buy ready made shumai made of crab or pork. But if you love to cook and by chance you distrust the way they make pork products in the US, then here's a simple way to make Shumai using ground beef.

Now remember, I didn't come up with this recipe. I'm just here to show you how easy and inexpensive it is to make.
And you can make this in little or no time at all.
To make Beef Shumai you'll need:

1 pkg wonton skins
1lb of ground beef
2 Tbsp of thinly sliced or grated ginger root.
2 Tbsp of green onions (thinly sliced)
1 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
1/2 Tbsp of sugar
Seasme Oil - 1-2 tbsp - Don't go overboard!
2Tbsp of cornstarch - or more

The first thing you'll want to do is to mix all the ingredients into the ground beef.
Mix throughly until sticky. Depending on how much ground beef you have you may need to add more sesame oil and corn starch. Just go easy on that corn starch if you are counting calories!

Next take a spoonful of your ground beef and place in the center of the wonton skin. The recipe I got this from recommends adding a green peas but you can do with or without depending on your taste.
If your hand looks like mine in the picture holding a wonton skin with a spoonful of ground beef then close your hand like you are closing a fist (don't close too tightly otherwise you'll have squishing out in all directions) and with your fingertips close the wonton skin enveloping the ground beef.

If you get a good batch going like seen here then you are ready to place them in a steamer. But don't rush! Cooking is supposed to be fun and not your own personal Lucy Sketch!

Place the Shumai in a steamer or steamer like improv. Make sure you don't pack them tightly in the steamer or they may tear apart when you are ready to remove them. Allow enough room (unlike my picture-doh!) for your Shumai to cook. Steam for around five minutes and serve them with your favorite sides.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Serving up Soba

Soba noodles never quite caught my attention until I first tried my hand at cooking Japanese dishes. That's likely in part due to their resemblence to spaghetti that we've grown up with here in the states.

Ahh but despite appearences, the similarities stop there.

Like with any noodle you'll want to bring a pot of water to a boil.
Drop a bundle of the noodle into the ot and stir right away.
Decrease heat and simmer for no more than five minutes.

Now if you are in Japan, aquiring a zaru is no problem. Luckily, I live near Little Tokyo so I can find these things. But if you live out somewhere like my parents do in a state with no Japanese community then your on line stores can provide you with one.

So that the hell is a zaru anyway? A zaru is actually a bamboo mat used for draining noodles much like a colander and it's also used for serving as you'll see in my final photo.

You don't need a zaru to cook soba but it sure looks traditional if you do!

So now that you have your soba ready drain it with a colander or a zaru with cold water.
Rinse and drain completely before you serve! I can't emphasize that one enough. I once neglected to rinse thoroughly the first time I tried to make soba and thought I got a bad batch. Nope! That's why it's good to read the instructions!

Now that I've got your atten well continue on!

Presentation is always part of the game.

But it's not just presentation. It's ultimately about taste.
Here's what I reccomend servinv soba with:
  1. Thinly diced green onions.
  2. Thinly sliced nori (seaweed)
  3. Wakame - Dried Seaweed.

Combine all these elements together on top of your zaru or favorite serving plate with a shot or two of Ponzu Sauce and you are ready for a quick and easy Japanese meal that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kaki Gohan - Oyster Rice

I love oysters but some oyster dishes don't love me back.
But the only way you are going to know is to try. Part of my frustration with Japanese cooking is finding many of the specialty items that even the local Japanese market may not have. If you live where there are no Japanese markets than you know this frustration. This dish on the otherhand should be no problem regardless where you live.

All you need is:
2+cups of short grained rice
2+cups of water - note this takes some eyeballing!
1pint of oysters- without shell
3T of Soy Sauce
1T of Sake
1 Lemon for rinds
1 sheet of Nori

Most American markets in particularly in major cities have a small Asian section where you can find Nori. Or look wherever you can find sushi sold.

Of course if you are in Japan or near a Nihonmachi then this will be no problem.

So going back to Nori - You'll want to cut that in tiny strips for use later.

Next you'll want to wash and drain your rice and have it ready.
Now I have looked at the KakiGohan recipes from NHK World and Yukiko Moriyama's Japanese Cuisine books. In either recipes there is some amibiguity as to the part that follows next. Perhaps that's a language barrier or that's an asumption as to how to proceed next.

So unless you grew up with Japanese cooking or have your own Oba-Chan to answer your questions - the art of trial and error may apply. When in doubt experiment!
So here's what we did.
We went ahead and washed our oysters with running water and salt. This helps remove some of the muck you may encounter especially if you bought your oysters from a pre-packaged jar.
Next you'll want to mix that sake and soy sauce in a good skillet or wok and bring to a boil.
Once that's boiling throw in your oysters and simmer for a minute or two. Keep a good eye on them for depending on your oysters you may need to add some water and simmering time.
Once you are ready drain the oysters and throw them into the rice along with 2 1/2 cups of water and cover.
Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Again, keep an eye on them. If your rice is ready in ten minutes don't wait until they are burning to turn off the heat. Reasonable so far? Wakarimasu ka?
As soon as your rice is ready gently stir and let stand for another few minutes.
If you are sensitive to oyster smell open those windows!

Now while that's standing you'll want to break out that lemon.
Thinly slice the rind. You can make them as small as you like.
When you are ready to serve you will garnish with the lemon rinds and the sliced nori.
When it's all done serve and enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Furofuki-Daikon Or What to do with a Daikon Root?

I've always wanted to try a Daikon Root recipe but had no idea once I found one how to follow along in a manner that made sense. Like with any new dish, there is bound to be some level of trial and error. My attempt was no exception.

For Japanese people this is no daunting task but if you are like me who didn't grow up with this stuff there's bound to be some initial confusion. But that's ok. We're here to share how we went about this so you can get an idea of what you can do and should you be in Japan and low on cash this is something you can make for next to nothing on the fly.

At first glance the Daikon Root looks sturdy enough to carve but one quickly finds how easy they are to split apart when you least want them to so proceed with care.

So what we did was slice in 1 1/4 inch cuts.
Next with a small pairing knife you'll need to peel off the outer edge of the Daikon Root.
This is where you find how easy it is to make unintentional cuts so take your time and make it look nice. Remember with any type of cooking presentation is part of the game. Once you have the outer edge of the root peeled away you'll want to make small cross like cuts to help absorb heat and avoid further splitting.

Now many recipes I have came across recommend cooking rice along side this dish. One byproduct of the rice cleaning process is the rice water. You'll actually want to use that water to cook the root slices for around ten minutes in a large sauce pan or cooking wok. On the surface this didn't make too much sense but they say this offers better texture so being I had never cooked with Daikon Root before, who was I to argue with?

Once you've cooked the Daikon Root in the rice water you'll want to drain that out and replace with a simmering sauce comprised of :
1tsp Sugar
1tsp Salt
2tsp of Mirin
3 or more tsp of Soy Sauce - Depending on taste.

Pour the Simmering Sauce in the Daikon and bring to a boil for ten minutes then serve.
If you have access to Japanese Kombu (kelp) you can add this when you serve it.

If you followed along you may do something creative with rice.
I added thinly sliced nori and furikake (roasted Sesame).
This is only a serving suggestion.

So far I have to say mine came out pretty good! That's a do-again at my house!

There are other Japanese ways to cook Daikon but for the simple first time this is one easy way to try.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Yasai no Fukumeni

Shitake Mushrooms & Cabbage

Here’s an easy side dish we tried over the weekend I am sure you will enjoy.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 1 pkg. Dried Shitake Mushrooms
  2. 1 Cabbage
    1/3 tsp of Mirin
  3. 3 tsp of Japanese Soy Sauce

Now I’ve worked with Shitake mushrooms before but never understood which was better to purchase them dried or fresh. With this recipe the use of using dried Shitake becomes all too clear.

Many Japanese meals may contain either a broth or simmering stock I didn’t understand this before until this was explained to me such as I in turn will explain to you the reader of this blog. In this recipe, using dried Shitake Mushrooms ( cut in halves, or quarters depending on the size of the Shitake) soak them in water until soft. Don’t throw out the water just yet because you’ll need that for your simmering sauce. No, that’s not the sauce but that is the prime component of it so this is where buying dried Shitake comes in handy.

While the Shitake is soaking, cut half a cabbage into quarters. Remember that regardless of what ethnic cooking you are doing, presentation is part of the game so make those quarters neat!

Your nest step is to make your simmering sauce.
To do that, take 1 ¼ cup to 1 ½ cup of the water left over from the Shitake Mushrooms.

Next, add 1/3rd tsp Mirin and 3 tsp of Japanese Soy Sauce.

Mix these ingredients together and pour them into a wok or a large simmering pot. Heat to boiling.
Once the sauce is boiling lower to moderate heat and add the Shitake Mushrooms and let simmer for another five minutes.
Add your cabbage squares and cook until soft then serve!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


For the record, Mabu Tofu is not a Japanese dish. It even says so on the box. But there we were one morning cruising the Nijiya Market in Little Tokyo after our visit to the Koyasan Betsuin when we came across this little culinary curiosity. As in markets in Japan there are always girls giving away samples of the latest to offer. This looked good enough to try and so what the hell we thought. We tried it and were instantly hooked.

So going back to one of the primary reasons we post this blog was to show you easy Japanese inspired cooking whether you are here or there or frankly in the mood for something that’s not going to cost you much. This falls into that cheap and easy to make yet very tasty category.

Here's a photo of the product so you can easily identify it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Curry Gohan With Options!

Curry is one of the more popular staples found on Japanese TV and in many eateries.

Now we’ve made curry before in the traditional manner served with a bed of rice. And we are sure you might have seen this done or tried it yourself too.

But it was one day while walking in the Japanese Village in Little Tokyo that we came across something that caught our eye. It was what looked like a plate of spaghetti sitting in the middle of a display rack of sushi dishes and Donburi’s. Nani???? Chotto-matte kudasai! Did we just say spaghetti? As a matter of fact we did!
Now what’s this all have to do with Japanese curry? Believe it or not we found a few Nisei that swear by this. And now we’ll we will show you!
As with any dish you’ll need the following ingredients:

  1. Curry Mix – Available in Medium or Mild - (If you are familiar with Thai or Korean "HOT"- Don't push your luck!)
  2. 1 lb of ground beef
  3. ½ Onion
  4. 1 Carrot
  5. 3 Potatoes - I reccomend small white or yellow dutch potatoes.
  6. 1 Spaghetti pkg.
  7. Cooking Oil
Now every cook has their own way or preparing meals. To save my sanity I like to make sure I have everything I need out and ready.

First, you’ll want to dice or cube your onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Second, you’ll want to get that pot of Spaghetti boiling.

While the Spaghetti cooks you’ll want to get the ground beef cooking.

Use only a small amount of cooking oil. Now when I mean a small amount I mean somewhere between 2 & 3 tbsp. When a recipe doesn’t call for Sesame Oil I like to use Olive Oil. That’s just a matter of personal preference but you can use whichever works for you.

Once the meat is sufficiently brown enough throw in the rest of the vegetables and simmer on a medium to low heat and occasionally stir.


Now if you bought the premixed Curry you can find in Japanese markets throw that into the meat.
But if that is not the case and you have the curry in cube form then you will want to have that ready. This may take some work - try adding water.
If that’s the case pour your curry into the skillet with your meat and stir for at least 2-3 minutes before serving. By now your spaghetti should be ready to drain and ready to serve.

Now you can do this one of two ways.
Serve the curry with meat & vegetables over the curry.

Or you can mix it all together.
This is optional.
Should you be in Japan, low on funds, bored of the same old-same old, or simply out of rice this method of making a Curry Gohan is a viable alternative.
But if the concept of using Spaghetti doesn’t fly with you,
Then when in doubt....Go Traditional!
Now to make traditional curry use the same fore mentioned methods but use:
  1. 1lb Stewing beef – cubed
  2. 1 Rice – 1 cup - I reccomend long grain white rice but you can use any rice.
  3. ½ Onion
  4. 1 Carrot
  5. 3 Potatoes - I reccomend small white or yellow dutch potatoes.
Follow the same cooking methods as before and your meal should look like this:

Curry consistancy is up to you.
In eateries curry is served aside from the rice. However this does not stop you from doing things your own way as seen by my example.
Reccomended side : Potato Croquet
You can find those in Japanese Markets.
(See Market Links)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sashimi Salad

If you are counting calories and love seafood,
this is for you!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Samurai Delicatessen?

Watch John Belushi - Samurai Delicatessen in Comedy  

  View More Free Videos Online at

You guessed it - This is probably how my friends see me! lol

Jagaimo no Tosa-Fumi

If you love potatoes - this one is for you!

Kyoto Style Omelette

This may not seem like a big deal but believe it or not this is actually popular not to mention very OIISHII!!

This is best made with four eggs, sushi rice, rice vinegar, salt, ketchup and best served with Sapporo Beer from Japan.

This can be served any time of day and it's yummy too!

Tamago no Ramen

Now if you have ever been laid off before or simply did not know what to make on a budget here's something for you!

Salmon Salad