Mains

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)

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)

Grilled Plaice with Spring Onion and Ginger Sauce

Plaice has a soft, mild taste flesh and is quick to cook. No wonder it’s one of the most popular and widely available fish in the UK. You can find plaice as a whole fish, or filleted pieces in the shop. Plaice fillets don’t have bones nor skins, so you can start cooking straightaway without any preparation. You also can find plaice fillets in the frozen food section.

Plaice is often used for fish and chips here, but I oven-baked fillets and served with ginger flavoured soy sauce and lots of spring onion on top. It’s simple and easy recipe but the result is fantastic. Plaice is much more succulent and softer when oven-baked than grilled. Serve with a bowl of rice or rice wine to enjoy its Japanese flavour.

You can use any kind of fish fillet, such as red snapper, sea bass, salmon or mackerel, instead of plaice.

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Key: Baking time can vary depending on the oven used. Check time to time to prevent overcooking the fish. If you use a different kind of fish, adjust baking time depending on the thickness of the fillet. Fish cooks fast and dries out by overcooking. Use ‘200°C for 15 minutes’ as a guideline. They become fully opaque and feel firmer when they’re done.

Topic: Not only for Fridays!

NHS in the UK recommend eating fish twice a week, as they are high in protein and low in saturated fat. What’s more, oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acid, which is good for your brain and heart.

A study in 2014 in the US found a link between fish consumption and volumes of brain parts which deal with memory and cognition. It also revealed that people who eat fish regularly are more likely to have a higher education.

In the UK and other Christian countries, fish is traditionally eaten on Fridays. So, it’s good idea to add one more fish day in your weekly diet. Unfortunately, fish and chips are not as effective as baked or boiled fish, because, not only is it much higher in calories, fatty acids are destroyed by the high heat of frying.

In contrast, in Japan, a survey conducted in October in 2017 found that 58.8% of Japanese adults eat fish more than twice a week. The survey also revealed that 65.1% of the people who eat fish more than twice a week consider themselves as healthy, compared to 50.2% of the people who eat fish less than once a week.

Here, I declare, “Fish is not only for Friday!” If you want to know more fish recipes, click the ‘Seafood’ tag on the right column of the page. Why not try my TERIYAKI SALMON RECIPE? If you are not used to cooking fish, you can start with THIS RECIPE which uses a tin of mackerel.

References:

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/fish-shellfish.aspx

http://www.upmc.com/media/NewsReleases/2014/Pages/pitt-study-fish-boots-brain-health.aspx

https://www.maruha-nichiro.co.jp/corporate/news_center/research/pdf/20171003_totonohi_cyousa.pdf (Japanese)

 

Butter and Soy Sauce Flavoured Cod

Cod is unarguably everyone’s favourite fish, because of its delicate taste and soft texture. It’s also adaptable to varieties of cooking methods and flavourings.

We all know fish dishes are good for us, though ways of cook them tends to become monotonous. This recipe uses a sauce made from butter and soy sauce, which gives an interesting Japanese-ish twist to crispy pan-fried cod. I serve with sautéed leek, which adds sweetness to the dish.

The flavour of the soy sauce, the richness of butter, and the sweetness of the leek make the difference to ordinary pan-fried cod.

You could also try my other Japanese influenced flavour, miso and butter sauce for fish recipe here. This sauce is also fantastic with cod.

 

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Key

Adjust cooking time for cod depending on the thickness of the fillet. For instance, if your fillet is thinner than the cod in the picture, reduce the cooking time.

If your fillets don’t brown, quickly pan-fry them over a high heat until browned at the end of cooking.

Serve the cod with rice or mashed potato as a main. It’s also nice on salad leaves to serve as a starter.

 

Topic 1: Butter and Soy Sauce Flavour

Butter and soy sauce flavour is one of the most popular flavourings in Japan. We even have butter and say sauce flavoured snacks, including crisps and popcorn. Everyone loves the charred aroma of the soy sauce and rich butter taste.

Butter and soy sauce are great with light and delicate ingredients, such as white fish and chicken breast, as they accentuate their tastes. Adding soy sauce to butter sautéed vegetables is equally tasty.

 

Topic 2: Cod

Cod is an excellent source of protein and, as it’s much lower in calories and saturated fat, a healthier substitution for meat. It’s also rich in health beneficial properties, such as omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.

Unfortunately, cod is currently classified as ‘at risk’ due to overfishing in the UK, Canada and most other Atlantic countries. You can use haddock, hake, coley, or pollock instead of cod.

In Japan, cod is called tara and its Kanji character is ‘鱈‘. It’s a Japanese-made Kanji, and the left side signifies fish, and the right side signifies snow. The character was created because of its snow-white meat. Cod is said to taste nicer during winter because they keep more fat against coldness. Salted cod roe is called tarako, literally meaning ‘cod’s children’, and is one of the most widely available side dishes in Japan. Shirako, meaning ‘white children’, is milt of male cod and prized as a seasonal delicacy by many Japanese. I must warn you that shirako is not for everyone, but only for those people who are adventurous enough with food.

 

References

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/cod/

https://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefishcity/top_ten_swaps/#cod

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=133

 

pork tsukune meatball

Pork Tsukune Meatballs with Miso Flavoured Sauce

At yakitori eateries, tsukune, minced chicken meatballs on skewers, is one of the popular choices. Here I created a tsukune style meatball recipe with pork mince, as it’s easier to find pork mince in the UK.

For the sauce, I used miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soy beans, which goes really well with pork. You can find a jar of miso at major supermarkets and grocery chains nowadays. This sauce gives an umami packed flavour to the tsukune meatballs.

Why not skewer cooked tsukune meatballs in Japanese yakitori style for your party? They are still delicious even when they have cooled down, which makes fancy finger food at parties as well as a great side dish for a bento box.

obento with pork tsukune

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Key

  1. It’s important to mix the mixture for the tsukune meatballs by hand very well until it feels sticky and becomes slightly pale in colour.
  2. There are several types of miso on shelves, but you can use any type for this recipe.
  3. Check whether the tsukune meatballs are cooked by poking one of them with a skewer. When the juice runs clear, it’s cooked.
  4. Toasted sesame seeds are called iri goma, and a popular garnish in Japan. Sesame seeds taste and smell better when toasted, and gives an extra richness and flavour to dishes. You can use them for a variety of Japanese dishes as a garnish.

Topic: What’s Tsukune?

The word tsukune derives from an old Japanese word ‘tsukune-ru’, which means ‘to knead’.  Now you know why it’s important to mix the mixture very well. Tsukune is made from minced meat and usually shaped into a ball or a baton. Chicken mince is most used for tsukune, however pork mince tsukune is equally popular.

Tsukune is loved by all age groups because it’s soft and juicy, therefore easy to eat from children to the elderly. It’s also versatile to cook, as you can mix other ingredients including herbs and spices, or even soft bones to enjoy a crunch.

Tsukune is often served in izakaya where people can enjoy a variety of food each in a small quantity with drinks, just like Spanish tapas. Each izakaya has their own tsukune dish using different parts of the meat and original recipes. You’ll be asked if you want to eat tsukune with tare or shio in izakaya. Tare is a sweet and savoury sauce similar to teriyaki sauce, and shio means simply just salt. You might think seasoning with only salt is boring, but actually some tsukune recipes taste better with just salt. Furthermore, in recent Japan, many salt products from various areas are available. For instance, a salt shop in Tokyo sells 400 varieties of salt from Japan and overseas, and a profession called salt meisters are on the rise.