Natto Toast (納豆トースト)

Experiment: Natto Toast (納豆トースト)

Introduction:

Natto is a very popular breakfast dish in Japan. People usually eat it with rice in the morning.  However, as you know, it takes time to cook rice.   What if you sleep in in the morning and you have no time to cook rice??? Well, here comes a solution – serve the natto on toasts.  You just pop a piece of bread in the toaster and wait for 30 seconds or so.  In the mean time, you open the package of natto, put all the packaged condiments in, and stir the natto until LOTS of strings form from the natto.  When the toast is ready, you put the natto on top of the toast, and serve.  Hmm… a good breakfast in less than a minute!

Materials:

1 package of natto
a piece of bread

Procedure:

1) Put the piece of bread into a toaster.

2) Open the package of natto.  Put all the condiments that come with the package in the natto.

3) Use chopsticks (or fork) to stir the natto for about 30 seconds or until you see lots of strings form.

4) Spread the natto evenly on the toast.

 

Discussions:

1) Oooooh I think I forgot to mention what natto is.  Natto is fermented soy beans.  It has very strong taste and smell.  Even in Japan, not every one can take that strong taste of natto.

2) There are many different kinds of natto out there.  Lately my favourite is the “dark vinegar with plum” flavour.  I really like plum flavoured food, so I was very happy to see that there are actually plum flavoured natto!

 

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Omusoba (オムそば)

Experiment: Omusoba (オムそば)

Introduction:

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before, but I LOOOOVE eggs.  Anything tastes better with eggs don’t you think?  Anyway, I got some egg noodles from my Number 1 Fan’s mom (THANKS Number 1 Fan’s mom!!!), so I decided to make omusoba with the noodles.  In case you’re wondering what “omusoba” is, it’s “omelette soba,” which means soba wrapped in omelette.  Japanese call it “omu-soba.”  Another version would be “omurice.” I think omurice comes before omusoba… but who knows!

Anyways, I used egg noodles instead of soba for this dish.  Feel free to substitute it with soba.

Materials: (serve 2)

egg noodles (portion for 2)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 stalks green onions, cut into 2-inch size
ham (as much as you like)
Oil

2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp okonomiyaki sauce
1 tsp chilli oil
white pepper

2 eggs

Okonomiyaki sauce
Mayonnaise
Nori
Bonito flakes

Procedure:

1) Boil a pot of water.  Cook the noodles until soft.  Drain.

2) Heat a frying pan, put some oil in, then put in the onion and green onions.  Stir fry until the fragrance comes out.  Put in the noodles and ham and cook..

3) Put the worcestershire sauce, okonomiyaki sauce, chilli oil and white pepper in.  Mix well with the noodles.

4) In a small bowl, beat the two eggs.

5) In another frying pan, pour in the 1/2 of the egg mixture.  When the egg is ready, put the noodles in the centre, then wrap the egg around the noodles.  Repeat for the remaining half of the egg mixture.

6) Put the mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, nori and bonito flakes on top.  Serve.

Results:

Discussions:

1) You can use ketchup to substitute the mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce.

2) If you don’t wanna wrap the noodles, you can serve it like the picture below: 🙂

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Onion fried eggs rice bowl

Experiment: Onion fried eggs rice bowl

Introduction:

I was browsing through cookpad one day, and I saw this recipe. It has two of my favourite foods – eggs and plums, and the presentation of the rice bowl was so good!  I gotta give this recipe a try!  Although it’s a fairly simple dish, it did take me longer than expected to make because of the presentation.  OH well, I guess, pretty presentation does make food taste better!

Materials: (serves 2)

2 bowls of cooked rice
2 Japanese preserved plums
Bonito flakes
Sesame seeds

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 eggs
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp Soy sauce (or mentsuyu)
black pepper (to taste)
7-flavour powder (to taste)

oil

Procedure:

1) Remove the seeds from the plums.  Chop the plums into small pieces.  Mix with rice.

2) In a small bowl, mix the eggs, mayonnaise, sugar, soy sauce (or mentsuyu), black pepper and 7-flaovour powder together.

3) Heat a small frying pan, add oil.  Put the sliced onions in and stir fry until the onions brown a little.  Put the egg mixture in.  Stir fry until the egg is cooked.

4) In a bowl/plate, first put the rice with plum in, and then put the onions and eggs on top of the rice.  Sprinkle bonito flakes and sesame seeds on top.

Results:

Discussions:

1) While I was taking picture of this dish, I suddenly thought of “ochazuke” (お茶漬け).  I think I can totally transform this dish into ochazuke by pouring hot green tea in, and it would still taste good!  Must try next time!

References:

梅おかかご飯の新玉葱の炒り卵のせ. http://cookpad.com/recipe/1705307

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Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Experiment: Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Introduction:

One day my co-worker brought some cookies to the office.  There were many different kinds, I just randomly picked one up and ate it.  After the first bite, I thought the taste was very familiar, yet I couldn’t think of where I had had it before.  I asked my co-workers what kinda of cookies that was, no one knew the answer.   That really bugged me!  I wanted to know what flavour that was and where I had had that before!!!  All I knew was that it tasted like some type of tea, but I wasn’t even sure if that was the tea taste.

When I got home, I googled up tea cookie recipes.  One of the first few recipes that came up with Martha Stewart’s Earl Grey Tea Cookies. I  thought, ok, since I didn’t know what type of tea (or  if that was indeed a tea taste), might as well just give it a try and see if I like that Earl Grey Cookies.  There were many good comments on that page, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.  So there, I made it.

Believe it or not, that WAS that type of flavour that I was looking for!  Seriously I couldn’t think that I would be lucky enough to get it right the first time I try it.  I wish I can have this type of luck when I buy lotto tickets!  LOL

(Recipe comes straight from Martha Stewart’s website)

Materials:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (from about 4 bags)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (I use regular sugar)
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest (I use zest from one whole orange)

Procedure:

1. Whisk flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Put butter, sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.

3. Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper; shape into logs. Roll in parchment to 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow the log and force out air. Transfer in parchment to paper towel tubes; freeze until firm, 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.5. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Results:

Discussions:

1) I just used a spatula to mix things because I didn’t wanna wash too many things.  It’s actually not too bad to mix it by hand.

2) I didn’t roll the dough into a log.  I actually used a battera sushi press to mold the dough into rectangular.  I find that it’s easier than rolling it into a round log.

3) I don’t usually put the dough in the freezer; it is way too hard for you to cut after you put it in the freezer for a few hours .  It’s annoying enough to have to wait for the dough to harden before you cut it, I don’t wanna spend another ten, fifteen minutes to wait for the frozen dough to soften then to cut.  I find that putting it in the fridge does the job already.

4) I really like this cookie recipe.  I have made it a few times already and I succeeded every time.  I think you can call it a no fail recipe?

Reference:

Stewart, M. Earl Grey Tea Cookies. http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/224621/earl-grey-tea-cookies

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Butternut squash meatball congee

I made more than enough meatballs few days ago for a soup.  Well… I was thinking of what to do with the remaining meatballs, then I thought… maybe I can make congee with it!  So I went out to buy a butternut squash and a lettuce and make congee. In case you’re wondering what congee is, it’s type of rice porridge.  People usually eat it when they’re not feeling well, but I eat it whenever I like it.

Hmm… the recipe for congee… it’s just rice with LOTS of water, and you cook it for 60-90 minutes.  How much water depends on what kind of congee you like.  Some people like to have the rice texture, so they’d put in less water and cook it for a shorter time.  For me, I like it very liquidy, so I add lots of water.  My co-worker once said it should be 1 portion of uncooked rice to 10 portions of water.   You cook the rice with water with high heat first.  When the water boils, turn it to slow heat and let it cook.  This is your congee base.

Once you have the congee base, you can then put whatever you like in the congee.  This time I’m using the 12 meatballs from the soup, half a butternut squash (cubed), and a few leaves of lettuce (thinly sliced).  I put the meatballs, butternut squash and lettuce in when the congee was the texture that I liked.  Then when then meatballs and butternut squash were cooked, the congee’s ready!

Some other ingredients I like to put in are corn, dried scallops, minced beef, eggs, etc.  It really is whatever you like to put in.  Oh! One thing I ALWAYS put in in ginger… I think people put gingers in to make the congee taste better.

Some tips of making congee:

1) Don’t cook it with close lid!  It spills very easily!

2) It also burns very easily.  Always stir it to prevent sticking.  Some people say you can put a spoon at the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking.  I have tried it once but I forgot if I burnt it or not… haha!

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Meatball soy milk soup (豆漿鹹肉丸湯)

Experiment: Meatball soy milk soup (豆漿鹹肉丸湯)

Introduction:

There was this Hong Kong TV shows about soup that was aired about a month ago.  The guest chef, Hilda Leung, would introduce a simple and quick soup every episode.  Most of the soups that she introduced were very unconventional (in a good way), and I would never in my life think of putting those ingredients together to make soup.  Because the soups were so unconventional yet interesting, I wanted to give them a try and see how they taste like.  One of those non-traditional soup recipes is the “meatball soy milk soup (豆漿鹹肉丸湯).”

Materials: (serves 2)

Meatball: (makes about 10-12)
150 g minced pork
20 g chopped shallots
5 g garlic, chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp corn starch

Soup base:
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
3 cups water
90 g hairy gourd/fuzzy gourd/mao gua, sliced
30 g fresh shitake mushroom, sliced
Salt (to taste)

Procedure:

1) Put all the meatball ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix until it becomes like a paste.  Take a small chunk out and roll it into a ball.
(Optional: throw each the meatball between palms to get the air out, it prevents the meatball from falling apart).

2) Put the meatballs in the fridge for 15 minutes.

3) Boil the soy milk and water in a pot.  When it boils, put the sliced hairy gourds and shitake mushrooms in.  Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the hairy gourds are soft.

4) Put the meatballs in and boil.  When the meatballs are done, the soup is ready!  (The meatballs float when they’re cooked)

5) Add salt to taste.


Discussions:

1) In case you’re wondering, hairy gourd, fuzzy gourd and mao gua are the same thing!!! I don’t know which name is the official English name.  I see Mao Gua at T&T supermarket so I always assume that’s the official name until I saw hairy gourd and fuzzy gourd.   In Chinese it is 節瓜 or 毛瓜.  Yes there are even two names in Chinese!  I grew up calling it 節瓜.  Anyways, you can google it up and see how it looks like!  (Sorry totally forgot to take a picture of this vegetable!)

2) I didn’t add salt to the soup; instead I added the Japanese 7-flavour powder. I think the 7-flavour powder works well with the soup.

3) Making the meatballs actually took me a while… I knew it before hand, so I doubled the meatball recipe and made about 24 meatballs.  Now I have 12 meatballs left and I can think about what to do with them later… hehe!  It’s my very first time making meatballs!!!

4) OK I didn’t know it’s so hard to take good pictures of liquid… I couldn’t focus on anything!  I took like 20-30 pictures and I could only find ONE picture that is presentable… GRRR… no “result” picture this time!

References:

Leung, Hilda. Pretty soup brewer. http://programme.tvb.com/foodandtravel/prettysoupbrewers/i_info/125160/7/1381

Leung, Hilda. Cookaholic Journey by Hildada. http://www.facebook.com/CookaholicJourney

Leung, Hilda. Sina. http://www.weibo.com/hildaleung

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Chapagetti (炸醬麵)

 

Let’s face it, we all get lazy sometimes.  When I wanna eat something hot and don’t wanna spend too much time to prepare, I make noodles. You just boil water, put the noodles in and wait for it to soften.  Viola!  It’s done.   What’s the quickest of the quickest noodles to cook?  Of course it’d be instant noodles!  What’s faster than “instant”? 😛

Last time when I went to H-Mart, I saw that the Korean noodles were on sale, so I bought 4 different flavours of instant noodles.  One of them was Chapagetti.  To be honest, the first time I had it (about 10 years ago?), I didn’t like it that much.  I think it was because the texture of the noodles was very different from the kind that I used to have, which was a lot skinnier.  As time went, I actually started to like the texture of chapaghetti more – the noodles are thicker and chewier, and it feels like it fills you up more.  If you have tried the spicy Nong Shim Shin Ramyun,  the chapagetti noodles is the same as the Shin Ramyun noodles.

Oh forgot to mention, you don’t serve the chapagetti in soup, rather, you serve the noodles dry.  The cooking method is pretty much the same as any other types of instant noodles, except you drain the water completely when the noodles are done, and then you put a little bit of water, the packaged oil and soup base in and mix everything together.  If you want to impress people and make it not look like instant noodles, you can add some veggies and meat on top.

 

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