A life in flux. Soon to be immigrant to Japan. Recently migrated this blog from another platform after many years of neglect (about March 6, 2017). Sorry for the styling and functionality potholes; I am working on cleaning things up and making it usable again.
Last weekend, I made the medically unfortunate mistake of going to the Fremont Solstice Parade last Saturday with a not-quite-healed metatarsal. Even though I was mostly standing, wearing a supportive medical boot, and generally resting on my unbroken right foot, this wasn't so clever. I mostly succeeded in irritating my right knee, exacerbating the dull pain in my left foot into acute agony.
So I decided not to repeat that mistake by being all in-denial and active... I stayed domestic most of the weekend. I didn't even shave until 3pm on Sunday, though I owe that mostly to the fact that I ran out of shaving cream.
As a completely irrelevant aside, don't ever bother to use the shaving cream supplied in a little 5ml packet that comes from the shaving kits in hotels and ryokan in Japan. You only have this at all because you stash it in your luggage in case your tiny sample-size shaving cream suddenly runs out on your trip, and you completely forget about it until returning to the US, when it gets unceremoniously stashed somewhere in your medicine cabinet until, one day, you run out of shaving cream. Then, you discover that it's not really enough cream to do much good, and that, in terms of quality, it's just a slight step up from a moisturizing soap. Second, it smells almost exactly like a Band Aid.
So I was really craving something along the lines of a dinner roll, but I wanted something a bit more protein-dense than the average bread, I also thought it would be nice to have a nice stew, so I made a variation of the channa masala that I previously served with the besan roti.
I wanted just a hint of spice and I wanted something moist and reasonably soft, so I chose to use a little garam masala and some butter and milk in service of that ambiguously dinner-roll like quality that is easier experienced than described.
This is prepared like most yeast doughs: mix dry ingredients together except for the yeast, create a well, add the melted butter and milk with the yeast. Gradually incorporate the flour into the sponge by stirring along the outer edge of the well, until the dough comes together.
Kneaded until smooth but fairly sticky, the dough rises for a couple of hours before I divide it into into 12 rolls. I let the rolls have a second proof while the oven preheats to 425F on a cookie sheet, then I bake them until golden-brown, about 15 minutes. I test for doneness by tapping on the bottom of one of the rolls, making sure it sounds hollow.
They need to cool down and rest a few minutes, but can be served warm with butter and a nice stew or curry.
The outer exterior is still crisp, but the interior is moist and aromatic with hints of cumin, coriander, cloves and cinnamon. With a little bit of butter they're just rich enough to be eaten on their own, but they're also a perfect foil for a stew or daal.
No, I am not a great fan of meat analogues, but every once in a while I get an odd craving for a veggie burger. Most of the frozen products are not very exciting, and they've gotten incredibly expensive in the last few years, so they're almost never on my shopping list. But I do sometimes decide to make them at home.
This week, I still had a substantial amount of leftover okara, the soybean mash that's a byproduct of soymilk-making, a consequence of my godoufu-making endeavors. It really has a short lifespan, so I've been doing my best to make use of it before it's too late.
Some of the okara I had went into a croquette-like dish I made last Sunday. Seasoned okara has a slightly longer lifespan than unseasoned okara, so I repurposed some of the remaining croquette base, and blended it with some of the filling from some mushroom gyoza that was also sitting in my refrigerator. I shaped the resulting mixture into patties and carefully slipped them into a deep fryer.
What goes into such a concoction as okara croquettes or okara burgers? Well, there are other options, but basically I seasoned everything with a little salt, maybe a splash of some soy sauce, some pepper, and, in this case, and some mitsuba, a Japanese herb slightly similar to flat-leaf parsley. I used a little flour, and maybe even an egg yolk, to help everything hold together. The mushrooms added a bit of aroma and flavor, and since they were repurposed from a gyoza filling, they also benefited from the garlic-like flavor of nira, a chive-like herb.
The okara burgers are, in this case, served on soymilk buns. The excessive surplus of soymilk in my refrigerator perhaps made this inevitable, but it works.
There's no way I'd be able to give a precise recipe for the okara "burgers", but a little experimentation and tasting before cooking should be enough of an indication of the likely success or failure. In this case, I deep fried them, instead of using a frying pan, but either way would work. Deep frying, counter-intuitively, absorbs less oil than using a frying pan, because the temperature is more stable.
They're served with mixed greens, onions, and brie, and the usual mayo/mustard/ketchup (corn-syrup free) condiments.
Potatoes were yukon golds, fried at a bit lower than normal temperature to keep them from browning too quickly, are twice-fried and tossed with porcini salt and a bit of additional sea salt. These would be equally nice roasted in the oven with olive oil.
The soymilk bread is reasonably simple... Unlike the okara burgers, I actually measured the ingredients, though the recipe was still fairly improvised.
Tounyuu Pan (豆乳パン)
400 g flour (I guess that's about 3 cups... get a digital scale and be sure).
225 ml warm, not hot, soymilk (about 1 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp. dry yeast or one cube of "fresh" yeast.
Place the flour into a bowl, making an impression large enough to accommodate the soymilk. Pour the soymilk into the bowl and add the yeast. If your yeast requires it, proof it in the soymilk in that impression. Otherwise, add salt and slowly blend the milk with the flour, using small circles with a wooden spoon.
Knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. The goal is to have a fairly moist dough for rolls, so resist the temptation to add much more flour unless the dough just doesn't hold its shape.
Allow to rise for at least an hour, then use a dough cutter to separate the dough into six equal pieces. Massage these into rounds, and use a rolling pin to make each bun a fairly even thickness, roughly 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Allow to rise for another 20 minutes or so.
Preheat an oven to 200C (425F). Place an oven-safe pot filled with hot water in the top rack of the oven.
Brush a little soymilk or egg on top of each roll. Gently press the wet side into a plate of sesame seeds.
Bake the buns for about 25 minutes, until golden-brown on top. Remove from oven and cover with a cloth, allowing them to mostly cool before consuming.
These buns are, perhaps, a bit too chewy for a "burger" bun, but they're also quite nice as breakfast rolls. They would likely become somewhat less chewy with a touch of sugar, some egg, or added fat such as butter or olive oil.
I made these matcha muffins this morning, and we used up some recently made shira-tama and leftover ogura-an by placing them in the muffin batter. I think I first tried matcha muffins about 6 or 7 years ago at Kimura-ya in Ginza.
They actually looked substantially more matcha green before being hyper-illuminated, so I might reshoot these at some point when I get around to making some more, and try not to overexpose them so much.
Jason’s Matcha-An Muffins
1–1/2 cups flour 2/3 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 stick butter, melted 1/2 tsp baking powder 2 tsp Matcha for Cooking 1/4 tsp salt
Ogura-an or your preferred type of anko (sweetened azuki bean puree), about 1/2 cup
Mix with a fork to a lumpy consistency, taking care not to develop strands of gluten. I filled a 24–piece mini-muffin pan with this amount of batter, using about a tablespoon of batter per pan. Using two spoons, press a bout a teaspoon of anko into the batter. We also snuck a few homemade shiratama into some of the muffins; when baked they taste kind of like yakimochi.
Bake at 375F (180c) for 22–25 minutes, until edges are browned. You can test one muffin with a toothpick.
Breakfast also included some leftover black raspberry pie, some very orange jidori no tamago medama-yaki (sunny side up orange eggs from very well-fed hens) with a little Ritrovo truffle salt, and watermelon.
Hiromi and I spent the afternoon kayaking yesterday with Jennifer… we made our way from Portage Bay to the arboretum, then up to Madison Park and back. Surprisingly, three hours in the sun didn’t roast anybody. It was Hiromi’s first time on a kayak, so Jennifer gave a basic lesson to Hiromi while I was waiting in line to rent a 3rd kayak at Agua Verde.
Afterward I made a late dinner to take advantage of some decent but early heirloom tomatoes… insalata caprese, a salad with grilled figs, tomatoes and butter leaf lettuce, some bruised tomato garlic bruschetta, various leftover cheeses, and some tomato cream pasta with basil, just to complete the tomato-heavy theme. The day before we also had some tomatoes, but on ciabatta… also an egg white fritatta with morels and some earthy smoky cheese, and a salad with a crushed raspberry vinaigrette and lavender fennel cheese.
We also had a nice dinner at La Carta de Oaxaca on Friday night… preceded by cocktails at Fu Kun Wu. That seems to be a theme every time I end up at La Carta… the waiting list demands stopping somewhere else for a drink. But we got a table in 30 minutes… an impressive feat for a group of 7 on a Saturday night.