Tai no kabuto-ni. A helmet of sea bream.


A Japanese meal with tai no kabuto ni as a main.
Yes, kabuto means helmet, and the resemblance is clear. Well think about those samurai helmets that everybody wears to ride a bicycle in Japan… er, no, but that’s this type with 2 ear flaps :

kabuto source :blog from the place where they make them (click here) . Visit the page for more details. They are display models for Little Boy Festival in May.


That’s an economical dish as they sell fish heads cheaply. And they sell them ready for this dish. I mean the scales are grated (roughly), and it is split in two. Well veggie readers (I doubt you’re still here) sorry for the view. But for us that eat animals, it’s better to avoid wastes. That said I would eat fish heads anyway. Because there is a lot of flesh in it, and it is of finer texture and tastier.

Recipe :

-Rinse the fish. What you can do is put it on a grill and pour boiling water on it, just once. It makes the fish white and the scales very easy to notice, so you can finish the fismonger’s work. For myself I don’t care if I have scales in my plate, anyway, you need to pick the bones and bits.
-Then it’s a classic nitsuke sauce 1:1:1 , sake, mirin, shoyu soy sauce. And a small piece of kombu seaweed. Put these in a pan with a little water, bring slowly to a boil.
Add the fish. Make a foil cover. Pass to moderate heat. Cook about 15 minutes.


The veggies are steamed separately. Here 2 colors of carrots. And I had frozen garlic stalks. Let’s get the sides :


I had kintoki red beans, and kimchi ready.


A grated veggie salad. A soup, a drink-soup. It’s really water, veggies and black pepper. No salt as there is enough for the meal.


Genmai, brown rice.


Rice-cooker steamed black sesame bread

Sometimes you don’t get what you thought… and that’s good too. So these are savory mushipan (steamed bread).

The batter is a quick bread batter. Flour + baking powder, I added rice bran, salt and black sesame. And water. And a little oil.

Any steam-basket is OK. Any big high pot is OK. I use my rice-cooker. I put water in the bottom (about 2 cm), and I make a base with a 2 cm high saucer (that could be anything). I put the mold with batter on top. And I start the program. That lasts a long time as the cooker stops when the rice is cooked , but the water doesn’t cook. After 15 to 20 minutes, check the bread, if it raise. Use a pin to see if it’s done inside.

Steamed. It didn’t go up as much as I expected, they are more solid… Maybe my baking powder is not too fresh ? It’s getting humid in this season and I should keep all opened packs in the fridge from now. Well, it was half-way between bread and gnocchi, a dumpling. It was good hot as a side starch.

Perfect Japanese rice in your cast iron pot

Rice is a food you can completely waste if you don’t cook it properly. It can become a lump, stay like raw starch, half-lump and half-starch. It can taste watery. Or you can get it just great : fluffy, each grain cooked at the same level, neither hard nor smashed, and full of its flavors.

It is not particularly difficult.
To obtain perfectly cooked rice like in the good Asian restaurants, you don’t need a rice-cooker. This method works with any type of stoves (or campfire) and a cast-iron pot.


That takes about 50 minutes, but you will be busy less 5~10 minutes.
The first time, stay around all the time, observe everything. Write memos. You may have to slightly adjust the time and heat as conditions very from kitchen to kitchen. But after that will become automatic. I know “step 1” takes 3 minutes on my stove, just the time to drink my coffee. Then I set the stove timer on 8 minutes and I come back half an hour later.

It is important to wash your rice not only to get rid of the excess of starch (and coating additives in certain countries) but also to wet it. You can see on the photo below that after washing, the rice is already a little more voluminous than when it was dry.

Rice cooks in 25 minutes (or more), but this is not a continuous process :
Step 1 : reaching the heat, getting fully wet.
Step 2 : cooking while absorbing the water.
Step 3 : cooking while absorbing the steam.
Salt would prevent the water from properly wetting the grain. Don’t add any.

That also works with a thick terracotta stove-top pot, of a very thick steel pot like a pressure-cooker. These thick pot have the property of retaining the heat for a long time.
Look at this photo. In this pot, I can cook from 1 to 2 cups of rice. Roughly the dry rice should be from 1/5th to 2/5th of the volume of your pot.
More rice, it would overflow.
Less rice, there wouldn’t be enough concentration of steam.

This is a Japanese rice cup : 180 milliliter. That doesn’t matter if you use a different measuring cup. Measure the dry rice and the water with the same cup.
So let’s go :

******** RECIPE **********



Easy technique :

-Place a vegetable colander in a salad bowl. Put your measured dry rice and plenty of water.
-With your hand, rub the rice over the walls of the colander during 2 minutes. Don’t be lazy, do that with energy. The water will become white like milk. Discard water, rinse. -Repeat 1 or 2 times.
-Then you should get clear water.
-Take away the bowl, and let rest 5 minutes (or more).

Transfer the rice into the pot. Add 1 cup plus 20% of of a cup of water. For “sushi rice”, as you will add more liquid later, you need 1 cup plus 10% of cup. The water is cold or room temperature.
Do NOT add salt now.


Put the lid on your pot.
STEP 1 :
Place it on the stove, on high heat (start medium if it’s a terracotta pot). After 2~3 minutes, check the lid with your finger. When it gets very hot, you know the steam is filling the pot. Pass to step 2.
STEP 2 :
Pass on low heat. Start a timer for 8 minutes. Then cut the heat. Do NOT open the lid.
STEP 3 :
Let the rice absorb the heat during about 20 minutes (12 is a minimum).

After step 2, the rice should have absorbed the water. The first time, check briefly. If some water is left, cook 2 minutes more, check again… The next times, you’ll know it takes a little longer in your kitchen.
When you check, do it very quickly, then shut back the lid and put 30 seconds more on heat to recreate some steam for “step 3”.

Perfectly cooked rice.
You can salt it now if you want.

For a few more tips click here (I’ll post this soon)

Paprika chicken, coconut cauliflower crème

Smoky taste for this chicken in a red crispy skin. Eaten after a variation of crème de chou-fleur.

My cream was older than I thought, so I used rich coconut milk instead. Other ingredients are cauliflower stalks, Spring cabbage, a few blossoms of cauliflower, 4 colour pepper mix, nutmeg, salt. That’s sweet and tasty.

The fire comes with the chicken grilled in the oven-toaster with olive oil, lots of paprika, salt, herbes de Provence. Behind a few leaves of shiso.

Steamed kabocha.

This bread is made with additions of nuka (rice bran), with sesame seed and goma cream (black sesame butter).

Poireau vinaigrette

My prefered way to prepare this simple Winter French salad.

The dish has a bad reputation, due to systematic sabotage by battalions of cooks in cheap cafeteria. They prepare it by the ton, mix that and lets it sit days.

What is delicious is soft sweet melty warm leek white, with strong flavorful vinaigrette.

This ideal for the big classic European leek.

Cook longly the white in water, just water, slow boil. Let it cool, on a table, then in the fridge, overnight. Drain (the broth can be used).
It becomes sweet in taste, and so soft that you can split it that way with a fork.

This vinaigrette is made of onion (shallot would be good… they are not always at reach here). I cut and salt the onions, let them a while then rince. Neutral oil and flavored vinegar (white wine tarragon vinegar). Lots of ground pepper. And as much roughly cut parsley as you have. Flat parsley taste better. I’d use the double of the curled one.

Mix and pour on the hot leeks at once. Serve within a few minutes.

Hot leeks ? I told you to let them cool… that’s why my plate is in a steaming basket : to reheat the looks.