January 5, 2013

Kuruma Fu Fries (Cutlets)/車麩のフライ(カツ)

Kuruma fu is very popular here in the Uonuma region of Niigata, and it's a great source of protein.  It is often used in nimon (nimono in standard Japanese).  Kuruma means wheel, and fu is wheat gluten.  Thus, kuruma fu refers to a wheel-shaped fu product.  Shown below is a cheaper, pre-cut kuruma fu.
Before I came here in Niigata, I was familiar with tiny kazari (decorative) fu only, so I was a little surprised when I first saw kuruma fu.  Now I like kuruma fu very much.

As part of supper tonight, I made kuruma fu fries (cutlets), in addition to hito kuchi katsu (one-bite cutlets).

I used twelve pieces of pre-cut kuruma fu.
I soaked them in bowl of water to reconstitute.
Ten minutes or so later, I squeezed them lightly.
Then, I dusted them with a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper.
In a bowl, I mixed two eggs, some water, and the flour left in the bag.
I breaded 12 pieces of fu, as well as 41 pieces of pork.
I first deep-fried the fu at 180C for 2 min., 6 pieces at a time.
Then, I deep-fried the pork at 180C for 3 min., 8 pieces at a time.
I only got this amount of egg solution left.
I pan-fried it with no oil.  This pan cake is eaten in much the same way as okonomiyaki.
The tonkatsu were good as usual, but my children didn't like the kuruma fu fries very much.  I myself didn't find them particularly good.

Kuruma fu has other uses.  For example, you can make French toast with it.

Edited to add:
The kuruma fu in Niigata differs from that in Okinawa in that the former is multi-layered and is usually pre-cut into thin slices, whereas the latter is single-layered and is long and tubular.


Sissi said...

I have neer heard of kuruma fu. Very interesting!
By the way, I have recently seen a fascinating documentary about Jiro Ono, the owner of 3 Michelin Stars sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Very moving, unique film and the chef seems an extraordinary person. I am still under the charm! The title is "Jiro dreams about sushi". Have you seen it? (It's made by an English director but everyone talks Japanese).

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: No, I haven't. I have watched the trailer in Kiki's blog:
We talked about the film, do you remember?

I know about Ono Jiro. I know he is an extraordinary person, yet I still don't feel up to visiting his place even if I have enough money.

Fräulein Trude said...

It is some sort of roasted and dried Seitan I guess. I made Seitan for several times, because it is very easy to make at home for absolut little money using the cheapest wheat flour available. Sadly since my old pressure cooker did not work on my induction stove I never made Seitan again. Maybe I should try to cook it in a common pot. What I know about Seitan, you have to add a lot of soy sauce, ginger and such into the marinade to make it taste nice. Maybe Kuruma fu is a little bland too? Marinating it (soy sauce and spices in soaking liquid) before breading should add more umami and maybe your children will enjoy it more? But that is only a guess.

Sissi said...

I don't remember at all the conversation on Kiki's blog... Thanks for the link.
I wouldn't go there even if I were rich enough now to spend 30000 on a meal: as a European I'm such an ignorant in sushi, I would have to visit many much cheaper, but good quality sushi shops beforehand (even the extremely cheap one in Tokyo was 100x better than the most expensive, fancy sushi restaurant I went to in Europe...).
I would like to slowly increase the level of sushi quality each time I go to Japan. (This time I concentrated more on other Japanese dishes) Then, maybe in several years... I will start dreaming about Ono Jiro's place ;-)
I suppose that for a Japanese person the efforts, the sophistication, the search of perfection, the hard work etc. that amaze us, Europeans, are not as extraordinary.
I have just reread the discussion on Kiki's blog. I think the atmosphere must be much warmer in this restaurant when there are no cameras... Especially when regular guests come. On the other hand in the film, Ono Jiro's younger son who has a sushi shop too, seems much more relaxed and cheerful person.

muskratbyte said...

I loved the movie 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' - it was one of my favorite documentaries this last year.

I've never had fu, but I've eaten seitan. Fraulein, you can use a common pot to simmer seitan, my mother made it this way. I enjoy the flavor of seitan, but this much wheat gluten doesn't agree with me.

Hiroyuki said...

Kiki: Yes, it's a type of yaki (baked) fu, and it's bland like any other type of fu in Japan. You are right about your guess, because most recipes for kuruma fu fries say to season the fu by soaking it in a broth or something. I simply seasoned with salt and pepper.

One more thing: Believe it or not, seitan is almost unknown in Japan.

Sissi: I recommend that you make nigiri at home if you can get sashimi-grade raw fish where you live. I think this is a good way to learn about nigiri.

muskratbyte: Oh, did you? I don't even know whether this film is released in Japan.

Sissi said...

Thank you, Hiroyuki. Sadly I have no idea if the fish I buy is fresh enough to be eaten raw... I cannot trust the shop assistants either because they don't eat raw fish and can only recognise the fish's freshness for fried or cooked dishes... I should go to Japan and take a fish knowledge course ;-) (Fish preparation course would be very helpful too since I don't get fillets of most small fish varieties and my homa-made fillets look really scary!).

Fräulein Trude said...

Sissi: I wonder don't they sell sushi grade fish in your city at the fish mongers? Sushi grade fish should be trustworthy (sushi grade means to be eaten raw as it is) and you have to ask for sushi grade quality. I live 200 km away from the seaside and tuna is not to be found in our offshore fishing regions but I never had any problems with shushi grade tuna I bought at the local fish monger (except it is terrible expensive...).

Sissi said...

Kiki, I know which day it arrives to my fish shop (which sells to restaurants) but I have seen that sushi shops here have deliveries from a different company (I don't know if they import from the same importer...).
In general, the shop assistants don't know anything about sushi, so the only thing they would tell me if it's fresh or not. I can recognise it in whole fish, but tuna is impossible of course, though I have it always rare when grilled. I must try sushi too one day because a friend buys fish there and sometimes eats it as sushi at home. He is still alive ;-)