Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Soba Noodle

Soba (buck wheat noodles) with Cold Dipping Sauce 


There are many regional soba noodles you can enjoy while you are in Japan.  Next time when you travel within Japan, try to stop at a soba shop to truly enjoy the local cuisine. 



Ingredients (for four):

For home made noodle dipping sauce, see the basic noodle soup direction below. Alternatively you may use ready-to-use noodle sauce. 


Basic Udon/Soba Soup:
  • 4 cups water
  • 6-8inch / 15-20cm of dried kelp(こぶ/こんぶ)
  • Dried bonito flakes (if you are using packaged ones, use 4 packages) (かつお節)
  • 5-7 dried anchovies(Niboshi 煮干し/にぼし)- heads and guts removed
  • 1/3 cup of mirin (みりん)
  • 1/3 cup of sake (酒)
  • 2/3 cup of soy sauce (しょうゆ/醤油) 
Udon Noodle:
  • Dried or fresh udon noodle for four (うどん4人前)
  • 12 cups of water (for cooking noodles)
In a large pot, soak dried kelp (for best result, soak the kelp in the water for an hour before you start cooking) and bring it to simmer. Take the kelp out and add the bonito flakes and anchovies, and bring to boil. Boil for 8-10 minuets. Scoop out the bonito flakes and anchovies, and discard them. Add the sake, mirin and soy sauce and boil for 5 minuets. Adjust the soup to your taste by adding more soy sauce and/or mirin, and turn the heat off. 

Cook soba noodles in a boiling water until the noodles become al dente, about 5-7 minutes. Wash the soba noodles under cold running water. Take one chopstick full of noodles and mount it on a serving plate by making a circular motion or folding motion.  Repeat this process for a couple of more time till you have one serving amount of soba noodles on the plate. Serve the cold noodles with the soba sauce and your favorite toppings. 
Suggested toppings:
  • Sliced scallions or long green onions
  • Wasabi paste
  • Grated ginger 
  • Japanese basil (oh-ba 大葉)
  • Japanese ginger (myoga みょうが)
  • Sliced cooked eggplant 
  • A pinch of chili pepper

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Spring in Tokyo



    One month after the big earthquake in Japan.
    Spring has arrived in Tokyo.
    Regardless of what is going on in Japan currently, season changes.

    We can get through this together.
    Go Japan!

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Making Japanese savory broth, "dashi"

    Making "dashi," savory broth, is the key to many of Japanese cooking. Once you know how to make this savor broth, you can add soy sauce, sake, and/or miring to make you own soba/ udon noodle soup, or any sauce for many Japanese dishes. 

    Here are some of the main ingredients you can use to make "dash":

    • 4 cups water
    • 6-8inch / 15-20cm of dried kelp(こぶ/こんぶ)
    • Dried bonito flakes (if you are using packaged ones, use 4 packages) (かつお節)
    • 5-7 dried anchovies(Niboshi 煮干し/にぼし)- heads and guts removed

      In a large pot, soak dried kelp (for best result, soak the kelp in the water for an hour before you start cooking) and bring it to simmer. Take the kelp out and add the bonito flakes and anchovies, and bring to boil. Boil for 8-10 minuets. Scoop out the bonito flakes and anchovies, and discard them. This is the basic savory broth. You may also add Shiitake mushroon to give it an additional "depth" to the broth. 


      Happy Dolls' Day!

      Happy Little Dolls' Day!
      On March 3rd is the day the Japanese celebrate Momo-no-sekku or Hina-matsuri. This is the day the families with daughters put out their traditionally dressed Japanese dolls and wish for their duaghters' health and happiness for the year. It is believed that dolls will take the bad luck from the girls.


      This is also the day when we can enjoy sweets that are made espeicailly for this day. At our home, I made Tuna sushi balls and put them togehter like a little flower (top right on the photo below). Some people fix chirashi-sushi, sashimi fish on top of sushi rice, on this day.

      Thursday, February 24, 2011

      Hot pot (Nabe) recipe

      Hot Pot (Nabe なべ) - Try this meal while it is still cold out! 
      This easy and healthy one pot meal is our favorite dish in winter. 


      Ingredients (for four) - adjust the amount and the selections of these ingredients as you wish: 
      •  5-6 cups of water
      • 15-20 cm / 6-8 inch of dried kelp
      • 1 long green onion sliced diagonally into 5 cm / 2 inch long
      • 4-6 shiitake mushroom sliced into .5 cm / 1/4 inch pieces
      • 1 package of enoki (えのき)mushroom (cut the bottom off)
      • 1 package of maitake (まいたけ)mushroom cut into a bite size
      • 1 bunch of shungiku (春菊)cut into 5 cm / 2 inch long 
      • 1 package of hard momen tofu (もめん/木綿) cut into about 3cm/ an inch blocks
      • 1/4 of chinese cabbage (hakusai はくさい)cut into 5 cm / 2 inch pieces
      • 1/2 carrot sliced into .5cm / 1/4 of an inch thin 
      • 4-6 fish ball (tsukune つくね)
      • 3-4 slices of salmon, cod, oyster, scallop and/or crab (it is even better to use a head of a fish to make a savory broth for this hot pot)
      Soak dried kelp in a water for about an hour (or bring the pot with the kelp to simmer and boil it for about 5 minutes). Take the kelp out.  Add all the ingredients and boil the water until all the ingredients are cooked. Add a little bit of ponzu (ぽんず) in your soup if you wish. It is best to be served with the plain rice. Alternatively, the left over soup in the hot pot is very savory, so you may add noodles to it and cook until the noodles are al dente. 
      Note: If you have a proper clay pot and a portable table top gas burner, cook the ingredients as you eat. Otherwise cook all the ingredients in a regular pot and serve it in a soup dish. 


      Monday, February 21, 2011

      How to make Miso Soup at home

      It is very simple to make Miso Soup at home and I highly recommending you to try this before you reach out to one of those instant miso soup packages.  

      Ingredients (for four):
      • 6 cups of water
      • Dried kelp (3-5 inch / 8-12 cm piece)
      • 2-3 packages or handful of bonito flakes (katsuo bushi)
      • 2 tablespoons of miso (red or white)
      We will make "dash" (savory broth) first. Dashi is the base for many Japanese dishes. Wipe the white coating of kelp (kobu) and soak it in a pot with 6 cups of water for 30 mins to an hour before you make this soup (If you do not have time to soak the kelp an hour before, place a kelp in a pot and bring it to simmer).  Bring this pot with the kelp to simmer and take the kelp out of the pot. Add bonito flakes (katsuo bushi) into the pot and once it started to simmer, scoop out the flakes. This is your basic "dash" (savory broth). 

      If you are adding vegetables, such as onion, radish, eggplant, etc, this is when you add those ingredients to the broth. Bring it to boil and when the vegetables are cooked, turn the heat low to add miso. If you are only adding tofu and seaweed, no need to boil the broth; simple add tofu and seaweed, and then add miso. Make sure to completely dissolve miso by using two spoons; hold miso in one and dissolve the miso in a spoon. If you add the miso right into the pot, it will stay at the bottom of the pot. Adjust the taste by adding more miso.  Do not boil water once you add miso. This will destroy the flavor. You may garnish with finely chopped scallion (spring onion).


      Suggested things to add to your miso soup:
      • Tofu
      • Seaweed (wakame)
      • Potatoes
      • Eggplant
      • Scallion
      • Onion
      • Littleneck clams (asari) - make sure to take the sands out by soaking them in a salted water at least for an hour before you use

          Japanese Cooking 101 Class


          Our Japanese home cooking 101 class was held last month and we all had such a great time making maki roll, onigiri (rice ball), miso soup, and more. 




          For those who came to my class, thank you for attending the class and I hope you are making some onigiri and miso soup at home. 


          I am repeating this basic class on April 6, so please come and join us! For more info on my cooking class, please send me an email at junkoj.keller@gmail.com. Thank you.

          Friday, February 4, 2011

          Soy Bean Throwing Day

          February 3rd in Japan is a soy bean throwing day known as "Setsubun (literally means "seasonal division").

          This ritual goes back to something like 13th century. On this day, people throw beans to get rid of evil spirits and welcome good spirits. By throwing roasted soy beans at Oni (looks like a mask in the photo below and is a representation of an evil), you are getting rid of bad luck out of your house and bringing good luck in at the beginning of spring.



          Children, especially, enjoy this ritual and many shrines and temples host bean throwing events for kids.  When you throw beans, you would yell "oni wa soto, fuku was chi (bad luck out, good luck in)!" 


          Wednesday, January 19, 2011

          J's Japanese Home Cooking Class


          - J's Japanese Home Cooking Class starts in January, 2011 -


          Class info:

          Are you lost at a local Japanese grocery store? Have you seen some vegetables that you have no idea how to cook? Do you simply want to learn Japanese home cooking? This small-sized, one-day cooking class will help you solve some of your culinary challenges in Tokyo. You will also learn where to buy certain ingredients and get your pantry ready for basic Japanese cooking. Our class is held at Junko's kitchen in Roppongi at a homey and comfortable environment. All the classes are taught in English and are very hands-on.

          Japanese Cooking 101
          January 27, 2011 (10:30 am - 1:30 pm) - Completed 
          3,000 yen

          This is a very basic Japanese cooking class. Using local ingredients, you will be introduced to traditional Japanese home meals and learn how to use 3 most basic ingredients for Japanese cooking: Rice, Miso, and Soy Sauce.

          Rice in different forms and shapes:
          - Rice Ball (Onigiri) - Yes, you can make a perfect triangle onigiri without using a mold!
          Maki Sushi (vegetarian rolls) - Great for a party!

          Miso is great for other than miso soup:
          Miso Soup
          - Eggplant and Miso
          - Cucumber with Miso

          Soy Sauce :
          - Green Vegetables with Soy Sauce & Wasabi
          - Tofu Steak with Soy Sauce & Ginger
          - Thinly Sliced Pork with Soy Sauce & Garlic

          Noodles
          February 24, 2011 (10:30 am - 1:30 pm) - Completed
          3, 000 yen

          Using both dried and fresh noodles, you will learn how to make traditional udon and soba noodles with warm and cold sauce. You will also be introduced to a modern take on soba noodles as a salad or appetizer.

          Udon Noodle with Various Toppings
          - Warm Hoto Udon with Winter Vegetables
          Soba Noodle with Warm Sauce and Cold Sauce

          Cooking with Japanese Vegetables 
          May 12, 2011 (10:30 - 1:30) - New date - maximum of 8 people
          3,000 yen

          You will be introduced to some traditional Japanese dishes using many types of local vegetables. This is not a vegetarian class but I will include some vegetarian recipes. 
          Class style: mainly  demonstrations 


          Japanese Cooking 101 (This is the same class as the one held on January 27)

          May 24, 2011 (10:30 - 1:30) - New date - maximum of 6 people
          3,000 yen

          This is a very basic Japanese cooking class. Using local ingredients, you will be introduced to traditional Japanese home meals such as rice ball (onigiri), maki roll, miso soup, and other meat and vegetable dishes. 
          Class style: a combination of hands-on and demonstrations

          For more info on class or to register, please contact me via e-mail. Thank you and I look forward to meeting you soon! - J

          Tuesday, January 11, 2011

          A Happy New Year from Tokyo!

          It has been a while since the last time I spent the New Year's in Japan. While I lived away from Japan, New Year's day was the day I missed the most. Every corner of office buildings and homes, you will see the New Year's decoration.

          Things I missed the most about the New Year's in Japan was "Osechi," a special meal prepared only for the New Year's. Your first day of the year starts with drinking herbed sake called "Toso" followed by "Osechi" meal.



          It is a very quiet day in Japan and many business will be closed until the 4th or 5th day of January. As getting together with your families and visiting shrine dressed in a traditional kimono are very common ways to spend your New Year's break, we followed the tradition this year by having gathered with my side of the families and visited a shrine in our neighborhood, Azabujyuban.