November 28, 2015

Okonomiyaki Rich in Grated Jinenjo/自然薯たっぷりのお好み焼き

I searched for a good recipe for jinenjo (wild yam) on the Internet, but in vain. So, I thought I'd just make okonomiyaki with lots of grated jinenjo in it.

I finely chopped a 1/4 head of cabbage, put it an I-Wrap bag, and microwaved for a few minutes. I usually don't pre-heat cabbage to make okonomiyaki; this is for my wife, who is currently unable to chew properly due to an illness. In a mixing bowl, I put the cabbage, added a bag of dried shrimp, and two large eggs, and mixed well.
Then I added some flour.
First batch:

The batter was very soft, so I used this technique to flip it: sliding it onto a big plate, and putting it back quickly with the upside down. Et voila!
For the second and third batches, I added some more flour.
Third (in a smaller frying pan):
It may not look tasty, but all my family loved it.
As usual, I put a lot of beni shoga (pickled red ginger), ao nori (a type of seaweed), katsuobushi, chuno sauce, and ketchup on mine.
Mayonnaise is also a common topping, but I personally don't like to put in on my okonomiyaki.

November 27, 2015

Mugi Meshi (Barley Rice), Again/再び麦飯

My son wanted to have more barley in his mugi meshi. (He even suggested cooking barley only, with no rice.) So, today, I made mugi meshi at a rice to barley ratio of 1 to 2.

Even my son didn't like this ratio.

A rice to barley ratio of 2:1 is quite common in Japan, as I mentioned previously. In jails in Japan, mugi meshi cooked at a ratio of 7:3 is a staple. You can see some nice scenes of eating in a jail in the movie, Doing Time (Japanese only).

November 18, 2015

Making Mugi Meshi (Barley Rice)/麦飯を作る

To make mugi meshi, you will need oshi mugi (rolled barley).
Barley is rich in dietary fiber. This particular product contains 15 times as much dietary fiber as white rice.
You have to decide the rice to barely ratio. A 7 to 3 ratio is quite common in Japan. As requested by my son, however, I decided to try a 1:1 ratio.

1. Wash 2 go of rice. Add enough water for 2 go of rice.
1. 米を2合研ぐ。2合のお米分の水を入れる。 
2. Add 2 go of rolled barley. Rolled barley need not be washed. Add water 2 times the amount of barley.
2. 押し麦を2合足します。押し麦は洗う必要はありません。水を押し麦の量の2倍入れます。
The amount of water to add is 2 times (2 x 180 ml) = 720 ml.
Note that 1 go is equivalent to 180 ml.
足す水の量は、(2 x 180 ml)の2倍、つまり720 ml。
1合は180 mlです。

3. Leave at least 30 minutes and turn on the rice cooker. For an IH rice cooker, you can turn it on immediately.
3. 最低30分置いてから、炊飯器のスイッチを入れます。IH炊飯器なら、すぐに入れてもOKです。

4. Done!
4. 完成!

November 17, 2015

"Recycle Shop" (Secondhand Store/Shop)/リサイクルショップ

In Japan, "recycle shop" means secondhand store/shop, but it should be noted that a recycle shop differs from a charity shop, thrift shop, thrift store, etc. in other countries in that it is a commercial establishment. That is, you bring items to a recycle shop to sell them to the shop, and the shop sells them for profits. Usually, a recycle shop also sells new items at very reasonable prices.
日本では、「リサイクルショップ」とは、secondhand store/shopのことですが、リサイクルショップは、 外国のcharity shop、thrift shop、thrift storeなどと異なり、商業施設です。つまり、リサイクルショップに物を持って行き、売り、リサイクルショップはそれを売って儲けます。また、通常、リサイクルショップでは、新品もとても手頃な値段で売っています。

I, for one, like to visit a recycle shop very much, even when I don't have anything I want to buy. Yesterday, I bought two ladles at the recycle shop I frequent. I fell in love with the bottom one in the photo below at first sight.
Top one: 180 yen
Bottom one: 480 yen
上のお玉: 180円
下のお玉: 480円

I googled to find that the bottom one costs over 1,200 yen at regular stores.
Some of the other items that I recently bought:
Top: Funnel (50 yen)
Bottom, left to right: Timer, non-contact thermometer for liquids only, peeler.
The timer and the thermometer were 200 and 980 yen, respectively, and are more than 1,400 and 3,000 yen, respectively, at regular stores.
上: 漏斗(50円)
下(左から右): タイマー、液体専用の非接触温度計、ピーラー。

Note that all the items shown above are new ones, not used ones. Now you know why I like a recycle shop!

November 16, 2015

Jinenjo (Wild Yam)/自然薯(じねんじょ)

The other day, I got a phone call from my father, who lives in Chiba, and he said he would sent some jinenjo (wild yam, Dioscorea japonica) to us. He added that he could get jinenjo in one of his fields. When I saw it, I was a little surprised because it was very thick.
I refrain from peeling cultivated yam, but I had to peel the jinenjo because it was soiled.

My son told me that he wanted to grate it, so I waited for him to come.
Unfortunately, maguro no butsu-giri (butsu for short), or chunks of tuna, were not available at the supermarket, so I bought this pack of bigeye tuna.
I made mugi meshi (rice plus barley).
I cut the tuna in two different ways.
I also bought a pack of hirame sashimi, and
a pack of mekajiki sashimi.
Well, my son and I were very disappointed by this particular jinenjo. Usually, jinejo is very, very slimy and sticky.
Anyway, my son enjoyed having the grated jinenjo in many different ways, one of which was yama kake don style.
Images of yama kake don

My wife, my daughter, and I are not very big fans of yam, so we had a very small amount of the grated jinenjo.

November 8, 2015

Brewing Coffee with My Method, Using a French Press/フレンチプレスを使って、私の方法でコーヒーを淹れる

Today, I brewed coffee with my method, described in the preceding post, using a French press.
The only difference is that I strained the coffee with the plunger.
Then, I transferred the coffee to a mug.
Sludge left at the bottom of the French press
Strangely, I found the coffee much less flavorful. I got much less sludge at the bottom of the mug.
I think that with my method, the fines and oils play an important role in the overall flavor of the coffee.

November 5, 2015

The Best Way for Me to Brew Coffee So Far/今までで一番いいコーヒーの淹れ方

Since I ran out of paper filters for drip-brewing coffee, I've searched for a good way of brewing coffee. An ideal way for me is one that will allow me to brew coffee as easily as I make green tea. I have now come up with the best method, and I have used it for more than one month already. You may laugh at my simple method, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

My method uses three components: an insulated mug, a tea strainer, and a plastic container for containing the strainer.
The mug has a capacity of 300 ml, and the tea strainer fits perfectly in the mug.
マグカップの容量は300 mlで、茶こしはマグカップにぴったり入ります。

13 g ground coffee (medium grind).
挽いたコーヒー13 g(中挽き)
Pour about 60 ml of hot water for blooming from a thermos flask.
魔法瓶から蒸らし用のお湯を60 ml程度注ぎます。
The water temperature is about 90-85 degrees C.

Place the plastic container on top of the mug. Leave the mug for 2-3 minutes to completely degas the coffee grounds.
By thermos flask, I mean this type, which you can find in any Japanese home.
Three minutes have passed. You can tell that all the coffee grounds have been degassed from their blackish color.
Pour additional water from the thermos flask very slowly until you get 300 ml of water in the mug. Notice that permeation takes place until the water reaches the coffee grounds. You may want to lift the tea strainer while pouring water to prolong the permeation period, but I don't bother to do so.
魔法瓶からさらにお湯を、とてもゆっくりと、マグカップにお湯が300 ml入るまで、注ぎます。お湯がコーヒーの粉に達するまで、透過が起きていることに留意して下さい。お湯を注いでいる間、茶こしを持ち上げ、透過時間の延ばしてもいいでしょうが、私はわざわざやりません。
Notice that infusion now takes place. The question is when to lift the strainer to end the infusion. I leave the strainer for about one minute and then lift it up.
You can now have 300 ml of very tasty coffee from 13 g of coffee grounds. The coffee is about 80 degrees C.
コーヒーの粉13 gからとても美味しいコーヒーが300 mlできます。コーヒーの温度は摂氏80度程度です。

You will get a little coffee sludge at the bottom of your mug. Well, I really don't care. I tried this method with a French press once, and I got almost the same amount of sludge at the bottom.
With this way, you can make the most of coffee grounds, and you will be very pleased because cleaning these components is very, very easy.