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February 2012 Cookbook of the Month Companion Thread: Japanese Month

Please use this thread to post about any Japanese cookbooks EXCEPT for Washoku and Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, and from any recipes found online. Remember to include the name of the book or the link to an online recipe in your post .

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  1. This is good news, Sal. I've ordered Hot Pots and am looking forward to cooking from that as well as Washoku. Thanks for starting this Companion Thread...

    1. Thanks for the companion thread, BigSal. I have a million Japanese books (OK, slight exaggeration) so I will absolutely be contributing to this thread.

      During our summer grilling thread I posted about a couple of recipes from The Japanese Grill, so I will start off by linking to those reports:

      Skirt Steak with Red Miso

      Pork Chops with Yuzu-Miso Marinade

      1. Sakura mochi for Girls' Day (3rd March) question.

        Right at the bottom of this page:
        There's a near recipe account of how to make some beautiful, almost jewel like, sakura mochi.
        I went through this (without the dye, will consider using beetroot) but came to a big stumbling block:
        It says pass soaked mochi rice through an uragoshi. Which I did, and it's possible. Only trouble that what came out the other side was mochi flour, very fine, and by following the rest of the directions I did get a delightful mochi - more suitable for sakura mochi than the mochi I usually make where I pound cooked rice in a bread machine - but the rice flour didn't approximate the pretty ruby slipper effect in the tummyrumbles blog.
        So I wonder if anyone knew what sort of gauge I'd need the mesh to be so that I could pass soaked rice through and get a result like the one in the blog photo?
        This is something I'd love to get right in time for March the 3rd.
        (BTW my uragoshi is a larger version of this: http://komorebi-m.jp/kitchen/12_kodaw... )

        1. Ishikari Nabe (Salmon Hot Pot) from Japanese Hot Pots

          recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

          Hokkaido, like Minnesota, is known for their cold winters, so we chose this recipe thinking that it might hit the spot on a cold winter's night...and it did. Sliced potatoes, onions and cabbage (I mistakenly thought I had cabbage in the fridge so we made this without it) is added to the bottom of the donabe (clay pot), a combination of dashi (tsuji's recipe), shiro miso and mirin is added to the pot. Simmer for a few minutes then add tofu, fresh shiitake, enoki mushrooms, negi (I had to substitute green onions, but negi would have been more satisfying) and harusame (clear cellophane noodles) and simmer a bit more. Add sliced salmon (the only fresh salmon I could find was farmed, so I used previously frozen wild sockeye) and simmer until cooked. Finish by adding chrysanthemum leaves and cook for a minute and garnish with salmon roe. This was a hearty, but not heavy meal that was satisfying and comforting. The ingredients were seasoned with the flavor of the stock. My husband particularly liked the potatoes and salmon. The ikura (salmon roe) addition made for a nice presentation, but I think the flavor was lost in the pot (literally and figuratively). Next time I'll save the ikura for a bowl of plain rice. The fresh shiitake were not as exciting as I had hoped for either. Maybe I'll try a different mushroom (shimeji) or maybe use dried shiitake. Sliced daikon would be a nice addition to this too. We ate this with a bowl of white rice. I'll try and get some pictures up this weekend when time permits.

          8 Replies
          1. re: BigSal

            Wow! that sounds sooooo good....

            1. re: BigSal

              Some pictures of the burner and the dish.

                1. re: BigSal

                  Love your burner! I am having a strong "I need" moment.

                  1. re: BigSal

                    I have one of these - see pic. I don't know if I've ever used it - can't remember having a burner, or gas. Just have a glass cooktop range, and a couple of induction burners. No dice, heh?

                    1. re: Rella

                      Nice pot! I love earthernware (Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian- you name it). I'm not sure if I'd risk using it on the stove directly on a glass cooktop, but I might try it using a heat diffuser/simmer tamer.

                      1. re: Rella

                        this nabe pot is safe to use on open fire or glass cooktop.
                        if you have not used it for a while, soak in water for a few hours, make sure it's nice and dry, then bring to temp using medium low heat.
                        if you scroll up, you can see the pictures of the a dish that a poster shared with us.
                        looks very delicious. btw!

                        1. re: ritabwh

                          Thank you for the tip on soaking in water for a few hours. I have the exact same dish that Big Sal has in his photo but the last time I used it, it got "burned" on the bottom. This was a dish that my mother in law gave me. She's no longer with us and much as I want to use the pot, I'm afraid I may further damage it.

                2. Broccoli with wasabi sauce (burokkori no wasabi ae) from justhungry.com


                  I stumbled upon this recipe looking for a way to use up my broccoli. This recipe is a little salty, slightly sweet with a little mustardy wasabi heat. All one needs to do is cook the broccoli and dress it with a soy, sugar, sake and wasabi combination.

                  1. Kimpira (Braised Burdock and Carrot Root) At Home with Japanese Cooking Elizabeth Andoh p. 130

                    Heat oil on high and sauté thin slivers of carrots and gobo 2 minutes. Add sake then reduce heat and add sugar for 1 minute. Add soy until a deep glistening brown. Garnish with sesame seeds. Tsuji has been my go to kimpira recipe, but this is very delicious as well. You can't go wrong with either one.

                    1. Kokabu No Miso Shiru ( White Turnips in Dark Bean Soup) At Home with Japanese Cooking Elizabeth Andoh p. 59

                      I love Japanese turnips. Snow white with a delicately sweet taste. I’ve been known to snack on them raw. Simmer turnips in stock (dashi, soy and salt) until translucent. Add dissolved sendai miso (I used aka miso) to soup and cook a couple minutes on low. Add turnips greens (that have been blanched, squeezed dry and chopped). Nice winter soup.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: BigSal

                        Just curious, is comparing "At Home w/ Japanese Cooking" to "Washoku", which book do you find more compelling?

                        Right now I'm using a library copy of "Washoku", but am thinking that I should buy at least one of Andoh's books. the question is which one!

                        1. re: qianning

                          I'll take a second look at the two books when I get home. My first instinct is" At Home with Japanese Cooking." I think it is more comprehensive, but you already have a "Simple Art", so it may have too many similar recipes. At home looks a little dated, but the recipes hold up (at least the ones I've tried). Washoku is definitely better eye candy with the color pictures and goes into details about the concepts behind washoku. That being said, I do feel that somestimes the recipes are unnecessarily complicated. For example, in order to make tsukimi udon, one needs to make not only the stock, but also a soy concentrate.

                          1. re: BigSal

                            Funny that you mention soy concentrate, its been the biggest hold on my making many of her recipes. I'll probably get around to making a batch sometime this month, because there are several interesting recipes that call for it, but i can't see myself always doing that or having it on hand.

                            Anyway, thanks for the feedback, I'll probably see if my library system has "At Home" to do a trial run.

                            1. re: qianning

                              Since so many of the recipes that called out to me from Washoku involved the seasoned soy concentrate, I did make it, and I am really glad that I did. When we were cooking out of Seductions of Rice, there was a very similar recipe in the Japanese section (Mariko's Must-Have Concentrated Stock) that I used for a few of the recipes, sometimes even just diluting it in place of dashi. It seemed to last forever. I just tossed out the leftover few tablespoons remaining in the jar to make room in my fridge for Washoku's version, and it quite honestly still seemed good.
                              Andoh's recipe makes a much smaller amount, and it's probably already half finished. Whatever remains will most likely be used as a broth for veggies to steep in.

                      2. Kayaku Gohan (Mixed Rice) Practical Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji p. 100

                        Cook rice and vegetables (parboiled chicken (I skipped this), carrots, gobo, fresh shiitake and konnyaku) in dashi, soy, mirin and salt. When rice is done cooking, add sake and thinly sliced snow peas and rest 10 minutes. Tasty rice mixture. I had this for lunch last week with green beans with sesame seeds. This rice reminded me of my mom’s version of maze gohan that she makes with carrots, dried shiitatke, gobo, bamboo shoots and mochigome.

                        1. Harris Salat's Japanese Cooking Report has many easy and interesting recipes. He also co-authored a nice book on hot-pot cookery. This site is worth looking through (his most recent post shows how to make a superb sukiyaki.)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: penthouse pup

                            Great site Penthouse pup. Many thanks for the link. That Mitzutaki recipe is in my near future.

                            1. re: Gio

                              website is looking for recipe testers for a new cookbook, on 2/27 post.
                              thank you penthouse. great website.

                          2. In August 2010 The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon was COTM. She covers 15 Asian countries in this book and the last chapter is dedicated to Japan. As I waited for a couple of Japanese cookbooks I had ordered to arrive recently I revisited Ms Solomon for a few basic recipes I wanted to make. I have posted my reports of these recipes directly into Ms Solomon's Japan thread but thought I'd reference them here as well.

                            1. Gohan (Rice), Pg. 458

                            2. Namasi (Radish and Cabbage Salad), Pg. 476

                            3. Kimizu (Salad Dressing), Pg. 476

                            4. Dashi (Basic Stock), Pg. 476

                            5. Chicken Stock, Pg. 476

                            1. Ishikari Nabe, Salmon Hot Pot, page 55
                              Japanese Hot Pot
                              Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat

                              I chose this recipe since the video that convinced me to buy the book made this meal seem simple and delicious. I learned a lot about some Japanese ingredients tonight which will make this a much better dish for my family the next time I make this. This dish was not a total success, but neither was it a total failure.

                              Began with making the dashi according to their method on page 30. The Ono/Salat method is quite different. After soaking the kombu, it is brought to a boil and then simmered. The kombu is then removed and bonito flakes are added, brought to a boil and then simmered before straining. The amount of bonito flakes called for is signifigantly higher than in either the Simple Art or Washoku. I now wish that I had tasted the dashi before adding the other ingredients for the broth.

                              While the dashi was doing its thing, I began to prep all the other ingredients. I placed the harusame [potato starch noodles] in water to soak for 15 minutes. I sliced onion [couldn't find Spanish so just used yellow], cut the the cabbage into bite sized pieces, sliced the negi ["assertive" scallion] into 2 inch pieces, pulled apart 100 grams of enoki mushrooms, and cleaned the shiitake mushrooms. The potato is peeled, cut lengthwise and sliced 1/4" thick. For most of these ingredients having the weights was critical. My one potato was about a pound. I needed 1 1/2 onions to get to 3/4 pound. [ASIDE: I wish all recipes had weights!]

                              When the dashi is done and strained, I added the 3/4 cup of shiro miso and 1/4 cup of mirin, whisking to incorporate the miso.

                              The potatoes, cabbage and onions are dispersed around the pan, and the broth [what he now called the dashi, mirin, and miso mixture] is poured on top. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, and then simmer. In the video they say this takes 15 minutes, so that it was I did. He notes that if you are not using a traditional Japanese vessel, and substitute a Le Crueset as I did, it is neccessary to have the top ajar. I used a Chinese chopstick across the side of the pot to keep the cover from closing altogether.

                              Next in are the tofu, harusame, negi, enoki and shitake mushrooms. This is simmered for 5 minutes. As suggested, I did push some of the ingredients into the broth about halfway through. Now the salmon is added and simmer for 5 minutes. Finally the spinach is added for just 30 seconds.

                              I had the salmon roe and in my enthusiasm, totally forgot to add it to the finished dish.

                              First, lets talk about those noodles, the harusame. I soaked them as instructed; simmered them as instructed; and we ended up with a rather nasty, clumped, jelly-fish like texture. A few around the edges had softened and "absorbed" the surrounding flavors, but I pulled all of mine out of my bowl. They were simply unpleasant. Next time, I will cut the spinach leaves in half to make distributing them while eating easier. I will also increase the amount dramatically. We ran out of spinach way too quickly. The shitakes were not cooked enough and had a really odd spongy texture. I resisted my impulse to cut them into quarters, but will have no reservation about doing this in the future. The potatoes were about 3 minutes underdone. Next time I will either slice them on the mandoline a little thinner, or start cooking them a little earlier than the onions and cabbage. The onions and cabbage were perfect! Next time more negi. We all loved this bright flavor and ran out too quickly. The star of the show, the sliced salmon was in a word perfect. Even the skin was cooked to perfection. My final comment is really about the broth. It was just too sweet. The amount of miso added to the dashi obscured the dashi flavor completely. [And this miso was EXPENSIVE!] No taste of the sea was to be found, and we all added salt at the table.

                              So, I think this is the start of a great meal, but this wasn't it yet. Pictures are my mise en place [or the Japanese equivilent] and the finished dish.

                              Served with goshen [rice] and tea.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: smtucker

                                I'm sorry to see the results were not as good as the presentation (gorgeous!). After reading your post, it dawned on me that I did not soak my harusame. I just cooked them in the pot. I did use harusame that were made for donabe cooking. Our shiitake turned out to be the same unappealing sponges too. As for the sweetness, I think the kind of miso and mirin one uses can change the flavors quite a bit. It's expensive to experiment, especially when a recipe uses so much of it. Thanks for sharing.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  I think the LC pot may have conducted the heat more slowly than a Japanese pot...also, you might
                                  check the mirin you used: the mass-commercial versions are often very sweet. This is a reliable site that sell high quality mirin and other Japanese products:


                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    Salmon Hot Pot - Japanese Hot Pots, p 55

                                    I have cooked quite a bit from the authors' other book, The Japanese Grill, but hadn't cooked anything from this one, even though I've had it longer. What took me so long? I can't say, but smtucker's beautiful picture above is what pushed me to finally jump in and make something from this book.

                                    The procedure has already been well described. Like smtucker, I was glad that the recipe had weights for the vegetables. I so wish more authors would do that. I made the dashi from the recipe in the book, as directed. For the hotpot, I deviated in a couple places. I used Napa cabbage instead of green. And my grocery, which normally carried enoki mushrooms, didn't have any this weekend, so I used extra shitakes. I also sliced the shitakes. And I simmered a bit longer than called for in the stage where you've added the mushrooms, noodles and tofu. I should also mention that my noodles were made of mung beans instead of potato starch.

                                    This dish turned out beautifully for me. Mr. MM and I both loved it. I didn't feel like like the miso overwhelmed the broth, and it wasn't really sweet at all. The dashi flavor was definitely present. We did feel it needed salt, and added some soy sauce and a light sprinkle of shichimi togarashi at the table. That really made the broth sing. Perhaps it is the difference in the noodles I used, but I didn't have any problem with the texture. I also didn't get spongy shitakes, maybe because I had them in smaller pieces and/or because I simmered them a little longer. I forgot to buy the salmon roe, so I didn't use any. I would have liked to have had some, perhaps over my rice on the side. Our rice was a brown sticky rice (grown locally), and I really liked the way it went with this dish. This will definitely be something we make again, and I'm looking forward to trying some of the other hot pots in this book.

                                    1. re: MelMM

                                      Mel, this confirms that my miso was just too sweet for the dish [or for me!] I think cutting the mushrooms into slices would have made my enjoyment of them far greater. I feel that with some further work on my part, we would enjoy this dish tremendously. It was so close to great....

                                  2. Agedashi Tofu (Fried Tofu in Tempura Sauce) pg. 21
                                    "Izakaya: the Japanese Pub Cookbook"
                                    M. Robinson

                                    I like this Agedashi Tofu recipe because he uses potato starch rather than flour to coat the tofu, and I think that works better than wheat flour. Otherwise it is a pretty standard recipe, make a tempura sauce (dashi, mirin, soy, brought to the boil, remove from heat, add bonito flakes, strain), grate daikon with dried red pepper, strain if watery, mine was, set these aside. Coat blotted dofu in potato starch, fry at 360 degrees for 5 minutes or so, remove from oil and drain on paper towel, assemble dofu, tempura sauce and daikon relish in a serving (or individual) bowl, eat immediately. We had this last night as a "starter" with some nice sake and really enjoyed it.

                                    5 Replies
                                      1. re: qianning

                                        I've noticed a huge difference in ingredients when it comes to tempura......I've tried 3 different recipes so far (reviews yet to come, if I ever work up the motivation), and each one was vastly different....one with egg yolks and wheat flour, one with whole eggs and wheat flour with a higher water-to-flour ratio, and one with cornstarch and egg white. My favourite by far was the lightest of the three, the cornstarch mixture. I have yet another recipe that calls for rice flour, and I am interested to see how that one turns out .....but I think I've done enough deep frying for the moment, so that may be put on hold! The potato flour version sounds like a good contender as well.

                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                          Any link to the cornstarch tempura batter recipe? I'm thinking of making tempura soba for dinner. Tsuji's recipe uses yolk-water-flour, not sure if that's the way to go....the agedashi tofu uses only potato starch (no liquid) which I don't think would work for drier foods.

                                          1. re: qianning

                                            You know, I must have gotten a bit mixed up with all of the tempura recipes I was looking at, as I can't find one that is all-cornstarch. The batter that I liked the most so far is the one in washoku, where the vegetables are dusted with cornstarch and quickly dipped into a flour-water combo. It was the lightest of all of them. For the record, I found Tsuji's to be the heaviest batter that I enjoyed the least, with Alford and Duguid's version in Seductions of Rice coming in second. Although that could have nothing to do with the recipes and everything to do with the cook! I think I'll leave tempura to the professionals from now on.

                                      2. Pork Kakuni Cooking with Dog http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7-BAJ...

                                        I made this version of Buta no Kakuni on Sunday to compare to Tsuji’s laborious two-day version (does anyone else obsess about finding the best version of something?). Pork belly is cut into cubes and browned on all sides. Then water is added to the pork along with smashed ginger and the green part of the negi. Next it is simmered for 2-3 hours until the pork is tender. The pork is then cooked for about 30 minutes in a mixture of soy, sake, sugar, and kombu. At our house this was a split decision. My husband preferred Tsuji’s version and I preferred this less sweet version. Both resulted in melt in your mouth tender pork.

                                        1. FYI, because February is a short month, I've posted the March nomination thread today:

                                          1. Ebi Shinjo (Fried Shrimp Quenelles) pg. 56
                                            Izakaya The Japanese Pub Cookbook

                                            This is a funky fusion-y kind of a dish. To my mind some parts Japanese, some parts Southeast Asian and a little NOLA. Looking for something to have with Friday night drinks while the hot pot dinner went together, this one sounded like fun.

                                            Making half a recipe everything was going along swimmingly, chopped some shrimp, check, pound some shrimp, check, pound some haddock, check, mix all of the above together wither with sauteed onion, check, add mayonnaise--ooops!

                                            Not quite sure but I think I added a full recipes worth of mayonnaise to the mixture, and too late to do anything about it. Stuck the mixture in the fridge to see how it would firm up after an hour, but it was still pretty darn soft, and no way could I form anything from this by hand. But why waste good fish? So I used a small ice cream scoop to form large gum drop shapes, dusted with potato starch, and ever so carefully added them to the oil. To my joy they didn't fall apart or explode. In fact all in all they were pretty good with a beer.

                                            If I tried these again, and I might just to see what happens with the correct proportions, I would add a little cayenne to the mix, or maybe sprinkle them with togarashi before serving, they needed a little extra depth of flavor that the accompanying fried peppers just didn't provide.

                                            1. Chicken Curry Hot Pot (Kare Nabe), Pg. 107
                                              Japanese Hot Pot by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat

                                              This was our first recipe from this book and it was delicious: fairly spicy yet the flavors of the different vegetables balanced that out nicely. Instead of the traditional hot pot I used a vintage Dansk casserole with a 3 5/8 inch depth and that worked beautifully. A wooden spoon across the rim was used to keep the cover askew. (The casserole has a stand that allows a candle or other heat source to keep the contents hot)

                                              Chicken stock is prepared by combining sake, soy sauce, and sugar in a bowl. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are sliced very thinly. The vegetables are green cabbage, celery, carrot, and potato. The seasonings are "regular supermarket curry powder" (I used hot Madras), garlic, ginger, then negi as garnish. (I used 2 scallions) The oil I used was grapeseed.

                                              Heat oil in the pot, add chicken slices, stir and cook about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup curry powder, stir and cook another minute then add the prepared stock. Now, into the pot go sliced cabbage, celery, carrot, garlic, and ginger. Cover pot, bring to the boil then decrease to medium and simmer 10 minutes. Add the negi and simmer about 5 more minutes. The recommendation is to serve either a steaming bowl of rice or udon with the meat and vegetables but we only had soba noodles and I wasn't sure that should be served so we had the rice.

                                              Altogether an easy and relatively quick dish to prepare...the vegetable prep seems to be taking me longer than usual, though, because I'm trying to slice them as they appear in the book. I think this was a pretty good start with hot pot cooking. Looking forward to other meals from this book.

                                              1. Potato Salad, Japanese Style - Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking, p. 120

                                                Potato salad. It seems like wherever on this green earth you go, there is a version.

                                                This recipe has you steam potatoes and carrots. When done, they are peeled, the potatoes are broken up and the carrots are sliced into half-rounds. The recipe has you put the potatoes in a bowl and mix in some chicken stock powder. I don't have chicken stock powder, so I skip this, but I mix a little bit of chicken bouillon concentrate (Better Than Bouillon), into the mayo, which goes in later. You then take a cucumber, seed it, and cut into quarter rounds. Salt the cucumber, let sit and then drain and dry. To the cooled potatoes, you add the carrot, cucumber and some sliced onion. Stir in mayo, salt and pepper.

                                                It's the cucumber and carrot that get me in this recipe. I just like the combination a lot better than typical American potato salad ingredients. I've made this several times now, and it's pretty much become my standard potato salad recipe.

                                                1. Okonomiyaki Cooking with Dog http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeUHy0...

                                                  This is a delicious savory pancake. Great as a meal or an appetizer. A batter is made of flour, baking powder, salt, grated nagaimo (it is said to make a more tender pancake, but the grated yam looks quite gross) and dashi. Chopped cabbage, negi, dried shrimp, cooked shrimp, cooked octopus ( purchased mine precooked) and tenkasu (crunchy bits of deep fried batter) and 2 eggs are added to mixture to complete the batter. Add thinly sliced pork belly to the pancake and cook covered, flip and cover again to cook through. Top with okonomiyaki sauce, kewpie mayonnaise, katsuo bushi,diced green onions, ao nori, and a bit of beni shoga (red ginger- this was meant to be in the batter, but I put it on top so my husband will eat this too). This is a savory pancake full of umami goodness. The sauces on the top add richness and a little sweetness.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                    I love okinomiyaki! I've never made them from scratch though - sometimes the asian markets in the dallas area will have a mix and they have always come out delicious!

                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                      Okonomiyaki, Vegetarian Version

                                                      Usually on Mardi Gras, also called Shrove Tuesday, we have a New Orleans based menu but last night we made this delicious Japanese pancake. (Some people celebrate Mardi Gras as Pancake Day.) The recipe I used is different than Big Sal's but the process is the same. My ingredients were: cabbage, scallions, red bell pepper, frozen peas, onion, shiitakes, grated carrot, grated potato, grated daikon. The batter consisted of 4 eggs, flour, mushroom soaking water, S & P. Peanut oil was used to fry the pancakes. The toppings were: wasabi mayo, Worcestershire, aonori, pickled ginger,

                                                      This is a great dish. So easy to make, and perfect for a weeknight meal. I heated up leftover roast pork with luscious sauce for the main but I couldn't eat it, the okonomiyaki was just so delicious. We loved it and will definitely make it again.

                                                    2. Japanese Hot Pots (Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat)
                                                      "Anything Goes" Hot Pot p.89

                                                      This is my first recipe out of this book, and my first hot pot dish. Ever. I bought an inexpensive medium-sized donabe earlier this month, in hopes that I would get around to cooking with it. If nothing else, it makes for nice presentation. Turns out that it does work directly on my ceramic stove-top, which was a nice bonus.
                                                      I chose this dish because I was looking to get rid of the odds and ends of vegetables and tofu that have resulted in this month's cooking journey. Its potpourri of ingredients fit my requirements perfectly. I mean, with a name like 'anything goes', I suppose I could just toss any ole' thing in there, right? Well, not exactly......
                                                      A very strong-flavoured broth is made of dashi with a hearty dose of mirin and soy sauce mixed in. I used regular soy (haven't found the light stuff yet), so maybe the colour was a bit darker, but I doubt it affected the taste much. I used the dashi recipe from the same book, which is much more intense and bonito-heavy than the other recipes I've been using.
                                                      Proteins: Chicken, shrimp, clams(omitted), scallops, fish (left out), and tofu (which I broiled).
                                                      The vegetables called for: napa cabbage, negi, carrot, enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms (I used shimeji); and scallions along with 'red maple radish' for garnish. Also, one napa cabbage-spinach roll is used. This is where I made, to my mind, the critical error in my meal. I had some chrysanthemum leaves that were on their last legs, and no spinach. So, I thought it would be very economical and clever of me to add the shungiku leaves to fill the cabbage roll in the place of spinach. Nope. Unfortunately, those leaves did not lend a very subtle flavour to the broth like the spinach would have. I could really taste the mistake in my bowl. It was still okay, I suppose, but the taste of the shungiku was definitely there. Moreso than it should have been. Detracted from the delicate flavours of the seafood.
                                                      Harusame is also in this mix. I used the korean jap-chae noodles. Not sure if that was the correct kind called for, but the translucent filaments looked lovely in the pot.
                                                      Because I was so nervous about cracking the donabe, I cooked it very low and very slow....so it took a while to get up to a good simmer. Nothing was too overcooked, though (well, maybe the prawns).
                                                      The pot that I had was stuffed to the brim, but we finished it all, right down to the tasty udon shime.
                                                      I think that I wouldn't have loved this dish at any rate, but I did bring it down a notch due to my ignorance. It was fun to do, though, and beautiful to look at. I'd love to try another hot pot soon.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        I read that recipe a few days ago and want to make it but I still don't have some of the necessary Japanese ingredients that many recipes seem to require, i.e. chrysanthemum leaves, burdock root and lotus blossom. But I Am intrigued by another recipe of the same ilk called "Refrigerator" Hot Pot in the meat chapter, I think. The idea of a spontaneous and creative recipe using whatever is on hand appeals to me and will probably be my next hot pot.

                                                      2. Niku Jaga (Simmered beef with potatoes) from The Japanese Kitchen by Kimiko Barber p. 178

                                                        The name of this dish (meat-potato) says it all. Homey, comfort food. My husband has been a good sport this month and this is my last night cooking in February so I thought I’d pick something he’d likely enjoy.

                                                        There are many variations of this dish. Some iterations are made with pork instead of beef or even ground beef or pork. Sometimes ito konnyaku or carrots are also added too.

                                                        This recipe called for sautéing sliced onions for a few minutes, then adding potato chunks (I used baked potatoes because that’s all I had, but typically I would use boiling potatoes) and cooking for a few more minutes. Then thinly sliced beef (rib-eye in our case) is cooked for a couple minutes. Next add dashi, sugar, sake, mirin and soy. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I used a drop lid (otoshi-buta) for the simmering. Although not called for in the recipe, I finished the dish my adding thawed frozen peas for a touch of color, otherwise the dish looks terribly drab.

                                                        This is a hearty dish. Tender meat with potatoes and onions that are infused with the flavors of the seasoned broth and meat. The potatoes were mealy and not as succulent had I used boiling potatoes, but still tasty. The seasoned broth was quite nice with the rice we ate this with (no carb free diet for us). The level of sweetness was perfect for my husband, but for me I would reduce it slightly.

                                                        1. Simmered Sea Bream (flounder), Everyday Harumi, pg 75

                                                          I finally got it together enough to cook some Japanese! I chose this recipe because 1. still haven't made dashi and haven't made it to the Japanese market and 2. had a beautiful flounder fillet that weighed a pound and wanted something to make use of it.

                                                          This is a very simple and easy prep. sake, mirin, soy sauce and sugar are brought to a simmer, fish and ginger are added. Simmer until done (flipping once) and then serve with the sauce. This was very mild and went over well with the family. The flavor profile was actually very similar to a chinese steamed fish that I make which doesn't have sake and mirin. I was actually a little surprised that the sake and mirin (eden organic) didn't come through as much in the finished dish. I might add some scallions or leaks to the poaching liquid if I make this again.

                                                          I served this with Gohan, Japanese Coleslaw Salad and Vegetable Salad with Miso Dressing, also from Everyday Harumi. The coleslaw was great and also very simple. Just rice vinegar, a touch of oil, soy sauce and sugar added to shredded cabbage and onion with a generous helping of toasted sesame seeds added at the end. This was definitely more than a sum of its parts and created a delightful contrasting temp and texture to the rice and fish. My husband really loved it and between the two of us we ate it all.

                                                          The Vegetable Salad with Miso dressing (pg 186) was slightly less successful. I am honestly not sure if there is an error in the book. The dressing calls for 13 oz miso with 1/2 cup sake and 1 cup mirin and 1/3 cup superfine sugar. This seemed like very large quantity of miso (for 4 cups of blanched green beans, cauliflower and broccoli). I thought perhaps this was for a large amount of dressing which you could then use later for other things. In any case, I cut everything to 1/4 of the called for quantity and cooked as described (simmered for 20minutes on the stove). This yielded a very thick paste which was delicious, but extremely potent-- salty and sweet. There is a picture in the book which shows nicely dressed veggies with a thin miso dressing. There was no way this was going to dress anything in that way. So instead, I dribbled a little bit over the blanched veggies and served the rest in a little bowl as a dipping sauce. It was good, but the sauce was really too potent and not at all how it is pictured in the book. I am actually looking at the headnote now and it mentions if the dressing is too thick, dashi can be used to thin it out. So maybe it is supposed to be thick, not sure?

                                                          n any case-- we had a very satisfying dinner and I'm happy to have finally gotten into cooking some Japanese food!

                                                          1. The hot pot recipes posted inspired me to try a Sukiyaki recipe last night. I grabbed what I remembered while at the grocery rushing home ahead of the snow storm. I used this recipe with some modifications. http://japanesefood.about.com/od/beef...

                                                            I used my cast iron dutch oven since it is what I had on hand. I used button mushrooms instead of the enoki and shiitake due to limited items at the grocery and first time trying the recipe out on the family. Swapped leek for green onion, used rice stick noodles and omitted the chrysanthemum greens and tofu. Added sliced yellow onion and a small batch of thin sliced carrots. It got rave reviews and worked as a good introduction to hot pot type dishes without anyone whining about strange ingredients. Next time I will probably hunt down the proper mushrooms. I doubt I will find chrysanthemum greens in South Dakota, are there suggestions of other greens that might make an acceptable substitute? One other substitution I ended up making but was reluctant about was sushi vinegar for the mirin. The grocery didn't have mirin at all and I had some very sweet sushi vinegar on hand. I think it changed the dish a bit but wasn't bad or off balance.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: blackpointyboots

                                                              I've been using spinach as a substitute for the chrysanthemum greens as that's the recommended sub in both Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, and Japanese Hot Pots. In fact, in the hot pot book the authors say that it's OK to substitute and/or use whatever the home cook has on hand. Your Sukiyaki sounds delicious.

                                                            2. No wheat Asian noodles? I can't eat wheat so I am always looking for alternative noodles to try. Rice noodles have been a good option. I have yet to find a buckwheat soba that doesn't have some wheat in it. I am not very familiar with other noodle varieties but know there are lots out there. Are there any non-wheat Asian noodles that are somewhat easy to make or that I might look for at Asian stores? We have two small Asian groceries I need to check out. The ones I was used to closed down so what kind of stock these new ones have remains to be seen.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: blackpointyboots

                                                                You might want to look into bean and potato starch noodles. I don't know the Japanese names for these, but the Chinese for bean thread, sometimes called bean vermicelli, is "粉丝" and for wider starch noodles, liang tiao," 粮条". They have a very different texture from wheat noodles, softer, clearer, and a bit chewier.

                                                              2. "Refrigerator" Hot Pot, Pg. 112
                                                                Japanese Hot Pot by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat

                                                                We skipped back to Japan from Greece last night to make this delicious "clean out the fridge" meal.
                                                                It couldn't be simpler and the result was both delicious and comforting. The technique is based on other hot pot recipes but the ingredients are deliberately chosen from what's on hand.

                                                                The broth is a matter of choice between either a soy-based broth or miso-based. Since I had the required 4 cups chicken stock that's what I used for the soy based one.. One half cup mirin and one half cup soy sauce are added to the broth and set aside. The vegetables were: sliced nappa cabbage, the white bottom stalks of a very large bok choy which I chopped into 2" segments, daikon radish matchsticks, shiitakes, biased sliced carrot, and soba noodles for the shime. Two 6" pieces of kombu are placed on the bottom of the pot, the vegetables are placed in bunches neatly throughout, then the broth is carefully poured in. Cover pot, bring to boil then turn heat down to simmer for 15 minutes. In the meantime cook the noodles as the package directs. When everything had finished cooking we added the noodles to the center of the hot pot and served a little of each component in warmed bowls.

                                                                We both loved this... and what a godsend it is for using up all the bits and pieces of the week's veggies. The only thing I wished I had was tofu, which would have added to the "completeness" of the meal. Next time for sure. But last night it was just perfect for us.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  Oh this sounds wonderful! I need to mark this for those clean-out-fridge-moments. And since it is chicken stock based, I bet I can sell this to the crowds.

                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                    Here's a simple recipe that takes the guess work out of any refrigerator hot pot...

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      there really is something about the chicken + kombu broth that's very very good, isn't three?

                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                        Qianning... yes. And, I never would have thought it. I intend to keep searching for Japanese recipes that don't intimidate me too much. These hot pot recipes, though, are very user friendly, the ingredients easily found and taste delicious.

                                                                2. Hiyashi Chuka Noodles -Cooking with Dog http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDuQOg...

                                                                  Today I tried Cooking with Dog’s version of this summer-time favorite. I’m glad I did because this cold noodle salad hit the spot.

                                                                  Chuka noodles (ramen noodles) are cooked, drained and cooled then mixed with broccoli sprouts (I used kaiware- daikon radish sprouts) and a touch of sesame oil. The noodles are then served with tomato wedges, thin strips of an egg omelette, julienned cucumber, shrimp, ham (I omitted the ham) and sesame seeds.

                                                                  They give the choice of two dressings, one is sesame and the other is a lemon soy. I chose the sesame dressing made of sesame paste (if you canot find sesame paste, for me tahini is not a good substitute, I’d use peanut butter instead- it changes the flavor, but will be closer than tahini), brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, water, finely chopped ginger, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil and doubanjiang. Great savory dressing with a bit of heat which was delicious with the noodles as well as the vegetables.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                    sounds awfully good. first time i've ever heard of doubanjiang in any japanese dish, but i bet it goes perfectly with those flavors.

                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                      Definitely not common, other than mabo tofu (Japanese version of mapo doufu). I enjoyed the dressing so much, I cut up some more cucumbers and ate them with the rest of the dressing.

                                                                  2. Yakitori Chicken Skewers and Flavorful Yakitori Sauce p. 98-99 A Cook’s Journey to Japan by Sarah Marx Feldner

                                                                    Yakitori is a summer grilling staple in our family. One can make the sauce and cut and skewer the chicken in advance, making it a quick meal and easy for entertaining.

                                                                    The sauce (tare) is made by bringing soy sauce, sake, sugar and mirin to a boil until the sugar is dissolved and then one adds chicken wings (previously broiled until charred) and simmers covered for 30 minutes and then simmered another 30 minutes uncovered.

                                                                    Bite-size pieces of chicken thighs interspersed with scallions are skewered. We used negi (Welsh onion) which can be harder to find, but worth the hunt. Cook the chicken until white (no longer raw on the outside, but not cooked through) and then baste, cook a few minutes more and baste again until fully cooked. The result is a sweet-savory chicken skewer. The chicken and Welsh onion combination is known as negima.

                                                                    The addition of chicken wings adds a depth of flavor and smokiness meant to mimic the years old sauces of a yakitori house. This sauce is very similar to Hiroko Shimbo’s in The Japanese Kitchen, but this version is sweeter. If you prefer a less sweet tare, then Shizuo Tsuji’s version is a better option.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                                      Interesting, the "sweeter" adjective makes me think this isn't for us, but how are you liking this book in general?

                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                        This is the first one from this book, but curious to try more. I just indexed this for EYB, so we should all have access to it soon.

                                                                    2. Tsukune Two ways

                                                                      Tsukune from Izakaya by Mark Robinson http://www.bento.com/trt-tsukune.html

                                                                      In-between all the tofu we’ve been eating, we managed to sneak in some more yakitori. Tsukune is a great addition to a yakitori grill, enjoyed by children and adults alike. My go-to tsukune has a tare (sauce), but the ones we tried were sauce free, but still very good.

                                                                      This recipe is very simplistic, but delicious. Finely chopped onions, salt, minced yuzu peel and ground chicken is mixed together and refrigerated until firm. The chicken is skewered and cooked until done. Moist, tender and tasty.

                                                                      The other tsukune recipe we tried this weekend was from Marc Matsumoto from the No Recipes food blog. http://norecipes.com/blog/chicken-tsu...

                                                                      Marc has you finely dice your own chicken thighs (2 with skin and 2 without). To this, one adds a grated dried shiitake, ginger, salt, sugar, soy, mirin and a minced green onion. The mixture is refrigerated for at least six hours. We put these on skewers and added the reserved chicken skin to each skewer. Eat with lime and smoked salt. This also turned out quite well. This was a departure from my typical tsukune recipe, but we liked the addition of the dried shiitake and the addition of the chicken skin.

                                                                      1. Kuri Gohan- Chestnut Rice


                                                                        This is a treat I look forward to every year. The most difficult part of the recipe is peeling the chestnuts (it is a pain, but boiling the chestnuts does help make it a little easier). The chestnuts are cooked with a mixture of Japanese short-grain and mochigome (sweet rice), konbu, sake, salt and light soy. The result is a simple, rustic and very filling dish. The sweet nuttiness of the chestnuts is delicious with the rice.

                                                                        1. Ganmodoki uma- ni (Simmered Tofu Dumplings) p. 73 from Practical Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji and Koichiro Hata

                                                                          This recipe for tofu fritters was such a hit that it is now a permanent fixture of our Christmas/New Year’s holiday cooking and has been since we first tried it many years ago. There are vegetarian versions of this dish, but I love the addition of shrimp and have not strayed from this one.

                                                                          Ingredients can vary according to what you have, but the key ingredients are shrimp, pressed tofu, salt, sugar, mirin, light soy and a beaten egg (you can use a food processor to make a smooth paste and then add additional ingredients for color and texture). This time we added parboiled, finely diced carrots and gobo, rehydrated diced shiitake (I ran out of tree ear fungus), black roasted sesame seeds and minced green onions. They are then formed into little patties and deep-fried until golden. Boiling water is poured over them in a colander to eliminate excess oil.

                                                                          One can simmer the patties in dashi, mirin sugar and soy (as this recipe indicates) or use as an ingredient in oden, but they are so delicious it is hard to keep them around for anything other than eating plain or sometimes with a mustard soy or ginger soy sauce.

                                                                          I paraphrased the recipe for another hound if anyone is curious. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7943...

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: BigSal

                                                                            That sounds and looks like a real delight!

                                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                                              They do look fabulous. And thanks for the link on the recipe. Quick question "cotton tofu" isn't a term I'm familiar with, is it a special ingredient? Or could I use Chinese firm tofu?

                                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                                Cotton tofu (momen) is also labeled as regular in the House Foods brand (blue label), but firm tofu would work too.

                                                                            2. Cold Soba, Takashi's Noodles, pg 43

                                                                              Can't beat cold soba for a summer supper. My experience with this dish is limited, but I can say we both found this version delicious, and the directions were spot on and easy to follow. I think there's a picture somewhere on Mr. QN's camera--if I find it I'll add it.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                                Qianning, I found this recipe for somen noodles from the same book. Does it compare in any way? Both recipes sound perfect for tonight...

                                                                                Japanese Somen Noodles with Sweet Soy-Ginger Sauce

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  that's the book....if anything the somen recipe is even more simple with less cooking. if you'd like you can take a look at the cold soba recipe via the amazon lookinside! feature--unfortunately though amazon won't let me set up a link to it.

                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                    Thanks, Qianning. I think I'll go for it!

                                                                              2. Ripe Tomato and Cucumber Salad, Izakaya the Japanese Pub cookbook, pg. 40.

                                                                                This was a last minute addition to dinner, and despite the fact that I was missing a key component, I loved the results, Mr. QN less so, but more on that in a minute.

                                                                                The components of this salad should be--cucumber, tomato, snow peas (oops, english peas for us), a miso mayonnaise, and home marinated lotus root. No lotus root at hand, but I soldiered on. No doubt the salad would have been better with the contrasting flavor and texture of the lotus root, but personally I loved the cuke/tomato/miso-mayo combination, it reminded me of the lovely little salads so often served for breakfast at small Japanese inns. Mr.QN couldn't quite get his head wrapped around the idea of tomatoes in a Japanese setting, oh well.

                                                                                One note--the recipe makes enough dressing for several rounds of this (or other) salads, and I can't really see a good way to halve it, so if you try this be prepared for extra sauce.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: qianning

                                                                                  This sounds delicious. We often eat tomato wedges drizzled with soy sauce and a touch of mayo (have loved this combo since I was a child) so I'll definitely have to try this salad with miso mayo.

                                                                                  You had some good success with the Izakaya book. I'll have to dig deeper into it.

                                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                                    If you find any "hits" in the Izakaya book, please share!

                                                                                2. Somen Noodles with Sweet Soy-Ginger Sauce, Takashi’s Noodles, On-Line Recipe

                                                                                  This was a perfect dish for a hot and humid Summer evening. It's simple but bursting with flavor. Basically it's noodles with a zesty dressing and a few side dishes. Originally I thought I would use soba noodles since that's what we had in the pantry but at the last minute settled for linguine for something a little more substantial.

                                                                                  I followed the recipe for the dressing using not 1/2 t garlic but 1 t. The dressing wasn't too salty so didn't have to add water. A zucchini was sliced into pieces roughly little finger size, lightly blanched in the pasta water and tossed with the noodles. G grilled dark meat ground turkey burgers and that was dinner. Not too sweet not too salty, just a pleasant dish we enjoyed. Would probably make it again increasing the chili, garlic and ginger. I also served a tomato, cucumber, onion salad very similar to Qianning's above...

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    Sounds perfect to beat the heat.

                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                      Hah, I guess we were both stimulated to make cold Japanese-style noodles and salads last night after reading qianning's reviews! This one sounds lovely, too.

                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                        That's right... and tonight as well: Salmon, and must use a bunch of chard since we're getting More today. But I do think Asian food really lends itself to hot weather eating no matter which country it comes from.

                                                                                    2. This month I've been exploring some of the recipes in Nancy Singleton Hachisu's Japanese Farm Food including chicken teriyaki and namero ( hand-chopped jack mackerel).

                                                                                      Nancy's chicken teriyaki recipe includes equal parts of soy and mirin plus some grated ginger. It was different than the classic recipe in two ways. The first difference was that the chicken is marinated in the sauce rather than added at the end as a glaze. Secondly, Nancy's recipe does not include sake, where the classic recipe includes equal parts of soy sauce, sake and mirin with a small amount of sugar. My husband really enjoyed this version and how the chicken was seasoned throughout with the marinade. Although I did enjoy the generous addition of grated ginger, I prefer our typical way where the sauce is more of a glaze and the taste of the chicken comes through. I also missed the touch of sugar (and sake) for a more balanced and less salty taste.

                                                                                      As a fan of aji (jack mackerel), I knew the namero (hand-chopped jack mackerel) dish would appeal to me. Raw aji, brown rice miso (genmai miso), and green onion are minced together to make a tartare of sorts. The flavorful fish is delicately seasoned and delicious inside temaki-sushi (hand-roll). I also tried the Cooking with Dog version of namero which includes ginger and shiso, plus the ratio of green onions and miso to fish is a bit higher and found the Cooking with Dog version to be my preference, but would have been perfectly content with Nancy's had I not tried the other recipe. A very delicious discovery and will definitely make this again.

                                                                                      1. Cod (Shrimp) Tempura – Madara (Ebi) no Tempura p. 248 from Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu

                                                                                        This is a simple recipe with excellent results. One makes a batter from ½ c cake flour (I sifted it), ½ c cold sparkling water and 1/8 t salt. Rather than adding ice cubes to the batter, I use chilled flour and mixed the batter in a metal bowl inside another metal bowl full of ice (a tip from another Japanese cookbook).
                                                                                        This resulted in lightest and crispiest tempura I’ve ever made. The batter is so airy that I could see where the bubbles from the sparkling water were.

                                                                                        Komatsuna no Ohitashi (Bitter Greens with Dashi) p. 171 from Japanese Farm Food

                                                                                        This was a simple and delicious treatment for komatsuna fresh from the garden (I did not use the entire amount of sauce). One could use spinach, mustard or turnip greens instead of komatsuna. The soy/dashi sauce adds umami, but still allows the taste of the greens to come through.

                                                                                        Tomato Wedges Drizzled with Soy Sauce (Tomato Sarada with Soy Sauce) p. 186 from Japanese Farm Food

                                                                                        Simply delicious. Tomato wedges (recipe calls for slightly underripe tomatoes, mine were ripe) are kissed with a light drizzle of rapeseed oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, fine rounds of chives and a chiffonade of shiso. In my youth, my mom would often serve tomato wedges with drops of soy and a touch of Kewpie (Japanese mayo). This is reminiscent of that salad, but much fresher tasting with the addition of shiso and chives.