Posts Tagged rice

Wafuu potage

Miso taste in a leek potage

わふう (wafuu) means Japanese-style. So here is a wafuu potage!

Yusuke began by sauteing chopped leeks, carrots, and 3 tbsp of uncooked rice in a bit a of vegetable oil. When the rice started to become transparent, he added water and dashi (stock). He let the pot simmer until the vegetables were soft. He then transferred everything to a blender and, well, blended it with 3 tbsp miso until it all made a lovely thick soup.

The dashi and miso, obviously, created the Japanese flavour, which was very tasty indeed.

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Portobello rice burger

My backlog of blog fodder is piling up again, so I thought I should break the posting fast with a particularly nifty dish.

Yusuke’s fantastic work here was inspired by both fast food and fancy cookbook fare.

He began by grilling especially lovely portobello mushrooms on our George Foreman grill. Pan-toasting would also work. He sprinkled a tiny bit of sea salt on the surface of the mushrooms before cooking.

To prepare the rice buns, he made brown rice like normal in our rice cooker. When it was finished, he wrapped a bun-sized amount in plastic wrap and squished it in a little custard bowl, using a second bowl for additional smashing power. Then he flattened the mounds by hand.

Next, he brushed the rice with a very light coating of sauce: equal amounts of sake, mirin, and soy sauce, along with a bit of sesame oil and ginger.

Finally, he toasted the buns on both sides in a frying pan.

To assemble, he added a bit more of the sauce to the mushrooms and added lightly toasted sheets of nori seaweed. Mayonnaise is an optional condiment.

During our last trip to Japan, I was pleased to encounter a hamburger joint at which I could be happy: Mos Burger, a Japanese institution. [N.B. The website includes ridiculously animated hamburgers.] Although the vast majority of their offerings don’t exactly suit my tastes, I discovered the fantabulous kinpira burger on a rice bun. The veggies in that instance were carrots, mushrooms, and gobo.

At Mos Burger

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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.

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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.

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Korean-style donburi

Korean-style donburi

Korean-style donburi

Donburi is common Japanese dish. With my elegant linguistic skills, I translate it as “stuff on rice.” This dish is not an archetypal Japanese donburi, but some traditional examples are listed on the wikipedia page. Yusuke stir fried bean sprouts, spinach, mushrooms, and carrots in sesame oil and sprinkled them with sesame seeds. Then he neatly arranged them over a bowl of rice and added a fried egg to the centre. The true Korean touch is the red spicy Sriracha sauce. (Okay, okay, that sauce is actually Thai. But the point is that the dish has super-hot sauce mixed with sesamified veggies and rice, ergo, it’s Korean.) After the picture was taken, we just mixed everything together and ate it. A perfect one-bowl comfort food meal.

(To help with my search results: domburi is also transliterated as donburi. Easier: 丼 or どんぶり)

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Oyster rice

Oyster rice

Oyster rice

This was a more adventuresome dinner than anticipated. Yusuke saw a grocery store ad for oysters and had the idea to make mixed rice with oysters. So I bought some. However, when we took the oysters out of the fridge to start cooking, we realized that we didn’t know how to open them. The halves of the shells were solid with no discernible gaps. Hmm. After a few feeble attempts with butter knives, we did what any red-blooded librarian would do. We googled “how to open oysters,” in English and Japanese respectively. The internets offered a clear answer: use an oyster knife. Oh. But we were hungry and not particularly inclined to go on an oyster knife shopping trip.

So Yusuke tried something else. He smashed the end of the shell with a hammer to create an opening in which to put a knife to pry the shell open. While effective, this method resulted in a fair bit of shell shards and ocean grit on the sink, counter top, and floor. Anyway, when the dust cleared, we had a truly pathetic amount of oyster meat in the pan. In my naiveté, I had only bought ten oysters, when two dozen probably would’ve been more appropriate. But no matter. Yusuke made a yummy dinner anyway.

He boiled bamboo shoots and the oysters in a broth of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and salt, and then added it all to the rice cooker to cook the rice. The rice was fabulous, and the oysters were delicately oceany. We opted for simplicity with the soup: miso with spinach and eggs.

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Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi is “scattered sushi”: the fish, vegetables, and whatnot are arranged over rice. In this instance, Yusuke combined shrimp, fresh salmon from our local poissonnerie, green onions, and a thin omelet cut into strips. Usually, the rice for this dish would be mixed with rice vinegar and sugar, but instead Yusuke used a “magic powder” that his mom sent—it’s called sushinoko. Yusuke’s mom also sent us the wonderful wooden bowl for serving the rice. The soup is traditional miso with tofu and wakame. This indeed is one of Yusuke’s restaurant-worthy creations!

Chirashizushi and soup

Chirashizushi and soup

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