Tag Archives: Japanese

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki 1

Growing up, I’ve always disliked eggs. I remember my mom used to ask us at dinner if we wanted a fried egg for dinner, and I would always say no. Although I grew up liking dan bing (Chinese egg pancakes), it was definitely the bing, or pastry part, that I liked better. Then, after watching a lot of Good Eats, I realized it wasn’t eggs that I disliked, it was overcooked eggs that I disliked. Overcooked eggs are smelly and unctuous, so I always prefer them a little undercooked, at least a little creamy.

Tamagoyaki 2

With that in mind, I tried to make my version of the perfect tamagoyaki. I watched the tamagoyaki video by Cooking with Dog, which is an adorable channel in which a poodle seems to narrate the the steps for making Japanese food while a Japanese women cooks. Anyway, tamagoyaki literally means “fried/baked eggs,” and its typically a rectangular sheet of egg rolled up seasoned with dashi (Japanese fish stock), soy sauce, and sugar. The original recipe called for parsley, but I didn’t want to bother with it because really, who is ever able to taste parsley anyway? I also didn’t have dashi on hand, so I substituted it with some chicken broth powder. After a couple tries, I think I have this recipe down.

Tamagoyaki 3

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp stock of your choice
  • 1 1/3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soysauce
  • Cooking oil

Note: I use 1 tsp Lee Kum Kee Chicken Bouillon Powder and add it to 3 tbsp water to make the stock

Procedures:

  1. You will need a Tamagoyaki pan, but if you don’t have one a small frying pan is fine, preferably a non-stick one. Heat the pan up with medium heat and add a small bit of oil of your choice
  2. Beat the 3 eggs and add the other ingredients (not including oil). When the pan is hot, use a ladle and add 1 spoonful of the egg mixture. You want to have enough egg mixture to cover a thin layer at the bottom of the pan.
  3. The egg layer should not bubble or sizzle while its cooking. If so, turn down the heat. Give it 2-3 minutes to cook until the egg layer is not liquid, but not necessarily cooked through. Roll the layer up using spatula and chopsticks, making the rectangle roughly 3-5cm wide. Push the rolled up egg to the side of the pan.
  4. Pour another ladle of egg mixture onto the pan, making sure the egg touches the original egg roll. Repeat the process of rolling the egg and pouring the egg mixture. When you are rolling the egg, be careful because the edge of the egg roll and the new egg mixture is fragile, and breaks easily.
  5. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.

Tamagoyaki 4

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Katsuhama @ NYC

This will be the last post of my 4 day 5 pound eating adventure at the Big Apple. I have to say that right now all I want to eat is a head of romaine lettuce for lunch and dinner every day for the next week or two instead of this crazy carby/sweet/fatty food diet that I’ve been on. I’ve had fun, but seriously, its time to stop.

wasabi tako

Anyway, I was agonizing over what to eat for this meal because I was eating alone. It also doesn’t help that I have a whole map of places people recommend online, and when it comes to restaurant choosing I am SUPER indecisive (unless I crave something specific). Somehow I still managed to make a decision and ended up in Katsuhama, where their specialty is katsu, Japanese fried pork cutlet. I wanted a small meal and on the cheap side so I went with the hire katsu don (Donburi with pork loin katsu) and tako wasabi (raw octopus with wasabi).

Their meals come with miso soup and marinated cabbage

The katsu was so, so good. Tender, porky and well seasoned. There was katsu sauce on the side as well. However, unfortunately the eggs covered my katsu so I can’t tell you how crispy (or not?) it could have been, but I’m sure it was amazing. Honestly, I am quite impressed by this store. Also, the tako wasabi is just like the one I had at Ippudo, albeit with some scallions and pepper flakes. Delicious as well. For the price I’m paying in New York City, I would come back to this place any time.

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Ippudo New York @ NYC

I love good ramen, and I’ve heard of this place even before I planned on going to NYC. They are a chain store from Japan, and unlike stupid Ding Tai Fung in LA which tastes nothing like the Taiwan stores, Ippudo was amazing and worth the money. We ordered a tako wasabi, hirata pork buns, and akamaru modern ramen. I was completely stuffed by an amazing dim sum lunch, and my friend wasn’t very hungry either so we shared the three dishes.

Tako Wasabi – Raw baby octopus in fresh chopped wasabi sauce

This dish is not for people who are scared to venture out of their comfort zone. It was slimy and heavy in octopus taste, not to mention raw. However, I thought it was delicious. The wasabi really brought out the sweet undertones of fresh tako, and the texture was quite chewy. I think it might have been salted (or maybe sea water octopi?), but overall it was a very delicious dish.

Hirata Pork Buns – Steamed buns filled with pork served with Ippudo’s original spicy buns sauce

Everyone recommends the pork buns here and now I know why. The pork is tender and slathered with a salty and slightly sweet sauce. The buns were warm, soft, and slightly sweet, complimenting the pork perfectly. What made it so unique was the special sauce. It wasn’t spicy, as the menu had said, but it brought tang to the party. The buns were amazingly flavorful, and more than worth your money. As my friend put it, don’t make the mistake of sharing 2 buns between 2 people! Order it just for yourself, you won’t regret it. (We on the other hand, were too full for food in general so that’s a different story, haha).

Akamaru Modern – The original silky “Tonkotsu” (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil

And finally for the ramen itself. The ramen definitely lived up to the appetizer’s amazingness. The “umami dama” miso paste was red, hence the name of the dish, and I was surprised that it didn’t make the broth red as well after mixing. The broth had a deep umami flavor from the tonkotsu and miso paste. The noodles were fresh and firm, making a nice “snap” when they were bitten. They were on the thin side, but still delicious. The kakuni in the bowl was very well seasoned and tender as well. I did not taste garlic at all, but I’m okay with that because it really allowed the tonkotsu broth to stand out. As with Santouka in San Diego, they had kikurage mushrooms, but they weren’t as crunchy as the ones at Santouka so did not lend as much texture to the dish. However, the noodles were much better so it was still good. The food here is genuinely amazing, and I understand the long lines, even if it weren’t famous.

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Santouka @ San Diego

For lunch I went to Mitsuwa, a local Japanese grocery store with two Japanese fast food stores on the side. One served ramen while the other one had things like gyudon, curry rice and other simple Japanese meals like that. Jinxi recommended the ramen there, and my brother told me to get shio (salt flavored) ramen, so I did. I got the Chashu Shio Ramen.

Chashu Shio Ramen, small

The broth was a thick, creamy broth which was delicious. Obviously a lot of butter went into it, but I’m not sure what else. I wonder how they make creamy shio flavored broth? Creamy shio broth is like an oxymoron to me. Anyway, the ramen bowl came with a generous helping of kelp (or mu er, a fungi?), chopped negi (scallions), and bamboo. They were all great additions, especially the kelp/mu er which added a crunch to the texture. The chashu was more like salted pork belly though. I’m not sure if this is how Japanese people make chashu, but I felt like its different from what I’ve had before. However, it is very good chashu: tender, juicy and pork-y. The noodles are firm but chewy. There also a marinated plum (ume) in the bowl. I was slightly confused, but the sharp sour taste of the ume went surprisingly well with the bowl of ramen. Overall, great ramen.

Also, what I like about this place is that you get to choose your portions. They also had ikura rice (fish roe on top of rice) that I kind of wanted to try, but didn’t.

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Layer that cake

It was a friend’s birthday recently, and so I decided to make a cake for her. =) However, I didn’t want to make a regular cake. I think cakes are boring, and I personally don’t like cakes, so I went on a few blogs that were into Japanese cakes.  If you didn’t know, Japanese cakes tend to be very fancy/elaborate, with layers of cake and whipped cream or mousse and more layers of general yumminess. Since I loved mousse, and should practice it before I start teaching my baking class, I decided to go for it.

So then I had this coffee cake in mind that I had book marked and wanted to make before. However, when I told the friend arranging the party that I would make a cake, she replied, “I suggest something disney themed (if you’re putting a design on it) preferably minney/mickey mouse… or something chocolate flavored.”

I kind of didn’t know how to react, to laugh it off or be appalled. Disney themed!? Do I look like a cake designer to her? If I was so good I wouldn’t be in school; I’d be working in a cake store in New York! Geez. But anyway, the chocolate thing I could do, I suppose. Luckily, blogspot blogs have a “You might also like:” at the bottom of each post, which led me to a passion fruit chocolate mousse cake the same person did. But wait… passion fruits are expensive here… why don’t I go with raspberries instead, which are in season, and commonly paired with chocolate? Bingo, I had my cake.

Cake, final product (Photo Credits to David Hsu)

I did 3 layers, so I will separate them so.

Original recipe from Yue’s Handicrafts.

First Layer: Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 65 g sugar
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 30 g butter, melted
  • 35 g milk

Procedure:

  1. Beat the egg yolks with sugar until thick. Fold in melted butter.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder. Add to your egg yolks along with the milk and fold until smooth.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the two components together in 3 installments and until the batter comes together.

    Slight fail where the egg whites on the edges are over beaten =(

  4. Pour into a greased 8″ pan (VERY IMPORTANT, GREASE GENEROUSLY) and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

    Pierce with knife to make sure the cake is done

Note: I forgot to do this step, but I would have added a raspberry cake syrup to the cake too, using 2 tbsp water, 1tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp Chambord.

Second Layer: Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 350 g whipping cream
  • 190 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Procedure:

  1. Melt your chocolate
  2. Whip heavy cream and sugar into soft peaks. Fold together.

Third Layer: Raspberry Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 150 g whipping cream
  • 100 g raspberries, smashed
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g water
  • 8 g gelatine, or 1 packet
  • 2 tbsp Chambord

Procedure:

  1. Add your gelatine to cold water and let it bloom for 10 minutes. Heat the water (I used a microwave) and completely melt the gelatine.
  2. Whisk cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

    I looove cream cheese/cheesecakes

  3. Whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Fold the cream into the cheese, then the mushed raspberries, the Chambord, and finally the gelatine.

    All the components of the raspberry mousse, before folding

Putting it together

  1. Using a mold (or form a mold from aluminum foil), place the cake at the bottom.

    Aluminum foil mold with cake at the bottom

    Ghetto mold using tape to hold it together

  2. Brush on syrup generously.
  3. Pipe or dump the chocolate mousse on top and try to smooth this out. Put into fridge to set.

    Chocolate mousse on top of the cake

  4. Pipe or dump the raspberry mousse on top and smooth it out. Allow the mousse to set, preferably overnight. The resulting mousse should be firm to the touch, and not sticky. Garnish with raspberries before it sets if you would like.

End result, with melted chocolate writing

I actually ended up taking the raspberries off and eating it because I only put them on after the mousse had set

A few more things I would like to add: the original recipe called for cutting the chiffon cake layer into half, making one disk into a 7″ circle, and placing that on top of the set chocolate mousse before piping in the raspberry mousse layer. I didn’t feel like the  cake layer was thick enough to do so, so I omitted this step. But it was a bad move to do so. The mousse layers are definitely very heavy, which crushed the chocolate cake layer and made it very dense. It would have been better if the cake layer was thinner, so I would suggest splitting the cake and adding that extra cake layer on top.

Also, piping is suggested for the mousse layer because when I took off the aluminum foil, the layers were not pretty! I probably would have helped if I actually did the white chocolate decors on the side, but I don’t have any confidence in tempering chocolate. Icing it would have been excessive because most of this cake was a mousse anyway…

Birthday girl with a slice and her own chocolate covered strawberry as garnish (Photo Credits to David Hsu)

Overall, I think this recipe was okay. Would I do it again? Probably not. The construction of the cake is actually very easy, despite the layers, but I think the chocolate mousse doesn’t hold up well in the fridge. As in, the texture was very, very different from what I tasted the night before: creamy, light, chocolate-y became course/gritty, and not light. The chiffon cake layer too, wasn’t amazing due to it being compressed. However, the raspberry mousse was amazing, and I might make that just by itself someday.

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