Categories
Cooking Japanese Recipe

Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

When I worked in Japan on the JET Programme, my adopted hometown of Nakatsu took pride in the local specialty of karaage (kah-rah-ah-gay), a kind of fried chicken. Locals told me that when Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is pretty popular across Japan, opened up in Nakatsu, it couldn’t stay in business because Nakatsu residents preferred karaage. Here’s my personal take on karaage:

Ingredients

This recipe serves 2 people as the main protein in a meal, or about 4 people as a shared appetizer.

  • 400 grams (14 ounces) of chicken, cut into roughly uniform chunks, about the size of a McNugget (I don’t know how else to describe it). In Nakatsu, skin-on chicken thigh is usually used, but I used boneless skinless chicken breast for the batch in the picture and they came out great.
  • King Arthur’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, for dredging – the mix of tapioca, rice, and potato starch make for a light and crispy crust. Traditional recipes often call for katakuriko (Japanese potato starch)
  • Canola or vegetable oil for shallow-frying
  • 1 fresh lemon, lime, or kabosu

For the marinade:

  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, grated or pounded with a mortar and pestle
  • 2-3 cm (~inch) piece of peeled fresh ginger, grated or pounded
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon shichimi togarashi, Japanese mixed chili pepper powder – optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, Kikkoman organic is my go-to brand; Use tamari instead soy sauce and the whole recipe is gluten-free
  • 1/2 tablespoon sake, cooking sake or the cheap stuff is fine
  • 1 teaspoon mirin, I prefer the all-natural traditional method mirin from Eden Foods. The mirin is optional, you could substitute half a teaspoon of sugar instead.
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kewpie Mayonnaise, What is this mayonnaise madness you ask? It helps the marinade adhere to the chicken, helps keep the chicken moist (important if you are using breast), and adds a bit of sweetness and umami as well.

Instructions

Finely mince or pound the solid marinade ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Combine with all of the liquid marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken pieces.

Coat the chicken with the marinade and let sit for 30 minutes.

Then dredge each piece of chicken in the all-purpose gluten-free flour. There is enough seasoning in the marinade itself, so there is no need to season the flour. Each piece of chicken should be lightly coated in flour.

Heat your oil in a cast iron or other sturdy pan. You only need enough oil for each chicken piece to be halfway submerged in oil. On my electric stove, I do this on medium heat. You will know when the oil is ready when you insert a wooden chopstick or skewer and it bubbles.

Fry three or four piece of chicken at a time until golden brown. Mine took about a minute and a half on each side. Be careful not to fry too many piece at a time, or you will cool down your oil too much.

Drain the chicken on a paper towel or cooling rack. Then serve with a squeeze of the lemon, lime, or kabosu. I also like to dip mine in some more Kewpie Mayo and a sprinkle of the shichimi togarashi.


To give you an idea of how serious Nakatsu is about karaage, here is a video (in Japanese) about how Nakatsu broke the Guinness World Record in 2019 for the largest serving of fried chicken made in a single day.

Categories
Cooking Cuisine Food Japan Spain

Spanish-Japanese Eggs

Today for brunch, I created a mash-up of two of my favorite egg dishes: Spanish tortilla, a thick omelet with potatoes, and Japanese tamagoyaki, a rolled omelet infused with a slightly sweet soy and dashi broth.

In place of regular potatoes, I use satsumaimo, a kind of Japanese sweet potato that is whiter and a bit firmer than American sweet potatoes. Of course, you can use whatever sweet potato you can find. I pre-cook the satsumaimo with a kind of delicate simmering technique called nimono before incorporating it into the omelet.

The recipe takes a bit of time to make from scratch, but the techniques are simple. I think it’s worth the effort and the perfect way to impress your family and friends with a fresh take on the usual weekend brunch fare.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 4-5 dried shiitake (mushrooms)
  • 1 handful of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 1 satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato), substitute the American kind if you can’t find the Japanese kind
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • sesame oil
  • 8 medium organic eggs
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • yuzukoshō (a kind of Japanese fermented green chili and citrus peel paste)
  • soy sauce
  • mirin (sweet rice wine) and sake
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sesame seeds
  • red chili flakes/cayenne pepper
  • pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • brown sugar, salt and pepper

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1. Make Broth

  • Rinse the shiitake, kombu, and ginger and place in a medium saucepan with about a liter of cold water.
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook gently for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  • Pick out the kombu and mushrooms and reserve. Leave in the ginger.
  • Bring to a boil and toss in the katsuobushi. Turn off heat, let cool for 10 minutes and strain. Discard katsuobushi and ginger.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and sugar, 1 tablespoon each of mirin and sake. Add salt to taste. It should be salty and a bit sweet but not too overwhelming.

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2. Prepare Satsumaimo

  • While the broth is simmering, cut the satsumaimo into 1/4 inch-thick half moons. Leave the skin on, but trim off any dried-out or dark bits.
  • Soak the satsumaimo slices in cold water until ready to use. This removes some of the extra starch and prevents oxidation, which turns the sweet potato brown.
  • Drain the satsumaimo slices from the cold water and simmer in the broth from the previous step for 15-20 minutes until soft but not falling apart. Remove satsumaimo from cooking liquid, reserving some of the broth.

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3. Make Topping

  • While the satsumaimo is simmering in the broth, prepare the crunchy mushroom and kombu topping.
  • Thinly slice the kombu and shiitake reserved from the broth making.
  • Heat about a teaspoon of the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add in the sliced kombu and shiitake along with the sliced garlic.
  • Season with a few pinches of red chili powder and/or cayenne, freshly grated black pepper and sugar. Add a small splash each of sake, mirin, and soy sauce.
  • Cook until liquid is absorbed and mixture looks dark and crunchy. Sprinkle on white sesame seeds.

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4. Final Assembly

  • Whisk 1/4 teaspoon of yuzukoshō and the scallion in about 1/4 cup of the reserved simmering liquid. Beat in the eggs.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast iron pan on a medium flame and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the egg mixture, then add a layer of the satsumaimo slices. I had some extra sweet potato that I saved for another use. Then add the kombu and mushroom mixture on top.
  • Continue cooking on low heat until edges look slightly solid. Finish in the broiler (1-2 minutes). The eggs should still be a little runny in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pimentón, and serve. Enjoy!

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Categories
Cuisine Food Recipe

Scallops, Swiss Chard, Shiitake, Macadamia Yuzukosho Dressing

scallops with warm chard shiitake salad

I improvised this Japanese-inspired scallop recipe for a weekend lunch last week with some super fresh local scallops I got from Fresh Direct. My mom sent me a huge box of oranges from Arizona, so you will see that I will be sneaking orange into my recipes this month. The recipe below serves two.

Ingredients
6 large dry sea scallops
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons of miso (use white miso or a mild brown miso)
1 handful of roasted macadamia nuts (I got these in Hawai’i when I was there last month)
1/2 teaspoon of yuzukoshō
1 scallion, chopped
1 dash of turmeric powder (optional, it gives the dressing a nice color and it’s good for you)
Olive Oil
1 bunch of rainbow Swiss chard, sliced into ribbons
1 handful of fresh shiitake, sliced
Butter
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Wash the scallops, pat dry, and generously salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Prepare the dressing in a blender using the following ingredients: citrus juice and zest, miso, macadamia nuts, yuzukoshō, scallion, and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a pan and add a bit of olive oil. Sauté the shiitake until they start to take on some color. Then add the chard and stir until it starts to wilt. Turn off heat and set aside.
4. Sear the scallops in plenty of butter.
5. Divide the chard the shiitake mixture onto two plates. Top with 3 scallops each. Drizzle some of the dressing on top. Serve immediately.

Categories
Brazil Cooking Japan Japanese Recipe

Japanese-Brazilian Pepper Steak

This is my first foray into cooking here in Rio where I integrate Brazilian and Japanese influences.

Ingredients
Broccoli and cauliflower florets
Thin slice of alcatra (rumpsteak)
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 handful of sliced shiitake
1 garlic clove, minced
Tablespoon of soy sauce
Tablespoon of brandy
Tablespoon of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of French grain mustard
Dash of hot paprika
Hot sauce to taste
Freshly ground mixed pepper (black, white, pink, and green peppercorns) to taste – substitute black pepper if that is all you have
Salt to taste

Instructions
1. Boil broccoli and cauliflower florets in salted water until tender, set aside and keep warm. Reserve some of the water and set aside.

2. Season both sides of the alcatra with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a saucepan and coat generously with olive oil.

4. Sear the steak on both sides. Since the steak is thin, one minute per side is sufficient for medium rare.

5. Remove steak from saucepan and set aside.

6. Using the same pan and oil, add chopped onions, stir and scrape the meat bits to incorporate into the onion and oil mixture. Sauté until the onions wilt and begin to brown.

7. Add the garlic and shiitake and sauté until the mushrooms cook through. Then add the remaining seasonings. Dilute with some of the vegetable cooking water if the mixture gets too dry.

8. Cook the mixture until it reduces to a saucy consistency. If you want to be really fancy, you can whisk in a bit of cold butter, but that is optional.

9. Serve on a plate with the steak, vegetables and sauce on top.

10. Enjoy!

Categories
Cooking Cuisine Food Recipe

Soft Shell Crab Salad with Curry Aioli

With my ITP thesis ready to go, I finally got a chance to do some creative cooking again.  Tonight I made a fried soft shell crab salad with a curry aïoli dressing.  I improvised through this one (like most things I cook), so no exact measurements.  I got the soft shell crabs (which are currently in season) from FreshDirect, and they were already cleaned, which saved me the scary task of cutting off the eyes of live crabs as demonstrated here by Mark Bittman of the NY Times.

Start with the aïoli dressing.  Put in a blender:
1 raw egg (without the shell, silly!)
1 clove of garlic
2 chopped up cornichons
1 generous spoonful of Dijon mustard
1 shake of curry powder
1 dash of soy sauce
1 dash of Tabasco
1 heaping teaspoon of apricot jam (the sweetness offsets the intensity of the other flavors)
2-3 teaspoons of vinegar (I used a combo apple cider and rice wine vinegar that has been infused with jalapeños. I like to live a little on the wild side, so I chucked in a couple slices of the pickled jalapeños too
2-3 generous glugs (I know, this is hardly scientific) of grapeseed or other neutral oil

Blend everything together and season to taste. It should come out more like a thick salad dressing and less like a mayonnaise. If it’s too thick, add some water or more vinegar to taste.  This makes a lot of dressing, so these measurements would be enough for 4-6 servings.

Now for the crab. Clean the crab if it didn’t come cleaned already. Rinse in some cold water and pat dry with some paper towels. Make a tempura-style batter by mixing flour, ice cold water, freshly ground black pepper, Tabasco, and fish sauce (plain old salt would work here too). The batter should be really cold and rather thin. Don’t over mix.  Dip the crab in the batter and deep fry.  It takes 2-3 minutes per side. When done, drain on some paper towels.

Tonight I served the crab on some heirloom tomatoes and Boston lettuce with the dressing drizzled on top.  I had a glass of vinho verde to go with my delicious dinner, but an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer would also probably work well with the curry flavor.