Navidad experiment : tamales

It’s a grey and dark outside, the shortest day of the year… So let’s cook colorful. Tamales improvisation. I have no idea how they should be. I had fun making them and I found them delicious. The beef flavor in the masa was really great.

Some ingredients are from the freezer like the avocado and beans :

Avocado, red onion (salted, let 30 minutes, rinsed), sudachi lemon (with 1/3 of its peel) meli-melo.

Chocolaty black (soy) beans. These 2 side dishes are refreshing and sweet. The red salsa (tomato, red chili) is fierce.


Corn cob husks and colorful hot chiles.

The meaty flavor : carnitas and “lard”.
Well, it’s slow-cooked sliced pork with onion and sudachi lemon, and beef fat. They give the cubes of fat in supermarkets here, as it’s a necessary ingredient for the sukiyaki. At that price of zero yen, I sometimes take a few. That’s not so “sinfully fat” as you may think. I used 1/2 cube (4 grams) for the whole, the flavor is powerful.

The masa… I don’t have real masa powder. It’s a mix of polenta (grits) and corn flour, plus spices, salt, the melted beef fat, olive oil, water.

2 flavors, carnitas or green chili ‘n cheese.


After about 30 minutes of steaming.

Cal 721.8 F29.2g C95.2g P25.8g

With pampushki buns

I’ve seen borstch was often served with round objects called pampushki and corresponding to many different recipe. This is the bread version. Simple bread dough with a little powdered skim milk for whiteness and fineness.

-> ->

Oiled balls, inflated, being baked.

Then I prepared garlic, take off the germ, cut finely, salt. After a few minutes, added olive oil and mitsuba stalks. That’s the color as of course, garlic taste dominates completely.

Pass the buns under the boiler, just before serving. Pour the garlic oil on top.

Bring the borstch, reheated with a few white beans.

Cal 594 F17.6g C93.4g P20.8g

Recipe of borstch for gourmande

A bortsch for gourmande

There are few items on the list of foods I really hate. Beets is the number 1. When I was a kid I was saying “blanche ou rouge, la betterave, c’est ma bete noire” which doesn’t translate and mean beets were my enemy. My grand-parents loved them and had tons from their gardens. I was the only person 300 km around that didn’t love beets, it seemed. The menu was not optional, not eating was not an option either… A real nightmare veggie.
Japan is a safe country for that. Beets are an exotic rarity here (actually the leaves are very popular, which is good for me, I only dislike the root). I should be happy.
NO ! Because I love borstch. I even crave for it. So I have to buy canned beets at a ridicule price for pig food.

It’s a recipe of… nowhere. Totally at my taste, with local ingredients -except the infamous can.

My special bortsch is very simple : red beets, red cabbage, red skinned sweet potatoes, red onion…
Start melting a little beef fat. It’s the secret of the mellow taste. We get free cubes of beef fat in all shops here, they are for sukiyaki… or borstch.
Start frying the onion and 1/2 clove garlic. Add a cup of cubed mushrooms (feet of maitake). Add the potato, the cabbage, the beets, their juice, sliced daikon radish, a tbs of paprika, water. Simmer 2 hours.
In the rice cooker :

You get those very tender reddened veggies :

Add salt and pepper at your taste. Serve with yuzu lemon for the acid touch.

And a little yogurt.

What’s that yellow object ?

Edit :
How do you spell it ? Me too…
borscht, borsch, bortsch, borstch, borsh, barszcz, borshch….
Azerbaijani: borș,
Czech: boršč,
Estonian: borš,
Latvian: boršs,
Lithuanian: barščiai,
Polish: barszcz,
Romanian: borș,
Russian: борщ, borshch,
Slovak: boršč,
Turkish: Borş
Ukrainian: борщ, borshch,
Yiddish: בארשט, borsht.
Japanese : ボルシチ but purists spell it : ボールシュチュ

I had 4 servings of that dish :

With potato cheese dumplings
With pampushki buns
Reheated with maitake mushrooms (no photo)

Summer version