Tag: Japanese

Equipment: Makiyakinabe

 

Makiyakinabe 1

The Makiyakinabe is also known as a Japanese Omelette Pan as this generally describes its primary function. The name, however, translates as ‘roll-cook-pan’ so, more particularly, it is used for the multi-layer, rolled style of omelette known as Tamagoyaki. These pans are rectangular (or sometimes square) in shape, in contrast to the rounded western omelette pan, and they come in a variety of sizes.  I bought the Kotobuki™ brand version you see above to replace one I lost in a house move some time ago and, today, I gave it a test-run…  Continue reading “Equipment: Makiyakinabe”

Notable Nosh: Okonomiyaki

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Okonomiyaki has sometimes been called the ‘Japanese pizza’ but, though the appearance is similar (and occasionally cheese is used) the resemblance is superficial at best. Rather, this particular specialty is more closely similar to the Korean savory pancake known as ‘Pajeon’. Basically, the Okonomiyaki (which means ‘cooked as you like it’) consists of a pancake base made from cabbage, and sometimes other shredded vegetables, in a batter. This maybe cooked on both sides (or one only in some styles) and then toppings are added along with a sweetened Worcestershire type sauce and (commonly) mayonnaise. Seafood or meat can be included in the pancake and shaved Bonito flakes are a common topping.

I ate the one you see pictured above at Wasabi, in Ottawa, and, though it wasn’t the prettiest I have seen, it was very tasty indeed. The batter contained both cabbage and scallions and was well cooked through. It was a little dark in places but this did not ruin the flavor at all. The topping, in addition to more scallion, included shaved bonito and little strips of toasted nori. The bonito flakes were still fluttering when I received the dish, meaning it came straight from the griddle, and the nori added a nice nuttiness.

The one thing that made this particular variety different was that cheese was used in place of mayo… I was a bit leery of this but, in fact, it turned out to be very nice indeed. I have had Okonomiyaki a few times before this (some not very good) and I am looking forward to trying many more to explore the different structures and styles I’ve heard about.

Notable Nosh: Uni

Uni - 2017-07 1

Uni is sometimes referred to as the roe of the Sea Urchin but is actually the gonads of the creature and can produce roe or milt (semen). It is a delicacy in Japanese cuisine but it is seasonal, and not always easy to obtain, so one frequently sees it on the menus of Japanese restaurants only to find, on ordering, that it is not currently available. I came across some recently at Wasabi in Ottawa’s Bytown market, where they were available as a sushi selection, or as a sashimi preparation served, as you see above, in little cucumber cups. Each cup held four or five individual gonads and you can see an individual piece in the inset.

The texture of uni is not for everybody. It is very soft, with a silky mouthfeel and is rather like the white of a soft-boiled egg, or, perhaps, a very firm custard. When tasted, without any sort of additions, it is very reminiscent of the tomalley, or liver, of a lobster. Some would say it has a fishy taste, but I rather think of it has having a generic ‘sea flavor’ coupled with a distinct sweetness. Tomalley can also have an underlying faintly musky pungency but, with uni, it is sweet all the way through except at the very end where a similar pungency comes across as an almost bitter aftertaste. It is brief however, and does not really affect the overall pleasure of the taste at all.

In this preparation, the uni was served with a wedge of lemon, a small mound of wasabi (hidden behind the inset in the above picture), and a little dish for soy sauce. I tried soy first and, while it was pleasant, I found that the sweetness of the soy masked the delicate sweetness of the uni, thus robbing it of some of its impact. The lemon was an even worse choice as, not only did the acid mask much of the good flavor, it also made the final bitter quality more pronounced and I am surprised that anybody thought that this would be a good accompaniment. As for the wasabi, however, this worked really well. Despite the sharp, intense power of the root, it didn’t mask any of the sweetness at all and really complimented it nicely. I should like to try the delicacy in a sushi preparation sometime, but the sashimi along with just a little wasabi is terrific.

Foodstuff: Enokitake

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Enokitake, or Enoki Mushrooms, are commonly used in Japanese cookery, as much (and indeed probably more) for their pretty appearance as for flavour. In the wild, they are most commonly found growing on the stumps of various trees and, in that case, are often a fairly dark brown in color. In consequence, are known in Mandarin as jīnzhēngū 金針菇 (or “gold needle mushroom”). When cultivated, however, they exhibit the stark, ivory white you see pictured above… [READ MORE] Continue reading “Foodstuff: Enokitake”

Foodstuff: Eel Sauce

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Eel Sauce is a Japanese preparation sometimes known as ‘Nitsume’ or ‘Kabayaki Sauce’. While it is quite commonly used as a glaze for grilled eel dishes (indeed, the ‘Unagi’ on the bottle label means the freshwater eel commonly appearing on sushi menus), the name arises because it was traditionally made by making a stock by boiling eels and reducing it to a syrupy consistence. Nowadays, sugar, Mirin, sake and soy sauce are all commonly used in the basic recipe and Dashi often replaces eel stock.

I often think of Eel Sauce as being the Japanese equivalent of Chinese Oyster Sauce and the two can be used almost interchangeably. Indeed, the taste is very similar, although, some varieties, especially those made with Dashi, have a slightly smoky taste that goes very well with grilled foods… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Eel Sauce”

Braised Pork with Daikon

Braised Pork with Daikon 01

Today’s post is yet another half-finished piece taken from my ‘slush-pile’ of items that, for one reason or another, ended up languishing in blog limbo. Some time ago, I had in mind doing a series of posts featuring a very popular Japanese braising technique in which meat and vegetables are braised in Dashi. I still mean to carry on with the project at some point, but, for now, I thought I’d share the dish I made back on September 5, 2014, the same day I harvested the homegrown Daikon used as one of the vegetables. The notes I made that day are as follows:

Fatty Pork browned in fat. Daikon, carrot and shiitake strips added and quickly sautéed then Dashi added to barely cover. Simmer fairly vigorously until only 1/3 of liquid remains (about 20 minutes). Blanched and chopped daikon greens added for last few seconds then served hot.

Scallop Clusters

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The technique used in the preparation of these little appetizers is very much like the Japanese ‘Kakiage’ style of Tempura. However, I have departed from the Japanese roots a little by combining chopped scallop meat, not only with shredded Wakame seaweed, but also some finely diced Chinese Preserved Sausage. I still want to play around with the basic theme in variations to come, I think, but the result here was very good indeed … Continue reading “Scallop Clusters”

Review: Sushi North – Yellowknife, NWT

4910-50 Franklin Ave., Yellowknife – Website

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Date of Visit: October, 2015

 

An advertisement I saw for this restaurant specified that it was a ‘take-out’ place and I initially had no intention of visiting until the concierge of my hotel told me that they do, in fact, have tables for customers. She also told me, however, that the food was not as good as at the other, more established, Japanese restaurant in town. I can say, after trying both that she was decidedly wrong on this point and I found Sushi North to have great food at a very reasonable price… Continue reading “Review: Sushi North – Yellowknife, NWT”