Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

December 10th, 2016

Karaage san!

As much as he hates ambiguous “Asian seasonings,” my husband actually loves karaage, soy flavored Japanese fried chicken.  He probably eats more karaage than regular fried chicken these days, not because he prefers it, but because that’s one of the few dishes he enjoys when we go to an izakaya, which is a tapas style Japanese restaurant.  He has this Cheers-like Norm fantasy of being called by “karaage san” (Mr. Karaage) by the staff of our imaginary neighborhood izakaya upon entering.  In reality, there are no Japanese restaurants in our neighborhood (there are, but none offers good karaage), so I fulfill his fantasies by cooking Japanese Fried Chicken for him…I just won’t call him Karaage-San.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
4 Chicken thighs (skin on; bone off)
2 Cloves of Garlic
Ginger
Soy sauce (3)
Sake (1)
Mirin (.5)
(3:1: .5 as standard ratio; use more soy sauce if you want saltier, mirin for sweeter)
You can use substitute mirin with sugar or honey.
Potato starch (Katakuriko)
frying oil

Directions:
1. Skin side up, cut thighs into 4 – 6 bite sizes (depending on the size of thighs)
2. Put all liquid in a ziplock and add grated garlic and grated ginger (a little less than garlic) to the bag, shake it to mix
3. Put cut thighs in the ziplock, remove air as much as possible and marinate at least 30 minutes to overnight in the fridge
4. When you are ready to fry, take out thighs from the bag and put on paper towel to remove excess liquid
5. Put oil in a deep frying pan and turn the heat on (enough to cover pieces of meat)
6. Put potato starch in a bowl and add chicken pieces to coat chicken
7. When the oil reaches high temperature (350F or when you drop a little bit of corn starch, it immediately comes up towards the surface of oil), add a few pieces of chicken at a time.
8. Fry a few minutes each side until golden brown
9. Once chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken from the oil and lay down on paper towel to remove excess oil.
10. Plate them with some greens and lemon.

 

 

May 26th, 2014

Bread and Chawanmushi

Everybody has a favorite carb.  Depending on my mood, my favorite carbohydrate is either Japanese rice or noodles.  My husband?  His choice is predictably, bread.  One time, I left him to fend for himself for his meals, and found out later, that he ate two baguettes by himself in a day. I like the smell of freshly baked bread and eat it at restaurants, but I never brought a baguette or any bread home before I started dating my husband.  One of our first dates, we went to a restaurant which name contains bread and bar for lunch.  Two of his favorite words.  We ordered a bread basket, expecting lots of freshly made warm bread.  Unfortunately, they didn’t deliver anything close to our expectations as we got scraps of bread pieces.  Right there, we established the unspoken code of “NEVER ORDER THE BREAD BASKET”.

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Bread Plate | Faith & Flower

Fast forward five years to the current day where we just realized that we’ve ordered a bread basket twice in a few week…and even more surprising, one was my idea.  Faith & Flower, a rustic Californian restaurant opened near our home, and a few weeks ago, they started offering brunch.  The menu offers a variety of interesting selections.  You can get something familiar like twice cooked potatoes or something exotic, like “Chawanmushi”, which is coincidentally my favorite dish of all time.  It’s a traditional Japanese savory egg custard made with eggs and seafood stocks, but at Faith & Flower, it’s made with lemon dashi and chicken confit.  The brunch also offers their signature dishes,  “Eggs Benedict Pizza,” and “Oxtail Agnolotti.” Both are available on their lunch and dinner menus as well.  I usually order something interesting so I was deciding between their handmade ramen or their Chawanmushi, but since my husband ordered the potato, fried egg and a bread plate, I picked a protein instead of a carb.  Western style Chawanmushi.

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Chawanmushi | Faith & Flower

The bread plate came with a couple of slices of chewy and hazel nutty oatmeal bread, right out of the oven (with the proof being a slight burn on top) croissants, and a pistachio bun with butter and homemade berry preserves on a pretty French antique looking plate.  Very pretty. Even prettier: the bread.  All three kinds of unique, fresh and warm bread made me happy, but the highlight was the pistachio bun.  It was soft, moist and had the perfect density, with a pistachio creme and citrus zest on top.  We were hooked.  Everything that came after was good, but my husband and I were already discussing how we could come back the next day and get this bread plate again. Fortunately or unfortunately, one of us has to work on weekends for while, so we didn’t get to revisit this gorgeous plate of bread for a couple of weeks, but we did talk about it a few times, so that counts.  All that changed this Sunday while I was making us brunch.  I made a call to the restaurant and ordered the bread plate to go.  I had to, because now, I understand the beauty of good bread.

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Pistachio Bun | Faith & Flower

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Crispy Egg | Faith & Flower

 

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Crispy Twice Cooked Potato | Faith & flower

 

 

March 25th, 2013

Spaghetti Napolitan

It started with a simple request: “I want spaghetti tonight.”  I didn’t have any sauce precooked, and the thought of pasta sauce in a jar? No way.  I refuse to use those from the grocery shelf since my first taste back in college.  What spaghetti dish could I make with limited time and ingredients?  The answer? Spaghetti Napolitan!

napolitan

“Napolitan” sounds Italian, doesn’t it?  Then why you haven’t heard of it?  Because it isn’t real Italian, that’s why.   (Spaghetti) Napolitan is a Japanese kids’ favorite that you can find on the menu at most of Japanese cafes.  It’s spaghetti with onion, green pepper and mushroom with some kind of processed meat (such as bacon or ham) and ketchup.   The Japanese created this dish after World War II.  Japanese chefs at the Hotel New Grand, which GHQ requisitioned for a while, got the idea from observing American soldiers eating spaghetti with ketchup as their regular meal.  So those hotel chefs probably thought why not, right?   My exact thoughts: my husband loves ketchup, he puts that on everything, so why not?

I was so wrong.  My husband said he didn’t like spaghetti with the flavor of ketchup.  “But”, I said, “You like ketchup!”  “Not with pasta!”  But again, I said, “This is almost like omerice that you like.” Instead of answering, he quoted GoodFellas.  “I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup.”  *Sigh* I can’t argue with one of the greatest movies ever, but still, all these Japanese kids grow up eating it and loving it!  Are they schnooks?   Why doesn’t  my ketchup loving husband like it?

Adding insult to injury, he even said he’d rather have spaghetti with sauce from a jar.  Although I doubt he’ll eat jarred pasta sauce, I guess he was expecting “real Italian” spaghetti, so receiving “ketchup” tasting pasta was disappointing.  I thought this was ironic because ketchup was invented by Americans, and Napolitan was invented by the Japanese, so in theory, it’s a perfect “fusion” dish, right?  Oh well, cook and learn!

P.S. He didn’t hate it; he finished the plate.

April 2nd, 2012

The Tofu Switcheroo

Lasagne is a great comfort food.  How could it miss with hearty meat sauce, noodles, and melted cheese all in the same bite!  I have nothing against beef, but recent news items have made me rethink my desire to eat burgers and steaks everyday.  With that in mind, don’t tell my husband, but I occasionally substitute the beef in my lasagne with turkey.

The result?  I think the text he sent me after his first bite, said it all: “Damn, that’s good lasagne!”

Am I being greedy to think I know how to make this healthy lasagne even healthier without sacrificing taste?

How, you ask?  Tofu.  Tofu is an essential part of the Japanese diet.  We eat it everyday with most of our meals.  It can be consumed many, many ways, as is, in soup, a steak or in a casserole.  It’s popularity is simple: it’s delicious, nutritious and versatile.

Even with all its selling points, my Asian food-phobic husband doesn’t approve of this particular item.  Why?  He thinks it looks too cubic–too futuristic; something from a not too far off time where we eat capsules instead of savor meals.  To get him to eat it  I have to be sneaky creative.  Regular lasagne recipes often use a mixture of ricotta cheese, egg, and parsley.  Instead, I use a mixture of crumbled tofu, egg whites and chopped kale.  I also added layers of mushroom and spinach.  Delicious! The tofu switcheroo turned out to be the perfect April Fool’s Day hoax!

 

 

September 1st, 2011

“This isn’t really a rice crispy treat”

Yup, that’s what he said after one bite of my homemade rice crispy treat.  It’s not that he didn’t like them…he practically finished the entire batch single-handedly, but insisted on mentioning that they just weren’t the same as what he remembered growing up with.  On further investigation (read: second bite) he narrowed it down to a difference in texture. 

How am I supposed to know the exact specifications of a traditional rice crispy treat, when I had neither tasted one, nor tried the cereal they’re named after?  Besides it’s rarity, there’s one other factor preventing me from enjoying this traditional treat: butter.  Do I really want to put that much butter, or even worse, margarine, into my body? I’d rather save my butter allowance for a delicious French baguette.  Since life, and marriage, is a big give and take, I decided to try my hand at making a relatively guilt free, healthy alternative using organic puffed rice, chopped almonds, semi sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and honey.  I thought it was nutty, chocolatety and pretty darn good.  After all that thought and preparation, what did I get in return?  “This isn’t really a rice crispy treat.”

I was pissed discontented with my husband’s reaction, but once the steam stopped pouring from my ears, I became curious as to what a ‘real’ rice crispy treat was like, so I went to a local coffee place and bought one.  Well, he was right on one count…obviously, they don’t look alike.

The real Rice Krispies Treat recipe was developed in the 1930’s and published on the box of Rice Krispies in 1941.  Since then, it seems like this treat has been a favorite, continually, to kids of all ages.  Too much work to make one at home?  You’re in luck; this snack is not only a homemade classic, but pre-made in factories and sold like snack bars as well.  Also new to me is that there’s a cereal made from these sticky wonders.  In tune with the 21st century, are you surprised when I tell you that there’s even a facebook fan page for rice crispy treats?  It gets worse (better): Want to celebrate your life with it, how about a rice crispy treat wedding? Maybe this treat is more American than I thought it was.  Since its recipe doesn’t require baking or precise measuring, I can see the appeal of making these treats as a part of family activity.  Maybe the appeal of the rice crispy treat is partly flavor and partly bonding?

So, now that I’ve had a ‘real’ one, what did I think?  First, the texture was little mushier and softer than mine, with a sweeter taste.  But for the true test, I asked my husband for his opinion.  Actions spoke louder than words: judging from empty container in the fridge, it looks like my ‘fake’ crispy treat is the taste test winner.  Another entry into the family recipe!