Chikuzenni with Japanese Taro

Chikuzenni is a classic Japanese dish often served on New Year’s Day, but I also find it in bentos from the Japanese market. This recipe is leaps and bounds better than what you find pre-made and it’s one of my favorite everyday dishes.

This particular chizukenni recipe came from my mom and is a homey braise of carrots, gobo, satoimo (Japanese taro), konnyaku, shiitake, and chicken. It’s cooked in dashi, sugar, sake, mirin, and shoyu and reduced until the liquid is concentrated and absorbed into all the ingredients. I know it sounds like a winter’s dish, but it’s actually great in warm weather, too. That’s because it can be made it advance (actually, it’s better after a day) and is great served at room temperature. Pack it on a picnic with some musubi and tsukemono! Yum!

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Posted in Favorites, Meat, Traditional Recipes, Vegetables | 9 Responses

Chocolate Mochi Brownies with Matcha

I love mochi. I love chocolate. So when I saw Mary’s post on The Food Librarian last week, I knew this was going in my oven. If, by some small chance, you haven’t happened upon her blog, I suggest you head straight there. She can get crazy with jello, make a mean bundt, and mindblow you with a jello bundt. I love that she’s a fellow Angeleno, which means I learn a lot about the city through her. It also means I get a taste of what’s baking in her kitchen from time to time!

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Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Sweets | 21 Responses

Kurogoma Soba Noodles

On our trip to Japan in 2010, we visited Togakushi with my dad’s family and friends. The region is known for their soba, so on the last day we went to a soba making class at a restaurant. We were divided into 3 groups and proceeded with the process of vigorous kneading and rolling. I was surprised at this process since most techniques warn against overworking the dough. Once we got it to the right thickness, we were handed sharp, heavy cleavers to cut our dough into thin noodles. Those noodles headed straight to a vat of boiling water, cooled, and served to us. We slurped them right up and I discovered a new appreciation for it. We went around trying each others soba and were surprised at the differences. Even with the same ingredients and process, our technique was varied enough that we could taste it.

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Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Favorites, Noodles, Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Responses

Kofuki Imo

I finally made this easy-as-pie Kofuki Imo. Love it. And I’m pretty certain you’ll love it, too. Shoyu-sugar-butter is pure magic!

Shoyu-butter is a common combination in Japan. It’s used in many ways like slathered on sweet summer corn or as a potato chip flavor. Shoyu-sugar is also super common. We love to dip our soft and chewy New Year’s mochi in it. Yum. But the combination of the 3 together is something else. You must try it.

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Posted in Favorites, Traditional Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Responses

Aroma Magazine: Tonyu Nabe

While there’s still a lingering chill, how about making nabe? It’s one of my favorite foods, especially when it’s cold out and you need a little soul-warming sustenance. In case you aren’t familiar with nabe (short for nabemono), it’s a Japanese hot pot. Cooked in a variety of ways, I began tinkering with tonyu nabe (made from soymilk and miso) when I was contacted by the editor from Aroma Magazine to write and photograph an article for the inaugural issue of their online magazine.

I was first introduced to tonyu nabe from my good friend Tomo (photographer/musician/Japanese curry expert), who simmered a pot for a group of our artist and designer friends in his San Francisco loft. We opened bottles of sake, ate to our hearts content, and went home with happy bellies. Since then I’ve messed with a bunch of recipes until settling into one I liked. Then, my friend Juli pointed out a similar Korean dish which adds, as a condiment, a mixture of shoyu, green onions, and sesame seeds. I opted for sesame oil for its nutty fragrance and found it added the right amount of assertiveness to this hearty dish.

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Posted in Books + Magazines | 1 Response

Furikake Popcorn

I’m excited for the weekend because we’re headed to San Francisco! My husband’s independent feature film, The Crumbles, is premiering at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. It’s been 3+ years in the making, so it’s a big occasion for us. This is a bonus post to celebrate the debut of The Crumbles!

Folks from Hawaii will recognize this as a take on Hurricane Popcorn, but my version uses canola and olive oil instead of butter (or whatever that pouch of yellow liquid consists of!). I use nori fumi furikake, which has aonori and sesame seeds for the perfect balance of salty/sweet.

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Posted in Appetizers + Snacks, Contemporary Recipes, Favorites | 4 Responses

Mixed Rice with Pork and Bamboo Shoots

My new favorite way to make rice is this Mixed Rice with Pork and Bamboo Shoots! I must’ve made it at least once a week since I first made it a few weeks ago. Maze gohan translates to mixed rice, a method of mixing in ingredients into rice that’s been cooked. The idea of maze gohan was never more appealing to me than takikomi gohan, where the ingredients are cooked with the rice. I was surprised at how easy and flavorful this turned out.

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Posted in Favorites, Rice Dishes, Traditional Recipes | 14 Responses

Clear Mushroom Soup

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned I’m allergic to soy. Which is ironic, given the title of this blog and how much Japanese food depends on it. I’m mostly sensitive to tofu and miso, so I almost never make misoshiru. It pains me because I loved my grandmother’s misoshiru growing up! Instead, I’ve been making a type of sumashijiru (clear soup) with 3 types of mushrooms: enoki, shimeji, and shiitake.

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Posted in Soups, Traditional Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Responses

Kinpira Kabocha

Heard of kinpira gobo? It’s the dish that uses the earthy flavors of burdock root, combines it with carrots, and cooks it in a salty and sweet sauce. Kinpira Kabocha is a great alternative to that staple side dish.

Instead of gobo, it’s the kabocha that soaks up the flavors of the sauce. The profile is practically identical to this stewed kabocha dish, but cooks quicker because the kabocha is cut into smaller pieces. I still prefer stewed kabocha, but this recipe is great when you’re short on time.

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Posted in Traditional Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Responses

Creamy Beef Curry Udon with Maitake

Curry udon has been the #1 request in my house. I came across several recipes, Keema Curry Udon with Burnt Tomato being one of them. While that recipe offset the robust curry with tangy tomatoes, this recipe mellows it out by using milk. The feathery maitake mushrooms and the thin-sliced beef add a great textural element to the dish.

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Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Meat, Noodles | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment
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