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Archive for May, 2010

Late night cooking: Okonomi style corn fritters & Gyunyu Purin

Would you like some fritters? Yes? Cool, I’ll make some, let’s eat!
Despite it’s 1am.

Oh corn fritters. They are so simple yet can be such a satisfying dish, especially for some lazy weekend brunch. I love ones at Bill’s, and I always have a huge debate in my head – “Corn fritters or Ricotta pancake.” What makes me realise every single time is that using fresh ingredients definitely impacts on how the dish would turn out. Nothing wrong with using canned food for cooing, but when it comes to corn fritters, I must use fresh corns.

So tonight (yes, tonight), my brain protested its mental hunger and proposed “Corn fritters or no sleep.” The only rational thing to do is to accept its demand and get some sleep in return. You know, I’m a rational civilised adult after all. ;p As I was quite hungry, I also added a tin of tuna to my usual corn fritter ingredients.

Recipe adapted from Bill Granger‘s corn fritter on LifeStyle Food. I’ve also added some tuna flakes – which by the way made the fritters look more like an Okonomiyaki.

So why not finish them with oh-so-yummy Japanese Mayo like an okonomiyaki.

For the side, sliced granny smith apple (left over from previous apple hamburg steak) tossed with sea salt, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

And don’t forget a dessert.
When I was in college back in Japan (btw, I’ve spent my freshman year in Japan.), I was totally addicted to 森永牛乳プリン (Morinaga Milk Pudding) that was sold in the college cafeteria. My friends used to spot me there secretly buying out all of the puddings before they’d sell out. What’s so good about it is that it’s got such a simple and silky smooth sweetness that almost brings back some childhood memories, like some homemade dessert.

Soy milk, double cream and condensed milk mixed in 4:1:1 ratio, Gelatine + Agar, Vanilla extract, that’s it! Again, I don’t measure ingredients, go with the flow and adjust as you like. It tastes great as is, but adding some Japaneseness to it with Azuki (Sweet red bean) sauce is definitely a plus. And some whipped cream.

You can simply use gelatine or agar only, but the combination will create smooth, soft and wobbly yet firm enough texture. If you want to make it much richer, just use whole milk instead of soy milk. I chose soy milk simply because I like it.

My brain and stomach satisfied, and that’s when my bed time is.

Get stinky with it.

There’s absolutely no doubt that smell is a very essential factor in food experience, and I often find surprising that there exists a lot of food in which their smell can be almost too intense to be food. For instance, blue cheese – some of my friends say they could never enjoy eating it because of its smell. And I’m no exception when it comes down to a few unique food from different culture, such as Taiwanese stinky tofu. (I can’t help thinking that must be what BO tastes like…) I guess we generally process fermented or smelly food as alarming stuff to eat, of course unless it’s publicly recognised and known to be edible, like cheese or fruits like a durian.

In Japanese food, we do have a range of stinky food as well. (btw, these days it’s popularly accepted, but I remember that Miso (Fermented soybean paste) used to be treated as ‘exotic smelly food from Japan’) But the most popular stinky food from Japan must be Natto (Fermented soybean) Not only its smell (which is often referred as dirty socks..), how you eat is rather interesting. It’s so sticky and gooey that it produces sticky spider-web like strings as you mix – The more you mix, the stickier it gets. Natto is usually mixed with soy sauce and chopped spring onion, and pour over steamed rice.

So today, I bought a few pack of Natto from Japanese grocery shop and make something with it. I assume many of you would not like Natto, but there’re some recipes that reduce the smell of Natto yet bring out other flavour. To be honest, I’m not particularly a big fan of Natto – though I can eat. But I find myself enjoying it in this dish. Natto fried rice!

1 Natto pack
Chopped spring onion
Soy sauce
Steamed rice (Preferably not freshly cooked one. Leftover rice is better in fact.)

With a little bit of olive oil in the pan, place natto and stir fry until slightly brown. Natto shouldn’t be pre-mix nor seasoned with soy sauce. Add chopped spring onion and rice, and continue to stir fry. When the rice grains are no longer sticking each other, add soy sauce right before you take the pan off the stove and evenly distribute.

How simple is that?
I’m not going to lie, it still got the Natto smell but much less intense. stirfrying Natto actually cuts down alot of stickiness and makes the flavour more mellow & milder. I know Natto is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are “i’ve tried it before, not my favourite but I can eat.” type of person, you might enjoy this little easy & simple dish.

I just need to remember to open my window when I cook Natto though. ;p

Self Battle Royale with Apples.

Backlog backlog backlog. The last 3 months before tax year end is always the busiest time for me every year. On top of my current full time contract work, a few other projects are coming in and out and I’ve got to put my fun stuff aside during this time of the year!

One of the big food blogger events that I have missed is Battle Royale cook-off organised by Billy (A Table for Two), Ellie (Almost Bourdain) and Linda (Eat, Show & Tell) where 11 Sydney food bloggers participated to come up with idea for either a dessert using vegetable or a savoury using fruits. And I was invited to do a savoury dish, but unfortunately I was unable to attend due to high volume of work to do over the weekend. But I have tried and come up with this idea for the event, and I’ll share with you.

So what I was going to cook for the battle? Well, I was in a savoury team along with other fantastic cooks – Ellie, Helen, Minh, Richard and Simon. I knew from the beginning that I would have no way of winning against these guys. And coming up with some ordinary recipe with ordinary ingredients would be just too boring and predictable, right? I had to cook something that everyone goes “No you didn’t make that out of this fruit!” – regardless of what that would taste like ;p

What I have chosen is Granny Smith Apple. I know, I know, it sounds still too ordinary, but here’s my reason for it.
1) It’s got texture that can be easily controlled. Granny smith apple as is (uncooked) can have fibre dense texture, but once cooked it’ll turn into smooth soft texture.
2) It can be sweet & sour or even bland tasted so it’s rather easier to add flavour with other ingredients.

And here’s my Granny Smith Apple hamburg Steak with no meat. I’d say mostly all apple!

What do you think?

3 coarsely grated Granny Smith Apples
1 cup of grated tofu
1/2 cup of oatmeal
a bit of soy milk – just to combine oatmeal with other ingredients.
2 tea spoons baking powder
2 eggs
chopped and browned onions & mushrooms
2 cloves garlic grated
salt & pepper to season
1 table spoon of sugar
sprinkles of sesame oil
soy sauce and Worcester sauce

Soy sauce
Squeezed apple juice
Sweet balsamic reduction
Tomato sauce
Konbu (Kelp) Dashi soup stock
Finely grated apple
Chopped butter sauteed chopped onions

Rough recipe (Sorry, I don’t cook with detailed measurement!)
Grate apples and squeeze out its juice. Keep the juice for sauce later on.
Combine all other ingredients with the grated apple and mix well.
Shape and panfry until brown.

In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients and bring to boil. Depending on the sourness of the apple, add Mirin or sugar. Reduce the sauce until it gets desired thickness.

You know what, I was quite surprised how it actually turned out – in a good way. Because the apples I got was pretty bland tasted that I would usually call “Bad apples”, it pretty much contributed to help creating rather interesting texture to it. And in fact, apple/apple juice works pretty well with soy sauce when it’s combined and reduced.

I took it even further this time. Slice up the apple, slowly cook in a sauce pan with a bit of Dashi, sugar, salt and light. Once it became softer and translucent, place on a kitchen paper and pad dry. Then sand the slices in each hamburg steak mixture.


Doesn’t it look like it’s got a melting cheese in it? It’s lightly salty apple slices!
I was really keen to present this at the event and see how others think. I’m looking forward to the next one to happen soon!

Make sure to check out these posts and find out awesome dishes these food bloggers have come up with!

A Table for Two: http://www.atablefortwo.com.au/2010/04/28/the-food-bloggers-battle-royale-cook-off/
Almost Bourdain: http://almostbourdain.blogspot.com/2010/04/blog-post.html
Chocolate Suze: http://www.chocolatesuze.com/2010/04/28/battle-royale-food-blogger-style
Citrus and Candy: http://www.citrusandcandy.com/2010/04/sydney-food-bloggers-battle-royale.html
Raspberri Cupcakes: http://raspberricupcakes.blogspot.com/2010/04/beetroot-desserts.html
Eat, Show & Tell: http://www.eatshowandtell.com/2010/04/26/the-food-bloggers-battle-royale-cook-off/
Grab Your Fork: http://grabyourfork.blogspot.com/2010/05/recipe-lychee-pork-ribs-and-food.html
Here comes the food: http://www.herecomesthefood.com.au/home-cooking/foodblogger-battle-royale-cook-off-2010.html