It was a busy summer with the move and I overlooked a big thank you I wanted to send to Heather at FOOD & WINE Magazine in Ireland. Their May issue focused on Japanese cuisine and they were kind enough to mention Humble Bean as a part of their “10 Foodie Facts You Didn’t Know About Japan.” Thank you!
Chewy udon noodles blanketed in thick curry and topped with a pan-fried tomato seemed just the right thing to welcome the cool autumn weather… except that we’re still experiencing 90+ degrees, here in Los Angeles. No matter. Hot weather calls for hot food. My dad would tell me that after sweating over a steaming bowl of ramen or spicy curry rice, you’ll feel cooler. It’s all relative, after all. My dad also said you only feel hot because you think it’s hot. I can appreciate the depth of his thinking now, but it made no sense to me at the time. Japan’s humid summers were hot-hot-hot—and I was sure it wasn’t because I imagined it that way.
I had the most unexpected epiphany while eating the Arturo pizza at Folliero’s in Highland Park, CA. I love this pizza. It’s mozzarella, eggplant, and garlic—that’s it. No sauce. Imagine crunchy, chewy dough with ribbons of roasted sweet eggplant, salty melted mozzarella, and an occasional bite of garlic. I love it so much, it’s pretty much the only thing I order. But every time I eat it, my thought is… this needs nori. Would it be weird to sneak some in to the restaurant?
Posted in Contemporary Recipes, Favorites
Tagged bake, dough, eggplant, italian, mozzarella, nasu, nori, pizza, ricotta, roast, seaweed
We moved to a new house over the summer. My mom visited, carefully carrying 2 small green Japanese shiso plants with her on the plane. She planted them in our yard and they’ve thrived all summer, exploding with leaves—almost to the point where I can barely keep up. My mom suggested making preserved shiso or shiso miso, but instead I went with something sweet: lemonade with shiso infused simple syrup. Fresh shiso is pungent and beautifully bright but steeping them in boiled syrup mellows those flavors out.
Now, what to do with the simple syrup? After a quick survey on Facebook (out of which came some fantastic ideas like strawberry shiso sorbet!), I went with my friend Gena’s suggestion of shiso lemonade. Using lemons is brilliant because it brings back some of the brightness the steeped shiso had lost.
Back in February, I collaborated with Chris from Freshly Diced on a piece that’s featured on their site: a recipe for Goma Ozoni. Ozoni is typically eaten for New Year’s and yes… I know it’s June. Keep it in mind for next year, or make it anyway! It’s a lovely soup—nutty, salty, and punctuated with kamaboko, mochi, and spinach—a welcome alternative to misoshiru.
Freshly Diced is dedicated to the cross sections of design, food, and music. Chris moved to Japan from Canada earlier this year and was documenting fantastic eats when the earthquake hit. He’s now in Hong Kong, but still doing his thing with that perceptive eye of his. Go check out his beautiful photography, mouth-watering food documents, and while your at it, familiarize with his great music selections.
Above photos by Freshly Diced
This is a classic Japanese recipe. It’s one of those sides you see tucked into a corner of a bento. Easily overlooked, but one of my favorites. You could also use black sesame, which also is delicious and looks more dramatic. I used a Japanese mortar and pestle to grind the sesame, but I’ve seen pre-ground sesame in the Japanese market—or even an instant packet that you just mix with the cooked green beans. If you want a non-MSG version, try the one below!
Sesame Green Beans | さやいんげんのごまあえ
Adapted from ぜひ覚えたいおかず
Makes 2 servings
2 oz. green beans, washed and ends trimmed
1 1/2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. shoyu
Place the toasted sesame seeds in a Japanese mortar and grind. Add the sugar and shoyu and grind. Set aside.
Boil the green beans over moderately high heat in 3/4 cups of water for 2 minutes. Strain, then put the green beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Strain again and cut the green beans in half, roughly into 2 inch pieces. It’s better to cut the green beans after cooking so they don’t get watery. Put them in the mortar with the ground sesame and mix well.
Have you eaten a cooked radish? Lately, the recipes I’ve come across all seem to use them in raw form. I love the crunch of a raw radish in a salad or tea sandwich, but there’s something more exciting about a radish that’s been slow simmered. Cooking it brings out a mellow sweetness with a tinge of bitterness at the end. It’s soft and juicy, taking on the flavors of the simmered sauce.
What I love about this recipe is the addition of katakuriko (potato starch) at the end to thicken the sauce—perfect for spooning over hot rice. If daikon is not available in your area, try using a different kind of radish.
I also want to thank everyone who has purchased the recipe booklet to benefit the victims of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster! I was surprised to find out I have readers in Canada, Australia, and the UK. I still have a few left, so will keep them up on my Etsy shop until they all sell. A special thanks to Mary, The Food Librarian for mentioning it on her blog. If you haven’t visited her site yet, please do. She is amazing and my personal blogger role model!
So much is going on in the world. The earthquake in Japan feels like a distant memory, even though peoples lives haven’t yet returned to normal.
Inspired by all the ways people were raising funds for disaster relief (a great group of posts can be seen at Spoon & Tamago), I decided to design a modest recipe booklet. It’s a collection of my favorite recipes from Humble Bean, plus 2 new ones. Even though you can access the recipes here, sometimes it’s nice to have it in book form. Maybe you have a friend who enjoys cooking? A friend who loves Japanese food? This is the perfect one-of-a kind handmade gift.
Inside you’ll find recipes for
- Quick Japanese Pickles
- Milk Misoshiru with Kabocha
- Daikon and Scallop Salad
- Pan Fried Gyoza
- Chilled Tomato Somen
- Shiitake and Bacon Pasta
- Bacon and Shiso Fried Rice
- Kuwayaki Donburi
- Sukiyaki Donburi
- Tuna and Avocado Donburi
- Matcha Pancakes.
You can find the details and purchase at my Etsy site. All proceeds will go to recovery efforts in Japan.
Posted in Books + Magazines, Perspectives
Tagged book, disaster, donation, earthquake, japan, nuclear disaster, recipe book, recipe booklet, Recipes, sale, tsunami
The texture of gobo (burdock root) is like no other because of its fibrousness. When stir fried, it has an interesting crunch and when simmering in a stew, it becomes soft, but always retains its unique woodsiness. Deep frying it, however, is another matter. The edges of the fritter become light and crisp while the center is a little chewy.
What’s interesting about this recipe is the seasoning is added to the batter so you don’t have to make the tsuyu, or tempura sauce, to accompany it. Once you get through making the gobo shavings (illustrated in this video here), the rest is a breeze.
Anyone who knows my mom, Yoko, knows she can cook. Her Japanese beer beef stew, crab cream croquettes, chirashi, and spring rolls are some of my absolute favorites. She sets the bar ridiculously high that, because of her, I’m often disappointed when I eat out at Japanese restaurants.
Recently my mom sent me this simple recipe for sesame dressing. She suggested mixing it with steamed broccoli, but you could also use it as a dip for sliced cucumbers, or as a dressing for a simple green salad or tofu salad. I like it with the broccoli, though, because the sweet, slightly tangy dressing gets caught in the florets and goes great with the crunchy texture. Did I mention the kick of wasabi? Yes, it has a nice punch. You can also vary it by substituting the wasabi for karashi (Japanese hot mustard) or even miso. If you don’t like it spicy, you could omit the wasabi altogether and it will still be delicious.