A little xmas treat Caramelized Spiced Apples♡ Merry Christmas to all!
Last weekend, I had a craving for french toast again. However, I did not wish to elicit a negative reaction form my kids, rolling their eyes and complaining about having french toast again (though its an in-house favourite). Therefore, I cracked my brains and turned it up a notch with last weekend’s french toast.
To be honest, I have not tasted a good french toast dish in the local cafes, the most memorable one was during our holiday on Moyo Island, Indonesia, The french toast was superb! It was thick yet not dense at all as the homemade bread still retained its fluffy buttery texture. The best part was they used locally harvested raw honey and honeycomb to dress the french toast! It couldn’t get any better than this especially when we were stranded on an almost deserted island with only one resort.
I had come across some really interesting ways of dressing up the french toasts especially in Japan, like this one which I attempted. I called it the Pandora’s French Toast….haha….. Its a dessert with a surprise. What I did was to mix and match some interesting sweet ingredients and stuffed them by layers into the french toast. I used an unsliced bread loaf for this, cut out 2 slices of bread, 1 thicker slice and a thinner slice as a base. I soaked them in egg mixture and panfried them like any normal french toast recipe. You can find the recipe in my previous post Stuffed French Toast . There after, I cut out a hollow section in the centre of the thicker slice, placed it on the thinner slice and filled it up with the ingredients. So from the exterior, one could only see the bread and the condiments on top. However, when you cut into the bread, the layers of fillings reveal themselves which include citrusy ricotta mascarpone cheese, mochi, mashed sweet Azuki red beans and finished off with freshly sliced plums and more mochi! It was so much fun to see the reactions on my family’s faces who had not tried french toast prepared this way before. My husband was super happy when he saw Azuki red bean and mochi, his favourites. My elder son was scrutinising the stuffings like conducting a lab test. I totally enjoyed mine. My youngest requested for vanilla ice-cream in his toast.
The addition of the mochi was the best. It was like eating a dorayaki pancake with mochi inside. I dressed the plate up with little droplets of minty cherry sauce, some dried preserved fruits (mikan and ume) and sliced banana.
I think this french toast was my best so far not because of the mix & match ingredients but the surprise element. You can literally hide anything inside, maybe even an engagement ring for those men wanting to propose to their wives-to-be!
Yesterday I baked some tarts with leftover chestnuts and canned figs for desserts. I tried googling for recipes combining these 2 fruits and I could only find one. Therefore, I decided to combine various tart recipes together and came up with this. I did not want to waste too much time making these tarts and it took me only about an hour from preparation to baking. I used the fig and chestnut tarts with jam filling recipe from http://www.thelovebite.com but changed the filling to mascarpone and ricotta cheeses. The outcome is a nice biscuity tart crust with a soft, light, fruity centre and a nutty chestnut flavour inside ლ(´ڡ`ლ)
Makes about 12 muffin size tarts (Use a muffin tray)
Ingredients for the tart crust
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2oz / 60g shortening
grated zest 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
a pinch of salt
Ingredients for the filling
6-8 roasted chestnuts (breaks into small chunks)
4-5 Fresh figs or canned figs
150 grams ricotta cheese (room temperature)
200 grams mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
80gm castor sugar
1-2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
(You may have some leftover liquid filling. Keep it for a day or 2 for another tart!)
Pre-heat your oven to 375f or 190c
Place the tart crust dry ingredients except for buttermilk and egg into a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Then add in the buttermilk and egg and pulse, a dough will be formed. Add 1 teaspoon of water if its too dry for the dough to form. Roll the dough into a log 12 inches in a cling wrap and slice into 12 pieces. Hand roll each piece into a ball and press into a nicely greased muffin tray, gently press the pastry to spread evenly out to the sides of the muffin cups. Once done, put the tray into the refrigerator while you work on the filling.
Break the chestnuts into small chunks (not too small, you want to be able to have some crunchiness in the filling.) and slice the figs. Combine mascarpone, ricotta, sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon powder, eggs, egg yolk and flour in a food processor and blend until smooth. Take out the muffin tray from the refigerator. Distribute the chestnut chunks evenly among the muffin cups before spooning the cheeses mix into the tart shell. Arrange sliced figs on top to finish off. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until filling is set but still slightly wobbly in the centre and golden. The crust should have a nice crunchy yet soft base. If you like chestnut flavour, add more in the muffin cup.
We drizzled some spiced blueberry cherry port sauce on the tarts which I made a week ago and it was very good together.
Try it yourself!
Over the weekend, I bought some freshly made squid mentaiko chinmi during a Kyushu fair in the Japanese supermarket, Isetan. it hosts Japanese food fairs regularly showcasing specialties from different preferture. Isetan is a very well known departmental store brand in Japan and in many parts of the Asia alongside its established counterparts like Takashiyama, Mitsukoshi, OIOI, Tokyu store, Hankyu, Seibu,etc. I am a big fan of Isetan supermarket! “>x<”
Chinmi (珍味) is a Japanese term meaning literally “rare taste”, but more appropriately “delicacy“. They are local cuisines that have fallen out of popularity or those cuisines that are peculiar to a certain area. Many involved pickled seafood. The three best known chinmi of Japan are salt-pickled sea urchin roe (uni), salt-pickled mullet roe (karasumi) and pickled sea cucumber innards. (konowata)
In this bento, there were rice balls mixed with steamed sweet potato (satsuma imo) and minced shiso leaf & myoga, tomago-yaki and shishito peppers wrapped in pork belly grilled with seasalt (shio-yaki)
All the foods prepared were placed in this beautiful megawappa bento box from Yoshinobu Shibata Shoten, Japan. There is a little writeup about the cedar wood artisan on my previous post Hubby Bento #25 . Do check it out. 😉
I was very fortunate to have celebrated my birthday this year at the 3 Michelin stars restaurant, Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo. This is my first time in four years that I was away from my family and enjoying my birthday trip with my BFF. Therefore, its a short break of total self-indulgence! I have done my research thoroughly as to which restaurant to dine in on my big day and I must say Sushi Yoshitake surpassed my expectations. My girlfriend and I are still raving about the mind blowing experience. Sushi Yoshitake was highly recommended by my friend who has experienced many Michelin star and non Michelin star restaurants in Tokyo. I am not a big believer of Michelin-star restaurants as I had some not so impressive meals in some of them. However, Sushi Yoshitake ranked pretty high in Japanese local restaurants rating website, Tabelog (http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1301/A130103/13024076/). The other sushi restaurant which I was able to patronise was Hashiguchi, worthy of Michelin star but the owner chef refused.
The main reason I settled on Sushi Yoshitake is because of one dish only, the awabi(abalone) liver paste. More about it later.
The omakase restaurant has only 7 counter seats and a table for 4. Its located in the bustling Ginza nightlife area packed with bars and restaurants in narrow buildings. Our reservation was at 8.20pm, so we thought we could arrive earlier to have a pre-dinner drink while waiting. We were shocked when we were greeted by an old industrial-like metal door locked, next to a narrow dark staircase with many empty grocery carton boxes stacked up on top on one another. It was not an inviting sight. We were obviously confused and wondered if we got the right address (its located on the 3rd floor of すずりゅうビル Suzuryu building). After a phonecall to the restaurant, we realised that the restaurant is only open at 8.20pm. So, we had to unglamorously sit by a small alley walkway on the ground flour in our dinner dresses and 3-inch heels, inhaling foul smells from the street drains. Ha ha… it was quite an hilarious experience, we kept laughing about it.
Well, the distasteful metal door finally opened to a quaint and cosy lobby before we entered into the main dinning area. Its common in Japan, especially in small restaurants, to be welcomed by the maître d’ who is coincidently the wife of the owner chef. We were presented with an English written welcome note explaining how we should enjoy our meal in proper Japanese way. This does not mean they are any less Japanese, it shows that they are doing their best to spread traditional Japanese culture to the world, especially when the Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics. Moreover, the chef and the assistants cannot speak much English.
Chef Yoshitake is quite an easy-going tall gentleman, speaks a little English and entertains his guests pretty well. Obviously, I tried to use sign language with my elementary Japanese to ask him questions. I hope I did not get on his nerves as I was super curious.
I had specially brought along my camera with macro lens just to take photos of the dishes, unfortunately, only phone camera was allowed. So I apologise if the quality of the food pictures have been compromised.
This is the “piece de resistance” item in the restaurant. This is the reason why I was here. The rich beautifully seasoned awabi (abalone) liver paste 肝のソース makes french fois gras pales in comparison. My friend and I both mourned at the same time when we first savoured it and both agreed we have been elevated to “Heaven”! Seriously, after tasting this, our favourite uni (sea urchin) moved down in rankings on our must-eat list. So so yummy! The abalone liver paste was to be enjoyed in 2 ways. First, as a dip for steamed awabi 蒸し鮑 (abalone) meat and second, mix well with rice. Chef Yoshitake had to stop me from slurping up most of the paste before there is no paste left for the rice. I was eating it like a pudding. >x<
I love Chef Yoshitake’s creative ways of mixing the ingredients. This dish was very good too, packed with different textures and flavours.
After tasted simmered or cooked dishes, we were served 11 types of sushi with Chef Yoshitake’s amazing “shari” sushi rice.
Chef Yoshitake prepared an extra tall uni sushi for my birthday, I felt so privileged and I could not contain my excitement! He said this was his first time making such a tall uni sushi with 2 types uni 海栗 (Hokkaido and Miyagi Prefecture). The rest of the patrons were eyeing at it with jealousy that one of them ordered 2 uni towers for himself!
While the assistant chef was cutting and peeling the Kuruma ebi, I was eyeing intently at the prawn heads. I casually asked the chef what happened to all the ingredients not served on the table like the prawn heads and shells, abalone skirts, etc. He said they would all go to his italian restaurant’s kitchen, Osteria da K.[Káppa] www.dakappa.co.jp. Thats what so wonderful about Japanese cuisine, nothing goes to waste! So I requested for the prawn heads to be served to me instead and he surprised me with them being deep-fried! So tasty!
Other dishes that were served in this meal (sorry, forgot to take photos for some) were otoro 大トロ (fatty tuna sushi), Anago 穴子 sushi (Sea eel), Temaki Tuna hand roll, sweet tamago egg custard 玉子焼き and Miso Shiru (Light miso soup infused with myōga 茗荷)
I am so thankful for this meal. I hope to come back again even sooner to savour the omakase again may be in the next season.
3F, Suzuryu Building,
8-7-19 Ginza Chuo-ku Tokyo,
To make reservations, get your hotel concierge to reserve for you. They only accept reservations one month ahead.
I prepared a little thai feast for my family last Sunday following our little escape to Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. I chose Chiang Mai because I am a big fan of Northern Thai food. There are Burmese, Northeastern Isaan thai and Chinese influences in their cuisine. Tasted many amazing dishes such as stewed chicken feet and blood noodle soup, beef soup noodles, burmese pork curry, sweet leaves soup with ant’s eggs, laab pig liver spicy salad (my favourite), tamarind leaves spicy salad, fermented blue crab som tum papaya salad, etc.
Chiang Mai is not only rich with food and history, it has a thriving coffee culture too with many talented baristas showing off their brewing skills in many interesting cafes littered around the town. You don’t need Starbucks or Costa Coffee there. Its a pretty competitive cafe market there.
Back to my Sunday Thai post, the dishes I prepared here are served on some of the beautiful handmade tableware I purchased in Chiangmai. That was my other motive going there, not to visit touristy sites but to hunt down some nice ceramics. You can find big established factories making handmade ceramics, silver, wood items, etc, and small artisans selling their items in lifestyle shops and cafes. I was quite lucky to locate some artisans by searching through instagram. I hope show more of my collection on my future posts soon. Keep a lookout! 😉
Here are the dishes:
Moo Yang (Grilled Hungarian Pork Shoulder) with Jaew Prik Pon (Spicy) Dip (recipe below)
Goya, salted duck egg salad with Somtum spicy dressing. (recipe below)
Prawn salad with fish sauce, lime, urap urap dressing. (recipe below)
Grilled Pandan Chicken
Crayfish & squid with lemon basil dressing
Moo Yang (Grilled Hungarian Pork Shoulder)
This dish is popular in Thailand. Other similar grilled meats are neua yang (grilled beef), gai yang (grilled chicken). My kids love them and its pretty easy to make.
500-600 pork shoulders or neck or collar (so long the meat has some fats contents)
Paste Ingredients: 2 coriander root stems (chopped), 5-6 cloves garlic, 10 white peppercorn, 1/4 cup Maggi seasoning sauce (I use Golden Mountain brand from Thailand), 1/2 teaspoon of palm sugar. If you don’t have Maggi seasoning, you can use fish sauce or soya sauce.
Pound the dry marinate ingredients first, then add the wet ingredients. Massage the paste well in the meat and let it marinate overnight. The next day, just grill it over a medium fire til done.
Jaew Prik Pon Spicy Dip
This is a common Isaan dip for many thai dishes.
Ingredients: 3-4 dry red chillies, 2 coriander roots, 2-3 slices of galangal, 2 tablespoon fish sauce,1 teaspoon palm sugar, some mint leaves, 2-3 tablespoons lime juice, some chopped shallots, 1 teaspoon roasted raw thai glutinous rice.
Put the chillies and raw glutinous rice in the oven or toaster and roast them til the colour of the chillies turn deep burnt red and the rice turn crispy but not browned. Just pound all the hard ingredients first with a pestle & mortar except the rice and then the wet ingredients. The rice should be finely pounded separately and then toss in the sauce in the end.
Goya, Salted Duck Egg Salad with Somtum Spicy Dressing
This is my own concoction of goya (bitter gourd) thai salad. Bitter gourd stir-fried with salted egg is a popular Chinese dish. I did a spicy salad version with bitter, sweet, spicy, sour and salty taste notes.
Salad ingredients : 1/2 of a goya or bitter gourd, cherry tomatoes, 1 cooked salted egg (roughly chopped, you can purchased from Chinese grocery stores), cashew nuts (roughly chopped), 4-5 dried shrimps (lightly toasted)
Somtum Spicy Sauce ingredients :
4 garlic cloves, 3-4 small chillies, 3 tablespoons lime juice, 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2-3 tablespoons palm sugar, 1 cooked salted egg yolk, coriander leaves
Remove the white centre flesh of the goya and cut into slices. Remove the bitterness by lightly rubbing the goya slices 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt and let it stand for 20 minutes. Rinse away the salt as much as possible and then boil the goya slices in water for about 3-5 minutes. Make sure they are still crunchy since we are making a salad with it.
Cook the cherry tomatoes in some oil and salt for about 4-5 minutes to release the sugars. Set aside.
Start pounding the garlic and chillies, then palm sugar and salted egg yolk. Add in the cherry tomatoes in the mortar and crush them lightly to release the juice into the mixture. Add in the rest of the wet ingredients.
Toss the salad ingredients well with the spicy sauce and sprinkle the chopped cashew nuts. Add more palm sugar if you find it a little salty since its salted egg based.
Prawn & bean salad with fish sauce, lime, urap urap dressing
The urap urap dressing is Indonesia Javanese based dressing for steamed vegetables but I adapted with more fish sauce and lime juice to give this dish a thai flavour. It turned out to be very good. The urap urap recipe can be found in the post Hubby Bento #22
Salad ingredients: cooked prawns, cucumber, cooked long beans, some mint leaves, some chopped cashew nuts, fried lemongrass slices
Sauce ingredients: 1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 1/2 -2 tablespoon lime juice, 2 heapful tablespoons of urap urap, 2-3 lime leaves roughly torn. (You can increase the spiciness here by adding some small chillies.)
Lightly pound and mix the sauce ingredients and toss it with the salad ingredients. The crunchy sweet dried coconut bits coat the prawn and its a great combination.
Crayfish & Squid with Lemon Basil Dressing
Make the dressing by using some fruity olive oil, 1 spoonful of fish sauce, some lemon juice and basil leaves (pounded into the oil to release the flavours). Just drizzle them over the salad. I did not show the dressing on the picture above. (I forgot, oops…)
As for the pandan chicken, I am not very satisfied with the recipe, so I won’t post it. I will post it once I modify it to meet my expectations.
Hope you enjoy my little post! ^x^
We are going off for a little weekend holiday in Thailand tomorrow, thought it would be fitting that I make a spice-themed lunch for my husband’s bento today to set the mood for our little getaway. Its a combination of Indonesian and Thai recipes in this box.
Tumeric Saffron Rice (Indonesian)
Ingredients: 1 cup rice, a pinch of sea salt, 1 clove, 1 cardamom pod, 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or coriander seeds, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric, 1-2 inches pandan leaf.
Cover the rice with normal amount of water needed for the rice cooker. Throw in all the spice ingredients and start the cooker. Discard the pandan leaf and cinnamon stick after the rice is cooked.
Famous Sukhamvit Soi 5 Fried Chicken (Thai)
This is one of my all-time favourite fried chicken recipe from Thailand. Thanks to a wonderful writer, who managed to track down the owner of a small well-known street hawker in Bangkok in 2009 and miraculously got the family recipe! You can read the little story behind this dish and the recipe on http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/04/recipe-sukhamvit-soi-five-fried-chicken/38633/
Tahu Telor, Bean curd Omelette (Indonesian)
Ingredients: 1 box or tube of soft egg bean curd (tofu), 3 large eggs – beaten, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/4 portion of a onion – finely chopped, 1/4 portion of large green capsicum-finely chopped, some coriander or parsley leaves – finely chopped, 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock.
Mix all the ingredients together. I used a deep frying pan to cook so as to achieve a chunky omelette about 2 cm thick. The trick to a crispy egg surface is sufficient hot oil (covering about 1/2 to 1 cm in pan depth), preferably peanut oil which will fry the egg whites in the eggs to a light, fluffy and a crackling texture. Cook with a medium high fire fire and then reduce it to medium-low after 2-3 minutes when the outer skin layer is turning golden in colour. When the middle portion of the omelette is nearly setting, use a second pan to cover the the first pan, tilt it over and use the second pan to complete the cooking process. This is to prevent the golden omelette skin from burning too. Do not remove the second pan until the omelette is cooked, this will maintain the shape.
The portion of ingredients I give above may be too much for just 1 bento. You can keep the rest for dinner!
Urap Urap Sayur (Javanese, Indonesian)
I have eaten this dish many times whenever I travel to Java, Bali and Sulawesi. I still remember the first time I ate this in Sulawesi, it was on a boat just after diving. I was freezing cold and my dive master gave me a pack of rice with this vegetable inside. It was HEAVEN! Its basically a cooked vegetable dish, mixed with spiced grated coconut like a salad before serving. And different region has their own version of cooking this dish. I love it with Nasi Campur or Nasi Kuning (Wikipedia: Nasi campur “mixed rice”, also called nasi rames in Indonesia, refers to a dish of a scoop of nasi putih (white rice) accompanied by small portions of a number of other dishes, which includes meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and fried-shrimp krupuk.). I made a big portion of the spice paste and store in the fridge.
Spice Paste ingredients: 4 cloves of garlic, some hot dry chilli flakes or 2 birds’ eye chillies, 2 cm galangal sliced, 50 g palm sugar, 4 fresh kaffir lime leafs (finely shredded), fish sauce to taste
Simply use a pestle and mortar to pound all the ingredients into a smooth paste. You can use a blender too. Add a little oil into a sauce pan and stir fry the paste until its fragrant over low fire, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn it.
Other ingredients : Dried grated coconut about 1 to 2 tablespoons, 1 small aubergine or Nasu chopped, 3 – 4 chopped okras.
Stir-fry the aubergine and okras with a little oil and salt until they are cooked and set aside. Toast the grated coconut to light golden brown in the oven. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of the spice paste with the toasted grated coconut and add it to the cooked vegetables.
I had a pleasant surprise today when this bento photo got featured on @FoodPornAsia and #igsg on both Facebook and Instagram. I am honoured and humbled. I would like to thank them for choosing my little photo for their sites.
In Japan, these animals donuts are very popular, my kid fell in love with them instantly. Who wouldn’t? However I can’t find any donut shops selling these in my country. He has been asking for them so I decided to try making them myself. I used Japanese Confectionary brand Morinaga pancake mix. The mix can be tweeted to make donuts by adding egg, butter and sugar, the packaging’s recipe recommended frying them. I baked them instead in the oven(about 11-12 minutes at 180ºC), and it worked well too. The texture is fluffy like a cake yet with mild chewiness of a pancake.
I used Candy Melts colours, dark chocolate chips and vegetable shortening for the coating of the donuts. By heating the candy melts in the microwave for about 1 minute, its easier to mix with the shortening. The shortening helps to dilute the candy melts and chocolate to a nice near fluid consistency which will give a smooth coating to the donuts (the consistency of the coating is similar to chocolate glaze on cakes). After 2 coatings each, I put them into the fridge to chill for a few minutes before I start decorating them with white and dark chocolate chips, marshmallows and cookies.
We couldn’t stop ourselves from grabbing them after I took this photo, especially my young customer who had been waiting patiently for 2 hours.
Pardon my French (for any grammar mistake if any, a little rusty…>ω<) for the title of this bento.
I did not have time to do grocery early this week, however managed to make my husband lunch box with left-over ingredients in the fridge, which include a small portion of cabbage (unused from a steamboat dinner we had few days ago), a small capsicum (sitting in the corner of my vegetable compartment for a week already), a frozen lamb steak, half cut frozen squid and 1 fish cake (both left overs from the steamboat too). This is the advantage of making bento for 1 or 2 persons as the portions used are small so its a good way to clear out the remaining food in the fridge.
In this box, I prepared:
Cabbage carrot kinpira
Recipe is similar to lotus root kinpira, just replace the lotus root with chopped cabbage.
Fried Capsicum with lentil quinoa stuffing
I made multiple cuts into one end of the capsicum’s skin about 3/4 way so it will open like the petals of a flower with the other end still intact. The lentil quinoa stuffing recipe is similar to the lentil quinoa patties I made previously. I filled up the capsicum with the stuffing and fried the capsicum in vegetable oil over medium fire until the stuffing turned light golden brown, probably about 4-5 minutes. Pretty quick.
Grilled Lamb steak with rosemary
I simply seasoned the lamb steak (about 150 grams, thick and round) with some salt and pepper, put a few springs of rosemary and 2 crushed garlic on a hot pan with little oil and placed the lamb on top of the herbs. Cooked each side for about 4 minutes on medium high heat. Its medium-done, light pink on the inside.
Squid, sujiko salmon roe & mashed potato mayonnaise salad
This is pretty easy. I made some semi-mashed potato salad with mayonnaise, mirin and sour cream. Mixed in some steamed chopped squid, 1/2 teaspoon of salmon roe for salty crunchy texture and carrot pieces from the kinpira.
Mixed Onigiri rice with mashed purple sweet potato
Tomago-yaki and fish cake skewer
I tried to make the colours of the food “POP” to compensate for the “old” ingredients used. Anyway, my husband did not notice a single difference since he never check what foods in the fridge except for his fruits and candies.
I apologise if my recipes here are a little scrappy as I am really trying to keep myself awake now writing this post, its past midnight here. Too sleepy….zzzzzzz.
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this post. Good night from my side of the world…..
Shitaake Mushroom Rice Burgers (make about 8 to 9 mini ones)
Ingredients for rice burgers: 4 thinly sliced shitaake mushrooms, 1 cup rice, 4 to 5 dried scallops, 1 to 2 tablespoons shoyu, 1 small piece of kelp
Ingredients for beef yakiniku: 8 to 9 Thin slices of beef , 1/4 cup yakiniku sauce, 2 tablespoons sake, nira (Japanese chives), 1 to 2 sliced ginger, salt & pepper, chopped shiso leaf, 2 tablespoons of mirin
Simply cook the rice with all the ingredients in the rice-cooker, remove the kelp halfway through the cooking. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the mirin and cool it down. Once its cooled, mix in the chopped shiso leaf.
For yakiniku beef, use a small clay pot or a deep saucepan, heat a little cooking oil, add in sliced beef, and panfry for a minute, mix in the rest of the sauce ingredients and let it simmer for 5 minutes or until the beef slices are cooked. Throw in the nira at the last minute. Turn off the fire, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the beef to soak in the flavors of the sauce.
Use any semi-circle mould you can find (similar to those for making cake-pops, for example. I used a circular rice mould), place a piece of cellophane wrap into the mould and fill it up with the rice and shape it. You need 2 semi circle rice patties for 1 burger. Sandwich 1 or 2 pieces of the beef with nira between the rice patties. You can use any cocktail bamboo picks to hold them together.
Okra & Nattō Salad (Simple thai style)
Ingredients : 5-6 okras (lady fingers), 1 box of Nattō (なっとう or 納豆) (a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans), sliced boiled octopus (tako), 1 teaspoon of palm sugar (or canned sugar), 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce, juice of 1 lime.
Some Nattō comes with its own sauce. Use the sauce in this salad too. Cut the okras into small pieces. Steam the okras in a little salt until its just cooked yet the texture is still crunchy. If you use microwave, it take about 1 1/2 minute to cook. Mix in the natto, tako and sauce ingredients. Adjust the level of saltiness, sweetness and citrus taste of the sauce according to your liking. You can add in some cut chillies too. Chill it in the fridge for a while.
Nasu & Negi Chikuwa Grilled Roll
Ingredients: Thinly sliced eggplant (Nasu), 1 piece of Negi Chikuwa (Japanese grilled fish cake), 1 piece of carrot, sweet miso paste.
Cut the carrot into a size that can easily fit into the hollow section of the fish cake. Cook the carrot until its slightly soft yet firm. Push the carrot into the fish cake. Rub some sweet miso paste all over the fish cake. I used spicy fermented beef paste I bought from Ishigaki, Okinawa. Arrange the thinly sliced eggplant in a overlapping manner on a piece cellophane wrap. Place the fish cake on the eggplant layers. Use the wrap to help you roll the eggplant over the fishcake. You can also use some cooking strings to tie the roll together before grilling it. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and grill it in a little oil until all the sides of the eggplant are lightly browned.
Home-made Daifuku wrapped in bamboo leaf
Ingredients: Gyuuhi, ready-made red bean paste from stores.
Gyuuhi is a type of sweet rice flour mochi-like dough. It is very easy to make them.
Ingredients: 75g shiratamako rice flour, 115ml water, 65g white sugar, lots of potato or corn starch
Put the flour into a microwave friendly bowl, slowly mix in the water until the paste is smooth with no lumps. Add in the sugar and mix it well. Cover the bowl with a piece of cellophane wrap and cook it in the microwave on high setting for 1 minute. Take it out and mix it very well before putting it into the microwave again for another 1 1/2 minutes. Make sure both times, the bowl is covered. Once its done, mix it well one more time for smoothness. Each time you mix, wet your mixing fork or spoon, it can get very sticky. Flour a work surface and your hands generously, spread the gyuuhi over the surface to let it cool completely. Once its cool, you can start moulding small pieces of the gyuuhi into round flat circle and put a small spoonful of red bean paste in the centre and wrap it up and hand roll it into a ball. Remember, to flour your hands. For the daifuku here, I coated it with soy bean flour (warabi flour, a type of bracken starch)