Tag Archives: ume

Tofu true love: Hiyayakko

8 Dec

Love of pure heart of tofu exist by name, Hiyayakko.

Best dishes for preparation by person like a topping in many variety

and pure taste of the real tofu.

 

Hiyayakko with natto
Hiyayakko with natto (fermented soy beans)

People are suspicious of tofu. And if they live outside of Asia, I don’t blame them. There is one thing that really bothers me about tofu in North America. It’s gross. I mean, I’ll eat it, and maybe even enjoy it… but I don’t consider it tofu. Here, soy bean curd is used as a meat substitute, whereas in Japan, tofu – soft, smooth, and rich with a mellow bean flavour – is enjoyed for it’s texture and delicate qualities. It’s eaten boiled, simmered, grilled, fried, as a drink and as a dessert custard. There are multiple course meals based around tofu and all its glory. It’s delicious. And if you really like tofu? You get raw, and top it.

Ingredients for Hiyayakko (per serving)

  • Chilled soft (silken) tofu. For this dish, it’s worth going to the Asian market for the real deal. If you can’t find soft tofu, do not substitute this with medium or firm tofu. Simply abort the mission until you find the good stuff.
  • Garnish of choice (see below for some suggestions)
  • Soy sauce or ponzu sauce (available at Japanese markets and many grocery stores)

How to make Hiyayakko:

  1. Carefully slide a single serving size of tofu onto a small side plate (first drain the water out of the package and cut the typical “square” of tofu into roughly 4 equal servings).  If you’d like, cut a grid into each serving, resulting in 4 or 6 bite-sized cubes.
  2. Top with your favourite garnish (see “Variations” section below)
  3. Pour on a little soy sauce or ponzu sauce to taste, adding wasabi paste if you like the kick.
  4. To eat, roll each cube in the sauce and enjoy with a little pile of the topping. YUM!

Variations for Hiyayakko toppings:

Katsuo-bushi (shaved bonito) and green onion

  • Sprinkle some katsuo-bushi on the tofu, and top with a little finely sliced green onion.
  • Serve with soy sauce and wasabi, if you like

Natto and green onion (pictured above)

  • Vigorously stir purchased natto (fermented soy beans – very stinky!) and pour over tofu.
  • Top with thinly sliced green onion.

Umeboshi and shiso with ponzu sauce (pictured below)

  • Finely slice shiso herb and place on tofu
  • Pit a couple of umeboshi and chop finely, until it becomes a paste. Place a dollop on top of the shiso nest, or place on the side to mix in with the ponzu (as you would wasabi in soy sauce)
  • Pour over a little ponzu, for dipping, to create a citrusy, fresh dish

Katsuo-bushi (shaved bonito) and white onion

  • Slice fresh white onion into paper thin slices, and soak in ice-cold water for at least 30 minutes (better to do this for an hour or more). Change the water a few times for best effect.
  • Drain and spin or pat onions dry, and make a beautiful pile on top of the tofu.
  • Sprinkle liberally with katsuo-bushi flakes
  • Serve with soy sauce

 

Hiyayakko with shiso and ume

Hiyayakko with shiso (perilla) herb and ume (sour plum) paste

Happy forking!

Balls!

13 Aug

Fits into hand with ease, pleasant shape of balls

Have you enjoyed balls, lately?

*****

What do you like to forking put in your mouth? How about some balls? Although they’re not something that comes to mind right away when I think of what to eat (most things I put in my mouth are longer than they are wide) I encourage you not to leave your balls out in the cold.

Let me introduce you to two of my favourite balls.

1. Octopus Balls – Takoyaki

A relative newbie to the Vancouver/Richmond night market scene (stalls have popped up over the past couple of years) takoyaki are balls of savoury dough, grilled on a special teppan of half-spheres. Batter, green onions and/or cabbage, and sometimes tenkasu (bits of fried tempura batter) and/or beni-shouga (red ginger) are poured onto the teppan, and a piece of octopus is plonked in the middle. Once mostly cooked, the half-moon is deftly turned in its place with a long skewer and fried into a spherical shape. Topped with a Worcestershire-based sauce (creatively named takoyaki sauce), Japanese mayonnaise, aonori (seaweed powder), and katsuobushi (shaved bonito flakes), this Osaka treat is a big hit, as indicated by the huge line-ups at the night market stalls.

Takoyaki

Takoyaki!

Not had the chance to put these balls in your mouth yet? Try eating octopus balls in the Vancouver area at:

  • Zipang (3710 Main Street, between 21st and 22nd Avenues)
  • Richmond Night Market (12631 Vulcan Way)
  • Bakudanyaki: Named for their incredible size (Bakudan = explosion, or bomb) these baseball sized “explosion balls” are so potent, you need only one. (7100 Elmbridge Way, just off of the Gilbert Road bridge on the south side of the river)

Be careful not to burn your mouth – these balls are hot!

2. Rice Balls – Onigiri

The ideal way to use up the last of your rice, and the easiest meal to take for tomorrow’s lunch, onigiri are the perfect way to satisfy your hunger at mealtime or as a snack. Available in abundance in convenience stores in Japan, I can’t imagine why this treat hasn’t caught on in 7-11s across the globe. Tasty, healthy, and available with a variety of fillings, I would argue that onigiri, Japan’s sandwich, outshines the bologna tossed between two slices of white bread that most North American children call “lunch”.

Onigiri

Onigiri - a versatile ball

How to Make Onigiri (Rice Balls)

  1. Cook Japanese rice, using only white rice or a mixture of white and brown rice. (Onigiri requires the rice to stick to itself, so be sure to mix in at least 40% white rice to get this to work! Also, make sure you use Japanese rice – other types aren’t sticky enough.)
  2. Allow the rice to cool at least a little bit. As delicious as they are, onigiri are not worth losing the skin from the palms of your hands. Once lukewarm or cool, you can sprinkle in your favourite furikake (literally “shake and sprinkle”) seasoning (available at most asian supermarkets) leftover bits of flaked salmon or other fish, leftover edamame beans (minus the pods), or gomashio (a mixture of sesame seeds and coarse salt). Plain rice is fine, too.
  3. Shape the balls. Wet your hands and sprinkle them with some salt before scooping about one rice-bowls worth of rice into one hand. In the centre, spoon in a small dollop of the filling of your choice, such as a piece of leftover salmon, a chunk of tuna, a piece of daikon radish pickle, soft nori (seaweed) paste or an umeboshi (pickled sour plum). Shape the rice as you wish (triangles are most popular, followed by flattened circles, but try your hand at hearts and stars if you dare!) and wrap with a piece of crispy ajitsuke nori (seasoned, roasted seaweed) as enjoyed in western Japan’s Kansai region or yaki nori (dried plain seaweed sheets – used when making sushi) as they prefer is in the eastern Kanto region.
Konbini Onigiri

So convenient, onigiri is a Japanese convenience store staple

Onigiri holder

Hate squashed balls? Try an onigiri-holder!

Onigiri mascot

Already an expert onigiri-maker? Don't let it go to your head

Wanna try an onigiri before making it on your own? T&T Supermarket (179 Keefer Place in Vancouver, 21500 Gordon Way in Richmond, and 15277 100 Avenue in Surrey) and Konbiniya  (1238 Robson Street in Vancouver) sell pre-made onigiri. Check out their ingenious packaging, which keeps the nori fresh and crispy until the moment you eat it.

Let’s enjoying the balls together for two times of fun when next forking time!