Happy Thanksgiving!

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I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

 

 

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shiso syrup

 

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It is already November, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  I know time flies so fast, but I didn’t expect that fast!!

 

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While I am making autumn flavor foods , trying to catch up the season, still I am enjoying the left over summer flavor.

That summer flavor is Shiso Syrup.

Shiso is my favorite Japanese herb, and I believe that is one of the most popular herb in Japan.

A touch of shiso at the end of cooking makes many dishes completed, and that refreshing flavor enhances the deliciousness.

 

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A few weeks ago even though the summer was already gone, I got a huge bunch of red shiso luckily.

I have to confess.  Even though I love shiso, I had never purchased and cooked red shiso.

I know people use red shiso for pickles because of their beautiful natural color and distinctive flavor.

When I got red shiso, I used them like I did to regular green shiso, but I had plenty of them!  They had never gone!

Then I searched the recipes, and I found very attractive one.

Let’s make shiso syrup!

 

 

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The result was wonderful!

That’s why even though it might be difficult for you to get them, I would like to introduce this lovely color syrup just in case.

 

Here are the ingredients.

 

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  • about 1 lb of red red shiso leaves
  • 16 oz of water
  • 1/4 lb of cane sugar
  • 2 oz of apple cider or rice vinegar

 

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Before cooking, look at their,,,

 

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beautiful color!

 

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This purple color indicates they have lots of polyphenol, and recent study shows they are good for anti-aging(!!) and allergies.

Because of their good smell, they stimulate appetite, so they are often taken during the humid summer in Japan.

Usually they are sold by bunch, so please wash them thoroughly.  They might have lots of dirt.

 

Then let’s cooking!

Since we use vinegar, we have to use stainless or enamel coated pot.

Pour the water into the pot, and bring to boil.

Then, put all the leaves into it.

 

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They might reach to the top of the pot, but once they are cooked, they wilt, so push them in!

Close the lid and cook it for a few minutes.

Then,,,

 

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squeeze all the liquid from the leaves.

They are very hot, so be careful.

First I was so careful that I used tongs, but I wanted to squeeze more, so I used secret weapons, my  hands.

HOT!!!!!

I took a risk, and I got a good,,,

 

 

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result!

 

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Return all the shiso liquid to the pot, and add sugar.

I use relatively a small amount of sugar, so if you want, you could add more.

Once all the sugar dissolves, pour ,,,

 

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the vinegar.

I want this syrup to be fruity and mild, so I used apple cider vinegar, but you can use rice vinegar as well.

 

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I didn’t do canning, but just in case I sterilized by boiling.

 

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Pour all the liquid and that’s all!

When you drink, dilute with water or sparking water.

It depends on you,  but you could dilute 1 Tb spoon of syrup with 5 oz of water.

 

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You can store it in the refrigerator for six months! but it doesn’t last long….

 

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Every day after taking shower, we enjoy this, and now it is almost gone….

I miss summer and I already miss this syrup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

O NASU and SHIO KOJI ( Eggplants cooked with shio koji)

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When I go to the grocery store, there are certain vegetables  I always purchase.

Lettuce, tomato, onion, carrot, broccoli, peppers and sometimes mushrooms and green beans.

I always see big eggplants sitting next to zucchini, but I seldom reach them.

WHY?

Because they are too big!

I think they are really good in lagsania or eggplant parmesan, but when I think about Japanese dishes, I only come up with one dish, BEINASU no DENGAKU.

We call big eggplants  as BEINASU, literally means “American eggplants”.

This dish is “cooked eggplants with sweat miso sauce”.  It is delicious!

Maybe I would introduce that someday!

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Today I will introduce a dish using Japanese eggplants.

When I go to the farmer’s market, I sometimes find them, but it is difficult to find at regular grocery stores.

Japanese eggplants are relatively small like Italian eggplants, but the shape is thinner than Italian’s.

Japanese eggplants have thin skin, so you don’t need to take off peel.

The eggplants I got this time are from Suzuki Farm, and they are gifts with purchase.

When you purchase value pack at Suzuki Farm, you could get OMAKE (small giveaway)!

How nice!

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They have some scars, but they are as delicious as the regular ones.

By the way, I read an article about ugly produce.

The farmers used to compost them to landfill since  they don’t look perfect and not qualified as grocery stores’ produce even though they are as delicious as the regular ones.

Some farmers started donating those ugly vegetables, or selling to the restaurants where chefs don’t care what they look because they eventually turn into soup or mashes vegetables.

I am glad to know that they are saved!

Today I would like to save this a little ugly but  delicious vegetables in Japanese style.

I found this recipe in a Japanese magazine, and modified a little.

Here are the ingredients.

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  • 2-3 medium size of Japanese eggplants
  • bonito flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of shio koji
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 small piece of ginger
  • sesame oil

Let’s preparing!

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Cut eggplants in half in lengthwise.

Then,,,

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give slits diagonally, but not cut through.

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Eggplants have some strong AKU (harshness), so once you cut them, they get easily darken and they give dish bitter taste, so put them in water for about a few minutes to get rid of AKU.

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Then save them from water, and towel dry them.

Next prepare the condiments we use.

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I have already introduced SHIO KOJI several times.

They are salt with fermenting koji mold, and they have lots of UMAMI.

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It smells sweet and also it has a SAKE flavor.

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Also we need bonito flakes to get more UMAMI into the dish.

Let’s start cooking!

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Heat the pan and put generous amount of sesame oil.

As you know, eggplants absorbs oil well, so don’t hesitate ( forget about calories!).

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Put eggplants.

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Then flip over and cook both sides well.

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Meanwhile mix shio koji  and mirin with water.

Then, when eggplants are cooked,

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pour the shio koji mixture and,,,,,

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bonito flakes into the pan.

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Then cook this for a few minutes.

THAT’S IT!

How simple is that!

Take this from heat and cool it down.

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Put them in a container, and keep it in the refrigerator.

They are delicious in cold.

When you serve this, grate ginger, and put it on top of eggplants.

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Eggplants and ginger are a good match.

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Just grilling eggplants with soy sauce and grated ginger is also a delicious dish!

Next time when I go to the grocery store, let’s reach BEINASU (American eggplants) and cook in Japanese way.