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Tess: The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shi

Tess's picture

Tess: The Japanese Kitchen by Hiroko Shimbo

It's been interesting to read the CT project. As a result, I have purchased another cookbook!

A month or more ago, I saw an article somewhere about udon noodles. hmmm... wouldn't it be fun to make udon noodles from scratch? Just put it in a bag and dance on it:

Because I could not immediately find the book I was sure had, I borrowed this book from the library. It has detailed descriptions of Japanese cooking equipment, foods, spices, and techniques. Ms. Shimbo includes descriptions of traditional methods of making tofu, pickles, vinegar, and sake. She includes anecdotes with each recipe, and is very enjoyable to read.

Note: I have not yet made the udon noodles. But when the CT project started it seemed like an opportunity to actually get cooking! April has flown by and because I have been busy, I only began last Friday, my day off.

I got online and ordered a copy of the book because the library is not likely to allow me to keep it checked out for a whole year. It's cheaper than a trip to Japan!

I've made Japanese recipes in the past, but I'd go to a store and randomly pick out ingredients because the pictures looked right or the food looked interesting. Then I'd make a recipe (or something close to the recipe) because I likely bought the wrong stuff. This CT project will be a change for me not to leave orphans hiding in the back of the fridge like the partly used package of miso, wakame, or dashi. I will be a walker, perhaps even a slow walker, but it should be interesting.

After ordering the book, I sat down and made a detailed list with Japanese and English words for the things I would want for this adventure. Also I chose a few recipes to start with. By then it was noon, so ate lunch because you can't go to a grocery store when you're hungry.

The Asian grocery is across town from me, but in the past they seemed to have a good selection of refrigerated and frozen Japanese foods as well as dry staples. It is like going to a foreign country. The people who work there do not speak very much English. The smells are unfamiliar, and I am illiterate. They have Japanese, Korean, Thai, Cambodian and even some Indian foods. The labels have pictures and pasted on stickers with English words. But the descriptions can be poetic. I spent a couple of hours selecting things, and was ready to check out when I opened my bag and realized my wallet was home next to the computer where I'd ordered my book. So back and forth across town and I'm finally home to start cooking. It is 5 0'clock and I realize that the pickles I wanted to make and the chicken with miso needed to marinate for hours and hours. A day off never lasts long enough!

For the beginning of my CT project exploring Japanese food, my husband and I had take out Mexican lengua tacos, chicken tamales, rice and beans while we watched a Ballywood DVD.

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #1 of 527)

Saturday, 14 April will be the real start of learning about Japanese food! I got caught up in reading The Japanese Kitchen. A typical Japanese dinner includes a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup, a protein dish, and several vegetable side dishes including pickles.

Still reading in bed in the late morning, I planned how to proceed with Miso-Marinated Chicken Breast Fillets on Skewers (Yakitori: Sasami no Misozuke-yaki) p.408; Hot Udon Noodles with Chicken and Egg (Oyaka Udon) p 328; Soy Sauce Dressing (Shoyu Doressingu) p 92; and Quick Pickled Daikon and Carrot (Daikon to Ninjin no Tsukemono) p 78.

My husband's comment was, "Wouldn't it be nice if one could spend all the time reading about food and then just have it appear magically?" Well, it worked for me the night before!

Edited 4/18/2007 4:41 pm ET by Tess

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #2 of 527)

Because there are only the two of us, I will be cutting most of the recipes in half. Leftover Japanese food is not going to be the best.

I started with the pickled vegetables, cutting the daikon and carrot, tossing with salt, and letting them sit under weight at room temperature (5 to 6 hours).

The soy sauce dressing includes mustard, garlic, rice vinegar, grated carrot and onion, ginger juice, soy sauce, tamari, sugar, toasted sesame seeds, and both vegetable oil and sesame oil.

The dashi came next. Dashi is the basic stock of Japanese cooking and will be used in both the chicken and the udon recipes. I made both Ichibon dashi (first fish stock) and nibon dashi (second fish stock). In the past, I'd used the dry mix that you just stir into hot water. This stock make with bonnito flakes was more delicate, but perhaps more fishy. It could be that I let the water boil, which I'll have to watch more closely in future. Is there anything so much fun as watching water NOT boil?

The chicken was marinated with sweet miso, mirin, and soy sauce for 3 hours. About this time, I put the pickles into a ziplock with mirin, rice vinegar, and sugar so it could sit at room temperature for about 3 hours.

The soup came together pretty easily: boil and rinse udon; make broth for hot noodles: heat dashi with sugar, salt, and soy sauce; finish with cut up chicken, green onions. Heat noodles in broth and add a couple of broken eggs. Cover and heat briefly to soft cook the eggs.

Broiled the chicken on skewers. At this point I realized the chicken was supposed to be the tenders, so I just cut the breasts into strips and got them on the skewers.

The soup was served with sichimi togarashi (7 spice powder), the chicken with sansho pepper, the dressing with thinly sliced endive (Ms. Shimbo pointed out that this dressing is relatively new to Japan, somewhat western, so I used endive because it looked good at the regular grocery store), and the pickles were cut into thin slices. Because we had the noodles, I did not make rice.

The chicken and salad dressing were very good, and we enjoyed the pickles. I think the noodles were not quite the soup I was expecting. It made quite a lot of food and was more than the 2 of us could eat. They were ok, but could have been more soupy. The eggs on top surprised me. I almost left them off because it sounded too weird to mix them in with noodles, but they were the thing that made the noodles good.

The sichimi togarashi was something I never knew what it was at Japanese restaurants and I'm happy I can now buy it! I also liked the sansho pepper, a nice citrusy flavor.

Another day off has flown by! How does that happen? I will make a real effort to catch up with myself and my postings.

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
Syrah's picture

(post #67220, reply #3 of 527)

Ooooh I love Japanese food. How exciting.

Is "sichimi togarashi (7 spice powder)" the one in the orange jar? I think I have some but never knew what to do with it.

"god, I'd love to turn this little blue world upside down", Tori Amos

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #4 of 527)

Yes, my shichimi is in an orange jar. The only English on my jar is "Home Spice." It doesn't even have a sticker with ingredients. According to the cookbook, it has akatogarashi (Japanese red chile), sansho pepper, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds(?), dried orange peel and nori. It's really good on noodles.

Edited 4/19/2007 9:21 am ET by Tess

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
Biscuit's picture

(post #67220, reply #5 of 527)

Wow, how exciting!  I'm so happy you picked a book about food that you aren't familiar with - makes it more interesting to really reach and stretch your skills and palate, doesn't it?

I've never cooked Japanese food, ever.  I've always been intimidated by it.  But I love to eat it.

If you ever get to any part of the book that does tempura you absolutely MUST do a step-by-step commentary.  It's something that looks easy, but I've heard is a very precise skill.


I'm not mean - you're just a sissy.

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #6 of 527)

Exciting? It could be. Most likely I won't be going anywhere exotic for a while, so the price of a cookbook is cheap. The sansho pepper and shichimi are already interesting new flavors. Who knew they are so easily available? I especially like the sansho pepper; it is nice and lemony with a very mild bite almost like szeshwan pepper. It is from a related plant.

I love tempura!

I will certainly make detailed comments on how the tempura goes when I work myself up to making it. There are quite a few recipes that are deep fried. It appears the Japanese don't do much in the oven: grilling, steaming, pan frying, deep frying, raw.

But I have a fear of deep-frying since the time I forgot how hot oil can be and poured it off into a glass bowl because I needed to re-use the pot. BANG!!! The bowl snapped to a perfectly level shorter bowl with very shart edges. Unfortunately, my hand was nearby and I was badly burned. I will have to overcome my fear but will definitely try. I have a lot more pots now than when I was first married so I can just let the oil cool.

Years ago, glass Japanese wind chimes were popular and I remember reading about how they were made. To cut glass bottles, you'd soak a cotton string in kerosene or lighter fluid, wrap it around the bottle several times, and tie it tightly. Then you were supposed to put a match to an end of your knot. Voila! The heat of the burning string would cause such a temperature change that the bottle would cut itself straight and clean. I never tried this, but I'm sure it could work.

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
jojo's picture

(post #67220, reply #7 of 527)

Many Japanese don't use the oven much because their ovens are the size of toaster-ovens!  It is a little tricky even then.  However, I have had some pretty great baked items by determined Japanese cooks.  Their French bakeries are amazing, but it seems that most of their baking traditions are foreign-born. 

I have really enjoyed following your posts, having lived and cooked in Japan many years ago.  I love your descriptions and your writing.  You are very talented!  I do have a good Japanese friend who lets me cook with her sometimes and who answers my many questions.  If you get stuck, I can ask her if you'd like.

Please use ice water in your tempura batter.  It makes a huge difference in the lightness of the batter, as I am sure your book will tell you.  Gambatte! (Japanese for hang in there, only with more enthusiasm)

Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #8 of 527)

Thanks for your encouragement. I am finding the most difficult part is to be organized. None of the things I've tried so far have been difficult, but making 4 or 5 new recipes at once takes more planning than I'm used to. Once I get familiar with the basic sauces it should get easier.

My daughter went to Japan when she was in middle school on a student exchange program. The family she stayed with mostly cooked Western food, sometimes oddly. She did not want to hurt the mother's feelings after all the trouble she had gone to to get special food, but my daughter really wanted to eat Japanese food. They did some field trips so she did get to eat in some restaurants so it worked out. When the son came here, I made wild rice. He tasted it but I could tell he was just being polite. Rice that is not white is not right! OOOPS.

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
jojo's picture

(post #67220, reply #11 of 527)

I am laughing about the strange western food, since I was usually served a slice of bread and a bottle of ketchup with my meal when I went to someone's house for dinner (usually to accompany an excellent traditional Japanese meal).  When I didn't use the ketchup (I was a little flummoxed about where I was supposed to use it), it was brought to my attention.  If I mentioned that I didn't really like ketchup, people thought that I was a strange American indeed.

One of my friends visited me from Japan and I served her orzo.  She thought that a rice-shaped pasta was wildly hilarious, and took some home with her to show her family and friends.

Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #13 of 527)

Ketchup indeed!

I think tonkatsu sauce is pretty weird. That's the pork cutlet fried with panko and served on cabbage with the ketchup/worcestershire sauce. It's a tasty sauce (which I bought ready-made), but would not strike me as "Japanese." But according to Ms. Shimbo, it was invented at the beginning of the twentieth cenrury. Fusion before California invented it. She includes a recipe to make the sauce. I've made the pork cutlet, but because of my fear of deep frying I've always adapted it to bake in the oven. I will now have an opportunity to try the real Japanese version.

It could be that some of the food the family served to my daughter when she visited Japan was home Japanese food that was influenced by other cultures. Mayonaise for example. The sauces I tried already are sort of like hollandaise (yolk thickener) and that is sort of related to mayonaise.

And when someone serves you expensive Kobe beef or apples, even if you are a vegetarian, you are appreciative.

Love the orzo.

I showed the young guy pictures of American Indians harvesting wild rice, but his English was not so good. The baseball playoffs or whatever they are were on TV and he was more interested in that than what he was eating.

Edited 4/25/2007 11:53 am ET by Tess

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
casualcook's picture

(post #67220, reply #35 of 527)

Hmmm. Ketchup sauce on tonkatsu? I remember it being a brown sauce. Anyway, I love tonkatsu. It's quite an art to make it so it's tender. I used to see tons of cooking shows where they demonstrated how to get it just right. Of course, they were in Japanese, so I could only go by how it looked.

jojo's picture

(post #67220, reply #38 of 527)

That is interesting about the tonkatsu being invented so recently, since I have always thought that it bears more than a passing resemblance to shnitzel (sp?).  I do make tonkatsu, and my family (even my kids) really like it, but not too often (for deep-fat health reasons, and frying is such a hastle to clean up, isn't it?).

I am curious about the tonkatsu sauce.  Did you make it from scratch? What is in that stuff?  We just buy the Bulldog sauce, and I have always wondered what goes into it.

I was given giant Fuji apples a few times for holidays, and I loved them.  They were a real treat, and one apple could serve 3-4 people.  I grow Fujis in my garden here, but we just grow them to the normal size.

TracyK's picture

(post #67220, reply #43 of 527)

I've made a lower-fat version of tonkatsu by baking it, it turns out pretty good even if it is not quite as delightful as the original.

I preheat a cast-iron skillet, add a little oil, and drop my breaded cutlets into the hot skillet. Turn halfway through cooking so they brown on both sides.

CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

jojo's picture

(post #67220, reply #44 of 527)

Thanks!  Good idea!  I'll try it.

knitpik's picture

(post #67220, reply #46 of 527)

Hiroko Shimbo did an article for FC a few years ago for Crisp Panko Chicken Cutlets with Tonkatsu sauce. Don't know if it's the same as the book but here it is:)

jojo's picture

(post #67220, reply #48 of 527)

Thanks!  Now I know what is in the sauce (ketsup, wouldn't you know it :-) ).  I think I'll try making it and see what the difference is.

knitpik's picture

(post #67220, reply #52 of 527)

You're welcome. Do you have any favorite flavour for those gyozas at
Costco? I might get some next time I'm there.

jojo's picture

(post #67220, reply #56 of 527)

I usually get the chicken ones.  I might be stuck in a rut, however.  I have noticed that no matter what it is, I usually get the chicken ones.

knitpik's picture

(post #67220, reply #65 of 527)

Anything with meat sounds good for us...specially DH.:-)

Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #66 of 527)

Wednesday 25 April 07 Shrimp and Asparagus with Mustard Vinegar-Miso Dressing p 165, Steamed Egg Custard (Chawanmushi) p 209, Stir-Fried Burdock and Carrot (Kimpira-goba) p 241, rice, quick pickled daikon, watercress salad with Soy Sauce Dressing p 93.

The shrimp and asparagus dish is listed in the "cold appetizers" section of the book, but it made a very tasty part of our dinner. The shrimp is put on skewers to keep them straight while they simmer (2-3 minutes), then cut part way through the back, leaving the tail on, and flattened. Asparagus is flashed cooked in boiling water and chilled in ice water. Wakame (sea vegetable) soaks for a couple of minutes and drained. It looks like black dried up stuff, but 2 tablespoons becomes a pile of dark green leaves! The sauce is similar in color to one I used already with chicken, but is more piquant with mustard and vinegar. I arranged these foods on a communal plate and poured the dressing over. I really wish I had a squeeze bottle to decoratively apply the sauce. The colors in my photo turned out very vivid and when my husband saw it, he commented that the sauce looks like globs of chicken fat. I did notice that there were no leftovers.

The pickled daikon is the same recipe/method described earlier. And the dressing is also one I made before. It's really a good dressing: how can you go wrong with garlic, ginger juice, and sesame oil? Besides the teaspoon of sesame oil, it has no oil in it at all.

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #67 of 527)

Pictures of wakame sea vegetable:

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
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Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #68 of 527)

The non-sweet custard is apparently so popular in Japan that there are cups with lids made especially for this dish. The lids are meant to keep the custard hot, not for cooking. Because I have resisted buying these (well, mostly because I have not found them yet), I used glass ramekins. I used dashi (fish stock) but Ms. Shimbo notes that chicken stock is often used. The liquid is mixed with eggs and is poured into the ramekins with a variety of ingredients. I used scallops, shrimp, and (not mushrooms, though I'd bought them we apparently used them all on Tuesday). I decorated the tops of the custards with watercress leaves. I brought one for lunch the next day and made the mistake of heating it up in the microwave. It tasted good, but the seafood got chewy. My husband had the last leftover one cold and said it was delicious. Ms. Shimbo has another version of chawanmushi with a variety of mushroom and chicken broth that she notes can be served hot or cold. I should have known not to zap it! My pictures of this were dark and out of focus, so you'll have to use your imaginations.

I'm picturing that these could be made ahead in very small dishes, chilled, and served as an appetizer. That's what I am imagining. :-)

The Stir-Fried Burdock and Carrot (Kinpira-gobo) was a disappointment. Julienned gobo and carrot are stir-fried in a bit of sake, mirin, sugar, shoyu, and tamari. It's served with togarashi (7 spice powder) and toasted sesame seeds. The burdock did not have much flavor; it's sort of like raw potatoes even after I cooked it. She says it's supposed to be crisp so maybe I just don't like it? See the pretty weird looking thing in this picture. Or part of it. It was about 3 feet long and I had to crack it in half to fit in the fridge. Lots left, if anyone wants to try it!

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #69 of 527)

Picture of the burdock root (gobo)

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
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Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #70 of 527)

Picture of abura-age and other unknown, but good "fried thin tofu"
and picture of Japanese mustard powder (yellow), sansho pepper (green) and Shichimi togarashi (red)

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phoggy's picture

(post #67220, reply #71 of 527)

Oh this is so informative about Japanese food! Thank you! How was the Miso dressing? If it was good, could you post the recipe? I have never made one that I actually liked. But I think the problem is that I can't fine Miso that I like. I think I have tried each and every brand in the Japanese stores. There was one I bought about 6 years ago and that was fantastic, but I did not pay attention to the brand name and now I cannot find anything close to it. Do have a brand name that you can recommend?

Thanks, Silvia

Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #72 of 527)

Here is a picture of the miso I have been using. There were several brands at the store I went to, and I chose 1 because I liked the package. Now that I am doing this project I should be able to try several different kinds of miso without feeling guilty about it going to waste in the back of the fridge.

There are three different types of miso: komemiso (rice and soybeans), mugimiso (barley and soybeans), and mamemiso (soybeans). Miso is also classified according to its color and saltiness. The lightest miso ferments for only a week, and the browner misos ferment for a year.

Akamiso (brown miso, made with rice or barley) has 13% salt by volume or 1/2 teaspoon salt per 1 tablespoon miso. Shiromiso (white miso) is what I have. You can see the light color in the picture, and according to my book has a salt content from 5 to 10 percent. The label does not say. It was exported from Kobe Japan. Next time I will see if the store has Saikyo miso which is a very light, sweet miso made in Kyoto prefecture.

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Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #169 of 527)

Saturday, 26 May 2007
Yakitori: Negima
Chicken thigh with Long Onion on Skewers p.406

Still raining. Sheets of rain, so we could barely see on our excursion to Eastern Market in Detroit. I was in search of shiso plants. No luck so I hope the seeds grow! Shiso is so pretty and tastes of mint and citrus.

But we found a parking place right in front of R. Hirt Jr. which is a great place to buy cheese and sausages for prices that beat Zingermans. So of course we stocked up. Not very Japanese, but we gotta eat other stuff sometimes! While checking out the market, we also bought a lot of fresh spinach with roots attached and 2 big bunches of asparagus. Pretty good restraint, but considering my husband will be out of town again, hmm? Dinners will be green intensive this weekend!

The other reason for the excursion toward Detroit, was for me to see the Japanese grocery in Novi. WOW! Beautiful fish, sashimi grade, and other. Lots of snack food and instant/microwave food, some dishes and cooking things (but not the square pan to make the Japanese rolled omlette and not a bigger pestle to go with the suribochi (mortar) that my husband bought there--odd). Because I'd already bought the chicken for yakitori, and it was already late, I bought some frozen mackerel (saba) to have on Sunday.

I don't like city expressway driving, but I think I can get to Novi without encountering the constant construction that is usual in SE Michigan. It will be worth the trip!!!

When we got home, it was STILL raining. So no grill (still in the junk collecting-- I mean storage -- shed). The tare sauce I made on Friday was very nice on the chicken and long onion skewers. But the broiler, which I hardly every use, left a lot to be desired. The skin did not get really crispy before it burned because I did not feel I had much control over how the skewers were cooking. Husband LOVED them.

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
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Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #170 of 527)

Other dishes from the 26 May dinner:

I made the clear soup again (p. 213, 28 April) with some spinach and fish cakes instead of the egg cake. Nerimono is the Japanese word for fish cakes. They are made differently in the various regions of Japan. The fish cakes I used are called Narutomaki. "Naruto means whirlpool, and "maki" means circle. It is a white stick of fish cake, but when you cut it crosswise you see a pink swirl pattern. It looked very pretty in the clear soup, but was sweet. It seems a lot of Japanese food can be sweet, even when you don't expect it!

Pickles were also a part of the meal. Ms. Shimbo describes making quick salt pickles - tsukemono- (p 30) but does not include a recipe. Her description is quite clear, however, so (with internet help) I made cucumber and wakame pickles with Japanese hot pepper.

Besides rice to round out the meal, I made Spinach in Black Sesame Dressing (Horenso Goma-ae) p. 252. Actually, because Ms. Shimbo notes that this dressing is good with asparagus, mustaard greens, kale, mizuna, brocoli, and eggplant, I chose to use one of the nice bunches of asparagus we just bought. The black sesame seeds tasted more strongly of sesame and smelled wonderful when I toasted them. It's a little off-putting to eat black food, but it tasted great. There is enough sauce for the Sunday meal as well. One of the things I like about this book is that Ms. Shimbo gives a recipe or a procedure, and then describes how to use it for other vegetables, fish, or meat. Unfortunatly the pictures of this did not turn out.

Edited 5/28/2007 12:18 pm ET by Tess

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
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Tess's picture

(post #67220, reply #171 of 527)

Sunday, 27 May
Crisp Tofu Cubes in Piping-Hot Tempura Sauce
Agedashi Dofu p249

For this recipe, make tempura dipping sauce Tentsuyu (p67)
with the addition of akatogarashi (small Japanese red pepper sliced into rings)

I used firm tofu, pressed it under weight for an hour, cut it into cubes about 1" x 1 1/2" x 3/4" and tossed it with potato starch. The potato starch coats the tofu quite firmly after it sits for about half an hour. I was skeptical about how this would cook: potato starch is a lot like cornstarch, and you know how it drops to the bottom of liquid and forms an almost solid clump that is hard to break up?

This is my second attempt to overcome my fear of deep-frying: bring the oil to 340°F and fry 2 or 3 cubes at a time. It was not toooo scary, because I used a very small pot of oil. First the cubes turn white and look like they've been battered and not covered in cement as I'd thought they would, then they become a bit golden. Serve this with the dipping sauce poured over and embellished with green onion rings. There has to be a typo in this recipe: Ms. Shimbo says to have a mound of grated ginger on the side. That is what you see in the picture, but the taste of raw ginger is just too strong! Sweet pickled ginger is much better!!

I think even if you don't usually like tofu, you'd like this nice crispy crust with soft smooth texture inside. The little bite of spice in the dipping sauce is just what you need to make a happy mouth. :-)

Braised Fish in the Japanese Way
Nizakana p385

Ms. Shimbo gives the recipe using salmon steaks because they are easily available but notes that sole, sea bream, sardine, horse mackerel, and saba (mackerel) are popular fish for braising. And thanks to my husband for showing me the Japanese grocery not far away, I had some very beautiful looking saba!

Braising is a popular way to cook fish in Japan. Whole fish, fillets, or steaks are simmered in a broth of sake, mirin, and shoyu. Miso, vinegar, salt, pickled plums, and herbs can be added to the braising liquid for strongly flavored oily fish. I love it that many of Ms. Shimbo's recipes are actually methods to be used again and again, with variations.

This is a good technique to know: blanch the fish with boiling water to take away oiliness and fishy taste that could overpower the braising liquid. Also, in the braising picture, you can see that I've cut several diagonal slashes in the skin of the fish so that it cooks without curling. Though the broth does not look like much in terms of Western style sauces, but it was very flavorful.

At the end of the braising, I added parboiled spinach to absorb the flavor of the broth. The fish is garnished with julienned crisp fried ginger and served with some of the broth. Rice and the cucumber/wakame pickles from yesterday complete the dinner.

Tess's Japanese Kitchen
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soupereasy's picture

(post #67220, reply #172 of 527)

Wow, that looks fabulous! I see those saba (mackeral) in the Korean market all the time and they really do look good. Are they awash in bones? DH is a bit phobic when it comes to fish bones.