This is really simple but delicious dish. The fish is steamed in an aluminum foil wrapping together with vegetables, so all the umami from the fish is put in good use. What is great about this dish is that there will be no pots and pans to wash afterwards!
Foil-Steamed Salmon with Miso-Mayonnaise Sauce (for 2 persons)
2 fillets of salmon
1 1/2 tbs mayonnaise
1/2 tsp miso paste
3 cm of carrot
1/2 pack shimeji mushrooms
4 snow peas
1) Peel the carrot and cut in 6 slices. If you want, you can carve them to flower shape. Warm in microwave (500 W) for 1 min.
2) String the snow peas and boil quickly. Cool down and cut in half diagonally.
3) Cut off the stalk of the shimeji mushrooms and rip in smaller bunches by hand.
4) Cut the onion to thin slices. Take 2 pieces of foil, and put the onion slices on them.
5) Mix the mayonnaise and miso well. Put the salmon fillets on the onion slices, and brush the sauce on the fish.
6) Place the shimeji and carrot slices next to the fish. Close the foil partly.
7) Bake in 250°C oven for 20-23 mins. If the miso sauce seems to get too dark, close the foil.
8) Garnish with show peas and serve with rice and miso soup.
I had time, so I made a whole menu using autumn vegetables. Satsumaimo (sweet potato) rice, abura-age and green pepper nimono, cherry tomatoes & shunkiku (edible chrysanthemum) with white tofu-peanut sauce, and miso soup.
In Japan, autumn is said to be good for sports, reading, and eating good food. 食欲の秋 (shokuyoku no aki) means exactly the last, and implies all the delicious vegetables and fish that are at their best in autumn.
鯖 (saba), or mackerel, is one of the ingredients that are delicious in the autumn. The only problem with saba is that as it is quite oily fish, the food easily ends up smelling “fishy” if the preparations are not made well.
Roasted Mackerel Sushi (for 2 persons)
2 fillets of mackerel
300 g warm rice
20 cc (rice) vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10 perilla leaves
1 tsp white sesame seeds
(Pickled ginger, gari, if you like it)
1) Scrape off scales of the mackerel if needed. Take the backbone out, and cut off the bony parts in the belly as well as fins, if still attached.
2) Wipe the fillets with a kitchen paper, add 4 to 5 diagonal cuts to the skin side of the fillets, and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 10 mins. Wipe off the moisture with kitchen paper.
3) Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt well.
4) Cut the perilla leaves into thin stripes.
5) Put the mackerel fillets with the skin side up on a oven pan covered with cooking paper. Sprinkle with some salt, and roast in 200 degree oven for 15 mins.
6) Put the warm rice in a big bowl, add the vinegar mix with slow circling motion. Mix with a rice ladle like you were cutting something. This is to prevent the rice to get smashed. Mix until the rice is not watery anymore, and gets a nice gloss.
7) Add perilla leave strips and sesame seeds in two sets while mixing well.
8) Divide the rice to two, and put them on two pieces of wrap film. Use the film to make two even sized sticks.
9) Put the mackerel fillets on two pieces of wrap, this time the skin side down to the table. Put a thin layer of gari on the fish, if you want to use it. Instead of gari, you can spread some wasabi paste on the fish. Place the rice stick on the top, and adjust the form with the wrap.
10) Cut into 3 cm pieces and serve.
I had felt a vague pain in my back teeth for a week, and went to see a dentist. As I had suspected, the wisdom tooth was to blame, so after a short consultation I decided to get it extracted. All went well, and it wasn’t even very painful, but of course I couldn’t eat normal food for a couple of days.
Thus I decided to make ojiya, rice gruel, which is often served to kids and elderly when they are sick. Also during the winter, the rest of nabe – or hot-pot – dish can be made to ojiya to utilize all the tasty stock that otherwise tends to end up down the drain.
Easy Rice Gruel Seasoned with Miso (for 1 person)
1 tsp granuled dashi
1 bowl of (brown) rice
1/2 tbs miso
Some shiokombu or nori for topping
1) If you use refrigerated rice, warm it in microwave. I use brown rice, but for example for elderly person or a person with stomach problems white rice is easier to digest.
2) Put the water and dashi granules in a pot. Add also rice and mix lightly so that rice grains won’t stick to each other any more. Turn the heat on and bring to boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes.
3) Turn the heat off and dissolve miso in the mixture. Mix and turn the heat on again to low heat.
4) Add beaten egg slowly in circles, turn off the heat and put a lid on. When the egg is half-cooked, move to serving bowl.
5) Garnish with shiokombu or nori seaweed.
Tip: You can also add vegetables to gruel. Spinach, japanese pumpkin, and leek for example are nourishing and easy to eat when cooked soft. Also shrimps go well as topping.
Lately I have been trying out different nimono, simmered dishes. Nimono are considered a bit tricky by some, but preparing the vegetables properly, and adding the stock ingredients in right order is a big part of the process.
Chikuzen-ni (for 4 persons)
200g chicken thigh
100g boiled bamboo shoot
1/2 lotus root
12 snow peas
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 block of konnyaku
1 tbs sesame oil
1/2 cup of water where shiitake were soaked
1 cup dashi stock
3 tbs sugar
2 tbs sake
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs mirin
1) Soak the dried shiitake in cold water to soften. Cut the stems off, and cut diagonally to half. Keep 1/2 cup of liquid for later use!
2) Cut konnyaku to 3 cm thick bars, and teat into bite-sized by hand. Rub some salt on the cubes and rinse in cols water. Put in a pot with plenty of water and bring to boil. Simmer for 5 mins, then drain on a sieve.
3) Boil the bamboo shoots quickly to take off the bitterness.
4) Peel the carrot and lotus root. Cut the two and the boiled bamboo shoots into bite-sized pieces.
5) Scrape off the skin of the burdock with a piece of aluminum foil, and cut to bite-size. Put in a bowl with water and little bit vinegar for 4 mins to take off the bitterness. Rinse in cold water.
6) Take off the excess skin and fat from the chicken, and cut to 3 cm sized cubes. Pour a small amount of sake on the meat and let stand for 1-2 mins.
7) Cut off the stalks off snow peas and remove the strings. Boiled quickly in salted water and rinse in cold water. Cut in half.
8) Heat the sesame oil in a pot, add burdock, lotus root, carrot, konnyaku and bamboo shoots in this order, and fry over high heat. When covered in oil evenly, add shiitake and chicken, and continue to fry.
9) When chicken is heated through, add water used to soak mushrooms, and dashi stock. Reduce heat to medium, and skim the foam when comes to boil. Add sugar, and then sake, and simmer for 10 mins.
10) Add the soy sauce and cover with a drop lid made from aluminum foil. Let simmer until the liquid has been reduced to half.
11) Turn the high heat and add mirin to give the dish glossy appearance. Add the boiled snow beans and mix lightly.
Nikujaga, braised meat and potatoes, is common home cooking in Japan. For many it resembles “o-fukuro no aji“, taste of mom’s cooking.
Nikujaga (for 4 persons)
200g thinly sliced beef (pork can be used too)
4 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized onion
1 pack of shirataki
1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
2 cups of dashi
2/3 cup sake
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin
green beans for garnish
1) Peel the potatoes and cut in chunks. Round the edges and put in cold water for 10 mins. (Beveling the edges prevents potatoes getting mashed when simmering.)
2) Peel the carrot and cut in same-sized chunks with the potatoes. Peel the onion and cut to moon-shaped slices. Cut also the meat in bite-sized strips. Boil the shirataki quickly.
3) Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the potatoes, carrot and onion until the surfaces absorb the oil. Add dashi, sake and shirataki, and let boil for 5 mins.
4) Add the sugar and the meat, turn the heat to strong and let boil while skimming off the scum.
5) Add soy sauce and mirin, and turn the heat to medium. Make a drop-lid from foil and let simmer covered until the vegetables are soft.
6) Boil the green beans and cut diagonally. Put nikujaga in serving bowls and garnish with green beans.
Kinmedai, or Splendid alfonsino, as its English name goes, is a bright red fish with white flesh. As many other deep sea fish, it is as its best in winter. It makes a highly nourishing meal when boiled in soy sauce based stock.
Kinmedai no Nitsuke (for 2 persons)
2 cuts of kinmedai
1cm cut of ginger
3tbs soy sauce
some greens (the photo is komatsuna, but also scallion, spinach etc. can be used)
1) Peel the ginger and cut to thin slices.
2) Mix sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and put to a frying pan. Add also ginger slices. Turn the heat on.
3) When the stock starts to boil, put the fish to the pan with skin side facing up.
4) Make a temporary lid from foil and put on the fish so that it covers it without leaving space between the foil and the fish. Boil for 6 mins with medium heat.
5) Take off the lid and boil another 3 mins pouring the stock on the fish at the same time.
6) Take the fish out of the pan (leave the stock), and add the greens. Boil and mix quickly, pour some stock on the greens.
7) Serve with rice and miso soup.
Other fish can be used too, for example cod, flounder, sea bass etc.
This is popular dish in Japan as it is quick and easy to cook, and with its ginger flavor is loved both by children and adults.
Ginger Sautéed Pork 豚肉の生姜焼き (for 2 persons)
200g thinly sliced pork loin
1 tsp fresh ginger juice
2 tsp sake
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs sake
1/2 tbs sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tbs mirin
1/2 tbs grated ginger
1) Spread out each pork loin slice fully and cut to bite-sized pieces. Place the pork on a metal tray and pour the ginger juice mixed with sake on the meat. Let stand about 5 mins and wipe off the moisture.
2) Mix the ingredients of the sauce.
3) Heat the oil on a fry pan and spread the pork slices fully on the pan. Fry on medium heat, and when the meat is heated through, pour the sauce in to cover the pork thoroughly.
4) Arrange on plate, garnish with shredded cabbage and cherry tomatoes.