Category Archives: Food

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!

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!