Fresh Soy Milk Sheets (Nama Yuba)

2 cups soy milk, preferably rich (with a high soy-solid content) and freshly extracted
½ teaspoon wasabi paste
Soy sauce or Vegan Seasoned Soy Concentrate

Ideally, your stove top provides a low but steady source of cooking heat. Place a 7- or 8-inch shallow skillet or pan, preferably nonstick, over low heat for about 1 minute. Slowly pour the soy milk into the warm pan. It should be about ¼ inch deep. Adjust the heat to the lowest possible setting and allow the soy milk to heat undisturbed.

After several minutes, you will notice the surface of the soy milk beginning to thicken. At this point, the temperature of the soy milk will probably be 140°F. Using an uchiwa (Japanese fan) or a flat piece of cardboard (about 8 by 11 inches), gently fan the air above the pan to cause a drop in air temperature; this, in turn, will cool the surface of the warm soy milk. When the surface of the soy milk cools but the liquid beneath is still warm, wrinkles will form and the surface will thicken, making sheets of nama yuba.

Using a thick chopstick (or wooden knitting needle), scoop under and lift up the sheet and drape it across a small serving plate. Choose a dark or brightly colored plate for a dramatic presentation. Continue to fan, scoop, and lift sheets, arranging 2 or 3 of them slightly overlapping each other on each plate. You should be able to pull at least 8 sheets, and possibly 12 or more, from 2 cups soy milk. The sheets will be wrinkled, not smooth.

Set a small mound of the wasabi on, or near, the fresh yuba. Pour a small amount of soy sauce into individual dipping bowls. Each diner dissolves wasabi to taste in his or her soy sauce before grasping a yuba sheet, dipping it in the sauce, and enjoying.

Sources: Kansha

Green Tea (Matcha) Ice Cream

⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup cold water
½ teaspoon mirin
2 teaspoons matcha
½ cup whole milk
½ cup half-and-half

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Stir the mixture over low heat to melt the sugar and then continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until a bit syrupy. Add the mirin, stir, and remove the pan from the heat.

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the warm syrup and the matcha and stir until dissolved. Return this sweet tea concentrate to the saucepan and stir until completely blended. To retain optimal aroma and ensure an intense jade color, do not reheat the mixture. Stir in the milk and half-and-half and mix thoroughly.

If you are using an ice-cream maker:

Pour the tea-and-milk mixture into the machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for making a soft-set ice cream. For most models, about 10 minutes of chilling and churning should suffice. Pour the semifrozen mixture into a 3-cup freezer-safe container with a snug-fitting lid. Tap the container gently on a countertop to force out any air bubbles that might be trapped below the surface. Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours, or until firm throughout.

If you are using a blender, electric mixer, or whisk and freezer trays:

Pour the tea-and-milk mixture into a flat, shallow freezer-safe container, filling it no more than two-thirds full (the mixture will expand). Tap the container gently on a countertop to force out any air bubbles that might be trapped below the surface. Cover and freeze for 1½ hours, or until nearly firm. Transfer the semifrozen mixture to a blender and pulse in a few short spurts. Or, with a handheld electric mixer or a whisk, whip the mixture vigorously in a deep bowl. Return the mixture to the same container, re-cover, and freeze again for another 45 minutes, or until firm (but not rock-hard) throughout. Repeat the blend or whip step one more time to achieve a silkier texture.

The final ice cream should be smooth but not too hard. When ready to serve, transfer one or two scoops to pre-chilled bowls. The jade color of the ice cream makes for a dramatic presentation against black tableware.

Sources: Washoku

Masaharu Morimoto Inspired Shrimp, Chicken and Fish Chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し)

3 cups Dashi (dried fish and kelp stock)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon usukuchi (Japanese light-colored soy sauce), plus 1 tablespoon
2 teaspoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
8 thin, bite-size slices boneless skinless chicken thigh (from 1 small thigh)
One 3-ounce fillet delicate white-fleshed fish, such as fluke or flounder, cut into 8 thin bite-size slices
4 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 drained canned gingko nuts or 4 jarred or vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, halved
¼ cup loosely packed very roughly chopped mitsuba, thinly sliced scallions or thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms

Combine the dashi, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the usukuchi, the mirin, and salt in a small pot, bring to a boil, then let cool completely.
Gently mix the eggs in a medium bowl so they’re well mixed but don’t develop bubbles. Pour in the dashi mixture, stir well, then strain into a measuring cup, discarding any solids.

Briefly toss the chicken, fish, and shrimp in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, shake to let any excess drip off, and divide them among the 4 small bowls or ramekins. Divide the gingko nuts among the bowls or ramekins, then divide the egg mixture evenly among them and cover with foil.

Line a wide, shallow-lidded pot or a Dutch oven with a paper towel. Add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add the bowls to the pot and cover with the lid. Cook until the custard turns pale, 3 to 4 minutes, then carefully remove the bowls from the pot. Add the mitsuba, scallion or shiitake mushroom to the surface of the custard and re-cover with the foil.

Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, return the bowls to the water, and cover the pot with the lid so it’s slightly ajar. Cook until the custard is just set but still jiggles when you shake the bowls (or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean), 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Matcha Crème Brûlée

2 cups heavy whipping cream
⅔ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
5 teaspoons matcha powder
1 cup soy milk
6 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 325° F. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup of the heavy whiping cream, ⅓ cup of the sugar, and the matcha powder; stir until the matcha and sugar are well blended. Add the remaining heavy whipping cream and the soy milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove from the heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar.

Whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Place 6 small (7 to 10 ounce) ramekins in a high-sided baking pan and divide the custard between them. Fill the baking dish with boiling water to reach most of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the custard is set (it should still jigglewhen shaken).

Remove the ramekins from the water bath and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.

Before serving, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and sprinkle each surface with a layer of sugar. Using a butane kitchen torch, melt the sugar until golden-brown all over.

Doyo no Ushi no Hi

Japanese Cultural Spotlight:

【Doyo no Ushi no Hi – The Ox day in midsummer】

In the traditional calendar, Doyo no Ushi no Hi occurs around the hottest period of the year. The humidity is also high at this time in mid-July. This is a time to take special care of one’s health by eating nourishing food, and folklore has it that grilled eel flavored with a sweet and salty teriyaki sauce will fit the bill.

When the fragrance of this delicacy wafts from small kaba-yaki outlets, you may see people lined up to buy. The custom of eating eel in mid-summer began in the 18th century, promoted by merchants eager to sell the day’s catch.

Oishinbo

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Oishinbo (美味しんぼ, “The Gourmet”) is a long-running cooking manga written by Tetsu Kariya and drawn by Akira Hanasaki. The manga’s title is a portmanteau of the Japanese word for delicious, oishii, and the word for someone who loves to eat, kuishinbo. The series depicts the adventures of culinary journalist Shirō Yamaoka and his partner (and later wife), Yūko Kurita. It was published by Shogakukan between 1983 and 2008 in Big Comic Spirits, and resumed again on February 23, 2009, only to be put on an indefinite hiatus after the May 12, 2014 edition in the weekly Big Comic Spirits as a response by the publisher to harsh criticism of Oishinbo’s treatment of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Oishinbo is a drama featuring journalist Shiro Yamaoka who works for Touzai Shimbun. He is a cynical food critic who is tasked by the newspaper’s owner, along with the young Yuko Kurita, to provide recipes for the “ultimate menu”. During their search, the encounter Yamaoka’s fastidious and demanding father, Kaibara Yuzan, a famous gourmand who tries to sabotage Yamaoka’s project.

United States Release:

Oishinbo: Japanese Cuisine, Vol. 1 (January 20, 2009)

Japanese Cuisine introduces us to the fundamental ingredients–rice, sashimi, green tea, and dashi (cooking stock)–that constitute the soul of the Japanese kitchen. In each story we learn about the proper preparation and presentation of different dishes, as well as their history and cultural significance. The result is a moveable feast of a book, as informative as it is engaging.

Oishinbo: Sake, Vol. 2 (March 17, 2009)

In this volume, the focus shifts from food to drink: specifically, to sake. For centuries different types of sake have played the same roles in Japan as wine and beer have in the West, from inexpensive everyday drink to refined single-batch rarities. Above all, sake has been enjoyed as an accompaniment to a meal, and after a revelatory moment one night, Yamaoka decides that drink pairings must be an integral part of the Ultimate Menu. So which foods go best with which drinks? Sit down, pour yourself a glass, and read on!

Oishinbo: Ramen & Gyoza, Vol. 3 (May 19, 2009)

Few foods inspire as much passion and partisanship as the dish of noodles in broth known as “ramen.” Hot or cold, plain or miso, from fancy fusion creations to humble roadside takeout, ramen is truly a beloved food, one that can give rise to fierce loyalty or fiercer criticism (not to mention the occasional fistfight). In this volume of Oishinbo, Yamaoka and company inquire into the “soul of ramen,” from the flour used in the noodles to the chickens used in the broth. And where there’s ramen, there’s gyôza: little dumplings made with a variety of fillings and served as a side dish. Will Yamaoka be able to create an “ultimate” gyôza before Kaibara creates a “supreme” one?

Oishinbo: Fish, Sushi & Sashimi, Vol. 4 (July 21, 2009)

Yamaoka and his father, Kaibara Yūzan, have never enjoyed an ideal father-son relationship. In fact, it’s about as far from ideal as possible, and when they start arguing about food–which they inevitably do–the sparks really fly. In this volume of Oishinbo the subject of dispute is fish, starting with the question of whether mackerel can ever be truly good sashimi. Later, things come to a head during the “Salmon Match,” which pits father against son in an epic contest to develop the best dish before a panel of judges. Will Yamaoka finally defeat Kaibara? Or will he once again be left in his father’s shadow?

Oishinbo: Vegetables, Vol. 5 (September 15, 2009)

Weekly Time magazine sets up a series of culinary battles between the Tōzai News’s “Ultimate Menu,” represented by Yamaoka, and the Teito Times’s “Supreme Menu,” represented by Kaibara Yūzan, Yamaoka’s father and nemesis. The ingredient this time is vegetables, specifically cabbages and turnips. Who will win the Vegetable Showdown? Later, Yamaoka and Kurita help Tomii’s son get over his hatred of eggplant, and patch a rift between lovers using the power of asparagus.

Oishinbo: The Joy of Rice, Vol. 6 (November 17, 2009)

In this volume of Oishinbo, Yamaoka and company look into the single most essential food in Japanese cuisine: rice. Cultivated for millennia, a staple meal in itself and the basis of countless other dishes, rice is an important component not only of the Japanese kitchen but also of Japanese culture. When Yamaoka is asked by Tōzai’s head chef for help in coming up with a new rice dish, what starts out as a simple culinary request rapidly grows into a disquisition into the past, present and future of Japan’s food culture.

Oishinbo: Izakaya: Pub Food, Vol. 7 (January 19, 2010)

Izakaya occupy the same vital space in the Japanese culinary landscape as tapas bars in Spain or tavernas in Greece. Unpretentious, frequently boisterous, they’re places to meet with friends or business partners to unwind over drinks and small dishes that range from hearty standards to refined innovations. In this volume of Oishinbo, Yamaoka and Kurita investigate classic izakaya foods such as edamame and yakitori, devise new dishes to add to the menu of an old shop, and discover how the concept of “play” is essential to the enjoyment of food.

Sources: Oishinbo manga, Wikipedia

Soy Milk Mousse

  • 1¾ fluid ounces soymilk 
  • 4½ ounces silken tofu
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1¾ ounces banana
  • Fruits or Nuts (optional)

Sugar Syrup

  • 1 ounce raw sugar
  • ⅔ fluid ounces water

For the sugar syrup, combine sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. Gently stir until all sugar is dissolved.

Set aside to cool.

Add soymilk, tofu, banana, sugar and maple syrup in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Divide into 4 portions and keep refrigerated for 2 hours.

To serve, add sugar syrup.

Top with fruits or nuts if desired

Japanese Fruit Sandwich

  • 4 oz whipping cream (1/2 cup)
  • 4 oz mascarpone (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp jam any type
  • 4 slices thick white bread (Use Shokupan Japanese bread if possible),
  • 4 small strawberries
  • 1/2 kiwi fruit
  • Small banana
  1. Place whipping cream, mascarpone and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whip them all together by hand till it makes a soft peak. Refrigerate whipped cream and mascarpone till it is needed.
  2. Wash strawberries and cut the stem off and wipe off water. Peel and cut kiwi fruit. Peel and cut banana about 2cm (0.8inch) thick.
  3. Spread the jam on one side of 4 slices of bread. Place the bread on a cling wrap and spread the whipped cream about 1cm (0.4inch) thick. Layout the fruit according to how you want to cut the bread, and how the fruit will look when it is cut.
  4. Drop more whipped cream over the fruit and place another slice of bread to sandwich. Wrap with the cling wrap and draw the location of where each fruit piece is with a permanent marker over the cling wrap.
  5. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to settle. After refrigerated for 2 hours, take them out and slice.

Miso and Ginger Dashi Poached Salmon

Miso and Ginger Dashi Poached Salmon

4 – 8 ounce salmon fillets
1/3 cup white, yellow or red miso paste depending upon taste
4 to 5 cups simple traditional dashi, or enough to cover the fish
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch enoki mushrooms

Simple Traditional Dashi

One 3 x 6 inch piece of kombu
8 cups of water
2 handfuls of katsuobushi

Directions

Rinse the kombu. Combine it with water in a saucepan. Bring water to a simmer. Turn off stove. Steep for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Add the katsuobushi.. Cover and let steep for 7 minutes. Strain the dashi through cheesecloth.

Add and mix 2 cups of dashi and all ingredients for the poaching liquid in a pot. Bring it to a boil and turn the heat down to medium. Simmer the liquid for 5 minutes and turn the heat down to low. Place the salmon skin-side down. Add a little more dashi if the fish is not completely covered and enoki mushrooms. Cook on low heat and poach the salmon approximately 8 to 12 minutes depending on thickness or until salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Plate the salmon in a wide bowl with a little bit of the poaching liquid and enoki mushrooms. Garnish with chopped spring onions or chives and toasted sesame seeds if desired.

Okra in Ginger Sauce

  • 6 1/3 ounces small okra *
  • 1/3 ounce grated ginger
  • 8 fluid ounces Shiitake Mushroom Dashi
  • 2 Tablespoons  Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon  sake
  • 1 Tablespoon  mirin
  • 1 teaspoon  sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Wash and trim stem ends of okra.

Add Shiitake Mushroom Dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin, sesame
oil and sea salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower
heat and add okra and grated ginger. Simmer for
about 10 minutes.

Remove and arrange on 4 individual serving plates.
Serve with some broth spooned over.

* Cut into halves if you are using okra of longer lengths.