Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Japanese food and the last slice of Birthdaycake

One of my goals for this blog is to share my love of the Japanese cuisine. I pick things that are simple and have ingrediants that I can easily find in my middle of the nowhere uncultured grocery store, and recipes that will taste great and simple to my many uncultured taste budded family members. A week ago I picked a simple dish that is very tasty, however I decided to change the way it was cooked. I was feeling lazy and had no intention of standing at the stove cooking for an hour. So I decided to crock pot it with only an hour to work with, this is what happened:
One whole onion sliced and the slices cut in half. (a yellow onion or sweet vadalia works best. otherwise the onion will be too strong)
half a pound to a pound of stew meat. I am lazy, and poor. The recipe calls for any cut of beef fillet thinly sliced. You can do it however you want. Stew meat worked just fine. Put it into a pan to brown. (remember I have about an hour to cook this in the crockpot I needed to give it a headstart, you could easily do this entire meal in a pan or crockpot but these first couple pan steps really should be done to get everything brown and yummy)

Set out your carrots and potatoes. I used this entire bunch but as you can see they were a tad on the small side and they were starting to go bad so a bit wimpy too, I am using red potatoes I used I think about 4 of them add or subtract by how much you are making. I peeled mine (they were going soft) but this dish would be just as tasty with the skin on, you could also substitute in a russet, depending on the size however many you would use for the red potatoes halve it for the russet unless they are small.

Don't forget your garbage bowl. It's great when you have to peel things. There is nothing I hate more than peeling veggies over the nasty stinky garbage can and then getting my back stiff from being stuck in a bent position for too long. Use a nice big bowl...mine was a little small so I had a lot of flying potato and carrot skins.

BTW I should mention your meat should be cooking on low while you do all the prep work so it doesn't burn. Unless you are lazy like me (you might want medium to medium low) and pull your meat straight from the freezer and throw it in the pan instead of waiting for it to slow defrost...or learn how to use the defrost setting on the microwave.....what can I say? It confuses me!
by now the under side of your meat should be good and brown so go ahead and flip it and throw in your onions while you start slicing carrots and potatoes. Also add in a little oil: the amount of oil is subject to your discretion XD as you can see....a little oil for me is clearly a puddle. But hey! If I can't use massive amounts of butter, I will use massive amounts of's supposed to be good for you right? So then, the more the better! Continuing on....
Give everything a good stir and let your puddle meld with the onions and get them all brown and yummy, and once the meat is browned (it doesn't have to be done since you are putting it in the crockpot, if will get done me) drain it into a bowl or cup.

mmm bowl of grease ( >.< ) sorry couldn't get a photo of actually draining the grease....I only have two hands and...ya know...nature...what can I say? hehe...CONTINUING ON...AGAIN..... dump everything into the crockpot...unless you are doing the entire thing in the pan at which point leave a little grease in the pan and throw in your sliced veggies potatoes first then carrots. If you want to make this part go even quicker blanch them in boiling water for no more than 5 minutes. Just enough to get them cooking. MM see all steamy and delicious! Now we carry on to the veggie part, for us crockpotters. ( XD haha I made a joke.....sorta) ANYWAY: get your nekkid carrots and potatoes and slice them up. Slice your carrots at an angle and into small rounds. Basically take your carrot stick and place it on a spot that would make a small round and angle your knife at a slight 90degree angle and cut down. You should have something that looks like something sliced through it sideways. potatoes cut normally. XD(sorry I don't have a photo of this sort of slicing since I kind of needed my other hand to hold the carrot to make that cut...and look my camera strap decided it wanted its photo taken)

Now you will take your carrots and throw them into the same pan you cooked the meat and onions in since it's nice and oily get them brown and starting to get soft (this is more flavourful then blanching but at this point you could just throw them into hot water for a few minutes)
Followed by dumping them into the crockpot with the meat and filling the pan back up with sliced potatoes.

(if you full view you can sort of see the angle cut carrots keep an eye on your carrots...I was watching tv while cooking and sort of burnt some.......but in a good way!! I swear!!)
you may need to add more oil to the carrot and potatoes...and that is just fine! Same with butter...mmm butter. Okay so now we are getting to the good part. Throw all this into the crockpot (or if cooking in a pan move the meat and onions to the top and the potatoes and carrots to the bottom of the pan) Add in some frozen peas (if you are cooking in a pot wait until the potatoes and carrots are done. Skip the pea step till last and move ahead on to the sauce part. Crockpotters throw in your peas and move on to the sauce step)

Now for the sauce you are going to need:
2tbs white sugar
5tbs soy sauce (use kikkoman everything else tends to have alot of msg and is basically soy flavoured msg)
1 tbs Mirin (Mirin is a rice seasoning its alcoholic and along the same lines as sake but sweetened. You can substitute cherry for the Mirin if you can't find this)
And finally 1 tbs Sake
add all of this to your crockpot or pan and cook. If cooking in a pan let simmer till the potatoes are tender. If using a crockpot make sure your pan has been heated on high during this entire process and add the lid, pan ppl once the potatoes are cooked throw in your peas and heat through. While the potatoes are cooking and the crockpot is cooking you can either make white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, Japanese sticky rice, or like I did and make noodles. I was craving noodles so I made a Chinese egg noodle. The have a funny taste but are still good and just cook according to package instructions, if you can;t find them spaghetti noodles are a great substitute.

well if this spam of pictures wasn't enough for you, I have a couple last ones. Sep 8 was my 22nd birthday and I wanted a specific kind of cake. A cake you could easily get in Japan but not here in Michigan at our local grocery store chain bakery. So I got a box of strawberry cake mix, a can of strawberry frosting, a can of white frosting with sprinkles, a jar of flower sprinkles, whip cream, a tub of strawberries, two tubs of raspberries (because they go bad the day after you buy them and you hafta weed through them) and one kiwi. I followed the instructions on the cake mix box and added in the sprinkles from the can of white frosting. and baked in two round pans. Once cool I put strawberry frosting on the bottom layer and covered in strawberry slices and raspberry halves. Topped it with whip cream and then the second cake. This is where the hard work came in...whip cream doesn't mix well when it comes into contact with frosting. It simply smears, so the whip cream hanging out the edge of the cake made frosting it a nightmare, but I made it through, frosting it with the white frosting. I put some strawberry frosting into a ziploc bag squeezed it down to the end and cut the tip off and put dollops all around it leaving space because I did the same with the whip cream (I did squiggly lines around the side of the cake with the whip cream and the frosting) And a couple big dollops in the middle. Then filled the space with strawberries and raspberries and kiwi slices and topped it off with more whip cream and frosting (mostly just filling in wholes and being decorative) and added in the flower sprinkles to the top and the side. This was an amazing cake however you can expect alot of liquid puddling around the outside of you cake (the frosting should protect it) from the fruit. So here is the very very last slice of cake.

Happy cooking!

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