7.27.2015

Shoyu Ramen

I became a fan of ramen in Tokyo, where a friend introduced me to Japanese ramen. It's so much better than instant noodles!

TIPS

The way they do it in Japan is to prepare everything separately, and combine it in your bowl. This method makes more dishes, but it makes sure that each item is at the right done-ness (instead of getting soggy noodles because something else in the pot needs more time).  Once everything is ready (broth is hot, noodles are done, toppings are ready), then the meal is composed in the bowl, and the hot broth is poured over.

Figure out how much liquid you need for the # of people you are serving, and only make up that much broth/liquid.  In my earlier attempts, I would fill up a large stock pot with broth, only to realize it was out of proportion with the toppings.  Pouring broth over a bowl with the right amount of toppings is another safeguard to getting the right proportions of liquids to solids in ramen.

TYPES

You can make different kinds of ramen, mostly based on the liquid you use.

  • Shoyu ramen: broth + soy sauce, the easiest, and what I made below 
  • Miso ramen: what it sounds like, broth + miso 
  • Tonkotsu Ramen, or Ippudou style broth, the kind that is milky white/opaque color. I've read this is from using specific bones from a pig.  See Mark's blog for a recipe for Tonkotsu Ramen.

METHOD

Make good quality bone broth.  I made mine from grass fed beef bones. You can use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker to make your bone broth.

Measure out the right amount of liquid for the number of people you are serving- approximately 8 oz per person.

Bring it up to a simmer.   Season with garlic and soy sauce.

Meanwhile, prep your toppings:

  • Carmelize white or yellow onion slices in oil and a generous portion of salt
  • Cook up your protein.  I browned large slices of firm tofu in oil with a sprinkle of salt.  I've seen hard boiled eggs used, as well as braised meat slices like cha-su
  • Chop veggies you want to include, like the broccoli I used. If the vegetable takes a while to cook, consider steaming or boiling it separately to make sure it's done before adding to the soup. 
  • Slice up green onion or negi
  • Measure out 1 tsp wakame flakes per person


Cook up the noodles.  I used buckwheat ramen noodles- you could find any kind of noodle you like. Either cook these in a separate pot and strain (like they do in Japan), or carefully cook them in the broth.

When the noodles are ready, broth is hot, and the toppings are ready, assemble everything in a bowl.  I start with the noodles and add the toppings, then pour the broth over the top. Serve immediately.

6.13.2015

Zaru Soba: Summertime cold Soba noodles with dipping sauce (Tsukejiru)

When the weather gets hot, I love to eat cold soba noodles.  In Japan, you'll see these in many restaurants, and it's especially popular to top them with tempura shrimp.

Good soba noodles are made from just buckwheat and water.  Check the ingredients as many cheaper soba will be made of primarily wheat.

If you want to serve them hot, check out this post on kakejiru.   When cold, serve soba noodles with a dipping sauce called tsukejiru.  Both tsukejiru and kakejiru contain dashi, sugar, and soy sauce; just in different proportions.

COLD DIPPING SAUCE "Tsukejiru":
In a pot, bring up to a boil:
3 C dashi
6.5 TB soy sauce
1 TB sugar
Let cool in the fridge.  You can do this up to a week ahead of serving.

SOBA NOODLES
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Dried soba noodles are usually bundled into 1 person serving sizes, so pull out 2 bundles for 2 people or more bundles for each person you are feeding.

Place the noodles into the boiling water and simmer uncovered for 4-6 minutes or until al dente (check the package for instructions).  Once cooked to your liking, cool them down.  

I like to drain them off, then plunge into a big bowl of ice water.  Once they are cooled, you can either drain off the ice water and serve, or fold the noodles into little bundles.  This post has some great serving ideas and photos for reference.

Soba and Hot Broth (Kakejiru)

I love soba. It is quite delicious when done right. Most of the soba on the shelves is wheat flour with a sprinkle of buckwheat flour.  Seek out the kinds that are 100% buckwheat flour-- that's the real deal.  At some point I want to figure out how to make soba noodles on my own.

Soba can be enjoyed in either a hot or cold broth.  In this post, we're doing hot soba, which is served with a dipping broth/soup called Kakejiru.

I served this with a salad of shredded daikon, toasted sesame seed oil and aonori flakes (or use furikake), steamed vegan gyoza and steamed sugar snap peas to make it a meal.

METHOD
For two people

First, make dashi stock. Great dashi instructions are over at Serious Eats, of you can reference my notes on dashi in my secrets of miso soup post.  Feel free to make the dashi ahead of time (store in the fridge, or freezer).

HOT DIPPING SAUCE "Kakejiru":
In a pot, bring up to boil:
1 quart dashi
1.5 TB sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2 TB soy sauce

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. This pot is for the noodles. Once the noodle water and the dashi are hot, then put the dried soba noodles into the boiling water, stir to break up the clumps of noodles and let simmer uncovered for 4-6 minutes or until al dente (check the package instructions).  Drain, rinse and drain and set aside.

Place a wad of the cooked noodles in each soup bowl. Pour over the hot tentsuyu/flavored dashi soup stock and eat immediately.

Here are the bowls prior to being filled with soup:
Leftover tips: do not store the noodles in the soup, they will get too mushy. Store them separately then heat up the soup and pour over the noodles.

5.31.2015

Summer Mint Tea

We were introduced to this concept at a friends house and were transfixed by house delicious mint tea is! This is just the herb, no bags or anything added besides a little bit of sugar. This is a great picnic beverage.

METHOD
Prepare in a quart pitcher that can withstand heat and cold:

handful of fresh mint leaves, bruised by crushing in your hands
3 TB raw cane sugar (like turbinado)

Pour in a few cups of filtered hot water and muddle with a spoon.  Let cool a bit (so as to not shock the container). Then fill up the rest of the container with water and/or ice (in total I think you'll have a quart of water).

Chill and serve cold.

5.10.2015

Japanese Recipes Index

I like to eat and cook Japanese food!  In college I did a home-stay with a Japanese family in Tokyo and learned a lot about Japanese cooking from my host mother, whose nightly dinners felt like eating in a restaurant!

Easy Vegetarian Sushi Maki

Many people think that all sushi is complicated and requires raw fish.  I like making simple vegetarian style sushi at home which means I don't have to worry about getting super fresh fish.  Pair veggie maki (sushi roll) with tamago-yaki (rolled omelet), and vegetarian miso soup, for a vegetarian sushi meal. In the summer, add some Japanese salads, like blanched spinach or daikon salad. Or set up a sushi rolling party and let the guests pick and roll their own fillings.
1. Make sushi rice, see these instructions.

2. Toast nori over gas flame for 30 seconds, moving the nori over the flame as if you were painting a watercolor painting. (some nori comes pre-toasted, so check the package)

3. Cut the fillings to long thin strips (if applicable). You want them to be in uniform pieces and easy to line up inside the sushi.  Here are some ideas for vegetarian fillings:

  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot shreds
  • Daikon sprouts
  • Watercress

4. Assembly: Place nori on a sushi rolling mat. Look at the diagram below. You want to place the cooked sushi rice on the bottom portion of the nori, but about 1 inch away from the bottom of the nori. Notice that we've made a bed of rice that's about 3 inches wide (it does not extend to cover all the nori).
Place the filling in the center of the bed of rice.
Roll up using the bamboo mat.

Use a little water on your finger to seal nori shut. (like an envelope)

5. Moisten a very sharp knife with a wet towel, such that the knife is a bit damp but not dripping.  Slice the sushi roll into 1.25 inch rounds. Make sure you wipe the knife clean between cuts otherwise the last cuts get mushy.



6. Serve on a platter with a little soy sauce for dipping. Get out chopsticks and enjoy!

Japanese Nabe (hot pot soup)

Was inspired by this sukiyaki recipe with this nabemono recipe.

Method:

Make dashi ahead of time.

When ready to start making nabe, bring dashi up to temp.
Add 1/4 C sake, 2 TB sugar and 1/4 - 1/2 C good soy sauce to dashi.

Meanwhile, coat the inside of pot with sweet white or yellow miso

Slice thinly and place in bundles in the pan:
daikon radish
onion or tokyo negi (naga negi)
cabbage or napa cabbage
mushrooms (chanterelle, enoki, shiitake, cremini or any kind you find)

Add to the pot:
konnyaku or kelp noodles (traditionally, families will serve these at the end to help sop up the leftover broth)
broiled or extra firm tofu (frozen, thawed and cut into chunks- see freezer method for tofu)

Pour hot dashi sauce over the top of the veggies and stuff. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Right before serving, stir in chopped greens like spinach or chrysanthemum (shungiku) and let wilt in the hot liquid. Serve hot.



5.05.2015

Favorite Fall Soups: Red lentil and tomato soup with Apple and Indian Spices

I've been making variations of this Muligatawny inspired soup for a while, it is a big winner in my family. I love that it can be made with pantry staples, it's really tasty, and it's vegan. Even my dad (who hates anything curry) likes this soup, despite it's Indian roots.

Here's the latest variation in how I'm making this soup these days.

GET READY
Dice:
1 yellow or white onion
2-3 carrots
1 large apple
Optionally, you can chop up other veggies to add, like zucchini or bell pepper.

Grate:
1 TB ginger 
3 cloves garlic

Puree in a blender a few tomatoes, or open a can of diced or crushed tomatoes.

Open a can or box of coconut milk.

START COOKING
Saute the onion and carrot with olive oil and salt until it softens.

Add the apples and any other veggies and cook until they soften a little bit, 3-5 minutes. You can add a tablespoon of water if the pan gets too dry.

Then add ginger, garlic and the following spices, stirring for about 60 seconds until it is fragrant:
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch black pepper

Now add the tomatoes (either from can or blender) and stir.

Add 1 C red lentils (masoor dal). If you need more water to cover the lentils (depends on how watery your tomatoes were), then add more water.

Cover and cook on a low simmer until the lentils are soft, 20-25 minutes.

Finally pour in the coconut milk and warm through. Season with more salt if needed.

Serve over a bed of cooked basmati rice, or with cornbread.

2.15.2015

Chris' Banana Chunk Oat Almond Cookies (vegan, gluten free)

Made a non-chocolate version of these today, and had bananas around, so I gave this a try.  Holy crap- incredible! I'm a chocolate lover, and even I think these might be better than the original. 

Can be doubled. Dough can be refrigerated. 

METHOD

Mix up 1 TB flaxmeal and 3 TB water as your flax egg.

Preheat oven 350 F

Combine: 
1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C nut butter
1/4 to 1/2 C sugar (white or brown). 1/4 C is slightly not sweet enough, 3/8 C is probably just about right for my taste. 

Now add flax egg and 1 tsp vanilla and combine

Now add:
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
scant 0.5 tsp salt
1 C oat flour (blend oats in food processor or high speed blender until fine to make oat flour)
1 C almond flour

Fold in 1 banana, diced. 

Shape into balls on cookie sheet and bake 11-13 minutes at 350 F.

2.08.2015

Easy Pineapple Teriyaki Sauce

This is great, and doesn't use up as much soy sauce as the traditional Japanese versions of teriyaki. It works great in stir fries where you'll use it to coat veggies, tofu or chicken.  My parents were hooked on bottled teriyaki sauces, which often have corn syrup or additives-- I think this is easy enough to make in batch to keep on hand instead of store-bought sauce.

METHOD:

Combine in a saucepan, bring to a boil:
2 C water
1/2 C soy sauce
1/4 C - 1/2 C brown sugar (decide how much based on how sweet you want it)
2 TB agave or maple syrup
few cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp microplane minced ginger root

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix up 2 TB cornstarch and 1/4 C cold water. Set aside.

Open a can of crushed pineapple.

Once the sauce pan is boiling, slowly stir in the cornstarch slurry while stirring. Add 1/4 C crushed pineapple, take off heat.

You can keep this sauce in the fridge, which is handy as this makes a lot of sauce!