Monday, February 27, 2012

Donabe cooking class report…"Power of Koji"

Last Saturday, we hosted a special "Koji" class, and it was so much fun!
I've been crazy about koji and have been making my own miso at home past years. I've also hosted miso-making classes since then. And, this time, we had a new Koji theme class, which were "Shio-koji" and "Amazake".

Koji is right now a huge food trend in Japan, although Japanese food culture have been heavily based on koji products for hundreds of years. People are rediscovering the amazing flavors and health benefits this "magic mold" brings to your body. So, I really wanted to introduce more about koji and koji dishes to people in LA, too.

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Everyone made his/her own shio-koji.

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They also tried my 10-day shio-koji. We used American koji to make shio-koji today, but we also used Japanese koji (fuzzy and semi-dry kind) to make amazake.

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We tasted 4-day marinated shio-koji tofu, and freshly fermented amazake (came right out of donabe and heated in a pot).

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Shio-koji kabu "overnight" pickles, and Cream cheese/shio-koji/ amazake spread, were also served with shio-koji tofu.

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Daikon salad with shio-koji vinaigrette, and shio-koji salmon with radicchio.

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Donabe shio-koji chicken in soymilk/amazake cream sauce, and donabe chirashi sushi with shio-koji sauteed sun-dried mushrooms & kale.

We even had my home-brew doburoku (nigori sake).
Every dish and drink was made with koji! Super probiotic meal.

"Power of KOJI"

(Making of Shio-koji & Amazake from Scratch)
Shio-koji tofu
Daikon radish salad with shio-koji vinaigrette
Roasted shio-koji salmon with radicchio
Shio-koji chicken & satsuma yam in soymilk & amazake sauce
Chirashi-sushi with shio-koji mushrooms & kale

Sake Selection
Naoko’s home-brew “doburoku” (nigori-sake)

I keep fermenting.
Happy donabe & koji life.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Donabe - Amazake - Scones

Crazy donabe - mushroom - koji lady here.

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With my homemade Amazake, made in my double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", this time, I made...

I've completed my new Amazake scone recipe, and it's fantastic. They are almost guilt-free scones, because they got so much amazake in it!
They came out so tasty that Jason ate 6 of them in the morning, and I had to stop him from eating more. The good news is that these scones are much healthier, because only 2 tablespoons of sugar is used for the entire batch (16 scones) and the rest of the sweetness comes only from amazake. Also, amazake gives creaminess to the scones, so there is no heavy cream used in this recipe (but I still like to serve it with cream on the side:-) The amazake cream I serve with the scones is also super tasty with the very natural mellow sweet flavor of amazake in it.

Here's my amazake scone recipe.

Amazake Scones

2C (about 10 oz) whole wheat flour
2T raw brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6T cold butter, sliced
1/2C dry currants
1 egg
5 oz amazake base

(Amazake cream - optional)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons amazake base

1. In a bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, raw brown sugar, and salt. Cut in butter (with a pastry blender).
2. Toss the mixture by hand until the mixture is nicely smooth and flakey. Add currants.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and amazake base. Fold the mixture into flour mixture by a spatula.
4. Once they are mostly mixed, knead gently by hand.
5. Roll it out to 3/4" thickness. Cut and bake at 425F oven for 13-15 minutes.
6. To make amazake cream, whip heavy cram until almost firm. Gently fold in amazake base. Serve with the scones.

(To reheat the scones)
Simply put them in a toaster.

Jason's amazake morning...enjoying freshly-fermented amazake, amazake scones and amazake cream.
Happy donabe - koji life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Soymilk Shabu Shabu with Pork & Oysters

Donabe hot pot time...

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This time, I did Soymilk Shabu Shabu with Pork & Oysters. I saw on a Japanese cooking show that pork slices would stay very tender in the broth if you douse them with a little amount of amazake, so that's what I did this time! I also got really nice oysters.

For this recipe, I used my beautiful classic-style shallow donabe, "Kyoto Ame-yu".

Broth itself is very simple...water, dashi kombu, soymilk, and Saikyo miso. First, shiitake mushrooms and bottom part of napa cabbage were added.

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Once they were cooked, other ingredients were added.

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Indeed, the pork came out super tender and really nice! Oysters were great with a little amount of ponzu sauce.

Maybe the best part of this "nabe" (hot pot) was the "shime" or the end of the meal course...I made risotto-style creamy cheese "ojiya" porridge!

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Cooked rice and some shredded cheese (this time, I used some leftover Emmental and mozzarella) were added and simmered for a short time. It was served with some ground black pepper and herb topping. Fantastico!

You can find the full recipe on toiro's website. Hope you will get to try it.

Happy donabe life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Donabe steam-roasted shio-koji salmon on shungiku & enoki namul

I got a couple of slices of fresh salmon filet.

So, marinated them in shio-koji for a few days.

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I took out the salmon pieces and gently wiped off shio-koji with paper towel. Meanwhile, I soaked the lid in water (for the nice steaming effect) and also pre-heated my donabe steam-roaster, "Tochinsai" (with no lid), in microwave for 2 minutes (so that the heating grate becomes very hot) and arranged the salmon pieces on the grate. It was covered and steam-roasted in microwave (700-watt) for 2.5 minutes.

While the salmon is steam-roasting in microwave, I prepared shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) & enoki mushrooms namul (Krean-style salad). Enoki was pre-cooked in Tochinsai and I simply tossed it with shungiku in my namul sauce (sesame oil with seasoning), and devided into two plates.

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My donabe steam-roasted shio-koji salmon was cooked beautifully in such a short time.

Salmon was arranged on top of the shungiku & enoki namul salad. That's it!
Healthy & delicious donabe dish in a very easy preparation.

Happy donabe life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Secret weapon...Donabe Hat

Making Amazake with donabe has become my regular routine lately. When I need a big batch, I use big Kamado-san (like shown in this blog post), but for regular home consumption, I normally use a regular (3 rice-cup) size donabe rice cooker, Kamado-san.

Now, instead of using a blanket to keep the donabe warm during incubation, I have a special insulated "hat" for Kamado-san! It's a gift from Nagatani-en (and we don't sell it in the US yet...sorry). It has a cute "iga-mono" logo stitched.

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It works really well...I wrap Kamado-san with hand warmers in towel, and just cover with this donabe hat. In about 12 hours, beautiful Amazake is ready.

No, it's not a hat for your head, Jason!

Happy donabe life.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lightly-pickled Tokyo Turnip (Kabu) in Shio-koji ("salt-koji")

I can't handle pickles in general, but only when it's pickled for a very short time (before it starts fermentation and becomes sour), I sometimes like it. We call lightly-pickled stuff "asazuke" in Japanese. I actually had a quite nice "asazuke" turnip (kabu) in the airplane coming back from Tokyo. It was simply pickled in salt, but I wanted to make it with my homemade shio-koji.

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I just needed one turnip with the green to start with. The bulb was peeled and sliced, and the green part was cut into about 2" length. They were lightly tossed in about 1/2T of shio-koji by hand in a container and rested with a light pressure in a fridge overnight.

To serve, just drain the excess moisture and plate the pickled turnip with the green. It was fresh with nice crunchy texture. And the light (natural) sweetness and saltiness from shio-koji gave such a nice flavor.

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By the way, also with shio-koji, I "invented" an amazing dipping paste! It's laughably simple. I just mixed together some leftover cream cheese with my homemade shio-koji and amazake. The ratio is about 4:2:1. With donabe steamer, "Mushi Nabe", I made simple steamed vegetables and just served with this creamy shio-koji dip. Wooooow, it was crazy delicious! It's also nice with fresh fruits like sliced apple. I think I'm going to be making many different dishes by using this new paste. So exciting.

Happy donabe life.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Donabe Tako Tomato Gohan with Anson Mills Hand-picked Heirloom Rice

Several days ago, I saw in a Japanese news report about the new discovery by Japanese scientists. They found that tomato contains substance which promotes reduction of internal fat in your body. (here's a link to an article.)

So, I decided to make donabe rice dish with tomato juice!
It was Octopus & Tomato Rice (Tako Tomato Gohan). Of course, for the best result, I used my double-lid donabe rice cooker, "Kamado-san", to make this dish. And, the choice of rice was Anson Mills' Carolina Gold Rice, which is very fragrant heirloom hand-picked rice.

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First, over medium+ heat, I sauteed shallot (1 small, minced) and garlic (2 cloves, minced) in 1T olive oil in Kamado-san, then added 2 rice cups (360 ml) rice and sauteed a little more. Then, I added a mixture of 200 ml vegetable stock, 100 ml tomato juice, 2T sake, 2T light-color soy sauce, and a tiny pinch of salt.

Donabe was covered with both lids, and continued to be cooked over medium+ heat for 12-13 minutes. Meanwhile, I got a boiled octopus legg (about 9 oz) and cut it into oblique pieces. Once I turned off the heat, I quickly opened lids to add the octopus pieces, then quickly put the lids back on again. The rice was rested in donabe for 20 minutes.

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Once the rice was ready, I added about 2/3 cup of cooked shelled edamame and tossed with the rice. Rice was served into bowls and topped with herb mixture (mitsuba, shiso, and scallion).

It was so delicious! The flavor was perfect especially with the very light-fluffy Anson Mills' rice. I had two huge bowlfuls of it.

Happy donabe life.