how to make KAKIAGE (Tempura)

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What do you think is the most known Japanese word?

SAYO(U)NARA, ARIGATO(U), FUTON, SUSHI, RAMEN, SOBA, TOFU,,,and,,,

 

TEMPURA!!!

 

Today I would like to show how to make tempura.

To be honest with you, I didn’t cook tempura often in Japan because we have tempura specialty restaurants.

 

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Like sushi, frying tempura needs lots of experience and technique.

 

 

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We make chirashi zushi (sushi) at home, but we don’t make regular sushi since we know we couldn’t do well like sushi chefs.

 

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Chirashi zushi is sushi rice in a bowl mixed with lots of ingredients, most of which are vegetables.

I made sushi rice, using black rice this time.  Black rice reacts with vinegar and turns to be pink, so I wanted to make this pink rice in spring, thinking of cherry blossoms in my country.

WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!!

I think chirashi sushi is like,,,

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this, isn’t it?

Yes, this is also called chirashi sushi.

I should probably write more about sushi in near future.

Today’s topic is TEMPURA!! (REMEMBER??!!)

The reason I wanted to make tempura today was because I had a bottle of frozen water, which was forgotten in the freezing car.

We need ice cold water to make good tempura.

The reason is because we don’t want batter of tempura to be gooey with gluten.  The higher the temperature is, the more gluten is produced.  Using ice water, we can make minimize the production of gluten.  It might be much better to chill flour until we use.

So,

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when I found this poor bottle, I said, OK, I could use that!

 

I decided to make tempura soba, which is a hot noodle soup with tempura.

That is also one of the popular soba dishes in Japan.

Today I focus only on tempura. (Please remind me!  I often go to the other direction!)

Among a variety of tempura, I would like to make kakiage style, which is a mixture of vegetables and other ingredients fried in batter.

I wish I had shrimp, but I didn’t, so I went vegetarian.

Here are the ingredients for today’s kakiage.

 

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  • 1 small carrot
  • about 1/4 of medium size onion
  • flour
  • ice water
  • egg
  • canola oil
  • hijiki (optional)
  • ao nori (optional)

You could use regular onion here.  The reason I used purple onion today was because it was too pungent!!  I tried several methods to get rid of this pungency, but I failed, so I decided to use this onion not for eating raw but for cooking.  The heating process changes the pungency to sweetness.

By the way, do you know what the green bottle is in the picture right?

That is AONORI, green laver.

Aonori has strong flavor, so I often use this when I want to add some punch to dishes.

I would like to put aonori in the batter.

For vegetables, you also use corn, bamboo shoot, snap peas, asparagus, green beans and even carrots leaves!

I also add some seaweed called hijiki with vegetables.  That is one of my favorite food.  I put this in my salad almost every day!

It is sold dry, so we need to hydrate this before using.

Once you prepare the vegetables, start heating the oil, and let’s move on to the batter.

 

As I mentioned above, the water  has to be very cold to make tempura crisp.

For the batter, water and flour is 1:1 ratio.

I only make 4 small kakiage this time, so I only use 1/4 cup of water and the same amount of flour.

When you mix them together, use chopsticks to avoid over-mixing.

Open chopsticks wide, and mix roughly.  Some flour has to be remained.

Remember?  We don’t want to produce gluten here.

 

I should have added aonori before mixing with water, but it is fine.

Add aonori if you have ,and now you put this batter into the vegetables.

 

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Before adding, coat 1/4 egg with the vegetables , and then add just a little bit of flour to cover them.

This makes vegetables stick together and makes frying easier.

(I used egg white in the bottle.)

Then add some of the batter into vegetables.

Heat the oil until it gets 340F.

 

 

It might be easier using the shallow pan, that way you could slide the vegetables from the side.

Spoon some vegetables  and slide it into the oil.

Don’t overcrowd the pan!

Otherwise they get soggy.

 

The tempura chef often say “don’t look!  Listen the sound!”.

You may be able to recognize the change of the sound.

The sound gets high and short when they are ready.

 

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Do they look delicious to you?

Usually we eat this with dipping sauce, but this time I will put this into soba noodle soup, so I didn’t make dipping sauce.

If you want to eat this as it is and you don’t have dipping sauce, you can try this like I did.

 

 

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Can you guess what the green powder is?

 

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This is Matcha Salt!

I just mix matcha powder and salt.  This is very simple but very good.

We decided to eat some with mathca salt, and some in the soba noodle in the soup.

 

 

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What do you think?

You might want to add some shichimi (Japanese seven spices) like we do.

 

Would you like to try to make tempura at home?

 

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It is simple and easy.  Just experience.

 

everyday obento

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I have been preparing my husband’s OBENTO for more than ten years.  Before that, I was working as well, so I didn’t prepare, and even didn’t think and worry what he would have for his lunch.

Now I am so worried if I couldn’t prepare.

I am a full time house wife, and to take care of my husband and my furry kids is my job.  After these ten years as a housewife, I have been improving. (Lucky my husband!  or the previous me was just not good.)

Some people think “housewife is not a job!”.

I would like to say loud  HOUSEWIFE IS NOT A JUST HOUSEWIFE.  IT IS A FULL TIME JOB!!!

As far as I am at home, I am at my working place, so I couldn’t feel relaxed.  Poor me..

However I love my job.   That’s why I am keep working!  I couldn’t earn money, but I could get reward by words.

As I said in my previous article about OBENTO, obento is very special for me.

Even though I couldn’t put anything special, I try to make it, thinking the balance of the nutrition, and more over thinking and wishing that my husband would enjoy it.

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I woke up this morning at 5 AM as always, and stood in the kitchen and thought.

Well, what could I put today in my or his ( ? ) obento?

 

Today I would like to introduce a very easy side dish, using celery.

Also I will introduce a Japanese flavored boiled egg.

I always have those two in my fridge, so they are my last resort!

 

Before showing the instruction, I want to mention why I cook celery like this.

Have you ever heard of FUKI, a butterbur?

I didn’t know fuki in English, so I had to look up in the dictionary.

I don’t know if you have fuki here, but at least you have the word.

FUKI is a very fibrous vegetable, and also we have to pre-treat  in a certain way otherwise it remains harshness.

fuki7e

(the photo borrowed from here)

Fuki is not common vegetable even in Japan, that’s why when I have fuki at my parents’ house, I feel like I am eating something very special.

Usually kids don’t like it or wouldn’t eat because of its humble appearance.

There are tons of dishes cooked by my mom which I strongly remember  and feel nostalgic about, but I don’t remember fuki at all from my childhood memory.  Probably I had fuki for the first time when I was over 30.

Then its taste reminded me of one vegetable, which was celery.

That’s why I come up with this dish.

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Very simple.

I prepare dashi stock and put some soy sauce and sake.

Cut celery, and add into the dashi soup.

If you have bonito flakes, finish it with the flakes.

THTA’S IT!

( in my case, I used one stalk of celery root, and 3/4cup of dashi stock with 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sake.)

It might be slightly blunt for you, in that case, you could add more soy sauce or even Japanese seven spices, shichimi, to give it a punch.

 

On the other side of the obento,  I have cooked egg.

Egg is very popular ingredient for obento because every house has eggs in the fridge and it is easy to cook.  In the busy morning, it is necessary.

I could put just boiled egg with some salt and spice, but this morning I did cook a boiled egg for it to be more delicious.

 

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Prepare a boiled egg.  Cut in half, then put some katakuri ko, potato starch, on the cut side.

If you don’t have katakuriko, you could use flour instead.

In a small bowl, prepare approximately 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of unseasoned rice vinegar.

 

Heat a pan with some oil, and put egg, cut side down.

After a minute or so, add the prepared sauce in the pan.

Be careful!  It splashes sometime.

Cook for just a 10-20seconds, and,,,,

THAT’S IT!

This is very good for obento because it has strong flavor. (we usually make foods a little salty or rich for obento to satisfy the appetite even they are small portion.)

 

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I hope my husband enjoys today’s obento.

 

Then I got a message from my husband in the middle of the day.

GOCHISO SAMA DESHITA! (It was delicious!)

MY REWARDS!!

Don’t throw carrots’ leaves!

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I wanted to purchase daikon radish, but I reached carrots instead because daikon didn’t have leaves and carrots did.  I wanted leaves.

 

We Japanese have a tradition to have NANAKUSA GAYU,  porridge with Japanese seven herbs on the 7th of January.

After the Thanksgiving, would you like to continue eating rich meals?  I am sure that lots of people are tired of turkey and gravy, and go to Asian restaurants to find something different . (I would say something differnt, not “something light”.)

The New Year holidays are relatively long holidays for us, and after the hard work of the previous year, everybody want to feel relaxed, just staying at home with family and eating,,eating,,,eating,,,,AND,,,,,EATING!!!

YES, it it time for the stomach to feel relaxed next!

That is one of the reason to have porridge on the 7th.

However originally this custom was brought from China in the Edo period, and its original intention is to protect ourselves from evils and invite good luck and longevity by eating the seven herbs that endure the cold weather.

Even though I have been living here for more than 15years, I want to follow each Japanese events in each season.

Every year I try to make seven herbs porridge, but of course, it is hard to find seven of them.

Sometime I only find one, and make one herb porridge, which I couldn’t call NANAKUSA GAYU.  (“NANA” means seven in Japanese.)

What is NANAKUSA then?

I was taught them when I was in the elementary school, so I could utter like incantation.

SERI NAZUNA GOGYO HAKOBERA HOTOKENOZA SUZUNA SUZUSHIRO

Probably this sounds like true incantation to you.

They are water dropwort ( seri ), sheperd’s purse (nazuna), cudweed (gogyo), chickweed (hakobera), henbit (hotokenoza), turnip (suzuna), and daikon radish (suzushiro) in English.

Are they familiar to you?  I have to ask somebody.

 

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I gave up finding all these unfamiliar herbs here from the beginning this year, and tried to collect any seven greens this year.  This is American version of NANAKUSA GAYU!

What I got were,,

as an opposite clockwise, carrots’ leaves, wild arugula, kale, baby spinach, arugula (rocket), shungiku (crown daisy), and chard.

What do you think?

Then the porridge turned out to be so GREEN!

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We all including my lovely dogs enjoyed this, wishing our health all year long.

Happy Ending!

BUT,

it wasn’t END!

 

I had tons of greens in my fridge.  I had to use them before they went bad.

 

Then ,,,

 

 

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I made TOFU SAAG with spinach and kale!

 

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It was DELICIOUS!

HAPPY ENDING!

BUT ,

it wasn’t END yet!

 

Carrots’ leaves were dominating my fridge!

Then I decided to make THAT.

I will cook all of them!

Today I will introduce my way to use carrots’ leaves in Japanese style.

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They were so fresh and beautiful.  I wonder for what you would use carrots’ leaves.

Smoothies?  Pesto? Garnishing?

OK, let’s show how I use them.   So simple and so easy.

 

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Here are the ingredients besides a bunch of carrots’ leaves for this side dish.

(you can adjust the quantities of each ingredients depending on your favor.)

  • 2 teaspoons of sake
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons of mirin
  • white sesame seeds
  • bonito flakes
  • sesame oil

First cut the carrots’ leaves.

I don’t want to throw even the harsh stalks because they look so  good for the health.

When I cut them, they were so fresh that they danced out from the cutting board!!

Heat a pan with a little oil, and saute the leaves, the stalks first.

When they wilt,

 

add sake and sugar.

Remember? Always the sweetness first!

Then add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. (Use the left 1 teaspoon of soy sauce at the end.)

Add a little bit of water and close the lid for them to get tender.

After a few minutes, take off the lid and,,,,

 

add 2 teaspoons of mirin and the remaining soy sauce.

Add sesame oil from the side of the pan, and stir.

Stir well and add bonito flakes and sesame seeds.

Saute them until most of the liquid evaporates.

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That’s all!

 

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You could keep this in the fridge for a few days.

This goes well with white rice, and also you could cook with beaten eggs.

I put some in my husband’s OBENTO as well.

 

 

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Would you throw carrots’ leaves?

I hope you say NO!

 

OSECHI RYORI

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It is already in the middle of January, BUT

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

AKEMASHITE  OMEDETOUGOZAIMASU!

 

Thank you very much for visiting my blog last year, and thank you  for coming back this year again.

In my first article of this year, I have to write about OSECHI RYORI.

Yes, HAVE TO!

For me and, I think, for most of Japanese people, a new year breakfast is the most important breakfast of the year.

As Thanksgiving is very important for you, New Year is very special for us.

All the families get together and enjoy the first morning of the year.

There are lots of preparations before a new year comes.  We have to clean our houses perfectly to welcome a new year, and mothers are preparing very traditional Japanese dishes in boxes, OSECHI RYORI.

According to some resources, this tradition started in the Heian-Period (794-1185).

WOW!

We prepare OSECHI RYORI in a special lacquer-ware, callede as  JUBAKO (or OJYU).

They look like bento boxes, but they are stacked three or four.

In each boxes, we prepare several dishes which have some good connotations.

I was out of town on the New Year day this year, so I couldn’t prepare OSECHI RYORI.  However , luckily, we could order it from one of the best Japanese restaurant in NY!

 

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Look at the beautiful dishes in the picture above.

This was not only beautiful, but so detailed and so delicious!

Thank you very much, WASAN.

I will explain some of the dishes, using my OSECHI I made before.

I didn’t have a big JUBAKO (which is very expensive!), so I use a small JUBAKO and presented OSECHI RYORI on the plate.

 

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As I told you, OSECHI usually have three to four boxes, and I got to know for the first time, there should be an empty box along with the boxes filled with delicious foods.

WHY?

That indicates we will fill more food in this empty box, wishing more wealth in the coming new year.

I didn’t know that!

I would add two or three empty boxes then!

 

In these boxes, we  put foods neatly, according to some rules.

Yes, there is a certain order.

Let’s go from the first box.

The first box is called ICHI NO JYU (ichi means the first).

In the first box, we usually put appetizers such as KAZUNOKO, KUROROMAME, and TADUKURI for enjoying OTOSO.

 

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OTOSO is the New Year’s spiced sake.

This is very auspicious, and there is also a certain ceremony to have this, but,,,,we just drink these days.

 

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The three yellow triangle in the picture above is called KAZUNOKO,  herring roe.

The large number of herring roe symbolizes the prosperity of our offspring.

KUROMAME is the black beans in the middle.

 

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How far black and shiny they get is very important, and there is some technique for that.

We cook an old nail with black beans for them to enhance their anthocyanin.

If we cook them in an iron pot, we could get the same result, so we don’t need to put a nail.

KUROMAME is cooked sweet differently from black beans here.

MAME means beans, and also it has another meaning , and that is “health”.   We usually say MAME NI HATARAKU, which means work healthy.

We wish we could be healthy all year long and work well.

 

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Tadukuri is dried sardine, and cooked sweet as well.  Sardine is used as fertilizers in the rich filed in old days, so it symbolizes good harvest.

For us agricultural tribe, this is very important.

Among lots of delicious foods, my favorite one  is ,,,

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KURI KINTON!!

KURI KINTON is chestnuts in mashed Japanese sweet potato, and it requires  lots of work to make this, so I modified that time.

My mom always sweats a lot when she makes this, and she get sore arms the next day.

KINTON‘s KIN means gold, so this implies our hope to have abundant fortune in the coming year.

 

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Now on the left side of chestnuts in the picture above , you can see KOMBU.

Kombu is getting very popular in the US these days, so you know how good for the health this is.

We call this dish KOBU MAKI (rolled kombu).

In Japanese language we say  YORO KOBU when we get happy, so we metaphor this in KOBU MAKI.

 

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I tied KOHAKU KAMABOKO, which is red and white fish cake.

Red color represents the joyfulness and white color represents holiness.

In  good occasions such as wedding or some celebration, we use red and white color together.

 

Then let’s move to the second box, NI NO JYU.

We usually put SUNOMONO (pickled vegetables with rice vinegar) and some baked dish in it.

 

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KOHAKU NAMASU is pickled daikon and carrot.

KOHAKU means red and white in Japanese, and here again, it implies the joyfullness and holiness.

 

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This is very similar to a  pickles of Vietnamese food.

You may know it in banh mi.

I didn’t prepare any baked meat or fish for my OSECHI, but in the second box, we put meat and fish.

The one we ordered from WASAN had grilled salmon marinated with sake,simmered abalone, lightly simmered shrimp, bluefin toro, roasted duck and thicken beef tongue!

Shrimp is also very auspicious.

Shrimp implies “healthy until the hip bends like a shrimp”, so we wish our longevity.

 

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In the third box, SAN NO JYU, we put NISHIME, which is  a dish in which a simmering cooking technique is used.

Traditionally each vegetables are cooked separately to enhance and enjoy each vegetable’s flavor.

Another auspicious thing is pine, bamboo, and plum, SHO CHIKU BAI.

 

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I shaped  carrots as plum flowers, cooked bamboo shoots, and shaped cooked freeze-dry tofu as pine tree.

Any good luck motif are welcomed here, so I cook eggs, shaping as HYOTAN, gourd as well.

WHY GOURD?

There are some reasons, and one of them is because the shape of gourd is widen toward the end, which we Japanese think very auspicious.

We call this type of shape as SUE HIROGARI like the shape of the number 8.

That is why the number 8 is the lucky number in Japan along with 7.

Also I shaped cooked dried tofu as HAGOITA (the bottom left in the picture), a battledore, which we only play during New Year holidays.  It is like badminton.  We use shuttlecock , so I made a shuttlecock with carrot and green beans.

Ohhh, this article is getting  long!!

You could see how much I am excited, just remembering those festive dishes!

One more thing!

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In the New Year morning, we enjoy OZONI, rice cake in the soup.

There are tons of variations of OZONI, depending on the area.  I am from TOKYO, and TOKYO style is soy sauce base.

I made dashi stock with kombu, dried sardine, and bonito flakes.

Then I  add chicken thigh and some vegetables , usually nappa and carrots.

I finished up with soy sauce and salt, and put rice cake.

That’s it!

 

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 Until eating OZONI, I couldn’t feel like the New Year has arrived!

 

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Now you could see why I miss my country especially during this New Year holiday season.

 

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This is my mom’s Ozoni.

I miss Japan and miss my mom.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!