knits by sachi

Japanese Potato Salad

It seems that I have been cooking many dishes without knowing they are Japanese.
For example, this potato salad.

When I prepared it for my English friends one day for lunch, they said they never had anything like it before. It is very Japanese, they all said.

How can it be? I thought. It is cooked potatoes with mayonnaise.
We do add vegetables and proteins and this may be unique to our potato salad. There are many variations and each family has their own recipe. Mum always made with ham, boiled egg and sliced cucumber.

I had also used Japanese mayonnaise.

Japanese mayonnaise tastes a little different. Just like there are Hellmann’s and Heinz in the UK, we have Kewpie and Ajinomoto as major brands in Japan. They have been around since mid 1920’s.

Japanese mayonnaise uses soy-based vegetable oil and many of the same ingredients as US/UK ones, however, they don’t add water and uses apple or rice vinegar rather than distilled vinegar. It contains egg yolks rather than whole eggs.Using egg yolks and apple or rice vinegar and eliminating water gives Japanese mayonnaise a thicker texture than American mayonnaise and it is rich. My friends said it was more vinegary and resembled salad cream rather than mayonnaise.
I really missed it when I was an exchange student in America.

How to make Japanese potato salad

2 large potatoes
2 eggs, boiled

2-inch English cucumbers
1/2 tsp salt
2 slices ham
*2-3 tbspJapanese mayonnaise
1-2 tsp English mustard or whole grain mustard

Freshly ground black pepper or white pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions
1. Cook potatoes. You can boil, bake or microwave.
Conventional way is peel potato and boil in a pot. Cook until a skewer goes through. Drain water and put the pot back on the hob.
On the stove, evaporate water and moisture of the potatoes over medium-high heat about 45 seconds or so. When the potatoes are nice and fluffy, remove from heat.

Mash the potatoes roughly to leave some small chunks for texture. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.

The cucumbers we get in Japan are much thinner and cruncher with less water so that we can simply slice them. I either de-seed or use outer flesh of English cucumber. Slice thinly and sprinkle 1/4 tsp of salt. Leave it for 15 minutes, then, rinse. Squeeze firmly to get rid of excess moisture.

Dice the sliced ham. I use good quality ham with no added water.

Mash up boiled eggs.

When potatoes are cooled, add ham, cucumber and eggs to potatoes.
Add salt, pepper, mayonnaise and mustard mix until incorporated.

If you do not have Japanese mayonnaise?

Although we like Japanese mayonnaise and it is possible to get them at a Chinese supermarket, they are rather pricey. I often use English salad cream or mayonnaise with a teaspoon of vinegar.

I prefer to go easy on mayo and season with salt, pepper and mustard.

There are lots of room for improvisation for this recipe. My auntie used to make it with sliced, quartered and boiled carrot and thinly sliced fresh onion. My friend once made it with tinned tuna and whole grain mustard. My elementary school used to serve it with sliced apple.

You can use wasabi instead of mustard or add a bit of Miso for saltiness. It is fun to experiment.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of potatoes in the UK. You can have a go at this salad if you get bored with your usual baked potatoes or chips.

My new knitting project this week?

I am already writing for winter issues.

2 Comments »

More Easter knits

I found this bottle at our wine shop in town.

It had come from Ibaragi prefecture in Japan. It must be an ale brewed by a small local brewery that uses locally sourced ingredients and water. I felt like I found my old friend. It has such a cute label and I thought I must have it.

I am not a beer drinker. I find all beers too bitter for me. Only recently, I learned the difference between ale and lager.
I tasted a little. The ale had fruity, tangerine like aroma (or should I call it bouquet?) and was very tasty. Yes, it was bitter and my husband happily finished it all, but it was good.

The one I bought is called ‘White ale’ and the shop had another kind, ‘Red rice ale’. That sounds even more interesting. I want to try it next time.

The brewer has an online shop; Hitachino Nest Beer

Oh, I was going to share the pattern of these two little guys here today.

Little chicken and chick

Abbreviations
Stst: stocking stitch
St: stitch
K: knit
P: purl
Kfb: k one through the front then through the back (same stitch)
K2tog: knit two together
P2tog: purl two together
Skpo: slip1, knit1, pass slipped stitch over

Special technique: i-cord
Using double-pointed needles cast on the required number of stitches. Do not turn. Slide stitches to the opposite end of the needle, then knit stitches again taking the yarn firmly across the back of work. Repeat to desired length. Cast off.

Chicken
Materials
• 3g white DK
• Small amounts of brown, dark brown DK (8-ply)
• Small amounts of 4-ply (fingering) red and yellow
• Stuffing

Needles
A pair of 2.75mm-3.00mm (US 2) Double pointed knitting needles (DPN)*It is to make i-cords, but there is an
alternative

Body
With white, cast on 9 sts.
Row 1 (WS): p
Row 2: (kfb) in each st to end. 18 sts
Row 3: p
Row 4: (k1, kfb) to end. 27 sts
Rows 5-11: Beg with a p row, work in Stst.
Row 12: (k1, k2tog) to end. 18 sts
Rows 13-17: Beg with a p row, work in Stst.
Row 18: (k2tog) to end. 9 sts
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Wings: make two
With white, cast on 8 sts.
Rows 1-3: Beg with a p row, work in Stst.
Row 4: k2tog, (k1, k2tog) to end. 5 sts
Row 5: p
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Feet: make two
With brown, cast on 5 sts.
Ro w1: cast off 4 sts p wise. 1 st
Row 2: cast on 4 sts, cast off these sts p wise. 1 st
Row 3: cast on 4 sts, cast off to end.

Legs: make two
With brown, cast on 2 sts and work 4 rows in i-cord. Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.
Alternatively, if you do not have DPNs, cast on 4 sts, cast off these sts p wise.

Wattle: make two
With 4-ply red, cast on 3 sts
Row 1: p1, p2tog.2 sts
Row 2: k2tog and fasten off.

Comb: make three
Work as Wattle

Beak
With 4-ply yellow, cast on 4 sts.
Row 1: (p2tog) twice. 2 sts
Row 2: k2tog and fasten off.

To make up
With fasten-off yarn end, sew body and stuff. Seam wings and attach them to body. Connect three claws of feet at one end neatly and attach them to leg. Attach legs to body. Attach wattle, beak and comb pieces to head. With dark brown, French knot eyes.

Chick
Materials
• Small amount of soft yellow, brown DK
• Small amounts of 4-ply dark brown and yellow
• Stuffing

Body
With soft yellow, cast on 7 sts.
Row 1 (WS): p
Row 2: (kfb) in each st to end. 14 sts
Row 3: p
Row 4: (k1, kfb) to end. 21 sts
Rows 5-7: Beg with a p row, work in Stst.
Row 8: (k1, k2tog) to end. 14 sts
Rows 9-11: Beg with a p row, work in Stst.
Row 12: (k2tog) to end. 7 sts
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Wings: make two
With soft yellow, cast on 6 sts.
Rows 1-2: Beg with a p row, work in Stst.
Row 3: (p2tog) to end. 3 sts
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Beak
As given for Chicken

To make up
Sew body seam and stuff. Seam wings and attach them to body. Attach beak. With 4-ply dark brown, French not eyes. For a leg, cut brown DK yarn to about 8cm and make a knot on one end. Make another knot on top of first knot to ensure knot will not be undone. Thread yarn and pierce front base of body, leaving knot and about 1cm yarn for leg. Hide yarn end in body. Repeat for other leg.

When you are knitting toys, it is a good idea to make it a habit of keeping fairy long end at cast-on and fasten-off ends for sewing. Also, seam with the right side out. Your finish will be neater.

Easter is almost here but this is a super quick project. You can make it in no time.

Happy Easter!

This was in Woman’s Weekly last week. I didn’t know it was out and even I missed it. I will try to find out how to get the pattern from editor.

Sir Elton John was on the cover.

Leave a comment »

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.

2 Comments »

Little Easter Bunnies

I haven’t done this for so long and I am feeling guilty. I should share more of my patterns online, yes, for free!

I do not at all mind doing this. Ideas come up one after another and I have so much I haven’t published. However, it takes a bit of time and care to write patterns. I also do not want to publish anything without getting pattern checked by a tech editor. I make stitch and row count errors, forget writing some body parts and my making up instructions aren’t clear enough sometimes.

But these bunnies have very short patterns and I felt I could manage without help. So here we go.

Littel Easter Bunnies
Size: 6cm
Materials
• 3g white/pink DK
• Small amount of Felted tweed DK
• Small amount of 4-ply dark brown
• Stuffing

Needles: 3mm

Abbreviations
Stst: stocking stitch
St: stitch
K: knit
P: purl
Kfb: k one through the front then through the back (same stitch)
K2tog: knit two together
P2tog: purl two together
Skpo: slip1, knit1, pass slipped stitch over
WS: wrong side

Body
Cast on 8 sts with white/pink.
Row1 (WS): Purl.
Row2: Kfb in each st. 16 sts
Row3: Purl.
Row4: (K1, kfb) to end. 24 sts
Rows5-16: Starting with a p row, work in Stst.
Row17: (p2, p2tog) to end. 18 sts
Rows18-20: Starting witha k row, work in Stst.
Row21: P2tog, (p2, p2tog) to end. 13 sts
Rows22-25: Starting with a k row, work in Stst.
Row26: k1, (k2tog, k1) to end. 9 sts
Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

Ears: make two
With felted tweed, cast on 4 sts.
Rows1-4: Stst, starting with a p row.
Row5: p1, p2tog, p1. 3 sts
Row6: Knit
Row7: P1, p2tog, pass the first st over the second and fasten off.

Tail
With felted tweed, cast on 10 sts, p 1 row. Break yarn, draw through sts, pull tightly and fasten off.

To make up
Seam body and stuff. Attach cast-on edge of ears to head. With dark brown DK yarn, French knot eyes. Take two strands from dark DK yarn, embroider mouth and nose with backstitches.

This is such a easy quick knit. You can surely make a pair by Easter.

I got the idea for the design from Japanese sweets, Wagashi.

Wa-gashi are traditional Japanese confections that are often served with tea. They are commonly made of mochi rice cake, sweetened azuki bean paste, fruits and vegetables. Wagashi are typically made from plant ingredients. I am not too keen on butter, cream, sugar sort of sweets, but I absolutely love Japanese sweets. They are ever so dainty and pretty.

We all like small cute things. I hope you will enjoy my little bunnies.

2 Comments »

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.

Leave a comment »

Amezaiku, Japanese candy craft

My sugar bunny for Easter;

I had heard of this craft, Amezaiku, but I had never seen it made in person. During the last trip to Japan, we had an opportunity to watch this amazing work or art.

Amezaiku is a Japanese candy craft. An artist creates a scultpture, using their hands and other tools such as tweezers and scissors. Some are painted with edible dyes.

Animals and insects are common shapes created to appeal to children. Intricate designs are created with expert speed.

This is a very old art created over 1000 years ago. It originates in temples in Kyoto as offerings. The art spread beyond temple in 17-18 th centry and flourished as street performance.

The candy base is prepared beforehand with a starchy syrup. The mixture is kneaded and pulled by hand, and formed into a large ball to be stored until ready to use. At the stall, the candy ball is heated to make it pliable again.

The artist has to pinch up the hot candy mass and quickly roll and mounted on a stick. Our artist used white candy and knead a drop of food colouring. He then pulled, twisted and clipped into form an animal. Speed is essential to the art since the sculpture must be completed before the candy cools and hardens again.

My friend kindly bought my boys one each, my older son chose an elephant, my younger one, a rabbit.
I recorded a video, but the artist did not want it to be shared, so that I will post something similar just to give you the idea.

We were told that the Amezaiku would keep a month without melting. It has been over three months, but the rabbit still looks nice. I do not know what happened to the elephant since my older son took it with him. May be, it has been eaten.

This rabbit is just too precious to eat.

My friend also gave us these sweets. They are for celebrating arrival of New Year with the Chinese zodiac animal motif. This year is the year of rooster.

Rabbit and chicken? Aren’t they perfect for Easter?

Talking about Easter, I have some knitting patterns coming up for this season, and one of them is this; Chicken and chicks in Knit Now magazine.

I have another Easter project coming up in the following issue, too.

Days are getting longer and we are having more sunny days. We have a summer to look forward to. It is utterly fantastic.

2 Comments »

Cooking with seaweed

One of my friends called me the other day and asked how she could cook Kombu seaweed. I often get these questions relating to Japanese food ingredients.

She said she tried boiling but it turned out like a huge sheet of rubber. She is a foodie and a health nut and knows all the health benefits from eating sea vegetables, however, she does not quite know how to cook them.

We eat seaweed or sea vegetables very often in Japan. You can get them fresh, but dried seaweed may be more popular. It keeps very long in your larder and is very convenient.

Unfortunately, you cannot get too many varieties in the UK, but you can get wakame and Kombu from local supermarkets.

Wakame may be more familiar, but Kombu is not too well known. It usually comes as a hard dried sheet and looks quite inedible. When it is rehydrated, it becomes like a rubber and again, it looks inedible, so what do we do with it?

It is often used to make stock. It is used to make a light broth for Asian soups like miso, noodle soup, and tofu soup. To make one quart of broth, fill a pot with 4 cups of water and a 20cm strip of kombu.

As I wrote in a post in the past, I use Kombu to make the broth for Oden. I also use for miso soup, Udon noodle soup. Kombu is packed with Umami, or savory taste and it gives depth to the flavour of your dish. Should you through away after you make the stock? No, of course not. You can cut them into smaller strips and cook with bit of soy sauce, mirin sweet wine until the liquid is all gone. It is called Tsukudani and often eaten with steamed rice.

I also use Kombu to make this dish: Gomoku soy beans.

It is stewed soy beans with quite often, root vegetables. Simple cooking with not a lot of ingredients, but it is nutty and delicious and nice for a snack as well. Gomoku means a few things mixed. ‘Go’ is the number five, but you can have more than five thing when you use the word.

I make quite a lot in one go since it takes some time to cook soy beans. We used to be able to buy cooked soy beans in a tin, but it has been disappeared from supermarket shelves, so, we have to start from soaking dried beans.

I recommend to use at least 1 cup or 160 g dried beans.

Recipe
Ingredients
160g dried soy beans
30g carrot, diced
5 slices of dried shiitake mushrooms if you have
Kombu sheet, 3 x 10cm, cut to about 1 x 1cm
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine or white wine

This is just a guidance. You can be quite relaxed about measuring seasoning for this recipe. Add more soy sauce or sugar if you would like. You can also add Dashi stock granules if you have some. Add green beans cut to small pieces or diced potatoes. I would choose salad potatoes in that case so that potatoes will not get too soft and mushy.

1. Soak soy beans over night.
2. Cook soy beans in lots of water for 1-2 hours until soft. Drain cooking water.
3. Add water to soy beans just to cover the top. Add all ingredients and simmer for further 20 minutes.

img_0025

Make sure your soy beans are fully cooked and soft enough before you add seasonings. If you add them too soon, beans will not get any softer no matter how much more you cook. If you find cooking liquid evaporating too fast, you can add water a bit more.
After cooking for 20 minutes, let it cool. Flavours will soak in as the dish cools down. Adjust the taste with soy sauce, salt and sugar afterwards if necessary.

This recipe works with other beans. When I don’t have time to cook dried beans, I use tinned chickpeas or kidney beans.

I found some beans in tins are a little too soft, but if you shorten the cooking time, it should be fine.

When I have ‘Hijiki’ which is another kind of seaweed, I use it instead of Kombu.

It looks like this dried.

You need to soak in water about 10 minutes before cooking. Cut them shorter if necessary. Be careful, it increases in volume by 10 times when it becomes rehydrated. 15-20g dried Hijiki is good enough to cook with soy beans.

Seaweed is full of vitamins and minerals and has no calories. Isn’t it too good to be true?

3 Comments »

CHSI Stitches show

The cool guy I saw at the show:
img_20170219_123113

I traveled to NEC Birmingham to visit CHSI Stitches show recently.

It is the Europe’s largest trade show in craft industry. If you are in craft business, there may be lots of seminars useful for you to learn business strategies. It is a good place to see craft trends and new products.

Because I had to travel quite a distance, I did not have time to sit down for workshops or seminars, but it was still a lot of fun.

What I notice the most was craft kits; sewing, knitting, crocheting, felting, it seems that everyone is making kits. I guess kits are very handy. You do not need to shop for each material or invest too much money. They give you exactly how much you need for the project.

Some kits come in nice packages and make very attractive gifts. I like the ones come in small tins.

Some authors have their designs put into kits and selling them. It is a lot of effort and investment. Hats off to them.

I like this brand: Edward’s Menagerie by Kerry Lord.

img_20170219_131401

img_20170219_131452

Her designs are quirky and unique. They are certainly different from typical Japanese amigurumi and I like that a lot. She has a online shop of course.

As for the new product, I found this one: interchangeable straight needles.

il_570xn-665794615_rxc8

I have seen interchangeable circular needles, but not straight needles. You can adjust the length of needles by adding parts. It is cleverly thought and the finish is nice and smooth. You do not need to worry about your knitted piece getting caught at the joints. It seems they have received good reviews so far. I know I will not need long needles since I only knit small items, but it is still tempting.

If you find it troublesome to carry long needles, these may be good for you. I have a long knitting bag I bought some time ago. I truly love it and I like showing it off, so maybe, those needles are not for me at this moment.

My knitting bag: from Cath Kidston

fotorcreated-jpg-c

I like the retro look.

My publisher, Search Press had their stand as usual. I stopped by to say hello.
It is so nice to see my books on display.

img_20170219_122212

img_20170219_122413

It seems that they had fantastic visitors.

16864732_10155068857953909_2645078426035124812_n

Arne and Carlos! I was gutted when I found out that I just missed them! Maybe next time.

Search Press won the best craft publisher of the year again. No surprise there.

I also spotted my Alice at the Practical Publishing stand.

img_20170219_122713

This is a cover-mount knitting kit which is coming out soon from Knit Now magazine. I got a special permission to share this image here. With the kit, you can make Alice, Rabbit and Cat. They are not tiny and easy to make. I hope many knitters will enjoy it.

1 Comment »

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.

img_9931

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.

img_20170110_113343

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.

download-20

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.

img_9996

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.

img_9994

I am very interested this one: Sachi

e0270198_1744797

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

14482817_1758431197750342_3181601357857554432_n

Nothing can be any better than this.

Leave a comment »

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.

img_9970

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.

omurice-4

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.

img_9259

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.

img_9260

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

img_9261

Many put more ketchup on top to garnish.

img_9264

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.

omurice-2

omurice

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.

Leave a comment »