Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Gyoza with Nira and Cabbage

This is how I make mine. It’s easily enough for 60 small to medium sized gyoza.  
Gyoza wrappers. Allow 10-12 per person, more for teenagers. Freeze any left over filling, or make tiny meatballs and drop into simmering water for a quick Korean style soup with wakame and negi, sesame seeds.  

What You Need
 300 g ground pork
 2 bunches (roughly 300g) nira /garlic chives, finely chopped 
 2-300 g mild leaf vegetables such as cabbage, chingensai, hakusai, komatsuna, or 1 bag beansprouts. Chop finely. 
1 negi or Japanese dividing onion, finely minced 
1-3 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 finger of ginger, finely grated 
 1 T sake 
 1 T vinegar 
 1 tsp sugar
 1 t soy sauce or Thai fish sauce, or 1 T miso 
Black pepper 
 1 T katakuriko or arrowroot/cornflour etc. 
 Oil for frying, 
toasted sesame oil (goma-abura) to finish. 
 “Umami” ingredients such as finely chopped prawns, 3 soaked and minced dried shiitake…recently I don’t include these as I think they simply make the flavor too bland without adding much of their own flavor.
 ½-1 tsp salt, 
1 tsp sesame oil for nira (Use less salt if you used fish sauce in the gyoza, as it’s very salty) 

How to Do It 
Mix ginger, garlic, sake, sugar, vinegar, and pepper into meat and mix very well (at least 100 turns) with hands until pasty. Set aside. 

Mix finely chopped mild vegetables with no more than ½ tsp salt or 1 tsp soy sauce and rub in, leave to shed some water. Mix sesame oil and salt with finely chopped nira, rub in till slimy, drop on top of meat mixture without squeezing. Squeeze salted milder vegetables lightly, and drop on top of meat mixture. Mix vegetables into meat very thoroughly. 

Freeze any filling you are not planning on using. Depending on how much is left, mix in 1 t to 1 T katakuriko. This prevents weeping, and also makes for a juicy, tender texture.  

Forming Gyoza 
Get a small teaspoon, a cup with some water and 1 t cornflour in it, and the wrappers. Dust a board liberally with katakuriko. Have another board or large plate ready if you plan to take gyoza to the table to cook on a hotplate. If you are making a huge number, separate each layer of finished gyoza with a layer of plastic wrap dusted with cornflour.  
 Dip a finger in water and wet the rim of a gyoza wrapper. 
Dump 1 small t of filling in the middle, spreading it into a longish heap. 

You can find a video demo on youtube or use a gyoza press, but it’s amazing how fast you can make them with a little practice.

Bring sides close together, with the gyoza resting between thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand (Make a "C" and have the gyoza resting in the gap). 

Use the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand to squeeze the edges together, and then push the fold in toward the center of the gyoza, so that the unclosed edges form pleats to either side. 
Move your dominant thumb and forefinger down out of the way and squeeze the pleats together to close, repeat so that each gyoza has 3-5 pleats. 
With the gyoza still resting between thumb and forefinger, push the belly of your thumb against it to form the whole thing into a slightly crescent shape, and place on the floured board.

 It is slightly easier to form gyoza with the pleats just on one side.  

Fry Them Up I recommend a smallish, heavy NON-Teflon frypan, as the nonstick pans tend to be very thin. If you have a burnplate that you can put under a Teflon frypan, so much the better. 

Heat frypan till a drop of water skitters, then add a bit of oil, and quickly pop in two rows of say 5 gyoza. Cook on medium or a little less until the bottom of a gyoza looks golden brown when you pick one up. 

Sprinkle a little sesame oil over the gyoza. Run a fry-slice under the gyoza to loosen them, and then pour over a little water and IMMEDIATELY slam a lid on. Cook for about 3 minutes. 

If you use the water from your cup of  cornflour/water, it may help form a lacy, crispy mat. Or it may make the gyoza stick to the pan badly, so try this trick when you have made gyoza a few times.

When a peek shows that the gyoza wrappers are looking slightly translucent, turn the heat up high but not scorching hot, to drive off moisture and crisp the bottoms. 

Remove to a plate, serve, and start again. I usually have two frypans on the go at once.
 Serve with a nice quality vinegar (I like black vinegar), soy sauce, and optional chili oil. Children may prefer mayonnaise with their vinegar and soy sauce. 

Chili oil (ra-yu) is not at all hard to make and keeps for ever. But that's another post.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sauce for Yakitori

This post is really more about the sauce than the yakitori.
Get as much chicken breast or boned chicken thigh as everybody is likely to eat.
Japanese naganegi (like a round leek) if available.
Cut meat into cubes a bit bigger than 1/2” and thread onto skewers, alternating with chunks of leek on some skewers. Leave enough room to hold the end of the skewer.
Grill, preferably over charcoal, and when a little charring is evident, pick up several skewers at a time and dip into the sauce below, allow excess to drip off a little and return to grill. Repeat until done.
Some skewers should be grilled just with salt, without sauce.

Tare or Sauce There are easier ways to make tare, but this is particularly tasty, and has a good consistency without being floury.
trimmings from chicken
ml mirin
ml soy sauce
2 spring onions, or green half of negi or dividing onion
chili pod
garlic clove
g demerara or raw sugar

Chicken trimmings - ideally about 4 wingtips, but any chicken part with plenty of skin, cartilege, and bone, but not much fat, is perfect.
Grill chicken trimmings and onion until some browning shows.
Bring mirin, soy sauce, garlic, and dried chili to the boil.
Stir in sugar.
Add chicken and onion.
Simmer for around 30 minutes - a larger batch will take around 2 hours to achieve a slightly gelatinous syrupy texture and plenty of chicken flavor.

Cool and store in a narrow glass jar - ready for dipping skewers of grilled chicken in.
Boil up "tare" after every use, and strain and add remaining tare to any new batch that you make up.

Chicken Simmered in Vinegar & Soy

I think this may be based on a Filipino adobo. Serves 4 as a main or about 10-20 as an appetizer/bento dish. This is good warm, but also great cold - the lack of oil means that it is not greasy, and the vinegar cooks to a slight but uncloying sweetness.

1-2 dried chilis
Several slices ginger
Bayleaf or two.
1 star anise if you want a more Chinese flavor.
1-3 cloves of garlic
2 T Chinese shaohsing rice wine or Japanese sake
1/3 c soy sauce
1/2 c rice vinegar or mild vinegar
1 kg chicken wings, wingsticks, or drumlets

Douse chicken in boiling water and drain.
Lay neatly in pan in a single layer.
Pour over about vinegar, soy sauce, Chinese wine or sake, and a few spoonsful of water so that liquid comes at least halfway up chicken pieces.
Sprinkle liberally with paprika (improves color, omit if you don't have any).
Add garlic cloves.
Add several slices of fresh ginger.
Add spices.
Use a drop-lid or cover roughly with silicon paper, and simmer for 1-2 hours (good crockpot dish if you are willing to move to a pan and reduce the liquid for about 30 minutes at the end, and works well in a pressure cooker too).

Kentaro's Taco Rice

This is a plate dinner to serve up to 4 (if they aren't teenagers)...a kind of flat donburi, where the rice is topped with shredded lettuce and taco fixings.

Cook enough rice for 4, and shred a pile of lettuce leaves, 4-5 leaves depending on size.

Cube one big tomato and an avocado.
Squeeze lemon or lime juice over the avocado. I like lots of lemon or lime juice over the finished dish too, especially in hot weather.

1 bag plain tostitos or nachos chips

3/4 c grated cheese

Wet seasoning mix:1.5 T tomato ketchp
2 T worcestershire sauce (Japanese - use less if using western Worcestershire sauce)
1 T sake
1 scant T red pepper, to taste
1 t soy sauce
0.5 t curry powder or ground cumin

Dry seasonings:2 pinches salt
black pepper, ground

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 T oil
300 g ground meat (pork or beef)

Heat up a frypan, and hold your hand about 10 cm over it. When you can feel the heat but it’s not too hot, add the oil to the pan. Fry the garlic. If it’s too hot, take the pan off the heat and stir it quickly, because garlic burns very easily.

When the garlic smells good and looks golden, add meat, salt, pepper. Stir-fry it.

When the meat is mostly brown, add the wet seasoning mix and stir it in. Cook just a bit more, until there is no raw meat, and taste a bit to see if it needs more salt.
Don’t forget that the cheese and tacos are salty.

Serve the rice onto dishes. Scatter lettuce over the rice, then add a dollop of met. Top with tomatoes and avocado, another squeeze of lemon or lime if liked, and sprinkle with cheese and crumbled tostitos. Grind more pepper over if you want.