Party

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)

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)

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.

 

vegetable okonomiyaki

Vegetable Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese style savoury pancake and one of the most popular street food. It’s unpretentious Japanese food and inexpensive to make.

Okonomiyaki literally means ‘grill what you like’ in Japanese, and as its name suggests, you can add a variety of ingredients of your choice to the same base: batter and shredded cabbages. For this particular recipe, I chose sweetcorn to add some sweetness, and spring onions to give an accent. It’s packed with vegetables and kids love it, even ones who hate vegetables. It’s also vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Authentically, dashi fish stock is used for the batter and there are a set of conventional garnishes for it: Okonomiyaki sauce, bonito flakes, and seaweed flakes, which are quite difficult to find at your local supermarket. This recipe doesn’t require those ingredients, as I created this recipe for anyone who wants to have a go at cooking okonomiyaki outside of Japan. It’s seasoned already, so you can eat as it is, or garnish with mayonnaise and soy sauce if you like.

It’s light and fluffy. Try cooking Okonomiyaki for a light lunch or a healthy snack.

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Level: Easy

 

Ingredients for 2

100g Sweetheart Cabbage Leaves (shredded)

50g Spring Onion or Salad Onion (finely chopped)

100g Tin of Sweetcorn (drained)

100g Plain Flour

100ml Water

1 Vegetable Stock Cube (dissolve in 50ml hot water)

2 tbs Cooking Oil

Mayonnaise (optional)

Soy Sauce (optional)

Method

  1. Place the shredded cabbage, chopped onion, sweetcorn, plain flour, water, and the dissolved stock cube in a bowl. Mix well.DSC_9818
  2. Place 1 tbs cooking oil in a frying-pan, and heat over a medium-strong heat. Place half of the mixture into the frying-pan, and spread to make a circle with about a 16cm diameter using the back of a spoon. Panfry the mixture for two and a half minutes.DSC_9819
  3. Flip it over, and panfry for a further two minutes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Place the pancakes on serving plates. Garnish with mayonnaise and soy sauce to your preference.DSC_9834

 

Key

  1. You can replace the stock cube with any cube of your choice.
  2. Alternatively, make bite-sized pancakes to serve as a canapé to your guest.

Easy Yakitori in A Pan

Yakitori is Japanese-style grilled chicken pieces on a skewer. It’s typical bar food and you can find yakitori bars luring punters with smoke and an irresistible smell from their grills.

If you want to cook yakitori at home, it’ll be a challenge. They often come out undercooked or overcooked. Burning the skewers is another problem. That’s why most of us eat out or take away yakitori in Japan.

Here, I’m going to show you an easy and fool-proof recipe for yakitori cooked in a pan.

Ingredients for 8 skewers

4 Small Chicken thighs (or 350g Chicken Thigh Pieces)

Spring Onion (cut into bite-size pieces)

8 Skewers

For Cooking Sauce

2 tbs Soy Sauce

2 tbs Sugar

2 tbs Mirin or Sweet Sherry

Method

Preparation: Debone the Chicken Thigh

Make diagonal slits on both side of the bone, and take the bone off.

  1. Cut the chicken thigh into bite-size chunks.
  2. Place the chicken chunks on a pan skin-side down. Cook them over a high heat. You don’t need to add cooking oil, as oil comes from the chicken skin as you cook it. Leave the pieces untouched until the skin becomes golden brown.
  3. Mix all the ingredients for the cooking sauce until the sugar is dissolved. Or even easier, put them in a small jar and shake.
  4. Turn the chicken pieces over and cook thoroughly. Once cooked, add the spring onion pieces and the cooking sauce.
  5. When the chicken pieces are coated with the sauce and become shiny, remove from heat. Skewer the cooked chicken pieces and spring onion, using forks or chopsticks.

Key

  1. To check whether the chicken pieces are cooked, poke the biggest chicken piece with a skewer. If clear juice runs out, it’s cooked.
  2. You can use cocktail sticks instead of skewers.
  3. If you use skin off chicken add a little oil to the pan.

Prawns Stir-fry with Wasabi Flavoured Buttery Soy Sauce

This recipe is quick and easy to cook, yet really tasty. A great starter to impress your guest!

Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: for two

150g King Prawns (raw)

2 tbs Plain Flour

30g Butter

30g Spring Onion (sliced diagonally)

2 tsp Soy Sauce

½ tsp Wasabi Paste

1 tbs Water

Method

  1. Place the prawns in a bowl and sprinkle the plain flour. Coat the prawns with the plain flour evenly.DSC_8887
  2. Heat the butter in a frying-pan. When the butter has melted, fly the prawns over a medium strong heat on both side until they are cooked.DSC_8891
  3. Mix the soy sauce, wasabi paste, and water, then add to the frying-pan. Coat the prawns with the sauce. Add the sliced spring onion and mix. Serve immediately.DSC_8892

Key

  • Mix the soy sauce, wasabi paste, and water well until the wasabi is completely dissolved.  DSC_8894

Prawns with Wasabi Flavoured Buttery Soy Sauce

This recipe is quick and easy to cook, yet really tasty. A great starter to impress your guest!

Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: for two

150g King Prawns (raw)

2 tbs Plain Flour

30g Butter

30g Spring Onion (sliced diagonally)

2 tsp Soy Sauce

½ tsp Wasabi Paste

1 tbs Water

Method

  1. Place the prawns in a bowl and sprinkle the plain flour. Coat the prawns with the plain flour evenly.DSC_8887
  2. Heat the butter in a frying-pan. When the butter has melted, fly the prawns over a medium strong heat on both side until they are cooked.DSC_8891
  3. Mix the soy sauce, wasabi paste, and water, then add to the frying-pan. Coat the prawns with the sauce. Add the sliced spring onion and mix. Serve immediately.DSC_8892

Key

  • Mix the soy sauce, wasabi paste, and water well until the wasabi is completely dissolved.  DSC_8894