Japan Eats

Japan Eats Podcast, Episode 25: “Moningu Set”

Christopher Pellegrini talks with Garrett DeOrio and Marcus Lovitt about a recent trip to Nagoya.

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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Japan Booze Blind: Awamori

John Bailey and Rachael White join host Christopher Pellegrini in blind tasting awamori, Okinawan firewater.

Awamori is a beverage native to Okinawa, the island chain to the south of Japan. It is made from long grain indica rice (usually imported from Thailand) which is washed and soaked before being treated with a black koji mold. Yeast and water are then added to bring about fermentation. Finally, the moromi is heated and distilled. The result is a drink not unlike shochu, with a alcohol content of anywhere between 20 and 40 per cent.

On this episode of Japan Booze Blind, guests Rachael White (producer of the blogs tokyoterrace.com, rachaelwhite.me) and John Bailey (arts journalist, noted Japanophile) blind-taste three very different types of awamori: Donan, Nanko and Sashiba. The show was recorded at Dynamo, a skate themed bar in Koenji.

Thanks to Julien Arnaud for allowing us to film at Dynamo.

Recipe: Shiso pesto

It may surprise you, but green perilla is an excellent substitute for basil when making pesto.

The dish the world has come to know and love as Pesto alla Genovese is traditionally prepared with fresh basil, pine nuts in olive oil, garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese). In Italy, many recipes also call for the addition of Fiore Sardo cheese (Pecorino Sardo) to give the paste an even sharper, saltier flavor.

What you may not know is that fresh shiso leaves (also referred to as green perilla) can be used in place of basil. The result: a texture that’s very similar to the original paste, but with a wilder, spicier flavor.

This particular recipe makes enough shiso paste for 6 – 7 servings. If possible, try to use wild rather than supermarket-bought shiso – this will guarantee maximum flavor. And like any vegetable dish, look for the freshest shiso leaves available.

Eat the pesto fresh over pasta or refrigerate for later (in which case, cover with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent discoloring).

Shiso pesto

Spaghettini lightly coated in aojiso sauce.

Ingredients

Shiso paste (makes 6 – 7 servings)

  • 120 ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 – 15 g of garlic (1 clove)
  • 40 – 50 g of aojiso (green shiso, also known as ooba)
  • 2 – 3 sheets of aojiso as a garnish
  • 40 g of pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

 Pasta (for 2 people)

  • 160 g of spaghettini
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons of aojiso paste (refer to the following method)
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of the broth leftover after boiling the pasta

Method

First prepare the aojiso paste. Place the pine nuts in a frying pan and roast them on a low heat for 3 – 4 minutes before allowing them to cool. Wash the aojiso and then remove any moisture with a paper towel. Next, remove the stems and then roughly tear the leaves into pieces.

Chop the garlic roughly, then place the pine nuts, aojiso, garlic, salt and olive oil in a bowl and blend with a hand mixer (e.g. Bamix)  until the ingredients combine to form a paste.

If preparing the pesto ahead of time, pour the paste into a clean transparent container and seal the surface with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (not included on the ingredients list) to prevent discoloration.

Now for the pasta. Place a large saucepan with 2 liters of cold water on a high heat and bring it to the boil. Add 20 g of salt, then cook the spaghettini based on the particular pasta’s instructions.

While cooking the spaghettini, prepare the aojiso sauce and garnish by pouring 4 – 5 tablespoons of aojiso paste and 4 – 5 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese into a large bowl and mixing well.

Next comes the garnish. Slice 2 – 3 aojiso leaves into strips 1 mm thin and rinse them in a bowl of cold water for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain.

Once the spaghettini is cooked, drain and quickly add to the bowl with the aojiso pesto. Mix well and adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding a tablespoon or two of the water used to cook the pasta.

Plate the spaghettini, garnish and serve.

Recipe: Tebasaki no karaage (deep-fried chicken wings coated with soy sauce and sesame seeds)

Nagoya’s contribution to the world’s great bar snacks.

Tebasaki chicken – deep-fried chicken wings coated with soy sauce and coated in sesame seeds – is a dish closely associated with the city of Nagoya, where it is a popular form of otsumami (dish to be eaten while drinking). The wings are full of flavor, thanks to the ingredients of the tare: vinegar, soy, sake, mirin, a little sugar, garlic and ginger.

The key to the dish is deep frying the chicken twice. This gives the skin it’s distinctive crispy texture.

Here we’re using the traditional seasoning, but feel free to experiment. Cumin, roughly-grated red peppers, cayenne pepper or Japan Eats favorite yuzukosho will add even more flavor.

While usually eaten hot, they can also be refrigerated eaten the next day.

Tebasaki chicken

Ready to eat: tebasaki chicken

Ingredients (for 2 – 4 people)

  • 10 chicken wings
  • 2 – 3 pinches of salt and grated black pepper
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of potato starch
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Tare

  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 table spoons of sake
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tea spoon of vinegar (rice vinegar)
  • 5 – 10 g of garlic (1 clove, crushed)
  • 5 g of ginger (sliced)

Seasoning

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of white sesame seeds
  • 2 – 3 pinches of roughly grated black pepper

Method

First, remove the chicken wings from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature.

While waiting, prepare the tare, or sauce. Place a small pan with all of the tare ingredients on a low heat and warm slowly. Maintain the level of heat and reduce for 5 minutes, during which you’ll see small bubbles rising from the bottom of the pan. Pour the tare into a cooking tray and allow it to cool down naturally.

Next come the chicken wings. Remove any excess water with kitchen paper. Sprinkle 2 or 3 pinches of salt and grated black pepper evenly over both sides of the chicken wings and gently rub it into the chicken.

Use a teaspoon to coat the chicken in the tare.

Use a teaspoon to coat the chicken in the tare.

Now warm the vegetable oil in the deep-fryer on a medium heat until it reaches 160 – 165°C.

Coat the chicken wings with a thin, even layer of potato starch (pour the starch through a strainer) just before deep-frying.

Deep-fry the chicken wings in oil at 160 – 165°C for 5 minutes before removing and resting them for 3 – 4 minutes. Next, heat the oil to 175°C and deep-fry the chicken wings a second time for about a minute.

Once you remove the chicken wings from the oil, remove the excess oil carefully and place the wings into the cooking tray. Add the seasoning and mix well. Finally, coat the chicken with the tare using a teaspoon and serve. Preferably with a cold drink!