There is something innately lovable about making fermented foods from scratch. For starters, they are that ‘Mr Cool’ that sit by the quiet corner in your kitchen, being the prideful symbol for ‘doing it for yourself’, sticking two fingers at commercialism. And secondly, they become the ‘My Baby Project‘ since something like miso has to be nurtured over a very-very long period of time. Note, the apt word here is ‘baby’ and ‘nurture’, because “The thing is ALIVE!!!” (think B-movie with some-kinda green lagoon here), with microorganisms such as yeast and good bacteria thriving in it. They are the busy bees working their socks off to make it tasty. What’s more, what’s not to love about a ‘baby’ that’s not one for needy attention? Fermented foods like to be left alone, rather, they’d prefer to quite happily take care of themselves, working it’s fermentation-magic in their own sweet time. (Don’t laugh, because it’s silly I know, but as they are live things, I call my miso ‘my baby’, and name my sourdough starter ‘Jessica’. My rice-bran pickle-bed ‘nukazuke’ is simply and affectionately called ‘Nuka-chan’.)
Anyway, Let’s cut the malarkey. You’re here for the recipe. It’s below. And It’s pretty long. I tried to cover everything I know about it. Sorry.
Continue reading “#023: How to make homemade miso 101”
Gomashio is a popular table condiment in Japan. Most of the time, it is sprinkled over rice, especially over the sticky rice with red azuki bean called ‘Sekihan’ that I absolutely love! The super glutinous rice has a naturally sweet tone, as do the azuki beans, and when you eat it with a sprinkle of salty gomashio (also spelt ‘gomasio’), I feel deep-down happiness because it conjures the memories of eating this rice on happy occasions with my family.
The sekihan isn’t something you eat on a daily basis, it’s served on special occasions (the red colour symbolises happiness), so I sprinkle gomashio over my usual brown rice, and also whenever I make onigiri rice balls for my daughter’s bento, to make the rice taste slightly salty, nutty, and aromatic. Cold rice need a helping hand like that because it could taste bland. Other than using it as a rice seasoning, it can be uses to add pizazz on salads and boiled vegetables, and it could make a great salt replacement that make the salt consumption become more modest in your diet.
There are two ways to make gomashio sesame salt.
One type is a simple mixture of sesame and salt. No cooking involved, it’s literally sesame and salt pounded in to semi-powder in a mortar, that’s it.
And the other type is the sesame that’s ‘coated’ with salt, which is my preferred method, and what the recipe below is for. This method is still very straightforward to make: we simply chuck in the sesame, water and salt in a pot and cook them down until the water completely evaporates. I guess the only trick is to really evaporate the water, so that by the end of it, the sesame seeds are toasting at the bottom of the pan. They’ll turn a perfect golden colour and award us with sweet roasted aroma.
Continue reading “#022: Handmade gomashio recipe – Japanese sesame salt condiment that’s worth their salt!”
Cutting the vegetables, meats and fish in a certain direction according to the direction of the grain or muscle will change the mouthfeel, as well as the taste such as level of bitterness and sweetness. It even changes the nutritional intake.
I find this a logical way to go about cooking; there is the how and the why with the enhanced results. It makes sense to adapt the style of cutting to suit the dish for culinary excellence.
In simple speak, cutting AGAINST the grain means that you are cutting the fibres short. This means that the ingredient would be less chewy as you won’t have to chomp down as much. But it also means it won’t hold shape so well (think pillars and columns missing on a building = it doesn’t have a strong structure and so would crumble down readily). By cutting against the grain, as the cutting knife glides through, you’re essentially slicing in to the cell structure and damaging and rupturing it, and from here, the aroma compound, the flavour compounds, the nutrients readily oozes out. Perhaps this sound horrendous, with all those lovely compounds escaping out, but, the art is in the knowledge that this can be advantageous at times: for example, you can enjoy the maximum fragrance of the herb if you clap your hand on it and rupture the cells which would release the aroma compound. Continue reading “#021: Food will be extra delicious depending on how you cut it! (considering the fibre direction together with the Ying and Yang-ness)”
This protein-rich vegetarian recipe truly makes a satisfying eat.
There are two major secret tricks to make this good:
One is to up the umami by incorporating shiitake mushrooms, which is famous for having oodles of umami. As you’ll see in the recipe, I use them still frozen. When you freeze mushrooms, the guanylic acid (a chemical compound that is the source of umami) becomes 1.9 time more. When this is combined with hijiki seaweed, onion and ginger, it creates what’s called an ‘umami synergy’, whereby it amplifies the umami, elevating the dish from lacklustre to mouth-wateringly hard to resist.
Continue reading “#015: Tofu and soya mince vegan/ vegetarian meatballs recipe”
The standard teriyaki sauce has just 4 ingredients, which are soy sauce, Japanese sake, mirin and sugar.
And to figure out how much of each ingredient, you can simply apply the following ratio 2:1:1:1 (double of soy sauce compared to each ingredient). It’s that simple that it’s easy to remember off by heart.
Continue reading “#013: The best recipe for maple (or honey) teriyaki sauce that I know!”
For a few years now, I have been tinkering in the world of macrobiotics! I’ve been busy closely reading books on the subject and cooking macrobiotic-ally for myself ‘most of the time’ (= check out my instagram!).
As do most people first getting in to macrobiotics, I was initially only interested in the healthy diet aspect of it, but the more I read about the philosophy (= the idea extend beyond food and offer tips on how to navigate life’s choices), I got it – it is like as if a new window opened, and I felt as though my directionless feeling of how to become better found a new wholesome direction to follow. Continue reading “#006: Macrobiotic Umeshō and Sannenbancha (plus recipe for homemade umeshō)”
A thought occurred to me the other day about how keeping the sourdough starter is a litmus test to review the ‘(wo)man in the mirror’.
When too overwhelmed with daily life & don’t have the space in your mind to mind the starter? It will let you know by becoming sluggish & lacklustre. When the tiny extra work of feeding it is regarded as a burden? Without doubt it will separate. It is clearly no longer a joyous celebration of life, and admit it, your enthusiasm for creativity probably deserves a good kick up the backside. When that cumbersome jar taking up space at the back of your fridge is staring back at you with absent hope whenever you open the fridge door? It is a symbol telling you to get back in to the slow and steady rhythm of life. It’s time to get back in to control. Now…, if your life is idilic enough to bake a loaf from scratch every-single-weekend, you will never have this problem because it will always be refreshed and happily active. If that’s you, wow-za mamma, aren’t you in a good place in life. I’m genuinely pea-green with envy. Continue reading “#005: “Look Mamma, there are living creatures in our fridge…!” 🙂 (Traditional rye sourdough starter recipe)”
I’d like to introduce to you my go-to recipe for brown rice. It’s probably going to look like no-frills (it’s just rice after all!) but it is perhaps THE apt one to be featured as my first recipe. Because being Japanese, rice is my staple food. It forms the foundation of my meals. It’s so often that I eat it that it makes sense for me to try & make my rice meals healthful by opting for wholegrain brown. Continue reading “#002: Recipe for fluffy & plump Japanese brown rice”