Bamboo charcoal comes from pieces of bamboo plants, harvested after at least five years, and burned in ovens at temperatures ranging from 800 to 1200 °C. It benefits environmental protection by reducing pollutant residue. It is an environmentally functional material featuring excellent absorption properties. It can be added to foods to give it a black tint, it's very popular in Japan. You can get some through Taketora, a japanese company. (wikipedia description).
This black loaf of bread is what inspired this website. It took me a while to get my hands on bamboo charcoal powder, now that i have it, i will be baking a ton of these! Some months ago, I stumbled upon an image of an all-black loaf. I didn't know you could get bread to be that dark.
Getting your hands on bamboo charcoal isn't easy. I saw stores on amazon.com that stocked it, but nothing in my area. I bought a small amount at a health food store where I live, but it was a very small jar (also crazy expensive). After much searching, I concluded that the best place to get it was in Japan. I assumed it would be relatively easy to get over there, wrong again. It's almost impossible to purchase in store, or maybe i wasn't taking to the right people, or going to the right places.
I finally found some available for purchase on amazon japan. Since i lived in temporary housing, shipping there wasn't ideal. Luckily, a good friend agreed to have it shipped to her place and it arrived before i left the country! That's how i got my hands on bamboo charcoal powder! Wasn't easy, but i got it from the best possible source! I got it through Taketora, they've been growing and making things out of bamboo for years and years. They're true artisans.
Cooking with bamboo charcoal is a breeze, you don't need to add much to make your food black. It doesn't add taste to a recipe either, it's purely aesthetic.
Black pasta is visually striking. I remember the first time I saw it on a shelf, in a grocery store. Ever since then, I've been dying to make my own. Happy to say that i can finally cross that off my list!
Making fresh pasta at home is easy, it doesn't require a lot of preparation. It's something you can do on a weekend. Kneading dough is relaxing, just put some music on, pour yourself a glass of wine and start cooking! It's something you can do by yourself, but it's actually cool to do with a friend. Me and Devine made these while our friend Max was around.
The secret ingredient to making black pasta, is Bamboo Charcoal powder. It's seldomly used to make pasta, most of the time people will use squid ink. While it's harder to find, it works better in pasta as it will not alter the taste or smell of your dough. You can also make black pasta with black rice, although the consistency and ingredients are very different.
To make pasta, I use a pasta machine but you can easily do it by hand, using just a rolling pin and a knife. I've made pasta using both methods, it's good to try by hand first. Your first batch may not be perfect, but that's ok! You'll only get better with practice! It doesn't really matter anyway if they're uneven, your noodles will still be delicious. The more batches you make, the better they'll get!
I don't buy bread anymore, since i've discovered the joys of home-baking! I still like to go to my neighbourhood bakery though, to get ideas and inspiration. My latest bread experiment, is pretzels.
You can find black breads in some japanese bakeries, though it isn't common here in Montreal. If available, I wonder if people would buy them. Unfortunately, black is synonymous with 'burnt' and 'rotten'.
Those who think this way are missing out! Black bread is as good as any other bread, and will please the dark abyss, that is your stomach.
This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown's. I'm still new at baking, I'm learning a lot about it. It's great to have so many resources online to learn from! These pretzels are best eaten on the same day!
Late-night gyoza at izakaya, is one of the things i miss the most about living in Tokyo. Maybe not one of the healthiest late-night eats, but a DELICIOUS one. These are very unconventional gyoza, black on the outside, and red and orange on the inside.
We made homemade gyoza dough with some friends a few weeks back, it took FOREVER. Devine had the amazing idea of using our pasta maker to do it. We still needed to do a bit of kneading, to get it through the machine the first time. After that, it's easy and sweat-free!
We didn't have any round cookie cutters, the last time we tried i was using upside down glasses. Didn't work well because the rims aren't sharp. Again, Devine had a stroke of genius. Cans! I had an empty chickpea pan lying around, it was about the size of a gyoza wrapper so we used that to poke holes through the dough.
I know not everyone has a pasta maker, you don't need one to make wrappers. You can just use a rolling pin.
The fillings was another experiment, since i like to cook with colours in mind, i wanted something that would contrast the black. Beet and carrots seemed like an obvious choice. Unconventional, as far as traditional japanese gyozas go, but very delicious and very beautiful.
We had a lot of fun making these gyoza, it's best made and eaten with friends!
Gyoza wrapper techniques and ratios were based on the recipe from Just one cookbook. She explains it really well too on her blog it's worth taking a look. I learned a lot from her even if our techniques differ slightly. While I preferred not to knead by hand, or with a rolling pin, i did do it her way the first time.
Introducing, my basic black bread recipe. This bread is super light and fluffy, it's great great for morning toast or sandwiches.
I've been reading up a lot about bread, there's so many kinds out there. I wanted to understand how the ingredients we add, can change the texture of the bread. Also read about the differences in temperature, to knead or not to knead etc.
Truth is, it depends on the type of bread you want.
I wanted to make a sandwich bread with a light crumb, the kind that bounces back when touched.
The one I made this time has more fat, which in turn makes it softer and fluffier. The fat that you use will also change the texture/taste of the bread. A lot of people wont like the idea of adding 'fat' to a recipe, know that fat isn't synonymous with unhealthy. Too much of it can be bad, but in moderation there really isn't anything to worry about. It also depends on what fat you choose, there are good and bad kinds of fat.
There are many things you can do to help soften your bread, like brushing the outside with a little oil or fat. Do this as soon as you take it out of the oven, it will make the outside less crunchy. You can also substitute nut milk for the water, if you want a richer taste. There are so many different things to think about when baking!
I made this loaf for a brunch I had with friends, we wanted to have fondue with a set I got as a gift during the holidays. We cut the loaf into cubes, and dunked them in! Soft bread is perfect for fondue!
So there you have it! A basic black bread!
A few weeks ago, I asked people what they wanted to see me cook. Some of you asked for black gnocchi, so here they are! Made from scratch, beautiful and black. Topped with a light and sweet sauce, fresh scallions and daikon!
As it turns out, making gnocchi is long. It's well worth the effort, but if you're planning on making some, clear your afternoon or get a friend to help.
I started cooking these early in the day, around 9 in the morning. Every step takes time. You have to wait for the potatoes to bake, wait for them to cool down, you need to remove the skins etc. Skipping any of those steps will result in a gnocchi disaster, nothing worse than an uneatable meal.
These turned out perfect! This is a large recipe, so if you're only two you'll have plenty left-over that you can let dry, freeze and eat later.
For the topping, I wanted a ton of scallions with mushrooms and seaweed. I miss the pasta in italian restaurants in japan, they always had some with japanese-style toppings. Since i'm currently on a shichimi togarashi binge, (left-over from my cracker recipe) I included some in this recipe as well.
Because the sauce and toppings are light and simple, you can focus on the texture of the gnocchi.
Beet hummus bites, or 'uzumaki' bites, as i like to call them! Roasted beet hummus, black olives and aragula salad tucked into homemade bamboo charcoal tortillas.
Making tortillas at home is damn easy, it doesn't require a lot of waiting time or preparation. The only thing i had trouble with, was making them into nice circular shapes. Not sure how people manage to do it, guess it takes practice. It's also because i'm short of a rolling pin, Devine broke the handles off the other day. I've been using the 'body' of the rolling pin, without the handles. It still works! Dans ta face, rolling pin!
Made the tortillas based on the recipe by Zerrin from Give recipe. You should check out her page first, if you want to try and make your own tortillas. She describes it a lot better than I, not to mention her tortillas are circular. In my defense, she uses a tortilla press.
Had a lot of fun making these, plus the end result is pretty! I feel like these would be really good, topped with a sauce of somekind. Any ideas?
Simple black burger buns with white sesame seeds, ready in under 1 hour! Made with bamboo charcoal powder.
There are days when I don't want to wait 3h for my bread to be ready, which was the case yesterday when I decided to make burger buns. Devine's sister was coming over for supper, and I had a lot of work to do that morning. Didn't want to spend the entire day running between my computer, and the kitchen. Making bread doesn't require a lot of active time, but i'd still need to check often. Sometimes, that's just enough to take all of my focus away.
To minimize that, I made a quick savoury bread! The same one I made on Valentine's day that had a smoked paprika heart in the center (yes i know so cute. Paprika love.) That recipe was based off culinaire amoula's Cumin and paprika savoury bread. I simplified the recipe, removing the spices, and divided it into 5 buns instead of two large loaves. I recommend trying out her recipe as well, it's so good. You can have the bread alone with green tea :).
I don't have a lot of experience with quick breads, i'm experimenting a lot though, to see what i can make in less time. Culinaire amoula's recipe helped me a lot, didn't think i could get bread that tasted this good, so quickly. It makes great burger buns! The bottom stays flat, so in the end you're not stuck with this weird 'ball bread.' My last burger was like that, and it made it hard to have it sit upright on a plate. No one wants to eat spherical burgers.
If you're in the mood for black burger buns, and need it done quickly, then try out this recipe!
I've always liked making things from scratch, especially when cooking. I enjoy the process, making it myself means that i control the quality and quantity of each ingredient. In the last couple of years, I've removed most pre-made cleaning and hygiene products from my life. I make my own shampoo, deodorant, toilet cleaner, kitchen cleaner and I also make my own toothpaste.
Making it yourself is cheaper, and you're not burdened by wasteful packaging. Chances are you already have all of the ingredients at home to make it, there's nothing to it. The recipe consists of baking soda, foodgrade bamboo charcoal powder, coconut oil and peppermint oil (also food grade). You can omit the bamboo charcoal to make your own toothpaste, it will work just as well. If you want black toothpaste to match your black-everything though, this is a must. If you want some, make sure to get it from a reliable source. If you're a hardcore minimalist, you can also brush your teeth with a simple baking soda and water paste (though the saltiness can be overwhelming). Adding coconut and peppermint oil, makes for a better taste and texture. In colder climates, your toothpaste will solidify. Scraping some onto your toothbrush can be a challenge. Put the jar near a heater for 5 minutes or so to help soften it down.
Baking soda you can purchase in bulk; you can use to make a ton of products. I use it almost everyday on the boat to polish metals, unclog drains etc. One day i will make a post about cleaning products, for now, enjoy the bamboo charcoal toothpaste recipe! Awaken the Ohaguro in you (be assured that the bamboo charcoal won't really stain your teeth).
You can order your own bamboo charcoal powder from Taketora, it's where i got mine.