Posts Tagged spinach

Simple soba

Toppings array

Toppings array

Soba is a thin noodle made from buckwheat. It’s often served with a variety of veggies, seafood, etc. From what I understand, the development of the perfect soba broth is indeed an art. The various regions of Japan each have unique soba specialities. Soba making is also a popular hobby as well, especially for retired men!

Wikipedia, Just Hungry, and Japan-guide all have more soba info.

Soba served

Soba served

For this meal, we opened a package of special, premium soba that was made with green tea in addition to the buckwheat. Yusuke made a hot soba broth with a package of soba sauce mix, along with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. We topped the noodles with boiled veggies (spinach, carrots, mushrooms), cooked shrimp, and hard boiled eggs.

Gratuitous cat bowl pic

Gratuitous cat bowl pic

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Zōni soup

Zoni

Zoni

Zōni is a traditional dish for New Year’s. We ate it in Japan for the holiday, but Yusuke made it recently here, too. The soup has a clear broth with soy sauce and a bit of dashi (bonito powder). Various veggies can be used, so we went our usual standbys of carrots, mushrooms, spinach, and green and white onions. The key ingredient is mochi, which is sticky rice pounded into a glutinous mass. Mochi has a strong place in traditional culture. While we Westerners see the Man in the Moon in the shadows and craters, the Japanese see a rabbit with a mallet making mochi!

Rabbits making mochi

Rabbits making mochi


Image from cesare a.k.a synkronicity (http://www.flickr.com/photos/55046325@N00/3149792735/)

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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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Japanese pasta: miso edition

Japanese miso pasta

Japanese miso pasta

I’ve written about Yusuke’s Japanese-style pasta before, and it’s an apt example of the flexibility of Japanese cuisine.

The pasta itself is just run-of-the mill spaghetti, boiled in water and olive oil with a little bonito powder (dashi) added. For the toppings, Yusuke sautéed pork and eggplant in a mixture of miso (paste mixed with water), mirin, sake, and sugar. Then he added the pasta to the frying pan with more miso and a splash of soy sauce. He served the pasta with freshly chopped green onions sprinkled on top.

I’m tempted to use a clichéd simile to describe the complementary relationship between miso and eggplant…but to say that they go together like peanut butter and jelly just sounds gross. At any rate, they’re perfect foils for each other. The dish wasn’t salty, but it certainly had a distinctive miso flavour. To balance the rich taste, our soup was simply spinach and mushrooms in water, soy sauce, and dashi.

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Spicy sesame sprouts

Spicy sesame sprouts

Spicy sesame sprouts

This dish features crispy, crunchy bean sprouts. Yusuke boiled the sprouts first and then sautéed them in salt, garlic, ginger, spicy tobanjan sauce, and sesame oil. He sprinkled sesame seeds on top to serve. Our accompanying miso soup was spinach and egg. Yummy. I should also note that Yusuke took the picture, too. Nearly worthy of a menu or food magazine, no?

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Mushroom pasta

Mushroom pasta

Mushroom pasta

According to Yusuke, the Japanese are often accused of imitating and stealing from other cultures. But on the contrary, he argues, they borrow, adapt, and create things that are new and uniquely Japanese. Enter Japanese-style pasta. There are various “traditional” ways of modifying Italianish dishes with Japanese ingredients, but Yusuke fashioned this particular offering from angel-hair pasta, oyster and button mushrooms, olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, and the coup de grâce: soy sauce. The oyster mushrooms were exceptionally excellent. Sometimes its hard to find decent ones: our local grocery has been known to stock slimy mushrooms with a greenish tinge. But these were deliciously firm and smooth, and my hobbit-like fondness for mushrooms was satisfied. The soup was miso with spinach and tofu.

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Broccoli with tofu sauce

Broccoli with tofu sauce

Broccoli with tofu sauce

This was one of my culinary experiments. Which rarely turn out well. Sigh. This was actually supposed to be a quiche-like dish with tofu instead of eggs. I used a blender to mix silken tofu, soy milk, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. I poured the mixture over boiled broccoli, baby spinach, and green onions, and then I baked it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Alas, it never quite thickened properly, thus becoming tofu sauce rather than tofu pie. I think next time I’ll add cornstarch or something. The “sauce” though, turned out to be rather more tasty than I expected, similar to a cream sauce without being oily.

We had plain rice on the side, along with spicy tomato-peanut butter soup. Which, being very easy, I make from time to time. First, I sauté white onions in the soup pot with lots of minced ginger and some garlic. Then I add the rest of the ingredients: vegetable broth, 1 tbsp of tomato paste, 1 cup of peanut butter, salt, sugar, and most importantly, red pepper flakes and either tobanjan or Thai Sriracha sauce. I like to make it pretty spicy, because the final touch is to add raw bean sprouts when serving the soup. The cold, crunchy sprouts nicely balance the spiciness.

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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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Quiche

quiche

quiche

quiche and lentil soup

quiche and lentil soup

Quiche is one the staple “things-I-can-make-successfully” in my repertoire. This one came out a little odd, but still tastier than I expected. (The oddness was due to the fact that I under-filled the pie with the eggs and milk, rather than over-filling like I usually do.) The vegetables were baby spinach, mushrooms, and green onions. I used soy milk instead of regular milk, which gives the quiche a sweeter taste. I used mozzarella cheese, which again has a milder taste than Swiss (which I use sometimes). I seasoned the egg mixture with black pepper, salt, a tiny bit of mixed Italian herbs, and a pinch of nutmeg. All-in-all, it wasn’t bad, but not nearly as good as Mom’s quiche.

The lentil soup was also nearly instant, as I used a can of diced tomatoes. First, I cooked white onions in a bit of rice liquor, then I added the tomatoes, chopped carrots, lentils, a couple bay leaves, and salt and pepper. Before eating it, we added a splash of red wine vinegar to each bowl, per Jen’s suggestion.

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Miso stir fry

Stir-fried veggies with miso

Stir-fried veggies with miso

Our basic staple meal is a vegetable stir fry, rice, and miso soup. This particular stir fry has a miso-based sauce, topped with sesame seeds. The veggies are green bell pepper, white onions, carrots, and shitake mushrooms. Oh, and it had pork (or was it chicken?), too, which I picked out… The soup is one of Yusuke’s favourites: miso with eggs and baby spinach.

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