Cooking Japanese Food: Tamagodon (卵丼)

Tamagodon

Tamagodon are eggs on rice, a simple meal and easy to make. You should be able to get most ingredients everywhere, or at least be able to substitute them.

You will need (for one person):

some chopped spring onion

1/4 onion, sliced

2 eggs

100ml of dashi (or water)

a bowl of rice (cooked)

60ml mirin (sweet cooking sake)

30ml soy sauce

How to:

Boil the dashi, mirin and soy sauce in a frying pan, add the spring onions and the onions and let them simmer for a while. Beat the eggs until they are crowned with bubbles. Add the eggs under strong heat and let them cook for about three minutes. Then lay the whole thing on the rice. If done correctly (I’m really bad at this) the sauce will drain through the rice, giving it some delicious extra taste.

The making of Tamagodon

There is also a chicken-and-egg-on-rice version that the Japanese morbidly call oyakodon: “mother and child on rice”.

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Cooking Japanese Food: Miso Soup

Miso Soup Done

Miso soup is the basis of a traditional Japanese breakfast and you can find it with a lot of meal sets. It’s light, healthy and tastes good. For some of the ingredients you will probably have to visit an Asian supermarket but hopefully they are not too hard to find.

You need:

350ml dashi or water (You can also find miso paste that already has dashi added)

1 block of tofu

1 sheet of deep-fried tofu

1 tablespoon miso paste

Some wakame (dried seaweed that will return to its original form when soaked in water)

Some spring onion

You can also add: Onion, bean sprouts, a raw egg and even a bit of meat

How to:

Cut the deep-fried tofu into thin slices and add them to the dashi. Heat it up until it boils.

Aburaage

Meanwhile cut the tofu into small squares.

Cutting the Tofu

Adding the Tofu

When the dashi boils put some of it into a small bowl and dissolve the miso paste in it.

Dissolving the Miso Paste

Add the tofu to the soup, then turn off the gas and slowly add the dissolved miso. Turn on the gas again and add the wakame.

Dried Wakame

When the soup has a bright color add the cut spring onion.

Add the extra ingredients according to the time they need to be boiled.

You can eat the miso soup with rice and other side dishes like tamagoyaki (rolled fried egg), sauteed vegetables or anything else you like.

Home-made Miso Soup

Cooking Japanese Food: Yamaimo (山芋)

Yamaimo is a plant very specific to Japan and other East Asian countries with some curious features that justify special mentioning. The name means “mountain yam”, probably because it can be found in the mountains.
One can only imagine how a long time ago somebody thought to themselves: “This thing makes my skin itchy when I touch it, I should put it into my mouth.” A decision that can only be topped by the Icelanders thinking: “Shark meat is poisonous, we should pee on it, bury it for several months, and then eat it.” (Complains the German who thinks stuffing an animal into its own intestines makes it irresistible) Yamaimo is said to be extremely itchy when you put it anywhere but in your mouth. I wonder if anyone has ever tried using it for pranks.
Its taste is rather flavorless but it is used for various side dishes.
Its second feature is the high concentration of starch which makes it, when grated, a thick, incredibly sticky paste that is used as a natural adhesive in sweets or, in our case, in Okonomiyaki.

Grated Yamaimo, or as the Japanese call it: Tororo

Grated Yamaimo, or as the Japanese call it: Tororo

Cooking Japanese Food: Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)

Now, Okonomiyaki are really easy, especially since most ingredients are available outside of Japan (except maybe the sauce. But well-sorted Asia supermarkets should have Okonomiyaki-sauce in stock.)
Okonomiyaki means literally bake what you like and that is what makes it so great. The base recipe is quite simple and you can add whatever you like and think will taste good. We make it at least three times a week.

Here is the base recipe, with some recommendations of what to add.

You need (for two Okonomiyaki):
80g flour
100ml water or dashi (if available)
2 tablespoons of grated yamaimo (If available. Yamaimo helps making the dough sticky. You can also try adding a tablespoon of starch instead, but unless it works perfectly, don’t tell anybody it was my idea.)

300g Cabbage, cut into very small pieces

20g Tenkasu (deep fried tempura batter. You can just leave that out, though.)

20g spring onion, cut

Salt and pepper

2 eggs

For topping:

Okonomiyaki sauce

Mayonnaise

If available:

Aonori (green laver)

Bonito flakes (they will shrivel in the heat which makes them look almost alive, it’s pretty neat)

Things that can be added according to your preferences:

Shrimps

Octopus

Bacon (put it on the unbaked side when it is on the heat-plate/in the pan)

Cheese (put it on the baked side and let it melt)

Anything else that sounds delicious

How to:

Make a dough out of the flour, water/dashi and yamaimo. Add the cabbage, tenkasu, spring onion, salt, pepper, optional ingredients and lastly the eggs. Mix it. Mix it some more. Grease your pan/heat-plate and put half the dough on it. Use a spatula to shape it nice and round, approx. 2cm thick. Let it bake for 3-5 minutes, then turn (after adding bacon, if you want). Optional: Watch it fall apart like your heart after your first breakup. Don’t worry, practice makes perfect. I have added some pictures to show our own progress in Okonomiyaki-making.

Baking Okonomiyaki

Use the spatula to push the dough together so it won’t fall apart when you turn it

Bake it another 3-5 minutes. Now is the time to add the cheese. Remember: There is no such thing as too much cheese.

Put it on a plate and repeat with the other half of the dough. Top with sauce, mayonnaise and, if possible, the other toppings.

Enjoy!

First Attempt

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Second Attempt

30th Attempt

30th Attempt

30th Attempt with Topping

30th Attempt with Topping

Cooking Japanese Food: Nabe (鍋)

Since winter is the perfect time for Nabe and also we recently tried it with satisfying results, I am sharing my awesome Nabe recipe with you.

DSC_0017

(I completely forgot to take a photo of the food in the pot. I’ll do it next time, if there will be a next time.)

The name Nabe is basically just the pot in which the food is prepared. It is a heavy earthenware pot with a lid of the same material that can be used on stoves (like our gas stove). It looks like this:

DSC_0021

If you do not have access to a Nabe pot, use a pot with thick walls that keep the heat in.

Making Nabe couldn’t be easier. You need

For the soup:

800ml (8 cups) of dashi

120ml of thin soy sauce

90ml of Mirin (sweet cooking sake)

3 tablespoons of sugar

Other Ingredients: (You can just choose those you like, that are available and of course you can improvise)

About 8 pieces of Hamaguri (also known as common orient clam)

About 8 shrimp

200g chicken meat

Kamaboko (a bar of minced and steamed fish)

Fu 麩 (bread-like lumps made of wheat gluten)

1/2 block of Cotton Tofu

A pack of Shimeji mushrooms

3 leafs of Chinese Cabbage

One bunch of (Japanese) parsley

4 Shiitake mushrooms

Chinese noodles

4 Sudachi (Small, green Japanese citrus fruit)

How to cook it

Wash the Hamaguri in salt water. Peel the shrimp. Cut the Kamaboko into 1cm thick slices. Cut all the other ingredients into pieces.

Mix the ingredients for the soup, boil them and fill them into the Nabe pot. Put the other ingredients into the pot in the order of their necessary cooking time. Squeeze out the Sudachi juice over everything. Then you just cook it until it’s done. Nabe is great for preparing right at the dinner table in case you have a cooking plate for your table.

Enjoy!

Cooking Japanese Food: Dashi

Dashi is the basis for many soups, e.g. Miso soup or the soup for Nabe.

The easiest way to make dashi is just using instant powder but you can also make it by boiling a layer of konbu (dried kelp) and/or a handful of bonito flakes (katsuo bushi) in water (1-1,5l) for a while and then filtering the water through a screen. Since we are way too lazy to filter it we just use disposable teabags for the bonito flakes.

Dashi is said to be very healthy since it absorbs all the nutrients from the kelp and the bonito.