April 26, 2017

Yomogi Tempura and Yomogi-Onion-Carrot-Small Shrimp Kakiage/よもぎ天ぷらと、よもぎ、玉ねぎ、にんじん、小えびのかき揚げ

This is the very first time that I have made tempura at my parents' house since I came here last November. I have wanted to serve yomogi tempura to my parents to tell them how tasty it is, but I have refrained from making tempura until today simply because tempura making takes time (30-40 minutes or longer). In the meantime, yomogi by the road have grown tall day by day.

In a mixing bowl, I put some of the yomogi, added some hakurikoko (cake flour) and water. I left out an egg. I aimed for very lightly coated tempura.

I chopped the rest of the yomogi, put it in the mixing bowl, added thinly sliced onion and carrot and dried shrimp.
Then I added one egg, some cake flour, and some water. I adjusted the texture by adding some more water. I aimed for crisp but heavily coated kakiage.

You would be surprised to see that such a small amount of tempura batter result in this amount of kakiage.
I grated some daikon.
My father made home-made soba, using freshly ground buckwheat. Boiling it is my job.
Thick as udon noodles! My father says he failed for two reasons: the buckwheat was too dry and my father has difficulty kneading the dough for twenty minutes.
Anyway, the home-made soba was tasty enough.

Boiled Bamboo Shoots/茹で筍(たけのこ、タケノコ)

Chiba prefecture is famous for its bamboo shoots. Yesterday, my parents were given these boiled bamboo shoots from a neighbor. I'm not quite sure what variety they are. Moso-chiki or ma-dake?
Anyway, the last time my parents received such boiled bamboo shoots, I made wakatake-ni, a nimono (simmered dish) containing bamboo shoots and wakame seaweed. My father didn't like it and suggested that I simmer them with katsuobushi.

So, as requested by my father, I simmered the bamboo shoots with 4 packs (3 x 4 = 12 g) of katsuobushi in a pot of 400 ml water, 1 tsp instant dashi, 100 ml soy sauce, and 50 ml mirin (dashi, soy sauce, and mirin ratio of 4:1:0.5, instead of 4:1:1) for just a minute or two.
というわけで、父のリクエストに従い、この筍を鰹節4パック(3 x 4 = 12 g)と、水400 ml、出汁の素小さじ1、しょう油100 ml、みりん50 ml(出汁、しょう油、みりの割合は4:1:0.5(4:1:1ではなく))を入れた鍋で、1、2分煮ました。

My father (88) still likes such heavily seasoned simmered dishes. I would prefer lightly seasoned wakatake-ni, with dashi and  small amounts of soy sauce and mirin.

April 23, 2017

Frozen Eggplants and Frozen Cucumbers/冷凍なすと冷凍きゅうり

On April 17, the weeping cherry tree in the yard of my parents' house was in full bloom.

I have been given an assignment by my mother: Do something about the frozen eggplants and frozen cucumbers, which have been sitting in the freezer for months (years?)

First, I thawed some of them and tasted them. They were quite salty, so I soaked them in water to remove salt,
and finely chopped them.

I put them in a frying pan, heated them to evaporate moisture, and added white sesame seeds, katsuobushi, and mentsuyu (noodle soup) concentrate. Not yet tasty enough...。
I later added soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar. I thought that the vinegar boosted up the flavor.

I served the final product to my parents, who said it was very delicious.
Sorry, a photo of the leftovers.

I will make a similar pickle again. I still have lots of frozen eggplants and cucumbers left in the freezer.

Edited to add photos and descriptions:

4 frozen eggplants
4 frozen cucumbers
20 g katsuobushi
Generous amount of white sesame seeds
50 ml soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp instant dashi
30 ml vinegar
冷凍なす 4本
冷凍きゅうり 4本
鰹節 20 g
白ごま たっぷり
しょう油 50 ml
砂糖 大さじ1
出汁の素 小さじ1
お酢 30 ml

1. In a frying pan, put katsuobushi and sesame seeds, turn on the gas to low and heat them for 1 min. or so.
1. フライパンに鰹節とごまを入れ、火を付け弱火にして、1分程度加熱する。
2. Squeeze frozen eggplants and cucumbers, chop them, and squeeze them again.
2. 冷凍なす、きゅうりを絞り、刻んで、再度絞る。
3. Add them to the pan. Heat for 4-5 min. to evaporate excess moisture.
3. フライパンに入れる。4~5分加熱し、余分な水分を飛ばす。
4. Add the seasonings except the vinegar.
4. お酢以外の調味料を入れる。
5. Taste to see it is seasoned sufficiently. Add more seasonings if necessary.
6. Add vinegar. Taste again.
5. 味見して、味付けが十分か確かめる。必要に応じて、調味料を足す。
6. お酢を入れる。再度味見する。
7. Let it cool, and transfer to a container.
7. 冷まして、容器に移す。
I hope my parents like it.

Hoshi Nasu (Dried Eggplants)/干しなす

Last December, my father made a large amount of kiriboshi daikon.
Last summer, he also made a large amount of dried eggplants.
Now it's my job to consume all of the dried eggplants. This morning, I made some nasu miso, using miso and mirin as seasonings.
My father calls this dish "nasu no abura miso" or simply "abura miso".

My wife's nasu miso contains either ginger or ao jiso (green perilla).

Making Warabi Mochi for My Father/父に蕨もちを作る

The other day, my father surprised me again by saying he liked warabi mochi. He said it was transparent, and I understood he liked fake warabi mochi not the real one, which is grayish.
So, today, I made some fake warabi mochi using
6 tbsp katakuriko (potato starch)
2 tbsp sugar (the recipe calls for 4 tbsp)
300 ml water
片栗粉 大さじ6
砂糖 大さじ2(レシピでは大さじ4)
水 300 ml

In a container, I mixed kinako (roasted soybean flour) and sugar at a ratio of 2:1 and added a pinch of salt.
A common kinako to sugar ratio is 1:1.

Warabi mochi:
Both my parents liked it very much.

I skipped kuromitsu (black sugar syrup) because there was no black sugar in the house.

For more info about warabi mochi, search through my blog.

April 18, 2017

Removing Aku (Harshness) from Warabi (Bracken Fern)/蕨(わらび、ワラビ)の灰汁(あく)抜き

While talking with my parents about warabi (young shoots of bracken fern), I realized that they did not know a proper way to remove aku from warabi. They said they boiled warabi in a pot of water plus baking soda for some time.
Well, recipes for removing aku (harshess) from warabi vary. Some recipes do say to boil warabi, but only for ten to twenty seconds. I, for one, do not boil warabi. I made a mistake of boiling warabi for aku removal once, and the warabi ended up being pulpy, losing all of its flavor.

Here are the warabi my father picked up today from two places.
Much shorter and thinner than the ones I used to pick up in the Snow Country.

0. Wash warabi.
1. Bring water (about 2 liters in the photo) to a boil. Turn off the heat.
2. Add 1-2 tsp baking soda per liter water.
3. Add warabi and leave them overnight.
0. ワラビを洗う。
1. お湯を沸かし(写真では2リットル程度)、火を止める。
2. 重曹をお湯1ℓにつき小さじ1、2杯入れる。
3. ワラビを入れ、一晩置く。

Last night:
This morning:
4. Rinse with several changes of water.
4. 水を何回か換えて、洗う。
My parents like to have them with mayonnaise.
I am no big fan of warabi. Besides, the warabi here in Chiba cannot be compared with the ones in the Snow Country.

April 17, 2017

Atsuage and Namaage/厚揚げ、生揚げ

Atsuage is deep-fried tofu, and I like atsuage very much. Atsuage is also called namaage. I first learned the term namaage from my father, and I googled to find that the term atsuage is mainly used in Kansai (Western Japan) and the term namaage is mainly used in Kanto (Eastern Japan).
The photo below shows a product sold as namaage.
I first cut it into manageable sizes and then microwave it for a few minutes.
I then sprinkle chopped naganegi and katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings).
I usually pour some mentsuyu (noodle soup) concentrate, but this time, I poured some olive oil and soy sauce.
I could live on rice and this and other soy products (tofu, natto, etc.) alone for the rest of my life!