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Salty Chicken Rolls

By: Yumiko

Here is a super easy dish to serve as a main, side or an addition to your antipasto platter. Salty Chicken Rolls has intense chicken flavour and is served cold or at room temperature.  It keeps well in the fridge as well as frozen.

Hero shot of Salty Chicken Rolls on a servng plate with blanched broccolini.

I rarely use a microwave to cook food.  My use of the microwave is limited to reheating leftover meals and occasionally steaming vegetables (you can find microwave-steamed bean sprouts in my post Sesame Bean Sprouts). But today’s chicken dish is cooked just in the microwave.

What is required to make Salty Chicken Rolls

The recipe is split into two stages. The first stage is seasoning the chicken and the second stage is cooking the chicken in the flavoured stock. The recipe calls for 2 fillets of chicken leg.

Season the Chicken:

  • 2 fillets of whole chicken leg (chicken Maryland, i.e. thigh & drumstick connected) or a few thigh fillets, skin on.
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake.
  • 1 tsp each sugar and salt.

My Maryland fillet was about 270g / 0.6lb each. If you are using thigh fillets, try to find a few fillets weighing 500-600g / 1.1-1.3lb in total.

Butterflying chicken Maryland and thigh fillets.

Chicken Maryland fillet (left & middle) and thigh fillets (right).

Having the skin on the fillet is important as the good flavour of the chicken is locked inside the skin while cooking. The chicken also retains moisture better.

You can use breast fillet if you prefer but the cooked chicken rolls are slightly drier than the one made with leg/thigh fillet. They are still tasty, though!

Flavoured Stock:

  • 200ml / 6.8oz water
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake
  • A piece of konbu (10cm x 10xm / 4″ x 4″)
  • 1 tsp salt

How to make Salty chicken Rolls

Salty Chicken Roll slices made with chicken breast fillet.

Salty Chicken Rolls made with a chicken breast fillet.

Here are the high-level steps to make Salty Chicken Rolls (none of the steps require special skills):

  1. Season the chicken fillets.
  2. Roll the fillets and secure the rolls.
  3. Mix stock ingredients.
  4. Microwave the chicken rolls in the stock for about 10 minutes.
  5. Marinate overnight.

Before seasoning, poke the chicken skin using a fork or the tip of a knife to let the seasoning penetrate the flesh. Leave the seasoned chicken for 10 minutes.

The cooking time can vary slightly depending on the size of the fillet. Poke the centre of the roll with a bamboo skewer and if clear juice comes out, it is done.

Making Chicken Rolls

You make a roll with each fillet, securing the roll using a string or toothpicks. Although, if you have a small elastic roasting net, that would be easier.

If the meat is a large block like a roasting meat, you can tie the meat with a long string in a professional way like the one in my Yakibuta recipe. But the chicken roll is thin and the fillet is a bit slimy, so I tied the roll individually in several places.

Showing how to tie rolled chicken fillets.

Depending on the type of fillet you use, the length of the chicken roll can vary and the number of ties you need will be different. I mad 5 ties for a chicken Maryland fillet, 3 ties for a thigh fillet (see above photos).

You don’t have to neatly tie the roll. You can even put the string around randomly. As long as the roll is secure, that’s all that matters.

Cooking and Marinating Chicken Rolls

It is good to use a microwave-safe container that the chicken rolls can just fit inside. The container needs to be deep because the stock will bubble while cooking.

Cover the container loosely with cling wrap or a lid. Cook on high in the microwave for 5 minutes, turn the rolls over and cook for a further 4 minutes. Let them cool.

If you are using a few thigh fillets, try to use similar sized fillets to achieve even heating in the microwave.

Salty Chicken Rolls marinated in the broth.

When the chicken rolls are cooled down, place them in a zip lock bag with the liquid.

I transfer the chicken rolls to the bag first. Then I put the stock through a sieve to get rid of any tiny chicken bits in the liquid before adding the liquid to the bag. Using a sieve is an extra step and not mandatory but it’s nice to have a clean stock.

Remove as much air as possible out of the bag and seal it. To remove air from the bag, I do the following:

  1. Fill the basin with water and lower the half-sealed zip lock bag into the water slowly.
  2. Gently massage the bottom of the bag, steering the air bubbles towards the surface.
  3. Gradually lower the bag to just below the zip line while eliminating the air bubbles.
  4. Once most air is out, seal the bag.

Place the bag in the fridge overnight.

Serving Salty Chicken Rolls

Take the chicken rolls out of the bag. The stock should be gelatinous and some of it might be stuck on the chicken. Remove it as much as possible.

Place the rolls on a cutting board and remove the strings (or toothpicks). Slice each chicken roll thinly (I sliced it 5mm / 3⁄16″ thick). The best way to serve the chicken roll slices is to spread them out so they slightly overlap.

Zoomed-in photo of Salty Chicken Roll slices with gelatinous broth on top.

You don’t need to slice the roll. If you prefer, you can dice it but I think that slicing is the best way to show off the roll.

The gelatinous stock is packed full of flavour and you don’t want to waste it. I put some of it over the chicken slices to decorate them as well as to give an extra flavour to the dish.

Salty Chicken Rolls are Versatile

Because the chicken has only a plain salty flavour, you can use it for many dishes:

  • Make a thinly sliced Salty Chicken Rolls and cucumber sandwich.
  • Add the sliced chicken to your fresh green salad.
  • Instead of char siu or charshu slices, use sliced Salty Chicken Rolls as toppings.
  • Serve them along with other foods on an antipasto platter.
  • Serve them with cold noodles such as Zaru Soba and Somen.
  • Use it in aemono.

Here is a photo of my Chicken Paitan Ramen (recipe is coming soon!) with Salty Chicken Rolls on top.

Chicken Paitan Ramen

Salty Chicken Rolls keep in the fridge for 4-5 days and a few weeks in the freezer. It’s a perfect dish for a bento box too.

What other dishes can you come up with?

YumikoYM_Signature

Salty Chicken Rolls in a serving late.
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Simple Salty Chicken Rolls

It is super easy to make but has intensive chicken flavour, Simple Salty chicken Rolls are great as a main dish, an addition to the antipasto platter, a sandwich filling, etc. It keeps well in the fridge as well as frozen.
Prep Time includes the time to leave the chicken after seasoning. I allowed 10 hours for Marinate Time but you can marinate up to 24 hours.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe so you can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Appetizer, Main, Side
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword chicken leg, chicken maryland, microwave chicken, salty chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinate 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 2 large fillet of chicken leg (maryland) skin on (note 1)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake

Flavoured Stock

  • 200ml / 6.8oz water (note 2)
  • 1 piece konbu (5cm x 10cm / 2” x 4", note 2)
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp salt

Serving (note 3)

  • Blanched broccolini

Instructions

  • Butterfly the chicken fillets (note 4) where the meat is very thick so that the thickness of the fillet becomes even. Using a fork or the tip of a knife, poke the skin in several places.
  • Place the fillet horizontally, skin side down on a work bench. Starting from the end closest to you, roll the fillet away from you. User strings to tie several places to secure the roll (note 5).
  • Roll another fillet in the same way.
  • Put the Flavoured Stock ingredients except konbu in a microwave-proof container (note 6) and mix well. Add konbu, then place the chicken rolls in the container. If the container comes with a lid, place the lid on loosely, otherwise, cover the container with cling wrap (note 6).
  • Cook for 5 minutes in the microwave on high. Turn the rolls over and cook further 4 minutes with the lid on.
  • Remove the konbu. Let it cool naturally, then transfer the chicken to a zip lock bag.
  • Put the stock through a sieve to eliminate chicken bits (optional) and transfer to the bag.
  • Remove the air from the bag as much as possible (note 7), then seal the bag. Marinate in the fridge overnight (10-24 hours).

Serving

  • Take the chicken out of the bag, removing gelatinous stock off the chicken. Cut the strings off and discard them.
  • Slice each chicken roll thinly to 5mm / 3⁄16" thick (note 8). Place the slices, overlapping each other on a serving plate.
  • Place the broccolini on the side and put some gelatinous flavoured stock on the chicken slices.

Notes

1. My chicken leg fillet was 270g. Anywhere between 250-300g / 0.6-0.7lb is OK. If much larger volume, you need to adjust the quantity of other ingredients.
If you cannot find chicken leg fillet, use 2-3 thigh fillets to make up for the total weight. You could use a breast fillet but you will find that the cooked chicken is on the dry side.
2. If you have konbu dashi at hand, use it in place of water and a piece of konbu.
3. Instead of broccolini, you can of course use other vegetables. I think that blanched vegetables would suit best.
4. See my post Chicken Cutlet that explains how to butterfly chicken fillet.
5. I tied 4-5 places but if you are using smaller pieces, you probably need 3 ties to secure the roll.
Instead of using strings, you can secure the rolls with toothpicks. Put through the toothpicks near the end of the roll. You will need several toothpicks.
6. You need a container with enough depth as the liquid will bubble while cooking. It is also good to have a deep container if you are using cling wrap to cover so that the cling wrap does not touch the chicken while cooking. When the food touches the cling wrap while cooking in the microwave, it could melt the cling wrap.
7. To serve as a main dish or nibbles, I think that 5mm / 3⁄16" is the appropriate thickness but it’s up to you. If thicker, the dish looks more dynamic and less elegant. But if too thin, it will not be practical to pick up the slice, particularly serving as nibbles.
For better presentation, you may want trim the both ends of the chicken roll. Don’t discard them, just pop them into your mouth - chef's privilege!
8. Salty Chicken Rolls keep in the fridge for 5 days and few weeks in the freezer.
9: Nutrition per serving. It is assumed that 50% of salt and sugar, 80% of water are left in the stock.
serving: 152g calories: 305kcal fat: 21g (32%) saturated fat: 6g (30%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 4.5g monounsaturated fat: 8.6g cholesterol: 116mg (39%) sodium: 681mg (28%) potassium: 268mg (8%) carbohydrates: 2.8g (1%) dietary fibre: 0g (0%) sugar: 2.2g protein: 23g vitamin a: 23% vitamin c: 5.5% calcium: 1.4% iron: 11%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

The amount of protein in today’s main dish is not large so I picked Iri Dofu to supplement protein. Rice can be a plain cooked rice, but I thought takikomi gohan would make the meal more interesting.

Salty chicken, slight sweetness from Iri Dofu, sourness from the salad dressing and umami from all the dishes. Today’s menu idea will certainly satisfy your taste buds!

Dinner idea with Hero shot of Salty Chicken Rolls.

The post Salty Chicken Rolls appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Cigarette Butter Cookies (Yoku Moku Cigare)

By: Yumiko

My Cigarette Butter Cookies are very similar to the cigarette shaped cookies from the famous Japanese confectionery brand, Yoku Moku. You only need 4 ingredients to make these fancy butter cookies and a mere 6 minutes to bake!

Gift box filled with Cigarette Butter Cookies wrapped in plastic bags.

I love Yoku Moku cookies! I don’t have a sweet tooth but their cookies are one of the few exceptions and I bring back a large box of Yoku Moku cookies every time I visit Japan.

About Yoku Moku Cookies

A broken Cigare shosing crispiness of the cookie on the plate with some more Cigare.

The confectionary company Yoku Moku was established in 1942 in Tokyo as a family owned business. The name of the company, ‘Yoku Moku’ (ヨックモック) came from the town called Jokkmokk in Sweden.

The entrepreneur, who loved travelling, was looking at a world map and noticed a small town called Jokkmokk on the map. He liked the name of the town as it was rhythmic and the sound was heart-warming. So, he decided to name his company with the same sound.

Yoku Moku cookies are crispy but soft, with full of vanilla and butter flavour. The cookies can be round, square or rectangle, with or without chocolate coating. But the most popular and eye-catching cookie of all is the cigar-shaped cookie called ‘Cigare’. Cigare is the French word for cigar and in Japan, they pronounce it ‘shigāru’ (シガール).

When I went to Japan in January/February this year, I brought back Yoku Moku cookies in a beautiful tin box (see the photo below) . If I knew that I could not go back to Japan for a while, I would have spared some cookies so that I could take some photos of them to show you.

A beautiful tin from Yoku Moku in which Yoku Moku that came with Cigarette Butter Cookies.

Now that they have long gone, I am afraid you will need to check out the website here to see what’s inside.

Cigare cookies are very similar to Cigarette Russes (Russian cigarettes) that are often served with ice cream. But Yoku Moku Cigare are bit thicker, I think.

What’s in My Cigarette Butter Cookies

The following are the ingredients to make about 10 cigarette cookies that are 11cm / 4¼” long.

Ingredients to make Cigarette Butter Cookies.

  • 1 egg white – about 33-36g
  • 40g caster sugar
  • Melted butter – the same weight as the egg white
  • 40g flour or 30g flour + 10g almond meal/almond flour (per photo above)
  • A few drops of vanilla essence or ⅛ tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)

It’s amazing that you can make such tasty cookies with only 4 ingredients (if I count vanilla essence, that’ll make 5). And the flavour is pretty close to the Yoku Moku Cigare.

I tried slightly different proportions of the key ingredients above and I found that having the same weight of egg white and butter worked the best for me.

Baking Butter Cookies

Mix the ingredients one by one in the order of the ingredients above. You don’t whisk hard to make foam. You just mix the ingredients well.

The batter is not watery but quite thin. When you lift some batter with a whisk, it tries to form a peak but the tip bends immediately (see the photo below).

How to make batter for Cigarette Butter Cookies.

Top Left: Egg white and sugar mixed, Top Right:Added butter, Bottom: Showing thickness of batter.

The fundamental process of baking cookies is nothing special except that the thickness of the batter on the baking tray needs to be quite thin.

Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and thinly spread the batter (about 1mm / 3/64″ thick). Bake at 170°C / 338°F for 6 minutes or so until the edges of the cookies become brown.

Using this batter, you can bake small round, oval or squarish cookies if you like. But to make a cigarette-shape cookie, the batter needs to be spread thinly to form a large circular shape. The diameter of the circle determines the length of the cigarette.

Baking cookies to make cigarette cookiesShowing the inside of Cigarette Butter Cookie.

I used two methods to spread batter into large circles: (1) use the back of a spoon to draw a circle and spread, (2) use a hand-made stencil and fill in the batter using an icing spatula.

Method 1:

I drew circles with a diameter of about 11cm / 4¼” on the back of the baking paper. You can make the circle a bit larger or smaller. It just happened that the container I used to draw a circle happened to be this size. The circles need to be drawn 2-3cm / 1″ apart from each other.

Drop batter in the centre of each circle. Using the back of a spoon, spread the batter outward up to the pencilled lines. The batter should be about 1mm / 3/64″ thick.

Try to spread the batter as evenly as possible. If the thickness is notably uneven, the thinner part of the batter gets burnt while the thicker part of the cookie is uncooked.

Spreading batter on the baking shee using a hand and a spoon.

This method does not make perfect circular cookies but simple, using just a hand and a spoon. It is almost impossible to make the thickness of the butter even and you cannot avoid getting brown patches inside the circles when baked (photo above). But that’s perfectly OK.

Method 2:

I made a plastic stencil to make cookies with a perfect circle and even thickness. I bought a folder made of plastic (about 1mm / 3/64″thick) and cut out a circle (see the photo below).

Home-made stencil with a large circle to shape a cookie for Cigarette Butter Cookie.

Place the stencil on the baking paper and drop batter on one side of the circle. Using an icing spatula, push the batter to the other end of the circle, filling the entire circle with the batter. Gently remove the stencil and voila!

This method makes perfect circular cookies with consistent thickness as you can see in the photo below.

Showing how to fill the batter using a home-made stencil and make a perfect circle of the batter to be baked.

Baking time is 5½- 6 minutes with either method, at 170°C / 338°F or until the edges of the cookies start browning.

Making Cigare

After baking the cookies, roll them one by one on the baking tray. The cookies should be floppy initially. You need to roll the cookies while they are hot as they become crispy when cooled down, which makes them impossible to roll.

It might be easier if you place a chopstick crosswise on the cookie and roll the cookie around it. Also, the cookies are very hot to handle. It would be easier if you wear a pair of thin cotton gloves to roll them like my hand in the photos.

Showing how to roll a cookie to make a Cigarette Butter Cookie.

Because I could bake only 3-4 cookies at once, I used two trays – a large tray to bake 4 cookies and a smaller tray to bake 3 cookies – to speed up the baking process. While baking one tray, I got another tray ready to bake. As soon as the cookies in the oven were done, I placed the other tray and started rolling the baked cookies.

If you make the circles smaller, i.e. shorter Cigare, then you can bake more cookies at once.

Decoration and packaging for a present

You can dip one end of the cigarette cookie in melted chocolate to decorate. You could even sprinkle hundreds and thousands on the chocolate. My preference is a simple version of Cigare with nothing on it, though.

Gift box filled with Cigarette Butter Cookies wrapped in plastic bags.

Above photo and the photo at the top of this post is a present I made the other day.  I put two Cigarette Butter Cookies in a clear cellophane bag and tied the bag at the top. I packed them in a beautiful Yoku Moku tin box that used to contain Cigare sealed individually in a clear plastic.

It would have been nice if I could have found a thin clear cellophane bag to mimic Yoku Moku but having two Cigarette Butter Cookies in a bag is not bad at all, especially when you place them in a box.

The Cigarette Butter Cookies are not traditional Japanese cooking. However, since I mimicked Yoku Moku, I’d call this recipe a Japanese cookie recipe.

YumikoYM_Signature

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Cigarette Butter Cookie (Yoku Moku Cigare)

My Cigarette Butter Cookies are very similar to the cigarette shaped cookie from the famous Japanese confectionery brand, Yoku Moku. You only need 4 ingredients to make these fancy butter cookies and a mere 6 minutes to bake!
I used two methods of making large thin circular cookies - (1) use the back of a spoon to draw a circle and (2) use a hand-made stencil. The instructions include both methods.Total Time is based on baking cookies in three batches. Prep Time includes time to roll cookies into cigarette shapes but it does not include time taken to make a stencil.
No 'MEAL IDEAS' today as you would eat Cigarette Butter Cookies at tea time or at any time you feel like it.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword butter cookie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 10 cigarette cookies (11cm / 4¼” long, can vary depending on the amount of batter used per cookie)
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white (34g / 1.2oz, note 1)
  • 34 g / 1.2oz butter melted (note 2)
  • 30 g / 1oz flour sifted (note 3)
  • 10 g / 0.4oz almond meal/flour sifted (note 3)
  • 40 g / 1.4oz caster sugar
  • tsp vanilla bean paste or a ⅓few drops of vanilla essence (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 170°C / 338°F.

Making Batter

  • Add egg white and sugar in a bowl. Using a whisk, mix well (do not whip) so that the sugar mostly dissolves.
  • Add the butter to the bowl and mix well.
  • Add ⅓ of the flour to the bowl and mix. Then add the rest of the flour and almond meal to the bowl and mix well.
  • Add the vanilla bean paste/essence if using to the bowl and mix well. The batter should be quite soft. If you lift the whisk up, the batter peaks but then bends straight away (note 10).

Preparing To Bake Using A Spoon (skip this if Using A Stencil)

  • Cut a sheet of baking paper to just fit in a large baking tray.
  • On the back of the baking paper, draw 3-4 circles with a diameter of 11cm / 4¼” (note 4). The circles need to be 2-3cm / 1" apart from each other. Place the baking paper on the tray.
  • Drop a bit more than 1 tablespoon of the batter in the centre of each circle on the tray.
  • Using the back of a spoon, spread the batter evenly to fill each circle. Make sure that the batter in the centre of the circles is not too thin. Thickness should be about 1mm / 3⁄64“.

Preparing To Bake Using A Stencil (skip this if Using A Spoon)

  • Cut a plastic sheet of about 1mm thick (note 5) into a rectangle shape so that you can draw a 11cm / 4¼” diameter circle with 2-3cm / 1" margin on three slides and more margin on the 4th side. Cut out the plastic along the circle and make an off-centred circle stencil (note 6).
  • Cut a sheet of baking paper to just fit in a baking tray and place it on the tray.
  • Place the stencil at the corner of the tray and drop a bit more than 1 tablespoon of batter on one end of the circle.
  • Using an icing spatula, push the batter to the other end of the circle, filling the entire circle with the batter. If there are are unfilled patches, collect excess batter and fill the patches using the same technique.
  • Gently remove the stencil. Repeat until the tray is filled with circles but ensure that circles are 2-3cm / 1" apart from all directions.

Baking and Shaping Cigarette

  • Place the tray in the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 5½-6 minutes (note 7) or until the outside of the cookies becomes light brown.
  • Remove the tray from the oven, peel one cookie off the baking paper. The cookie should be floppy.
  • Pick up the edge of the cookie on your side and start rolling on the tray (note 8). If you are not sure of how tight the roll needs to be, place a chopstick on the cookie and roll around it.
  • Continue rolling away from you until the end. Hold the roll for 5 seconds or so to secure the end.
  • Roll the rest of the cookies in the same way. Transfer them to a cooling rack.
  • Repeat the steps above (excluding Making Batter) until you use up the batter (note 9).

Notes

1. The quantity of the other ingredients is suited for the egg white weighing 33-36g / 1.2-1.3oz. A whole egg in shell weighing 55-60g / 1.9-2oz would have the egg white in this range.
2. The weight of butter should be the same as the egg white. If your egg white is 36g / 1.3oz, make the butter 36g / 1.3oz.
I used the microwave for 20 seconds to partially melt the butter, then mixed vigorously to melt the rest with the residual heat. You need to melt butter completely.
3. You don’t need to use almond meal. If not using, replace it with flour, i.e. 40g / 1.4oz flour in total.
4. You can vary the diameter of the circle. The size of the circle determines number of circles you can draw on each sheet of baking paper.
5. I bought a plastic folder from a discount shop to make this stencil.
6. Leaving more room on the plastic on one end makes it easier to catch the excess batter.
7. Depending on the thickness of the batter and the strength of your oven, the time to bake cookies varies. When the outside of the cookies becomes light brown, they are ready.
8. The cookie becomes hard as it cools down so it is important to roll the cookies on the tray even if the tray and the cookies are hot.
9. To speed up the process of baking a few cookies at one time, I used two baking trays. While baking one batch, I got the circles of batter ready on the 2nd tray. As soon as I took the first tray out of the oven, I put the 2nd tray in and worked on rolling the baked cookies.
When you spread the batter on the tray for the second time, you might find that the tray is too hot and the batter becomes runny. In this case, place the baking paper on the work bench, spread the batter on the paper, then transfer the paper to the tray.
10. See the photo in the post.
If your kitchen is very cold, the batter will become harder and can be difficult to spread. If it happens, fill a small amount of warm water in a bowl and place the bowl of batter on the warm water. The batter should become softer as you mix it.
11. Nutrition per cigarette cookie.
serving: 15g calories: 58kcal fat: 3.3g (5%) saturated fat: 1.8g (9%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 0.2g monounsaturated fat: 1g cholesterol: 7.3mg (2%) sodium: 28mg (1%) potassium: 17mg (0%) carbohydrates: 6.5g (2%) dietary fibre: 0.2g (1%) sugar: 4.1g protein: 0.9g vitamin a: 2% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 0.3% iron: 1%

The post Cigarette Butter Cookies (Yoku Moku Cigare) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Prawn Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin)

By: Yumiko

Doria is a Japanese-invented gratin. The creamy béchamel sauce with prawns is broiled with cheese on top to make a golden crust. Underneath the béchamel sauce is a flavoursome butter rice. Prawn Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin) is a gorgeous looking dish and so tasty.

Hero shot of Prawn Doria.

Doria is a rice gratin but the way it is made is a bit different to the usual Western-style rice gratin. Instead of mixing the ingredients with the sauce and broiling to form a golden crust on top, béchamel sauce is poured on the rice, then broiled to brown the top.

It is uncertain where the name of this dish came from. The name does not resemble the dish at all.

The most believable story is that the dish was invented by a French chef in Yokohama, Japan when he was requested to cook a dish for a sick customer. It was around 1930. The dish was named after the nobleman from Genoa Republic, Admiral Andrea Doria. Why the chef named the dish after the admiral is another long story.

What’s in my Prawn Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin)Top-down photo of Prawn Doria.

There are two distinct components to this dish – butter rice and béchamel sauce with prawns.

The butter rice is made up of the following:

  • Cooked rice
  • Finely diced carrot – peas and/or corn kernels are good too
  • Finely diced onion
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

You don’t have to have onion and carrot in the rice but having a bit of colour is a good thing since the béchamel sauce is also white. Onion gives a good flavour to the rice.

Ingredients to make Prawn Doria.

The béchamel sauce is very similar to the sauce used in my recipe, Chicken Macaroni Gratin but chopped onion and mushrooms are sautéed to make the sauce. It consists of:

  • Butter
  • Diced onion
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Flour
  • Milk – full cream or reduced fat
  • Prawn broth – made from the prawn shells and heads
  • Chicken stock cube
  • Salt and pepper
  • Prawns – sautéed before adding to the béchamel sauce
  • Grated parmesan cheese – to brown the surface of the white sauce

I bought fresh prawns in shells. To maximise the prawn flavour in the béchamel sauce, I made a prawn broth from the discarded shells. I made it by simply boiling the shells in some water for 5 minutes or so and putting them through a sieve. Since the broth is used to make the béchamel sauce, I removed the blackish organ inside the head to maintain the clarity of the broth.

If you are using peeled prawns, substitute prawn broth with water. You could also replace prawn broth and chicken stock cube with chicken broth.

Instead of prawns, you can use other proteins such as chicken, mixed seafood or salmon. You can also replace the protein with sliced vegetables that go well with béchamel sauce. Zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, varieties of mushrooms or corn would be my pick.

Steps to Make Prawn Doria

You also need two separate sets of steps to cook Doria – butter rice and béchamel sauce with prawns. Regardless of the protein/vegetables you choose to go into the béchamel sauce, the steps are pretty much the same.

Step-by-step photo of making Prawn Doria.

  1. Sauté onion and carrot, and make butter rice (the first 3 photos above).
  2. Sauté onion and mushrooms, and make béchamel sauce (the 2nd row photos above).
  3. Cook prawns and add them to the béchamel sauce (left 2 photos on the last row above).
  4. Pour the béchamel sauce over the butter rice (the last photo above).
  5. Broil with grated cheese on top.

You might usually make butter rice by sautéing the rice in butter, then cooking it just like you cook rice. You can make butter rice this way if you wish, but the majority of Japanese people make butter rice my way for Doria.

The method of making béchamel sauce is slightly different to the way I made the sauce in my recipe, Chicken Macaroni Gratin. The amount of flour added to the butter in Doria is much less than the béchamel sauce for Chicken Macaroni Gratin. The flour mixture is wetter so you don’t need to cook it for a long time before adding milk.

The broiling time required is only few minutes. Everything is already cooked and it is just to get the sauce bubbling around the edges and the top golden.

Zoomed-in photo of scooping Prawn Doria.

Doria is one of my children’s favourite dishes (well, they have many favourite Japanese dishes!). It is a Japanese-style Western food, ‘yōshoku’ (洋食) with a rich flavour.

Some yōshoku dishes such as Tonkatsu became representative Japanese dishes even if they originated from Western dishes. But when it comes to Doria, even Japanese people think it is a pure Western dish. I hope you try this.

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Hero shot of Prawn Doria.
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Prawn Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin)

Doria is a Japanese-invented gratin. Pour béchamel sauce with prawns over the butter rice, then brown the surface with cheese on top. Prawn Doria (Rice Gratin) is a gorgeous looking dish and so tasty.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Main
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword doria, gratin recipe, prawn recipe, rice gratin
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 160g / 5.6oz fresh prawns peeled, deveined and tails intact if possible (note 1)
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Béchamel Sauce

  • 20g / 0.7oz butter
  • ½ onion (medium) finely diced
  • 70g / 2.5oz mushrooms thinly sliced (note 2)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 350ml / 0.7pt milk
  • 100ml / 3.4oz prawn broth (or water, note 3)
  • ½ cube chicken stock (note 3)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A pinch of white pepper (or black pepper)

Butter Rice (note 4)

  • 2 cups cooked rice (loosely packed 2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 30g / 1.1oz carrot finely diced to about 5mm / 3⁄16"
  • 30g / 1.1oz onion finely diced
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

Butter Rice

  • Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Add carrot and onion, sauté for a minute or two until the onion becomes semi-transparent.
  • Add the rice and mix, breaking up the lumps. Season with salt and pepper.
  • When the rice grains are well coated in butter and the vegetables are mixed evenly, transfer the butter rice to two individual gratin baking dishes.

Béchamel Sauce

  • Heat the frying pan used for the butter rice over medium high heat. Add a small amount of butter if the pan is too dry.
  • Add prawns and cook for a minute, then turn them over and cook further 1 minute.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add onion and mushrooms, sauté until the onion becomes transparent.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add flour and mix well for a couple of minutes.
  • Add about 1/3 of milk to the pan and mix well to incorporate until lump free (you may need to whisk it). Add the remaining milk, prawn broth, chicken stock cube, salt and pepper.
  • Increase the heat to medium. As the sauce heats up, it thickens. Stir regularly at first, then constantly as it thickens.
  • Once the Sauce is thick enough (note 5), transfer the prawns to the béchamel sauce. Mix and remove from the stove immediately.

Assembly and Broiling

  • Preheat broiler (note 6).
  • Pour the béchamel sauce over the butter rice in the baking dishes, covering the rice completely.
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the sauce.
  • Place the baking dishes on the rack not too close to the heat (about 10cm / 4” away). Bake for a few minutes or until the sauce starts bubbling around the edges and the top becomes golden. Serve immediately. (note 6)

Notes

1. I used medium size prawns, 12 prawns in total. Smaller prawns are OK too.
If you only have large prawns, I’d recommend cutting them half or even smaller so that many prawn pieces are scattered in the béchamel sauce.
Instead of prawns, you can use chicken pieces, seafood mix or fish fillet pieces such as salmon.
You can also replace prawns with vegetables such as zucchini, capsicum, eggplant and varieties of mushrooms.
2. I used button mushrooms but you can use other mushrooms including Asian mushrooms.
3. I bought fresh prawns for today’s dish and boiled the heads and shells to make the broth. I removed blackish/brownish organ inside the heads so that the broth became clear.
You don’t have to have prawn broth but it gives the béchamel sauce a stronger prawn flavour.
Alternatively, replace 100ml prawn broth and ½ stock cube with 100ml / 3.4oz chicken broth.
4. Peas and corn kernels are also good alternatives.
5. Test: draw a path with finger on the back of the wooden spoon. if it stays, it's thick enough.
6. If you don’t have a broiler, heat the oven to 230°C / 446°F and place the dishes on the highest rack. Bake for 6-8 minutes.
7. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 603g calories: 612kcal fat: 22g (34%) saturated fat: 13g (65%) trans fat: 0.7g polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g monounsaturated fat: 5.9g cholesterol: 162mg (54%) sodium: 1655mg (69%) potassium: 751mg (21%) carbohydrates: 73g (24%) dietary fibre: 2.5g (10%) sugar: 4.1g protein: 29g vitamin a: 71% vitamin c: 11% calcium: 31% iron: 18%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Since Prawn Doria is a rice dish but not a lot of prawn is added to it, I picked Side dish 1 to supplement protein. Mizore-ae cleanses the palate and quail eggs go well with béchamel sauce.

Since there are very few vegetables in Prawn Doria, I picked a couple of vegetable side dishes and a soup that contains a lot of vegetables. Surprisingly, béchamel sauce goes well with a sweet dish like Simmered Shiitake Mushrooms.

I listed three side dishes as possible dishes to pick but since Prawn Doria is a high calorie dish, it is quite OK to just have one side dish.

Dinner idea with Prawn Doria.

The post Prawn Doria (Japanese Rice Gratin) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Bento box – Nori Bento (Roasted Seaweed on Rice)

By: Yumiko

Nori Bento (Roasted Seaweed on Rice) is a classic bento consisting of just rice, bonito flakes, soy sauce and roasted seaweed. But I added Saikyo Yaki Fish and other dishes to make it more nutritious. The flavour of nori and bonito flakes is so good that you can eat just rice without other dishes.

Hero shot of Nori Bento.

For the people who are new to this simple bento, I decided to call it Nori Bento to indicate that it is a bento and the main ingredient is nori (roasted seaweed). But it is actually called ‘Noriben’ (海苔弁 orのり弁) in Japan, by shortening the two words ‘nori’ (海苔 orのり) and ‘bento’ (弁当).

It is said that Noriben was officially introduced to consumers in 1980 by a bento company. The bento consisted of roasted seaweed sheet, bonito flakes and soy sauce on rice, topped with fried fish and fish cakes.

But by 1955, Noriben was already wide spread among Japanese households. I clearly remember taking Noriben to school in the 1960s. At the time, the rice topped with bonito flakes and nori occupied most of the bento space with only a small amount of protein and vegetables. Well, there wasn’t an abundance of food in those days.

Definition of Nori Bento aka Noriben

Noriben is a bento that contains rice topped with bonito flakes and soy sauce, covered with nori (roasted seaweed sheet). Whether or not other dishes are added to the bento does not matter.

Zeeomed-in photo of the rice showing layered nori and bonito flakes.

As long as the rice component meets the above definition, we call it Noriben. Even if the rice compartment is much smaller than the others, you can call it Noriben if you wish.

The original Noriben came with just one layer of bonito flakes, soy sauce and nori. But people became more creative. See the section Noriben Variations in this post for more details.

What’s in My Nori Bento

My bento consists of the Noriben component and other dishes.

Noriben Component:

Cooked rice – please refer to How to Cook Rice the Japanese Way. It is best to cook the rice for bento fresh in the morning if possible, but it can be made ahead.

Nori (Roasted seaweed) – the size of the nori sheet depends on the surface area of the rice. The idea is to cover the rice with nori completely.

Bonito flakes – the quantity of bonito flakes depends on the surface area of the rice.

Soy sauce – the quantity of soy sauce depends on the amount of rice. You will only need to wet the bonito flakes and nori sheet if you wish.

Ingredients of Nori Bento.

Other dishes:

Saikyo Yaki Fish – I used Spanish mackerel but you can marinate salmon or other fish suitable for Saikyo Yaki. You need to marinate the fish for 1-3 days before grilling. I usually freeze the marinated fish so that I can cook it any time. My bento box was small so I halved the fish to fit in a small compartment in the bento box. If you wish, you can place the fish on the Noriben too.

Japanese Fried Fish Cake (Satsuma Age) – make ahead. You can even freeze it. To defrost, leave it on the kitchen bench to thaw naturally or use a microwave. Do not overheat in the microwave as the fish cakes will explode. You could grill frozen fish cakes over medium low heat to heat up, too.

Gai choy Karashi-ae – I used the recipe, Broccolini Karashi-ae (Mustard Dressing). Instead of broccolini, I used gai choy (Chinese mustard greens). Alternatively, you can use other greens such as green beans, spinach, Chinese broccoli, etc.

Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish – this needs to be made ahead. I needed the bright red colour to lighten up the bento as the rice compartment is black. You can add red tomatoes as an alternative.

You can eat the rice without these dishes because the rice is already flavoured. But I added a small amount of grilled Saikyo Yaki Fish and other dishes to make the bento a more balanced meal. You don’t need to pack the same dishes and you can even reduce the number of dishes.

Top-down photo of Nori Bento.

How to Make Noriben

The traditional way of making Noriben is simple. Put rice in a bento box, spread bonito flakes, dribble soy sauce and place a sheet of nori over the rice. Sometimes you dribble soy sauce on nori as well.

As the quality of nori improved, I found that the nori sheet on the rice does not break easily with chopsticks because it is soggy. When I tried to eat the rice with bonito flakes and nori together, I often dragged the entire sheet of nori, leaving the remaining rice with just bonito flakes.

Since then, I have changed the way I place the nori sheet. My way of making Noriben is as follows:

Steps to make a double decker Norii Bento.

  1. Tear the sheet of nori into smaller pieces.
  2. Spread rice to half the depth of the bento box.
  3. Scatter bonito flakes over the rice and dribble soy sauce over the bonito flakes.
  4. Spread nori pieces over the rice and dribble soy sauce.
  5. Spread rice over the nori pieces.
  6. Repeat bonito flakes and nori pieces.

I made two layers of noriben but if you make just one layer, fill the rice almost to the top of the bento box and omit steps 5 and 6.

Dribbling soy sauce is a bit of challenge. You don’t want to add too much soy sauce, but you want to add enough to wet the bonito flakes and give a flavour to the rice.

To control the amount of soy sauce to dribble while evenly wetting the bonito flakes, I use a small soy sauce spray bottle. It’s just like any spray bottle but the size is so small and compact, it is perfect to carry around for picnics, etc.

Soy sauce spray bottle.

I bought it in Japan but Amazon sells it and you might also find it at Daiso discount shops. It’s really a handy bottle. I sometimes use it when I eat sushi too.

The step 5 to dribble soy sauce over the nori is optional, especially if you feel that you used enough soy sauce over the bonito flakes.

Noriben Variations

Tearing/cutting the nori sheet: The original Noriben is made with a sheet of nori. So, tearing a nori sheet into smaller pieces is one of the variations. Instead of tearing, you can cut them neatly if you wish or use strips of nori pieces to cover the rice.

Double-decker Noriben: When the rice compartment has a sufficient depth, you can make two layers of Noriben. Double decker Noriben means he entire rice bas a good flavour, because of the extra layers.

Vertical Noriben: Someone must have invented this Noriben to address the potential problem of having a large sheet of nori (as described in the previous section), as well as giving a sufficient amount of Noriben flavour to the entire rice. Instead of placing bonito flakes and a sheet of nori on top of rice, Vertical Noriben is made by inserting small nori sheets with bonito flakes vertically at certain intervals.

Noriben with vertically inserted bonito flakes and nori sheets.

I applied the first two variations to my bento today.

Nori Bento (Roasted Seaweed on Rice), aka Noriben, is a great way of packing a bento when you don’t have many dishes to go in it. Just like the bento company that officially introduced Noriben, you can just place one main dish on the nori sheet and it’ll be quite tasty.

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Hero shot of Nori Bento. for recipe card
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Bento box – Nori Bento (Roasted Seaweed on Rice)

Nori Bento (Roasted Seaweed on Rice) is called Noriben in Japan. It is a classic bento consisting of just rice, bonito flakes, soy sauce and nori (roasted seaweed) . But I added fish and vegetable dishes to make it more nutritious.
Because bento is usually made mostly from left-over dishes or make-ahead dishes, the time indicated in this recipe only shows the time to pack the bento box.
Course Main
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword bento, bento box, fish cake, gai choy, nori, pickled radish, Saikyo Yaki
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

Noriben Component

  • 1 cup cooked rice (note 1)
  • 2 sheets nori (roasted seaweed) the same size as the rice surface area (note 2)
  • 2.5g / 0.09oz bonito flakes (note 3)
  • Soy sauce

Other Dishes

Instructions

Noriben

  • Tear the nori sheets into smaller pieces.
  • While the rice is still hot or warm, place ½ of the rice in the largest compartment of the bento box. Level the surface.
  • Spread ½ of the bonito flakes and dribble soy sauce (note 8) to wet the bonito flakes.
  • Spread ½ of the nori pieces covering the rice and bonito flakes as much as possible. Dribble/spray a small amount of soy sauce over the nori.
  • Put the remaining rice on top of the nori and level the surface.
  • Repeat the step 3 and 4.

Packing Other Dishes

  • In one of the empty compartments, place Saikyo Yaki fish pieces.
  • Put Karashi-ae in an okazu cup and place it in the corner of the other empty compartment.
  • Place Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish next to Karashi-ae.
  • Put Japanese Fried Fish Cake on Noriben in the corner (note 9).

Notes

1. It is best to pack cooked rice in a bento box while hot or warm as it is easier to shape the rice into the bento box.
2. If you are making a single layer Noriben, you only need 1 sheet.
3. A small plastic packet usually contains 2.5g / 0.09oz of bonito flakes. You can increase the amount of bonito flakes if you like.
4. I halved the fish after grilling so that it fits in my bento box. If your bento box is large, you can pack a whole piece.
5. Make ahead, left over from the meal, or even use a frozen fish cake. If using a frozen fish cake, leave it on the kitchen bench to thaw naturally or use a microwave to defrost. Do not overheat in the microwave as fish cakes will explode. You could grill frozen fish cake over medium low heat to heat up, too.
6. Please use the recipe Broccolini Karashi-ae (Mustard Dressing) and use blanched gai choy/Chinese mustard greens cut to 4cm / 1½” long instead of broccolini.
7. Instead of an okazu cup, you can use a cupcake liner or a small sheet of aluminium foil to separate the two items.
8. I spray soy sauce using a soy sauce spray bottle. See the sample photo of a soy sauce spray bottle in the post. I bought it in Japan but Amazon sells it and you might also find it at Daiso discount shops. It’s a really handy little bottle when you want to control the amount of soy sauce and evenly spread it over the food.
9. I didn’t have room to put the fish cake pieces in the dish area so I placed them on Noriben. You don’t need to do this if you have more room to pack the fish cakes.

The post Bento box – Nori Bento (Roasted Seaweed on Rice) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

7-Eleven Miso Dip with Veggie Sticks

By: Yumiko

I am delighted to share with you a recipe for Miso Dip that you get from 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan. When you buy a cup of veggie sticks at 7-Eleven, it comes with a dip in a small plastic container. The dip is full of umami and quite addictive. You can eat a lot of fresh veggie sticks without realising it!

Hero shot of 7-Eleven Miso Dip.

7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan sell a large variety of prepared foods and snacks. I have tried quite few dishes from there. They even sell hot Oden in winter. Today’s dish, Miso Dip with Veggie Sticks is one of their vegetable snacks. They sell it as Veggie Sticks with Miso Mayonnaise.

What’s in 7-Eleven Miso Dip

Below are the ingredients of Miso Mayonnaise listed on the back of the 7-Eleven Veggie cup.

  • Mayonnaise
  • Miso
  • Konbu dashi stock
  • Chilli
  • Seasonings including MSG
  • Polysaccaride thickener

I don’t use MSG, nor polysaccaride thickener. I am not certain about what other seasonings are used here but a similar product from the other convenience stores clearly states soy sauce and sugar in the ingredient list. So my version of the Miso Dip is made up of the following:

Ingredients of Miso Dip.

  • Mayonnaise – preferably a Japanese mayonnaise such as Kewpie brand
  • Miso – must be brown miso so that the colour of the dip is not too dark and not too light
  • Konbu dashi stock – this can be awase dashi instead.
  • Sugar
  • Rāyu (Japanese chilli oil)

I didn’t use soy sauce because the dip becomes a bit salty for my liking. But if you like it saltier, you can add a tiny amount of soy sauce.

About Chilli Flavour

In my recipe, I used Japanese chilli oil called rāyu (辣油 orラー油). Rāyu is made by heating sesame oil with chilli. It is flavoursome and has a kick of hot chilli. See the top photos below.

I like the way the oil blends into the dip and enhances the colour to the pale orange. It is oil but the amount of rāyu used here is so tiny (few drops) that you don’t need to worry about the calories.

Alternatively, you can add chilli powder or a Japanese seven spice mix called ‘shichimi tōgarashi’ (七味唐辛子), which includes chilli flakes (see the bottom photo below). If you use one of these, you will see tiny chilli flakes in the dip, and black sesame seed in the case of shichimi tōgarashi .

Rāyu and Shichimi bottles and contents.

From top left clockwise: Rāyu, a bottle of rāyu, a bottle of shichimi tōgarashi and shichimi tōgarashi flakes.

I think that tabasco and sriracha can work too but I have not tried it yet.

I used a very small amount of rāyu just to give a hint of spiciness to the dip. If you are not good with chilli, simply omit it.

Vegetables to go with 7-Eleven Miso Dip

The vegetables included in a cup of 7-Eleven Vegie Sticks are cucumber, daikon, carrot sticks and cabbage pieces. When the pack is opened, it looks just like the photo below.

Since the miso dip is mayonnaise-based, any fresh and crispy vegetables should go well with the dip. I tried celery and radish in addition to the above.

Many Japanese people eat fresh green salad with mayonnaise instead of the Western-style salad dressings. As long as the salad leaves/pieces are crisp and not limp (so that you can dip the vegetable piece into the Miso Dip), they are suited for the Miso Dip.

I personally prefer vegetables with the Miso Dip but you may even want to try some corn chips.

Mimicking 7-Eleven Veggie Sticks with Miso Dip.

7-Eleven Miso Dip keeps 1 week in the fridge. It is a handy dip to have on hand when you just want to munch something a bit healthy.

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Today’s recipe is just a dip for a healthy snack. So I decided not to include the section ‘Meal Ideas’.

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7-Eleven Miso Dip with Veggie Sticks

This is a Miso Dip that you get from 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan. When you buy a cup of veggie sticks at 7-Eeven, it comes with a dip in a small plastic container. The dip is full of umami and quite addictive. This recipe is a mimic of 7-Eleven Miso Dip.
Course Appetiser
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword dip, miso mayonnaise, veggie sticks
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

Miso Dip

  • 1 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise (or standard mayonnaise, note 1)
  • ½ tsp brown miso (note 2)
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp konbu dashi stock (note 3)
  • rāyu (optional, note 4)

Veggie Sticks (note 5)

  • 4 carrot sticks
  • 4 cucumber Sticks
  • 4 daikon sticks
  • Several cabbage pieces cut to bite size

Instructions

Miso Dip

  • Put mayonnaise and miso in a small bowl. Using a small spatula, gradually mix a small amount of mayonnaise at a time into the miso (note 6). Once the miso becomes smoother, mix them together.
  • Add sugar and dashi to the miso mayonnaise. Mix well.
  • Add several drops of rāyu to the dip and mix well.

Assembly

  • If mimicking 7-Eleven pack, stand the vegetable sticks in a small round plastic container or a cup. Then place the cabbage pieces next to the sticks. Put the Miso Dip in a tiny plastic container or bowl.
  • Otherwise, place the vegetables on a plate or a bowl and serve with Miso Dip in a separate bowl to dip in.

Notes

1. If possible, use Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise to get the flavour closer to the 7-Eleven version. You can buy Kewpie mayonnaise at Japanese/Asian grocery stores as well as at major supermarkets.
2. Brown miso is best suited for today’s Miso Dip because of the colour and the adequate amount of saltiness. You can use shiro miso/Saikyo miso but if you do, omit sugar as the shiro miso is sweet.
3. I know it’s ridiculous to have to make such a small amount of dashi. If you have dashi powder, you can dilute a pinch of dashi powder in a tiny amount of hot water and use it as an alternative.
4. Although optional, a bit of kick from the chilli makes the dip great. Alternative spice includes: sriracha, chilli powder, shichimi tōgarashi (Japanese spice mixture with chilli). The amount of chilli to add is up to you.
5. Sticks are about 7.5cm / 3” long, 1-1.5cm / ½” thick. Cabbage is cut into bite-size pieces.
I assembled the same vegetables as the 7-Eleven Veggie Sticks, but of course you can change it. See some of my photos in the post that include celery sticks and quartered radish pieces.
6. You don’t need to mix this way but I find that this method helps mix the miso into the mayonnaise without getting lumps.
7. Miso Dip keeps about 1 week in the fridge.
8. Nutrition per serving. Miso Dip only.
serving: 19g calories: 109kcal fat: 11g (17%) saturated fat: 1.7g (9%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 6.3g monounsaturated fat: 2.8g cholesterol: 5.8mg (2%) sodium: 196mg (8%) potassium: 11mg (0%) carbohydrates: 1.9g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.1g (1%) sugar: 1.3g protein: 0.5g vitamin a: 0% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 0.2 % iron: 0.6%

The post 7-Eleven Miso Dip with Veggie Sticks appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant)

By: Yumiko

Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant) is a twist on my recipe, Mābōdōfu (Mapo Tofu). The fried eggplant wedges replace the tofu cubes, giving a richer flavour to the dish and a completely different texture to that of Mābōdōfu. The beautiful deep purple of the eggplant skin stimulates your appetite.

Hero shot of Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant).

Although the flavour was modified slightly to suit to the Japanese palate, Mābōdōfu (Mapo Tofu) is a recipe from China. However, Mābō Eggplant is a Japanese invention and it is called ‘mābō nasu‘ (麻婆茄子) in Japanese. The word ‘tofu‘ (豆腐) in Mābōdōfu (麻婆豆腐) is replaced by ‘nasu‘ (茄子) which is eggplant.

Eggplant and pork mice (ground pork) are a good match. Miso and eggplant are also a good combination. It’s absolutely natural that simply replacing tofu with eggplant results in a tasty dish. Mābō Eggplant is an easy and flavoursome eggplant recipe.

What is in Eggplant with Minced Pork

The list of ingredients is very similar to Mābōdōfu. There are many seasonings used here but, like any other stir-fried dishes, once you get all the ingredients measured and ready, it is quite quick to make.

Other than the seasonings, the key ingredients are just pork mince and eggplants. I used a large eggplant and cut it into the bite-size wedges. You can of course use skinny/small eggplants instead.

Ingredients of Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant).

Other ingredients needed to make Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant) are split into two groups. The first group below is to season the pork mince while stir-frying and make chilli pork mince:

  • Finely minced garlic
  • Finely minced ginger
  • Finley chopped shallots/scallions
  • Salt
  • Chilli bean paste called ‘toban-djan’ (豆板醤)

The second group below is a thick sauce for the dish:

  • Water
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Chicken stock powder
  • Cooking sake
  • Brown miso
  • Cornflour/corn starch

How to make Eggplant with Minced Pork

The major difference between the process of making Mābō Eggplant and Mābōdōfu is that the eggplant pieces need to be shallow-fried before mixing them with the mince/ground meat. This is necessary because it is very quick to stir-fry the mince and eggplants are not cooked so fast.

  1. Coat the eggplant wedges with cornflour/corn starch.
  2. Shallow-fry the eggplants until the eggplant pieces become soft inside. The depth of the oil is about 1cm / ⅜”.
  3. Stir-fry the mince, then add the flavouring ingredients to make chilli pork mince.
  4. Add the sauce ingredients, then the eggplants.

Photos of eggplant wedges coated in cornflour, Deep-fried eggplant wedges and eggplants in the meat sauce.

Coating eggplants with cornflour/corn starch before frying makes the fried eggplants moist and soft inside. This is because cornflour/corn starch does not let the moisture out of the ingredients.

Compared to Mābōdōfu, there are extra steps to fry eggplants. But it only takes less than 5 minutes to fry them.

You can freeze it!

Mābōdōfu is not suitable for freezing. Tofu becomes spongy when frozen and loses the original soft texture of Mābōdōfu. But you can freeze Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant).

The best way is to freeze the meat sauce and fried eggplants separately. Adding the fried eggplants to the meat sauce is the last step in the recipe instructions anyway. So, you stop there before adding the eggplant pieces to the sauce and freeze the eggplants and the sauce in separate containers/freezer bags.

Then, thaw the meat sauce and eggplants in the microwave. If you want the eggplants to be crisper before mixing them into the meat sauce, fry them again.

Mābō Eggplant can keep a day or two in the fridge as well. But the colour of the eggplant skin may become less vibrant.

Zoomed-in photo of Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant) served in a small bowl.

I recently learnt that there are a notable number of people who don’t enjoy tofu dishes. I was quite surprised about that because I think tofu is a healthy ingredient and one food that is delicious with minimal cooking.

Mābō Eggplant is the perfect dish for those people who are not fond of tofu but want to experience the great flavour of Mābōdōfu. But if you like tofu, you will find that both my Mābōdōfu below and today’s Mābō Eggplant are equally delicious!

Mabodofu (麻婆豆腐) is the Japanese name for “Mapo Tofu”, which is a Chinese dish from Sichuan province. Tofu and ground meat are stir fried with a flavoursome sauce. But the flavour of mabodofu is yet again modified to suit to the Japanese palette and not as spicy as the Chinese version of mapo tofu.

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Hero shot of Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant).
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Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant)

Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant) is a twist on my recipe, Mābōdōfu. The fried eggplant wedges replace the tofu cubes, giving a richer flavour to the dish and a completely different texture from that of Mābōdōfu. The beautiful deep purple of the eggplant skin stimulates your appetite.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted, and this recipe, so you can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Main
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword eggplant, mābō eggplant, Mābō Nasu, Mābōdōfu, mapo tofu, minced pork
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 350g / 0.8lb eggplant cut into bite-size wedges (note 1)
  • tbsp cornflour/corn starch (note 2)
  • Oil to shallow-fry eggplants

Chilli Pork Mince

  • 200g / 7.1oz pork mince/ground pork
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp garlic finely minced
  • 2 tsp ginger finely minced
  • 3 tbsp shallots/scallions finely sliced
  • 3 tsp toban-djan (chilli bean paste)
  • A pinch of salt

Sauce

  • 180ml / 6.1oz water (note 3)
  • 2 tsp chicken stock powder (note 3)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cooking sake
  • 2 tsp brown miso
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/corn starch

Garnish (optional)

  • Finely chopped shallots/scallions

Instructions

  • Mix the Sauce ingredients well ensuring that the sugar is dissolved and there are no lumps of miso or cornflour.

Prepare Eggplants

  • Fill a frying pan with oil to 1cm / ⅜” deep. Heat the oil to around 170°C / 338°F.
  • While heating the oil, dust the eggplant pieces with cornflour/corn starch.
  • Gently drop the eggplant pieces into the oil (fry in batches if needed so that the oil is not overcrowded).
  • Fry for 1½ minutes until the bottom part of the eggplant pieces are slightly browned (see the photo in the post).
  • Turn them over and fry further 1 minute, then place the eggplant skin side down and fry for 30 seconds (note 4). The eggplant pieces should be slightly browned.
  • Transfer the eggplant pieces onto a tray lined with a couple of kitchen papers.

Chilli Pork Mince

  • Heat a wok or a deep frypan over high heat. When smoke starts rising, add 1 tablespoon oil, then add pork mince.
  • Stir-fry the mince, breaking up the lumps until the mince is cooked through (about 2 minutes).
  • Add the remaining Chilli Pork Mince ingredients and stir-fry for 15-30 seconds, ensuring that all ingredients are mixed well.

Making Mābō Eggplant

  • Add all the Sauce ingredients to the mince and mix lightly. When the sauce starts thickening, add the eggplants and gently mix.
  • When the sauce starts boiling, turn the heat off. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle shallots over. Serve immediately.

Notes

1. I used a large eggplant. I cut it vertically into 6 wedges, then cut them perpendicular to the first cut, into the bite-size pieces.
You can use skinny/small eggplants if you want. In this case, you may only halve or quarter them vertically depending on the thickness of the eggplants.
2. You can omit cornflour coating of the eggplant pieces if you want. But cornflour-coated eggplants are juicier and moist.
3. You can substitute with 180ml / 6.1oz of chicken broth.
4. I did cook the eggplant pieces with the skin-side down at the end because I used a large eggplant and its skin is quite hard. If you are using skinny/small eggplant, you probably needn’t do this.
5. Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant) can keep a day or two in the fridge but the colour of the eggplant skin may become less vibrant.
6. Nutrition pr serving. Assumed that eggplant's oil absorption % is about 12%.
serving: 228g calories: 324kcal fat: 25g (38%) saturated fat: 4.9g (25%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 3.5g monounsaturated fat: 15g cholesterol: 36mg (12%) sodium: 424mg (18%) potassium: 437mg (12%) carbohydrates: 15g (5%) dietary fibre: 3.6g (14%) sugar: 7.3g protein: 11g vitamin a: 1% vitamin c: 5.7% calcium: 2% iron: 6%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Mābō Eggplant does not contain a lot of meat for a main dish. So, I picked a Chicken Stir Fry as a side dish. This dish was posted as a main dish but you can serve it in a small bowl as a side.

Sweet and sour Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish cleanses the palate after eating the Mābō Eggplant.

Dinner idea with Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant).

The post Eggplant with Minced Pork (Mābō Eggplant) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan)

By: Yumiko

This Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan) recipe is a great addition to your Takikomi Gohan collection. It is very easy to make and the rice is full of beef flavour. It is so delicious that you don’t need anything to go with it.

Hero shot of Japanese Beef and Rice in a bowl.

I had this Beef Takikomi Gohan at my sister’s place in Tokyo. The aroma of the beef cooked in the soy-based sauce was so good that I had to go to the kitchen and find out what was going on in there. Before eating the cooked rice with beef, which was delicious, I had already made up my mind to post this dish.

When you hear ‘beef and rice’, you might imagine Gyū-don – Japanese Beef Bowl.  While Gyū-don is a bowl of rice topped with simmered beef and onion, Japanese Beef and Rice is rice cooked with flavoured beef.

Three dish names for Japanese Beef and Rice

Today’s dish is known by three different names in Japan. I used one of them in the post title, i.e. Beef Takikomi Gohan. It makes sense because the definition of takikomi gohan is rice cooked with ingredients.

The dish is also called ‘gyūmeshi’ (牛飯) in Japanese, which means beef rice. The word ‘gyū’ (牛) means beef or cow, and ‘meshi’ (飯) is cooked rice in this context.

As I often use in my mixed rice recipes such as Gomoku Gohan, Takenoko Gohan, cooked rice is also called ‘gohan’ (ご飯). Using this terminology, it is also called ‘niku gohan’ (肉ご飯) and this is the third name. It means cooked rice with meat and this is what my sister calls it.

Zoomed-in photo of the rice with a piece of beef picked up with chopsticks.

The name ‘niku gohan’ does not represent the dish accurately. The word ‘niku’ (肉) means meat so you can use pork or even chicken to cook the rice with.

The kanji character for cooked rice is 飯 and it can be read as either ‘meshi’ (the accent is on ‘shi’) or ’han’ (Japanese kanji characters can often be read in two ways). The word ‘gohan’ is made of ‘han’ with the prefix ‘go’ (ご) which denotes politeness.

Incidentally, ‘meshi’ and ‘gohan’ can also mean meal. In this case ‘meshi’ is the word used only by some men, while females and the rest of the men call the meal ‘gohan’.  It sounds rough-mannered when you call the meal ‘meshi’.

Ingredients of Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan)

Other than the seasonings to add to the flavouring, all you need is rice, sliced beef and minced ginger.

Ingredients of Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan).

  • Rice – I used short grain rice. If you are fond of mochigome (sticky rice), you can mix some into the short grain rice to give the cooked rice a sweeter flavour. Long grain rice can work, but the cooked long grain rice will not have a sticky texture like the short grain rice and it can be difficult to pick up the rice with chopsticks.
  • Beef – you need thinly sliced beef with a bit of fat, cut into large bite size pieces. I used thinly sliced wagyu beef suitable for Sukiyaki. A bit of marbled fat melts into the rice when cooked and gives a great flavour to the Takikomi Gohan. If you are not using Wagyu beef, try to get premium-quality meat with a bit of fat on it.
  • Ginger – I minced the ginger but if you enjoy the distinct flavour of ginger, you can julienne it finely.
  • Flavouring – the flavouring sauce consists of 2 parts soy sauce, 2 parts mirin and 1 part cooking sake. No dashi stock or beef stock is required.

If you are mixing mochigome and short grain rice, you need to adjust the amount of water to cook the rice as sticky rice does not require as much water as other rice grains. Please visit my post Gomoku Gohan (Japanese Mixed Rice), which explains how to work out the quantity of water required.

Cooking Japanese Beef and Rice is Easy

Cooking is as simple as the ingredients.

Step-by-step photo of cooking Beef Takikomi Gohan.

  1. Sauté the ginger and the beef with a bit of oil.
  2. Add the flavouring to the beef and cook until the beef just changes the colour.
  3. Drain the sauce and reserve it.
  4. Put rice, water and the sauce in a pot or a rice cooker.
  5. Spread the beef over the rice and cook rice just like cooking plain rice.

Please use my recipe, How To Cook Rice The Japanese Way to cook the rice and work out the quantity of liquid required. The only difference is that the amount of water is made up of the sauce and water, and beef pieces are on the rice.

Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan) is so tasty that I always eat too much rice. It is a great rice dish and is perfect for a bento box too.

Too-down photo of Japanese Beef and Rice in a bowl.

YumikoYM_Signature

Japanese Beef and Rice in a bowl.
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Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan)

This Japanese Beef and Rice recipe will be a great addition to your Takikomi Gohan collection. It is very easy to make and the rice is full of beef flavour. It is so delicious that you don’t need anything to go with it.
Prep Time does not include time to soak rice.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Rice
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword beef and rice, sliced beef, takikomi gohan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 360ml / 12.1oz short grain rice (note 1)
  • 120-150g / 4.2-5.2oz wagyu beef very thinly sliced (note 2)
  • 10g / 0.4oz ginger minced
  • 1 tsp oil

Flavouring

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake

Instructions

  • Wash rice and prepare for it as per How to Cook rice The Japanese Way up to the steps just before cooking. Reduce the amount of water in the pan by 50ml. (note 3)
  • If the beef slices are large, cut them into about 4cm x 7cm / 1½“ x 3" strips.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  • Add ginger to the pan and cook for 30 seconds or so, then add the beef.
  • Sauté the beef, separating each slice, until most of the beef slices turns brown.
  • Add the Flavouring ingredients to the pan and bring it to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Drain the sauce from the pan into a measuring cup, leaving the beef in the pan. You should have about 50ml of the sauce (note 4).
  • Add the sauce to the pan with the rice and mix, ensuring that the colour of the liquid is even.
  • Place the beef on the rice spreading gently to cover the surface of the rice.
  • Cook the rice as per the instructions in How To Cook Rice The Japanese Way.
  • When mixing the rice, ensure that the beef pieces are evenly scattered. Serve while hot.

Notes

1. If you wish, you can mix mochigome (sticky rice) with short grain rice. Since sticky rice does not require as much water to cook as other types of rice, you need to adjust the total amount of liquid to cook the mixed rice. Please see my post Gomoku Gohan (Japanese Mixed Rice) to work out the amount of water required.
2. Wagyu beef releases better flavour into the rice because marbling fat melts into the rice. If you are not using Wagyu beef, try to get premium-quality meat with a bit of fat such as top sirloin, strip loin or rib eye steak.
I used sliced Wagyu beef for Sukiyaki. It is important to use beef meat that is very thinly sliced so that the meat is tender when cooked.
3. If you are using a rice cooker, fill the water with the washed rice to the level for short grain rice, then remove 50ml / 1.7oz from it.
4. If you do not have enough sauce, add water to make it up to 50ml / 1.7oz.
If you have more than 50ml / 1.7oz, remove more water from the pan/rice cooker so that the total amount of water + sauce is the quantity of liquid required to cook rice.
E.g. if you have 60ml /2oz of sauce, remove 10ml / 0.3oz of water from the pan/rice cooker as you already reduced the water by 50ml / 1.7oz at the beginning.
5. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 154g calories: 245kcal fat: 4.2g (6%) saturated fat: 1.5g (8%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 0.4g monounsaturated fat: 2g cholesterol: 15mg (5%) sodium: 314mg (13%) potassium: 85mg (2%) carbohydrates: 40g (13%) dietary fibre: 0.7g (3%) sugar: 2.3g protein: 8.9g vitamin a: 0% vitamin c: 0.1% calcium: 1.4% iron: 15%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Since this rice dish contains beef, I thought the main should have a smaller quantity of protein. A dish that you can easily adjust the serving size of, such as Nanbanzuke, would be good. I like the idea of having fish along with the rice with beef.

I chose Nasu Dengaku and Spinach Ohitashi Salad as they add different textures and colours to the meal.

Dinner idea with Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan).

The post Japanese Beef and Rice (Beef Takikomi Gohan) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Simmered Flounder (Karei no Nitsuke)

By: Yumiko

A classic simmered seafood dish, Simmered Flounder is so simple. Cooked in a sweet and salty sauce with ginger, Simmered Flounder goes so well with rice. The sauce only penetrates the surface of the flesh, so you can enjoy the flavour of the moist and plump flounder.

Hero shot of Simmered Flounder on a plate.

Simmered Flounder (Karei no Nitsuke) is probably one of the top 3 popular simmered fish dishes in Japan. It is also one of the easiest flounder recipes. The soft white flesh contains far less fat than other popular fish like salmon. Flounder is a perfect fish for those who need to watch their calorie intake.

In Japan, flounder is one of the fish that are given to little babies when they start eating solid food. It is also a perfect fish for the older people for the obvious reasons.

About Nitsuke (Simmered Fish)

As you all know, fish is central to Japanese food culture. There are many traditional ways of preparing and cooking fish – eating raw, steaming, blanching, etc. Simmering is one of the cooking methods for fish that existed long before sautéing and deep-frying.

Fish simmered in soy-based sauce is called ‘sakana no nitsuke’ (魚の煮付け) in Japanese, where ‘sakana’ (魚) is fish and ‘nitsuke’ (煮付け) is simmered dish. The word ‘no’ is equivalent to ‘of’.

Nitsuke is actually the same thing as ‘nimono’ (煮物). I introduced Nimono in my recipes, Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no Nimono) and Hijiki Seaweed Salad (Hijiki no Nomono). These are all simmered dishes.

But in general, the word ‘nitsuke’ is used for simmered fish while ‘nimono’ is used when vegetables are cooked with or without meat.

Since Nitsuke is a generic term for simmered fish, the name of the dish always uses with the name of the fish at the beginning, like today’s dish Karei no Nitsuke. ‘Karei’ (カレイ or 鰈) is flounder in Japanese.

About Flatfish

Flounder pieces just cooked in a pan.

Flounder is one of the flatfish species. In Sydney, I have only seen three kinds of flatfish – flounder, sole and halibut (very rare). But I read an article on the web that flounder can be used as a generic name for flatfish too.

The fish I used today was sold as flounder and I call it ‘karei’ in Japanese because the direction of the face is to the right. If my fish was facing to the left, I would have called it ‘hirame’ (ヒラメ or 平目). That is how Japanese people categorises the flatfish at a high-level.

Within this high-level group, each type of fish is named differently, starting with a representative word for the fish.

For example, the flounder that I used today probably belongs to ‘magarei’ (真ガレイ) in Japan, which implies the most representative type of flounder. The sound of ‘karei’ changes to ‘garei’ for easier pronunciation. The flounder with stone like patterns is called ‘ishigarei’ (石ガレイ), where ‘ishi’ means stone.

How to prepare Flounder for Nitsuke

Depending on the size of the flounder, you prepare the fish differently. But in all cases, you cook and serve the fish with the bones inside. There are few reasons for this: (1) The piece of fish retains the shape better when cooked, (2) The flesh around the bones is delicious.

Ingredients to make Simmered Flounder.

Firstly, you need to remove the guts and scrape off the scales. The flounder I bought was already gutted but the scales were not cleaned. I use the back of the knife to remove the tiny scales.

If your flounder is very small and just right for one serving, you can cook and serve it whole. You may feel uncomfortable to see the fish on the plate with the head on. If so, you can cut the head off, although Japanese people leave it on.

For mid-size flounder of about 350-400g / 0.8-0.9lb, like my flounder in the recipe, remove the head and the tail, then cut it in half perpendicular to the back bone. Each piece becomes just right for one serving (about 150g / 5.3oz).

If the fish is much larger, you can cut the flounder into a few cutlets. Each cutlet will look like a narrow and long strip, with the bones in the middle.

The flounder sometimes comes with the eggs. Do not discard them – cook the fish with the eggs intact. They are delicious.

After cutting the fish into serving portions, make a cross incision on the right side (brown side) of the skin where the flesh is the thickest. This will make the fish cooked evenly. But if your flounder pieces are narrow long strips, you needn’t to do this.

How to cook Simmered Flounder (Karei no Nitsuke)

You need minimal ingredients to make Nitsuke.

  • Flounder pieces prepared as per the previous section
  • Shallots/scallions, cut into 5cm / 2” long pieces
  • Thinly sliced ginger
  • Simmering sauce that consists of water, cooking sake, mirin, soy sauce and sugar.
  • Finely julienned ginger for garnish (optional)

Cooking is as simple as the ingredients list:

The flounder and other ingredients placed in a shallow saucepan + founder being cooked with a drop lid on.

  1. Bring the sauce with the ginger to a boil.
  2. Put the flounder pieces in the sauce without overlapping, then place the shallots/scallions around the flounder pieces (top photo above).
  3. Place a drop lid (otoshi buta) on (bottom photo above), reduce the heat to medium to medium low and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the drop lid. Using a spoon, scoop the sauce and pour it over the fish while continuing to cook for another few minutes. The sauce will become a bit thicker.
  5. Turn the heat off. Serve the fish with the julienned ginger on top and the cooked shallots/scallions on the side.

It takes only about 10 minutes to cook!

Note: It is important to use stiff julienned ginger pieces as a garnish on top of Nitsuke. Then you can pile the ginger pieces high on the fish, making the dish look more attractive. The stiff julienned ginger is called ‘harishōga’ ( 針生姜), which translates to needle ginger. If your julienned ginger pieces are limp, put them in ice water for a while to stiffen them up.

Simmered Flounder zooming to show 'harishōga' (finely julienned ginger).

Suitable fish for Nitsuke

This technique of Nitsuke can be used to cook other kinds of fish too. Fish with white flesh is the best for Nitsuke and the fish is usually cooked with bones intact. The following are some of the fish names that you can substitute for the flounder:

  • Snapper
  • Alfonsino
  • Leather jacket
  • Ocean Perch
  • Lachet
  • Cod

You can still make Nitsuke with fish that does not have white flesh and/or is oily, e.g. mackerel or sardines. But to counter the fishy smell and oiliness, more preparation of the fish is required and the sauce needs to be a bit thicker with a stronger flavour. I need to post a recipe one day for that.

Top-down photo of Simmered flounder - meant removed from the back bones.

Simmered Flounder can be made the day before. The flesh will absorb the sauce flavour more overnight and you might find that the fish has a bit stronger flavour.

You can also freeze Simmered Flounder for 1 month. Make sure the flounder is put in the sauce, then frozen so that the flesh does not dry. Thaw in the fridge before heating up.

YumikoYM_Signature

Simmered flounder on a plate.
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Simmered Flounder (Karei no Nitsuke)

A classic simmered seafood dish, Simmered Flounder is so simple. Cooked in a sweet and salty sauce with ginger, Simmered Flounder goes so well with rice. The sauce only penetrates the surface of the flesh and you can enjoy the flavour of the moist and plump flounder.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe so you can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Main
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword flounder, flounder recipe, Japanese fish recipe, nitsuke, simmered fish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 1 whole flounder (about 350g / 0.8lb, note 1)
  • 2 stems shallots/scallions cut into 5cm / 2” long pieces
  • 1 tbsp ginger thinly sliced

Simmering Sauce

  • 4 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp cooking sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Garnish

  • 1 tbsp ginger finely julienned (note 2)

Instructions

  • If the flounder is not cleaned, remove the guts and scales. Cut the head and the tail off and discard. Cut the flounder in half, perpendicular to the back bone (note 1).
  • Make a cross incision on the right side of the fish (brown side) where the flesh is the thickest (see the photo in post). If you are using narrow strips of flounder cutlet, incision is not required.
  • Add all the Simmering Sauce ingredients to a shallow saucepan or a frying pan that can just fit the flounder pieces without overlapping.
  • Add the sliced ginger and bring it to a boil.
  • Put the flounder pieces in the sauce without overlapping, then place the shallots around the flounder pieces.
  • Place a drop lid (otoshi buta) on, reduce the heat to medium to medium low and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the drop lid. Using a spoon, scoop the sauce and pour over the fish while continuing to cook for another few minutes. The sauce will become a bit thicker.
  • Turn the heat off and transfer the fish to individual plates. Place the cooked shallots to the side of the fish and the julienned ginger on the centre of the fish.

Notes

1. Each flounder piece weighed about 150g / 5.3oz after preparing.
If your flounder is very large, cut the flounder into narrow strips, perpendicular to the backbone. If your flounder is very small, you can serve a whole fish per person.
If you want to, you can use a fillet without bones. In this case, place the fillets with skin side up.
2. If your julienned ginger pieces are limp, place them in ice water for a while. They should become stiff. Stiff julienned ginger is called ‘harishōga’ (針生姜), which translates to needle ginger. They look attractive when piled high and placed on the food.
3. Simmered Flounder can keep 1-2 days in the fridge. The flesh will absorb the sauce flavour more overnight and you might find that the fish has a bit stronger flavour.
You can also freeze Simmered Flounder for 1 month. Make sure that the flounder is put in the sauce, then frozen so that the flesh does not dry. Thaw in the fridge before heating up.
4. Nutrition per serving. It assumed 50% of the sauce is consumed but in reality, you don't drink the sauce served on the plate so the sodium and sugar would be lower.
serving: 244g calories: 196kcal fat: 3g (5%) saturated fat: 0.7g (3%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.6g monounsaturated fat: 0.8g cholesterol: 68mg (23%) sodium: 890mg (37%) potassium: 439mg (13%) carbohydrates: 17g (6%) dietary fibre: 1.5g (6%) sugar: 11g protein: 20g vitamin a: 1% vitamin c: 6% calcium: 4% iron: 5.2%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Nitsuke is a light main dish so, I picked a stir-fried side dish to go with it. If you prefer, you can pick another stir-fried side dish or something that contains a bit of oil, e.g. Home-made Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu).

Lotus Roots and Mizuna Salad adds a different flavour to the meal as the dressing contains sesame and vinegar.

Dimmer idea with Simmered Flounder.

The post Simmered Flounder (Karei no Nitsuke) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber

By: Yumiko

Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber is a great way of eating a good amount of konbu (Kelp), which is known for providing plenty of health benefits. It is a very refreshing salad with a hint of ginger flavour. The total calorie count of this salad is very low – less than 100 calories per serving!

Hero shot of Konbu Seaweed and Cucumber Salad in a bowl.

I use dried konbu quite often to make dashi stock. Since konbu is not a cheap ingredient, It feels wrong to discard the konbu after only using it to get dashi out of it. So, I freeze the used konbu pieces and save them up for later use. Today’s salad is the perfect dish to make use of such leftover konbu pieces.

What is in Konbu Seaweed Salad

It is a very simple salad. It consists of only three items other than dressing.

  • Julienned rehydrated konbu
  • Julienned cucumber
  • Grated ginger

Ingredients of Konbu Seaweed and Cucumber Salad.

I used cucumber pieces to go with shredded konbu but you don’t have to have cucumbers or you can replace them with other vegetable strips such as carrot or bean sprouts. Then, you need to call it Konbu Seaweed Salad with Carrot or with Bean Sprout!

The dressing is a dashi-flavoured vinegar sauce and it does not contain oil at all. To give the intensity of the dashi flavour to the dressing, I used shiro dashi (白出汁)  as a base. Even the dressing consists of just three items.

The proportion of the dressing ingredients for making Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber is easy to remember too. It’s a reverse 1-2-3:

3 portions of shiro dashi + 2 portions of rice wine vinegar + 1 portion of soy sauce

A 500ml carton of store-bought shiro dashi.

Store-bought shiro dashi.

In my post Stir-fried Choy Sum with deep Fried Tofu,  I added a recipe to make shiro dashi at home. But you can use a store-bought shiro dashi if you wish. Japanese grocery stores sell it in a bottle or a carton.

If you cook Japanese dishes often, I strongly recommend getting a bottle of shiro dashi. It is a handy seasoning because it is condensed seasoned broth.

The flavour of shiro dashi varies depending on the brand. Accordingly, the flavour of the dressing varies slightly.

How to Prepare Konbu for the Salad

Dried konbu needs to be soaked in water and then bring it to a boil. You can follow my recipe for Konbu dashi in my post Varieties of Dashi stock, or use the method in the recipe below.

Even if you use the recipe below to rehydrate the konbu, keep the broth. The broth is basically a konbu dashi and you can use it for other dishes.  Konbu dashi can keep in the fridge for few days. Although it will lose a bit of flavour, you can freeze konbu dashi for 2-3 weeks.

The konbu normally expands to about 4 times in size and should be tender enough to eat, with a bit of a crunch.

Rehydrated konbu can be quite wide and a bit slippery, which makes it hard to cut very thinly. The easiest way to cut the konbu finely is to roll it up before cutting. Roll the konbu lengthwise, flatten the roll to make it a narrow 3-layered konbu roll, then cut it crosswise (see the step-by-step photos below).

Step-by-step photo of how to julienne konbu.

Use a large piece of dried konbu, instead of a collection of small pieces to make up the required amount. If using small pieces, try to pick the pieces with short but full-width. The leaves of konbu are long and narrow in shape and you need to cut the konbu crosswise, not lengthwise.

It is important to get the direction of the konbu right to make a roll because you need to cut the konbu crosswise. The texture of the julienned kombu pieces that are cut lengthwise is much stiffer and you need to avoid that.

Varieties of Konbu and Kiri Konbu

Depending on the origin of the konbu, the texture, colour and even the flavour of the konbu is different. Some of them are slimier than others.

The konbu I used today is from Rishiri (利尻) in Hokkaido. Rishiri konbu is very thick and great for dashi. It is also great for konbu products such as shaved konbu called ‘tororo konbu’ (とろろ昆布).

Other varieties of konbu used for dashi stock include:

  • Makonbu (真昆布) – It comes from Hakodate area in Hokkaido. It is a thick and wide high quality konbu. It contains a delicate sweetness, which makes a clean tasting dashi. Makonbu is also used to make tororo konbu.
  • Rausu konbu (羅臼昆布) – It is brownish and very soft. The dashi stock out of Rausu konbu is slightly yellowish.
  • Hidaka konbu (日高昆布) – The colour of Hidaka konbu is blackish green. It is thin, soft and fast to cook.
Comparing two diligent kinds of konbu.

Comparing the thickness of Makonbu (left) and Hidaka konbu (right) after rehydrated.

You can make Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber with any kind of konbu. If you cannot find konbu, you could substitute it with wakame seaweed. But the texture of the seaweed salad will be quite different.

Finely julienned konbu is called ‘kiri konbu’ (切り昆布) or ‘kizami konbu’ (刻み昆布) in Japanese. The word ‘kiri‘ means cut and ‘kizami’ means chopped finely.

You can even buy a bag of dried kiri konbu from Japanese grocery stores. Rehydrate the konbu in water for 10-15 minutes and it is ready to eat. Here is a sample of dried kiri konbu that I bought from a Japanese grocery store.

Sample photo of store-bought dried kiri konbu.

Konbu is good for you. It is a good source of dietary fibre. It is also known for reducing blood cholesterol and hypertension.

Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, which is handy when you need another dish to add to the meal without increasing your calorie intake too much.

Photo of picking up some shredded konbu from Konbu Seaweed and Cucumber Salad.

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Konbu Seaweed and Cucumber Salad

Konbu Seaweed and Cucumber Salad is a great way of eating a good amount of konbu, which is known for providing plenty of health benefits. It is a very refreshing salad with a hint of ginger flavour. The total calorie of this salad is very low – less than 100 calories per serving!
To make it a vegetarian dish, use shiro dashi that is made of twice as much konbu and omit bonito flakes.
Total Time includes the time to soak the konbu in water for 3 hours.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe so you can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Salad
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword dried kelp, Japanese salad, japanese salad dressing, konbu, seaweed salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Soaking Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 25g / 0.9oz konbu (dried kelp, note 1)
  • 70 / 2.5oz cucumber cut to 3mm / ⅛" thick, 5cm / 2" long matchsticks (note 2)
  • 2 tsp grated ginger

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp shiro dashi
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar

Garnish (optional)

  • Shallots/scallions (white part) finely julienned

Instructions

  • Add the konbu and 3 cups of water to a saucepan and leave it for 3 hours.
  • Bring the water with the konbu to a boil. As soon as small bubbles start forming at the bottom of the pan, turn the heat off and remove the konbu from pan (note 3).
  • Roll the konbu piece lengthwise, and flatten the roll to make it a narrow 3-layered konbu. Then cut it crosswise very finely (note 4).
  • Combine the konbu, cucumber and ginger in a bowl and mix well.
  • Add the Dressing ingredients to the bowl and mix.
  • Transfer the salad to a serving bowl, topped with julienned shallots/scallions.

Notes

1. Do not use many small pieces of konbu to make up for the amount required. If possible, use one large piece with the full width of the konbu, or 2-3 pieces at most. Otherwise the length of the strands of the konbu may become too short.
After boiling my konbu, it weighed about 100g / 3.5oz.
Whenever I make dashi stock with konbu and bonito flakes, I freeze the used konbu. When enough amount of konbu pieces are accumulated, I use them to make a salad like today’s dish.
2. I slice the cucumber diagonally into 3mm thick, then pile up few slices and cut them lengthwise to make matchsticks. This method of cutting the cucumbers results in all the matchsticks with green ends and they looks nicer in the salad.
I used cucumber pieces to go with shredded konbu but you don't have to have cucumbers or you can replace them with other vegetables strips such as carrot or bean sprouts.
3. The reamining liquid is actually a konbu dashi that you can use for other dishes. You can keep konbu dashi for 3 days in the fridge.
Although it will lose a bit of flavour, you can freeze konbu dashi for 2-3 weeks. Divide the broth into smaller portions and freeze them. Thaw naturally in the fridge before using.
4. I find that the konbu julienned crosswise are softer than those julienned lengthwise. It must be due to the way kelp is structured.
Thinly julienned konbu is called 'kiri konbu' (切り昆布). You can buy dried kiri konbu from Japanese grocery stores. See the sample photo in my post.
5. Shredded Konbu Salad can keep for a couple of days in the fridge
6. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 66g calories: 92kcal fat: 0.1g (0%) saturated fat: 0g (0%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0g monounsaturated fat: 0g cholesterol: 0.6mg (0%) sodium: 194mg (8%) potassium: 55mg (2%) carbohydrates: 16g (5%) dietary fibre: 0.2g (1%) sugar: 14g protein: 0.7g vitamin a: 1% vitamin c: 1.2% calcium: 1.3% iron: 1.7%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Today’s salad is such a refreshing salad that you can afford to have an oily main dish. I picked Stuffed Sardines with Perilla and Pickled Plum. Instead of sardines, you can serve Karaage Chicken or Tonkatsu, if you like.

To add a bit of colour to the meal, I picked Iri Dōfu as Side dish 1.

Dinner idea with Konbu Seaweed and Cucumber Salad.

The post Konbu Seaweed Salad with Cucumber appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Crab Omelette on Rice (Tenshinhan)

By: Yumiko

Tenshinhan (天津飯) is a Chinese-influenced Japanese dish. The fluffy omelette with crab meat is placed on a mound of rice and the thick sauce poured over the omelette is so flavoursome. Crab Omelette on Rice is very easy to make.

Hero shot of Tenshinhan.

Many people, including Japanese people, mistakenly think that Tenshinhan is Chinese food. It is indeed served at Chinese restaurants in Japan – it is a made-in-Japan dish, but it is derived from a Chinese omelette dish.

Why is it called Tenshinhan (天津飯)?

The name of the dish has nothing to do with the appearance or ingredients of the dish. Tenshin (天津) is the name of a city in China, although it is called ‘Tianjin’ in English. ‘Tenshin’ is the Japanese way of reading these characters.

Apparently, this dish is associated with the high-quality rice produced in Tianjin that was used by Japanese  restaurants in the early Shōwa period – the era of supply shortages.

Crab omelette just cooked in a frying pan.

Today’s dish was originally called 天津芙蓉蛋飯 (Crab Omelette on Tenshin rice bowl) as the omelette was made like the Chinese omelette called Egg Foo Young (芙蓉蛋) and the rice was Tenshin rice (天津飯). But because the name is too long with complicated Kanji characters, it was abbreviated to 天津飯.

What is in the Crab Omelette on Rice (Tenshinhan)?

Tenshinhan is very simple and consists of three main ingredients – cooked rice, Crab Omelette and sweet thick sauce.

Since the omelette needs to cover all of the rice, it has to be a large round shape, unlike a Western-style omelette. On a plate, make a mound of cooked rice. Place an omelette on the rice, covering all of the rice, then pour on the thick sauce.

Ingredients of Crab Omelette.

I used a jar of ready-to-eat blue swimmer crab meat as per the photo below. But if you cook a fresh crab and use the meat, that would taste better.

Store-bought cooked blue swimmer crab meat in a tab.

I like the surface of the round omelette soft, rather than well done. But if you prefer the eggs to be cooked through, that’s OK too.

Instead of adding chopped shallots to the omelette, some recipes decorate the surface of the omelette with green peas.

Alternative to Crab Meat – Kanikama

Since crab meat is quite expensive, Japanese people often substitute crab meat with imitation crab meat called ‘kanikama’ (蟹カマ).

It is a fish cake moulded into the shape of the leg meat of snow crab or Japanese spider crab. Naturally, the sticks are coloured to look like crab legs. It even has a hint of crab flavour.

Showing a pack of Kanikama - imitation crab meat sticks that are made of fish cake and few crab sticks.

High quality Kanikama is made in such way that when you shred the stick by hand, the shredded pieces look just like the real leg meat of a crab.

You can buy kanikama at Japanese/Asian grocery stores – usually frozen. Unfortunately, the kanikama I can buy in Sydney doesn’t have a strong crab flavour and does not shred as well as it should.

Here is the Tenshinhan using kanikama. It’s more colourful than the one using real crab meat. I included the kanikama version in the recipe too.

Tenshinha made with kanikama (imitation crab meat sticks).

Tenshinhan Sauce

Without a thick sauce, it is not a Tenshinhan. Since the dish originated from a Chinese dish, the basis for the sauce is chicken stock, unlike a typical dashi-based Japanese-style sauce.

There are two different sauce flavours for Tenshinhan – a sweet & sour flavour and a sweet savoury flavour.

The former is often served in Kanto (関東, the eastern region of Japan that includes Tokyo and surrounding prefectures), and the latter is served in Kansai (関西, the western region of Japan that includes Osaka and Kyoto).

It’s just like Sydney vs Melbourne, there are so many things that Kanto and Kansai compete against each other over and go different directions!

The sweet and sour Tenshinhan sauce (Kanto-style) is made by mixing chicken stock, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and is thickened by cornflour/corn starch. To make the Kansai-style sweet savoury Tenshinhan sauce, replace the vinegar in the Kanto-style with cooking sake.

Some recipes add oyster sauce or tomato ketchup to the sauce. But I like it simple.

Zoomed-in photo of Tenshinhan showing the rice underneath of the omelette.

Crab Omelette on Rice (Tenshinhan) is a very easy dish to make. You will be amazed how the simple thick sauce makes this dish so flavoursome and special.

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Tenshinhan.
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Crab Omelette on Rice (Tenshinhan)

Tenshinhan is a Chinese-influenced Japanese dish. The fluffy omelette with crab meat is placed on the mound of rice. The sweet thick sauce poured over the omelette is so flavoursome.
The recipe gives you two options to make a Crab Omelette – using cooked crab meat and using kanikama (imitation crab sticks made from fish cake).
I also included two different sauces to pour onto the omelette – sweet & sour sauce and sweet savoury sauce. Pick whichever you like.
Total time does not include the time to cook rice.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Main
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword Crab meat, Crab Omelette, Egg Foo Young, tenshinhan
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 1 serving rice (150g/5.3oz, note 1)

Omelette with Cooked Crab Meat

  • 2 eggs
  • 40g / 1.4oz crab meat (note 2)
  • 1 tbsp shallots/scallions , finely chopped (light green parts, note 3)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp oil

Omelette with Kanikama Crab Sticks

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp ginger , finely chopped
  • 40g / 1.4oz kanikama crab sticks , shredded by hand (note 4)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp green peas (frozen peas, defrosted)

Tenshinhan Sauce (Sweet & Sour)

  • 80ml / 2.7oz water
  • ½ tsp chicken stock powder
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • tsp cornflour/corn starch

Tenshinhan Sauce (Sweet Savoury)

  • 80ml / 2.7oz water
  • ½ tsp chicken stock powder
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cooking sake
  • tsp cornflour/corn starch

Instructions

  • Put all the Tenshinhan Sauce ingredients (whichever sauce you pick) in a small saucepan, mix well and bring it to a boil.
  • The sauce initially looks whitish but as the sauce is heated up and thickens, it becomes clear dark brown. Turn the heat off and leave until required.
  • If the rice is not hot, warm it up in microwave. Put the rice in the centre of a serving bowl (shallow bowl or deep plate would be the best), making a flat dome-shape.

Making Omelette with Cooked Crab Meat

  • Beat two eggs lightly in a bowl, add the crab meat, shallots and a tiny pinch of salt. Mix.
  • Add oil to a small frying pan (I used 20cm / 8” pan, note 5) and heat it over medium high heat.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan. The mixture starts setting on the outside immediately.
  • Using a fork or cooking chopsticks, mix the egg mixture in a swirling motion, from outside to inside (note 4).
  • When the egg is half cooked (it does not take long to get to this stage) and the surface is still a bit wet, turn the heat off.

Making Omelette with Kanikama Crab Sticks

  • Beat two eggs lightly in a bowl with a tiny pinch of salt.
  • Add oil to a small frying pan (I used 20cm / 8” pan, note 5) and heat it over medium high heat.
  • Add the ginger and the shredded kanikama, stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan. The mixture starts setting on the outside immediately.
  • Using a fork or cooking chopsticks, mix the egg mixture and kanikama pieces in a swirling motion, from outside to inside (note 4).
  • When the egg is half cooked (it does not take long to get to this stage) and the surface is still a bit wet, turn the heat off.

Serving

  • Transfer the egg from the frying pan onto the rice and cover all of the rice with the egg. It works best if you tilt the pan and slide the egg from the pan to the rice. You may need to use a spatula to assist.
  • Bring the Tenshinhan Sauce to a boil if it is not hot. Pour the sauce over the egg. If using green peas, sprinkle them over the top.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

1. The amount of rice in my recipe is slightly less than that served at restaurants.
You can adjust the amount of rice to suit to your appetite. But if you are decreasing/increasing the amount of rice significantly, adjust the ingredients by using the serving slider that appears when you hover the mouse at the serving number.
2. I used a jar of ready-to-eat blue swimmer crab meat (see the photo in the post) but you can of course buy a fresh crab and boil it, or a cooked leg of king crab from a fish shop. You can also use canned crab meat, but I find that it tends to have tiny pieces of shredded meat rather than chunks of meat.
3. Instead of using chopped shallots in the egg mixture, you can sprinkle defrosted peas over the Tenshinhan dish (see Omelette with Kanikama Crab Sticks in the recipe). Or both!
4. Kanikama is a fish cake moulded into the shape of leg meat of snow crab or Japanese spider crab and coloured to look like it. It even has a hint of crab flavour. See the sample photo in the post.
5. My 20cm / 8" frying pan was the perfect size to make an omelette large enough to cover the rice. If you have a larger frying pan, do not spread the egg mixture to cover the entire surface of the pan. Try to make a smaller circle with the egg mixture.
6. If you don't mind having well-cooked egg on the rice, you can make Crab Omelette on Rice the day before. Do not pour the sauce until you are ready to eat. Reheat the rice with the omelette and the sauce separately, then pour the sauce.
7. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 429g calories: 561kcal fat: 25g (38%) saturated fat: 4.3g (22%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 4.7g monounsaturated fat: 14g cholesterol: 403mg (134%) sodium: 984mg (41%) potassium: 415mg (12%) carbohydrates: 56g (19%) dietary fibre: 1.2g (5%) sugar: 9.7g protein: 25g vitamin a: 11% vitamin c: 3.3% calcium: 9% iron: 23%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Today’s dish covers Main and Rice in the panel below. But I thought I needed to add a bit more meat to the meal to supplement protein. So I selected Shumai served as a side.

The other side dish needs to be a salad. Harusame Salad would be perfect for it. A pickled dish like Senmai-zuke is always good to go with the sweet sauce.

Menu idea with Crab Omelette on Rice (Tenshinhan).

The post Crab Omelette on Rice (Tenshinhan) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

By: Yumiko

Japanese Chicken Meatballs called ‘Tsukune’ are one of the regular yakitori dish items. Soft and bouncy chicken meatballs are skewered and chargrilled with sweet soy sauce, i.e. yakitori sauce. The key to my soft and juicy meatballs is the grated onion and the amount of fat in the chicken mince (ground chicken).

Chicken tsukune (Japanese chicken meatballs) is one of the regular yakitori dish items. Soft and bouncy meatballs are skewered and chargrilled with sweet soy sauce, ie. yakitori sauce. The key to my soft and juicy meatballs is the grated onion and amount of fat in the chicken mince (ground chicken).

People often think that Tsukune (つくね) is Japanese chicken meatballs. But that is not accurate. Tsukune is a generic name for Japanese-style meatballs. The minced meat (ground meat) does not have to be chicken, it could be pork or even fish.

However, the most popular Tsukune is made with chicken and that’s probably why Tsukune is synonymous with chicken meatballs.

CHICKEN MINCE (GROUND CHICKEN) FOR TSUKUNE

Meatballs for Tsukune have to be soft, bouncy and juicy. To make the texture of the soft and juicy Tsukune, you need to have chicken fat in the mince. The surface of the meatballs needs to be smooth rather than bumpy, which you get when the granular size of the mince is large.

Skewered Sukune piled up on a plate.

I use a mixture of chicken breast mince and chicken thigh mince, which contains more fat than the breast mince. The breast mince is almost like a paste and it makes the surface of the meatballs smooth. The chicken thigh mince adds fat to the mince that makes the meatballs soft and juicy and compensates for the dryness of the breast mince.

But sometimes, I may have just breast mince. In this case, I add finely minced chicken fat to it so that the meatballs become more moist and soft.

Whenever I trim the fat and remove the skin from the chicken, I save them and freeze them. The chicken skin often has a layer of fat on the inside. I scrape off the fat to make use of it.

You could use a blender to make mince from fillets as well. I tried it with thigh fillets and it worked well. You can mince thigh fillets much finer than those you get from the shop.

HOW TO MAKE Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

Step-by-step photo of making tsukune mixture and boiling meatballs.

The chicken mince mixture to make Tsukune consists of the following (The list is not short, but all the ingredients are available at supermarkets):

  • Chicken mince (50% breast mince + 50% thigh mince), or 90% breast mince + 10% minced chicken fat
  • Salt
  • Egg
  • Grated onion
  • Grated ginger (juice only)
  • Light soy sauce
  • Cornflour/corn starch
  • Cooking sake

Drop your meatballs into the boiling water and cook them for 5-7 minutes. This is basically the process of making the basic Tsukune.

Once your meatballs are boiled, there are many different ways of using them to make dishes. Today, I made them in Yakitori-style by putting skewers through them and grilling them with a sweet soy sauce.

Putting Tsukune through a skewer.

MY WAY OF MAKING TSUKUNE (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

In almost all meatball dishes, when you make the meatball, you take a portion of the meat mixture on your palm, place the other hand to cover the meat, then roll the meat inside your hands to make it round. This method sure can make a perfect ball.

I make Tsukune in the different way. Because the mince mixture in my recipe is quite soft and difficult to roll to make a ball, I do not use the traditional method of making a meatball.

What I do is shown in the step-by-step photo below.

step-by-step photo of making Tuskune in my way.

I grab a handful of mince mixture with my left hand (I am a right hander), make a circle with my thumb and index finger and squeeze my hand to push the meat through the circle. The meat comes out shaped like a ball. With my right hand, I use a spoon to scoop the meatball off my left hand and drop it into the boiling water.

TSUKUNE VS TSUMIRE

There is a similar meatball called ‘tsumire’ (つみれ) which is also made with minced meat, most commonly with minced fish. Tsumire made with sardines is a popular ingredient to go into Oden (Simmered One Pot Dish) hot pot. People assume that tsumire is fish meatballs, but it is not so.

The difference between Tsukune and tsumire is the way meatballs are formed.

In the case of Tsukune, minced meat is formed into a ball or a sausage shape using hands. On the other hand, tsumire is made by dropping seasoned minced meat into boiling water or soup using a spoon, or by picking up by hand without forming a particular shape.

Photo below is a traditional tsumire server made of bamboo. Place the mice mixture on the half-pipe bamboo server and simply slide a chunk of mince into the boiling broth using a spatula.

Tsumire serving toolmake of bamboo.

I wanted to add this section because my way of making Tsukune is the combined method of making Tsukune and tsumire. I must post a tsumire dish one day.

YAKITORI-STYLE TSUKUNE (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

When you serve Tsukune as part of a yakitori dish, put 2 or 3 meatballs through a skewer. Then grill them with either salts sprinkled over them or sweet soy sauce basted on them.

Skewer: The best skewer for the meatballs is called ‘teppō gushi (鉄砲串, gun skewer). Unlike the standard round bamboo skewer, the teppō gushi is a narrow flat skewer with a handle at one end. The flat skewer prevents the meatballs from rotating around the skewer when turning the balls on the skewer over. You can buy teppō gushi at Japanese grocery stores. Some online shops also sell them.

Flavouring: The flavour can be either salty or sweet. The salty Tsukune is simply made by sprinkling some salt over the meatballs when grilling. The sweet flavour is made by basting the meatballs in a condensed sauce that is made of soy sauce, mirin and sugar.

Tsukune (Japanese chicken Meatballs) is a regular yakitori dish item.

I hope you enjoy Japanese Chicken Meatballs (Tsukune) as much as Yakitori (Japanese Skewered Chicken).

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Tsukune skewers on a plate.
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Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs)

Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs) is a regular Yakitori dish items. Soft and bouncy chicken meatballs are skewered and chargrilled with sweet soy sauce, i.e. yakitori sauce. The key to my soft and juicy meatballs is the grated onion and the amount of fat in the chicken mince (ground chicken). 
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe so you can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Course Appetiser, Main
Cuisine Japanese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 skewers (24 meatballs)
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

  • 450g / 1lb chicken breast mince (ground, note 1)
  • 50g / 1.8oz chicken fat finely minced (note 1)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (large)
  • 1 tbsp grated onion
  • 1 tsp ginger juice (squeeze the juice out of grated ginger)
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • tbsp cornflour/corn starch
  • tbsp sake

Sauce

  • 40ml / 1.4oz soy sauce (normal Japanese soy sauce)
  • 40ml / 1.4oz mirin
  • ½ tbsp sugar

Instructions

Sauce

  • Add all the Sauce ingredients to a pot and bring it to the boil. Turn down the heat to medium or medium low and simmer for about 4-5 minutes to reduce the quantity by about a third (note 2).

Making Tsukune

  • Add chicken mince, chicken fat and salt in a bowl and mix well until the chicken mince becomes sticky.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, except 1 tablespoon of sake, to the bowl and mix well.
  • Add the remaining sake to the bowl gradually while mixing. The mixture is quite soft but do not add all of the sake specified if the mixture is too soft to grab by hand and form a ball.
  • Boil water in a pot. Coat a cutlery spoon with oil (not in ingredients).
  • Grab chicken mince with the left hand (I am a right hander) and squeeze out mince through the thumb and the index finger. The mince will come out forming a round shape (note 3).
  • Take the meatball with the spoon and drop it into the pot. Repeat this for the rest of the mince (see the step-by-step photo in post).
  • Boil meatballs for 5-7 minutes until cooked through (note 4). Take the meatballs out and put aside. Cook them in batches so that the surface of the boiling water is filled with no more than one layer of the meatballs.

Griling Tsukune (note 5)

  • Heat griller, griddle or BBQ (note 6). Oil the rack/grill where you place the meatballs.
  • Thread 3 Tsukune onto flat skewers (note 7).
  • Baste tsukune with the sauce using a brush and cook under the griller or on the griddle/BBQ for 1-2 minutes until the meatballs are slightly burnt.
  • Turn over the skewers and cook further 1-2 minutes. Then baste with the sauce, cook 30 seconds on both sides.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

1. You could have a mixture of 250g / 8.8oz breast mince and 250g / 8.8oz thigh mince, or 100% thigh mince.
You could have just 500g / 1.1lb of breast mince but the meatballs may be slightly dry.
2. The time taken to reduce the sauce depends on the size of the pot. The larger the diameter of the pot, the faster it reduces.
3. The size of the circle made with your thumb and index finger determines the size of the ball and therefore the number of meatballs made in total.
My meatball was 3-3.5cm / 1¼” in diameter and I made 24 meatballs.
4. Cooking time depends on the size of the meatballs. When the meatball is floating and feels light when you pick it up, it is cooked through.
5. I made Tsukune on skewers, but you could cook individually if you like. Or two/four meatballs on each skewer instead of three.
6. The heat can be strong. Because Tsukune is already cooked, all you need to do here is to coat with sauce and get them burnt slightly to give better flavour to them.
7. The flat bamboo skewers used in Yakitori are called 'teppō gushi' (鉄砲串, gun skewer) as the shape is like a gun (in the old days). You can buy teppō gushi at Japanese grocery stores. Some online shops also sell them.
8. Tsukune can be frozen. After boiling, cool them down and freeze them in an air tight container or a freezer bag. To grill, thaw them, then grill as per the instructions.
9. Nutrition per skewer.
serving: 103g calories: 169kcal fat: 8.6g (13%) saturated fat: 0.4g (12%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 1.8g monounsaturated fat: 3.5g cholesterol: 70mg (23%) sodium: 594mg (25%) potassium: 280mg (8%) carbohydrates: 6.4g (2%) dietary fibre: 0.4g (2%) sugar: 3.9g protein: 14g vitamin a: 3% vitamin c: 0.7% calcium: 1% iron: 3%

Originally published in November 2016, improved photos and contents with Meal Ideas in April 2020 (no change to recipe).

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

The flavouring of the Tsukune is sweet soy sauce. So I avoided side dishes with sweet flavours. If your Tsukune is flavoured with salt, one of the side dishes can be a sweet dish such as Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no Nimono).

Tonjiru adds a wider range of vegetables to the meal as well as the different colours.

Dinner idea with Tusukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs).

 

The post Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs) appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Bento Box – Beef & Pork Patty Bento

By: Yumiko

Deep-fried crumbed Beef & Pork Patty (Menchi Katsu) is a perfect food for a bento box. When you make Menchi Katsu for dinner, make some extra and freeze them for bento to use them later. My Beef & Pork Patty Bento is packed with vegetables that are prepared in different ways.

Hero shot of Beef & Pork Patty Bento.

The standard size of Menchi Katsu (Ground Meat Cutlet) is similar to a Hamburg steak. That’s a bit too large to go into a bento box, unless of course your bento box is pretty big.

My bento box today is a modest size (11cm x 20cm / 4⅜” x 8″), purchased from the Daiso discount shop. If you make a couple of smaller Menchi Katsu, they can fit nicely in a bento box, allowing room for other side dishes.

What’s in Beef & Pork Patty Bento

Here are the ingredients of Beef & Pork Patty Bento box.

Ingredients of Beef & Pork Patty Bento .

  • Cooked rice – this can be made ahead. Please refer to How to Cook Rice the Japanese Way. Pack the cooked rice in a bento box while the rice is still hot or warm as it is easier to shape it, and let it cool down before adding other ingredients.
  • Menchi Katsu (Ground Meat Cutlet) – this can be made ahead and you can even freeze it. It is easier to freeze after deep-frying. The size of Menchi Katsu needs to be smaller than the ones in the Menchi Katsu recipe – about 2/3 of the full size. For this bento, I made them into about 4cm x 6cm / 1½” x 2⅜” sized oval shapes. If the bento box is smaller, like a kids bento box, you may want to make the patties even smaller.
  • Snow Pea Leaves Warm Salad (Nibitashi) – Nibitashi can be made ahead up to 2-3 days. When you make Nibitashi for dinner, put aside a small amount for the bento. Instead of snow pea leaves, you can use spinach.
  • Simple Pickled Celery – The flavour of the sauce for the Menchi Katsu and Nibitashi is on the sweet side. Adding a small amount of pickles balances the palate. It is also a make ahead dish. You could have sunomono (dishes with vinegar dressing) such as Cucumber and Seaweed Sunomono instead, if you have time to make it on the day.
  • Shredded lettuce – shredded lettuce or cabbage is a ‘must’ when you have Menchi Katsu or other crumbed deep-fried dishes such as Korokke and Tonkatsu. Since there are different vegetables in the bento, I think that a plain shredded lettuce or cabbage leaf will do the job.
  • Baby tomatoes– I needed red in my bento. Boiled carrot pieces or a couple of strawberries can work, too.
  • Sauce – the sauce is to be poured over the Menchi Katsu. It is much better to put the sauce in a small container and pour it over just before eating, rather than putting the sauce over the Menchi Katsu when packing a bento.

How to Pack an attractive Bento

Top down photo of theBeef & Pork Patty Bento box.

Japanese people are said to eat with their eyes. Part of the enjoyment of eating is admiring the beauty of the food and arrangements. The better the food looks, the more delicious we feel the food will be.

This concept also applies to bento making. People make every effort to make their bento box look gorgeous and well balanced.

It is not difficult to pack a bento box that looks pretty and delicious. There are three major areas that you can focus on – (a) effective use of dividers to separate foods, (b) colour combinations and (c) packing techniques. I listed key points in each area in the following sections.

Use dividers:

  • Dividers prevent different foods from mixing while carrying the bento box.
  • Unless each food is solid with no sauce or juice, you need to separate each food.
  • Use a divider to separate food with no sauce or juice.
  • Use okazu cups (see my post Yakitori Bento for details) or small cupcake liners to place saucy foods.
  • To separate dry ingredients, you can also use a lettuce leaf as a divider.

Colour Combinations:

  • Try to add a bright colour, even just one green leaf will make a big difference.
  • If most dishes are brownish, add a couple of mini tomatoes or carrots to brighten up the bento.
  • Boiled eggs or Dashimaki Tamago are a good side dish to add a bright colour and they can be made ahead.
  • Place the foods that are opposite each other in the colour wheel next to each other to give a vibrant look, e.g. green and red.
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds or furikake (dry Japanese seasoning for rice – see samples in How to Cook Rice the Japanese Way) over the plain rice to give an accent.

Packing Trick:

  • Cool down the food before packing to avoid water droplets on the lid of the bento box.
  • Pack the foods from the larger quantity to a smaller quantity, e.g. rice first, then main dish followed by side dishes.
  • If there are two high volume foods, try to place them apart instead of putting them next each other. The bento box will look more balanced.
  • Do not leave empty spaces – small side dishes can fill the gaps.
  • It’s OK to put the main dish on rice, e.g. Pork Shōgayaki Bento. I sometimes put grilled salmon on rice when the space for side dishes is limited.
  • Drain liquid from the dish if possible, otherwise use an okazu cup.
  • Sauces to be poured over food should be separately packed and used at the time of eating.

The bento box showing all the dished packed.

My bento box today came with one divider to partition the bento box into two areas. So, I placed the divider to separate the rice from all other foods. I used okazu cups for Nibitashi and pickles as they come with a bit of liquid.

About The Sauce Container

It is easier to pour the sauce over the Menchi Katsu (Ground Meat Cutlet) and pack them in a bento box, instead of packing the sauce in a separate container. But when you open the bento box and are ready to eat, you will be grateful if the sauce is not poured already.

Nothing is so unappetising as seeing a cutlet stained with a brown sauce that has soaked into the crumbed coating and lost the shiny surface of the sauce.

The same applies to pouring soy sauce over the dish. See my Chicken Karaage Bento where I packed soy sauce in a little container for Spinach Ohitashi Salad.

You don’t need a large amount of sauces for a bento, so I use one of the following containers to be added to the bento box.

  • Smallest air-tight container bought from a supermarket (top left photo below)
  • Plastic sauce bottle from Daiso discount shop (top right photo below)
  • Small sauce container from a take away shop, after you had a good take away meal (bottom left photo below)

When the sauce is thick like today’s dish, the first two options would be easier to fill. But I did fill the plastic sauce bottle from Daiso with Bulldog sauce when I made Tonkatsu Bento.

Tiny plastic containers for the sauce.

The plastic sauce bottle from Daiso came in a pack with a dozen of these (bottom right photo above). I think it was only few dollars a pack.

Due to COVID-19, I am sure many people are staying home and may not be able to go out to get take away food for lunch. Why don’t you make a lunch box for yourself even if you are eating it at home? It hopefully makes the life more tolerable!

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Beef & Pork Patty bento.
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Bento Box – Beef & Pork Patty Bento (Menchi Katsu Bento)

Beef & Pork Patty Bento (Menchi Katsu Bento) consists of cooked rice, Menchi Katsu as a main, a couple of vegetable dishes and fresh salad leaves with tomatoes. Make small size of Beef & Pork Patties so that they can fit in the bento box nicely, allowing for other side dishes to go in.
Having the sauce in a separate container is strongly recommended.
Because bento is usually made mostly from left-over dishes or make-ahead dishes, the time indicated in this recipe only shows the time to pack the bento box.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Author Yumiko

Ingredients

Instructions

  • While the rice is still hot or warm, place it in the rice compartment of the bento box and let it cool.
  • Place shredded lettuce and then Menchi Katsu on the lettuce, allowing some lettuce leaves next to the Menchi Katsu to be seen.
  • Place Snow Pea Leaves Warm Salad and Simple Pickled Celery in an okazu cup individually.
  • Place these cups next to the Menchi Katsu to fill the space (note 6).
  • Place tomatoes on the shredded lettuce.

Notes

1. The standard size in the recipe uses just over 60g of mince/ground meat per patty. For a bento box, 40-45g mince would be better. In other words, out of 2 standard patties, make 3 smaller patties.
2. Shredded cabbage is the best as an alternative because the sauce goes well with it.
3. You can substitute with boiled carrots or strawberries.
4. See the post for the sauce container samples.
5. Okazu cups are the paper or aluminium cups specifically made to put a small amount of food in. They look just like the cupcake liners but more durable against liquid. Please visit my post Yakitori Bento for sample photos. You can buy okazu cups at Japanese grocery stores and Daiso discount shops.
6. I placed the warm salad near the shredded lettuce so that the tomatoes sit next the warm salad. Remember, green and red are complimentary colours in the colour wheel.

The post Bento Box – Beef & Pork Patty Bento appeared first on RecipeTin Japan.

Root Vegetable Salad with Wasabi Mayonnaise

By: Yumiko

Adding wasabi mayonnaise gives a Japanese touch to salad. Root Vegetable Salad is very simple, consisting of only carrot, burdock and cucumber, but it is quite satisfying with a creamy Wasabi Dressing.

Hero shot of root vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

Most people might know wasabi as a green paste that comes with sushi. But you can use wasabi just like you use mustard in dressings and with mayonnaise. Because wasabi = Japan, salad dressings somewhat become Japanese-style when mixed with wasabi.

About Wasabi

Wasabi is also called Japanese horseradish – a plant that grows in wet fields. The part used for wasabi paste is the base part of the stem. You grate the stem and use it for sushi, sashimi, etc.

I don’t know about your country, but in Australia fresh wasabi stems are impossible to buy unless you are a restauranteur. They are so expensive that even in Japan many restaurants/sushi shops do not use fresh wasabi.

Many restaurants use artificially made wasabi that consists of horseradish and green colouring. The wasabi in tubes that you can buy at Japanese/Asian grocery stores or supermarkets are most likely fake ones. Powdered wasabi is no exception.

Photo of wasabi tube containing real grated wasabi.

If you have access to a fresh wasabi stem, you are a lucky person and I envy you. Freshly grated wasabi is nothing like the fake wasabi paste from both a texture and flavour perspective.

If you are buying wasabi in a tube at a Japanese or Asian grocery store, try to find a wasabi labelled as ‘hon-wasabi’ (本わさび) as these contain about 50% real wasabi (see the photo above). The texture and flavour is much better than the fake ones.

My Wasabi Mayonnaise

Wasabi is used worldwide these days and I see many salads or dips with Wasabi Mayonnaise. But most of them are simply a mixture of wasabi paste and mayonnaise. Sometimes lemon juice or honey is added to them.

My version of Wasabi Mayonnaise is a little more authentic. In addition to wasabi and mayonnaise (preferably Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise), soy sauce, vinegar and mirin are added to it with a pinch of salt to adjust the saltiness.

Root vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise served in small bowls as appetiser.

The soy sauce slightly darkens the colour of the greenish mayonnaise, but when mixed with the vegetables, the colour of the Wasabi Mayonnaise won’t matter at all.

Salad Suited for Wasabi Mayonnaise

I personally think that Wasabi Mayonnaise can be a dressing for all kinds of vegetables, but some vegetables are better dressed with creamy dressing than liquid dressing such as French dressing.

I think that liquid dressings are better suited to salads with lots of leaves while root vegetables and vegetables with stems such as broccoli and asparagus are better off with a creamy dressing.

Today I picked two root vegetables – carrot and burdock. To give a different colour and texture to the salad, I added cucumber, which goes well with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

To get each piece of vegetable well coated with the Wasabi Dressing, I shaved the carrot and burdock. This method of cutting the vegetable is called ‘sasagaki’ (笹がき) cut.

Root vegetables in a bowl before dressing.

Sasagaki Cut (shaved): Step-by-step Photo

I touched on sasagaki cut in my post, Braised Beef & Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni) and described how to do it. But I did not include the step-by-step photos then, so I am adding the photos here. Basically, you shave the root vegetable in a similar way to sharpening a pencil with a knife.

Step-by-step photo of how to do sasagaki cut.

In this photo, I used a very thin carrot and all I needed to do was to shave it from the tip of the root. But if your carrot is thick, halve or quarter it vertically to make thin sticks, then shave each stick.

Fresh burdock can also be shaved in the same way, but the shaved pieces must be soaked in water straight away so that the burdock pieces do not turn brown and the bitterness within the burdock is also removed. You only need to soak them for 5 minutes or so and you will see the water becoming brownish.

If you can’t easily buy a fresh burdock root like me, you can use shaved frozen burdock instead. I use them quite often. They are available at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

Zoomed in photo of Root Vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

Wasabi Mayonnaise goes well with many different vegetables. I’d suggest that you experiment with your favourite vegetables. I sometimes make vegetable sticks such as celery, daikon, cucumber, carrot and serve with Wasabi Mayonnaise on the side.

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PS: I added a new section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card. It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you!

5 from 3 votes
Hero shot of root vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise.
Root Vegetable Salad with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Adding Wasabi Mayonnaise to a salad gives it a Japanese touch. Root Vegetable Salad is a very simple salad consisting of only carrot, burdock and cucumber, but it’s quite satisfying with a creamy Wasabi Dressing.

Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: root vegetable, wasabi, wasabi mayonnaise
Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 60g/2.1oz carrot
  • 100g/3.5oz burdock (fresh or shaved frozen, note 1)
  • 60g/2.1oz cucumber
Wasabi Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste (note 2)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • ¼ tsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise (note 3)
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. If your carrot is very thick, halve or quarter vertically to make thin sticks. Make sasagaki cut carrot (shaved carrot) from each stick. See the post for how to do sasagaki cut.

  2. Boil water in a small saucepan and blanch the carrot pieces for 30–60 seconds (note 4). Drain and cool.

  3. If you are using frozen shaved burdock, thaw them and drain excess water if necessary. Skip steps 4 and 5.

  4. If you are using a fresh burdock root, scrape off the skin using the back of the knife, then make sasagaki cut burdock. As you shave the burdock, place the burdock pieces in a bowl filled with water (note 5). Leave them for 5 minutes.
  5. Boil water in a small saucepan and cook the burdock pieces for a couple of minutes (note 4). Drain and cool.
  6. Slice the cucumber thinly diagonally, then julienne the sliced cucumber slices lengthwise.

  7. Mix all the vegetables in a bowl.
  8. Mix wasabi paste, soy sauce, vinegar and mirin in a small bowl, ensuring that there are no lumps of wasabi paste.

  9. Add mayonnaise to the bowl and mix well.
  10. Transfer the wasabi mayonnaise to the bowl of vegetables and mix well to coat every piece of vegetable with the mayonnaise.
  11. Taste test and adjust with salt if required. Serve as a salad, or in small bowls/plates as appetiser.

Recipe Notes

1. You can buy burdock that are already shaved into sasagaki cut. They are sold frozen at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

2. If you are using wasabi powder, mix the powder with water to make wasabi paste. The degree of kick of heat and wasabi flavour depends on the brand of wasabi you use. You can increase the amount of wasabi if you prefer it to be spicier.

3. I used Kewpie mayonnaise, which is available at Japanese/Asian grocery stores as well as supermarkets. The Western style mayonnaise and Kewpie mayonnaise are a bit different in flavour – the former is sweeter. I made wasabi mayonnaise using both types of mayonnaise and both of them came out fine.

4. The time to blanch/cook root vegetables depends on the thickness of sasagaki cut and also how crunchy/soft you want them to be.

5. Fresh burdock becomes brown when exposed to air. Soaking in water, it prevents the burdock pieces from becoming brown. It also removes the bitterness.

6. Nutrition information per serving:

serving: 132g calories: 156kcal  fat: 12g (17%)  saturated fat: 1.7g (9%)  polyunsaturated fat: 6.3g  monounsaturated fat: 2.5g  cholesterol: 5.8mg (2%)  sodium: 666mg (27%) potassium: 321mg (10%)  carbohydrates: 13.7g (5%)  dietary fibre: 4.1g (16%)  sugar: 2.7g  protein: 1.8g  vitamin a: 101%  vitamin c: 5.9%  calcium: 19.4%  iron: 1.8%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Today’s salad is a little bit rich with the wasabi mayonnaise, so I picked a light main (despite being beef). The soup can be any kind, but I thought clear soup would go well with the other dishes selected. If you would like to avoid egg in the soup, as the mayonnaise contains eggs, I would suggest Dried Tofu Skin Soup – Clear Soup.

Dinner idea with Root Vegetable Salad with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

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