Category Archives: Japan

How to Make Dashi Broth (Ichiban Dashi)

This one’s a fun one for anyone interested in Japanese cooking, it’s the building block of most Japanese soups, and sauces.  We’re talking about dashi!  It’s a fish stock/broth that really doesn’t require much cooking, it really doesn’t require much of anything considering it’s two ingredients and water, but those ingredients speak for themselves, and that’s the entire point.  Minimalism, simplicity, and allowing good ingredients to be the stars.  Obviously for your first couple tries you’re going to want to use the cheap stuff, but once you’ve made a few dashi stocks you’ll want to improve the quality of your ingredients as well as refine your technique.  I’ve heard of several different methods of making dashi, and this is one of my favorites because of its speed and attention to the ingredients.

Katsuoboshi or Bonito Flakes, available at any Asian Market
Katsuoboshi or Bonito Flakes, available at any Asian Market

INGREDIENTS

  • 1QT – Water
  • 1 – 5×3 Rectangle of Kombu
  • 3/4Cup – Katsuoboshi (Bonito Flakes)
Kombu, Dried Kelp, also at Asian Markets
Kombu, Dried Kelp, also at Asian Markets

RECIPE

  1. Bring water to a simmer, remove from heat
  2. Add in the kombu
  3. Allow to cool to room temp, about 30 minutes
  4. Remove kombu
  5. Bring water back to a simmer, remove from heat
  6. Add bonito flakes, let sit 3-4 mins
  7. Strain through chinois or cheese cloth lined colander
Miso Soup is made with Dashi. . . but that's for another article!!!
Miso Soup is made with Dashi. . . but that’s for another article!!!

There you have it, the basis for Japanese soups, broths, and sauces.  Remember that this is just one way to make it, and why did I decide on this version?  Because it doesn’t require you to soak your kombu overnight, it also doesn’t require you to boil your kombu.  Soaking overnight develops great flavor, but most home cooks don’t want to dedicate that much effort to stock, and even though it’s faster to bring your kombu to a boil then cut off the heat and steep it that way, you also run the risk of damaging the flavor of the kombu.  By treating the kombu itself like a teabag you will be able to steep all the flavors without damaging any of the delicate nature of the kelp.  Theoretically, one of the best methods would be to bring your water to a boil, remove from heat, and add both your kombu and bonito flakes(in cheesecloth sachet), then just retrieve the bonito after 5 minutes, and leave the kombu to steep for another 25 minutes.  I’ll try it out, and I recommend you do the same if you want to make delicious miso soup, or shiitake mushroom soup!

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Japan – Toire Wa Doko Desu Ka & Shinjuku Eki

After the first night we awoke on the floor under our towel like blankets, and experienced the first of many bizarre Japanese bathrooms.  In my brother’s bathroom is a washing machine, to the left is a door to a toilet with a sink on it, and to the right of the washing machine is a bath/shower room.  The whole shower room is shower proofed so no leaky floors or anything, even outside the shower there’s a drain.  The shower itself is more of a shwub, it’s above 3 feet tall on the side you have to climb on in.  The water come from the sink with a nozel and handle to switch between sink and shower.   This isn’t the last time I’ll describe bathrooms by the way. . .

 

After getting ready and packing bags for a few days in Tokyo, Tim took us to the train station where we got our JR Passes and experienced our first real, true, Japanese experience.  McDonald’s.  It tastes very similar to what you get in America, and in my opinion the McDonald’s in France was way better, but I got the baby shrimp patty, and it was surprisingly awesome.  It’s like a crabcake, but with baby scrimpies and topped with a thousand island dressing and a little lettuce.  It was better than any fish filet I’ve ever had, so take that for what it is.

McDonalds Ebi Sandwich

When we’d finished we hopped on the shinkansen(bullet train) and were on our way to Tokyo!  We had reservations at the Shinjuku Washington just West of the train station.  Something that’s important to know, Shinjuku Eki(station) is the busiest train station in the world with over three million people riding it’s lines per day.  It can be a little daunting when you go from a smaller city feel of Nagoya to be thrown right into the fire of Shinjuku, but that’s the locale where we thrive!  The station itself has several malls in it, as well as the hugest food market I’ve ever seen.  I mean you can spend days, and days, and weeks in the desserts section of the market without trying everything.  The oshinko(pickled vegetables) stands had between 10-40 different types of pickled fruits and vegetables per stand.  I spent almost an hour just looking at a varietal of sakes and shochus(distilled rice alcohol).  Drew explored the baked goods until finding a delicious pretzel delight.  I sampled everything I could from pickles to squid to dried meats and bizarre breads.  I have video of it, but no pictures because there were about 30,000 people in the market.

Shinjuku Elevator Art

But that’s going out of order, we really got off the train and immediately tried to find the hotel.  We walked and walked and walked some more getting more and more lost, and then there was a sign for the hotel and we found it.  We entered where it said lobby, and then it turned out that we were in the  annex hotel which was next door.  We went next door and took the elevator up to the 21st floor and enter our first Japanese hotel room!  It was amazing at how different it is from an American Hotel.  We’re so used to having a couple twin beds with a tv and some space to walk around, not in Japan.  They whole room was about the size of a small bedroom.  It was a thin hallway that led to a full size bed and a tv.  There’s also a bathroom, so it’s time for bathroom story number 2!  This toilet had a bidet, that shot not just cold water, but heated water, and you can pick if you’re a girl or a boy, all these options are on what looks like an arm rest. . . The shower was the same as Tim’s though.  It was the faucet cross over combo with the sink.  But this is where I’m going to drop off for today.  That night we did go out, but we went to one of the most special and memorable places in all of Japan that Drew and I explored.  We also got the video card for the TV, but these will wait for next post!!

 

Japan – Touching Down in Nagoya

On April 26th, of 2012 a grand adventure was started that wouldn’t end for almost a month in the Southern portion of the epic island of Japan.

This is actually Tokyo! We'll be there next!!!

We flew from LAX and after an extremely long plane ride we landed in Tokyo’s Narita airport where we had to run to our next gate to catch our plane to Nagoya.  When we arrived we only had a facebook message from my brother to try to find him.  It worked out and we ended up at his work place where he teaches English.  From there we hopped on the train and headed to his apartment, but before getting there we stopped for our first meal in Japan which was ramen!

 

Drew’s stomach wasn’t feeling the greatest so he sat that meal out and had some rice while Tim and I tore up some incredible ramen.  We both got the pork variation that was made with a very salty broth and really light noodles.  It had the soul warming properties of a chicken noodle soup after a very long trip.  After that meal we went to my brothers apartment, which is typical for Japan, but not really meant to house three adult men.  But none-the-less several times on our tour we would end up crashing on this floor watching movies including all four hours of Gettysburg.  It was a staging ground for adventure, and the following day we had reservations in Tokyo, so when we got up in the morning we went with Tim to the train station, and received our JR Rail Passes that allowed us to travel Japan.  The rail passes cost almost as much as the plane tickets, but were completely indispensable, with a month long pass you can go anywhere a JR train touches, which is most of Japan from Sapporo to Fukuoka.

 

I know, this isn’t the grand huge article you were expecting after so long, but what can I say?  I’m a bit of a tease, and you’ll have to wait for the next article to see how we spent our time and money in Tokyo!  I will warn you, the photography is not the best, nor is it even remotely near good.  I didn’t have an awesome camera, I just had a little point and shoot that did photos and videos, all the necessities were covered.  But next time we’ll discuss pork belly stew and some yakitori!

We’re Off For Japan!!!

Alright everyone.  The big day is finally upon us!  This upcoming Wednesday Drew and I will be going to Japan and starting our tour of awesomeness.  Until our safe return there won’t be any content or updates as I’ll be on another continent with an old computer with shaky wifi at best.

 

**Eating in Bed will not be updated until May 18th at the earliest due to intercontinental travel**

 

But as soon as we get back there will be TONS of content, and most of it video!  So wish us luck, and be sure to comment on places you want us to visit or foods you want to see eaten!

 

– EIB

Why We Loooooove Ramen!

Helllllloooooo Everyone!  As you may or may not know, in 1 month I will be going to Japan to experience their wonderous food, and culture!  I’ll also be partying with my brother, my Guatemalan Diego, and my best friend Drew!  We’ll be exploring what the locals do, while also checking out some of the more touristy locales.  There will be plenty of food eaten in Japan, and I can guarantee ramen will be involved!  Peter Kim over at HackCollege was cool enough to send over and infographic of the now universally accepted meal!  I hope you like it as much as I did, and if so, click the picture and send some love to HackCollege!
Thanks to Peter Kim!

 

I hope you loved this as much as I did!  There will be some new ramen recipes up in the near future too, as all I’ve been eating recently is a bunch of ramen to save for Japan!  If you want to help send me to Japan GO HERE and donate!  Thanks everyone that has already donated and to those that will!

Tilapia Ramen with Kale & Parsnips

Ramen with Kale and Parsnips

As it should be well known, I will be traveling to Japan and I will be eating everything they’ve ever laid claim to.  The only problem is that Ramen was actually Chinese to begin with, BUT that won’t stop me from tearing it up!  Dry Goods Ramen itself is nothing special, it’s a privation food and when you have to eat something so often through your life, why not spice it up, or make it healthy, just something that isn’t noodles with super salty broth and tiny chunks of dehydrated stuff.  This variation of Ramen was quite delicious!  My seafood stock really created a great base for the tilapia, and the kale created a bitterness that matched the slightly tangy sweetness of the parsnips.  The best part of the meal was not knowing if I was going to be biting tilapia or parsnip!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Parsnip Peeled
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 Stalks Kale
  • 1/3 Onion
  • 1 Large Serranno Pepper
  • 1 Cup Seafood Stock
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Ramen Cube (no seasoning packet)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Tilapia Filet (about 1/4-1/3 lbs)

RECIPE

  1. Roughly chop the parsnip, onion, peppers, and kale
  2. Throw them in a pot of boiling water with the bay leaf, boil 7-10mins
  3. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer your veggies to a bowl
  4. Pour out 85% of the liquid (keep the bay leaf)
  5. Chop up your tilapia into bite size chunks
  6. Put the remaining liquid over high heat and in the bay leaf again
  7. Add in the seafood stock and soy sauce
  8. When it comes to a boil add the ramen cube and the tilapia
  9. Cook 3-4 minutes until ramen is soft (the tilapia and noodles will cook at the same speed)
  10. Remove from heat and pour the noodles, broth, and tilapia over the veggies
  11. Enjoy!

 

This turned out great, and I’ve been making weird variations of ramen all week, but just haven’t had a camera around, and a couple pictures from my phone got botched, but this one I felt proud enough of the flavors that I would sacrifice the quality of the picture, just to share it!

I hope you all like it, and I know there are other ramen Macgyver’s out there, and I want to hear your recipes!  What did you think of the seafood stock?  Oh you loved it?  Tell others on our Facebook page!  Be sure to keep checking back as we get closer to the travel date which is April 26th.  I’ll be eating tons of food and shooting loads of videos, which will all be posted!  Soon Japan, soon you will be mine!

Eating in Bed Goes to Japan in April!

Hello Everyone,

 

It is with great pleasure and anticipation that I unveil my grand plan of world domination!  Next month, April of 2012, Eating in Bed will be relocating to Japan for three weeks!  I’ll be going with my best friend Drew and together we’ll eat, drink, and sleep our way through Japanese culture from Tokyo to Okinawa!  Drew’s a person that’s grown up surrounded by the best in cuisine due to his parents being restaurateurs, somolliers, managers, cooks, chefs, and just about every other job that’s in any way oriented with restaurants.  A couple friends and myself actually painted the original mural in his parents’ restaurant, Blue Cafe in Downingtown, PA.  My brother Tim, can’t cook at all, but you know what, he’s been in Japan for almost two years now, and he knows where some of the great street food is and will be showing us around Osaka, Kyoto, and he might be able to join us for Kobe too.  Most of the trip will focus on the Kansai region, but here’s how it’s going to happen:

 

Wwhat are we going to do there?  What’s the plan?

  1. Land in Tokyo on April 26th, three days before Golden Week starts.  Golden Week is when there are five national holidays that happen to be on sequential days, leading to a full week of vacation for most of the country.
  2. Spend those three days in Tokyo, exploring the shopping, capsule hotels, ryokans(traditional Japanese B&Bs), and maybe the zoo to check out a red panda.  As far as food, we’ll be terrorizing everything the locals are eating, we’ll explore the Tsukiji Fish Market(The largest fish market in the world), trying the freshest sushi prepared for the fishermen that catch it and sell it.  After eating the best sushi in the world, we’ll be hunting down the grimiest izakayas(Japanese bar food, sort of like tapas, just small dishes to accompany drinking, and are generally fried)
  3. On April 29th or 30th we’ll hop on the Japan Railway and head to Kyoto where we’ll meet up with my brother Tim.  There we’ll destroy some of the countries best Okonomiyaki(savory pancakes), and Takoyaki(fried octopus balls), we’ll also check out the upscale haute cuisine of Kaiseki, which is a series of small dishes that are prepared so delicately that the food, plating, and ornamentation are equally important as the flavors.
  4. From Kyoto we’ll travel to Osaka and continue eating everything in sight.  Tim will also introduce us to Shochu, which is a distilled rice spirit similar to the Korean Soju, or a more potent less flavorful sake.  It’s been steadily increasing in popularity as Sake has been declining.  We’ll also be sure to check out a sake brewery so we can experience the best the country has to offer!  We’ll also have Kani Doraku, which is crab prepared in a variety of different methods.
  5. Then comes Kobe.  Kobe beef.  Kobe wine.  Kobe cheese.  This city is supposed to have some of the best simplistic food in the entire country, just easy dishes done well.  Plan on reading a review of the best steak I’ve ever eaten!  We’ll also hit some of the Onsen(natural hot springs) in the Kansai Region!
  6. After the week in that tri-city area, we’ll continue on to Hiroshima where we’ll explore the epicenter of the nuclear bomb that was dropped during World War II.  We’ll also be terrorizing the oysters!  Hiroshima produces over %70 of the oysters served throughout Japan!
  7. After that I’m not sure.  My Guatemalan friend Diego will be traveling and we’ll probably meet up with him.  From there we may continue south to the southern most tip of the main Japanese island at Kagoshima.  Or we could return to Tokyo and continue it’s domination, or we could hop on a plane from Kobe to Okinawa and enjoy the much overlooked tropical getaway.  Okinawa is also a food epicenter for traditionalism in the Japanese archipelago.  There, food has hardly been influenced by the mainland, and is primarily pork based, with things like pickled ears.

 

That’s the long and short of it as of now, but as the travel date rapidly approaches I’ll keep you informed of changes and updates!  I want to thank everyone that has already donated to the trip, and encourage everyone else to donate if they can.  If you donate $50 or more, $5.00 will be donated to blood cancer research and you’ll get a free copy of the Eating in Bed eBook, and free cookies! 

 

Have you been to Southern Japan before?  Do you know some awesome places we should check out?  Are there specific temples, castles, or hot springs you want us to visit?  Be sure to comment here, or start a discussion on our Facebook Wall!