knits by sachi

Joy of slow cooking

My Edamame babies:

Quite often in magazine interviews, I am asked this question:

Where is your favourite place to knit?

It is the dining room. Our dining room is connected to the kitchen and has the largest table. I don’t have to feel isolated because I get to chat with my family when they come in for lunch or a snack. I can also keep an eye on the hob and the oven. How lucky I am to work from home! I cook and knit at the same time. We have an empty room upstairs since my older son has moved to London for his uni, but my workspace will stay right here in the dining room.

I love baking bread and biscuits. I am not a fantastic baker, but I enjoy it very much. Boys used to say they could smell bread outside the front door when they come home from school. It is a nice, homey feeling.

I also slow cook beans. I buy dried, soak them overnight and cook. They taste much better than tinned beans and give you much better value for money. You can cook a lot in one go and freeze if you like.

I am sure there are hundreds of recipes to enjoy beans, but being Japanese, my favourite is the Japanese way, Nimame.

Nimame literally means cooked beans. It is usually simmered in soy sauce and sugar and has sweet, savoury taste.

Ingredients
1 cup dried soybeans
2 1/2 cups water
1 four-inch square of Kombu if you have
2 tbsp mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Directions
1. Soak the soybeans in a large bowl of water overnight or 8 hours. The soybeans will grow four times in size.

2.Drain water. Place the beans in a large pot with water and simmer 1.5 hours until the beans are tender.

3.Place the soybeans in a medium-sized pot with measured water. Cut Kombu into small squares. Add to water. Add rest of ingredients. Place the drop-lid on top and simmer for 30 minutes.

I like adding a little more colours and flavours. I usually add dried Shiitake mushrooms and carrot.

This is home cooking and many have their own recipe. I do not like to make beans too sweet, but if you prefer, you can add some sugar.

If you cook any beans with soy sauce and mirin or sugar, it is Nimame. I cook pinto beans, black beans and sometimes chickpeas in the same way. You can add potatoes, too. So simple, but nutritious and yummy.

We eat Kuromame, Black soybeans for New Years Meal. Eating Kuromame is considered to bring you good health for the new year.

In Japanese, the word ‘Mame (beans)’ means hard working. If someone said to you ‘You are mame.’, he is saying that you are hardworking who never cuts corners. It is a compliment. Traditionally at New Year meal, people ate Kuromame and pray to be in good health so that they would be able to work hard in the fields until you are dark as Kuromame beans.

Kuromame is black soya beans and differs from the black beans we can get at our supermarkets, but I cook black beans the same way with soy sauce and mirin/sugar. It turns out softer and less glossy, but I still like it.

When I was an exchange student in Indiana, USA, my host mother often cooked us baked beans and I loved them. The recipe is different from what we have in the UK. It wasn’t sweet at all, had a smokey flavour and served with cornbread. I can make something similar, but not as good as hers. I wish I had the recipe.

We are having very cold weather with lots of snow and sleet. Staying home and cooking beans is utterly fantastic.

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Cream cheese soft cutouts

My little baking children and biscuits made with felt. You can get the patterns and instructions in my new book, Mini Felt Christmas!

The Great British Bake Off is on again! Don’t we love that show? I love it.

For those who are not too familiar with it, it is a British television competition in which a group of amateur bakers compete against each other in a series of rounds. They attempt to impress two judges and one contestant is eliminated each week.

The show has become a significant part of British culture now. It has reinvigorated interest in baking throughout the United Kingdom and many of its participants, including winners, have gone on to start a career based on the bakery.I don’t do much baking since my older son has gone to uni, but the show does make me want to do a bit of baking myself.

I have a rather frugal approach to baking. For me, it is often a way to consume ingredients we are struggling to consume. I improvise recipes or make up my own. I have to admit the outcome isn’t always perfect, however, there have been some pleasant surprises.

Like this one. I call it Cream cheese soft cutouts.

This is what I used
Ingredients
80g light cream cheese
100g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder

1. Beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer for 1 min.
2. Add egg. Add rest of the dry ingredients little by little and beat until combined.
3. Separate dough in two and wrap each dough in cling films. Chill for 1 hour.
4. Roll out the dough to 5mm thickness between two cling films. Cut out shapes.
5. Bake in the 375 C oven for 8 mins.

The ingredients do not have to be exactly the same as above. You can use salted butter and the cream cheese can be full fat. I used self-rising flour because that was what I had in the cupboard. It goes the same for the sugar. It can be all white.

If you bake just under 10 mins or until the edges are slightly brown, it is soft and moist biscuits. You can enjoy another version by simply leaving them in the oven longer until the surface is completely brown. Biscuits become more crispy on the outside, but still soft in the centre. It was another lucky discovery by accident. (I forgot to set the timer!)

I made them with my son. We loved the both versions.
My original intention was to slice the dough as icebox cookies, but unfortunately, the dough was a little too soft. If you do not want to bother using cookie cutters, you can cut into squares after the dough is rolled out.

This was to use up the cream cheese sitting in the fridge, but we may end up buying another tub to make these biscuits again!

When I was a child, very few households had an oven in Japan. Baking tools are hard to come by, too, but one day, one of my classmates brought handmade cutout cookies to school. They were heart shaped just like these. I could not believe you could make something like that at home! I cannot tell you how envious I was.

Home cooking and baking is to feed your family safe and healthy food, but I think it is also to create precious memories for your children. Because we have easy access to pretty much any kind of foods, our kids may have been deprived of surprises and excitement of discovering new tastes. My sons once said that I had much more interesting childhood than theirs.

But I hope I have created some happy memories of cooking with them, too.

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Konnyaku noodles?

Mum used to wear a head scarf like this when I was very young. I had completely forgotten about such a thing, but recently, the image just popped up in my head.

How funny, these distant memories are coming back to me.

My son is back from Uni for the summer holidays. It is so nice to have him around again. I have been cooking Japanese food every day, including his favorite ‘Niku jaga’ dish.

I learned Japanese home cooking mostly from recipe books, however, Niku jaga is one of few I learned from Mum. I still cook her way. The recipe is here.

She hardly ever used measuring spoons or cups and always went ‘about this much’ as she showed me the cooking method. She added less seasoning than you think you would need and adjust the taste at the end. That works the best.

To make Niku jaga, you can get all ingredients from local supermarket except one, Konnyaku.

Konnyaku is a mysterious food. it is made from the pounded roots of a yam-like plant called konjac. It is jelly-like and has almost no calories, no sugar, and no fat. It contains 90 per cent water. And much of the remaining 10 per cent is made up of glucomannan – a soluble fibre. We consider it a healthy food. The Japanese call it broom of the stomach because it does a great job of cleaning out your small intestines.

In recent years in western countries, it started to gain popularity as a diet aid. There are two different types of konnyaku; block or noodles. The one we see in the UK is marketed as low-calorie noodles.

I have seen it at health food shops and supermarkets but never occurred to me to use it for my Japanese cooking.I always bought konnyaku from a Chinese supermarket. I recently watched a diet special featuring these noodles and suddenly, the idea just came to me.

And it worked! The texture is similar enough and I could use this diet noodles for my cooking. My boys couldn’t tell much difference from our usual stuff. I am very pleased because we love konnyaku.

Such a easy cooking!

When you using konnyaku or kojac based ingredients, it is better to rinse it with hot water before cooking. Konnyaku has a distinct smell which isn’t too attractive, but rinsing it certainly helps and once it is been cooked, you will not smell anything at all.

I am not too sure how everyone else eats these noodles. Eat like pasta with sauce? But we know our favorite way and that is all that matters.

Last time when we visited Japan, my dad cooked ‘sukiyaki’ for us. Sukiyaki is another way to enjoy konnyaku noodles. Dad doesn’t usually cook and we had to call mum in a hospital several times, but boys said that was the best meal we had during the visit. Now she is gone and we need to manage on our own next time. I am sure we will be just fine.

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Hiyashi Chuka, Japanese summer dish

The summer in Japan is brutally hot. The temperature usually stays below your body temperature, however, the humidity is unbearable, averaging over 70 % in the hottest months. With the rainy season of June, Japan is in the subtropical climate zone. It is like to be in a permanent sauna!

Do we feel unwell because of the heat? Sure we do. We have a word, Natsubate translated as ‘summer fatigue’.

You may feel physically tired, lose your appetite and have trouble sleeping. If you feel those symptoms, it is likely that you have Natsubate.

Natsubate is the consequence of hot temperatures and humidity during summer. Air conditioning doesn’t help much. In recent times, it has been said that Natubate happens not only due to the heat but also to the overuse of air conditioning.
It is very important to take care of yourself with healthy life style and good nutrition.

I used to lose appetite during the hot months and only food I could manage was cold noodles. My favorite was and still is cold soba noodles but it is mainly carbohydrates. To add a bit more nutrients, I like this dish; Hiyashi Chuka to serve my family.

Hiyachi Chuka literally means “chilled Chinese”; however, it is a Japanese dish with chilled egg noodles and various colorful toppings. Popular toppings include strips of egg crepes, cucumber, ham, and crab sticks. Soy sauce or sesame based dressing is poured over the noodles and toppings.

In Japan, you can get fresh egg noodles suitable for this dish. I used to think it is not possible to enjoy Hiyashi Chuka without these noodles, but recently, I discovered that you can use dry noodles available from local supermarkets.

I use fine noodles like this one.

All you have to do is cook noodles according to the package instructions, drain and rinse with cold water. Drain water well and place noodles in a large bowl. Place any toppings you fancy. I like adding vegetables, too and often serve it with cooked bean sprouts, green beans, mangetout and corn kernels. Here, I also added steamed chicken breast.

For sauce: to serve one

3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp rice wine or white wine
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp white sesame seeds (roasted/toasted)
1/2 Tbsp English mustard

You can be creative and add a bit of chilli sauce, ginger, coriander etc.
It is colourful, nutritious and easy to make. The flagrant sesame oil and vinegar stimulates appetite and you will recover from Natsubate in no time.

I have this distant memory of having this noodle dish with my mum. It was at a tiny restaurant in my home town many years ago. I don’t remember what we were doing on that day, which restaurant it was or why we ended up there. It wasn’t remarkably tasty noodles either. I just remember me, my mum and Hiyashi Chuka. Now my mother has terminal illness and permanently in hospital, I sometimes think of these little things.

I heard that it would be a very hot summer this year in Japan.

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Ojiya Japanese risotto

My husband came back from Hong Kong business trip this weekend and brought back these.

Oh, not the cats. I knitted the cats.

He said there were lots of Seven Eleven convenience stores in Hong Kong and they all sell Japanese food. Interesting. We love everything Japanese.

Since my older son moved to London to attend his university, our food bill decreased considerably. It is a bit strange because he is not at all a big eater, but I have noticed that we are spending much less at supermarkets.

Also, whenever I cook rice for dinner, we get leftovers which becomes my younger sons lunch the following day. He much prefers meals with Japanese rice to sandwiches or sausage rolls. He normally fixes his own lunch every day.

Recently, he learned to cook ‘Ojiya’, Japanese risotto.

Some call it porridge with rice and technically, it may be correct because rice is not cooked from grain. However, rice looks and has similar texture to risotto and I think you can picture the dish better if I call it that way.

My son’s version is a super short cut. After all, he is a 18-year-old boy who comes home for lunch between lessons.

Properly, you will make soup base with Dashi, stock made with bonito flakes or kombu seaweed. You would cook vegetables and sometimes light meat as chicken or white fish.
The method is simple; you make miso soup and dump cooked rice into it.

Ojiya risotto, my son’s version
Cooking time: 3 mins?
Serves 1

1 instant miso soup (or left over miso soup if you have)
1 bowl of cooked rice
1 egg, beaten
Cooked meat, crab sticks, small amount of wakame seaweed, etc

1. In a small cooking pan, make miso soup according to the instructions or heat up left over miso soup.
2. Add cooked rice.

3. Cook until the rice absorbs some of the liquid and thickens. Add beaten egg.

4. Remove from heat when the egg is cooked through.
5. Sprinkle a bit of chili powder if desired.

If you could spend a bit more time, you can add all sorts of vegetables. My suggestions are sliced shiitake mushrooms, cubed or julienned carrots, cubed potatoes, mooli daikon, radish, parsnip, wakame seaweed,spinach,finely chopped spring onions.

Because the rice absorbs liquid and becomes thicker, you do not need too much rice. There is no oil, cream or cheese added but surprisingly satisfying. It is great when you are on diet.

Eating cauliflower to curve carbohydrate is popular now. I have never tried it, but may be you can substitute some of rice to cauliflower if you would like.

Mum used to cook me Ojiya when I wasn’t feeling well. It is easy to digest and gentle for your body, but at the same time, very nutritious. I am glad that my son has developed the taste for this dish.

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Tamagoyaki

This is another casual sushi I make at home; sushi with tamago, egg omelette.

I often make them with Inari zushi. They are both savory sweet and my son’s favorites. I made them for his birthday three weeks ago but again this week, to celebrate his success in driving theory test. I know it is only a half way, so it is a petit celebration.

When I serve these egg sushi to my non-Japanese friends, I often get nice compliments. They are not at all exotic, however, my friends all say that they have never had omelette served in this way.

The omelette is called Tamagoyaki which is made by rolling together several layers of cooked egg. These usually are prepared in a rectangular omelette pan.

There are several types of tamagoyaki. It is made by combining eggs, sugar, salt or soy sauce. Additionally, sake and mirin are used in some recipes. If you add Dashi, stock made from bonito flakes, it is called Dashimaki. Dashimaki is moister because of the extra liquid, and so it has a softer texture. The egg flavor is also a little milder.

Tamagoyaki is often served in the form of nigiri sushi, and also appears in many types of sushi rolls. In Japan, it is also served as a breakfast dish and in Bento box. It is children’s favorite, and we always serve it for New Years day.

This is what Mum made for this year’s celebration.

Tamagoyaki
Ingredients
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp soy sauce or 1/2 tsp salt.
1 tsp mirin, sake or white wine

If you do not want to darken the omelette at all, it is better to use plain salt. Alcohol will evaporate, but if children get put off by the smell of Sake, choose mirin or omit wine all together.

What you will need:
Frying pan (non-stick frying pan is easier to use)
spatula
paper towel

In Japan, you can get a square frying pan for Tamagoyaki, but I do not have one. I use common round frying pan.

Method
1. Heat the pan over medium heat and oil the pan. Wait until the pan is hot. You can test with a drop of egg mixture. If it sizzles, pour a thin layer of egg mixture in the pan, tilting to cover the bottom of the pan.

2. After the bottom of the egg has set but still soft on top, start rolling into a log shape from one side to the other.

3.Move the rolled omelette to the side where you started to roll, and apply a drop of oil to the pan. Pour the egg mixture to cover the bottom of the pan again.


4.When the new layer of egg has set and still soft on top, start rolling from one side to the other.

5. Repeat this process until the mixture is all used.

Remove from the pan and wrap it with a paper towel. Shape the egg when it is still hot. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

There is another version of Tamagoyaki with Dashi stock added. It is called Dashi-maki. Dashi is stock comes from bonito flakes (kombu seaweed stock if you are vegetarian).Dashi-maki has more flavour, however, it is a bit more difficult to roll because of the extra liquid. It is best to practice without Dashi until you get the hang of the rolling technique.
If you would like to try, add 1 tbsp of rice wine and 3 tbsp of Dashi stock to egg mixture.

When my boys were young, parents were always asked to blow eggs before Easter. Children would take egg shells to school to paint and decorate them. Each child needed to bring three egg shells so that I needed to blow six eggs! I ended up feeling light headed and dizzy in the end. It is amazing that the whole egg content comes out from such a tiny hole.

With six eggs, I always made, you guessed right, Tamagoyaki.

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A little about Sake

When I go to Japan, I enjoy Japanese Sake rice wine.
I don’t drink much, but I truly love Sake. Its smell and the taste, how it is served, the occasions associated with, I just love everything about it.

As a child, I thought my dad was strict and a bit scary. I always felt distance between us, but when he had a few Sake on a New Year’s Day, he became talkative and looked truly happy. I loved to see my dad happy.

Being Japanese, I grew up with Sake just like French grow up with wine. I sniffed it and even had a drop or two before I reached to the drinking age. I also loved Sake kasu or Sake lees, the by-product of Sake rice wine.

Sake kasu is what is left after the sake has been pressed out of the mash. It is used in home cooking in many ways to create wonderfully complex flavored dishes. It is used as a pickling agent, to stew fish and vegetables, to make Amazake which is a traditional sweet, low- or non-alcohol drink. Many traditional Japanese confection and snack companies use a lot of kasu to flavor some of their products. You can find ice cream, chocolate, sweets, cakes and bread flavored with Sake kasu these days.

This is one of them: Sake KitKat.

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When you open the package inside the box, you can smell the familiar smell of Sake. The alcohol content is less than 1% so that anyone can enjoy it.

I like this sweets: Amazake chews. This has somewhat stronger taste of Sake than KitKat but has no alcohol.

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Sake Kasu comes in either hand pressed cheese like texture or mechanically pressed firm sheets.
My mum and I used to enjoy cooking Sake kasu sheets on top of a stove. After roasting, we dip it into sugar and eat it. I was still a teenager then, but Mum allowed me to have some secretly.

Sake kasu sheets contains 8% alcohol, so that you will get drunk if you have too much of it.

Doing something naughty with Mum without telling Dad was a lot of fun! I don’t think I really liked the taste and my pieces had more sugar than Sake kasu itself, but I remember loving the smell of Sake.

During the recent stay in Japan, my older son seemed to start developing the taste for Sake. We tried several different kinds and brands together, hot and cold in small quantities. What I love about Sake is that you can enjoy it at different temperatures. I like it warm.

Sake contains ‘Umami’ which became enhanced when it is heated. It is the same kind of Umami in shell fish as clams. Try steaming clams or mussels with Sake. It is a perfect match.

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I like Sake warm because you can really appreciate the aroma before you take a sip. It is also a safe way to drink alcohol since it is absorbed into your body the same pace as you drink it.

To heat Sake, we use porcelain bottle called ‘Tokkuri’. Tokkuri refers to the shape narrowing at the top.
We use the same word for turtleneck. Tokkuri jumper means a jumper with turtleneck.

My Tokkuri is this one my mum bought for me before I got married. It is nicely hand crafted.

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It is certainly another fun element of being a Sake drinker. You can visit shops and craft fairs to look for a Tokkuri and cups for your Sake.

Dad gave my son a set before we left. My son was very happy to receive his first Tokkuri. He will treasure it.

I have this small bottle of Sake in my cupboard now. You can find Sake at Japanese food shop as Japan Centre in London. You can also buy online. I love the cool looking bottle as well as its content.

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I am very interested this one: Sachi

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And this one: Sachi hime (literally meaning Princess Sachi!!)

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Nothing can be any better than this.

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Omurice

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I did not knit these thinking of the Valentine’s day, but when I made the second mouse, I thought the couple was perfect for today.

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They look cute together.

We don’t do much to celebrate the occasion, but I may be cooking this dish tonight, Omurice. I saw this photo online and it inspired me.

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Omurice is Japanese home style dish consisting of an omelette made with ketchup flavoured fried rice. It is a Western-influenced Japanese food which is developed in early 1900. You may find it a bit odd to use ketchup for cooking, but we often do in our country. Omurice is one of the most popular dish among children and for some reason, grown-up men, too.

My husband and my boys are not exception. My son in London called me up the other day asked for the recipe.
What is great about it is that my younger son eats all minced veggies in the rice without complaining. You can use up left-over rice, a bit of cooked or uncooked meat. You do not need any exotic ingredients. It is versatile and wallet friendly.

Recipe for one
Ingredients
1/4 medium onion
small amounts of chopped bell pepper, carrot
40g chopped chicken meat
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 bowl of Japanese rice
1 Tbsp. ketchup and more for decoration

For 1 omelette
1 large egg
pinch salt, sugar and pepper

1.Chop the onion finely.
2.Cut the chicken into ½” (1 cm) pieces.
3.Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and sauté the onion until softened.
4,Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.
5.Add the mixed vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
6.Add the rice and stir fry.
7.Add seasoning and ketchup.
Set aside.

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Make a thin egg pancake in another pan, place cooked rice on top and roll the rice with the pancake. I used a square pan but you may find it easy to use a round frying pan.

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If you cannot roll too well, don’t worry. Take a sheet of paper towel and shape.

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Many put more ketchup on top to garnish.

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If you want to cut down on sugar and salt, you can use tomato paste to cook rice instead of ketchup. Some like to top with Demi-glace sauce or curry sauce. There are plenty of room to improvise and make your very own Omurice.

I have also found these cute ones.

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Kids will love these.

I am very curious how my son’s Omurice turned out. He said it went well. He has to take a photo and send it to me next time.

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Sweet and sour pork/chicken

Harvest time

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For this dish, I received a full mark. My family said it was ‘outstanding’ and I don’t get that everyday.
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It comes from my own Subuta, sweet and sour pork recipe, using chicken instead of pork.
Sweet and Sour Pork is a popular Chinese recipe and is very common in Japan. I believe it is also very popular in North America.

There are many different versions of this dish and I find majority are a little too sweet. Quite often the sauce include ketchup and ingredients pineapple. My family does not tolerate fruits in savory dishes and prefer the sauce without too much sugar.

Here is our Sweet and Sour Pork recipe. You can get all ingredients very easily from a local supermarket.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
200-250g pork or chicken, cut into roughly 1cm thick, 2x3cm pieces
a few tablespoons cornstarch
1 large onion, cut into bite sizes
1 carrot, sliced
1 large green bell pepper, sliced

You can add any vegetable of your choice, green beans, mangetout, baby corn, mushrooms, bamboo shoots etc.

Sauce Ingredients:
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tsp soy sauce
2 Tsp rice wine
150 cc cup chicken broth or water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place all sauce ingredients in a cup and stir. Set aside until the end.
2. Coat sliced pork or chicken with cornstarch. Shallow-fry until browned and crisp on the outside. Remove from the pan and drain excess oil.

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3. In a wok or large frying pan, heat a little oil and stir-fry the vegetables.
4. Give the cup of sauce ingredients another stir, then add it to the vegetables, continue stirring over medium heat until the sauce thickens.

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5. Add the cooked pork/chicken and stir to combine.

Some recipe tell you to add cornstarch to the sauce ingredients, but since the meat is cooked with cornstarch, I found it unnecessary.

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Sweet and sour flavour is universally popular. We all find the good balance of sweet, sour, salty and spiciness tasty. When I first arrived to the UK, I was very surprised to see people pouring generous amount of vinegar over chips. It is very English, I think. I didn’t see that in the States.

If you are in a hurry or want less calories in Subuta, you can cook the meat in the Wok, add vegetables and sauce. For this method, one tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in the same amount of water should be added at the end.

Stir fry is so easy and quick. You can include lots of vegetables without much effort. It is perfect for busy people like us.

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Japanese comfort food, Oden

It is getting chilly every day and in the cold weather, we think of comfort food.

comfort food
noun
food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically having a high sugar or carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.

Yes, that is right, it tends to be calorific, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can name a few Japanese comfort food; Miso soup, Okonomi-yaki, noodles and Onigiri rice balls. Many Japanese comfort foods are quite healthy. There are sweets as redbean soup and roasted sweet potatoes.

For me, the ultimate comfort food is this; Oden.

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Oden is a Japanese winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon raddish, potatoes, konnyaku yam cake, and fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth. Ingredients vary according to region and between each household. Mustard is often used as a condiment.

Oden is often sold from food carts, and most Japanese convenience stores have simmering oden pots in winter. I often cook it at home.

The cooking method is super easy. You can cook it in advance, which is convenient for some occasions.

Ingredients serves 4
For broth

1200cc water
1-2 strips (4cm x 10cm) Kombu sheets
1tsp Dashi granules if you have
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp Mirin sweet wine

Oden
4 hard boiled eggs
4-6 medium sized potatoes
6 fish balls
Mooli daikon raddish

I cannot get a variety of ingredients for the pot like I used to in Japan, but I manage with whatever available in supermarkets and Asian food shops. It is a bit unconventional, but sometimes I add carrot,shallots, mini sausages and meatballs. In Japan, we cook fried bean curd, yam cakes, octopus, beef tendons etc.

You can be creative and cook pretty much anything you fancy, but the crucial ingredients are Daikon raddish and konbu sheets which give the broth distinctive flavour.

Cooking method
1. Prepare broth.
2. Slice daikon into 1 inch pieces and remove the skin.
3.Remove the corners so that there are no sharp edges. This will prevent daikon from breaking into pieces. I also make cross incisions on both sides so that flavour penetrates.

If you prepare rice to serve with Oden, preserve the white water from cleaning rice. Put daikon and the white water in another pot and cook, uncovered, until a skewer goes through. It is believed that the rice water gets rid of bitterness from daikon.

4. Peel potatoes and place them in the broth. Start heating the pot.
5. Add boiled eggs, daikon raddish, fish cakes and other ingredients you are using. Cover and cook 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave it for 2-3 hours.

When I don’t have fish cakes, I use crab sticks. Add them just before you serve since they get too soft and fall apart if you cook them too long.

This is our version.
I know we don’t get much selection, but daikon cooked in this way tastes utterly fantastic and the broth has deep Umami from kombu sheets. I always keep the left over broth and make vegetable soup or miso soup the following day.

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Oden can be prepared a day before so that all the ingredients absorb Oden broth. It actually tastes much better the following day.

Cover and re-heat when you are ready to serve. Oden is often served with Karashi (hot mustard).

Here is my little knitted chef. Happy cooking!
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