Tag Archives: sake

Heat me up, Scotty: Takikomi Rice

14 Nov

It’s now a cold season. May I make a suggestion?

Boil the rice inside with soy sauce and goods  for keeping body comfortable temperature.

Warm of rice for body is clever technique on such a cool day.

Takikomi Gohan

Rice cookers rock. Not only do they cook perfect rice every time, they also give you the freedom to make dishes like takikomi gohan. At the danger of sounding like an infomercial, I have to say that it’s SO EASY to make. Just to throw in some veggies (and possibly meat) and seasoning in with your rice, press “cook” and wait for deliciousness. The best part is, these make great onigiri (rice balls) for tomorrow’s lunch.

There are two ways to make it:

  1. The easy way.
  2. The REALLY easy way.

How to make takikomi rice “The easy way”:

  1. Wash and rinse 2 cups of plain, Japanese rice. Drain. Put into your rice cooker and fill to the “2” line with fresh water.
  2. Drop in some sliced mushrooms (shiitake, shimeji, enoki, matsutake, button, etc.) cubed carrots, sliced bamboo shoots (takenoko), strips of inari (deep fried tofu sheets), bite-sized pieces of raw chicken or thin slices of pork, half a can of tuna, or whatever other fillings you like or have in your kitchen.
  3. Season with 1 Tbsp sake, 3/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp mirin (or 1 tsp sugar).
  4. Press “cook”. Enjoy. Serve with a sprinkle of some crumbled or sliced nori (dried seaweed) or sesame seeds on top for garnish.

How to make takikomi gohan the REALLY easy way:

  1. Wash and rinse 2 cups of plain, Japanese rice. Drain. Put into your rice cooker and fill to the “2” line with fresh water.
  2. Add a pre-packed bag of fillings and bag of seasoning (available at Fujiya) and press “cook”. Enjoy.


pre-mixed set of fillings for takikomi gohan


Gindara Miso-ni: Simmered Black Cod in Miso Sauce

11 Oct

Inside of autumn breezes time, please include simmered dishes of the season

with sweetness of miso paste and luxury texture of local fishes


Gindara Miso-ni
Gindara (Black Cod) Miso-ni

Struggling to decide which recipe to include this week in my class to highlight the nimono cooking technique, it breaks my heart to cut this one – especially after sampling it with my roommate last week. So in place of teaching it to my students, I share it with you and hope you’ll give it a go.

Tender and flavourful, you can’t go wrong with this simmered fish dish. It is impossible to overcook (you can forget about it, leave it simmering, and still have a moist fish – just add a bit of water) and the resulting sauce is uber-tasty. I guarantee you will want to eat every last drop of sauce by scraping it off of your plate onto your rice – and then lick your plate clean!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 pieces fish (e.g. mackerel or cod)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 5 cm piece of dashi kombu (stock kelp) (if you can’t find this, leave it out and continue)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking sake
  • ½ – 1 Tbsp ginger, julienned
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp miso paste

How to make Gindara Miso-ni:

  1. Rinse cut of fish and cut an “X” or a few slices through the skin to allow for flavor to penetrate.
  2. In a shallow pot or frying pan (with a lid) pour in water and sake, place in the kombu and bring to a boil.
  3. Place in the fish, skin-side up.
  4. Once the edges have cooked a little, and the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and add ginger and sugar to the boiling water. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, close the lid, and cook for about 8 minutes.
  5. Uncover, and in a small bowl, mix miso with a couple of spoons of the hot liquid from the pot. Add the thinned out miso paste, mix, cover and simmer again for another 7 – 8 minutes, uncovering every once in a while to spoon the sauce over the fish.
  6. Continue to cook until the fish is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Serve hot with a generous spoonful of the sauce and a bowl of steaming hot rice.

Tips and Tricks:

* Use a wide, flat frying pan or shallow pot with a tight-fitting lid.

* Parchment paper should be cut to the same size as the pan you are cooking in, with a few slits in the body of the circle (think Kindergarten paper snowflakes) and laid on top of the fish when simmering. This directs the simmering liquid up over the fish and prevents it from evaporating too quickly, keeping the fish moist.

Slippery When Wet

26 Jul

It’s summer, and it’s hot. Somen, thin Japanese noodles, usually arrive at the table in a bowl of ice cold water. Served with a cool dipping sauce garnished with ginger and sliced green onions, this is the perfect summer food – light, flavourful, and most importantly, COLD!

But wait… why not bump up the summertime fun? Want a little extra excitement for your backyard party? Send your noodles slip-sliding down a waterslide and watch (and take pictures!) as your guests try to catch their meal with chopsticks! That’s right – way back when ice was a major luxury, the Japanese would cut a long piece of bamboo in half lengthwise, and build a water slide running from a cool stream into their picnic area. Then, the designated shmuck would be sent to the water source with a bowl of noodles and ordered to send bite-sized portions down the chute, to be caught, dipped, and eaten by the rest of the crew. Hurray for nagashi-somen! (Note for language buffs: nagashi = to drain or run a fluid.)

Nagashi Somen

No bamboo? How about this little machine? Photo courtesy of http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/ephrene/diary/201005310000/

No bamboo in the backyard? No access to a miniature fake bamboo slide set for your table? No problem! Improvise with a series of pop bottles cut in half, with half of a corrugated tube, or whatever you can find and prop up! Just make sure to run a hose from the top to provide lubrication, and to prop a colander at the end of the chute to catch what slips through your chopsticks. Lastly, slather on the sun screen and make sure that everyone is wearing thongs (a.k.a. flip-flops) … things are about to get wet!!

Nagashi Somen Party

Nagashi Somen at home!

Ingredients for Somen


  • One portion of somen per person (it usually comes bundled in single portions)
  • Water for boiling
  • Plenty of water and ice for cooling

Dipping Sauce (per 2 people):

  • 1 cup dashi soup, chilled
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp cooking sake
  • Grated ginger or wasabi (1/4 tsp) and sliced green onion (1/2 Tbsp) to garnish

How to make Somen

  1. Prepare the sauce by dissolving the stock powder in about ¼ cup of boiling water. Mix in the remaining amount of water and the other sauce ingredients. Chill in the fridge, about 30 minutes, and divide into individual cups or bowls for dipping.
  2. Drop the noodles into plenty of boiling water and cook for a few minutes, until they are cooked through. While they are boiling, prepare a colander and a large bowl of ice water (be generous with the ice!)
  3. Drain the noodles and flash chill by dropping the whole colander right into the big bowl of ice water. Stick your hand in, and shake the noodles around, ensuring that they all get exposed to the frigid water. Keep shaking and mixing the noodles until they (and your hands!) are chilled right through. You may need to drain the water and add fresh, cold water and more ice!
  4. Serve the noodles! Garnish the dipping sauce with either ginger or wasabi and green onion, and serve the noodles either in one communal bowl or in individual bowls of ice water. Want to get slippery? Send the chilled noodles down a slippery slide in roughly ¼ cup sized portions for guests to catch and dip. Hint: use waribashi, the wooden chopsticks you get at Japanese restaurants, for the best traction. Slippery chopsticks are for slip-n-slide pros only!

Let’s try slippery forking!!

BBQ Party

Thank you, everyone, for slippery times!

Thank you to my hosts, Aya and Kazu, for making this Japanese tradition come to life!

Shopping in Japan: forking cheap!

13 Jul

It’s true that Japan is home to the truly, extravagantly, unattainably expensive and unnecessary products (such as face cream dotted with flecks of gold leaf – it’s true, my mother bought it, in both senses of the phrase). However, it’s also home to unbelievably well-priced, well-made, oddly handy and exciting things for your kitchen (and belly!)

In order to fully take advantage, I have been scouring all sorts of stores to find those items that you just can’t buy at home, taking trains to towns big and small, chatting with street stall ojisan (uncles), popping my head into village shop windows, browsing through the Japanese big brand stores and daintily walking through posh department stores, hoping to not be noticed as the working-class intruder that I am. And for all of that train-riding, head-popping and dainty walking, there are two stores that always stand out as the best buys: the convenience store and the 100 yen shop.

The Japanese Convenience Store:

Actually convenient, the Japanese konbini (short for kon-bii-ni-ansu su-to-ah = “convenience store”) is home not only to dirty magazines, razors and shaving cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste, stockings and socks, breath fresheners, and everything else you need for a clandestine night away from home, it’s also the place where you can stock up on the social lubricant that will get you there – liquor!

Conbini Biiru

Convenient Sake

With a wide selection of sake and beer, the Japanese convenience store is there to ensure you have a forking good time when you just can’t make it home from the office.

Conbini Onigiri

Convenient food

You may want to fill your belly with more than just drink though, and so much more than the North American 7-11, the Japanese convenience store is full of yummy snacks, treats, and what’s more – REAL FOOD. Rice balls, lunch boxes with rice, egg, noodles, potato salad, and main courses of chicken, beef, or fish, you can leave a Japanese convenience store with more than just a processed-cheese smothered hot dog and a stomach ache. Ahh, konbini-ent.

The 100 Yen Shop:

Possibly even more convenient than the Japanese konbini, the 100 yen (= around $1) shop carries everything from underwear to make-up, from furniture to home-cleaning items, and my favourites, dishes and food! One walk around the 100 yen shop and you’ll be shocked at all of the things you have been living without.


100 Yen Heaven

Totally enthralled by the dishes available, I refrained from buying the breakable, and went with some cute, plastic bowls and trays.

Hyakkin booru

100 yen treasures

And the best part is, you don’t have to be in Japan to enjoy a 100 yen adventure! Greater Vancouver’s Richmond has it’s very own Daiso – the first of its kind in North America. http://www.daisocanada.com/ If you’re in the area, take a trip to Aberdeen Centre and delight in two whole floors of madness. Be careful, though, with import fees, everything at Daiso Canada is a pricey $2 Cdn!

I’m off to the Japanese countryside for the next week plus, where I’ll be weeding, gardening, forking up some food for my leathery grandmother, and saving up some posts for when I return to internet-accessible areas.

Let’s forking when I come again!