Carrot tsuyu for hand-pulled somen noodles

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Today somen, Japanese Summer chilled vermicelli, with two particularities.

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I have finer and better noodles than average. They are more expensive because they are still made traditionally.

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手延そうめん tenobe somen. Hand-pulled vermicelli noodles.
On the site of the brand 揖保乃糸Ibonoito (click here) you can see old prints of hand-making of these noddles. They have been introduced in Japan from China hundreds of years ago.

Here is a series of videos on how they are actually made now. Yes, there are 11 videos. Needless to say I’m not going to make mines so soon.

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I have seen this in a shop. I made carrot juice to make the tsuyu (dipping sauce). I’ve simply added grate fresh young ginger and a little shoyu soy sauce to the juice.

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Garnishing items : goya squash, red sweet chili, molokheya leaves, eringi tsukemono and tomato agar.
It’s called kake-somen or bukakke-somen when you pour the tsuyu on top.

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Reba-sashi, but fake. What could replace the Japanese carpaccio…

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レバ刺し reba sashi (liver sashimi). It’s an immensely popular food in Japan. A few years ago all the yakiniku, yakitori and izakaya restaurants proposed it. I find it delicious too.
BUT…
I guess you are wondering if it’s healthy to eat raw liver. The answer is unfortunately that it’s risky and a number of food poisoning cases have occurred, so now the delicacy has disappeared from menus. And people miss it. So food industry made “safe liver sashimi”. It’s planted based, maybe not fully vegan (I’m not sure about all coloring ingredient) but at 99%. It’s made of konnyaku.

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That’s how it is in the package. The faux-liver is in a liquid, you just need to rinse it. There is a sauce to marinate or to dip and sesame seeds. Sold less than 200 yen, that’s expensive for konnyaku but cheaper that the original liver.

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Perfect appearance. Taste ? None. You will only have the taste of the sauce. Let’s try.

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Served with mitsuba and onions (salted, rinsed).

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A dip in the sauce.

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Catching toasted sesame seeds and chili flakes that I’ve added.

VERDICT : YES… but NO.
Yes for the idea. As I said, you don’t have the liver flavor, it’s lost. but the texture and freshness is pleasant and goes well with the oily dressing. That could be good… with another sauce.
No, because I don’t like their sauce, this brand’s sauce. It’s too dominated by soy sauce and onion, too salty.

The classic sauce is usually simpler : a good ra yu (flavored sesame oil, infused with garlic and chili) and very little soy sauce.

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I made my version with argan oil, natural sea salt, a few drops of soy sauce, dry garlic chips, dry chili flakes. Mix, and after 15 minutes, place the faux-liver in it 5 minutes. The great taste of the oil is showcased.
You have a nice appetizer.

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Japanese warming soup with mini daikon


A little tutorial of Japanese cuisine today. It’s a soup with sake lees that has the property of warming up the body. It’s ideal for the cold season.

I like daikon, the huge Japanese white radish… but my favorite bit is the leaves. So I’m very happy with this type.

Very small radishes, sweet and tasty.

Tons of greens !

Other recipes with this plant :
Daikon sesame unohana (click here for recipe)
Mini-daikon miso soup
Nameko eggs with daikon leaves
Water tsukemono with mini daikon
Leafy miso

nanakusa okayu

Besides the mini daikon, I had cooked kabocha pumpkin, onion, dry shiitake mushrooms. Then tofu and sakekasu.

酒粕 sakekasu is a by product of sake making. It arrives on the market in this season. The taste ? It’s like unsweetened goat cheese with a little sake… Well, you should try.

Amazake, a drink with sake kasu

Sake kasu soup recipe

1. Dashi stock : put a 1 tbs of dry fish flakes (kezuri katsuo) and water, bring to a boil.
2. Season with soy sauce and miri, simmer a few minutes.
3. Add veggies or whatever items you want (optional, veggies, fish and tofu are common choices)
4. At the end, cut the stove and blend in the sake kasu paste. Slightly reheat without boiling, and serve.

For vegan dashi stock click here.

This is the way to blend in pastes into Japanese soup. The technique is similar for miso. We have this set “sieve + spoon” but you can get them separately. Put pate in the sieve, plunge it in the stock and stir with the spoon till all the paste has melted in.

So I’ve cooked progressively the onions, then the radish, then the leaves and just reheated the tofu and kabocha, finishing with the paste.

Dozo meshi agare !

Japanese Sunday roast : bamboo shoots, konnyaku steak and my small tree of sansho

Vegan brunch. It’s roast konnyaku steak, with kinome and green peppers, and roast fresh takenoko ( bamboo shoot).

The konnyaku (konjac, konjak) is a sort of root vegetable that is not sold whole but processed in blocks of different shapes. It has nearly no calories and it has digestive properties. Taste is inexistant, unless you get flavored versions, but the texture is pleasant and it will absorb the taste of the sauce of condiments, like here.
After washing and drying the block of konnyaku, I cut the top and stir-fried it in olive oil plus a little soy sauce and lots of freshly milled 4 color peppercorn mix. I know olive oil is not classically Japanese, but it is really good this way.

The stir-fried (sweet) green peppers.

Topping the steak, leaves of kinome

…from this little tree that I keep indoor as a green plant. It is a young tree of sansho, Japanese “Sichuan pepper” that gives sansho peppercorn. More here (click on text) :
Sansho, la saveur boisee de la cuisine japonaise. (The wood flavor in Japanese cuisine.)
Outside, it has predators here. Those baby butterflies are crazy about it, and one of those itsy bitsy worms can clear all the leaves of the whole tree in a few minutes. That happens automatically on my balcony and I live on the 5th floor (4th floor in logical French system), they crawl up on purpose.
The plant does its best to protect itself, it has thorns, so before eating I tear of the leaves from the stalks. Actually, I eat them with the bamboo shoots :

A fresh small bamboo shoot. To see where they come from read the story of baby bamboo.
I cut out the leaves around and roasted it in the pan.

It does not look so great on the photos but this is definitely the delicacy of this season. It was so good that I could have eaten a dozen. But I had only one for today.

boiled takenoko bamboo shoots and kinome

So I ate tomato beans :

A Sunday brunch ready in a few minutes (without counting the time to soak and cook the white beans that I did in a big batch the day before).

Petit yaki-niku, many veggies

Yaki-niku, grilled meat. And a few veggies.
Yaki-niku is another specialty of Osaka. That’s the encounter of superb quality meat and Korean tradition. There are many “Koreans” in the city, not North, not South, they came way before, 100 years ago. The Tsuruhashi town, in the heart of Osaka is Korean town. There, you can find dozens of yaki-niku restaurants, in each street, one per building. In the rest of the city, there are less, maybe 2 or 3 per street.
The meat is expensive… in average. That depends on cuts. Everything is used, so you can lower the average. Or take small amounts of the 1st rate. And lesser quality can be arranged by preparation. I prefer eating less and less often, than going down in quality.

Korean Gourmande (photo compilation of my Korean posts)

Wagyu, Japanese beef. This one is not from Kobe (well, there is no beef produced in that city, I can tell you, farms are hours away).

As you can see, there all those small lines of white. It’s said the meat is persillée (parsleyed, like a leaf of parsley) in French, no idea in other languages. I like the parsley image.

These cuts were sold to be eaten raw, but… I prefer cutting my raw meat. I cooked it today.
I let it marinate it one hour, after rubbing it in a mix of sake, soy sauce, chili flakes and very little cooking oil.

Sides are ready ? Kimchi, brown rice, shishito green peppers…

…salad spinach, sesame seeds, mushrooms.

A small cauliflower. I cut and pre-roasted it 15 minutes in the oven-toaster.

Everything is grilled on cast-iron plancha. That’s more convenient than an open-fire brasero. No smoke (you see vapor), and I can use it on the induction cooker.

The sides are less hot. It’s easy to cook exactly how you like it. Eat at once… don’t let it cool the time to take photos.

No salt or whatever is need. Items cook together. Kimchi is salty. I only poured a few drops of fragrant sesame oil in the plate.
Delicious.

Teratocuisine, it’s when you create a culinary monster. And it’s good !

I won’t hide you the truth : the aliens have landed in Osaka yesterday… On my window.

(photos from wikipedia and this blog )

This is the most idiot-proof recipe of sushi :
稲荷寿司 inari-zushi. Rice bag sushi.
I don’t know how popular their are abroad, but there are one of the most common sort here. Rectangle shape in Kanto (Tokyo), triangle in Kansai (Osaka). It’s a pocket of abura-age, usu-age (the thin ones) :

It’s fried tofu. It’s sold that way in tofu stores or the tofu shelf of larger shops. The thing is they make a few sorts… and today, I didn’t pick up those you need for inari-zushi.
So normally, you flatten your abura-age with a baker’s pin. Then you pass them in boiling water to clean a little the oil. And you simmer them in a sweet broth (classically dashi, mirin, soy sauce, sugar).

I don’t like mine too sweet, so it’s soy sauce, sake and skin of yuzu citrus.

Steamed good rice (koshihikari), add (black) vinegar sauce.
Inari-zushi are often very simple and vegan. I made some with sesame, and others with carrot (red kintoki carrot).
You mix. And you fill the pockets of abura-age.
EA-SY ! A 2 yr old can do that.

BUG !!!!! I was unable to open my abura-age in pockets. They are 1 layer. No way !
So the abura-age had to be wrapped around, or nothing.

A monster is born. Sushizilla !

A female…

A herd ? MUUUUUMMMM !!!! We are invaded !?

The shape… well. It didn’t affect the taste. Fried tofu + sushi rice is a magic pair.
They were really delicious with a few drops of soy sauce nama shoyu on the back and a little wasabi between the ears. With a good pot of genmai cha tea to reheat that.

4 pieces (= 2 servings of rice)
Cal 549.5 F17.8g C74.2g P19.8g

I took the photos outside for the light, that’s why you can see the street in the back.

Soba-gaki. Like Japanese peasants, in old times.

Let’s make soba-gaki.

-So, dear reader, this is soba-gaki. Soba-gaki, my readers…
-Hi readers, nice to meet you…

My Japanese readers knew the beast. Well, it’s a buckwheat flour paste. Like gnocchi or kneppe.

Wheat was introduced in Japan quite recently, and until post-war times, it was available in limited quantity. Culture is possible only Hokkaido, the “newest” part of the country, conquered late 19th century. Soba (buckwheat) can be grown easily in all mountainous villages. It was abundant.
So the Japanese peasants were eating very often the soba noodles that are still very popular. And in Winter, the soba gaki, that fell out of fashion. Or is it the contrary ? As it’s no longer an everyday food, it is now retro and totally hip !

That’s how you make it. You add 200 ml of hot water to 100 grams of buckwheat flour. In a pan, on low heat, and you stir… you must be strong.
A better page : click here.

Ugly me ? No simple. It’s possible to shape it perfectly with wet hands. For today I didn’t need.
Here, you can see nice ones, served in different savory and sweet dishes.
Texture is… original. Taste is buckwheaty. You have to try.

I cut slices and thrown into a soup.

With shungiku, tsukune (duck meat balls), kabocha pumpkin, mushrooms, tofu, ginger, in a dashi and soy sauce broth.

That makes a meal ideal to fight chilly weather, ready in about 10 minutes (if you make soup and soba gaki simultaneously).

Cal 674.6 F21.6g C85.8g P46.2g