Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Vinegared Crab and Squid

In spite of my recent outburst, I've decided to continue on with the project. Maybe I'll make a few off recipes, but so what. Julie Powell make some crap she didn't like thanks to Julia Child.

So my next meal was grilled squid with vinegared crab. All in all, the meal was a success. The vinegared crab had a nice tangy but sweet flavor. The squid was tasty with a teriyaki type taste. I missed part of the directions because I tried the marinated version. I wasn't sure if I needed to paint the outside with egg whites or not. It still tasted fine.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Disaster Strikes... Twice

Dear Readers,

My commitment to project Dashi has been shaken. I have had a hard time getting back in the groove since we got back from Las Vegas and then I had two recipes turn out terrible in short order.

I have to admit, I was feeling a little suspicious about Tsuji since the salad dressing with way too much miso. (I have read the recipe over and over again and I can't imagine why you'd put 3/4 of a cup of miso in anything.)

So now, I have tried the sake simmered mackerel. Theresa thought it was ok, but I felt sick all night. I think the fish was salted, or a little off. I couldn't even think about fish for days.

Also, I've tried making salt pickled Chinese cabbage. It was, again, way too salty. I felt like saying, Tsuji, I'd like a little cabbage with my salt. I am a little sensitive to sour foods, so I thought maybe it was me. I let Theresa give it a go and the "bleaaah" sound she made confirmed it.

Tsuji, what's going on. I thought you were the Julia Child of Japanese cooking. I thought you spent years writing this book, testing every recipe. Damn it, am I missing something. I'm pretty sure I've learned how to read and follow directions, in spite of my high school biology teacher's prediction about my classmates and me.

I'm still committed to getting through this book, but I'm giving it second thoughts. Should I be looking for another book? Should I cross reference all of Tsuji's recipes?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sushi Class

For my birthday, Theresa bought me a couple of classes at Cook's Street School of Fine Cooking.

I decided to take the Sushi and Sake Class. It fit perfectly with the whole sushi section of project Dashi.

First, I should note that this was more of a sushi with a side of sake class because not much time was spent on the sake portion. Some information about sake was presented, but it was washed away with the third glass. I'll have to do a sake tasting for the blog sometime.

The majority of the class focused on sushi, but with a healthy base of Japanese cuisine. We made dashi as a base of miso soup. We made rice to be turned into sushi rice. I was actually impressed by how much about Japanese cuisine I already know. I'm not nearly half way through the book and I felt like I could have taught the first quarter of the class.

And then, the new stuff. We spent about half an hour learning how to break down a fish. Starting with how to buy fresh fish and ending with "cut out the blood line from the butchered fish". It was interesting, but I'm not sure I'm ready to be a fish butcher since Costco and H-mart both provide good quality pre-cut up fish at reasonable prices.

The fun part was making the different sushi pieces: maki, nigiri, battera. They had a whole spread of several types of fish along with vegetables sliced perfectly for all types of rolls.

My biggest struggle was in making the rolls small enough to be bite sized. A few of the pieces were so big, I couldn't eat them in three bites, much less one.

I was most excited by the fact that I can fine shiso leaves and yuzu juice. The instructor said he had found both at Pacific Mercantile, downtown. I have looked all over H-mart with no luck, so I'm glad to know that I have a source for some obscure ingredients.

The other interesting thing was watching the other students.

One was a psychology student who was taking cooking classes for all of his electives. He was telling me he had made mozzarella at the house the day before. I should really draw this out to give you a full image: Imagine John Belushi, in his "College" sweater and an apron, in the kitchen at the Delta Tau Chi house, making mozzarella from scratch. Yeah.... that was this guy.

Another was this super nice couple. They were so friendly and eager to learn. They were very precise in their sushi making and they spent a lot of time tasting the sake. I think they were wine connoisseurs and may have been disappointed that there wasn't more about the sake during the class.

In the end, I made so much sushi, I couldn't even bring it all home. It was ridiculous how much good sushi went to waste that night. Next time I'll bring my own doggie bag!

I'm excited for my next class, but I think I'm going to bring Theresa along and do one of their "Culinary Date Nights".

Monday, March 29, 2010

Japanese Commercial

This is from Serious Eats, one of the blogs I've been watching since starting project Dashi. The comment below is perfect.


It's the same old story: One moment you're just sitting in the forest under a light snowfall while enjoying a cup of Milk Seafood Cup Noodles, then Cheese and Pepper aliens suddenly jump out from behind the trees and shoot cheese and pepper out of their fingertips and into your cup. Soon your screams of horror turn into gushes of gastronomic delight. Thus is the magic of Cheese and Pepper aliens. And instant noodles. Watch the video after the jump.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Sorry I've been away for a week or two. We went out of town last weekend, and I was a little sidetracked from project Dashi.

I was able to get out Tsuji's recipe for Gyudon before we left.

Gyudon is really a beef rice bowl, much like oyako donburi. This is another staple at Tokyo Joes and Kokoro, a local favorite of mine.

Of course, the first step is to make Japanese rice. Thank you pressure cooker.

Second step, cook thin sliced beef. Fortunately, this is the same thin sliced beef we needed for the beef burdock rolls and we discovered our Asian grocery carries presliced beef, which makes this a little easier. The beef is cooked in water, soy, mirin and onions. Poor this on top of a bowl of rice and you have the lunch of winners. (Breakfast of champions was already taken.)

I still prefer the oyako donburi, but Theresa really enjoyed this dish. She went back for seconds, which is a rarity.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Videos

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture has put out a series of videos on youtube about Japanese food. Each video explores some aspect of Japanese cooking and features a recipe or two. They are a bit hokey, but incredibly informative.

Here are six episodes:





Forrest Gifts


Hat tip: Food Lover's Guide to Tokyo

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who needs a rice cooker when you have a...

pressure cooker. That's right! A pressure cooker!

A few years ago, my mom found an incredible deal on a pressure cooker. I read somewhere that they cut cooking times in half or more, that they could replace a crock pot, if you knew what you were doing, and that they were great for sailors who wanted to conserve fuel on a cross ocean voyage.* What most intrigued me was that Alton Brown, king of food knowledge, made chili using a pressure cooker.

So after we got our pressure cooker, we made several batches of chili, and the corned beef. We started reading the instruction manual to see what else we can make with it. It turns out that not only can you make big hunks of meat in record time, as well as beans and other slow cooking foods, you can also use a pressure cooker as a steamer. This includes cooking perfectly prepared, Japanese-style rice.

I have to say that this makes the pressure cooker, one of the best in investments in kitchen appliances we've made. I know a lot of people say that the rice cooker change their lives. That they make more rice now than they did before they had a rice cooker. The same thing has happened for us with our pressure cooker. We make rice, much more often than we ever did before.

The best part about the rice is that it comes out perfectly. The rice we prepared is perfectly cooked, and perfect for making rice balls...if we have any leftovers.

I don't know if all pressure cookers also have a steam feature, if yours does. I highly recommend making rice with it.

*I'll go into more detail on that if anyone is interested.