Oden with Ginger

Posted August 21st, 2012 in Food | 1 Comment »

Here is the real winter warmer – Oden with dipping sauce of ginger.

Oden, a Japanese dish of winter casserole, is usually eaten with karashi (Japanese mustard).  It is the very common and typical condiment for Oden.  Everywhere you go, an izakaya or a convenience store, Oden is served with a dash of karashi on the side.

But one of my friend from Himeji (a city in Hyogo prefecture) introduced me a new condiment – gingered soy sauce!

I’d never tried the combination before, but I immediately knew ginger would go great with oden.  Oden and ginger….  how clever!  It’s the best dish to warm up your body in cold days.

For for Oden, common ingredients are :  Egg, Konnyaku, Daikon, Gyu-suji (beef tendon), Nerimono (basically fishcakes, but many varieties : e.g. chikuwa, hanpen, gobo-maki etc), Atsuage (thick deep-fried tofu), and Potato.  Some people add other things too.

This time I used egg, daikon, konnyaku, tofu, and gobo-maki.  I can’t get good nerimono here in Perth.  Some Asian grocery shops sell “oden set” (mixed nerimono) in freezer section, but I find it quite expensive.

<Oden>

  • Water 6 cups
  • Sake (cooking wine) 1/4 cup
  • Soy Sauce 4 tbs
  • Mirin (sweet cooking wine) 2 tbs
  • Dashi Konbu seaweed 15cm
  • Ingredients (I used 4 Eggs, 4 Potatos, 1 Konnyaku sheet, 4 Gobo-maki, 500g Tofu, & 1 Daikon radish.)
  • Ginger 1 knob + Soy Sauce

 

  1. Place Dashi Konbu in 6 cups of water in a large pot, and leave for around 2 hours.
  2. Prepare ingredients : boil eggs, peel and cut daikon etc.  I don’t cut potato but you can if you prefer so.
  3. Place daikon & potato in the water with konbu, and turn on the heat.  Bring to gentle simmer – do not boil.  Remove konbu.
  4. Add sake, soy sauce, and mirin.  Add eggs, konnyaku, tofu & gobo-maki.  Simmer for 30minutes +.  ( I simmered few hours)

 

Once you turn off the heat, leave the oden for around 2 hours (or more), then warm up again before serving.  Ingredients in oden soak up the flavour when they cool down.  Let everything soak up all the flavor.

Serve with grated ginger + soy sauce.


Super Cold Climate Hits Japan!

Posted February 3rd, 2012 in Japan | No Comments »

Japan has been attacked by super cold climate, and it’s been snowing hard in the area around Japanese Ocean since few days ago. Here in Shiga also gets lots of snow, and yesterday the snow level went over 1 metre. Very cold. No, I don’t feel “cold”actually,  it’s rather “pain” that I feel. :p

Many people have been suffering in this snow as they have to dig out their car from the snow and pass-way from the house to the car-way. They wake up around 4am just to dig out the snow before going to work.
Yesterday, kindergarten, elementally school, and junior high school in my area were closed because of the snow.  Today the schools started 2 hours later than usual.

There are many accidents occurred due to the snow across Japan, and it’s been the top news on tv these day. Not only northern area of Japan but also Kagoshima (Kyushu island near Okinawa) was snowing yesterday too!!!   Many people must be fed up with these heavy snow already but actually I still like it. Although I’m stuck at home whole day and can’t go out anywhere, I still like watching it, digging it, and playing with it.  It must be because I was born in a snowing day. (my birthday is coming up, I just realized :p) I feel happy that I can enjoy the view of this beautiful white world before going back to Perth.

Change of subject, today is 3rd of February, and it’s Setsubun in Japan. As I wrote about Setsubun “here“, we eat a whole sushi roll while looking toward this year’s good-luck direction (this year is north-north-west).  The sushi roll shouldn’t be cut, so you have to hold it and bite it as if you are eating a burger.

We ordered a sushi platter from a sushi place near the house, and also few Eho-maki rolls from Seven Eleven convenience store. As well as normal Eho-maki (which contains lucky 7 ingredient inside) I ordered “Fruits-maki” (strawberry, kiwi & banana with whipped cream and sponge cake). It looks just like sushi roll but it a rolled cake covered with dusted cocoa powder which resembles to nori sheet. I thought it’s funny and also a great dessert on Setsubun 🙂

I also bought a pack of soy beans for the Setsubun ceremony – throwing the beams while saying “fuku-wa-uchi” “oni-wa-soto”. I don’t know if we’ll do that inside the house as my little monkey may pick up the beans from the ground and eat it.  Then we eat the soybeans according to our age.  If you are 15 years old you get to eat 15 beans.  Packed soy beans sold in stores are cooked and edible.

Japan has many interesting traditions and events through out a year. I want to continue doing these thing after going back to Australia 🙂


White Christmas in Japan

Posted December 25th, 2011 in Japan | No Comments »

When I woke up this morning, outside was like this.

WHITE CHRISTMAS ☆☆☆☆☆

Hiro enjoyed his first Christmas in snow 🙂

Merry Christmas to everyone!!!


Winter Warmer

Posted August 24th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

When I wake up in early morning and can’t go back to sleep, I sometimes spend time in the kitchen – cooking.  It’s just because I can’t do cooking during daytime while Hiro is awake, and also I like the quiet environment.  I do some daydreaming while peeling carrots and stirring the stew.

The other day I made quite a large amount of oden.  The kitchen smelled like Japanese convenience stores in winter. :p  I cooked it for a long time – so all the flavour was in each food and it was very delicious.  I kept eating it day and night for few days.  Some people can’t stand the smell of oden, I heard, but the smell actually tempt me to eat them!

I simmered daikon radish and potatoes first, because they take longer to go tender and absorb the broth than soft food like tofu.  I like all the flavour from the broth to be absorbed in each food.  Next, konnyaku and boiled eggs are added, then nerimono (Japanese fishcakes).  It’s best to have gyu-suji (beef shank/ beef gristle / fibrous beef), but I couldn’t bother going to buy them.

Another night I made warm somen noodle soup with teriyaki squid. (recipe is here)  Warm somen noodle soup is easy to digest, and is one of my favourite midnight snack in winter.  Sweet and salty teriyaki squid matches with this.

Umm I think I eat quite a lot these days.  Especially at night.  It’s not good….  but I look for food when I’m awake, and try to eat something before Hiro wakes up.  I’m sometimes not hungry, but eat full portion of meal.  The weather is getting better, so I think I will do some exercise outside.  Walking with Hiro, probably.

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Lemon Season!

Posted July 13th, 2011 in Food | 2 Comments »

My friend visited Hiro the other day, with lots and lots of lemons from her yard.  It’s such a nice gift…  I love lemons – they are great for cooking, and also look lovely by just leaving them on a plate in the kitchen.  Especially, in winter, lemons are great source of vitamins!

I’ve got lots of mint leaves in the garden too.

Hot lemon mint tea made with fresh lemons and mint leaves. 🙂  Perfect refreshing hot drink in winter, isn’t it?

Served with hot sweet potato dumplings.

This chewy dumpling is one of my favorite sweets.  I love chewy food 🙂

Mash cooked sweet potato, and mix with tapioca flour, then blanch in boiling water until it floats.  drizzled with palm sugar syrup.  It can be served with coconut cream too.

I love the food which I can enjoy the natural taste of its own 😀


Ozoni – mochi soup –

Posted May 29th, 2011 in Food | 2 Comments »

Ozoni, or mochi soup, is a Japanese holiday meal traditionally prepared on New Year’s Day.  The type of ozoni is different in different area in Japan – some area use round mochi while other use square mochi, some people bake mochi before adding to the soup while other people simply soften the mochi in hot water, and the soup is just seasoned with soy sauce and salt in some area while some people in different area add miso to the soup.

In my house, we normally add miso to the soup.  The mochi is sometimes baked before adding to the soup, but not always.  I’m not sure adding miso to the ozoni is Shiga thing, but I remember eating ozoni in miso soup at my brother’s karate party when we were kids. The party was at Biwa Lake bank in winter, after kangeiko (mid-winter training).  All kids in karate uniform went inside the lake and do some work-out in the freezing water.  Watching it made me wonder how they could survive in the water in such a cold day.  Karate uniform is not water proof!  After a hour of training, we all ate ozoni near the fire.  It was so delicious!

I  used mochi I bought from an Asian grocery shop.  This mochi is cut into portions and individually wrapped.

You can add any ingredients to the soup – more you add it develops more flavour.  This time I only used simple ingredients : burdock roots, carrots and spring onions.  I didn’t bother baking mochi, but it will give delicious nutty flavour if you do.

<ozoni> serves 4

  • 4 mochi cakes
  • 1 cup frozen burdock roots, shredded
  • 1/2 carrot, jullienne
  • 2 tbs chopped spring onions
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp dashi stock powder
  • 2.5 ~ 3 tbs miso paste
  • 1 tbs mirin
  • 1 tsp roasted white sesame seeds

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  1. Place water into a pot, and bring to the boil.  Add dashi stock to dissolve.
  2. Add burdock roots and carrot to the pot.  Simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, and add miso paste.  Mix well.  Add spring onions.
  4. Turn on the heat to low, and gently simmer for another few minutes.  Add mirin, and then turn off the heat.
  5. Add  mochi to the soup to warm up, or bake in an oven toaster.
  6. Place one mochi in a serving bowl, and pour the soup.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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White Chicken Soup 2

Posted May 16th, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

It sure has been great Autumn days Lately. Some people don’t like cold weather and have winter-blue, but I love the quiet atmosphere and cold air outside.

On days like this, a plate of hearty soup shows up on my dining table at least once a week. I made white chicken soup again, but this time I made the soup little thick. Adding rice flour to the soup is a quick and healthy way to thicken the soup, compared with making butter roux. Today I had 2 bowls for lunch, and my body is warm and nourished 🙂

  • 2 fillets chicken thigh
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 baby carrots
  • 2 spring onion stalks
  • 1 potato
  • 1/2 broccoli (florets)
  • 2 cups chicken stocks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tbs rice flour

  1. Cut vegetables and chicken thigh into cubes. For broccoli florets, cut into small pieces.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a deep sauce pan, and add cerely, carrots and onions. Sauté for a minutes, then add chicken. Sprinkle salt & pepper to the chicken, and cook for 3~4 minutes over low/medium heat.
  3. Add chicken stock, potatoes and broccoli. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Mix rice flour into milk, and blend well. Add to the soup, and cook until the soup is thickened. Season to taste.

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Oden Sunday

Posted August 23rd, 2010 in Perth WA | No Comments »

On Sunday my friend came over for Oden and Chirashi-zushi party!  I started simmering the tofu, konnyaku, daikon radish and boiled eggs on Thursday night so that they would absorb the soup and flavor very good.  On Saturday I added some nerimono (all sorts of fish-cakes) to finish-up.  It looked so yummy!

I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures! I must had been so busy eating and chatting…   (>0<)  So here is the image photo from Google…

(Mine was not this beautiful!)

One of the friend couldn’t join the oden party as she has been suffering from unfortunate food poisoning since last week. 

I remember my first and last food poisoning was in Jakarta…  It was terrible!  I was on holiday, but couldn’t even get up from the bed.  The whole body was cold/sweating/shaking/fever/vomiting/etc.  I just wanted to lie down on the bed, I couldn’t even stand the gentle air wave from the air conditioner.

I hope she gets better!


Japanese Curry with Winter Vegetables

Posted August 4th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

Just to keep up this winter, I’ve been trying to focus on the balanced diet.  Eat fruits, vegetables, and drink lots of water.  Otherwise I will be eating same thing over and over again!  I would just sit down on the sofa after work and boil a pot of water to cook instant noodle or something.

I know that using a ready-made seasoning may not be a healthy option, but last night I felt like Japanese curry and made it with packet roux.  I added lots of vegetables including lotus roots and cauliflower.  I always add crushed tomato (tin) to Japanese curry to give a fruity taste, extra nutrition and to dilute the roux (animal fat).

Japanese curry can be made with any vegetables/meat/seafood, but I love pork meat (thinly sliced pork belly, or pork cushion) the best.

<Japanese Curry with Pork and Winter Vegetables>

  • 200g pork meat
  • 1 potato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 5~6 slices lotus root
  • 2~3 bunch spinach
  • 50g cauliflower florets
  • 200g tomato in tin
  • 100g Japanese curry roux
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  1. Cut vegetables into bite size.  Slice meat if you are using a chunk pork meat.
  2. Heat 1 tbs of oil in a deep sauce pan.  Saute onion over low heat until transparent.
  3. Add meat, and cook until the colour starts to change.  Add carrot, lotus root, cauliflower and about 500ml of water (just to cover all the vegetables).  Add tomato and bring to the boil.  Turn down the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often.  Scam needed.
  4. Turn off the heat or down to very low.  Add curry roux, and mix until dissolve.  Turn up the heat and simmer, stirring often, for another 10 minutes.  Add spinach 3 minutes before turning off the heat.
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Nikuman (Japanese Char Siu Pow)

Posted July 29th, 2010 in Food | 13 Comments »

Another winter food I miss is nikuman!

“Niku” means “meat”, and “man” is short word for “manju”.  It’s like a Japanese version of char siu pow, but it tastes different from those you see at yam char restaurants.

Nikuman is a popular winter fast food in Japan and you can buy them at many places during winter including convenience stores: Lawson, Seven Eleven, Family Mart, Cercle K, etc etc….  I love nikuman!  We just call nikuman, but there are several types in different flavors, including “pizza-man”, “an-man” and “curry-man”.  (sounds like character names in cartoon :p )  Different shops sell different flavors.

The good thing about buying nikuman from convenience stores is that you can buy it ANYTIME during winter, as convenience stores open 24 hours.  Whenever you feel like it, you can just grab the hot juicy nikuman and eat straight away.  And, the price is also the good part.  One nikuman costs around 100 yen ~ 150 yen.  Very cheap yet delicious snack. 😀

I just miss the juicy nikuman…. (><)  My favorite is the standard nikuman (different shop = different taste, and some shop use different pork meat such as black pork and try to stand out from others) …

Oh, when I went to China town in Yokohama, I had the most delicious nikuman from a stall.  It was huge, and the meat was very very tender.  “551 Horai” is also famous for its nikuman.  This shop is originally from Osaka.  (website)