Japan Eats

Recipe: Piman no butabaramaki (peppers wrapped in pork)

A simple hors d’oeuvre that’s bound to disappear quickly.

Cocktail parties are a rarity in Japan. When entertaining family or friends, most Japanese elect to host the event at a local izakaya rather than in their own houses or apartments – there simply isn’t enough space at home. When Japanese do have people over, the numbers are usually small and the meal something relatively simple and easy to share – nabe (hotpot) or gyoza (Chinese dumplings) are particularly popular.

Red and green peppers wrapped in pork

Red and green peppers wrapped in pork

If you have the space for a larger number of guests, however, this dish of red and green peppers wrapped in pork makes for the perfect finger food. The citrus of the ponzu cuts through any oiliness in the pork, and the still-crispy vegetables add a crunchy texture to each mouthful.

They also make an excellent side dish and can be combined with other otsumami to make a delicious izakaya-style meal. Better, they don’t have to be served right away – the pepper and pork rolls can be served either hot or after they have cooled down.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 50 g of green pepper
  • 50 g of red pepper
  • 100 g of thinly sliced pork belly
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of ponzu
  • 1 tablespoon of yuzukosho

Method

First, cut off the top and bottom of the green and red peppers. Next, cut into halves and remove the seeds. Slice them into strips 5 mm thick.

Put them into a bowl of cold water and rinse them for 2-3 minutes and drain (when you prepare salads or other vegetable dishes, you should put the vegetables – especially leaf vegetables – into a bowl of cold water to enliven them).

Remove the water with a paper towel, then divide into 6 portions. The green peppers and the red peppers should be mixed almost half and half.

Place a thinly sliced pork belly on a cutting board, then sprinkle a pinch of salt. Place one portion of the peppers in the center and roll them. Repeat another 5 times.

Pour the vegetable oil into a frying pan and warm it on a low heat. Once the pan has heated up, lay down the pork rolls so that the ‘seam’ (where the end of the pork meets the rest of the roll) is face down – think of the nori around sushi rolls. As the side of the roll cooks, it will bind itself to the rest of the pork.

Turn the heat up to medium and sauté that side for 2-3 minutes till it becomes brown and perfectly bonded, then sauté the rest of the roll so it is cooked evenly.

Place the rolls on to a dish with a pinch of yuzukosho on a top of each. Pour 2 tablespoons of ponzu gently from side over the finished dish and serve.

Recipe: Satsumaimo no nimono (sweet potato with pork belly and ginger sauce)

‘Tis harvest season, and what better way to welcome autumn than with satsumaimo?

Satsumaimo (sweet potatoes) have a pink skin and a creamy texture similar to yams. They’re a popular ingredient in Japanese cooking, particularly during the autumn months.

Here, the sweet potato is cooked with pork and ginger. I recommend you serve this together with other dishes and share it out at the dining table.

Sweet potato with pork belly and ginger sauce

Sweet potato with pork belly and ginger sauce

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 300 – 350 g sweet potato
  • 70 g thinly sliced pork belly
  • 10 – 15 g (or 1 clove) ginger
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 150 ml water

Method

Wash the sweet potato and slice into 1.5 cm thick pieces. Place in a bowl of water for 20 – 30 minutes to remove any astringency.

Potato

Soak the potato in a bowl for 20 - 30 minutes.

Peel the ginger and slice thinly.

Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a large pot on a low heat and and sauté the ginger. Once it begins to smell, add the thinly sliced pork belly and turn the heat up to medium. Braise the pork so that the fat begins to coat the base of the pot.

Now strain the sweet potato and use a paper towel to take off any excess water. Add the potato to the pot.

Mix with the pork so that the potato is fully coated by the oil. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Don’T worry if at this stage the potatoes look oily – that will change when the next set of ingredients are added.

Next, add the sugar, sake, soy sauce and water (in that order). The sauce should now almost cover the ingredients.

Cut the end of the paper.

1. Cut to match the shape of the bowl.

Cut off the the end of the wedge.

2. Cut off the the end of the wedge.

A finished otoshibuta

3. A finished otoshibuta.

Finished otoshibuta

4. Cover the potato with the otoshibuta.

Place an otoshibuta (a drop lid made from paper – see the photos to the left) over the ingredients and simmer on a low to medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes.

If the sweet potato is soft (use a skewer) the dish is ready. At this point, sauce should be left at the bottom of the pot. When serving, be sure to pour some of the sauce over the ingredients.

Japan Eats Podcast: Episode 11, “Lucky Peach – Part 2″

In the second part of our conversation about Lucky Peach, we discuss authenticity, the magazine’s recipes and talk about what we’d like to see in the next edition.

The Japan Eats Podcast is presented by Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini. To listen, click play on the audio player below:

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You can also subscribe to the fortnightly Japan Eats feed via iTunes or directly with our RSS feed.

Find the Japan Eats Facebook page here. Have something to say? Drop us a line.

Here are some links to what we discussed this week:

You can e-mail us at lovitt@japaneats.tv

Follow us on the Japan Eats Twitter feed. And please “Like” Japan Eats on Facebook.

Video: Sumashi-jiru (clear soup)

Keiko Inomata and Yutaka Yasuda explain how to prepare sumashi-jiru (Japanese clear soup)

We’re pleased to present this video by the talented folks at Yasuda Photo Studio.

Keiko Inomata is a researcher and lecturer focusing on kaiseki cuisine. Born in Tokyo, she is a registered nutritionist and consults on menus for the food service industry.

Yutaka Yasuda is a photographer/videographer who in 2001 established the Yasuda Photo Studio in Nakano. He specializes in food photography.

Recipe: Wafu pasta with yuzukosho sauce

A delicious meat-free pasta 

This dish is easy to prepare and is vegetarian-friendly.

The key to success is making sure that the eggplant is washed in salt water prior to cooking, so as to prevent it from absorbing all of the oil. Be sure to squeeze the salt water out, though.

As yuzukosho has a strong flavor, start by adding only a teaspoon – you can always add more later.

For more about yuzukosho, listen to Episode 8 of the Japan Eats Podcast, where the Japanese condiment is discussed in detail.

Wafu pasta with yuzukosho sauce

Wafu pasta with yuzukosho sauce

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

  • 160 g of bavette (or spaghetti)
  • 200 g of eggplant
  • 100 g of shimeji mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of sake
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of yuzukosho
  • 10 g butter
  • 5 – 6 sheets of shiso to garnish

Method

Pour 200 ml of cold water into a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of salt. Remove the top of the eggplant and then cut it in half lengthwise. Cut each half into six more pieces. Put the slices into a bowl of saltwater for 5 minutes to remove any bitterness.

Pour two liters of cold water into a large saucepan and place it on the gas table. Once it has come to the boil, add 20 g of salt and the pasta.

Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the frying pan and add finely chopped garlic. Place the pan on a low heat and sauté slowly until they’re lightly browned.

Remove the salt water from the eggplant by squeezing each slice softly. Add to the pan and sauté until they too become brown. Again, use a low heat.

Once the eggplant is ready, add the shimeji mushrooms. Cook for another minute.

Pour 4 tablespoons of sake into the pan, then cook on a low heat to burn off the alcohol.

Add 2 tablespoons of boiling water from the pot in which you’re cooking the pasta. In addition, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to the inner surface of the pan, and add 1 teaspoon of yuzukosho and turn off the heat. Mix thoroughly.

Drain the pasta and then add to the pan. Combine with the sauce.

Add 10 g of butter, and again mix well.

Finally, wash the shiso and remove the water with a paper towel. Roll the leaves together and slice thinly. Serve with the shiso as garnish.

Japan Eats Podcast: Episode 10, “Lucky Peach – Part 1”

The panel discuss the new food quarterly from Momofuku’s David Chang

The Japan Eats Podcast is presented by Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini. To listen, click play on the audio player below:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can also subscribe to the fortnightly Japan Eats feed via iTunes or directly with our RSS feed.

Find the Japan Eats Facebook page here. Have something to say? Drop us a line.

In this week’s Japan Eats Podcast, Garrett DeOrio, Marcus Lovitt and Christopher Pellegrini give their impressions of David Chang’s Lucky Peach.

Here are some links to what we discussed this week:

You can e-mail us at lovitt@japaneats.tv

Follow us on the Japan Eats Twitter feed. And please “Like” Japan Eats on Facebook.