I’m one of those folks that travel and on the last day of my trip, head to the market or supermarket to pack home fresh produce (think vegetables and fruits), ingredients (like celery salt, sake kasu, poppy seeds,etc) or food (like bread, Higashiya’s dried persimmon, or coffee beans from a small roastery).
There is always something that I find that inspires me during the trip, mostly seasonal produce, flavour pairings and technique. This time round, I brought back from Tokyo: organic carrots, purple potatoes, lotus root, broccoli, a wasabi root, sake kasu (lees left from the production of sake), a 4 year aged soy sauce, yuzu vinegar, strawberries and shichimi (usually made up of 7 spices, 七味, but Daio’s version is made up of 8 spices, the last being wasabi).
So this post, I’m going to share with you the dinner that I cooked the same day I got home. By the way, I got home at 5am in the morning. The different dishes are: charred broccoli with yuzu salt, Japanese potato salad with goma (white sesame) sauce and fresh wasabi, stir fried renkon (lotus root) with julienne carrots, hijiki and mame, and braised beef karubi (I picked the thinly sliced one because this was cooked after work within an hour, I needed it to cook faster) with daikon (Japanese radish). These were served with Japanese rice, high quality ponzu sauce and a pack of Daio’s wasabi seaweed that we brought back.
Please note that seasoning as mentioned before should always be to taste. I encourage you to taste as you go along and open your senses to the colours, the ingredients that you buy, taste them as well and balance the amount and flavours as you go along. Food has to be a sensory experience.
These are the vegetables that I brought back and are using for this meal as well as the pack of sake kasu.
This is my husband’s favourite way of eating broccoli. He would actually eat half a head or more on his own.
- Break down the broccoli into pieces, remove the outer layer of the stem and slice into thick slices.
- Boil a pot of salted water (I usually add around a teaspoon to a litre and a half). Add the broccoli to it and boil it for a min.
- Pour the contents of the pot into a strainer and put it into a bowl.
- Pour in olive oil, enough to douse the broccoli and sprinkle with yuzu salt to taste ( you can use sea salt and freshly cracked pepper). Then stir to coat the vegetables.
- Heat a pan till it becomes very very hot, as hot as you would use to grill a steak.
- Spread out the broccoli and grill till that side in contact with the pan becomes charred, then flip it to char another side.
- Remove from heat and serve.
Japanese Potato Salad
- Wash the potatoes. Don’t be overzealous and damage the skin. The skin helps to keep the starch and flavour in.
- Boil a pot of water, salt the water.
- Add the potatoes in.
- Boil till you can pierce through the potato with little resistance (but not too soft).
- Remove the potatoes, put it under running water and cut into chunks.
- Drizzle goma dressing on top, give it a little stir and add the freshly grated wasabi on top. At this point, you may also add freshly toasted sesame seeds.
Braised Beef and Daikon
This dish is inspired by one of my favourite restaurants in Tokyo, Maru. I asked the chef there how I can use sake kazu and he gave me some tips. This is used together with dashi. When you braise the meat in this, the sake kazu helps to tenderise the meat. These beef pieces were so tender and juicy, and had that light sake flavour. Delicious.
- Make a pot of around 2litres of dashi. For days that I need it fast, I would use these packs that look like tea bags of pre packed bonito, seaweed, etc. Again how strong it should be is to taste. You can get them from good reputed Japanese supermarkets.
- Keep a small amount of it (like a ladle’s worth) for stir frying the vegetables later.
- Add the stock into a small pressure cooker pot, add in sake kasu (to taste) stir till the same kasu breaks down and the stock becomes a little milky. Keep tasting till you get
- Then add the daikon that has been cut into big round pieces and the beef karubi (if you decide to use thick rumps or pieces, you’ll just need to adjust the cook time).
- Seal the pot with the pressure cooker lid and put it on high for 20mins.
- Remove from heat, remove the lid,
- Quarter the piece of daikon and place the beef pieces on top and add freshly grated wasabi.
Japanese Stir Fried Vegetables
- Use a mandoline slicer to thinly slice the renkon (lotus root).
- Julienne the carrot, pour hot water over the dry hijiki, in a separate cup, and strain out the water.
- Pour hot water over frozen edamame or boil fresh edamame in slightly salted water. Remove the mame (beans) from the pods.
- Chop a clove of garlic. Grate half a teaspoon of ginger.
- Heat a pan, add in a tablespoon of sesame oil, garlic and ginger. Then add in renkon, carrots, hijiki, quarter a cup of dashi, and the last just before serving, the mame.
- Serve. Sometimes I’ll add freshly toasted sesame seeds as well.