Japan Eats

Recipe: Tebasaki to daikon no kurozuni (simmered chicken wingtips with daikon)

The perfect antidote to those winter blues

This is a popular (and inexpensive) dish usually eaten during the colder months in Japan. It can be served as either an appetizer or as a main course.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the browning of the chicken wings is important in giving the dish it’s deep and savory smell. I recommend you to adopt a similar approach when cooking thick negi (spring onions) or deep-fried tofu to be used in nimono or nabe.

Add the kurozu (black vinegar) to the chicken stock at the very end when cooking the chicken.

Tebasaki to daikon no kurozuni (simmered chicken wingtips with daikon)

Tebasaki to daikon no kurozuni (simmered chicken wingtips with daikon)

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 600 g of chicken wings
  • 500-600 g of daikon (Japanese radish)
  • 30 g of ginger
  • 4 boiled eggs

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of sake
  • 4 tablespoons of soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 2 tablespoons of black vinegar
  • 2 cups of cold water

Method

First, prepare the chicken wings. Cut off the very tip of the wings tips. Use the knife and cut the gristle, then break it with your hands. This is both for looks and to make the wings easier to eat.

Next, prepare the daikon. Peal it and slice into pieces 2 – 3 cm thick, then cut into half rounds or quarters. Now peal the ginger and cut it into 1 mm slices.

Place a casserole dish on the gas table, pour 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil into the pot and warm it on the low to medium heat.

Remove the liquid on the chicken wings with a paper towel and then sauté with the skin face down until they are browned.

Be patient and don’t turn them around often so as to brown them. Don’t worry – the skin won’t stick to the bottom of the casserole if you brown them enough.

Add all the ingredients for the sauce  except the kurozu (black vinegar). Next, drop the ginger and daikon into the casserole dish and turn up the heat to medium-high.

Once the liquid comes to the boil, turn it down to a low heat and put the lid on. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the daikon becomes soft.

While you’re cooking the soup, prepare the boiled eggs. I am sure that everybody knows how to do that…!

Once the eggs are cooked, move them to a cold bowl of water and let them sit in the bowl for 2-3 minutes, then remove the shells.

Confirm the daikon is soft and add the kurozu and the boiled egg. Cook for another 10 minutes with an otoshibuta (a drop lid made from paper) over the ingredients. For instructions on how to prepare one, click here.

Serve the chicken wings, daikon and egg halves, taking care to arrange the ingredients so they look good on the plate.

Recipe: Teriyakidon (chicken teriyaki rice bowl)

A classic Japanese rice bowl that’s a cinch to prepare.

Donburi, rice bowls topped with fish, meat or vegetables, are one of Japan’s most popular lunchtime meals. Their appeal lies in the fact that they are quick to prepare and can be made from just about anything.

This recipe calls for rice topped with chicken coated in a delicious teriyaki sauce. The addition of pickled ginger ties the dish together beautifully.

Teriyakidon

Teriyakidon

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • 100 – 120 g green onion
  • 300 g chicken thigh
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 20 – 30 g of pickled ginger (half finely chopped, half thinly sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons of white sesame seeds

Teriyaki sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin

Method

First, cut the green onion into pieces 4 – 5 cm in length. Fry in pan on a medium heat without any oil. Once they have become brown, remove the pieces to a tray.

Prepare the chicken by chopping it into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the chicken and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove any liquid that comes out of the chicken with a paper towel.

Next, cover the chicken with 1 tablespoon of flour. Make sure the pieces are evenly coated.

Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a frying pan and place this on a medium heat. Saute the chicken until it has browned on one side. Turning the chicken over, place a lid on the pan and allow the second side to cook.

Now for the teriyaki sauce. Mix the sake, soy sauce and mirin in a small bowl. When both sides of the chicken are brown remove any extra oil from the pan with a paper towel then slowly add the sauce from the edge of the frying pan. Cook until the sauce has thickened and has completely covered the chicken.

Finally, mix a bowl of cooked rice with the finely chopped ginger and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. Cover with a layer of chicken and garnish with the thinly sliced pickled ginger.

Recipe: Sautéed buri (yellowtail) marinated in shio-kouji

Enhance a dish’s flavor with shio-kouji.

Shio-kouji has a long history as a method for enhancing a dish’s flavor. It has recently come back into fashion, no doubt due to it’s versatility – it adds umami to just about anything. Shio-kouji makes an excellent marinade for fish (cod or salmon) pork, chicken or even vegetables. Here, we’re using it to marinade yellowtail, but as we’re coming into spring, a good alternative would be Spanish mackerel.

Sautéed yellowtail

Sautéed yellowtail

Ingredients

  • 300 g kome-kouji
  • 90 g salt
  • 2 slices of yellowtail (about 100g per  slice)
  • 3 tablespoons shio-kouji
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Pickled ginger (garnish)

Method (shio-kouji)

Prepare the shio-kouji 1 – 2 weeks ahead of time. Add 90 grams of salt to 300 grams of kome-kouji (rice kouji – essentially rice to which the kouji spores have been attached). Mix well then place in a container with enough water to cover the rice. Leave the container out of the fridge, stirring once a day.

Method (Sautéed yellowtail)

Remove any extra moisture from both sides of the yellow tail with kitchen paper. Next, place the fish in a clean plastic bag and coat  with the shio-kouji. Leave it in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 3 – 4 hours).

Pour a teaspoon of vegetable oil into a frying pan and spread it evenly with kitchen paper. Sautée the side of the fish with skin on a low to medium heat until it becomes brown. Flip the fish over and cook the other side slowly on a low heat (lid on) for 6 – 7 minutes. Serve with pickled ginger.

Recipe: Aji no nanbanzuke (deep fried horse mackerel)

Deep fried and served in a soy and vinegar sauce, mackerel makes either a satisfying appetizer or a main course

Although Japanese often prepare mackerel at home, the silver and blue-skinned fish tends to be overshadowed by more popular varieties. Perhaps this is because mackerel has a reputation for being oily, or because it lacks the visual appeal of tuna or salmon.

The key to this dish is to remove the bones carefully. If you don’t want the bother, sardines can be used instead. Their bones are thin so you needn’t be nervous about it.

Powder the fillets with starch just before deep frying. It’s worth noting that any blue fish will taste good with the ginger and soy sauce. Here, it’s horse mackerel, but Pacific saury (sanma) would do just as well.

The marinade will soak into the batter, but it should retain enough texture to prevent it becoming soggy. The ginger is important as it balances out the flavor of the the fish.

Deep fried horse mackerel.

Deep fried horse mackerel

Ingredients (serves 2 – 3 people)

  • 150 – 200 g horse mackerel (filleted)
  • 50 g onion
  • 50 g carrot
  • 10 g ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of potato starch

Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of cold water
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 piece of dried whole chilli pepper

Method

Fillet the fish

Fillet the fish

First, prepare the marinade for the horse mackerel. Remove the seeds inside the chilli pepper and slice into pieces 3 – 5 mm thick. Place the chilli in a bowl together with all of the other ingredients for the sauce.

Slice the onions into thin slices. Now slice the carrot into thin pieces.

Next, prepare the horse mackerel. If it hasn’t already been filleted, divide the fish into three slices. Cut each slice into a further 2 – 3 bite-sized pieces, being careful to remove the bones.

Put the bite-sized pieces of horse mackerel and the potato starch into a bag. Blow air into the bag so that it inflates like a balloon then shake so that the mackerel is completely coated in starch.

Coat in potato starch

Coat in potato starch

Heat a deep fry pan filled with vegetable oil to 170 degrees centigrade.

Remove the extra potato starch from the horse mackerel and deep fry for about 3 – 4 minutes. When they become crispy and have turned a light brown, retrieve and drain and a tray. Marinade them in the sauce while still hot.

Place the thinly sliced onion, carrot and ginger on the mackerel. Carefully mix the mackerel with the vegetables and serve.

Recipe: Tori no tatsutaage (deep fried chicken coated with starch)

Do you know your tatsutaage from your karaage?

Karaage is the deep fried chicken dish familiar to anyone who’s visited a Japanese izakaya. The chicken is coated in an egg based batter and then fried in vegetable oil.

Tatsutaage, on the other hand, is chicken, pork or fish are marinated and then coated with starch.
Here, we’re double frying chicken marinated in a mixture of soy, sake and ginger.

Serve with mayonnaise, ponzu or (our favorite) Thai sweet chili sauce.

Tori no tatsutaage

Tori no tatsutaage

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 500 – 600 g chicken thigh
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 10 g of ginger
  • 6 – 7 tablespoons of potato starch (or corn starch)

Method

Take the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room
temperature.

Next, cut away any fat or gristle. Place the chicken on a tray and sprinkle salt over the pieces. Again, leave it for 20 minutes. Wipe away any remaining moisture with a paper towel.

Prepare to marinate the chicken by peeling and grating the ginger. Now cut the chicken into 5 cm square pieces. Put them into a bowl and marinate for 30 minutes to an hour in a mixture of the sake, soy sauce and ginger.

If you haven’t already, fill a deep fryer with enough vegetable oil to cover the chicken (5 – 7 centimeters ought to be enough). Heat to 170 degrees centigrade.

Evenly distribute the starch on a tray. Coat each piece of chicken before gently dropping it into the oil. Take care to shake off any excess starch before dropping the chicken into the oil. It’s also worth noting that the chicken should be coated in starch right before frying.

Deep fry each piece for 2 – 3 minutes, then remove them from the oil and allow them to rest for a further 2 – 3 minutes. In order to maintain the temperature of the oil, it’s best not to fry all the pieces at once.

Now it’s time to fry the chicken a second time. Do so for 3 – 4 minutes, or until the chicken becomes brown. Keep a close eye on the bubbles erupting from the chicken as it fries – they will become smaller when the chicken is ready to remove from the oil. Before you take the chicken out of the deep fryer, turn the heat up so that the outside of the chicken becomes crispy and you can easily drain the oil.

Once the oil has drained away, serve with your choice of condiment.

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.

Recipe: Buta no shogayaki (pork ginger)

A simple pork sauté that’s full of flavor

Pork ginger is Japanese comfort food, pure and simple. It’s often featured in bento lunches, as it can be prepared in advance and tastes equally good served hot or at room temperature. Best of all, its dead easy to prepare. Serve with a handful of shredded cabbage (kyabetsu no sen-giri).

Pork Ginger

Pork Ginger

Ingredients (serves 2 people)

  • 200 – 250 g pork (sliced between 1 and 1.5 mm)
  • 150 g cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 20 g (1 clove) of ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 100 g chopped onion

Method

Wash the cabbage leaves and remove the core. Pile the leaves together and then roll and cut into 1 mm slices. Place them in cold water for 10 minutes, and drain.

Place a frying pan on the gas table and add one tablespoon of oil. Warm on a low heat.

While heating the pan, take the slices of pork and coat them in a thin layer of flour. Now increase the heat to medium and sauté the pork until brown. Be sure that the pork strips are cooked evenly. When they are ready, take them from the pan and on a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan and warm it on a low heat. Slice the onion into pieces 5 mm thick – cut against the grain. Sauté the onion until it softens and becomes translucent.

Now pour the sake, sugar, and soy into the pan. Turn up the heat to medium. Put the pork back into the pan and add the ginger. Mix and cover the pork and ginger with the sauce. Serve with sliced cabbage and a generous helping of the sauce.

Recipe: Nibuta (braised pork shoulder)

The perfect addition to that bowl of homemade ramen

Ever wondered how to prepare those succulent slices of pork that sit atop ramen? There are two basic approaches to preparing char siu (Chinese) or chashu (Japanese) pork.

The Chinese method is to cut the pork into strips and roast it in an oven or over a fire. It is seasoned with a mixture of honey, soy sauce and five-spice powder.

In Japan, the pork is more often prepared by cooking fatty cuts of pork on a low heat in a heavy iron pot such as a dutch oven (what the British would call a casserole dish). After the meat has cooked for several hours with aromatics such as garlic and ginger,  it is allowed to cool before being cut into slices. The resulting nibuta (braised) pork can be served on its own, or over the ubiquitous ramen noodles.

This recipe may also be prepared in a pressure cooker, but I prefer using an enameled cast iron pot such as those from Staub.

Nibutta: braised pork shoulder

Nibutta: braised pork shoulder

Ingredients (serves 4-8)

  • 1.5 kg pork loin (700 – 800 g loaf of pork loin)
  • 150 g onion (1 whole onion)
  • 250 g green onion (2 whole green onions)
  • 40 – 50 g garlic (4 -5 cloves of garlic)
  • 40 – 50 g ginger
  • 2 red peppers (dried, without seeds)
  • 400 ml sake
  • 100 ml mirin
  • 300 ml soy sauce
  • 300 ml water
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • String for cooking

Method

First, tie each piece of meat so that it fits into your iron pot. Warm a flying pan on a high heat (without oil) and brown the pork well on all sides.

Next, place the meat into the iron pot. Crush the garlic using the flat part of a knife and remove the skin and any sprouts. Roughly peel the skin from the ginger slice into pieces 1 -2 mm thick. Cut off the green part of the green onion. Put all of the ingredients into the pot around the meat. Add the red pepper, sake, mirin, soy sauce and water.

Now peel the onion and cut it in half vertically. Place the pieces into the pot. Warm the iron dish on a medium heat. Once the soup becomes hot, add the sugar and let it dissolve.

Finally add water (not included in the ingredients list)  until the liquid covers the meat. Warm the pot on a medium to high heat.  Once the ingredients have come to the boil, lower the heat and cover with a lid.

One hour later, turn over the pork. An hour after that, turn the pork over again. Turn off the heat and leave the pot for 4 – 5 hours. As the ingredients cook, skim the lard from the top of the soup.

Once the pork has cooled, slice the pork (otherwise it will simply fall apart under the knife).

Finally, cut the white part of the green onion diagonally into pieces 2 -3 mm thick. Warm the soup and add the onion. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Present the sliced pork with the green onion and pour soup over the top of the pork.

A boiled egg would be great addition to the pork on a dish of noodles.

Recipe: Hiyashi soumen

With the arrival of summer, Japanese are increasingly looking towards light meals at lunchtime. A bowl of soumen (cold noodles) is one of the most popular ways to relieve the summer heat.

Soumen is traditionally served with a large variety of yakumi, or condiments. While it may be tempting to cut back on the number of different garnishes, it’s worth trying all of the yakumi listed below at least once so that you can better judge which you prefer.

Serve the noodles on ice in a wooden bowl.  Pour a little soup into each guest’s bowl and allow them to choose their own condiments, which they mix into the soup.  Finally, guests add noodles which they should mix together with the yakumi.

Itadakimasu!!

Soumen

Soumen

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 3 bunches of dried soumen
  • 1-1.5l water

Yakumi (condiments)

  • 1-2 mioga (mioga ginger)
  • 10 asatsuki chives
  • 4-5 green shiso (green perilla) leaves
  • 1 package of kaiware daikon (radish sprouts)
  • 1 deep-fried tofu pouch
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (a mixture of red pepper and six other spices)
  • 1 clove of ginger

Tsuyu soup

  • 2 cups of dashi soup
  • 1/2 a cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 a cup of mirin

Method

First prepare the tsuyu soup. Pour the mirin into a pan, place it onto the gas table and bring it to the boil. Add the dashi soup together with the soy sauce and bring it to the boil again. Once boiling, turn off the heat and allow it to cool.

Now for the yakumi (garnishes). Cut the mioga in half lengthwise and then again into thin strips. Rise  in a bowl of cold water for a minute then drain.

Cut the asatsuki chives into thin round slices.

Slice the green shiso leaves into julienne strips, rinse them in a bowl of cold water and drain.

Peel the skin of the ginger grate it.

Cut off the root of the kaiware daikon, then cut into halves.

Toast one deep-fried tofu pouch for about one minute. Mix a tablespoon of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sake and a teaspoon of shichimi togarashi and spread onto one side of the tofu pouch. Toast it again for about one minute until it becomes crispy. Finally, cut the pouch into bite-sized rectangles (12-16).

Bring a bowl of water to the boil and cook the soumen noodles for roughly two minutes (refer to the cooking instructions on the package). If the water rolls up to the edge of the pot, add a half cup of cold water. Once the noodles are ready, rinse them in running fresh water.

Place water and ice in a wooden bowl and arrange the noodles so that they don’t stick together.

Serve the noodles with the tsuyu (soup) and condiments in individual plates or bowls.