Posts Tagged bean sprouts

Hot springs eggs and okra

This fabulous dish features hot springs eggs (onsen tamago) crowning a mixture of chopped okra and sliced white onions, all perched over soba noodles. Hot springs eggs are so called, naturally, because they’re supposed to be cooked in water from hot springs.

From what Yusuke tells me, egg yolks start to cook at 70 degrees (Celsius), while the whites cook at 90. So, since hot springs water is—ideally—65 degrees after the eggs cook for 30 minutes, the yolk is slightly cooked but the whites are soft. The whole process confuses me, but these two blog posts seem to confirm the story: http://epicureandebauchery.blogspot.com/2005/06/imbb-onsen-tamago-hot-spring-eggs.html and http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/17933.

Anyway, all of that to say that Yusuke made these eggs in the microwave, and despite a slight explosion, they still came out well.

The last garnish was bonito flakes and shichimi togarashi. To eat, we destroyed the lovely arrangement by mixing everything together in the bowl.

During the meal, Yusuke noted that the texture of the dish, particularly the okra, was ネバネバ (neba neba), roughly translated as slippery and sticky, but not quite slimey or nuru nuru ヌルヌル.

Japanese has lots of delightful mimetic (sound symbolic) words that are difficult to translate or categorize. They aren’t really adjectives, but they describe an overall feeling or sensation. One that I learned in my Japanese class is ドキドキ (doki doki), which conveys nervous excitement, as with a fast heartbeat. There are tons of websites out there with listings of these types of words, but there are examples here, here, and here (the last if you read hiragana and katakana). I also like くたくた (kuta kuta) for extreme tiredness and のろのろ (noro noro) for cars (or people?) who are crawling along slowly in traffic.

Of course, food-related expressions are the most important category of mimetic phrases! In addition to neba neba, I also like ピリ (piri) for the sting of wasabi and シコシコ (shiko shiko) for chewy noodles.

Just Hungry and the Japan Times have other food expressions for your onomatopoetic pleasure.

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Rainbow trout

Yup, that sure is a fish. Trout, to be more precise.

After delicately chopping off the heads, Yusuke spread salt on the scales to get rid of slipperiness and any potential fishy smell. After rinsing the salt, he dusted the skin with flour and mixed Italian seasonings. He grilled each side in a pan with olive oil and then splashed the fish with sake and lime juice.

The fishies are resting on a bed of bean sprouts that were sautéed in olive oil.

Yusuke often says that he’s surprised to see pink flesh in rainbow trout—he’s more used to white—but the taste is the same.

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Soupy tofu and veggies

tofu_veggies

There are endless variations to what one can do with fresh vegetables, good tofu, and a few stock ingredients. This is why my food life is so happy.

For this dish, Yusuke boiled firm tofu, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and bean sprouts in a big frying pan in a “soup” of some Japanese staples:

roughly 1-2 tbsp each…

  • soy sauce
  • water
  • rice vinegar
  • mirin
  • sake

a pinch…

  • dashi
  • sugar
  • salt

After everything was cooked, he lowered the heat and added katakuriko (Japanese potato starch) to thicken the sauce.

To serve, he removed the tofu from the pan so that it could form the bottom layer for the veggies.

(How sad I would be if I had never discovered tofu. I really, really want to visit at least one, and hopefully more, tofu restaurants during our upcoming visit to Japan. Yusuke went to a place called Junsei once in Kyoto and has never forgotten the experience. The restaurant’s site has posted an interesting video of the tofu-making process.)

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Nabe with special dashi

dashi_package

Dashi package

Yusuke made this hot pot or nabe dish using some very special dashi that was given to us by a Japanese classmate in my French class. Dashi as a general category is a soup stock around which much of Japanese cuisine is based. This particular batch consists of dried shitake, katsuo (bonito in English, aka skipjack tuna, or so Wikipedia tells me), kombu (a type of seaweed), and tiny little fishies called niboshi (baby sardines: see below!). Dashi is generally made from boiling these items and draining off the resulting broth, but sometimes we eat it with whole pieces of the ingredients as well.

Niboshi

For this dish, Yusuke boiled fresh nappa, generous chunks of tilapia, bean sprouts, and big green onions in the dashi broth and added soy sauce, salt, and mirin to taste. I’m still not entirely clear on the distinguishing characteristics of nabe, but you can read more here.

nabe_bowl

I had my second portion of this lovely dish for lunch at work, and I added some of the fresh mochi that we had picked up from the Montreal mochitsuki (mochi-making festival). You can just lay the mochi on a plate, add a few drops of water, and microwave it for 30 seconds to make it good and sticky for adding to a soup. But I have to be careful about over-microwaving: it undergoes a similar expansion phenomenon to marshmallows. Very fun, but potentially very messy!

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Shrimp-veggies stir fry-stew

shrimps_vegs

I don’t remember the details of this dish, but I do recall that it was very tasty, so I didn’t want the photo to go to waste. It’s a sorta stir-fry, sorta stew. The body has soy sauce, sake…and the other usual stuff. The veggies, as you can see, are asparagus, bean sprouts, bok choy, carrots, and mushrooms, along with shrimp.

random_soup

And this is really more of a nice idea than a good photo: miso soup with asparagus and abura-age. Lovely.

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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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Tofu and tako

A pretty melange

A pretty melange

This is similar to another tofu stir fry that Yusuke often makes, but this time he used fresh(-ish) octopus instead of canned tuna.

First, he boiled the octopus until it was tender. Then sautéed the tofu in sesame oil and drained the pan. Finally, the tofu, octopus, fresh bean sprouts, and baby spinach were all stir fried, seasoned with salt and soy sauce.

The firm tofu makes this dish especially filling, and in combination with tako, the texture is very nice.

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Tofu with mushroom sauce

Shojin ryori tofu

Shojin ryori tofu

This is the first recipe we tried from a beautiful shōjin ryōri cookbook called The Enlightened Kitchen by Mari Fujii (limited preview on Amazon). Shojin ryori is the traditional cuisine of Japanese Buddhist monks and does not include any animal products (although this book includes a few with yogurt). One description I read said that the monks do not eat anything “that flees when chased.” The food is based on seasonal vegetables and spices that nourish the body in accordance with the season (e.g., to warm, cool, fortify against cold).

The author’s expertise in temple cuisine is due to being married to a Buddhist monk in Kamakura, an ancient city that we visited during our trip. Maki at Just Hungry wrote a lovely review of the book.

I was surprised that many of the recipes involve frying food and include copious amounts of sesame oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter. So the dishes are not all necessarily low-calorie. Other staples include miso, kombu, and kanten (agar-agar powder).

We cheated a little on the concept of shojin cuisine by making a dish intended for another season. According to the book, this “nutritious tofu is served with a sauce of fall mushrooms, a dish to warm the body as the days grow cooler.”

As the name suggests, this dish is simply boiled tofu topped with a mushroom sauce. The sauce itself is based on stock made from kombu, a type of seaweed. One of our local grocery stores carries dried kombu from Korea, but Yusuke made a special trip to get Japanese kombu instead. A single strip of kombu was needed for this dish and was soaked in water for a few hours beforehand to make the stock.

To make the sauce: bring kombu stock, soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, and salt to a boil in a frying pan. Add thinly sliced mushrooms (we used shitake and button) and carrots and simmer for a few minutes. Cornstarch is added at the very end to thicken the sauce. The recipe recommends garnishing the tofu with strips of blanched green beans, but we used green onions instead.

Final judgment: extremely yummy.

The next day, I ate the leftover sauce poured over rice. I had packed my lunch container the night before, and by the time I ate it, the sauce had soaked into the rice, softening the texture and adding a rich flavour.

We also had a different type of miso soup with this meal. Yusuke first toasted sesame seeds in a soup pan before adding hot water, miso paste, and bean sprouts, which gave the soap a more nutty flavour.

Bean sprout soup, rice, and tofu

Bean sprout soup, rice, and tofu

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Simple summer tofu and sprouts

Tofu 'n sprouts

Tofu 'n sprouts

I’m enjoying FINALLY being able to soak in hot, ridiculously humid summer weather (well, at least my hair looks ridiculous). I’m still extremely crabby about being so frigid when I’m inside at work and other horrible, wasteful overly-air conditioned places, but at least I can get relief with a blast of warmth when I go outside.

Right: so at this time of year, cool, simple food is especially nice. Yusuke boiled silken tofu and bean sprouts in a sauce of soy sauce, mirin, and dashi and added fresh green onions to complete the dish.

Inquiring minds may be interested in the nutritional facts of bean sprouts (mung beans), courtesy of Wolfram Alpha. 34 µg of vitamin K, oh boy.

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