Koro Koro Beef Steak Salad with Wasabi Flavoured Onion, Soy Sauce and Butter Dressing

Q: Find only one beef steak in the fridge but you have to cook for two? What can you do?

A: Cook koro koro steak and serve with salad. Easy!

Koro koro steak is a way of cooking steak in Japan. The steak meat is diced and then pan-fried. A dice is called ‘saikoro’ in Japan, therefore the dish is named saikoro steak or koro koro steak (koro is the onomatopoeia for something rolling).

Arrange salad on serving plate, cook the diced steak and add the dressing. When it’s done, place the meat and pour the hot dressing over the plate.

At first, the salad is crispy and fresh. It becomes soft and tangy later. Enjoy the two types of salad in one dish.

The dressing is my favourite, with the sweetness of the grated onion and the distinctive flavour of wasabi.

It’s a simple and easy recipe which can be cooked within 15 minutes! What are you waiting for?

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Key

  1. The dressing is a little bit strong as it’s for both the steak and the salad. Please adjust the amount of the soy sauce to your taste.
  2. Mix the dressing well beforehand using a mini whisk. Make sure the wasabi paste is dissolved completely.
  3. I used rump steak here but you can use any type of beef steak for this recipe.

Topic: Wagyu is not purely Japanese!

Some of you might’ve heard of the term ‘Wagyu’ before. Wagyu is Japanese beef, but not every beef produced in Japan is classified as Wagyu. It consists of only four types of beef, and 90% of Wagyu is Japanese Black, which has fat between the muscular tissue (marbling). The fat in Wagyu contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than typical beef.

In ancient Japan, cows were kept and used for agricultural purposes, especially after the introduction of Buddhism into Japan in the 6th Century. From the Muromachi period (1136-1573) to the Edo period (1603-1868), the population of cows in Japan was expanded for transport as well as farming.

After the Meiji Restoration, Japan opened its doors to the world and eating beef was introduced. In order to improve the quality of beef, Japan imported cows from overseas for crossbreeding. They were Simmental, Brown Swiss, Devon, Shorthorn, Ayrshire and Holstein Friesians. In the 1930s, examining of the fattening of steers (castrated males) for quality beef took place all over Japan which resulted in tasty Wagyu today.

It’s interesting to know that Wagyu is in fact crossbred with European cows!

 

References:

http://nbafa.or.jp/mame/izen.html (Japanese)

http://nbafa.or.jp/mame/ikou.html (Japanese)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagyu

 

Japanese Style Tataki Beef Steak

Being Japanese, I cook dishes which go well with rice (and with beer and wine off course) in my daily life. This is a beef steak recipe in a Japanese style called Tataki. The rare steak is sliced thinly and dressed with a simple soy sauce-based gravy sauce with added lemon juice. It’s a light and refreshing way to eat beef. Be careful – it’s difficult to stop eating this dish!

This dish requires only 6 ingredients and once you cook the steak, the dish is almost ready to serve, so it’s a handy recipe when you need a bit more food on your dining table. The steak is thinly sliced, which makes this dish great for sharing. It also looks gorgeous, so never fails to impress your guests at dinner parties.

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Key

  1. You can cook the steak to your liking. Since it’s sliced thinly, you won’t have to worry about it becoming too tough to eat.
  2. I used rump steak today, but you can use any steak meat for this recipe.
  3. Sesame seeds taste much better when toasted. Please refer to the preparation section 3 of this recipe for how to toast sesame seeds.

Topic: What is Tataki?

Tataki is one of traditional cooking methods in Japan. The word itself means pound or hit and as it suggests, the cooking process includes pounding or hitting.

Tataki cooking is often used to prepare raw fish dishes, such as horse mackerel, tuna, and sardine. These fish are chopped finely together with condiments, such as ginger, garlic, spring onion and shiso. In order to chop it finely, chefs use kitchen knives as if pounding the fish, hence these dishes are called Tataki.

However, the steak for this dish isn’t chopped but sliced. That’s because there is another cooking method which shares the same name. The method is originated as a local delicacy in the Kochi prefecture in the 19th century. The area had an abundant catch of bonito and people sealed the surface of the fish fillet by flame before eating it. This process prolonged the freshness of the fish and kills germs and parasites, as well as adding a smoky flavour. After that, salt or sauce was added on top and people patted the fillet with their hands for the flavour to be absorbed into the fish. It’s said that this process is the reason that this cooking method is called Tataki.

This Tataki cooking method has spread nationwide and is applied to other ingredients, including beef, tuna, and salmon.

Most Japanese people associate Kochi prefecture, then called Tosa, in the 19th century with Ryoma Sakamoto, one of the most popular political samurai in the late Edo period, and believe that he must have enjoyed Tataki dishes. Let’s think about him when you eat Tataki dishes!

Reference: https://style.nikkei.com/article/DGXMZO28116160U8A310C1000000?channel=DF080420167221 (Japanese)

Spicy Nanban Marinade Vegetables

Do you feel an urge to eat lots of vegetables sometimes? I do, especially after a long flight or a busy trip. Try this recipe for when you feel that urge.

I chose aubergine and courgette for this recipe because they become tastier when cooked with oil. Adding cherry tomatoes lightens up the dish.

It’s quite a flavoursome and satisfying dish, so you might forget that you’re eating something vegetarian! It’s a great side dish for rice and nibbles for drinks.

The marinade sauce is quite spicy. Please adjust the amount of chilli flakes to your liking.

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Key

  1. You can serve the dish immediately after mixing or keep it in a fridge to cool down, then serve.
  2. Deep fry vegetables in high temperature oil (between 180 and 190 °C) for a short time to prevent them become oily. To check the temperature, put the handle of a wooden spoon or fork into the oil. If rather larger bubbles steadily come out from the handle, the oil is ready for deep frying.

Topic: What is Nanban?

Nanban is a Japanese word which originally means Portugal and Spain. They were the first Western nations to make contact with Japan in the 16th century. They came to Japan after stopping over at their colonies in Southwest Asia and India, so the Japanese thought they came from somewhere south. ‘Nan’ in the word Nanban means ‘south’ for this reason.

There are several dishes whose names contain Nanban in today’s Japan. Nanban dishes typically use chilli, as chilli was introduced to Japan by Portugal in the 16th Century. It’s the very first East-Meets-West dish in Japan!

This recipe uses the Nanban-zuke technique. Ingredients are deep fried and then marinated in Nanban sauce, which usually consists of chilli, vinegar and soy sauce. The key is to marinate the ingredients immediately after deep frying, as they absorb more flavour when they are hot.

Nanban-zuke is a good way of eating deep fried food, because you don’t feel the oiliness thanks to the vinegar. The best-known ingredient for Nanban-zuke is small fish, such as whitebaits. When you marinate them enough, you don’t need to worry about their small bones, as the vinegar in the sauce softens them.

Try other deep fried ingredients with the Nanban sauce in this recipe and make your own Nanban dish!

Reference: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8D%97%E8%9B%AE (Japanese)

Tofu and Lentil Sprout Salad

You can probably find tofu at your regular supermarket or grocery shop nowadays. Tofu is made from soy beans which is a great source of protein with all sorts of goodness inside.

This is a healthy tofu salad recipe with lentil sprouts: a super food rich in vitamin C, folate and potassium.

The refreshing taste of tofu and lentil sprouts go well with flavoursome soy sauce and sesame oil dressing. Nori seaweed adds a hint of the taste of the sea.

It’s a very simple recipe anyone can have a crack at. It’s vegetarian and vegan friendly, too. With two types of bean, you’ll definitely be full of beans after eating this salad!

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Key

You can get rid of excess water by putting the wrapped tofu in a microwave for 1 or 2 minutes.

Topic

Tofu is an indispensable ingredient in the Japanese diet. It’s coagulated soy milk which contains lots of isoflavones. Some studies suggest isoflavones balance hormones for women. It’s a good source of iron and calcium and a great substitute for animal meat as well.

Lentil sprouts is a new face to the superfoods and is packed with vitamins and minerals. Lentil sprouts are healthier than already healthy boiled lentils, as the nutrients in the beans increase as they sprout, as well as no lost nutrients from the cooking process.

Lentil sprouts are available to buy in the salad vegetable section of supermarkets. You can find Nori sheets in oriental grocery shops or at the world food section in supermarkets.

Spinach and Pine nuts with Honey Soy Sauce

I love spinach because of its lively green colour. It’s super nutritious, so I always want to eat lots of it! Blanching leaf vegetables is an easy way to eat them in quantity without losing its nutrition. I added pine nuts which is said to be great for fatigue recovery and nutrition supply. It’s a healthy treat for your body.

The spinach and pine nuts are seasoned with simply soy sauce and honey. There are only four ingredients to make this side dish, however the natural sweetness of the honey makes it something special.

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Key

  1. Do not over boil the spinach. It loses its colour and nutrition when overboiled. Squeeze any excess water out from the spinach.
  2. Adding a little bit of salt in the boiling water will keep the spinach (and any other green vegetables)  bright and green while cooking.

Topic: Pine nuts

In China, pine nuts have been regarded as a super healthy food for a long time. Legend has it that, about 2000 years ago, a Chinese man called Akuzen who ate pine nuts every day became immortal. No wonder Chinese medical cooking often has pine nuts as an ingredient!

In recent Japan, pine nuts have come under the spotlight as a beneficial food, especially for women. Firstly, they are rich in iron, zinc and folic acid, therefore are expected to prevent or improve anaemia symptoms. Secondly, they also contain a good amount of vitamin A which is essential in keeping your skin and hair looking radiant and healthy. Last but not least, recent studies have revealed that Pinolenic Acid, a fatty acid exclusive to pine nuts, helps your body to produce a hormone called CCK which tells your brain to turn off ‘hungry mode’. It’s said that pine nuts make you feel full therefore are great if you’re trying to lose weight. Well, the researches are still ongoing, but we might hear good news pretty soon!

However, don’t gorge yourself on pine nuts! They are high in calories after all and sometimes leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouth. Remember, a moderate amount is always the best.

Teriyaki Chicken Tomato and Vinegar Sauce

I love chicken thigh for Teriyaki chicken dish because it’s succulent and flavoursome. Once you debone them, they are easy to cook and can be enjoyed with many different sauces.

This recipe doesn’t require any special ingredients. You probably have them all in your fridge and cupboard.

You should pan-fry chicken thigh skin down. The oil from the skin is enough to fry themselves, and the skin becomes crispier. The sauce for this recipe is a good old teriyaki sauce with a twist. Add lots of tomato and spring onion to this tangy yet refreshing sauce.

Serve with boiled cabbage, which refreshes your palate and goes really well with the chicken. Obviously, the dish goes well with rice, making it a great obento dish.

If you prefer chicken breast to thigh, dust a fillet with a little flour at direction 1 below. This makes the chicken fillet soft and moist when cooked.

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Key

To check if the chicken is cooked, poke it with a wooden skewer or a paring knife. If the juice runs clear, it is cooked. The cooking time varies depending on the size of the meat, however they’ll generally be in 4 to 5 minutes.

If you prefer chicken breast fillets, dust them with flour after you sprinkle salt and pepper. This process will lock the moisture in the fillets. Don’t overcook as they tend to become dry.

For an obento box, cook the sauce further until it thickens to prevent leakage.

Topic: Is chicken thigh fattier than breast?

I’ve heard some people prefer chicken breast to thigh because they are low in calories. But, is it true?

Well, 100g of chicken breast fillet has 108kcal whereas thigh has 200kcal. It looks like game over, doesn’t it? However, this is because breast is usually sold without the skin. Let me check thigh meat calories without skin. It’s only 116kcal, so there is not much difference in calories between breast and thigh.

Chicken fat is mainly present between the skin and meat, which makes separating fat and meat easier compared to other meats, like pork and beef. This recipe uses the chicken’s own fat to fry it and no added oil. So, wipe away any excess oil from the chicken and you can have a succulent chicken thigh dish relatively low in calories.

I must tell you that 100g chicken breast meat contains a mere 4.2g fat whereas thigh contains 11g – more than the double amount of breast. Therefore, it can be said that ‘chicken thigh is fattier than the breast’ is true. However, chicken fat is not all bad as it contains more unsaturated fat, especially monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid which helps to lower bad cholesterol, compare to other meats. Chicken thigh is rich in B Vitamins and powerful antioxidant selenium as well.

Chicken thigh and breast are both delicious and healthy if cooked properly. Choose whichever you prefer for this recipe, without having to worry too much about calories!

If you want to know the secret power of chicken breast, read topic 2 on This page

References:

http://www.j-chicken.jp/museum/arekore/01.html (Japanese)

http://www.matsuzaka-steak.com/nikurikata/meat/007467.php (Japanese)

Smoked Mackerel Chirashi Sushi

I know it’s difficult to find sushi-grade fish outside of Japan. However, you don’t have to use raw fish to make sushi dish. You can use cooked or preserved fish or meat, a tin of fish, or smoked fish, which I used in this recipe.

I use smoked mackerel for this recipe, which is widely available everywhere in the UK.

This style of sushi dish is called chirashi, meaning ‘scattered’. Sushi rice is mixed with a few ingredients, typically cooked and seasoned vegetables, and the main ingredients are scattered on the rice.

I even cheated by using a ready-made chirashi sushi base mix product, which you can buy in the Japanese food section at most oriental grocery shops. If you can’t find any, just add sushi vinegar instead. Please refer to Key 1 below for that recipe.

There is no forming nor rolling involved in this recipe. The only technique required is mixing! So it’s fantastically easy to make and it tastes as good as any other type of sushi dish. If you are a novice at sushi-making, try this recipe first!

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Key

  1. If you don’t have the chirashi sushi rice mixture, just use 6 tbs of a bottled sushi vinegar, or make your own sushi vinegar by mixing 6 tbs of rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, 5 tbs of sugar and 1.5 tsp of salt.
  2. Because this is a simple sushi recipe, tasty cooked rice is vital. Draining the washed rice until the grains at the surface becomes dry makes a big difference in its taste. Don’t forget the steaming process as well. Please refer to my recipe for how to cook perfect rice.
  3. If you have time, grill or bake the smoked mackerel beforehand. This process makes the fish taste nicer.
  4. You can find how to toast sesame seeds here in the preparation section 3. Use plenty for this recipe.

Topic: What is chirashi sushi

Chirashi sushi is a style of sushi with several kinds of ingredients scattered on, or mixed in sushi rice, hence the name ‘chirashi’ (scattered in Japanese).

Although chirashi sushi is much easier to make than Nigiri or sushi rolls, it looks colourful and beautiful as it use variety of ingredients. Therefore, chirashi sushi is often served on a celebration day at home, most notably ‘Girls’ day’ or ‘Hinamatsuri’ on the 3rd March when we celebrate and pray for the health and happiness of girls.

In Japan, chirashi sushi is a popular dish for home cooking, so there are many kinds of ready-made base mixture products on sale. They typically consist of cooked and seasoned lotus root, carrot, kampyo (dried gourd strips), bamboo shoot, and shiitake mushroom in sushi vinegar.

Chirashi sushi is said to have been developed during the Edo era in Okayama prefecture. After horrific floods and a resulting food shortage, Mitsumasa Ikeda, the feudal lord of Okayama, issued rules restricting his people to only one soup and one side dish with rice for each meal. So people invented this way of eating lots of nice things by placing them at the bottom of a sushi tub and covering them with sushi rice. When it was safe to eat, they put them upside down and feasted. Ingenious! Their sushi is called Bara sushi which is now one of their local delicacies in Okayama prefecture.

Reference: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%81%A1%E3%82%89%E3%81%97%E5%AF%BF%E5%8F%B8 (Japanese)