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Ginger-Miso Soba Noodles with Crisp Tofu & Red Cabbage Recipe

March 2, 2012
Ginger Scallion Soba Noodles with Crisp Tofu & Red Cabbage

Ginger-Miso Soba Noodles with Crisp Tofu & Red Cabbage

A recipe for a quick and healthy weeknight meal; this is versatile, feel free to swap scallions for chives or spring onions, tofu for a tablespoon or two of raw cashews, red cabbage for arugula, napa cabbage, spinach, turnip greens or any other thing you’ve got hanging around.

Ginger-Miso Soba Noodles with Crisp Tofu & Red Cabbage Recipe
Serves 2

2 rolls dry soba noodles (pre-bundled by most manufacturers)
1/2 pack tofu (enough for two people), cubed
1/4 head red cabbage, shredded thinly
2 scallions (green onions), sliced thinly on the diagnoal
2 T golden or light miso (just not the really really dark mugi type stuff)
1 T fresh grated ginger
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil or toasted sesame oil
sesame seeds
olive oil

In a skillet, heat olive oil to medium high heat. Press dry your tofu and cube it, fry it in the oil turning every minute or two until golden all around. Set side if you’re done with it ahead of time.

Bring a big pot of water to boil, add a tablespoon of salt and boil the soba. Plunge them into a bowl of room temp water when they’re cooked to rinse.  It’s important to rinse the starchy coating off soba.

Whisk together the miso, mirin, soy sauce, ginger and sesame oil until smooth. Add a touch of salt if needed.

Add the soba to the fried tofu pan (while it’s still hot or you bring it back up to temperature), tossing. Add the sauce and toss until warm, in the hot pan over a medium flame, mixing in half the cabbage. Separate two servings into bowls, top with remaining cabbage and scallions, and a touch of sesame seeds.

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Age Dashi Tofu with Tempura Dipping Sauce

February 26, 2011

recipe photo: home made age dashi tofu

I’ve mentioned this before–when you start cooking Japanese food at home, it makes sense to just keep doing it. The ingredients effectively make you stock an entirely new kitchen, and while each step of most dishes is very simple, they almost always require making ingredients to be used–layer upon layer. So you may as well make extra stock, extra sauce, and repurpose it later in the week.

On that note, I have found several new Japanese cookbooks that I adore. I’ve mentioned the fabulous Washoku before, but the new ones I am in love with are more like encyclopedias of Japanese cooking, with huge selections of traditional hot dishes, allowing you to perhaps recreate something you’ve eaten in a quality Japanese restaurant. Japanese Cooking: a Simple Art &  perhaps now my all-time favorite, The Japanese Kitchen–it lacks photos, but provides great instruction and is excellent for those of us who know roughly what we want to make.

Age Dashi Tofu (Fried tofu with broth sauce)
1 10-oz block tofu; you can use firm sprouted tofu for full flavor or silken tofu for a nice play on soft-vs-crunchy
1/2 C potato starch (can sub corn starch if you must)
A lot of frying oil such as sunflower or safflower oil
2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Drain the tofu well and pat dry, using some firm pressure but not breaking the tofu. If using firm or extra firm tofu, wrap in paper towels and place heavy dinner plate on top, letting sit 30 minutes. Next, slice along each axis of the block and then several times more to end up with 8 even rectangles. Dredge the rectangles in potato starch , tap excess off and let sit 5 minutes while your oil heats. Fry the blocks until slightly golden, about 5 minutes and then drain on a rack or paper towels. Serve half covered in sauce with green onion on top, and the tempura sauce’s ginger or daikon.

Tempura Dipping Sauce
1 C dashi (kelp/tuna flake stock)
5 T soy sauce
3 T mirin
1 T sugar
1/2 C katsuo bushi (tuna flakes)
2 tsp grated ginger or daikon, served with the sauce

Combine all ingredients except ginger/daikon, and bring to a boil. Add the katsuo bushi and turn off the heat. Let stand 2 minutes, strain and reserve. Lasts up to 1 week in refrigerator. Serve Warm.

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“Moon Viewing Noodles” – Udon with Pork & Sweet Potatoes

February 16, 2011
udon noodles with pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes "moon viewing noodles"
udon noodles with pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes "moon viewing noodles"

The hiatus was not entirely my fault. We had an issue with the kitchen sink’s piping, which, once we went in to fix what seemed simple, turned into quite a mess of replacing one part after another, the crescendo being when the disposal decided to actually fall out.

I was not very motivated to create more messes with no great way to clean them, and shortly after that was fixed the hot water decided to turn a lovely rusty brown. Anyway, we are all back in action and, I’m happy to say, fully functional again!

About this time last year I began cooking lots of Japanese food, mainly from a great cook book I own called Washoku Kitchen ($24.50 at the time of this post)– “recipes for Japanese home cooking.” I picked it back up yesterday and started cooking, with a few modifications.

The thing about good Japanese cooking is that the most delicious items seem to take many steps–5 ingredients, but each one you must create. A soy concentrate. A dashi. A miso mixture. It takes time, and works best if you start cooking a LOT of Japanese food, so you can make these things and use them more than once without duplicating efforts.

Udon noodles with pork & sweet potatoes/yams

For 3-4 people as a main course
12 oz fresh udon noodles, cooked*
8 cups dashi with shitake**
4 T seasoned soy concentrate***
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled & cubed
1/2 lb pork tenderloin, sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Bring the dashi to a light simmer, adding the soy concentrate. Place the cooked udon noodles in heated bowls. Using a large skillet and a lightly flavored oil such as avocado, cook the sweet potato on medium high heat until color is deepened, adding a touch of salt.

Add 1 T sake and 2 T water, and cover to steam 3-4 minutes. Push potatoes to side of pan and add pork, trying not to pile the pieces on top of each other. When pork is cooked, pour broth over noodles, add potatoes & pork to one side of bowl and sprinkle green onion over the top.

*cooked in a wide, not too deep pot with plenty of water for 2 minutes boiling, then drained and rinsed in cool water

**combine cold water with strip of kombu (thick kelp) and two dried shitake mushrooms. After 10 minutes, bring to just under a boil and then turn off. Add 1 cup unpacked bonito flakes (large tuna flakes). Let steep 2 minutes, then strain and return to clean pot

***Combine 2/3 cup soy, 1/3 cup sake, 1 dried shitake mushroom & 1/4 cup bonito or other tuna flakes, let steep 1hour-12 hours. Add 2T mirin, 3T water, 3T sugar. Bring to a simmer and reduce by 1/4. Strain and reserve.

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Miso Black Cod & Winter Flatbread

February 21, 2010
Winter Flatbread with potato & butternut squash

Winter Flatbread with potato & butternut squash

Winter Flatbread & Miso Black Cod

Miso Fish (black cod)

Pizza dough

1/4 lb french fingerling (red) potatoes, cut into rounds 1/4 or less thick
1/4 lb butternut squash flesh, cubed or sliced  1/4 inch thick and cut into chunks
olive oil

Roast garlic cloves in oil in the oven, and remove when soft but not deeply colored or dried out. Puree in small food processor or with mortar & pestle. This will be spread over your pizza skin.

In a nonstick pan, use a bit of oil to cook the potatoes & squash, covering to cook through if necessary. Reserve. I used leftovers from another meal, so it’s fine if they are cold when you use them.

Preheat oven to as hot as it will go and be sure your pizza stone is clean. If you don’t have a pizza stone, place skin on a cookie sheet preferably without edges and “dock” the skin with a fork to allow air to circulate better and crisp it while cooking.

Instead of rolling out your pizza dough, use your fingers to create a thin but mostly even center, leaving an edge that is thicker.

Spread the garlic oil & garlic over the skin evenly and randomly scatter the cooked potatoes & squash. Cook until golden, 3-6 minutes depending on oven temperature. Cut into wedges.

If you’re feeling fancy, throw some fresh chopped herbs on it when it comes out (thyme or basil would be great) of the oven, and dab the edges with a bit of olive oil.

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Going Japanese: Miso Marinated Black Cod, Carrots & Konnyaku in Tofu Sauce

February 1, 2010
Miso Marinated Broiled Black Cod

Saikyo Yaki & Konnyaku to Ninjin no Shira ae

Miso Marinated Broiled Black Cod

Carrots & Konnyakku in Creamy Tofu Sauce

I’ve had a fabulous traditional Japanese cookbook for some years now, never really venturing into it. I was interested in it because an old friend used to cook, by nature, a lot of fusion food, and I loved the yuzu citrus so much that I”d go to the Japanese market in Berkeley with some regularity. Now that I live in SF, I have all the expanse of the Nijiya supermarket in Japantown, among other resources.

I’m not inclined to post a lot of the recipes, because they’re complicated, and require making sauces and broths and other things before cooking your actual item, but also because for most people, it will be difficult to find the ingredients.

That said, Japanese food photographs beautifully, and I hope to integrate some of the techniques and ingredients I am learning about into my more improvisational cooking in the near future.

Julienned Carrots

Marinating Yuzu Miso Fish

Miso Fish

– Best to use Salmon or Black Cod/other oily fish

– Marinate for 1.5 lbs of fish; I like to do this on Saturdays or Sundays and use it throughout the week; later in the week the flavors are stronger so it’s best to use the cod last as the marinade will remove some of the oily, fishy flavors.

-Marinade must be applied for at least 1 day in fridge or up to 5

Cheesecloth or Japanese cooking cloth
3/4 cup light colored, sweet miso
1-2 T mirin
1 T freeze dried Yuzu peel, zest of 1 fresh yuzu, or zest of 1-2 fresh lemons or limes

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Wrap each piece of fish in 1-2 layers of cheesecloth or 1 layer of Saryachi cloth. Paint the marinade on TOP of the cloth, not touching the fish directly. Layer neatly and reasonably tightly (without aggrevating the fish flesh) into a glass, ceramic or plastic container with a lid. Coat each side of the fish and continue layering. It is OK to mix fish types in the same container.

To cook, after marinated at least 1 day in refrigerator, remove cheesecloth and scrape any clumps of marinade off the fish. Put into small foil pan or other pan that is broiler safe with skin side up. Broil for 2-4 minutes, until skin is crisped and blackened. Flip, and cook until colored and cooked through under broiler.

I like to serve this with something acidic, like a simple salad or impatient pickles, and sometimes some miso soup as well.