Monday, April 7, 2014

Donabe Cookbook Project Update


Japanese-style seafood paella, cooked in Kamado-san
Thank you so much for following my blog.
The big photoshoot for the donabe cookbook project is scheduled to begin later this week and will last for about 2 weeks. I'm very excited!
Because I have been spending so much time and energy for this donabe cookbook project, and it's going to require more time and energy until the production is almost done in the next months, I need to take a break from updating my blog for a little while.

Meanwhile, I plan to continue posting photos on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter (you find the links on the right side of this page). So, please follow me and check out all the photos of donabe cooking!

The cookbook will feature wonderful donabe pots you can find from our online donabe shop, toiro kitchen. So, it's going to be very exciting.

Once the main production process is over, I would like to resume blogging...so, please stay tuned.

Thank you so much for your big support for our authentic donabe from Iga, Japan, and healthy Japanese donabe cooking.

Happy donabe life!

Naoko

Friday, March 21, 2014

Donabe-steamed Shrimp Wonton


I always have a special spot for dumplings.
One of the regular dishes is Shrimp Wonton Hot Pot, which I make with classic-style donabe.

 photo IMG_1242_zps47e9717f.jpg
Shrimp Wonton also tastes wonderful when steamed in donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe".

 photo IMG_1226_zpsc328e828.jpg  photo IMG_1227_zps9a63a72e.jpg
Set the Mushi Nabe ready, and steam the cut cabbage for a minute or so first, then spread some bean sprouts and shrimp wontons. Steam for 5-6 minutes or until the wontons are cooked through.

 photo IMG_1241_zpsc92f1cfe.jpg  photo IMG_1240_zps76d4d2d8.jpg
They are nice and ready. You can enjoy with ponzu or your choice of dipping sauce.

 photo IMG_1238_zpsa0fda402.jpg
As a "Shime" final course, I made simple steamed udon (topped with some "shungiku" leaves) and served with dipping sauce. The steam grate of Mushi Nabe can be easily removed by using the tongs for it. So, you can either serve right out of donabe at the table or cook in donabe in the kitchen and just take the dish with the grate to the table.

Happy Donabe Life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Back in Japan (March 2014)...Local sushi night

On a final night in this stay back in Japan, we went to our regular sushi place in Urawa.

 photo IMG_1480_zpsf14c03fc.jpg  photo IMG_1481_zps799915b5.jpg  photo IMG_1483_zps5e3c7639.jpg
Lots of seasonal small dishes.

 photo IMG_1485_zpsb2fc979d.jpg  photo IMG_1486_zpsa32aeaed.jpg  photo IMG_1487_zps90d6d28a.jpg  photo IMG_1490_zps2c87db68.jpg
We had 5 kinds of sake among 3 of us!

 photo IMG_1489_zps64d5d601.jpg  photo IMG_1491_zps2fce66be.jpg  photo IMG_1492_zps68c3d25b.jpg
I lost count of how many nigiri I had...all were great. I will miss sushi in Japan until next time.

 photo IMG_1309_zps3b3cadc4.jpg  photo IMG_1307_zps60b67c49.jpg
The final meal before returning to LA was soba lunch in the neighborhood. Urawa is full of handmade soba and unagi restaurants, so I love going to different places. At this place, they make soba noodles from freshly ground buckwheat flour (by a large stone mill set by the entrance) every day. I had their"Ju-wari" (100% buckwheat) soba with shrimp tempura and egg. Super nice. Again, I will miss something so simple and so good like this until I next time.

 photo IMG_1355_zps8b2a1ab7.jpg
I returned to LA safely and unpacked immediately. As always, I came home with so much stuff! Besides the items I came home with, I actually have 2 more boxes which were shipped separately and will arrive soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Seasonal Treat with "Shinshu" Sake

Seasonal "Hassun" Course at Ichirin in Tokyo

I had a girls' lunch with mom and Tomo-chan (my sister).

 photo IMG_1468_zps723def14.jpg
We went to a small place called, "Ichirin", where the chef serves Kyoto-style cuisine. My mom is a big fan of the chef Hashimoto-san. I was excited to find a full page of all "Shinshu" (seasonal freshly bottled unpasteurized sake).

Extremely seasonal dishes were made entirely from ingredients from various parts of Japan.

 photo IMG_1456_zps93feb123.jpg  photo IMG_1474_zpsabe5c525.jpg photo IMG_1458_zpsa3d61de2.jpg  photo IMG_1459_zps70d8d3b8.jpg
We had a lunch course of vegetable-rich dishes. Every dish had a full flavor of the early spring. Steamed homemade yuba and uni, mountain vegetable tempura, and clear soup of bamboo shoot, zenmai, and wakame.

 photo IMG_1461_zps42339f63.jpg  photo IMG_1462_zpsf67b6709.jpg  photo IMG_1465_zps6291b20b.jpg  photo IMG_1464_zpsc7ed5f4d.jpg
It was like a personal "omotenashi" by Hashimoto-san. His signature "Hassun" (8 dishes in a wooden board) was followed by baby an anago (sea eel) in vinegar sauce, and lotus root and yomogi (mugwort) mochi dish.

 photo IMG_1469_zps28090407.jpg  photo IMG_1470_zps6ca9ce8c.jpg
The rice course was Tai-meshi (sea bream rice), cooked in donabe! I had such a great time with the amazing dishes. Hashimoto-san is such a sweet and generous person and he taught me so much about the ingredients, cuisine, and cooking, over the meal. Thank you so much, Chef!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Relaxing day with sake and food


My sister and I went to a local Japanese restaurant in Urawa for lunch.

 photo IMG_1453_zps20e30dc6.jpg  photo IMG_1448_zps1b1abdfa.jpg  photo IMG_1452_zps3df1d227.jpg
This place is always so unpretentious and very good. We had a wonderful kanburi (winter yellowtail) and Zuwai crab from Himi, Toyama for shabu shabu and enjoyed sake, too.

 photo IMG_1444_zps1b6a664a.jpg
In the evening, after dinner, we had Hakkaisan's Junmai Nama Genshu (un pasteurized and undiluted) sake with Sake cake and truffle chocolates with different flavors such as rum, cognac, etc. I was so happy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Italian Day in Tokyo


It was another sunny warm day in Tokyo.

 photo IMG_1398_zpscebf2b88.jpg  photo IMG_1428_zps085e3596.jpg  photo IMG_1429_zps8af628a4.jpg
I met Rie for lunch in Omotesando. We went to an Italian restaurant which is known for vegetable dishes. I had onion potage, mixed vegetables salad with 10 kinds of small antipasti, and komatsuna green and pine nuts cake...all really nice.

 photo IMG_1427_zps54c1eb97.jpg  photo IMG_1421_zps338172f3.jpg  photo IMG_1420_zps92dd6f86.jpg
In the evening, I joined an Italian wine tasting group's meeting at a regular spot in Yotsuya 3-chome. They are all my friends whom I traveled to Italy together past two years. The theme of the night was Southern Piemontese wines...anything but Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, or Cortese. It was such an interesting tasting with some rare white grapes and reds. We tasted 5 kinds of wines.

 photo IMG_1430_zpseb28a74f.jpg  photo IMG_1431_zps3a3087ac.jpg  photo IMG_1433_zps89de6895.jpg  photo IMG_1419_zps4337b718.jpg
Our group is always fun. After the tasting, we had a fun time with dinner and more wine.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Back in Japan (February 2014)...Elegant Kaiseki Lunch with Sparkling Sake


I met an old friend of mine for lunch in Meguro on a sunny day.

 photo IMG_1376_zps48bc3b1a.jpg  photo IMG_1379_zps496725f3.jpg
It's a beautiful former residential house, which was turned into a restaurant. They serve elegant kaiseki-style cuisine. We started our lunch with Nagai Sake's Mizubasho Pure. It's a sparkling sake made in Champagne method. Really clean and beautiful.

 photo IMG_1381_zps1925ca34.jpg  photo IMG_1382_zps137d7e53.jpg  photo IMG_1383_zps3dc56a40.jpg
One after another, small individual courses were very seasonal early spring treats in elegant ceramics.

 photo IMG_1384_zps072aab8e.jpg  photo IMG_1386_zpsc54572df.jpg  photo IMG_1392_zps6c180e22.jpg
More courses in lacquer bowls. The rice was Iga rice cooked in donabe! We had the Iga rice in 3 ways. First, they served the rice from the very center of the donabe. It's the most delicate and soft part. Then, we were served more rice after it was mixed in the donabe. The lids were turned over and also used as serving bowls. How nice.

 photo IMG_1395_zps361aa495.jpg
 photo IMG_1390_zps85f7f006.jpg
The third rice was "ochazuke" style (hojicha tea poured over rice), with the guji fish and miso topping. It was very light and perfect as the last savory course. The dessert with the matcha was also perfect.

My body was feeling the beautiful early spring.