Kitchen Library: What I Ate on New Year’s Break, Part 2

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Or, “A Study in Failing to Photograph Anything Properly.” Part 1 is here, with considerably better photos.

I really shouldn’t have promised this part 2 prior to checking my camera, but since I mentioned it, here’s a run-down and some cell phone photos!

More Nabe

Kimchi Nabe @ I'll Make It Myself

Some delicious kimchi nabe my friend made. We did a meat version and a vegetarian version. We used a premade broth, but I imagine if you left out the cabbage in your nabe and added 100 grams (a handful?) of kimchi to a simple dashi broth near the end, you would get similar results.

Gyoza

Vegetarian Gyoza @ I'll Make It Myself

No winter break week-long dinner party would be complete without gyoza. Wrappers (gyoza-kawa, 餃子革) are usually in the refrigerated section of the grocery store with the tofu. When I actually develop a recipe that I can measure in wrappers used, I’ll publish it, but what we usually do is stir-fry in sesame oil onions or scallions with mashed kabocha, thinly sliced cabbage, spinach, and/or firm tofu that’s been broken apart like scrambled eggs and had the water cooked out of it. Season this with soy sauce, mirin, ginger, garlic, and sometimes a little shichimi spice. For meat gyoza, use sautéed ground pork or shrimp (or chicken!) with the onion and seasonings. Stuff into a wrapper, moisten, fold, and fry in a little sesame oil. The real problem is not eating all the stuffing with a spoon before the gyoza are made. I’m particularly fond of kabocha because it’s mashes well and is not wet.

Interested in making your own instead of reading my nondescript description? See Marc Matsumoto’s Vegetarian Gyoza (Potstickers) on No Recipes. He uses quinoa (kinua, キヌア), which you can get in Japan at health food/gourmet stores and, occasionally, in the “other grains” section of the rice section with the amaranth, black rice, and barley. I would substitute kabocha or even okara in this recipe.

Taco Rice

Vegetarian Taco Rice @ I'll Make It Myself

This hot mess–and I take all the credit for plating fail–is taco rice made with tofu instead of ground beef. I was a little skeptical of tofu as the taco meat substitute (texture, mostly), but the difference was so slight and the flavor was so dead on, you couldn’t tell. This was one of my pescetarian friend’s sort of off-the-cuff recipes, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to write it down. I bet lentils or black beans would be good in place of the meat, too.

For a good basic Taco Rice recipe, see (again), Marc Matsumoto’s at PBS Fresh Tastes.

Chinese Food

No New Year’s break is complete without a trip to Komatsu’s Shanghai Rôgai (上海老街) since they open back up before most of the other local restaurants do. Chinese food in the US (apart from dim sum) is often chicken in gelatinous sweet-and-sour sauces, beef-and-broccoli, white rice, and crab rangoons. Ah, the flavor of college!

Chinese food in Japan is a lot different. I wouldn’t say it’s more “authentic” or that it’s healthier than its American counterpart, but the main difference is that Japanese Chinese food been adapted for a palate that already includes a lot of sesame, seafood, and tofu. Some of the popular dishes include gyoza; meat buns; shrimp in chili sauce; egg drop soup; goma-dango (my favorite), which are sweet fried sesame balls; mâbodôfu, soft tofu and ground pork in spicy sauce. I’m particularly fond of these restaurant because there are seafood options and for its inexpensiveness and its interior. The outside looks like an industrial warehouse, but the inside has soft lighting and gauzy canopies–night and day!

Pancakes

Pancake Coobook @ I'll Make It Myself

I eat a lot of baked oatmeal, muffins, and yogurt for breakfast–items I can make ahead. I like pancakes a lot, but I don’t usually make them because  pancakes always take double the amount of cooking time I think they should and I’m . But that’s what holidays are for: pancakes! Our friend who was the recipient of the Minecraft cake has a Japanese pancake cookbook and made us some amazing sweet potato (satsuma imo) pancakes. I have the recipe, so maybe a translation of that should be added to my backlog of posts I need to do.

Craft Beer and Beer Journal

Beer Journal @ I'll Make It Myself

My friends got me the gift of craft beer and a Moleskine beer journal in which to write my observations. (Likely because my scribbles regarding tastings are usually illegible…). The beer was a sampler of Hitachino Nest Beer from goodbeer.jp, which I highly recommend. Don’t balk at the prices too much–relative to the prices in Japan, selection, and convenience, it’s definitely worth it if you have the cash.

And that’s a wrap for the winter holidays! Now I just have to write down all the recipes we made up. My work’s cut out for me there!

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