Archive for July, 2009

Acorn squash with curry sauce

Squash and rice

Squash and rice

Yikes, sorry for the blurry pic.

Yusuke actually followed a recipe for this one (well, mostly):

First, he microwaved the acorn squash until it was tender. Then he sautéed the cubed squash, sliced white onions, and TONS of minced ginger in canola oil. When the onions were glassy, he added 300 mL of beef stock and a bit of curry powder and let everything simmer for a while.

Then he added:

  • 2 or 3 tbsp of soy sauce
  • a splash of white wine
  • 3 tbsp of plain yogurt
  • a tiny bit of mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves

After simmering for several more minutes, he mixed in spinach and let it cook until wilted.

Served with brown rice!

Yusuke thought that in the future, he would use less soy sauce and more yogurt. But I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Soy milk custard with raspberry sauce

Perfect summer dessert

Perfect summer dessert

A rare and beautiful dessert. The recipe is from our shojin ryori cookbook The Enlightened Kitchen.

Custard ingredients:

  • 4 teaspoons powdered kanten
  • 800 ml soymilk
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup

Sauce ingredients:

  • 100 g raspberries (or strawberries, in the original)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

The key to the dish is kanten, which is generally known in English as agar-agar. Since I feel rather silly saying agar-agar, I usually just use the Japanese term (plus, Yusuke then knows what I’m talking about). Kanten is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. It has similar properties to gelatin when used for cooking, so it often used in desserts like this in Japan and other east Asian countries. It’s a suitable gelatin substitute for vegetarians and vegans, and it’s extra-healthy, being rich in fiber. I’m interested in vegetarian and vegan foods for reasons of taste and health rather than ethics, but I still feel better about something made from seaweed rather than ungulates’ bones and intestines.

Kanten is sold in packages as dried powder, flakes, or thin strips, which are then dissolved just like gelatin for cooking. We had a bit of a hard time finding it here in Montreal. The Japanese grocery store had some, but it was past the expiry date. We eventually bought it from a super-granola-y health food shop, but even the owner there asked us what it was and how it was used. We’ll have to watch out for other potential sources.

To make the jelly/custard (it’s really neither), the soymilk and kanten are heated in a sauce pan until the powder is dissolved, then maple syrup is added and everything is brought to a boil. It’s immediately removed from the heat, cooled, and then poured into small cups or molds. Refrigerate until set.

For the sauce, the fruit is cooked, stirred, and mashed over low heat for 5-6 minutes. After it’s cool, it is combined with the lemon juice and maple syrup and liquefied in a blender or food processor.

Yusuke served the jelly and sauce in our adorable little custard bowls (bought just for this purpose), but the one pictured above was put in a larger bowl for photography purposes.

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Fried squash

Squash slices

Squash slices

Another less-than-healthy-but-extremely-tasty meal. Yusuke first microwaved the acorn squash to soften it. Then he coated slices of the squash in katakuriko and pan-fried them in canola oil. The dipping sauce was soy sauce, mirin, and dashi.

Katakuriko, a Japanese potato starch (originally made from the katakuri plant), is one of the more difficult items to find in Montreal. Since even the Korean-owned groceries don’t usually have it, we have to make a special trip to a Japanese store to get it (namely, Miyamoto in Westmount). But the Western potato and corn starch that he tried just doesn’t work right. Katakuriko is generally used as a sauce thickener and for tempura, since it makes such a nicely light and crispy coating.

Setting the table

Setting the table

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Oshiruko with shiratama

Floating shiratama

Floating shiratama

I posted a description of Yusuke’s oshiruko before, but this time we had it with shiratama balls, too. Yusuke was singing “shiratama-shiratama-shiratama” all day after eating this.

Shiratama-ko is a glutinous rice flour used for a variety of desserts and other dishes (see image searches for some examples). It’s often used in shiruko instead of mochi.

To make the balls, water is slowly added to the shiratama-ko in a bowl. On the package directions, it says that the dough should be as soft as earlobes. Yusuke says this a standard cooking direction, but I had never heard it in English. The dough is then kneaded and formed into golf-ball sized dumplings. Next, the balls are boiled in a pot of water. When they float to the top, they’re done! Last, the shiratama is cooled in cold water and drained before being added to the shiruko.

We have some of the flour left, so I think next time we’ll eat the shiratama with fruit like this.

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Oven-baked rainbow trout with veggies

Trout and veggies

A fish dish

The fish is a little buried, but it’s a lovely rainbow trout filet. Yusuke assembled the fish, carrots, mushrooms, and white onions on foil, added a bit of butter, salt, peper, and parsley and roasted it all in the oven. We also had—surprise, surprise—rice and miso soup on the side. Perfect. (Especially the non-dishwashing result of just eating off the foil!)

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Sesame stir fry

Sesame stir fry

Sesame stir fry

Another simple stir fry. Yusuke used sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and chicken bouillon (powder) for this mélange of napa (a type of Chinese cabbage), bok choy, carrots, and shrimp. Since sesame oil is so strong, the dish was very flavourful.

Napa tofu soup

Napa tofu soup

We also had this clear soup with the remainder of the napa, cubes of firm tofu, green onions, and chicken broth.

The picture also shows a glimpse of our new rice: gen-ji-mai brand brown rice. Yusuke found that this was much cheaper than our usual white rice, so he decided to give it a try. The grains are about the same size as white rice, though not quite as sticky when cooked. It is must less “grainy” in texture than I expected. And it’s healthy, too, at least according to the package… To be precise, brown rice has 64% more fibre, 286% more potassium, 582% more magnesium, 161% more vitamin B6, 1021% more vitamin E, and 400% more antioxidants than “ordinary milled white rice.” Impressive. But mostly, I think it tastes good. Recommended.

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Superstar spicy eggplant

Spicy eggplant supreme

Spicy eggplant supreme

Yusuke revised his spicy eggplant recipe, which resulted in this beautiful creation that rivals the excellent Chinese restaurant across the street from our apartment. Yum yum.

This dish is the antithesis to my last post vis-à-vis calories, since the first step was to sauté the eggplant pieces in canola oil—and eggplant certainly does soak that stuff up. We generally buy baby eggplants (a.k.a. Italian) which tend to be more tender, have fewer seeds, and fit better in the refrigerator.

When the eggplants were tender, he drained the oil that remained in the pan and then sautéed ground pork (fortunately pick-out-able) and white onions with 1 tablespoon each of tobanjan (spicy sauce) and tenmenjan (sweet bean sauce, not to be confused with anko paste). Tobanjan is extremely spicy, but the tenmenjan brings out a depth in the flavour rather than just a spicy burn.

Next came 1 tablespoon each of minced garlic, minced ginger, and soy sauce. He then added in the eggplant and sautéed everything for a while before pouring in 200 mL of chicken broth. He also meant to put in a splash of rice wine vinegar, but since he forgot, we just added it afterward.

We ate the eggplant with our tasty new brown rice and miso soup with firm tofu and wakame.

I had this meal, accompanied by white wine, on a Friday evening after a good workout at the gym. I was very happy.

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