Posts Tagged ‘Japanese-American crossover food’

Amazake Oats

May 25, 2017

Amazake (甘酒 , あまざけ) or “sweet sake” is a non-alcoholic drink made from the lees left over from production of sake. An instant variety (available from Amazon) has a small white slab, about the size of the miniature candy bars given out at Halloween, and which looks and feels like a chunk of styrofoam (it even floats). You dissolve this in a mere 100ml of hot water, less than half a cup. The resulting drink looks a little bit like overly scalded milk: a thin white fluid with a little foam and a few floating fragments. The taste is very sweet, at the Irish Cream level. Just the thing for a cold New Year’s morning. MJ says the flavor is a little like cream of wheat. I think it has a faint tinge of orange. I wonder what it tastes like in oatmeal?

Setup: 1/2 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, one slab of amazake, salt. Dissolve the amazake in the broth before you add the oatmeal. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Very good. Very…Japanese. The amazake flavor comes through clearly, while the sweetness is just the thing for those who don’t like savoury oatmeal. Maybe a quarter teaspoon of maple syrup.

Rating: ****


Lobster Dashi

June 23, 2016

The other day we were in a celebratory mood. Or maybe we were depressed. In any event we needed to treat ourselves, and how better than to buy a small steak and a couple of lobster tails. The steak divided, the lobsters eaten, the only thing left were the shells — to the pressure cooker! I cooked the two shells and other detritus in two cups of water, with a sprig of marjoram, on high for 30 minutes. After the broth had cooled, I put in one two-inch slab of kombu seaweed and let it soak overnight. In the morning, I heated a cup of the dashi until it was steaming, then removed the seaweed. The broth was clearly dashi, but it was distinctly different from the standard bonito-based variety.

The first morning I added a dash of shoyu. The second morning, I added a teaspoon of chopped ginger (from a jar).



April 14, 2015

Time to use up more of that dashi. This time the secret ingredient is the stub end of a smallish daikon radish that I’d made oden with the night before.  Normally, one puts whole rounds of the daikon into a stew or soup and lets them simmer for a couple of hours, to absorb the taste.  No time for that, this is breakfast! So I just diced the daikon, dumped it into the dashi and delayed deploying the oatmeal until steaming.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, inch or so of daikon, chopped, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results:Not inedible. Not exciting. Not blended. The daikon added some crunch to the meal, but it felt like an afterthought, like seaweed sprinkled on your salad.

Rating: *****


May 15, 2014

There is a Japanese breakfast/lunch dish called tamagoyaki. Tamago (たまご) is eggs, and yaki (やき) is cooked, unless it means cool evening. But in most contexts, tamagoyaki stands for a version of scrambled eggs that involves adding soy and sugar and dashi (oh my), and cooking it in multiple thin layers that are then rolled up. Cut up into chopstick-suitable pieces, it’s a standby food for the old bento lunchbox.

I decided to try an egg-drop oatmeal version. I cooked the oatmeal in water for the usual time, then stirred in the tamagoyaki mixture (egg beaters, glug of soy, a quarter teaspoon of dashi powder, half teaspoon of sugar) at the last minute.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of water, one third cup of tamagoyaki mixture, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Drizzle the tamagoyaki into the still-cooking oatmeal, stirring all the while. Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Not bad. The salt in the tamagoyaki didn’t help the oatmeal that much, so I had to add some. Slightly too much soy sauce (easy to do). The egg didn’t thicken up as much as I thought it would, so I added my usual potato.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Dashi

March 6, 2014

More experimenting with dashi (だし, 出汁 ), the seaweed/bonito broth used in most Japanese cooking. The symbol (出汁) for dashi is a combination of two kanji: 出, which looks like two stacked mountain symbols, means to go out, or departure (I’m leaving for over the mountains), while the 汁 symbol, which looks like it’s saying “water for ten”, means soup. So, soup you eat before going out.

I noticed that while all the dashi recipes have you remove the bonito flakes, to give a clear broth, there’s lots of uses that don’t require that. Since limpid is not a word one usually associates with oatmeal, I decided to add the bonito to the oatmeal, instead of to the dashi.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of water from a quart jug in which a slab of kombu seaweed has been soaking overnight, two fat pinches of bonito flakes, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the bonito about three minutes before you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Mild-tasting, with just enough fish flavor to offset the bland. You can spice it up with a drop or two of soy sauce, but be very sparing.

Rating: *****

New Year’s Day Oatmeal

January 1, 2014

I haven’t had an oatmeal post since last year, so I thought I’d share a new one, special for New Year’s Day.

We have a new tradition in the Oataku Family — noodles for New Year’s Eve dinner. A traditional Japanese New Year’s Eve includes soba noodles — long, square edged, buckwheat noodles. Being long, they are a traditional symbol of long life, and therefore auspicious. I guess we could have had pumpkin vines and done the same thing, but, traditional.

Unfortunately for tradition and auspiciocity, MJ broke the noodles into shorter, forkable bits, so I guess we’re in for a lot of short, forkable lives. Start by chopping and browning half an onion. Then add the shattered noodles, and just enough beef broth to cover. Simmer until done, 5 or 6 minutes. Thicken with a tablespoon or so of sour cream and let cook down. Most excellent.

At dinner time, control your urge to eat the whole thing and lick the pot. Save out a quarter cup, and soak overnight in the fridge in a cup of beef broth and oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, quarter cup of soba leftovers, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: The concentrated beef/onion flavor from the dinner was spread out over a relatively large amount of oatmeal, which made it a little bland; but that might be what you want on the first morning of the New Year.  A splash of soy sauce helped.

Rating: *****

Beef Dashi Oatmeal

September 26, 2013

Dashi (だし, 出汁 ), I find, is the Japanese word for soup/broth. Any broth, not just the seaweed/bonito broth everybody thinks of when they say dashi. I wanted to make some traditional dashi, but I was out of dried bonito flakes, and don’t you just hate it when that happens? That’s OK. There’s a perfectly legal dashi made from just seaweed. I had already done that, and it was good, but I wanted more. Well, what would a Westerner substitute for tuna? Beef!! It will add the same kind of umami overtones to the seaweed, only without the fish aspect — so you lose all the omegas and fatty acids and such. On the other hand, you get — Beef!

So I opened a quart of boxed beef stock and dropped in a sheet of kombu seaweed, and left it in the fridge overnight. The combination of the dark seaweed and the dark beef stock refracted through the cylindrical plastic container made for an absolutely black and evil-looking brew.

In the morning, I pulled a cup of the beef dashi for my oatmeal, and put the rest in a pot to come to a not-quite-boil and then cool. If anything interesting ensues, I’ll let you know.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of beef dashi broth. No salt, but a teaspoon of soy sauce.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results: Interesting. The beef is a little strong for the kombu. I could taste the kombuness of it and the combination produced was interestingly complex. Next time I might cut it 50/50 with water.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Dashi

September 19, 2013

Last week I talked about making my own dashi with kombu seaweed and katsuboshi bonito flakes. This week, I was out of katsuboshi, but kombu dashi is at least as traditional as the combination.

So, I simply soaked a chunk of kombu in water overnight, brought it to a boil, and let it cool. A cup of that, a dash of soy sauce, and I was ready to go.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of kombu dashi, soy sauce.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Like the previous dish, it was very good, in a mild, understated sort of Japanese way. The oat flavor came through more. I suspect there’s things that could be done using this as a base.

Rating: *****

NB: Sorry about the double posting. My scheduling software got ahead of me. The oataku adventure that was previously here but is no longer is going to have been posted sometime late next week.

Oatmeal Dashi

September 12, 2013

Two years ago, almost to the day, I did an item on using dashi, the Japanese fish broth, in oatmeal. At the time, I didn’t have a source of ‘real’ dashi, so I used bottled dashi granules. Now I find that Huckleberry’s, our local organic store, carries the fixings — Emerald Cove Pacific Kombu, and Eden Dried Shaved Bonito Flakes (katsuobushi).

There are many recipes for making dashi out on the web. Umami Nation even did some experiments with the best way to extract flavor from the kombu. No Recipes has a recipe that’s pretty much standard. I soaked my kombu and katsuobushi, plus a handful of assorted dried mushrooms, overnight in the fridge, brought it to a slow boil, simmered for ten minutes, and strained it. The resulting dashi was a lot milder than the batch I made with the granules, two years ago, and it didn’t taste nearly as fishy. What I didn’t use in the oatmeal I used to make various soups throughout the week. After making first and second dashi, I buried the used kombu and katsuobushi in the hops bed, but I’m thinking that next time I’ll use the bonito flakes as an oatmeal extender. Most of the flavor is gone, but it might add an interesting texture.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of dashi, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good, in a mild, understated sort of Japanese way. It needed salt. I also added a measured teaspoon of soy sauce. Probably was a little too much.

Rating: *****

Oats Del La Mer 2

August 1, 2013

Herewith, my third attempt at mixing seaweed and oatmeal. The first two were surprisingly OK. The first was crumbled nori, the seaweed sheets used for sushi, and the second was a seaweed medley, various kinds, shapes, and colors.  This time it’s SeaSprinkles, nori seaweed that’s been roasted  “with olive oil, agave syrup, sesame oil, sesame seeds and sea salt”.  Instead of sheet form for sushi, these come as little clusters of black threads. The best way to describe them is that they look like you took a big handful of black plastic-coated wire ties (the kind that hold electronics accessories to their cardboard backing), dropped them into a blender, added a teaspoon of honey, and gave them five or eight good solid pulses. The consistency is similar as well. The flavor is very much seaweed, but the oils and agaves make for a sweet overtone. I took a fat, three-fingered pinch and dropped it into the beef broth before I added the oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, fat pinch of SeaSprinkles, no salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: At the high end of OK. The cooking spread the flavor out through the oatmeal, giving it a delicate edge to the bland, that was far from the seaweed-heavy tastes of the other efforts. It needed salt, so I added plain salt, not soy sauce. The texture of the seaweed bits was that typically seaweedy crunch that feels like you’re eating thin strips of rubber. Despite the off-putting description, I think tomorrow I’ll try it with home-made dashi instead of beef broth.

Rating: *****

Oats de la mer

June 7, 2012

Wandering around the Asian food section of Huckleberry’s a couple of weeks ago, I came across a package of Mixed Sea Vegetables, a collection of various seaweeds and such, packed in salt. It’s intended for salads. You rinse off the salt and toss the multicolored chunks with your regular salad fixings. Interesting flavor, and quite different from just crumbling up roasted sheets of nori seaweed. Of course, I had to try it in oatmeal.

It was my standard long-cook oatmeal, with no potato thickener. No salt, because even though it was rinsed, it still has a lot of salt flavor. Instead of water, I used seafood stock. It’s by the same people who make the chicken and beef stocks, but is harder to find.

Result: Very good, in a sea-side sort of way. The seaweed had enough different flavors that it wasn’t as dominant as the nori oats I tried makeing a while back. A couple of shakes of soy sauce helped. Not something you’d want every day, or even every week, but it makes for an interesting change.


March 30, 2012

According to the UK paper The Telegraph (reported in Fark) , one slice of toast made with seaweed is as effective as a half an hour on the treadmill, and tastes about the same. One cannot let this go unchallenged.

I don’t have any artisanal seaweed, hand harvested in the chilly waters of the Outer Hebrides, but I do have some plain old Japanese nori. Let’s switch, and see if anyone notices.

1 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup oatmeal (35grams)
1 sheet roasted nori seaweed (2grams)
splash of soy
splash of ponzu
potato flakes to thicken

I crumbled the nori sheet in my hand. There was lots of dust and fines, but I couldn’t get the big chunks much below dime size — say, twice the size of an oat grain. Came up with almost equal parts by volume of oats and seaweed. Mixed the oatmeal and seaweed dry, then added to the boiling stock.

Result: Not bad. Seaweed taste dominant, but not horribly so. Now we’ll see if I get hungry again in half an hour, or if it’s like dwarf-bread: one bite and you realize you’re not as hungry as you thought you were. Next time I might run the seaweed through the blender to see if I can powder it. I might also try rice flour instead of potato flakes to thicken, although mochi is a little sweet for this.

My hands smell odd.

NoriOats: Minnesota Roll

January 28, 2012

In response to a remark that my reader (Hi, Kurt) made last week. I thought I’d relook at the combination of oats and seaweed. I mean, what could be more natural? It’s the vegetable equivalent of surf and turf. Now, the only time I’d had seaweed in oatmeal was when I tried a miso soup powder in my breakfast oatmeal. This time, I decided to go big. Go sushi.

Sushi, of course, refers to the rice in the rolled up raw fish and rice and nori (seaweed) so beloved of foodies everywhere who have not taken any courses in invertebrate parasitology. For those who have, the baseline object is a reverse sushi, with vegetables instead of fish, and with the rice on the inside, and the nori on the outside. I speak, of course, of the ancient and revered California Roll. Well, if one can make a sushi roll out of rice and no fish, one ought to be able to make a sushi roll out of oats and no fish. Something as American as avocado but as midwestern as cheese. Behold, the Minnesota Roll:

water: 1 cup

oatmeal: 1/2 cup
(one minute variety, we want the pastyness)

potato flakes: 1 or 2 tbsp
(as needed, to firm it up)

cheese stick: 8″ worth 1/4″ strip
(standard snack stick, cheddar)

Swede: 8″ worth 1/4″ strip
(AKA rutabaga, boiled, from your stew)
(you may substitute turnip strips)

nori: one 8×8″ sheet

soy sauce: 1 or 2 tsp to taste

Boil water and soy sauce. Add oatmeal. Remove from heat, stir in potato flakes. When it looks like it’s the right consistency (a little pasty), taste it to see if it needs more soy, or other seasoning, set aside to cool.

Lay out the nori sheet on flexible plastic, or a sheet of plastic wrap. Smear the cooled oatmeal paste onto a flexible plastic sheet so that it’s in an 8×8″ square. It’s easier to do this on something other than the nori.

Flip the plastic sheet with the oatmeal over onto the nori and gently peel the sheet off of the oatmeal, leaving the oatmeal on the nori. Add the strips of cheese and rutabaga across the oatmeal like they were avocado in a California Roll.

Roll up the nori sheet, allow to rest, slice. Serve as you would California Roll sushi.

Result: Very tasty. I ate the whole thing, which ruined my dinner. Seaweed taste was dominant, just the way it is in a California Roll. Cheese flavor adds highlights, with the rutabaga the ingredient that makes one say “Hmmm”. Should go well with a slightly chilled Gewürztraminer, or a glass of Iron City beer.

Oatmeal Dashi

September 13, 2011

Dashi is a very mild fish broth, the basis of a lot of Japanese cooking. Where a westerner would naturally assume ‘beef’ if you just said ‘broth’, a Japanese would assume ‘dashi’.

There are many recipes and discussions on the best way to make dashi. It’s essentially dried tuna and seaweed, steeped in hot water, in the same way that coq-au-vin is just chicken stew.

There are different kinds of katsuobushi tuna flakes. There are different kinds of kombu seaweed, and it seems to matter how you cook it, which part of the seaweed you use, and where the seaweed came from. I’d call it terrior, but it’s under water.

This isn’t an entry on gourmet dashi, so I’ll just say that cooking instructions vary from dump everything in a pot and boil it to

Making Dashi

slice the bonito flakes micro-thin with a razor sharp knife or the edge of a freshly broken wineglass, drop into not quite boiling spring water, remove from heat and draw the kombo through it slowly from right to left.

Or, you can do what 90% of Japanese housewives do, and buy the granulated variety.

That’s a long introduction to a quick meal. One third of a cup of instant oatmeal. Two thirds of a cup of water. One teaspoon of dashi granules (to taste). Boil the water, add to the oatmeal and dashi. Microwave 20sec. Stir and let sit for five minutes.

Taste. Very good. Surprisingly good. Needs salt. The recipe for this brand of dashi granules is one teaspoon for 3-6 cups of water, depending on the intended use (3 for miso, 6 for noodle soup stock). I used about nine times the maximum density, but I think that’s necessary to stand up against the oats. This isn’t one of your delicate Japanese dishes sipped while gazing at cherry blossoms by moonlight. This is the sort of thing you eat after a whole day of unloading sacks of rice from ships.

Tried a bit of soy sauce. Not sure that wasn’t a mistake. Americans tend to use soy sauce like it was ketchup. It’s really more like Worcestershire, and then some. A few drops is enough. I know better, but what I thought was a small amount still tended to overpower the whole plate, and not let any other flavors come through. In future, I’ll have it on the side, and just slide the underside of my spoon through it.

Oatmeal Miso

June 24, 2011

OK, so the curried oatmeal didn’t work. No problem. Don’t look back. No such thing as a failed experiment, as long as it leaves a big enough crater. Still looking for something savoury that will unblandify my morning oatmeal. Like Edison, finding hundreds of things you do not want to make lightbulb filaments out of, I work my way down my list. Next up, miso.

Now, I’m not a big miso fan. It’s too salty, and too hard to get right, in a soup. Maybe my tastebuds have a nonlinear response function or something, but I find it’s very easy to overshoot, with miso. Still, it’s worth a try.

Test One
So, one teaspoon (dining teaspoon, not cooking) of Shiromiso (white miso, which looks brown), from the bag that’s been in the fridge for the last year or so. Two thirds of a cup of hot water, and stir until the miso is dissolved, or at least, melts off the spoon and spreads itself throughout the water — dissolved is probably too optimistic a term, because if you let it sit, it precipitates out. Then add one third of a cup of instant rolled oats (again, artisanal, from the bin at Yokes). Stir, pop into the microwave for 20sec, stir, 20sec, stir. Let sit for a few minutes. 20sec. Stir. Taste.

Surprisingly, not entirely bad. First taste had my buds shouting ‘what the hell was that’, but then they settled down. Still bland, but a very strong bland. Needs something else. Something that isn’t ‘more jam’. Let’s try a couple of shots of shoyu, or better yet, ponzu — which is essentially soy sauce with citrus in it. That will make it seem more breakfast-like.

Not bad at all. Could use some doctoring up, but I’ll work on that the next time I’m hungry.

Test Two
OK, I’m hungry again. This time it’s a packet of miso soup mix, so it’s miso plus flavorants plus seaweed. Same procedure as earlier.

Result…a bit too seaweedy, but no need for ponzu. I might try it again with a different brand of soup mix.