JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Fish, Meat and Poultry
Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about fish, meat and poultry.
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Tangy Seared Chicken [Wings] Thighs, Pg. 256
Well here we go... my first Japanese recipe, or rather, Dinner. The chicken was the main dish and thighs are the acceptable alternative to wings. One of the ingredients is Dashi (Basic Sea Stock), page 92. Make it before starting the chicken. Then gather the mise en place: 6 thighs (boneless/mostly skinless), leeks (Japanese,Western or yellow onion), vegetable oil (peanut), dashi, sake, rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce.
Using a pan that will contain the chicken pieces in one layer brown the chicken well on all sides. Start without oil but if the meat is beginning to stick add oil in a spiral fashion starting from the outside edge... ending in the center. We did need to add some oil. After turning the pieces over to brown on the second side add the chopped leeks. Saute for a minute or so then remove and set aside. G was manning the fry pan and simply left the leeks in, finding it just too fiddly to pick them out. Next add the dashi, sake, vinegar, sugar and shimmy the pan so the sugar dissolves. With the cover of pan askew lower the heat and cook 25 minutes for thighs and 18 minutes for wings. (Note to self - buy an otoshi-buta. That's the wooden lid that sits right on the food.) When the chicken is tender add soy sauce and cook 1 minute.
Remove pan from heat and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid remaining in the pan. The sauce is spooned over the plated chicken. Reheat to serve warm at dinner. We didn't do that because the chicken was warm enough to serve after about 10-ish minutes cooling time. I really liked this dish. It had a simple, mellow poultry flavor that was satisfying and tasty. Not spicy by any means, but just right somehow. Homey, I guess I would say. G has no opinion about this dinner. He's still trying to decide whether or not he enjoyed the meal. He's used to really spicy foods and has to adjust his understanding of what Japanese food is all about.
The other dishes were Gohan (basic rice) page 137 and steamed Western broccoli. I had planned on making the New Year's Salad on page 220 - a spicy daikon and carrot combination - but ran out of time. I'll make it in a couple of days for sure.
Tangy Seared Chicken Wings, Pg. 256
I made these wings as part of a light lunch. With the wings, I didn't need to add any additional oil to the pan. Following Gio's G, I left the onion in the pan while it simmered. I was a bit concered that we would find the sauce lacking in flavor, but I really loved it and even the BF seemed pleased. The wings worked great for lunch, but I think if I end up making this again for dinner, I'll switch to thighs.
Bite-Sized Pork Cutlets (Hito Kuchi Tonkatsu) P.263
These stubby rolled pork cigars were an excellent addition to my Japanese-themed appetizer evening.
Pork loin is sliced into very thin, even pieces, about 1/8" thick. I had some frozen boneless chops that I let partially thaw before slicing. I would imagine that a whole loin piece would make for easier cutting; my slices were a touch thick in parts. I just pounded the pieces to an even thickness with a rubber mallet.
The pork slices should measure 2 1/2 X 4", 8 pieces total. They are laid out in single file with the short end facing you. On 4 of the slices, halved shiso leaves are placed on the surface and lightly spread with an umeboshi paste. These are rolled up, jelly-roll style, and put aside. The remaining 4 pork pieces are covered with nori and a thin layer of leek miso, and those are also rolled up.
The pork is lightly dusted with flour, dipped in an egg wash solution, and covered with panko crumbs. They are then deep fried for a few minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
I served these at room temperature, each 'croquette' sliced to several pieces. They were visually appealing, texturally interesting, and tasted very unique. The shiso leaf-umeboshi combination was punchy and exciting, but I preferred the leek miso-nori mixture, because I find that creamy, salty, smoky medley irresistible.
Now that I've got the hang of the process, the prep should be much faster for next time. It was a bit time-consuming at first. Well worth it, though.
Bite-Sized Pork Cutlets (Hito Kuchi Tonkatsu) p. 263
Having been intrigued by this recipe since Allegra_K first posted on it, we finally got around to making this. You can see that our "bite-sized" were super-sized a bit. We only made the version with negi miso and nori. Although the results are quite nice and I do love the negi miso flavor, the three of us (the Mr., my nephew who has become an honorary taste tester every time he comes to visit, and me) prefer classic tonkatsu to this, but glad to have tried it nonetheless.
Pork and Wakame Dumplings (Wafu Gyoza) P.260
I made these small pan-fried parcels to go with a Japanese-themed appetizer evening. They were a big hit.
A filling is made of minced leek, cabbage, and small amount of wakame, mixed with ground pork, grated carrot, sake, miso, and a touch of sesame oil. The meat medley is forcefully thrown a number of times into the bowl in an attempt at tenderizing.
After preparing the filling earlier in the day, I went to the freezer to pull out a package of gyoza wrappers. Apparently I had already used them, as I could not locate the package anywhere. Either that, or they got lost in the depths of my over-filled appliance (the most likely scenario). I was forced to use (gasp!) wonton wrappers, which were then cut into rounds.
The dumplings are pan-fried on one side in more sesame oil, liquid is added, and it is left to steam-cook, covered, until done. I used a bit more oil than called for, as food has been sticking to my pan pretty badly lately, but the dumplings readily released from the surface when done without much fuss.
Served with a dipping mix of soy sauce and chinkiang vinegar.
The dumplings were nice. Nothing fantastic, just dumplings. Everyone gobbled them up, though, if that says anything! The wakame was lost in the mixture; I had hoped that its flavour would be more prominent. I would at least double it next time, and maybe the other veggies as well.
Soy-Glazed Beef Burger, p. 265
So far work this month has been distracting me from diving into this book as much as I wanted to. These became dinner after discovering I had too many buns left over from the Superbowl and some ground beef hiding in the freezer. The recipe comes together very quickly and without much fuss which is great for a weeknight. The end result was a nice soy-spiked burger. It was good, but I don't think it will be joining my regular rotation. I only made 2 patties, but kept the amount of sauce the same and was glad I did.
To make, minced onions are softened in a skillet and then deglazed with sake. Ground beef, panko (I ground some old bread as the BF made a lot of bread over the weekend), egg, miso, and the onions. After kneading and throwing the meat like a baseball, you form into patties. The patties are placed back in the skillet and browned on each side. More sake goes in the skillet, it's covered, and cooks until you're desired level on doneness. While it's cooking, you dissolved sugar in hot water and mix in some soy sauce. When the meat is done, the soy sauce is poured on top, the heat increased, and cooked until the patties are evenly glazed.
The book suggests garnishing with carrots and serving a green vegetable. I went with raw carrots on the side, a salad, and some french fries with a wasabi-ginger mayo. The mayo will definitely be repeated.
re: Splendid Spatula
Soy Glazed Beef Burger. Husband is working nights so needed something easy enough to cook with 3 kids underfoot which said picky kids would also be likely to eat. This recipe seemed like a pretty good bet.
TxnlInMtl describes the procedure well, so I won't rehash, except to say that I mixed up the meat mixture early in the afternoon while kids were napping and picked up with the cooking at dinner time. Certainly an easy recipe. Unfortunately, NONE of my kids would eat it. I was really surprised by this because my kids love meatloaf and meatballs and most Asian flavors, but despite the sweet soy glaze and total lack of heat (a good thing for my kids) they all refused to eat it. I'm not sure if it was a chain reaction, or if the miso turned them off-- I felt like the miso really came through in the flavor of the meat, but in a pleasant way for me.
I served this with gohan and Japanese Coleslaw Salad from Everyday Harumi and thought this made a very nice meal (although something red and yellow would have been appreciated-- this 5 color thing is starting to sink in to me). Good thing I liked it because there are lots of leftovers and apparently I will be eating this for lunch this week! I may try getting some pickled red ginger or pickled carrots to eat with the leftovers.
Soy Stewed Chicken with Vegetables (Chikuzen Ni) p. 254
A homey braised chicken dish offering a variety of vegetables sounded like a good idea to me, and an excellent introduction to the mysterious konnyaku that I have been chomping at the bit to try. Well.
Chicken thighs are marinated and tenderized in sake and corn starch while the prep of the veg is carried out. Lotus root, carrots, burdock and dried shiitakes (I used fresh as per Tsuji's recipe) all make an appearance in this colourful medley.
This was the first opportunity I had to practice the 'rolled cut' technique, and I clearly still need heaps of time to hone that skill, as all of my veg were quite misshapen and lacking uniformity. Alas.
Konnyaku (I chose the white variety) is lightly scored to aid in flavour absorption, and then cut into about 20 cubes. The pieces are then dry roasted in a skillet until squeaking sounds can be heard when the pan is jiggled. Yes, they really do squeak. Like cleaning-a-window squeak. They also bounce.
Once the pan is merrily trilling away, the items are pushed aside to make way for the chicken, which is then seared to a crusty brown. The veggie combo is added, and a mix of dashi, sake, and sugar is poured in. Also to be added is the reserved mushroom liquid, but I used a dribble of seasoned soy concentrate in its place.
At this point an otoshi-buta drop lid would be used, but lacking that, I placed a smaller lid in the pan and let it simmer down to a thick liquid until the veggies were tender. Some soy sauce is drizzled in and cooked down, then the mix is left in the pan to cool and soak up the flavours of the sauce. Just before serving, blanched shelled green peas are sprinkled over top. I used blanched snap peas, again as per Tsuji's recipe, for added colour and flavour.
This recipe was very mild. Too mild for my tastes. I did try adding a bit more soy sauce, after comparing recipes and seeing that the other had 3 times as much, but that didn't alter the final product very much. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't very exciting, except for the textural contrasts of the crunchy lotus root, the springy mushrooms, the burdock, etc. This seems like a comfort food kind of dish; loved by those who grow up with it.
Now, for the konnyaku: I bought 3 packages of this stuff without ever trying it before, and perhaps that was a mistake. The texture takes a little getting used to. It's like jello on steroids. Doesn't really taste like much (though you could really smell the calcium hydroxide upon opening the package), but the texture is.......different than what I am used to. Rubbery, bouncy, chewy? I'm not sure how to describe it. I will give it another chance (at 12 calories per 250 gram package, what do I have to lose?!!) and perhaps will enjoy it in smaller pieces, or maybe as shiritaki. I hope.
Konnyaku is such an interesting food. I can't think of anything else like it. I do enjoy it for its texture (rubbery, bouncy, chewy :) ). I especially like it cooked kinpira style or in oden, but there is no getting around it's texture. One way it might not be as distracting is in the kayaku gohan (mixed rice). It is cut into very small pieces and just adds another texture to the dish. My husband does not typically eat konnyaku, but he did not notice it (or pick it out) of the mixed rice.