Friday, July 6, 2012

Mushroom Spaghetti with Miso Cream Sauce

I love Asian mushrooms. I am so grateful that I can find shitake where I live. But in a bigger cities, more varieties are available. I brought "Enoki" from Florida. I love this mushroom. It's very long and skinny and a kind of crunchy. I should have bought different kinds of mushrooms at the Asian market that I went to. I decided to do creamy mushroom pasta, so I went to a store near my house to get shitake.
I remember that I had Miso cream sauce at a restaurant in CT before we moved away. I made it for chicken and it was good, but I thought it would be really nice with pasta.
When I was growing up in Tokyo more than 3 decades ago, Italian style pasta was not really common. Fortunately I was introduced to it by my father who had lived in Rome. However, if we go to a pasta restaurant (there were restaurants that serve only pasta dishes... they still exist), lots of dishes were very Japanized. We didn't like it at all. I also remember Western people were complaining about weird Japanese spaghetti dishes in 80's. I completely agreed with them at the moment. Nevertheless, now I look back, those restaurants seem to be the pioneers of fusion dishes.
This pasta could be easily on the menu back then though I don't remember seeing it.

*Mushroom spaghetti with Miso cream sauce*
Spaghetti 240 g
Olive oil 1tbsp
Garlic 2 cloves sliced
Mushroom of your choice 2 cups
Cream 2/3 cup
*Yuzu Kosho 1/4 tsp
Miso 2 tsp

< 1 > Start boiling the pasta.
< 2 > Saute garlic in olive oil and put mushrooms when garlic started to brown.
< 3 > Pour cream in and cook in low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
< 4 > Cook pasta to al dente. Keep 2 table spoon of boiling water.
< 5 > Dissolve Yuzu Kosho and Miso in the boiled water, and pour it in the cream mixture with pasta. Cook with medium heat for 2 minutes. If the miso is not salty enough, sprinkle with sea salt.
< 6 > Serve with Shiso if it's available. Putting bunch of Arugula is nice, also.

*Yuzu Kosho is citrus pepper paste from Southern part of Japan. It's made of Japanese citrus, Yuzu and chili pepper. I didn't know about it until 10 years ago until I was befriended with someone from Oita. She recommended to put it in Miso soup. I loved it so much and it became regular condiment in my house hold ever since.
I would think substituting is possible... Maybe grated lime zest and green pepper sauce? I need to try that sometime.

We enjoyed July 4th in St. Augustine. I loved the blue sky and beautiful architecture in down town.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Rice balls

Rice balls are must have for lunch box. My mother told me that it is the best since it doesn't get spoiled even it's warm outside. By saying that, she avoided making sandwiches. I envied my friends who brought sandwiches for school trips, but I enjoyed my rice balls anyway.
 There are lots of variations. One is made of white rice and there is something in the center. I think this is most traditional. The inside could be a pickled plum, salted salmon, fish eggs, seaweed, etc. The other kind is made of mixed rice. White rice is mixed with Furikake, or scrambled eggs, seaweed, sesame seeds, dried shiso leaves, etc.
The latter one has same taste anywhere you eat, but the white rice one is plain until you get a bite of inside. It is fun not knowing what is inside and the plain part is a good complement to meat and vegetables in a Bento box.
My rice ball was always the white rice ball with Nori wrapped around and the center was pickled plum. That was my favorite. I always liked something sour.
However, my husband thinks the white rice ball is boring until you get to its core. So I started to make rice balls with mixed rice after I got married.
These rice balls are really refreshing for summer lunch. Pickled ginger is the only thing that provides saltiness (except for a little salt). Shiso gives very nice aroma to this simple mixture.

Summer Rice Balls ( 6 mini rice balls)
* Ingredients *

2 cups of cooked white short grain rice
3 large leaves of green shiso
3 large leaves of red shiso
3 table spoons of pickled ginger
Sea salt

< 1 > Put rice in a large bowl and let it cool down a little bit so the heat wouldn't wilt shiso.
< 2 > Cut shiso leaves and ginger to long strips and mix with the rice.
< 3 > Wash the hands well. Make them moist and sprinkle palms with a little salt. Put the rice on the palm and make rice balls. Make sure the salt gets around evenly around the rice balls.

If you bend your fingers from the base and make edge with your knuckles, you can shape rice balls to triangles. My mother never did this. Hers was always a circle. But I somehow can't make it like that. So my rice balls are more like rice triangles that appears in cartoon. I also like mini sized ones. It looks small, but it is packed with lots of rice, so it is a good prevention for not eating too much of carbohydrate.
Making rice balls with saran wrap became very popular as I grew up. It prevents hands getting dirty and more sanitary. You can also wrap rice balls with the saran wrap as you finish them.
But traditionally, they are made with bare hands that are sprinkled with a pinch of salt.
After having lunch with my daughter, I asked if it will be nice to put tuna or something in these rice balls. She said that it is refreshing as is. I agreed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer has come

I can't believe it is summer already. Summer started with my parent's visit and I didn't really have a moment to realize the fact spring is over. I took them to lots of places and that let me discover many things. How beautiful scenery is around here. How peaceful trees make me feel. The size of the sky and shapes of the clouds etc....

I don't have a green thumb. I call myself a "plant killer". But I am enjoying having a little garden and I got ambitious this year so I started growing Shiso which is basil like Japanese herb. When I was living in Japan 20 years ago, it was almost impossible to find fresh basil in even in Tokyo. Cooking books usually suggested to use shiso instead. Yet it is a lot different from basil. I associate the taste of shiso with traditional Japanese dishes so I am not a good candidate to describe the taste. However, shiso is nice with non-Japanese dishes, too. I particularly like to cook it with butter

It started to grow nice leaves, so I decided to make cold noodle with shiso for lunch.

1 Cup of water
1 1/2 Table spoon of Sugar
3 Table spoon of Soy sauce
1/2 Tea spoon of Salt
Crashed garlic
1 Table spoon of Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 table spoon of Rice wine vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil

1 Japanese Eggplant
10 Cherry tomatoes
1 Scallion
3 Leaves of red shiso
3 Leaves of green shiso

5oz. of Somen Noodle

< 1 > Put water and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to boil, then take it out of heat. Put rest of the ingredients for the sauce and mix. Let it cool.
< 2 > Slice an eggplant and cook it in small amount of oil.
< 3 > Slice cherry tomatoes and scallion.
< 4 > Roll shiso leaves together and chop them to skinny strings.
< 5 > Boil Somen. Somen is very thin wheat noodle. Be careful not to over boil it. After it's boiled, run cold water until it's cool.
< 6 > Mix the vegetable and sauce with the noodle and serve.

Somen is very thin and white noodle. It can be found in Asian stores. I use Korean version of it and it tastes very good. Sometimes I saw "Soba" on a menu of Asian restaurant and I was served Somen. Soba is buckwheat noodle. Thin white noodle is Somen. Although this recipe would be nice with Soba noodle, too.

To me, shiso makes dishes very summer-like. Because it's summer herbs. Coupled with summer vegetable (or fruits?) such as an eggplant and tomatoes, it is very refreshing. 

I'd love to play with this herb more during summer.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Woven Shibori

I've tried to weave Woven Shibori for first time.  I was amazed at the idea of this weave.  I love traditional Japanese shibori fabric.  But I never thought you could weave the tread to resist dye into fabric.  I was very curious if this method or anything similar is known in Japan.  I asked the director at Shibori museum when I visited Kyoto, and he told me that there was similar method called "Taiten Shibori" which actually is mentioned in Catharine Ellis's "Woven Shibori" book.

How the fabric is folded after gathering the fabric is really interesting .  It reminded me of paper folding in a way.  The folds come to 2 sides of the fabric and I used different colors to dye it, and here it is.  It's very interesting looking.  I loved it!
So I realized it is very different from Japanese fabric Shibori technique.  You can use the thread to resist dye, but I found it more interesting to use the thread to make pattern for folding.

I made pillow cases with the fabric I weaved and dyed.  I love how the mathematical shibori pattern becomes organic after dying.  

Colors of spring.....  It seems like spring has already arrived, but it's cold today.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year in Japanese style

Happy New Year!
We celebrate New Year in Japanese style every year.  I've been doing it since I came to the US with my husband.  It became tradition to our family now.  We like the calmness of Japanese New Year.  I work in the kitchen practically all day on the New Year's Eve.  But I must do this.  It's like a renewal of my will to spend time and effort as much as needed to make something nice, to develop skills to make something that makes loved ones happy, to be creative, and so on.  
So it's a ritual that I have to go through every year.

Therefore, I couldn't leave my American husband and American daughter until the New Years day is over to visit my parents in Yokohama.  It's a kind of funny that I couldn't make it to have New Year day in Japan because I had to do Japanese New Year in East TN.
But I was able to catch the trail of Japanese New Year in Kyoto.

I wasn't expecting this, but those New Year arrangements are supposed to be displayed until 7th.  So I saw lots of beautiful arrangements.  My mother was surprised how sophisticated the arrangements in Kyoto were.  The style is different from Tokyo.

Kyoto is such a popular place and I almost feel ashamed to visit.  But I must admit that it's so beautiful.  Well, if you only saw the beautiful pictures of the traditional looking Kyoto and visit there, you will be surprised at how modern Kyoto is.  Less crowded than Tokyo, but still pretty crowded.  Some temples are too crowded to feel the tranquility, some are too busy with street vendors.  
But you can find the calmness somewhere.  A corner in a shrine, back street, temples that are far form the main part of the city, etc.

One of the biggest reason that I love visiting Kyoto is that everything is tasty there.  The restaurants in the station building, tiny noodle shop in the back street, vendors in a market, not to mention fancy traditional restaurants.
It is obvious that food are made with a great care.  It probably take long time and good ingredients to even make a broth for the base.  
It must be the culture and tradition in the old city.  I admire that so much.

My interest in Kyoto grew once I started to study Fiber Art.  I always loved Kimono fabric, but now I am interested in how they are made.  

I visited Shibori museum and Museum of Traditional Crafts.  I just love the craftsmanship that goes into the beautiful works.  The skill is unbelievable.  
But sadly, they are endangered.  Those products cost so much because of the intensive labor yet those traditional crafts are not part of modern westernized life.  So only handful of people can afford it.  It doesn't bring enough money to the craftsman to sustain their living.  Young people are not attracted to be one of them.
I've heard about that everywhere I went.  Even taxi driver was mentioning that.  It is sad but it is true. I wouldn't pay thousands of dollars for Kimono even it's beautiful because I don't need it.

Kyoto amazed me with its desire to create tasteful and beautiful things, and the skills and the amount of time that go behind the things they produce.  I always wished that I had born in the past to be a craftsman, but it's still going on there.  That makes me feel so happy.
Yet Kyoto left me feeling sad.  The tradition and skill is rapidly disappearing.
But I was inspired by it.  I will continue learn and incorporate the inspirations into my creation.

So visiting Kyoto was reassurance of my New Year hope.   I will try making this year meaningful.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Rainbow

We visited Florida for Christmas.  It was so warm!  It was pretty chilly last year, so we weren't expecting to swim in the pool but it was warm enough to do so.  I usually would think it's nice to feel warm air, but for Christmas, and the fact that I was not expecting the warmth, it was too much.  But we had a very nice time with family.

It was raining on the Christmas morning.  On and off.  I looked outside from the patio, and there was a rainbow!  It was not clear, but everybody came out to see it.  Then all of them expect my daughter and I left.  More we stood there and looked, it became clear and clear shaping a perfect half circle very vividly.  It was the best Christmas present ever.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I can't believe it's almost Christmas

We visited Florida for Thanksgiving.  I baked 4 different financiers to bring with us.  Pecan and chocolate chips, Almond and English tea, Almond and Green tea, Hazel nuts and chocolate....  Too bad I finished my green tea powder.  It really gave nice taste of green tea.  I must put that on the list of the things to buy in Japan.
Our dog Rosco had a great time playing with Mama's dog Layla.  They were such a perfect couple.  So cute together.

Thanksgiving in Florida was pretty warm.  With the sunshine coming through the big windows, it didn't feel a bit like Autumn.  The feast was great.  We had a fun with the family, definitely.  

I contemplated over going shopping on black Friday.  I decided to pass.  But I ended up going to an outlet mall in the afternoon.  It was not as crowded as I thought.  I guess experiencing real crowdedness in Tokyo and NY toughened up my tolerance for the crowd.  

It was a very short visit, but it was so nice as usual.  I am so glad we are close enough to do this.  8 hours of driving is not too bad considering the 16 hour drive we had to do from CT.
And this time, we didn't go home through Savannah, we went through Atlanta.  This gave us extra 2-3 hours of driving, yet, it was worth it.  I was able to shop in H-Mart which is Korean super market.  I haven't gone to serious Asian store for over a year.  I went literally crazy.  As soon as I saw the vegetable section full of vegetables that are not available in east TN, my well thought-out grocery list lost its meaning.  I just shopped as if I haven't had any food for a week.  
We were able to have very down to earth Japanese breakfast next morning.

Natto on brown rice.  Miso soup with seaweed and tofu which is not cut to 1/4 inch cubes like restaurants.  Japanese people would cut tofu to much bigger than that!  Korean tofu is so tasty.
Natto is one of the most difficult food for non Japanese to eat because of the strong aroma for fermentated food.  But J likes it.  Actually he loves it. It's also very healthy.  We bought so many packages of them...

The days go by so quickly after the holiday.  Every year, November and December were busiest time for me because of Nutcrackers.  Since we moved and I am so far away from my clients, I was not busy in this season last year, and I felt very sad.  But this year I am busy finishing up the first semester at the college.  
I am finishing the project for my weaving class.  I enjoyed weaving so much.  It is really nice not to use any machinery.  I am so glad to discover the craft I can enjoy besides sewing.

After this is done, I will have to be in the serious Christmas mode!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...