sauces/mirin

Mirin is added to grilled fish to help reduce the fishy smell.

mirin

Black gnocchi

60 minutes - 6 servings 1rv1w2af1ov1c

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.

Teriyaki carrot patties

40 minutes - 2 servings 3rv1ov1c

If you're searching for entree ideas look no further! These curried carrot patties drizzled with teriyaki sauce, with a side of freshly baked kale chips will hit the spot.

Taking the time to cook good food, is important.

Someone said this to me ages ago, never forgot it.

Cooking isn't just about getting your hunger pangs to go away, it's also a time to be creative.

Eating is a truly complete sensory experience.

With this recipe, I wanted to make something beautiful. I didn't have to go out to get special ingredients, I just looked in my fridge and used whatever I had on hand. If you're planning a meal but are missing an item, try and see what else you can use instead.

Doing this, will make you a more creative cook.

Cooking is important kids. Find the time to do it! !

Sweet mock eel nigiri

50 minutes - 2 servings 1af1l

I've had the image of a black nigiri on my mind for some time. It's been sitting there, in my list of ideas for months. Couldn't think of what to top it off with, then a little while ago, i found out about Burmese tofu.

Yellow on black, needed to make it happen.

Burmese tofu is not really tofu, i know, that's confusing. At first, i thought it was tofu blended with turmeric. It has a yellow tint, and it's because Burmese tofu is chickpea based! The cool thing about it, is that it takes 10 minutes to make and sets 1 hour. It's a great soy-free alternative, and the texture is comparable to that of silken tofu.

I bought Chickpea flour for the first time around xmas, wasn't sure how to use it. I often purchase ingredients i don't know, and learn how to use them. I found a re-write of a chickpea tofu recipe online. The original recipe, I believe, was sourced from a book called The Burmese kitchen - recipes from the golden land by Aung Thein.

This recipe will use up about half of the burmese tofu, which means you'll have a whole other half to use in other meals.

I decided to make a mock eel nigiri, like the one i made a few months ago. The sauce that is served over eel kabayaki is sweet, with hints of caramel. I thought it would taste great atop of the burmese tofu.

Most japanese sauces are easy to make, and usually require around 3-4 ingredients. These almost always include soy sauce, sake, mirin, or rice vinegar. If you want to cook japanese food, having these around is a must. Hope you enjoy this mock-eel recipe!

Carrot kinpira onigirazu

20 minutes - 2 servings 1rv1af

Even if I don't live in Tokyo anymore, I try and keep up with what's happening over there. I still follow the news, and try to translate some simple texts to see how many kanji i've forgotten. My favourite kanji, is the one for bone '骨' (pronounced 'ho-ne'). I also love the kanji combination for jellyfish or '水母' (pronounced 'ku-ra-ge'), which beautifully translates to 'water mother'. These two words come together to create this expression '水母の' or 'jellyfish bones'. It is used when talking about something that you would not expect to exist, like bones in a jellyfish. I could go on, but seeing as how this has nothing to with food, here goes. The recipe i'm sharing with you today is japanese inspired, and is also currently part of a craze over there. I made some onigirazu, a sort of hybrid, japanese rice ball sandwich.

The word onigiri (or nigiru) means to press into shape using your hands, while "razu" means the opposite. Free form onigiri! This is perfect for people who have a hard time making rice balls, as is the case for me. Onigirazu has the same great taste, without the fear of imperfection. All the shame is hidden away under a blanket of nori, and fillings.

The concept of this rice sandwich, is perfect when you don't have the right type of rice available for onigiri. You can use just about any type, i tested it out with some Minute Rice and it worked perfectly. I was given some coupons to try out their products, i'm all for experimentation so i picked up a box of whole grain brown Minute Rice. It was my fist time trying it, I generally purchase rice in bulk. Bulk is cheaper, and has a lot less packaging. After cooking with it though, i do see the appeal. The rice is 'parboiled', which means that you wont have to wait very long for your meal to be ready. Your rice will be cooked in 1/4 of the time it takes for traditional brown rice. As you all know sticky rice takes a long time to cook, I don't mind having to wait after my rice, but I know that not everyone has that luxury. It's a good thing that this option exists, it means it's even easier to cook great meals, rapidly at home.

The rice was seasoned with miso for added flavour, and was filled with carrot kinpira. Kinpira means "sauteed" (sually with a mixture of mirin soy sauce and chili peppers.) It's a sweet, and spicy dish that is often served in bentos. I knew I wanted this as a filling for my onigirazu, to satisfy my sudden craving for japanese food. This would have been amazing with gobo, but finding the root here in Montreal is no easy task.

You should try and make your own version of onigirazu at home! As i said, it's no-fail and with some parboiled rice it can ready in under 20 minutes (you can also parboil your own rice). I may not live near a 24h kombini, with readily available onigiri anymore, but i know i can make some at home easily, and quickly.

Hijiki soba

40 minutes - 2 portions 1w1af2rv1l

After Japan opened itself to the world, Japanese cooks began to adapt western dishes in their own style. For instance in the west, people use ketchup as a condiment, but the Japanese use it as a base for tomato sauces. Spaghetti 'Naporitan' was created just after World War II after Shigetada (the head chef at the Hotel New Grand in Yokohama) saw occupying soldiers eating it. Nowadays, you can find spaghetti seasoned with soy sauce, and served with seaweed.

While living in Tokyo, we spent many evenings at Saizeriya, a cheap Japanese food chain of family-style italian restaurants. I had my very first yoshoku-style(western style) pasta there.

This is a relatively simple recipe, and uses all of my favourite japanese condiments! If you've never had yoshoku pasta, i envy you. A world of creativity awaits!

Recipes

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Ingredients

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