Posts tagged ‘Japanese’

March 17, 2011

Thinking of Japan

Sesame and spinach

A constant thought, in these days. I hope Japan will be able to recover soon. And we will be thinking about  its fabulous food, cinema, literature, design, technological innovations again, when we think of Japan.

Hourensou no gomaae (Spinach with sesame sauce)

Presentation from this restaurant, recipe from Just Bento

Ingredients: (serves two)

two big bunch of spinach (about 300 grams)

equipment: a sushi mat

Sauce:

2 tablespoon white sesame seeds

2-3 teaspoon tamari

1/2 tablespoon mirin

2 teaspoon sugar

Method: Remove the roots from the spinach but keep all the stalk, and keep them in bundle form as much as possible. Wash in cold water until no grit is left. Bring a wide pan of water to the boil, drop in the spinach, blanch for about a minute and drain. Cool under cold, running water. Squeeze gently with your hand. Have a sushi mat ready. Arrange the spinach neatly on it, with all the stalks on one side. Fold the tips so that the ends will be more even. Roll the sushi mat, press gently with your fingers to get a squarish log. Press well and leave for a while slightly inclined so that the water can run away. When water is no longer dripping off it, put the roll within its sushi mat in the fridge until needed.

For the sauce: if not toasted, toast your sesame seeds: heat a small heavy pan, add the sesame seeds and gently roll the pan until they start to pop. Take care because at this stage they go from toasted to burned in a second.

Put the toasted sesame seeds in a mortar and crush them with a circular movement. Add sugar and crush a bit more;  add mirin and soy sauce; taste and adjust the flavours to your liking. It should be definitely sweet, definitely salty and very flavorful. To serve, arrange some sauce on a small dish, cut the spinach log using a sharp knife in two – three pieces,  discarding the extremities if they are not neat, and arrange on top of the sauce.

October 18, 2010

Cooking rice

Risotto with wild mushrooms

Rice is a visual as much as a taste memory of my childhood.  In the flat part of  Northern Italy where I grew up, it is one of the most visible fields out in the landscape, together with corn and wine. Only, corn is easy to spot only in late summer, thanks to its sky-high (for a child) plants. Wines are naked and almost invisible in winter and often the wines are cut low. Rice is impossible to miss.  For a long period of time the fields are flooded and create a beautiful, haunting landscape of water reflecting the sky, where the only solid objects appear to be the few streets and the birds, often lost in the mist, with a few far away brick houses. Then the fields will explode in the most vivid green later, while sprouting, and then turn to darker colours and eventually to yellow.

June 9, 2010

Green dips

Wasabi and avocado dip

This is a tasty and quick dip I ate at a Japanese friend’s house. She mixed it with a little mayo and served it with tomato and lettuce salad; I omitted the mayo and went for carrots. Both ways, it is a pleasant change if you like wasabi (which I do) and if you have had enough Guacamole (which I don’t). It is probably not as good as Guacamole, then, but it is still quite good.

I also give you the recipe of guacamole as I prepare it. A friend of mine taught it to me, when she came back after a long stay  in South America.  I did not like avocado that much then, and Guacamole was an eye-opener. She was my best friend when we were children, and we have lost and found each other a million times since then. She now lives in South America again, and I don’t have much chances for contact. We occasionally exchange news, because, twenty years later, our mothers  – who  still live next door to each other – became close friends. Still,  I miss her. She’ll always have the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.

Avocado and Wasabi dip

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
few drops of lemon juice
salt
1 scant teaspoon wasabi (start with a little less if you don’t like hot food)

Method: Mix everything using a food processor or a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, or it will turn black.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
juice of one lime
at least one fresh red hot chilli pepper, or more to taste
2  spring onions, most of the green part removed
salt

Method:  I prefer it a little chunky, so I use a fork to smash the avocado and chop chilli and onions. When I don’t have time I just use a food processor. Mix together, add lime juice and salt, taste and add more according to taste. Serve immediately.

May 27, 2010

Shopping in Düsseldorf

Matcha Creme brulee ingredientsOne of the benefits of the place I currently live in, is that it is very near to Düsseldorf. The city is not know for its beauty, and for what I have seen so far, it is rightfully so (but I’m always open to surprises, especially pleasant ones, so if you are of different advice, please do leave whatever suggestion you have).  On the other hand,  Düsseldorf  is well-known for being a shopping heaven. I’m not exactly a fashion addict: I tend to get really attached to my clothes, and use them until they fall literally to pieces and sometimes beyond that, and I am able to wear only what I feel comfortable with; foodwise, though, I am the ‘shop-till-you-drop’ girl type, ready to fork out for a new ingredient. Düsseldorf hosts a big Japanese community, with a whole street where writing in Japanese is actually more common than writing in German.

May 14, 2010

Spargel und Schinken

spargel und schinkenGerman food is most of the times very simple and quite hearty. At least in this region, the simpler, the better. Local ingredients are superlative and they don’t really need much more than a simple cooking. Germans know that and they love to eat tons of their best ingredients when they are in season. It is hard to describe the obsession around asparagus right now. I mean, also in other countries you see asparagus everywhere when the season comes, but you don’t see ‘Hier Deutsche Spargel’ on the windows of every shop remotely related to food. Remotely. If they sell something edible, you can bet they’d offer you asparagus right now.

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