Archive for the ‘Japanese-fusion’ Category

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April 17, 2012: Vegetarian Gunkan

April 17, 2012

I wanted to try my hand at gunkan-style sushi. Yoshio has made them before, but not me, until  tonight. Gunkan is an oval-shaped sushi with a strip of nori (a flat sheet of the dried leaves of a sea plant called laver) on the outside, sushi rice on the inside bottom, and with some garnish on top. Gunkan means “battleship” due to its vague resemblance to an iron battleship. The garnish is usually fish roe, jellyfish, or some other fish. There are a few vegetarian garnishes for gunkan like spinach and nato (fermented soybean) but I wanted a more striking color for mine, to mimic the nice color and texture of fish roe.

Pepper Garnish:

Cut in half a large red bell pepper, deseed and remove core. Finely dice. You will have  about 1/2C. In a non-stick pan, add pepper and about 1 Tsp. corn oil and fry over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes until the peppers are softer, but keeping the nice, red color. Towards the end, add 1/4Tsp. mirin and remove from heat. Add 1 Tsp. white or red miso to 1 Tblsp. warm stock and whisk until smooth. Add to peppers and mix.

Sushi RIce:

Wash 1C. sushi rice 4X in cold H2O until H2O runs clear. Add 2C. H2O to rice along with 1 Tsp. sal de mer and bring to a boil. When rice reaches a boil, stir, reduce heat to low, and cover for about 20 minutes until rice has absorbed H2O.  At the end of cooking, add 1Tblsp. mirin and 4 Tblsp. rice vinegar, remove from heat, stir in 2 Tblsp. black sesame seeds and cover until you are ready to assemble gunkan.

Take a sheet of nori. You will notice that there are small scoring on the inside of the nori. These are exactly 1″ and are perfect for gunkan. Trim these with very sharp scissors and you will get 5X strips of nori 1″X 7″. The shiny side is the outside of the gunkan. Make and oval with the nori strip and seal the end by lightly moistening the last inch and press ends together. Fill each nori oval with about 1 Tblsp. of the rice, and lightly tamp down (I used the butt end of a butter knife.) Top with pepper garnish. Ideally, you would still have a small lip of the nori above the garnish.

Of course, red pepper is not a classic Japanese veggie, but I found this dish to be tasty and visually appealing.

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April 05, 2011: Macha Creme Brulee

April 4, 2011


Here’s a delicious and unique Japanese-fusion dessert: crème brûlée made with Macha (Japanese powdered green tea.) This NOT Chef Saito’s recipe, this is mine. The next time I meet him I will get his corrections and make appropriate changes. I liked this recipe and so did guests. The cream and the tea combine for a delicious taste and the crunchy caramelized topping is wonderful!

Macha Crème Brûlée:

  • 2 Tblsp. Macha Tea
  • 1+1/2 C. Milk
  • 1+1/2C. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2C. Sugar
  • 2 Whole Eggs+3 Egg Yolks
  • Topping Sugar: I used an equal amount of white sugar & brown sugar, ground fine

Add milk and cream to pot and under low-medium setting, heat milk/cream to warm. Whisk in Macha until it dissolves. While milk is warming, in a separate bowl, beat eggs and yolks together and add 1/2C. sugar and vanilla and beat again. Pour in warm milk/cream and beat. Mixture will be frothy. Let settle a bit and strain equally into Pyrex bowls. Put bowls in oven-proof pan and add water to the bottom of pan. Cover this pan with aluminum foil and bake in 325°F oven for about 40 minutes. Check center of brûlée with toothpick: when it comes out dry, brûlée is done. Cool brûlée immediately and cover and chill when brûlée cools to room temperature. Before serving, cover each brûlée with topping sugar and caramelize with butane torch (it’s fun to do this before guests, but please have a fire-safe environment to work in.)

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October 07, 2010: Bird’s Nest Soup

October 7, 2010

Today’s original soup from Okonomy is “Bird’s Nest” Soup. The look of the  soup vaguely simulates the look of a bird’s nest, in that it has a green tea soba as a noodle for a grassy-like effect. A cooked quail’s egg completes the illusion. Chef Saito uses a chicken broth as a stock for this soup. As added flavor Chef Saito adds a lemon twist. He also adds mitsuba (Japanese parsley) to this soup for an added depth of taste.

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October 05, 2010: Cold Avocado Soup

October 5, 2010

Ooops! I’m falling behind presenting summer soups from Okonomy, but here’s one that we at least shot in the summer! For this unique and refreshing summertime soup, Chef Saito combines avocado, light cream, chicken stock, salt and pepper. All ingredients blended, the soup is then chilled. For “croutons” Chef Saito uses fried rice crackers!

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September 29, 2010: Dobinmushi Soup

September 29, 2010

Today’s unique soup from Okonomy is Dobinmushi Soup. The break down of the Japanese is such: “do”=earth; “bin”=bottle; “mushi”=steamed. Thus, dobinmushi is a soup “that is steamed in an earthenware container.” The main ingredient of the soup is matsutake mushroom which is a rare mushroom and gives a very distinctive taste to the soup. I asked Chef Saito “How rare?” and he looked up current prices from Japan. Matsutake goes for $1000/Lb! That’s about $420 for three pieces that would fit in a small carton like the ones you get cherry tomatoes in! Chef assures me that the taste is worth the price. Chef Saito also includes his homemade dashi stock and yuzu (Japanese Lime) as the broth. He also adds scallion and mitsuba (otherwise know as “Honeywort” or “Japanese Parsley”) Mitsuba is like parsley and has a “fresh” taste somewhat parsley and celery combined. All these flavors combine for a very unique blend for a soup. Dobinmushi is considered a fall soup as the mushroom are just being made available.

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September 07, 2010: Okonomiyaki, Panini-style

September 7, 2010

Today’s original okonomiyaki dish from Okonomy is Chef Yoshio Saito’s panini-style okonomiyaki. This is the traditional okonomiyaki recipe but made in a modern panini machine. Chef Saito has a variety of sauces and toppings for this style, but he devised this dish to show how okonomiyaki can be made with other, non-traditional cooking tools.

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August 25, 2010: Frozen Mikan Cocktail

August 25, 2010

Today’s custom cocktail from Okonomy is Chef Saito’s Frozen Mikan Cocktail. Chef Saito combines sake, vodka, lemon liquor with crushed ice, raspberry and Mikan (a citrus fruit indigenous to Japan, like a seedless Mandarin Orange) for liquid splendor!

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