My God, it has been ten months since I last posted a recipe on the JFR! Well, I launched my restaurant in September and now it's back to cooking, finally. Nice to be back.
Recently a TV reporter visited Ganso and asked a typical reporter question: How many distinct ingredients do we use to make a bowl of ramen? We scratched our heads bit and came up with an estimate: Close to 30. Amazing. As I thought about our complex ramen, I realized we could deconstruct elements from it to use in other dishes. I want to talk more about this, so let's start with onsen tamago, or "onsen" egg.
Onsen tamago is a technique for poaching an egg inside its shell. While we add onsen tamago to certain styles of ramen here at Ganso, Japanese owe this cooking method not to noodles, but to the country's bountiful natural hot springs. Hot springs or "onsen," dot volcanic Japan from tip to tip (dipping into a steaming onsen one of the great pleasures of visiting Japan), and a custom for cooking eggs at these springs evolved over the years -- toss them into the hot water, wait a bit, and the egg magically poaches.
The secret is the onsen's water temperature, which causes the egg's yolk and albumen congeal into a nice sphere on the outside, and beautifully creamy and tasty on the inside. It's a great way to cook eggs if you're a stone's throw (or make that, an egg's throw) from an onsen. But supposing you're not, how do you replicate this at home?
I asked Chef Rio and here is his easy technique: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and add 4 eggs. Leave the eggs in the water for about 30 minutes. Remove the eggs, crack them open and -- viola! -- you'll have nicely poached onsen tamago. (For those of you who demand perfection, maintain the water temperature at exactly 145 degrees F (or 65 degrees C), which will yield an impeccably spherical poached egg.)
So now you have a beautiful onsen tamago, what do you do with it?
Here are a few ideas: Eat with grated daikon and shoyu (Japanese soy sauce); make a indentation in a mound of steaming rice, lay an onsen tamago in it, drip in a few drops of shoyu, mix up and eat; place on top of a frisee salad; float with soba or udon in a hot broth; mix with natto (fermented soybeans) and shoyu; mix with yama imo (grated mountain yam) and shoyu; or rest atop a beautifully grilled ribeye and eat together -- the egg serving as a rich, creamy "sauce" for the steak.
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Tis clip from today's NY Times -- my new restaurant GANSO will be opening this summer in Downtown Brooklyn! (map) I'm teaming up with my pal Chef Rio Irie, who's an amazing cook. Wait until you try his food.
In fact, the genesis for this project was a staff meal several years ago at Matsuri restaurant, where Rio served us his special ramen. His noodles were so incredibly good I made an instant note-to-self: Open a restaurant with this guy!
Fast-forward five years, and here we is...
I'll post more about Ganso as we get closer to launching. We'll be open for lunch and dinner, and besides ramen we'll serve all manner of comfort food, from Japanese-style fried chicken to mind-blowing gyoza to tons of veggie dishes. Visit www.gansonyc.com and sign up for our newsletter for updates.
This has been an incredibly exciting time for me, but so busy I have to take a short hiatus from blogging. As soon as Ganso is live, I'll be back with new posts! Stay tuned.
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Dear JFR readers: Thank you for your overwhelming response to this post! We now have our testing team in place, and have stopped accepting testers for the time being. I may put out the call for more testers in a month, please stay tuned. Thank you again -- Harris (Feb. 28th)
Calling all friends of the Japanese Food Report: We need your help! My coauthor Tadashi Ono and I are now in the thick of writing our biggest, baddest, most exciting new cookbook yet
-- and we're organizing a team of volunteer recipe testers. Want to test recipes for us?
The book, tentatively titled "Japanese Soul," is a celebration of our all-time favorite, down-home Japanese comfort foods, to be published by Ten Speed Press. We're talking gyoza, Japanese curry, donburi, tempura, and tonkatsu. There's also ramen, soba and udon. Plus korokke (croquette), kaki-furai and Japanese-style fried chicken. And the list goes on...
What does recipe testing mean? As a recipe tester, you'll help us evaluate our dishes in your home kitchen. We'll send you a set of recipes along with a response form. You'll cook the dishes, and tell us what you think. Do the instructions work for you? Did the dish turn out delicious? (But, of course.) Anything confusing or unclear?
No prior recipe testing experience is required. We're looking for enthusiastic home cooks who hunger (so to speak) to learn more about Japanese cuisine. That, and a good skillet, and you're set! We ask that you commit to cooking and evaluating at least four dishes by the end of March.
Thanks! Harris & Tadashi
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Here's one from my wife's playbook. Simple, so delicious and versatile. I cooked it in ten minutes last night with dark meat chicken, garlic chives (nira) and slivers of carrot. Here's what you do: cut about a pound of bones dark meat (or white if you like) into bite-size chunks. Trim, clean and cut a bunch of garlic chives. Shave cut or thinly slice a small carrot. Now mix together 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, sake and oyster sauce, plus 1 teaspoon of tobanjan (spicy fermented bean paste), in a small bowl. In another small bowl mix together 1 teaspoon each of katakuriko (potato starch) and water. Now you're ready to cook. Preheat a skillet (I like cast iron) over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of roasted sesame oil. When the oil is hot add the chicken and sauté, stirring, for a couple of minutes until it turns color. Add the carrot, sauté some more. Add the garlic chives. When they've turned bright green, add the flavoring mixture. Sauté another 30 seconds or so, and add the starch mixture. Mix everything together well and turn off the heat. Did anyone say din-din? Serve with steaming white rice.
You can also substitute thin-sliced pork or beef instead of chicken, and garlic shoots or scallions instead of chives. And, you can add more tobanjan if you like spice, or some black bean sauce for another flavor layer. Enjoy. We sure did.
Posted by Harris Salat in Chicken | Permalink | Comments (2) | Email this story
I'm on a hot pot roll these days -- but tragedy has struck! Notice the blue handles beneath my hot pot in the photo above? As I was transferring my beloved earthenware hot pot, it mysteriously sprang a leak. I quickly nestled it in a Le Creuset and soldiered on. But I'm going to try to re-season the hot pot by cooking rice porridge in it; hopefully that'll plug up the mystery hole.
Hot pot contretemps notwithstanding, the Mizutaki was outstanding. I've talked about this hot pot before (click here), one of my favorites. Mizutaki is about as simple as it gets: Pile a bunch of ingredients into a hot pot. Pour in water. Turn on the heat and cook. In our hot pot cookbook, Tadashi and I outlined specific quantities. But I want you to start thinking about hot pots as a more free-form endeavor: Don't worry about how much of this, how much of that. Just cook with what you've got, with a few basics in mind. The fundamentals of this hot pot are: Place a piece of umami-nourishing kombu on the bottom. Pile bite-sized pieces of cabbage or Napa cabbage over the kombu (I actually used both, since I had a small chunk of left-over cabbage in the fridge.) On top of the cabbage, which acts the "foundation," arrange piles of hot pot ingredients in neat bunches. On this particular eve, I added chicken, tofu, sliced negi, shiitake, maitake, carrots and harusame noodles (starch noodles that absorb flavor). I also secreted (a choice bit of cop talk, as in "secret-ed") a few chicken bones under the cabbage to pack the broth with more oomph. I poured in water, covered the hot pot, turned heat to high, and cooked. How long? You can tell when chicken looks done. At the last minute I added a pile of spinach, which cooked in seconds.
So that was that, leak or no leak. To eat, we poured some ponzu in a bowl and mixed in a dab of yuzu kosho (the one Abe-san made, which I had frozen). We fished morsels out of the hot pot with our chopsticks, dipped them into the ponzu/yuzu kosho, and went to town. Amazing flavors. And best of all, the ingredients did all the work: the kombu and chicken mingling umami flavors, the veggies adding their own notes, and the condiments layering in even more goodness. Just lovely.
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There are two styles of sukiyaki that I know about, but I forget which one is Tokyo-style, and which is Osaka-style. Wait, let me back up. Sukiyaki, of course, is a classic shaved beef hot pot traditionally cooked in a special cast-iron pot. We love getting down with sukiyaki on a frigid winter night here at Brooklyn mission control. Especially when paired with a glass of great sake.
At home I use a cast-iron skillet instead of the pot -- one of the few pieces of traditional cookware I haven't found the gumption to schlep back home from Japan. The ingredients I use are straightforward: sukiyaki beef (beef sliced about 1/8 inch thick, find in Asian markets), tofu, shaved burdock root (whittle like a pencil), sliced onions, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, sliced carrots, and itokonyaku (konyaku noodles). The trick is the seasoning sauce, called warishita. I've seen some fancy recipes for this, but stick with the tried-and-true basic warishita, which is 1 part sake, 1 part soy sauce, 1 part mirin, and a sprinkling of sugar. It delivers the mail, trust me.
Okay, let's return to sentence number one of this post, the question of styles. With one of them, you're supposed to grease the pan with a chunk of meat fat, then sauté the beef for a minute or two, before adding the rest of the ingredients to the skillet in separate, neat clumps, after which you pour in the warishita, and cook. (Wait with the spinach, though, to almost the end.) With the other style, which is the one I followed, you grease the skillet, add all the ingredients at the same time in neat clumps, pour in the warishita, and cook. (Ditto about the spinach). Which method to follow? As always, up to you. If you brown the beef first, you'll get more caramel-y flavors, but on the other hand, option number two is quicker. I opted for speed. (It still tasted amazing.)
Final note, on how to eat. First, beat a raw egg in a small bowl. Next, dip ingredients you pluck out of the pot into the raw egg. Then, chow down. Why? The egg adds richness and its own silky texture. If you have access to really fresh eggs, do this (fortunately I live near a local farmers market). And don't forget a steaming bowl of white rice on the side. So that's it: Now it's your turn to cook sukiyaki for family, lovers, friends! Enjoy...
Posted by Harris Salat in Beef | Permalink | Comments (11) | Email this story