Monday, August 29, 2011

Okonomiyaki

"Okonomi" means "the way you like it" and "Yaki" means "cook" or "grill".  

There are many ways to make Okonomiyaki. 

The main divisions are Hiroshima style and Kansai style.  
Mine is similar to my mother's style, and she's from Kansai.
You can add things like kani-kamaboko, prawns, squid or oysters to the mixture,
put leftover yakisoba in the middle
or even mochi and cheese.



I use negi (shallots) in my okonomiyaki.  
I used the white part (lower half) in the mixture, 
and the green part for sprinkling on top.


Okonomiyaki is popular with non-Japanese.  
My Australian workmates love it so I've made it for them a few times.  
Although the main ingredient is cabbage, even someone who hates cabbage likes okonomiyaki.  

So if you've never tried Japanese cooking, this is a pretty safe one to start with.

Eventually you will find your favorite version, and that will be your very own "okonomiyaki"!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Corn Potage in Japan

PHOTO of Last time I had Corn Potage from the packet, in Japan:
If you've ever lived in Japan, you've probably had Corn Potage.  It probably came to you in a super-convenient form, like from a vending machine, instant soup packet or with your Mos Burger meal.  So why did I bother making it from scratch today?  Because we're in Australia.  And my husband was missing this super basic comfort food.


Yes, you guessed right.  Corn Potage is French.  Just like cream puffs and crepes, Japan adopted it, adapted it, pronounce it something like: "Konpotaaj"  and serve it in a cup or mug.  It always has the same creamy corn taste.  Very basic.  Nonetheless, my Japanese husband (and little boy) just loved it, so here it is, the recipe for that creamy Corn Soup you had in Japan:


PHOTO Home made:


Sep 5, 2011 update: The recipe below is the complicated, old-school way of making it. I've now adopted a new, 3 min Corn Potage Recipe  (That's a link to the new recipe)


Corn Potage  (old-school style)


1/2 onion, finely chopped
25g/1oz butter
2 Tbsp flour
250g/9oz corn kernels (frozen, canned or fresh, or creamed corn)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
generous salt and pepper
a stick blender


1  Melt butter in a med/large saucepan.  Fry the onion in the butter until translucent.  
2  Remove from heat and Stir in flour.  While stirring, slowly add half the chicken stock,  over low heat.  Stir well to avoid lumps.
3  Add corn.  Blend until smooth-ish (a little texture is nice too)
4  Add the rest of the chicken stock, bring to boil and simmer 10-20 min.
5  Add milk, salt and pepper to taste, and heat through.


Nice with croutons or french bread too.


  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Breastfeeding covers and baby slings for Shipping Price

FYI 
I just checked now...  the promo code still works, if you'd like to get a breastfeeding cover or baby sling for shipping only, from Udder Covers or Seven Slings. 
Promo code: breastfeeding
Just thought I'd let you know (^o^)
This link will take you to the post with all the other info:
free-nursing-covers-baby-slings

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sukiyaki Recipe (Kansai style)

Sukiyaki
Sukiyaki Recipe  (4 people)

Ingredients

  • 300g Beef, thinly sliced
  • 200g Tofu (Regular tofu or grilled tofu, not Silken)
  • 2-5   Negi (Shallots or scallions)
  • 8     Shiitake mushrooms (I use dried shiitake, soaked in hot water)
  • 1/2 a Hakusai (Chinese Cabbage)  I used about 6 large leaves.
  • 200g Moyashi (bean sprouts)
  • a bunch of Shungiku (Spring Chrisanthemum leaves)  And/or Spinach. 
  • 1 package Ito-Konnyaku (Konnyaku noodles, also called Shirataki)
  • +/- a package of Udon noodles (to use at the end)
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/3 cup Japanese Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 3/4 cup water
  • A bowl of steamed rice for each person
  • A raw egg in a small bowl for each person



How to Make Sukiyaki:

1.  Prepare ingredients and place on a large platter:
Tofu: slice into 1 inch cubes
Negi: slice diagonally 2 inches
Shiitake: stem removed, halved if big
Hakusai: Slice leaves down the centre, then into 2-3 inch lengths
Shungiku: Fill a bowl with water in the sink.  Submerge shungiku, dunking well. (this also freshens them) cut into 3-4 inch lengths
Mother's My Sukiyaki Nabe

2.  Place cooking equipment on the table.  Set out egg bowls and rice bowls and chopsticks for each person.  Each person whisks their egg with chopsticks and waits in anticipation.

3.  Pour about a Tbsp oil in the heated pan (Med heat).  Add half the beef and stir-fry until browned a little.  Sprinkle sugar on it, pour on soy sauce and sake.  Add water to the pan.

4.  Add vegetables, tofu and ito-konnyaku, each in their own position in the pan.  Keep it tidy. 


5.  Allow to cook for 1-2 min and then dig in!  When most of the ingredients are gone, add more of each ingredient, pushing the cooked ingredients to one side (still keeping it tidy).  When the sauce becomes low, add some more sugar, soy sauce and water, keeping the taste balanced. (Don't let it boil dry!)  Last of all, add the udon noodles.


♡ ♡ ♡
Baby boy loves the ito-konnyaku, udon, beef and hakusai in Sukiyaki



Yesterday we had so much fun having a little Sukiyaki lunch party at my friend's place.

I bet you've heard of Sukiyaki.  
Most non-Japanese I've asked don't seem to know what real sukiyaki is.

Sukiyaki is my favorite of my mother's cooking.
It's very healthy, with lots of green leafy vegetables, mushrooms etc.
And so much fun!

The cooking sauce for Sukiyaki is just shoyu (Japanese Soy Sauce) and sugar, 
+/- a dash of sake.  But it's the flavours of the beef, negi, shiitake and shungiku that combine to make the rich and unique sukiyaki flavour.  

Sukiyaki is cooked on the table in a cast iron sukiyaki pan over a gas flame, or a frypan or skillet.  My mother often uses an electric frypan recently.)  Everyone sits around the table from the start of the cooking and in a minute or two they can start eating, picking something from the pan with their chopsticks, dipping it in their small bowl of raw egg, and eating.  Then going back for more.  

Oh, did I say raw egg?  Ah, yes.  That's the other essential part of the sukiyaki flavour (however some of my friends think eating it without the egg is fine).  

If at first raw egg sounds strange, just think of egg-nog or soft-boiled egg and you realize it's rather normal.  The flavour, when combined with the flavours of the sukiyaki, is really amazing.

The beef, negi, and tofu are pretty essential, but some of the other ingredients can be omitted if you can't get them.  

Please watch the videos to get a feel for Sukiyaki.  

There are several ways to make Sukiyaki, depending on what part of Japan you're from (and how your mama made it).  This is Kansai Style.  My Mother oils the pan using a chunk of fat cut from the beef (and then throws it away).
  

I'm sorry about the camera shake, especially at the beginning of the video...next month I'll be getting a tripod. Yay!  ...And next time I'll shoot in HD.  (This time I used my friend's camera because my memory card was full)

Video: Cooking Sukiyaki (steps 3-4)
video


Video: 20 min later...
video


After 50 min of Mama conversation...


...we might do this as a regular thing...
\(^o^)/
oh yeah, we do...
here's another recipe for Sukiyaki with Wagyu and Kinoko-rui


Monday, August 22, 2011

Free Nursing Covers & Baby Slings

2012 Update:  
The promo code still works, so this info is still valid!


If you're a baby mama or have a friend who's pregnant or has a baby, 
this might just be very useful.
Udder Covers and Seven Slings are giving away Nursing Covers & Baby Slings for $0+shipping.  
The Promo code is: breastfeeding.


Select the design you want, scroll down to the cart, put in the promo code, and the total will automatically reduce to just the delivery charge.  You can only get one breastfeeding cover and one sling, it won't work if you order two at once.
For Australian and international shipping, I wrote some more notes down below...
I just checked it now, promo code: breastfeeding still works.  So even if you're viewing this blog late, try it out anyway, you might be lucky.

Of course I didn't believe it 100% when I heard that they were giving away free nursing covers and baby slings.  I mean, who gives away quality goods for free?  But, for around $10 delivery to US, or $15.95 delivery to Australia, I thought it was an acceptable gamble since everything about the companies looked legitimate and you can pay by paypal.

Well guess what...
It's for real.  Because a week or two later, two packages showed up with these inside:

(Sorry he's not looking so genki here!  He wanted to play with Daddy's phone...)
Very quick and easy to use.  Mine is a size 2.  I'm 166cm tall and it's a perfect fit.

 Isn't Baby Boy clever?:

 I ordered the gift set with the nursing bracelet and breast pads for an extra $5:
 I wish I'd had these when Baby Boy was a baby!  They would have been so useful!  In any case, I definitely plan on younger siblings for Baby Boy, so that's what I ordered them for.  Bargain.  Very happy mama.

So why free?  I have no idea.  Do you know?  
I guess they cover costs from the inflated delivery charge(?)


(***P.S.  When I ordered the breastfeeding cover, I had to email them to place my order to Australia because on the original cart it won't add extra postage to Australia.  They replied soon and told me the amount and paypal payment instructions.  I had paid the original $9.95 shipping at checkout, and then I paid $6 later by paypal.


Udder Covers shopping cart says "We ship to the USA and Canada", but they do ship to Australia too, you can select Australia when you put in your address.  You just need to email them about shipping because the shipping cost doesn't adjust.
I wonder if they ship worldwide? If you're in Japan or France I guess you could try emailing to ask.  Then let me know their reply. ^_^
Seven Slings checkout was easier as the shipping adjusted automatically.)
(Aug23 update: Since I ordered, they've both increased shipping prices, please check when you order.)




Sep 27 update:  I just thought I should share with you about Oyako.co.nz as another option for baby carriers.
Oyako is owned by my sister and they produce excellent quality Mei-Tai and Ring Sling Baby Carriers and Baby Slings.


♡ ♡ ♡


Dinner...

Since we're on the topic of non-Japanese things, here's what we had for dinner tonight:  Chinese Hot Pot.  With lots of Schezuan Pepper, dried chilli etc.  Served cooking on the portable gas cooker on the table.  My husband and I love this stuff.  You eat it pretty much the same way as Japanese Onabe.

(I used a wok cos with Chinese Hot Pot you have to fry the spices in oil before you add the water.  And Chinese don't use a donabe anyway.)
Do you like Chinese Food?


Friday, August 19, 2011

Oden Recipe おでん

Winter in Japan is cold.  It feels so good walking into a warm heated building.  One of the most convenient warm places is the convenience stores you see almost on every corner.  They sell all sorts of useful things, including hot food.  The most traditional of these is probably Oden
You choose your selection of various fish cakes, tofu, egg, daikon etc, and pay 60c~$1 for each piece, which is served to you in a cup with some warm broth.  Then you walk out of the 7-Eleven, into the cold again, but this time you have something warm in your hands, which is going to feel sooo nice and warm in your stomach.  mmm.  It's winter now in Australia, so that's why I had a craving for oden recently.
Believe it or not, it's incredibly quick and easy to prepare (if you don't count cooking time)
This is what it looks like in a convenience store:
(This was Family Mart at Shin-Imamiya, Osaka.)
Instructions for Oden:  Take a cup from the left and use the spoon or tongs (on the right) to pick which items you'd like, and take a little broth with it.

And here's what it looked like in my kitchen:
So here's how I made it:  (Serves 4)
Soup:
1/4 cup soy sauce (Japanese)
2 Tbsp sake (can be made without if you can't get it)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp dashi no moto (Japanese Fish stock powder)
4 cups water

Things to put into Oden: (whichever you can get)
  • About half (400g) a Daikon (Japanese long white radish) cut into 2cm/ 3/4in rounds
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled (or 2 medium potatoes cut in half or 4ths)
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
  • 4 pieces knotted konbu (strips of kelp tied in a knot)


100-150g (4oz) of any of the following items:
  • Atsuage (Thick deep fried tofu), cut into triangles
  • Chikuwa (Japanese tube-shaped fish cake) and/or other Japanese fish cake
  • Konnyaku or ito-konnyaku, 
  • Hampen,  
  • Beef Tendon, skewered
  • Squid, skewered


Boil the soup, add the goodies (put daikon at the bottom so they cook well), boil, then simmer for 30-40 min until daikon is softened.

Oden is usually served on its own if eating outside, but when eating it as a meal at home, serve with a separate bowl of steamed rice for each person.  
The pot is served on the table and each person has a small bowl which they eat from, picking out the pieces they want to eat and refilling their bowl.


Ingredients from the asian grocery store:
(The big white thing is the daikon.  The chikuwa and tofu were chinese brands because they're much cheaper here.  Yes, in Australia our eggs have brown shells.  The box on the left is a box of dashi powder sachets.)

Dashi-no-moto (or Hon-dashi) is an essential ingredient in most Japanese dishes. Here are a few more packages (with links to Amazon): 
Dashi-No-Moto (Soup Stock Base) - 5.25 oz.Ajinomoto - Hon Dashi (Soup Stock) 5.28 Oz.Hon-Dashi (Bonito Fish Soup Stock) - 2.29 oz.

My mum's old My donabe (clay pot) on gas is the best: (but a saucepan will do)

Here's the other way to make the soup (packet mix):
S & B Oden No Moto, 2.8-Ounce Units (Pack of 10)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crispy Shell Pai Shu Cream Puffs Recipe ☆ US cups and ounces


Click Here for this Recipe with Metric Cups, Grams and Degrees Celcius. <-Also see this link for more important tips about this recipe.
Pai Shu Cream Puffs (24 large)


Cream Puff Pastry (Choux)
4 oz butter (regular, salted)
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
5 eggs

pinch salt


Custard creme:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 cups milk (100% milk, around 3.6% fat)
1 oz butter
1 vanilla bean OR Vanilla extract
+/- a cup of whipped fresh cream


Pai-Shuu Crust:
1 oz butter
1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1/3 cup flour
  • STEP 1:  Make Custard Cream several hours before or the day before
  • STEP 2:  Prepare Pai-Shuu Crust Dough if desired
  • STEP 3:  When everything's ready, make the Cream Puff Pastry
Custard Cream
1. Using a whisk, Combine flour and sugar, 
2. Add:  4 egg yolks and about 40mL of the milk, whisk until combined.  Add remaining milk and scrape in vanilla pod.
3. Stir over medium heat, till it thickens (Often scraping the bottom). When it's thick and bubbles start to blob up, remove from heat.
4. Stir in 1 oz real butter

5. Allow to cool with plastic wrap on surface to prevent a "skin". Refrigerate until cold.
+/- 6. If you like, fold a cup of whipped fresh cream into the cold custard cream.


Pai-Shuu Crust
1.  Melt Butter in a small saucepan
2.  Stir in Sugar, then flour.


Cream Puff Pastry
1. Place butter, salt and water in a large saucepan over high heat.  When butter is melted and it starts to boil, remove from heat and...
2. Immediately tip in flour all at once, and beat into a firm dough with wooden spoon.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon before adding the next egg.
4. Spoon into a Piping bag and Pipe directly downward onto paper-lined tray.  If you like, use chopsticks or fingers to pull pastry upwards on the sides, to make them taller and rough-surfaced.
5.  Place discs of Pai-Shuu Crust Dough on top.
6.  Immediately bake in a very hot oven 410-430 degrees F, 25-30min until well puffed and browned then down to 210 degrees F for 40 min or more to dry.
7.  Allow to cool (the puffs will firm up and become strong) before peeling the baking paper from the bottom of the puffs.
When I go to Japan, one thing I must always have is a shu-cream (Japanese Cream Puff).  
I think they have to be my number 1 favorite sweet.
And in Japan they generally cost 150-200 yen ($1.80)
...which is a much more appetizing price than around 
$3 at Beard Papa's in Australia.
And, the ones in Japan seemed to be tastier.
 This patisserie was in Saitama...the Kamadashi Pai Shu-cream (cream puff) was amazing...as they all are...
So a few years ago 
I got out my (Japanese) mum's old handwritten cookbook and 
started making cream puffs at home.
After a few batches and adjustments I came up with my own recipe.

This is the one my friends keep begging me to make again...and again...
but I do it, cos I love them, and...
I'm still addicted, myself...

 Today I thought I'd make a US recipe.

So next time, you can be the one making it for me! YAY!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Japanese Cream Puffs Recipe ☆ Australian measures

2011/09/30 UPDATE: Click Here for my Pai-Shuu Crispy Cream Puff Recipe (Similar to Beard Papa's)
All cup measurements here are for Australian metric 250mL! 
I also made a US recipe for American cups and ounces.


Little Japan Mama Cream Puffs (20-24)

120 g butter
3/4 cup water
1 1/3 cup plain flour, sifted
5 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Custard creme
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
3 cups milk
40g real butter
1/2 or 1 vanilla bean (I got excellent quality vanilla beans from India on ebay, sooo cheap!) Vanilla extract will do if you can't wait for your bean order.
+/- a cup of whipped fresh cream


1. Place butter, salt, sugar and water in a large saucepan over high heat.  When butter is melted and it starts to boil, remove from heat and...
2. Immediately tip in flour all at once, and beat into a firm dough with wooden spoon.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk 5 eggs.  Add approximately one egg to the dough at a time, beating well in between with a wooden spoon.

4. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe directly downward onto paper-lined tray.  If you like, use chopsticks or fingers to pull pastry upwards on the sides, to make them taller and rough-surfaced.
5.  Place discs of Pai-Shuu Crust Dough on top.
6.  Immediately bake in a very hot oven 210-220 degrees Celcius, 25-30min until well puffed and browned then down to 100 degrees C for 40 min or more to dry.


(oven MUST be well pre-heated) (esp with these big puffs, don't turn the heat down early, they fell when I did that! wait until they're well puffed and the colour is fully developed.)

Custard creme
1. Using a whisk, Combine flour and sugar, 
2. add:  2 egg yolks and a small amount of the milk, whisk until combined.  Add remaining milk and scrape in vanilla pod.
3. stir over medium heat, till it thickens. Remove from heat.
4. mix in 40g real butter
5. allow to cool with plastic wrap on surface to prevent a skin. Refrigerate until cold.
6. If you like, beat cold custard cream until smooth and then add a cup of whipped fresh cream


The beard papa's I had in Japan was better than in Aus.  
And the "pai-shuu" I had from another patisserie was even better than that.  
(What? "Pie-shoe"??)

Pai-Shuu (Pie Choix - Japanese use the word "pie" for what American Beard Papa's calls "cookie")
It's the sweet crispiness of their cream puffs which is made by piping 2 layers simultaneously: choix pastry and cookie pastry.
I don't have such a machine, but we can make something similar without it.


Would you like to know how?
Click Here for my Pai-Shuu Crispy Shell Cream Puff Recipe (Similar to Beard Papa's)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

little japan mama

This is the first post of ♡little japan mama♡

Hi, I'm Shinobu(忍 or しのぶ), I'm a half Japanese Australian, married to a Japanese and we are blessed with a little boy.
We live in Australia now, so it's my job to create of our home, a "little Japan" to make my husband feel at home and for my son to know his culture.

 This blog will be the story of our food, travel and any other adventures as we live/travel in Australia and Japan.

As my mother is Japanese, the only cooking skills I learnt from her were Japanese!  I hope to share useful recipes and tips with you.  The title background photo is my cream puffs.  Called in Japan "Shuu Kuriimu" from the french: Choix Creme.  Posting my recipe Monday!

We love going to beautiful places and enjoying both nature and culture.  Travelling in Japan and Australia I have some knowledge of the best places to see and the cheapest places to stay!  

Please ask me if you have any questions about Japanese food, cooking, travel advice or anything else.  I'll be more than happy to share my knowledge and know what you're interested in.

I'm waiting for your questions and comments!♡

じゃね!
See you soon!

しのぶ