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Archive for March, 2010

Late night cooking returned with Tori Ham

Yes, my late night cooking habit hasn’t changed, even when I didn’t blog for awhile. And this time the recipe I chose to do was Tori ham.

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Tori ham (鳥はむ) is literally translated into English as “Poultry Ham” (usually chicken breast) although it’s not really a traditionally made ham. The original recipe was posted by someone on the biggest Japanese underground BBS, and rapidly turned into a huge buzz. Now Tori Ham has been quite well-known as the recipe to turn chicken breast into a moist & tender flavoursome dish.

So what’s all the hype about Tori ham? Although some sites featured Tori Ham as “The recipe born on the internet”, its cooking method is nothing new. It’s sort of Sous-vide a.k.a. vacuumed packed pouch cooking. (but again, not exactly.)

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Fillet two large chicken breast (preferably cut in half and open), and tenderise with the back of knife. Place them into a bowl, and marinate with honey. Rub salt & cracked black pepper into the fillets (quite large amount of salt needed compared to ordinary seasoning amount), and place them into a ziplock bag. Let them marinated in the fridge for 1-2 days.

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Remove the fillets from the bag, wash with water, and then soak in a tub of water for 30-60 mins to remove saltiness. Roll up the fillet tightly using a cling wrap, use cooking string to shape it if needed. Wrap the rolled fillets with cooking foil. Place the rolls into a pot of boiling water for about a minute, and immediately turn off the heat. Remove the pot from the gas top, and leave it for 4-5 hours with a lid on. Yup, leave the rolls in the pot with hot water and cook them with residual heat.

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After 4-5 hours, remove the rolls from the pot. Juice from the chicken should be trapped inside the cling wrap. When you remove the cling wrap, make sure you keep the juice because you can use that to make a sauce later on! Let the rolls cool in the fridge before slicing.

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Slice as you like, garnish and serve! This one was garnished with ground black sesame seeds, chopped spring onion. For the sauce, reduce the saved chicken juice in a sauce pan, and add a mixture of one table spoon water & potato starch to thicken. Hmm hmm, just right amount of saltiness in the meat, and the sauce is just soo good!

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Another one with ground black pepper, sprouts and dijon mustard sauce. Tori ham is such an awesome bite with chilled beer for sure! Each step wouldn’t take longer than 5 mins, very easy and no fail – the only draw back is that it takes awhile until it’s ready to eat (1-2 days in the fridge + 4-5 hours to cook.) What was I doing in the mean time you might ask?

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enough shown? (Brownie Semifreddo rolled in a crepe.) *sigh*

Tofu madness in my own macrobiotic way.

Ohhhh Mahhhhhh GWWAAAAD. I can’t believe it. It’s been more than a month past since the last post?! I’ve got to admit, there were many things happening and I simply couldn’t be bothered to put my effort into my blog at all. Lack of motivation is one thing, but there wasn’t much of blog worth food related stuff in my absence. *sigh* Man, I’ve got to so much to catch up, especially visiting my favourite blogs!

Aaaanyways. Back to blogging.

Ever since I attended to the macrobiotic cooking class previously, I’ve been quite actively adapting its method. The good thing about it is that, unlike some sudden diet to loose weight quickly, no strict rule is required. It helps me being more conscious about food choice I make – yes, I still love fatty oily deep fried food, but now I frequently compensate for it with healthier options on other days.

The main ingredient of my dinner for this day was tofu. I love tofu. And I call it “macrobiotic style” because it’s not necessarily pure macrobiotic, and ingredient choices were made based on what I think it’s fairly close enough to call it a macrobiotic cooking. (If you are interested in finding out more about macrobiotic diet, I recommend a monthly cooking class held at Soramame)

Today’s dishes are: Mapo Tofu with minced tofu (double tofu!) and Tofu panna cotta. These turned out to be quite good, especially the tofu panna cotta! I was pleasantly surprised how it turned out.

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Ingredients: Firm Tofu (must be firm one!), chopped spring onions, chilli paste, grated ginger and garlic, arrowroot powder (you can substitute this with agar agar or potato/corn starch), and soy sauce based Tsuyu (Dashi + Soy sauce + Mirin). The dashi (soup stock) is from Konbu (Kelp) but you can substitute with Katsuo Dashi (Bonito soup stock)

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First thing first. Main essential components of Mapo Tofu are 1) minced pork or beef and 2) Tofu – Duh. Today I’m not using any meat at all. So the tofu needs to take a role in both, as minced meat and tofu. Cut the firm tofu into half, reserve one for the use as is, and another for mince. Cut one half of tofu into cubes and set aside for now. Be sure to drain water from the other one for mince – wrap it with kitchen paper and suck up water. Place the tofu into a microwave safe bowl, and mash it until pieces are desired size like minced meat.

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Put the bowl in microwave and heat for 2-3 minutes – just to quickly vaporise water from the tofu. This process makes the texture alot like cooked minced meat! Alternatively, you can of course ‘roast’ the pieces on frying pan, but you know I wouldn’t bother doing that, and take the easy way ;p

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In a frying pan, sautee the grated ginger and garlic with a bit of cooking oil until their aroma developed, and then panfry the tofu and chopped spring onions until brown.

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Add the chili paste and continue to panfry. This step makes the tofu look like minced meat with the red colour from the chili paste.

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Now add the rest of the tofu cubes and soy sauce based Tsuyu into the pan. When the tofu is seasoned with the Tsuyu evenly, add mixture of arrowroot powder and water – make sure not to put arrowroot alone into the pan, you’ve got to dissolve the powder in water first. Otherwise you’d end up with lumps. (Please see the product direction for the ratio of water to use.) In my case, 1 table spoon of arrow root dissolved in an ordinary drink glass full of water was used. As you mix the solution in the pan, quite instantly it thicken and becomes Mapo tofu sauce.

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Voila! What do you think? It looks like an ordinary Mapo tofu with real minced meat, doesn’t it? Of course flavour wise, I can easily tell that it’s not a real meat – I know it’s the fattiness that’s missing from it. But texture wise you’d be amazed to find out that’s made of tofu, and even a meat lover like myself can totally live with that.

Now what’s for dessert you say? The main was a chinese dish, but the dessert is not. Too extreme choice? Oh you know me, I’d even drink coffee with sushi anyway.

Put 4 table spoons of water, 1 table spoons of brown sugar and 2 table spoons of maple syrup into a sauce pan and heat until dissolved and thicken/caramelised as you like. Pour into mould.

Put silken tofu (smooth tofu) into a blender along with maple syrup, vanilla extract and mix well. Bring water & soy milk to boil in a sauce pan and add powder agar. (200ml water + 4g powder agar) *edited: not 40g! Thanks to yygal for mentioning the mistake!* Combine the tofu mixture and pour into moulds. And let it cool in the fridge to set.

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well, it’s more like a pudding, really. But man, I never knew maple syrup and tofu would work really well! You’ve got to try this! Nom nom nom.

I think I’ve compensated enough for finishing a whole 1 litter of ice cream at one go. You’d agree, right? right?

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Note
Some people asked me for detailed recipes (measurements etc). I hardly ever measure how much stuff I use – always go with the flow. Dishes like above would be so easy to add/reduce ingredients as you go; I’ll just leave as is so you can make the taste as you like.

For the tofu panna cotta/flan/pudding (whatever that falls into ;p ), it totally depends on how soft/smooth the tofu you use. Be sure to use silken tofu, and see if the texture is smooth enough. The one I used became yogurt like smoothness & density after beating in a blender. If needed, you might want to pass it through the strainer. Also, for soy milk, I recommend Vitasoy or other products that don’t curdle.