I was reading about Hawaiian Hurricane popcorn, which is a mochi crunch and nori flavored buttery popcorn, a while ago and have really wanted to try it since. I’m going to order the real thing online soon because it sounds sooo good, but for now I’m having my own version of Japanese style popcorn. This is a really satisfying snack for people who like the combination of salty and sweet flavors. All of the Japanese ingredients are very basic and are easily found at an Asian grocery store. To toast the sheet of nori, turn your stove burner on low heat and pass the nori quickly over the flame a few times on each side until the nori is slightly fragrant.
1 bag plain microwaveable popcorn
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp nanami togarashi assorted chili pepper (S&B brand is the most popular and easy to find)
1 packet kombu dashi granules
2 tbsp katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
1 sheet toasted nori, cut into small strips
Toss together the sugar, nanami togarashi, kombu dashi granules and katsuobushi with the freshly popped popcorn in a large mixing bowl. Top with the toasted nori and serve.
I made Takoyaki for the first time today. The people at the Takoyaki stands make turning the little dumplings look so easy! It took a little bit to get the hang of it, but I think they turned out really yummy. I always got annoyed if I ordered Takoyaki in Japan and ended up with Takoyaki that was skimpy on the fillings, so I made sure to put a little extra of everything.
Kinoko no hoiru yaki can be found in many izakayas and is really simple to make. These recipes works wonderfully for all types of Japanese mushrooms like enoki, maitake, shimeji, bunashimeji and shiitake. Mix and match whichever mushrooms you like best!
Lemon and Salt Flavor
100 g Japanese mushrooms of your choice
Juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 lemon cut into thin slices
Large pinch of salt
1 tbsp sake
1 tsp butter
Sake and Soy Sauce Flavor
100 g Japanese mushrooms of your choice
1 tbsp sake
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce or 2 tbsp ponzu shoyu
1 tsp butter
Method for both recipes:
Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Place mushrooms in the middle of a large piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle seasonings over the mushrooms and top with butter. For method 1, if you are using lemon slices, layer them over the mushrooms before you top with butter. Fold the aluminum foil into a packet to keep in the sauce and mushrooms. Place packet in the oven and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your mushrooms. Remove from oven and serve.
I was in a hurry so this turned out a bit messy but this is a quick and yummy salad of natto and slices of boiled octopus on a bed of baby spring mix. I got the idea from Ochikeron’s blog Create Eat Happy but I used fresh shiso and scallions in the salad and made a ponzu dressing to complement the octopus. Some people may be put off by natto, but it is very good for you and is also a great source of protein. To get the maximum health benefits, soy should be eaten with either fish or seaweed, so I added strips of nori to my salad.
Okayu is a simple rice porridge eaten for breakfast in Japan. Rice porridge is served pretty much all over Asia and the toppings and seasonings vary according to country. Okayu is a very comforting dish when you are sick, because it is very gentle on your stomach. There are two simple ways to cook okayu.
1) Wash 1/2 cup short grain Japanese rice thoroughly and place in a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally until the rice has split and the consistency of the okayu is relatively thick (about 1 1/2 hours). Adjust the amount of water according to your tastes. If you like your okayu thicker, you may not want to add more water. If you like your okayu soupy, you will have to add more water while cooking.
2) I prefer this second way because it saves a lot of time. Take 1 cup of cooked leftover short grain Japanese rice and put it in a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until the rice has split. Adjust the amount of water as you would with the other method of cooking okayu.
Here are some other yummy toppings:
Grilled salmon, shredded chicken or pork, black and white sesame seeds, eggs, kimchi, fermented bean curd, Chinese cruller, Chinese preserved mustard greens, scallions, ginger, fried shallots, bamboo shoots, chopped chilis, cilantro, etc.
The possibilities seem endless! Depending on what you top it with, this simple rice porridge can transform into a traditional Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Malaysian dish (to name just a few).
Pictured on top is a bowl of okayu with chirimenjako, umeboshi and wakame (okayu with seasoned tiny fish, pickled plum and seaweed).
On the bottom is a bowl of okayu with katsuobushi, wakame and ume yukari (okayu with dried bonito flakes, seaweed and dried red shiso leaves with dried plum).
Chef Chen Kenmin was born in the Sichuan province of China and moved to Japan in the early 1950’s. He created a very successful career introducing Sichuan dishes such as this one and mapo dofu to Japan. Today Ebi Chili is one of the most popular Chinese style dishes in Japan. My version is a little spicier than most, so if you don’t want yours really hot, omit the red pepper flakes. In this picture, I served my Ebi Chili over steamed white rice and with a side of cabbage and carrot salad.
2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb shrimp
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp + 1 tbsp sake
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2tbsp chopped ginger
1 tsp tobanjan (chili-bean sauce)
3 tbsp ketchup
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
salt to taste
Shell and devein shrimp, then submerge in ice water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the shrimp and place on and cover with paper towels, patting completely dry. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and sprinkle 1 tsp sake and 1 tsp corn starch. Mix thoroughly. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan. Place shrimp in the pan in a single layer and cook for 30 seconds on each side. The shrimp will not be cooked through. Remove from pan and set the shrimp aside. In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add in garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and fry until fragrant. Add in tobanjan and ketchup, stirring and cooking for about 10 seconds. Add in the chicken stock, remaining 1 tbsp sake and sugar. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes until reduced. Add in 1 tsp of corn starch mixed with a little water to further thicken the sauce. Transfer shrimp into the sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the rice wine vinegar and season with salt to taste. Serve immediately over steamed rice.
This is a Japanese recipe for Chinese style pork buns. They are extremely popular in Japan and make a great snack. To steam the cabbage quickly, cover and microwave for a minute or so. *It is also important to make sure to make sure to sauté fresh shiitake mushrooms in a little oil to get rid of extra water. If you are using dried shiitake mushrooms, simply soak in water overnight, squeeze out the excess water, chop and proceed with the recipe.
Makes 16 buns
Ingredients for the dough:
4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp instant yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/4 cups dashi (stock)
Ingredients for pork filling:
1/2 lb ground pork
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice powder
2 tbsp corn starch or potato starch
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chopped ginger
1/2 c steamed cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 c bamboo shoots, cut into very small dice
1/2 c shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped*
4 scallions, finely chopped
Stir together all purpose flour, yeast, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in sesame oil and stir again to combine. Gradually stir in the dashi. Start kneading the mixture into a dough with your hands. When a ball forms and the sides of the mixing bowl are mostly clean, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work space. Knead for 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Lightly oil the sides of a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Oil the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together pork, salt, pepper, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, five spice powder and corn or potato starch in a mixing bowl. Add in the chopped steamed cabbage, chopped shiitake mushrooms, finely diced bamboo shoots, chopped ginger and chopped scallions. Mix thoroughly. Spread a little sesame oil on your hands and roll the pork mixture into 16 equal sized balls. When the dough has risen knead a few times to release the gas from the dough. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a thick rope and cut into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a tray. Cover the balls of dough with a moist towel. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle until its diameter is about 4 inches. Place a piece of the pork mixture in the middle of the flattened dough. Form and gather pleats in the edge of the dough, encasing the pork mixture. When pleats have been made all around the edge of the dough, twist the top of the gathered pleats to seal the bun. Place each bun on a square of parchment paper and cover with the wet towel while you work. Heat about an inch of water in a steamer. When the water is hot, turn off the heat and place a few of the buns in the steamer, leaving a little space in between each one. Cover with a lid wrapped with a kitchen towel (to prevent the condensation from falling on the buns) and let the buns rise for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes turn on the heat to high, let the water in the steamer boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Serve immediately with Oriental hot mustard (I use S&B brand, which you mix with a little water to form a paste) and soy sauce for dipping.