September 2013 Archives

Oishii! Delicious Food from Japan

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This past summer I was fortunate enough to visit Japan for three weeks. I tried anything with red beans or sweet beans, and of course had sushi, tempura, and various rice dishes. However, some of my favorites were the simplest of dishes: yakitori, sukiyaki, miso soup, onigiri, and soba noodles.
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Using the Kirschner Cookbook Collection I recreated a few of my favorite dishes for an evening dinner with family and friends to view my photos.

IMG_20130901_120743_477.jpg"Onigiri may be said to be a Japanese version of the sandwich, because rice is formed into oblong balls with whatever ingredients preferred inside them," The Art of Japanese Cookery (p. 28). This text had nice directions on how to make the rice balls; I used seared tuna with spicy mayo. Some were formed by hand, and others I cheated and used a biscuit cutter to shape them into disks. I also made chicken yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), with the below marinade from Japanese Cooking A Simple Art, but they were all devoured before a photo could be taken. I marinated the chicken for several hours before grilling.

Yakitori Sauce
7 Tbsps sake
3/4 c. dark soy sauce
3 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp sugar


Pancakes are very popular in Japan, at least with my host families. My gift of maple syrup from the UMN Arboretum was a huge hit! It is interesting to see so many pancake and waffles recipes in Buy it 'n try It: Hints on Cooking and Living in Japan. This cookbook also has a nice glossary in the front, so you don't mix up unagi (eel) with onigiri (rice balls). Also, I could eat a Japanese-syle breakfast every day!
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If you have ever been to the Japanese food booth at the Festival of Nations in St. Paul, then chances are good that you have had sukiyaki. Add this to your comfort food list this fall and winter.

Japanese Special Sukiyaki
1 med. onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. butter
1 lb. beef sirloin, cut in thin, narrow strips
4oz. can mushrooms
1/2 cup celery
1 lb. can bean sprouts
1/4 c. water chestnuts, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 lb. fresh spinach
1 bouillon cube
1 1/2 c. hot water
1/2 c. chopped scallions
1 1/3 c. minute rice
salt & pepper

Saute onion in butter in large skillet until just transparent. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add beef and to onion in skillet; brown on all sides. Stir in the mushrooms, celery, bean spouts, water chestnuts and sou sauce. Cook 5-10 minutes. Add spinach, cook 2 minutes. Dissolve bouillon cube in hot water in saucepan, stir in cooked rice and add to ingredients in skillet. Sprinkle scallions over the ingredients. Cover and simmer over low heat 5 minutes. Serve with additional soy sauce.

Gochisosama!