Sunday, October 22

Japanese noodles with Ramen-flavors and Aonori

I love Ramen, but would not make it myself since the best you can eat is servedby pros (especially in Sapporo, Hokkaido, where part of my family lives). And I'd rather not imitate the stock made by Ramen-cooks - those who know the alltime favorite movie about cooking Ramen, Tampopo, will know what I mean. Anyway, to have a nice flavourful noodle-dish sometimes, I made up the following recipe. The closest description would probably be that it is a combination of Ramen and Yakisoba (without the Yakisoba sauce). You may find this odd, but I think it is worth a try...

serve 1

50 g mendake or yakisoba oriental style noodles
1 tsp oil
1 Tbsp white onion, finely chopped
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp freshly grated ginger or 1/4 tsp ginger powder
3-4 shrimps, peeled and deveined
2 thin slices cooked and slightly cured ham
75 ml strong chicken stock
40 g mangetouts, cut in half
1/4 carrot, cut into 3 cm stripes
1 leaf cabbage, cut into bitesize pieces, the white parts in fine stripes
1 Tblsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce (if you use kikkoman use less because it contains more salt)

pickled ginger if you like
sansho pepper or black pepper to taste

1. Cook the noodles until al dente, rinse with cold water, drain and set aside. Heat oil in a nonstick pan, add onion, garlic and ginger, stirring lightly. When the garlic has developed its aroma, increase the heat and add the shrimps. Cook while stirring, covering with the garlic-onion-ginger-mixture until the shrimps are nearly done.

2. Add ham, carott and mangetouts, cook and stir one minute, then add cabbage. Pour in chicken stock and cook until carrots and cabbage are slightly tender and mangetouts are al dente. At this time the chicken stock should be nearly evaporated. Add noodles, stir and add soy and oyster sauce.

3. Serve in a warm bowl, top with red pickled ginger, Aonori and sansho pepper or plack pepper to taste. (If you like this dish more spicy, add chayenne pepper at the beginning along with the greated ginger and use black pepper to garnish.)

Friday, September 29

Steamed Wan-Tans with Chicken, Shrimps and Waterchestnuts

While most wan-tan-recipes ask for pork as the main filling-ingredient, this one asks for chicken. Instead of steaming the wan-tans you could as well fry them. Then it's recommended to close the wrappers completely.

makes about 40 wan-tans

about 40 wan-tan-wrappers (7.5 cm squares)

for the filling:
100 g waterchestnuts, finely chopped
100 g shrimps, peeled and deveined, chopped
350 g chicken, minced
1 slice baked and cured ham, finely chopped
4 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sake
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp sesame oil
1 egg white, lightly beaten with a spoon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar

1. Place ingredients for the filling in a bowl and mix well. Place 2 tsp of the filling onto one wan-tan-wrapper, pull the wrapper around the filling, carefully forming an open ball. Don't enclose the filling completely. Proceed with the remaining filling and wrappers in the same way until all filling is used.

2. Put parchment paper into a steamer, place the wan-tans onto it and the steamer into a wok filled 3-5 cm (depending on wok and steamer size) with boiling water. Cover the steamer with a lid, reduce heat and steam wan-tans about 20 minutes. Repeat procedure using new parchment paper each time and set cooked wan-tans wrapped in foil in the warm oven until all are done. Serve hot.

Thursday, September 28


If you don't have a grill and still want to enjoy the flavours of Yakitori, cook the chicken in a pan on high heat and coat well with self-made yakitori-sauce.

serves 4

400 g boned chicken thigh
1 scallion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
ground sansho pepper

for the sauce:
2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp mirin
4 Tbsp sake
100 ml soy sauce

1. Cut chicken, scallion and bell peppers into roughly 2 cm squares. Skewer chicken, leek and bell pepper alternately on bamboo skewers.

2. Heat oil in a huge non stick frying pan, brown the skewered food from all sides, lower the heat and cook until done. Remove the skewered food.

3. Pour the sauce into the pan, simmer until it thickens. Return the skewers into the pan an coat well with the sauce. Serve Skewers on plates sprinkled with sansho pepper.

Wednesday, September 27

Red cooked Tofu

Red cooking - or simmering in dark soy sauce - ia a classic cooking method for pork or poultry in chinese cuisine. If you use the method on tofu, you'll get a side dish with a beautiful blend of flavours. Be sure you drain the tofu well. This will take some time, but it's important for the recipe to turn out well and definitely worth the effort.

serves 4

225 g tofu
5 scallions, diagonally cut into rings, white and green parts divided
2 slices of cooked ham, diced
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp starch

for the marinade:
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp sake
2 tsp sugar
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp szechuan pepper, grated
one pinch hot chili flakes

1. Pat tofu dry, cut into thick slices of about 1 cm, wrap into kitchen paper and drain for 30 minutes. Mix ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Cut tofu into cubes and pour marinade over, coating each cube well. Set aside. After 30 minutes take tofu out of the marinade and place into a clean dry dish. Add 4-5 Tbsp water and the starch to the marinade, mix well and set aside.

2. Heat a non stick pan or wok over medium heat, pour in oil and distibute well, place tofu into the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring carefully. Take tofu out of the pan and set aside.

3. Place the white parts of the scallions into the pan and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add marinade, simmer for 1 minute until it thickens, add ham and green parts of scallions, simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 26

Dora-yaki with Azuki-an

Japanese baked sweet bean "gongs" - little fluffy pancake-sandwiches filled with a sweet azuki-beanpaste - are a japanese classic. Sometimes a chestnut is placed in the heart of the the azuki-filling, more modern versions of dora yaki can be made with different kinds of custard inside. Anyway - they are delicious and go very well with green tea.

makes 8 sandwiches

ingredients for the pancakes:
3 eggs 150 g sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
50 ml water
200 g flour, sifted
a little butter to grease the pan

for the red bean paste (makes around 450 g):
150 g red azuki-beans
230 g sugar
10 g mizuame syrup
pinch salt

Make red bean paste:
1. Soak azuki beans in a huge pot with water for 5 hours, changing the water from time to time. Heat until the water boils, add one cup of cold water and heat again, until boiling for a second time. Drain the beans and replace into the pot with fresh water and cook until beans are tender. Add water if neccessary (the beans should remain well covered with water all the time). Drain.

2. Place the beans back into the pot, mix in the sugar and cook over low heat, stir carefully. Add syrup and let it melt into the paste. Finally stir in a pinch of salt. Remove from heat and let cool.

Alternatively you can buy a can of sweet red bean paste in an asia-store (one can contains around 500 g) and use 400 g of it for the gongs.

Make the pancakes:
1. Whisk eggs and sugar until creamy white andf fluffy. Mix baking soda with 1 tsp of water and stirr into the egg mixture. Stir in 25 ml water.

2. Add flour, the remaining 25 ml water and mix the batter well. If the batter appears too sticky (it should be liquid and sticky at the same time), add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water and mix again.

3. Heat a slightly greased non-stick pan over medium heat and pour in one Tbsp of the batter forming a round of about 6-7 cm diameter. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top surface is slightly dry and bubbles a bit. Turn over the pancake carefully and let cook the other side until dry and browned. Place onto a clean plate and go on cooking pancakes with the remaining batter in the same way. Grease the pan again if neccessary.

4. Spread 25 g bean paste on one pancake, cover it with a second one and press carefully. Make snadwiches with the rest of the pancakes in the same way.