Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Favorite Kitchen Storage & Display Ideas

The kitchen is the place where I spend most of my time during the day. That’s why I like to store everything in plain sight, so that I can easily spot and reach my favorite things.

The shelf in the corner of my kitchen, which my husband made for me, is where I store the spices and dried ingredients that I use most often. I like to arrange the spices and dry food in my own containers instead of using the store-bought ones. It might be a small thing but just doing this makes me happy to be in the kitchen. My current favorite for these containers are the glass jars made by WECK in Germany. I get pretty excited just by looking at them.

Since becoming pregnant with my first son, I have been filling my kitchen jars with Kombu (kelp) and dried sardines so that they are always ready to use for a natural soup stock. I cut the Konbu into three-inch pieces and I prepare the sardines by removing the heads and insides before storing them. This way, I can make soup stock whenever the feeling hits. A little bit of preparation speeds up everyday chores, and most importantly it makes them fun. Small jobs like these will put you on the path towards cooking with more love and filling your home with joy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Soy Sauce Based Cucumber Pickles

We love pickles in Japan. The pickle making technique is much different in Japan than in Western countries. Some of the varieties don’t require a long soaking or fermenting period.  Today I will show you one of the easiest and quickest soy sauce based/marinated cucumber pickle recipes, which makes a great addition to any meal.

Soy Sauce Based Cucumber Pickles

·      1 or 2 cucumbers (I prefer organic if possible)
·      1 teaspoon of brown sugar
·      2 tablespoons of soy sauce
·      1 tablespoon of rice vinegar

1.     With a peeler, peel 4 stripes of skin off the cucumber length-wise. Slice into half inch pieces.

2.     In a Ziploc container or a bowl, mix the brown sugar, soy sauce, and rice vinegar well and add the sliced cucumbers. Mix well and leave for 15 minutes to a couple hours so that the flavor gets absorbed.

3.     Serve with sesame seeds or shichimi pepper if you like.

★If you are interested in Japanese cuisine then check out my other articles in the Washoku.Guide!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Here it is! Maki Roll Sushi recipe!

Making Maki Roll Sushi at home is easier than you think. I have been teaching Maki Sushi for a while now and each time people are impressed with how easy it is to make and how beautiful and delicious it turns out. Everyone always enjoys the experience since it is so fun to make. If you know how to roll the Maki Sushi then you are ready to have your own Maki Sushi party at home. I will show you my standard Maki Sushi recipe and how to roll it correctly. You arrange the fillings and add your creative touch. Soon you will have many varieties of Maki sushi to share.
Let’s enjoy Maki sushi at home! It is so good!

Maki Sushi
(For 6 rolls)

<Sushi Rice>

3 measures of rice (1 measure = 180cc)
3 measures of water (1 measure = 180cc)
2 inch piece of Kombu (Kelp)
2 Tbs Sake
1/3 cup Rice vinegar
2 to 3 Tbs Sugar

1 & 1/2 tsp Salt

1) Wash the rice and soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain well and place the rice and 3 measures of water in a pot. Remove 2 tablespoons of water from the pot and replace with 2 tablespoons of Sake plus the kelp. Cover with lid and cook with high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn down to low heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, let sit for 10 minutes.
(If you use a rice cooker to cook the rice, then poor a little less water than the 3 cups line.)

2) Meanwhile, mix well the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. (makes sushi vinegar seasoning)

3) Transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl. Sprinkle the sushi vinegar seasoning evenly over the top of the rice.
(If you use a wooden sushi bowl then soak the wooden bowl in water and pat dry before you use it or else the rice will stick to the bowl.)

4) Use one hand to mix the seasoning into the rice with quick cutting strokes using a Shamoji (spatula) and the other hand to fan the rice in order to cool it down as quickly as you can.

5) Serve at room temperature.


Sushi rice
Nori (Seaweed)
Crab sticks
Sweet scrambled eggs (recipe below):

1) Make sweet scrambled eggs. Mix 3 eggs, 2 Tbs of brown sugar, 1 Tbs sake, and 1/2 Tbs soy sauce or mentsuyu (if you have some), then make scrambled egg with a little oil in a heated frying pan.

2) Slice the cucumbers into 1/2 inch wide strips. 

3) Cut avocado also about 1/2 inch wide.

<How to roll>

1) Divide the sushi rice in 6 parts.
2) Place the “Makisu”(bamboo mat) on a cutting board (or on a flat and clean working space),

then place the Nori (shiny smooth side down) sideways on the Makisu,

and spread evenly divided sushi rice over the Nori,

leaving a 1 inch border/margins of Nori visible at the far end.

3) Lay the cucumbers, crab sticks, avocados, and scrambled eggs in a line in the section between the 1/3 to middle point of the rice.

4) Hold the fillings with your fingers, then start rolling the front end of the rice until it meets the far end of the rice. Hold tightly to make the shape (but not too tight), then finish up the rolling. (If you squeeze the sushi too tight the fillings squeeze out from the ends.)

5) Leave the Maki Sushi to rest for a couple of minutes with the Nori side down.  The Nori will stick together and the Maki Sushi will be moist easy to cut.

6) With wet cloth, wipe the sharp knife. Cut Maki Sushi in half, then wipe the knife and cut in half again and again until you have 8 pieces.

Practice a few times, then you will get to know the feeling and you will be a Maki Sushi chef at home!

If you would like to use raw Sashimi/Sushi grade fish then I strongly recommend to go to a Japanese or specialty high quality seafood market and ask them if you can get Sashimi quality fish. Don't use regular market raw fish for sushi, it needs to be specially prepared and cared for. 
Contact me if you would like me to teach you how to make Maki Roll Sushi.

This is the video of my Maki Roll Sushi demo at the Williams-Sonoma store in NYC.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nikujaga (Simmered Meat and Potato)

This recipe was passed down to me from my grandfather, who was a very good cook. He always cooked us delicious food when we visited him and he was a major influence to my cooking style.

Nikujaga is a standard family food in Japan. “niku” means meat and “jaga” means potatoes, so this is basically simmered potatoes and vegetables with meat. My grandfather’s Nikujaga recipe doesn’t use any broth, only sugar, sake and soy sauce, so it has a wonderful sweet taste. We use a frying pan to prepare it so it’s like half sautéed and half simmered. Some people use beef for Nikujaga, but my grandfather’s recipe uses pork instead. In Japan I would use sliced pork, but since it is difficult to get thin sliced meat outside of Japan, I use ground pork. I have grown to be quite fond of ground pork so I guess that is my twist to this family dish.

Nikujaga (Simmered Meat and Potato)

·      ½ lb of ground pork
·      3 potatoes
·      1 onion
·      3 carrots
·      2 tablespoons of brown sugar
·      2 tablespoons of Japanese sake
·      3 tablespoons of soy sauce

·      some oil

1.     Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. Cut onion into wedge shapes and slice carrots to 1/3 of an inch.

2.     Sauté the ground pork in a frying pan with oil on medium heat. As the meat browns, add the onions, carrots and potatoes, and sauté them for a minute.

3.     Add sugar, sake, soy sauce, and mix well. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.     Remove from the heat and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. If you have time, let it sit even longer. Once the Nikujaga cools down, the taste absorbs better. You can heat it up again before you serve it.

Enjoy my grandfather’s recipe, Nikujaga. Of course you should eat with a serving of Japanese rice.

★If you are interested in Japanese cuisine then check out my other articles in the Washoku.Guide!