Archive for October, 2009

Boiled veggies with umeboshi sauce

Umeboshi_salad

I had really been craving umeboshi, so I recently broke down and bought some from our Korean grocery. I think the ones I bought are rather tasty, but Yusuke says that they’re pretty crappy and artificial. Thus, he just placed an order for 1 kg of umeboshi from Japan. Happy.

In the meantime, though, he made use of the current stock for this dish—which I’ll call a salad for lack of a more appropriate word.

Yusuke first placed boiled diced potates and carrots in each bowl and added lots of chopped raw green onions and bonito flakes (katsuobushi / 鰹節). Last was the dressing: 1 tbsp each of sake, mirin, and olive oil in addition to two smashed umeboshi. The taste was very tangy, balanced well by the potatoes.

And what is umeboshi?, some might be asking. It’s usually translated as “pickled plum,” but wikipedia tells me that the fruit is actually ume, which is more similar to an apricot. The ume is dried and then pickled in vinegar, alcohol, or salt. It’s delightfully tangy and sour, perfect when eaten with rice. I’m very proud to report that I’ve gotten better at pulling the flesh of the ume away from the pit with my chopsticks. Now I can eat in front of Japanese people without shame.

For more umeboshi reading, check out Just Hungry. Googling will also retrieve lots of sites that extol the health benefits of umeboshi (e.g., http://www.macrobiotics.nl/library/ume.html).

I didn’t take any pics of the umeboshi myself, but here are two that have kindly been shared on Flickr with Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licenses (thanks to mismisimos and framboise).

umeboshi

umeboshi_rice

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Jun-i encore une fois

Per tradition, here is documentation of our latest Jun-i feast (see previously here, here, and here).

kaiso salad

soup

I opted to start with a tasty kaiso salad. In English, we really only have one word for “seaweed,” which is kind of inadequate. This salad shows the huge variety of plants in this family, with all manner of colour, texture, and taste. I particular like the light green crunchy one on the far right. N.B. the white stuff is thinly sliced daikon (radish). The dressing, which is used sparingly so as not to ruin the unique tastes of the seaweed, was a vinaigrette with ponzu (similar to lemon).

Yusuke went with the wonderful miso soup. So perfect. They make it with enoki mushrooms, tiny cubes of tofu, and sliver of green onions. Fortunately, both the salad and soup were large enough for two to share.

Next came the main course:

sushi

sushi_picks

Yusuke went with the usual: the chef’s selection of sushi (above). I decided to be creative, though, and select some of my favourites from the sushi menu: tako (octopus), ikura (salmon caviar), salmon sashimi (VERY good organic), and unagi (sweetly barbecued eel). I also tried uni (sea urchin) for the first time. Extremely delectable. The texture, I was surprised to find, is wonderfully creamy. I really like taste of the nori with the ikura and uni, which are known as gunkan sushi due to the “battleship” shape.

On the topic of sushi, I found a nifty web page with sushi tips for people in North American and Europe. The uninitiated should especially check out “Warning signs that you probably won’t get good sushi.” I would add that in many cases, restaurants with “fuji” in the name (e.g., Fujiyama) are not likely to be authentic. Although written by a gaijin, Yusuke verified that the advice is accurate (despite some strange choices in romaji/transliteration).

Anyway, back to Jun-i: last was dessert. I was too stuffed to have my own, but I tasted Yusuke’s selection of a modified tiramisu with matcha (green tea) powder. Ooomm.

tiramisu

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Grilled salmon

Fishy goodness

Fishy goodness

This beautifully grilled salmon was simple and perfect. We’ve been on a fish kick lately, finding tempting offerings at our grocery stores (e.g., PA on Du Fort, a nifty German(?) grocery on Chemin Queen Mary, and even Provigo).

For the fillet pictured above, Yusuke marinated the salmon in sake, soy sauce, and mirin before grilling it in a hot oven. We ate it topped with green onions and a tiny bit more soy sauce.

Similarly, below, the salmon was grilled in the oven, but this time without a marinade. Yusuke just sprinkled a bit of salt on the flesh before baking. Again, we added lots of fresh chopped green onions and soy sauce (and ginger for me—I’m obsessed). I had a little leftover piece for my bento the next day 🙂

Simple salmon

Simple salmon

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Random veggies and soba

Two soba meals. (I wrote more about soba here.)

Soba bowl

Soba bowl

The first bowl shows cold soba for summer. The sauce consists of dashi, mirin, salt, soy sauce, sake, and kombu (seaweed) broth. The toppings are green beans, wakame, shrimp, bean sprouts, and green onions. Fresh and crunchy. Chili flakes are sprinkled on top for extra spice.

I’m pretty sure that both of these meals had matcha soba, which are made with green tea mixed in with the buckwheat. Yum yum.

I tried my very best to make the proper slurping noises while eating my soba, but this is difficult when quiet eating is so ingrained.

Hot soba: eating in progress

Hot soba: eating in progress


And this is hot soba for the fall. The sauce is the same, but the toppings are shrimp, carrots, egg, white onions, green onions, and pork (for Yusuke).

Note: the ingredients always begin in a tidy arrangement on top of the noodles, but I took this picture after Yusuke had mixed it up and begun to dig in.

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Spicy miso-peanut soup

Spicy!

Spicy!

Soup base:
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 tbsp white miso paste
2 tbsp peanut butter
1+ tbsp tobanjan (spicy bean) sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 quarts (ish) hot water

Also:
1/2 of a 454 gram block of firm tofu, cubed
Fresh bean sprouts

Begin by boiling the tofu in water. Lower the temperature and dissolve each of the soup base ingredients in succession. Add the bean sprouts last (final cooking time varies according to desired crunchiness level). Serve hot!

The picture makes it look kinda bland, but this soup is very rich and VERY spicy. It paired perfectly with the simple roasted asparagus dish in my last post.

Depending on the amount of tobanjan used, plain rice on the side is also highly recommended.

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Roasted asparagus

Asparagus 'n bonito

Asparagus 'n bonito

This side-dish is so simple that I can give the recipe in 140 characters:

Roast asparagus @ 450F 15 min. Sauce: soy sauce, mirin, sake (~equal quantities) & bonito powder. Garnish: bonito flakes. Super-low calorie

P.S. Very tasty, too

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