November 29, 2008

Hoshi Gaki (Dried Persimmons)/干し柿

This is my wife and son's very first attempt to make hoshi gaki (dried persimmons).


November 24, 2008

Lotus Root Kinpira/レンコンのキンピラ

Today, around noon, I made lotus root kinpira for supper tonight.
Skin and cut lotus root into thin slices, put them in water with a bit of vinegar in it for aku nuki (harshness removal). Pan-fry them in salad oil (and usually with a chopped red pepper*), and add seasonings:
50 ml each of soy sauce, mirin, and sake.
*I don't add a red pepper because otherwise my children wouldn't eat the kinpira.
Sprinkle sesame seeds to taste.
醤油、みりん、酒を50 mlづつ。

November 23, 2008

Satoimo no Nikkorogashi (lit. Simmered and Rolled Taro)/里芋の煮っ転がし

Yesterday, I harvested some satoimo (taro) from a small lot around my house. I put some of them in miso soup together with daikon this morning. My son said he wanted to have satoimo no nikkorogashi (or nikorogashi, which literally means simmered and rolled), and I complied with this request, although I didn't want to. To make satoimo no nikkorogashi, I usually want to use much more (> 30) satoimo.
Most recipes call for parboiling satoimo before simmering in dashi, soy sauce, and mirin (and/or sugar), but I don't want to parboil them. Once I followed such a recipe and found the resulting nikkorogashi rather bland. I usually skip parboiling them and simply simmer them in a dashi, mirin, and soy sauce mixture with a ratio of 8:1:1.
A 8:1:1 mixture of dashi, mirin, and soy sauce is called happo (versatile) dashi, because it can be used for most Japanese simmered dishes.

Photo taken after harvest:

November 21, 2008

Natto (Fermented Soy Beans)/納豆

Much has been said about natto (fermented soy beans) by non-Japanese people. Some say that it's stinky and slimy and they don't like it. But the fact is that natto is just another food at least to those Japanese who live in the Kanto (Eastern Japan) area. It's true that there are some natto haters in the Kansai (Western Japan) and other areas.
I usually have natto for breakfast, two packs of natto to be exact, that is, 90 g of it.
私は普通、朝食に納豆を食べます。正確に言うと2パック、つまり、90 gです。
Some people have natto because of its health benefits, but as for me, I have it simply because I like it.

November 17, 2008

Our First Daikon/最初の大根

Today, my son pulled out a daikon from our small farmland for the first time.

I boiled the stems and leaves in boiling water for a few minutes, cooled them in cold water, squeezed, sprinkled with some salt, then squeezed again.

I'm going to have it with natto tomorrow morning.
I used the lower part (less sweet, more pungent when raw, suitable for simmering) to make tonjiru (pork soup).

I grated the uppermost part (sweet, less pungent) and had it with nameko mushroom. I poured some soy sauce, while my wife poured some ponzu.

I used the middle part to make daikon salad with fake crab meat and canned corn (no photo) and another daikon salad with umeboshi, dried bonito shavings, mirin, dashi, and soy sauce.

I used up the whole daikon for supper tonight, except the skin, which I discarded. I could have used it to make daikon kinpira...

November 15, 2008

My Oden/私のおでん

Today, I went shopping, and bought two ingredients for oden: Chikuwa-bu (bottom) and iwashi tsumire (top).
Chikuwa-bu is a tubular product made of flour, and iwashi tsumire is a patty made of sardine (and other types of fish).

Now, my humble oden looks more like regular oden (laugh).

My family had the oden for supper tonight.
Edited to add: To learn about oden (and chikuwa-bu in particular), you may want to view this Kuitan eposode (from 1:20 and after). Kuitan! It's hard not to love him!
追記: おでん(特にちくわぶ)について知りたいなら、喰いタンのこのエピソードを見ると楽しいですよ(1:20以降)。喰いタン!愛さずにはいられない!

November 14, 2008

My Version of Oden/私なりのおでん

I like oden, but the problem is that my children don't care for it, so I usually end up eating oden for three or four days on end. Of course, I don't like that!
One day, I hit upon a good idea. "Why don't I make oden with only the ingredients I like?" It was a huge success for me, and since then, I have continued to make my version of oden.
Two of my favoriate oden ingredients are hard-boiled eggs and daikon.
You must parboil daikon in water with a handful of uncooked rice or "kome no togi jiru" (milky water resulting from washing uncooked rice) until it's 70% done.
You usually make shallow cross cuts on both sides of each daikon ring so that it is parboiled for a short time.

This time, I used a dashi, mirin, and soy sauce ratio of 15:1:1.
Thus, 600 ml dashi, 40 ml mirin, and 40 ml sauce sauce.
A ratio of 20:1:1 is also a good one.
つまり出汁600 ml、みりん40 ml、醤油40 mlです。

I also made chicken kara-age. I like to use an "I-wrap" bag to coat chunks of chicken with flour and potato starch mixture.

This way, I can make sure that the chicken is thoroughly coated.


November 11, 2008

Ratios of Seasonings/調味料の割合

I made both "buta no shoga yaki" (pork fried with ginger) and "ton (or buta) don" (pork bowl) yesterday.
For both dishes, I like to use "ratios". For the former, I used a mirin, soy sauce, and sake ratio of 1:1:0.5. I can use other ratios like 1:1:1 and 1:1:0 (no sake).
For the latter, I used a dashi, mirin, and soy sauce ratio of 4:1:1 yesterday. I can use other ratios such as 3:1:1.
Buta no shoga yaki:
300 g pork, thinly sliced
30 ml mirin
30 ml soy sauce
15 ml sake
1 knob ginger, grated
薄切り豚肉300 g
みりん 30 ml
醤油 30 ml
酒 30 ml
おろし生姜 1カケ
Ton don:
300 g pork, thinly sliced
200 ml dashi (water + instant dashi in my case)
50 ml mirin
50 ml soy sauce
1 onion
1 knob ginger, grated
薄切り豚肉300 g
出汁 200 ml(私の場合、水+出汁の素)
みりん 50 ml
醤油 50 ml
玉ねぎ 1個
おろし生姜 1カケ

For more information about ratios for seasonings, visit this thread on eGullet.
I used this high-quality pork, which I bought at the festival of the local wholesale market:

November 10, 2008


Zuke was a great invention in the Edo period that enabled the use of tuna as toppings (neta) for nigiri zushi (< sushi).
Zuke is simply a process of marinating fish (especially tuna) in soy sauce. The primary purpose of zuke is preservation.
In the age of advanced freezing technology, however, the primary purpose is all but forgotten. Nowadays, zuke is often nothing more than just seasoning with soy sauce (or other soy-based sauce).
Nevertheless, zuke is still a good way to preserve leftover sashimi for up to three days (refrigeration required).

The other day, I simply marinated leftover sashimi in soy sauce. Sometimes, I use a 1:1:1 mixture of mirin, sake, and soy sauce.
I had a zuke don (bowl) for lunch the next day.
Zuke is also used to refer to something marinated in this way.

November 9, 2008

Festival at the Local Wholesale Market/地元の卸売り市場のお祭り

On November 9, a festival was held at the local wholesale market where I live.

I bought three items there: Pork, assortment of sashimi, and cod roe.
1-kg pork for 1,200 yen. Looks very nice and tender.

Cod roe, 1,000 yen. I bought the same cod roe as this one last year, and found it very good.

Assortment of sashimi, 2,000 yen. Six different fish: Buri (adult yellowtail), sea bream, squid, tuna, sweet shrimp, and octopus.

This is the booth where I bought the cod roe:

This is the section where I bought the assortment of sashimi:

Monkfish soup/アンコウ汁
They served monkfish soup for 500 yen per bowl. It contained a generous amount of flesh and liver.
Very generous indeed!

Monkfish hanging and cutting/アンコウの吊るし切り
One of the highlights of the festival was the monkfish hanging and cutting show.

Tuna Cutting/マグロ解体
Another popular event at the festival was the tuna cutting show. The event was held twice, first with a 63-kg bigeye tuna and second with a bluefin tuna of about 80 kg.

Other sections of the wholesale market:
They gave out large samples of bananas and pinapples in large quantities. Very, very generous in indeed!

And, finally, this is the booth where I bought the pork.

For those of you who wish to know what the festival was like last year, please visit this thread on eGullet.