Archive for April, 2009

Bean sprout and egg duos

I always buy bean sprouts when I go grocery shopping; they are soooo incredibly cheap and go in just about any stir fry or soup. One of our frequent favourite combinations, for example, is miso soup with bean sprouts, mushrooms, and green onions.

Chinese vinegary bean sprouts

Chinese vinegary bean sprouts

Yusuke made the dish above recently to change things up, Chinese-style. First he sautéed the bean sprouts in a drop of canola oil and a touch of salt and pepper. Then he added a couple beaten eggs, mixing lightly to scramble them. Last came the seasoning, with chicken broth, lots of rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. He also added a bit of water to give the dish a soupy, saucy consistency. The vinegary tanginess was perfect with rice. Yusuke daintily left the remaining sauce in the bottom of his bowl, but I couldn’t resist slurping up mine. We topped the dish with fresh green onions to give us all those magical oniony health benefits.

Multigrain rice and bean sprouts

Multigrain rice and bean sprouts


This is another quick bean sprout stir fry/egg scramble. The texture is more like a standard scrambled egg dish: stickier and crunchier. The green onions were sautéed this time with the sprouts. When served, we dripped a sauce of soy sauce, garlic, sake, and sesame oil over the bowl and garnished it with bonito flakes.

You might also notice a pinkish hue to the rice in the picture. This is because it’s plain rice mixed with a eleven-element blend consisting of red beans, soy beans, black soy beans, purple-black rice, unprocessed rice, unprocessed mochi rice, flattened barley, adlay, millet, and foxtail millet. (At least that’s what it is according to Yusuke’s dictionary-aided translation. Actually, when I asked him to explain what’s in the blend, he said, “I have no idea, honey.”) At any rate, the grain mixture comes in little 20 gram packages, and you just mix one or two with plain rice and water before starting the rice cooker. Extremely tasty. We brought back a big package of the packets from Japan and recently rediscovered them in the cupboard, so we’ve been having multigrain rice for nearly every meal.

Advertisements

Comments (1)

Montreal Spring Matsuri

Last weekend Yusuke and I went to a spring festival held at Montreal’s Japanese Language Center. It was fairly small, but featured excellent food and crafts, along with little games for kids and demonstrations by a karate school and Montreal’s taiko drum group. Yusuke was again impressed at the number of Japanese people in Montreal who turn up for festivals. It’s a small community, but it seems that the majority participates in cultural events like this.

We had heard about the festival from our ex-neighbourhood bakery Boulangerie Pâtisserie Yuki. So visiting their table was definitely on the agenda. Yuki’s creations are always beautiful, and even though we were too full from breakfast to eat anpan, we enjoyed ogling the spread.

Yuki's wares

Yuki's wares

Anpan and cream pan

Anpan and cream pan

Green tea cheesecakes and Mont Blanc pastries

Green tea cheesecakes and Mont Blanc pastries

Before going to the matsuri, I had my heart set on daifuku, and I was not disappointed. Daifuku is a soft chewy ball of mochi with some type of filling or flavouring. I chose the ichigo daifuku variety, which is stuffed with sweet anko (red beans) and a juicy strawberry. The outside is coated with powdered sugar, which of course I managed to sprinkle over the table and my black jacket. Yusuke had matcha custard daifuku (wow).

Ichigo daifuku

Ichigo daifuku

Ichigo daifuku: bite

Ichigo daifuku: bite

Yusuke selected the lunch box below from the many tables of tasty homemade bentos. It had rice, karage (fried chicken), and assorted veggies.

Bento lunch

Bento lunch

I couldn’t resist onigiri with umeboshi (picked plum); I’ve been craving that unique tangy taste. I also bought a tuna onigiri for lunch at work later in the week.

Wrapped onigiri

Wrapped onigiri

All told, it was a tasty morning.

Comments off

Chu Chai

Appetizers

Appetizers

Yusuke recently won a coupon book at a local conference (Web 2.You, highly recommended). It was rather embarrassing, actually—Yusuke had slipped out early and wasn’t there when they called his name for the prize; I claimed it on his behalf.

At any rate, we took advantage of a coupon to try a unique and cool restaurant called Chu Chai. The cuisine is essentially Thai, but everything is vegetarian (or even vegan). Many of the dishes include imitation meat made from various soy products: chicken, duck, shrimp, etc.

Like most “deals” of this nature, we ended up spending a lot more money than we would have in the first place. But whatever; the meal was wonderful, albeit overpriced.

The coupon was for the signature appetizer sampler pictured above. My favourite is the middle of the plate: it’s strips of fried seaweed coated in some kind of red-hued breading, with a tangy sauce and sesame seeds. Also included were a light salad with tomato and mango, a “treasure bag” with a fried tofu skin and minced veggies inside, a mint (?) leaf with spices, lime, and cashews, and the standard spring rolls.

I also had the spicy lemongrass and sundry-veggie soup below. Yusuke selected an equally spicy soup of coconut milk and (imitation) shrimp. Both were extremely tasty, although the coconut milk was rather too rich for me, and the “shrimp” texture was a bit odd. After the appetizers and soup, we decided more food was needed. Yusuke ordered a “chicken” stir fry, and I had a cold cucumber salad and the most wonderful extra-sticky rice ever. It was served in a sort of tube, as pictured here.

Spicy soup

Spicy soup

Comments off

Slippery goodness: bean sprouts and okra

Bean sprouts & okra

Bean sprouts & okra

This quickie dish is incredibly Japanese. The bean sprouts were stir fried in ginger and garlic—very briefly so as to preserve their crunchiness. The okra was boiled and then minced up until becoming sticky. The okra was served over the sprouts, mixed together with a dressing of soy sauce, a splash of rice wine vinegar, and a few drops of sesame oil. I also added lots of ginger to mine. The slipperiness necessitates that rice be handy on the side…else the texture slides to the more unpleasant feeling of sliminess. But overall, the dish is very light and comforting and was a perfect balance to our more substantial miso soup with abura-age.

Comments off

Creamy shrimp and avocado

Shrimp and avocado

Shrimp and avocado

This simple stir fry derives its creaminess from avocados. The shrimp, sadly, was frozen, but still tasty. After soaking and defrosting, the shrimp was stir fried with white onions, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Then avocado cubes were mixed in, and the pieces naturally broke apart a bit, coating everything with creamy green goodness. Very simple, very good.

Due to geographical reasons, sometimes it’s difficult to get good avocados here, but occasionally we find good, big ones. I think we’ve had good luck with the Lamb Hass variety, which comes from California or Mexico (yup, we’re not good at being locavores). It’s definitely worth paying a few cents more for the higher quality fruits. Avocados are evidently a miracle food: see the nutrition profile at World’s Healthiest Foods.

Comments off

Spanish omelette

Spanish omelette

Spanish omelette

And now for something completely different. Yusuke recently added a new European dish to his repertoire of staple meals: the Spanish omelette. He had had the dish in Japan, but I hadn’t never heard of it; I kept asking, “but what makes it ‘Spanish’?” But the intertubes informed me that tortilla espanola or tortilla de patata is a quintessential Spanish tapa. Yusuke first cooked the potatoes, then sautéed them with white onions and zucchini in our large wok-like pan. Then he poured in a mixture of several eggs and a bit of milk. He flipped it a couple times until the eggs were nicely browned. Yusuke added ketchup to his, while I opted to spice it up with Sriracha sauce.

Comments (1)

Ryokan meals

A highlight of our December trip to Japan was a sojourn to the mountain resort town Hakone. We stayed in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. One of the best things about staying in a ryokan is that your food comes to you. Thus, we spent our time between trips down to the hot springs lounging in our room in our yukata waiting for tasty meals.

When we arrived at the ryokan, we were given slippers and escorted to our room, where the table was already set with green tea and wagashi (sweets).

Tea at the ryokan

Tea at the ryokan

Later in the evening, after a hot spring bath, the hostess arrived with our dinner. Wow. I quite like having small portions of many different dishes to try, although it was a bit overwhelming. I don’t think I could eat like this every day; it was almost too refined. But it fabulously wonderful, and a meal that I’ll never forget. Our appetizers are pictured below…can’t remember exactly what they were. I think this is Yusuke’s meal; mine didn’t include any meat (just fish).

Assorted appetizers

Assorted appetizers

Below is one of my dishes: a mound of sticky black rice with snapper, a white fish. It had a light, vaguely salty sauce. On the very top is fu, shaped like a momiji (maple) leaf and dyed with bright colours for decoration (see here and here for more about fu). The final garnish is wasabi: much smoother and purer than the kind that comes in a tube.

Black rice and snapper

Black rice and snapper

This dish is a hollowed-out baked potato stuffed with seafood (shrimp, crab, etc.) and potatoes mixed with a delicately cheesy sauce.

Seafood-potato gratin

Seafood-potato gratin

This was my absolute favourite, and no, it’s not a desert. The dish is puréed daikon (a type of radish) with crab meat. It was so smooth and melty in my mouth. Again, it’s topped with coloured fu.

Beautiful daikon

Beautiful daikon

And of course, we had miso soup with rich mountain vegetables: bamboo shoots, green onions, seaweed, and nameko mushrooms.

Miso soup

Miso soup

Finally, the dessert featured a small, sweet mochi ball with fruit: strawberry, tangerine, mango, and passion fruit, plus a chestnut and anko. Perfect.

Dessert

Dessert

In the morning, after another hot springs dip, our breakfast arrived. I eat oatmeal and a banana religiously for breakfast, or in case of need, something else that involves processed carbs and/or fruit. So I wasn’t sure how I would handle a non-sweet breakfast. I managed much better than I expected! (Although I did eat rather more than my fair share of the rice.) I was particularly surprised at my ability to eat fish for breakfast. It was simply grilled and served with soy sauce, so the flavour was mild. Less appealing was the carrot and daikon kinpira (normally I love it; just too spicy for the morning), the dish with squid, and the salty seaweed salad. However, I quite enjoyed the miso soup and the potato salad with green vegetables. I’m still sticking to oatmeal, though…doesn’t really go well with mackerel…

Breakfast: what a spread!

Breakfast: what a spread!

UPDATE: I had forgotten to add that the “squid dish” served for breakfast was shiokara, a term which I verified by googling “squid guts.” From Yusuke’s explanation, basically it’s the entire squid minced up and cooked in a salty spicy sauce. It wasn’t bad, but for breakfast? I’ll pass. Not exactly the breakfast of champions.

Comments off