Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Watalian Pork in Cabbage Leaves

I found a great recipe for pork fillet dipped in beaten egg and coarsely ground hazelnuts, then rolled in cabbage leaves and baked in chicken stock flavored with cumin and caraway seeds....then bedded down in a cheesy sauce made with the remaining stock. Sounds wonderful, but somehow this is what happened when it moved into my lazy kitchen...

Watalian Pork and Cabbage Rolls

1 liter of water simmered with whatever chicken you feel like making stock out of. (Wings can be grilled, drumlets simmered adobo-style, and other meat could be turned into sandwiches or salad, but really needs to become chicken cream croquettes). With the caraway flavoring, excess stock is best suited to a germanic cabbage/potato soup.

Add to the broth:

100 ml white wine or 2 T mild vinegar and about 1 t sugar

1-2 T cumin seeds

1-2 T caraway seeds

If you have no access to cumin or caraway, try warm, bright/aromatic herbs such as rosemary with ginger, or ginger in the broth, with shiso or yuzu garnish

Salt to taste

Bring stock to the boil.

About 4 big or 8 small cabbage leaves. Take a whole cabbage, and cut right through the bases, then ease the leaves off from the base upward. Don't fret about minor splits. Cut some of the thickness off the main rib, and toss each leaf into the simmering stock. Pull out and drain when a little soft. Some seeds will adhere, don't fret.

1 pork fillet - divide into portions and slice each portion. Pork fillet is sometimes very cheap, but if not, "roast" is probably more tender.

2 beaten eggs

1 pack good quality ground sesame (usually about 70 g)

1/2 t salt

Mix eggs and ground sesame, drop pork in and coat all sides.

Roll up each serving. This is so easy, no zillions of ingredients, no kneading of meat mixture - just slip onto a leaf, slop on more mix, roll up, and slap in a pot. Done. Doesn't need to be too neat, the egg encourages it to hold together anyway.

Bring a little of the stock to the boil in a frypan or saucepan, pop in the rolls, cover, and simmer about 20 mins till cooked.

Serve with just a little of the cooking liquid, and a drizzle of ponzu (citrus juice/soy sauce) on top, or ginger juice and shoyu...as you prefer.  You could slice partway through each roll to make the dish more chopstick-friendly.

Rice with Roasted Soybeans

Rice with boiled soybeans is good...but rice with "iri-daizu" (dry-fried/parched/roasted soybeans) is quicker, tastier, and free of that soapy soybean texture. Iri-daizu are to be had cheaply the day after setsubun, and also at this time of year, just before the new crop beans hit the market, but as bargain-bin beer snacks, they are never very expensive at any time of year. They make pretty good "instant" 5-flavor simmered beans too (go-moku mame).

You can double the amount of sake/soy sauce, but I prefer a lighter taste. You can also add in almost any of the usual takikomi gohan suspects, but slightly salty ingredients work best.

Takikomi Gohan with Iri-Daizu

per cup of rice:

1/2 t sake

1/2 t soy sauce

pinch salt, OR 1 t shio-konbu (salted konbu, or salted hijiki etc), OR 1-2 T semi-dried whitebait (shirasu-boshi - my favorite addition to this dish). 

Very simple - wash your rice and into the rice-cooker with it, along with your other ingredients. I add the shirasu-boshi at the end, so that they don't lose too much flavor.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Frozen Tofu Nuggets, Three Ways

There are plenty of recipes using frozen crumbled tofu out there...I wasn't that interested until I started using silken rather than cotton tofu. Cotton tofu works too though.

Frozen tofu nuggets

1 pack tofu, cotton or silk, 300g frozen and pressed, then squeezed to about 130g in weight, crumble into bowl

1/2 tsp ginger juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp kochujang or miso

1 T peanut butter

To coat: 1 T each soft flour and cornstarch/katakuriko

 Mix and squish together, make about 10 nuggets (1 T each) roll in flour mix, deepfry. 

These soft nuggets are great in meatless "subuta" (sweet and sour pork) or with a tangy sauce for lunchboxes.

 Tofu sausages

300g silk tofu frozen, pressed and squeezed to about 130 g in weight, crumbled

1 c fresh soft bread crumbs

4 T grated onion

1/2 tsp salt


1/2 t brown sugar

1 T vinegar

1 t soy sauce

1/4 tsp red pepper (more is too spicy unless you want really spicy nibbles)

Cumin & coriander


Marjoram or oregano, sage

2-3 T grated cheese optional (for the grilled crispy squares option)

 Mix together, form sausage shapes, roll in 1 T each soft flour and cornflour and deep fry.

Or, press out into squares and grill in oven toaster 10-15 mins (crunchier in thin layers).

The sugar and vinegar add more interest to the flavor, and give the herbs something to argue with.

 Pumpkin Tofu Sausage

300 g silk tofu frozen, pressed and squeezed to about 130 g in weight, crumbled

Steamed pumpkin, same weight as tofu

about 1/2 c soft breadcrumbs (depends how moist the pumpkin was)

1-2 cloves garlic (depending on size) and 1 t kalonjeera or cumin seeds, fried in 1 t oil

1/2 t salt


1 t crumbled dried sage

1/2 t brown sugar

2 t vinegar

 To deepfry:  form into sausages, roll in flour/katakuriko.

To bake: either grill on an oiled tray in an oven toaster, or roll up in greased foil or baking paper and bake in an oven toaster

The pumpkin/garlic/herb flavor is a winner. Leave out breadcrumbs if you don't need sturdiness (when stuffing vegetables, for example).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Green Grows the Shiso!

While early in summer, after the rainy season, is the best time to gather shiso leaves for drying and other preserves, it's not too late...and for coughs, including the green seed-heads makes a better brew.

For that "I think I'm coming down with..." feeling, a cup of tea made with red shiso leaves (I dry mine and keep a bag in the freezer) is warming and soothing.

Green shiso seems to be even better for the cough stage, though. This is my favorite shiso in shochu - drink in hot water for coughs, or with water and/or ice as a tipple.


1.8 liter pack of White Liquor 

Green shiso leaves and fresh seeds or flowering tops: 130 dried leaves, 200g fresh. 

150-200g rock sugar or 1c honey

70g ginger (sliced)

4 lemons – Peel, remove pith, slice over a glass or china bowl. Discard pith and pips.

Place all ingredients in a large glass jar. Boil a saucer to sterilize and use to weight down floating leaves if necessary. Remove lemon and ginger (you can also make this liqueur without them) after 1-2 months, and leave shiso leaves at least 3 months.

For coughs, sip 20 ml straight or dilute with hot or cold water, once or twice daily.


 White Liquor contains about 35% alcohol, while ordinary shouchuu contains 20-25%.

Leaves: Use around 130 leaves semi-dried (pull up plant soon after rainy season, hang in airy shade 2-3 days), or around 200g fresh leaves. Don’t chop the leaves up.

Strain through gauze, and take 20 mls daily. (Most herbal liqueurs are safe up to 4 times this amount split into 2 daily doses).