Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sweet and Sour Daikon


Some of you might know this great side side as part of the Vietnamese sub (sandwich) or as part of a Korean meal! Many Japanese restaurant in North America, also serve this as a side dish! It is a very inexpensive and easy marinade to do at home and taste great by itself, or in a stir fry! 
  • Daikon (also known as Lo Bok)
  • Carrots
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Chili flake
The traditional way has you cut the daikon and carrot in thin long sticks! But feeling festive, I used a vegetable cutter (star). (I kept the extra pieces for a soup)


You then place all the pieces in a jar.

You boil the water, the vinegar, the sugar and the chili flake together. I did not gave exact measurement here because everyone does it differently. In this case, for two jars, I used 3 cups of water. 1/4 cup of vinegar. 5 tbsp of sugar and a pinch of chili flake. You can adjust the sugar and chili flake is you want it sweater or more sour! 

Pour the mix until the jar is filled. Then close. Let it marinade for 3-4 days for best result. But it can actually be eaten as early as 2 hours after you make it.   

TAMAGO

Tamago is probably the most useful recipe I know. It is great as a side dish, as a snack, as a party finger food, or in lunches and bento! You eat it cold so there is no need to keep it warm or reheat it. But more importantly; it tastes great and is quick to make.


  • 4 eggs
  • 4tea spoons  of sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp of Mirin
  • 1 tea spoon of Soya Sauce

You will also need a small square pan if you own one and a sushi rolling bamboo mat. 

 
First to put all the ingredient together and you mix. You do not want to whisk it since that would put too much air in the mix and make the tamago thicker. I usually use chop sticks and try to break down the egg by lifting the mixture.

Cooking the tamago is probably the hardest part! It took me month of practice before I got a perfect shape, color and texture. Still now, it tend to be a bit too dark. 

 


You first poor about 1/4 of the mixture. You want a thin layer but thick enough so that it won't break as you flip it. If it starts bubbling : burst the bubble with the chopstick. When it is half cook (not runny anymore but still humid), fold it over twice with the chopstick. It might break a little as you try, especially the first time but don't worry too much about it. Then add more mixture. As you pour it in the pan, lift the roll so that the new mixture gets underneath. That will help with the connection of the layer. Fold over you roll until you have no more mixture.

When the roll is done, remove form the pan right away. Place on a sushi rolling mat. Fold over the rolling mat so you can press the sides. This will give the nice rectangle shape. As you press, there should be a bit of juice coming out. This is normal. When you have the shape you want, plate it and store it in the fridge. Wait for it to cool down before you slice it in thin slice. It can then be eaten as is or you can use it in your sushi making endeavor!!


*If you do no have a square pan, you can use a round pan but you won't have the nice shape. If you do not own a sushi rolling mat, don't worry! It will still taste great! But it might not hold its shape well and migth crumble a bit.*   

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

GYOZA

 I recently up dated my status on facebook to "Making Gyoza" and was surprise to find so many people wanting to make them but not knowing how! First off, here is a great basic recipe ! 

As for mine, I don't follow a specific recipe. I always start with a whole cabbage and about 3 lbs of ground pork, then to taste I add, chive, sake, soya sauce and mirin. When I feel fancy, I add snow peas and coriander. I put all the ingredient in my food processor and make sure everything is very finely chop.

The great thing about gyoza is that you can pretty much make them anything you like! If you want them vegetarian, skip the beef! If you like shrimp better... go a head!!

As for the wrapper, any Chinese grocery and even some Zerhs or Loblaws carry Dumpling wrappers. You want to buy the little round shape ones.

 
If I use a whole cabbage and 3lbs of meat, I usually need 4 packs of wrappers. I know it makes a lot but don't worry! You can easily freeze them and eat them later!

When you wrap them, use water to seal the edge and not egg (like you would when making won ton). You should also only pleat one side of the dough (not both side like for Chinese dumplings). This way, they will stand up when they cook.



The wrapping process can be really long and tedious. Get some friends or family member to join you. It then becomes a great afternoon activity! The process is simple enough that children could help. (I remember as a kid, making won ton with mom. It was always lots of fun!!!) 

When you cook them, you can:
  1. Steam it!
  2. Boil it in a soup.
  3. Deep friend it.
  4. or my favorite way: Pan fried them. First at low heat for about 15 minutes, then at higher heat for about 10 minutes to get the bottom part crunchy. Just make sure they always stay covered so they don't dry out!
For the sauce, I usually buy it already made. But you can make your own with a mixture of Soya Sauce, Vinegar and Tamarin.


Bento Challenge

Good Morning!! I am glad to finally report on my Work Place Bento Challenge! On Friday the 17th of December, as to mark our last day of work before the Christmas Holidays, my coworker Lynn and I decided to have a friendly kawaii bento competition. For the both of us it was the first time attempting such thing (I had previously made some bento but not with a cute factor. As for my coworker, it was her very first bento EVER!!)

We had agreed on free choice of theme, even thought we both ended up making a winter-Christmas theme bento. I spend most of the night before preparing the bento following scale drawings I had made in the previous week. So did my coworker. And here are the results!!


Her bento featured a Santa Sleight made out of kani, a sliding penguin made of Devil egg and tortillas and a Christmas tree made of stuff beans. She added a gingerbread man, in a crêpe to mimic Santa's Toy Bag!  In total, she had 12 votes from the staff members. The penguin was a hit!
 My bento featured an inari reindeer, a tomato-sausage santa as well as a umeboshi star shape onigiri. I also made a Vietnamese rice roll that I decorated with Hungarian salami. I added, tamago, cheese cube and squash to complete the meal. In all, my bento received 13 votes. 


In all, we had a great time, trying each others food. We also shared with our school principal and our friends. We are now looking forward to our next challenge which  will be just in time for Valentine's day!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Senbazuru project

Hanging our 168 paper crane in Hiroshima (2009)
A few years ago, (2009) as I was the homeroom teacher for a split level grade 7-8 class, I found some of my students very interested about origami. Coincidently, I had just come back from my first trip to Japan and was very excited to share my knowledge (or not) about the subject. 
That's when I stumbled on the web site dedicated to Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes and later on, the Hiroshima Children Memorial Peace registry. As I was planning to visit that city in the summer I thought it would be a great activity to perform with my students (folding a 1000 paper cranes that is). 
Soon, many classes  were taking part in the project and together we made 168 paper cranes. Not exactly the number I was hoping for but I was so proud to see so many kids trying their best at something completely new to them. In July of that same year, I made my way to Hiroshima and under pouring rain, proudly hang our birds at the monument. As I was doing so, I met a lovely family from Ohio who help me string the birds. (I was not aware at the time of the stringing process).

Last October (2010), as I was diagnose with a miscarriage (at 3 months) I sat devastated at home. That's when I remembered the story of Sadako and decided to make my own 1000 paper cranes with the hope of a healthy baby for my next pregnancy. With the help of my husband, my sister, my friends and family, we made the 1000 paper cranes in less than 3 weeks. They are now stringed together in my house and I swore to bring them back to Hiroshima with me and my child-to-be.

At the same time, I was approach by the grade 2 teacher at my school who wanted to attempt this project with her own classroom. 19 kids who for the most part had never heard about Hiroshima nor origami. Yesterday marked our first try at teaching them. I first presented a power point filled with pictures of Hiroshima, paper cranes and Sadako. We gave them each a square of white paper and used the tutorial found on this great website.

Emma proudly showing her first bird!

Took a good hour but the result were encouraging. Every kid managed to make a beautiful crane, and furthermore they were all very motivated to keep on going. They were allowed to bring this practice crane back home.

Madame Pauline helping a student!








Yesterday marked our second attempt. The kids did very well and made over 40 paper cranes. Some of them needed a lot of help while others were able to teach visiting teacher how to fold their own!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

OHHHH-Bento

My first bento: Kimchi, rice, spinach roll, umeboshi et tamago
If you know me, you know I love bentos! I can spend hours looking at them. Through all my trip to Japan, I have built myself a small bento box collection with all the necessary tools to make them as Kawaii as possible.

This is the definition given on Wikipedia for bento:
Bento (弁当 bentō?)[1] is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento are readily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (弁当屋 bentō-ya?), train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend time and energy for their spouse, child, or themselves producing a carefully prepared lunch box.


Recently, I have spent countless hours looking at the web site, youtube videos and pictures of those mini-boxe lunch. Here is my favorite:
 

Off course, bentos are not always this elabore. In Japan, they are a commodity in any Combini (corner store) and sell for a few dollars.

My favorite bento place in Japan is Original bento! For just under 4$, you get a full delicious meal (fish with rice and tempura). They are easy to find since they have a bright pink sign.

A few weeks ago, I made bento's for 3 of my coworkers. I rolled some sushi, made some inari and tamago and a few sake-onigiri. It was a hit.That is when Lynn (one of my coworker) and I decided to challenge ourself in a friendly bento competition.




On december 17, we are to bring 2 identical bento each to be judge for taste and looks by the rest of the staff. I have started designing my bento and choose a "cute" theme. Tune in for some pictures of the process and the result!!!

'Tis the season to be cooking!!

From one disaster to another

Kuhn Rikon Stainless Cookie Press
and Decorating Set with Storage Box.

Off course with Chirstmas just around the corner, I have been cooking. The countdown is on, as I have to bake 78 cookies for my workplace cookies exchang on Friday December 10th! This year I wanted to outdo myself and went a head and bought the Kuhn Rikon Stainless Cookie Press and Decorating Set with Storage Box. I tried it with two different recipies and I was so please of the results. Easy, pretty, tasty cookies... that is until I tried washing the stainless steel tube. The tube is lined with a plastic inlay and the cookie dought easily gets between the layers. I tried cleaning it out. Impossible. I let it soak for a few hours, nothing to do about it. So broken heartedly I returned it to the store. After checking the manufacturer's web site, I realised many people seemed to have the same problem.

After  talking with friends, I found out that a good brand to buy would be the Norpro Brand of product. I was also told to avoid the Pampered chef brand. Unfortunatly, it is too late for me to pass an online order for this year, but I will look into getting one next Christmas.

I decided instead to stick to what  I do best and that is: make chocolate!! I went for an easy, white chocolate candy cane melt that I poured in silicone christmas mould from Dollorama. I use to buy chocolate mould from Bulk Barn but I find the silicone one work better and can be used for fudge, jello, candy and ice (off course). I didn't see the need in buying expansive mould from cooking store as the dollar store one work perfectly well!

I then proceeded in making the dought for some chocolate cookie sandwich with candy cane filling. A quick easy recipe I found online. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies But just as I was ready to roll them in little ball, I found there must have been worms in my mom's flour... back to square one, I had to throw away the dought and head back to the grocery store.

I will give it a second chance on wednesday so check back for the results!!