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What to do, how to use kecap manis?

The 11 tablespoons of butter isn't a typo, the original calls for 150 grams. (no idea how, but Caitlin's response saying the same thing has only just become visible to me... Sorry!)
Japanese cuisine has dark soy sauce and light soy sauce and neither are thick, so if you replicated the kecap manis there is no need to add molasses to approximate dark soy sauce.
Apart from the butter (I use about 3 tablespoons, not a shock as the recipe has similarities with shoyu butter sauces) no other modifications seem required to me, the huge amount of ground black pepper works beautifully - even if I do usually add 4 tablespoons rather than the 5 called for.

Jun 19, 2013
MoGa in Home Cooking

Too many mandoline-sliced red potatoes soaking; ideas for use?

Spanish omelette (tortilla de patatas)

I personally wouldn't start with mandolin sliced potatoes but many Spaniards do (there are as many ways of making this omelette as there are Spaniards)
Sauté the potatoes in olive oil, you can add some chopped onion, but this is optional.
Alternatively, you can fry the potatoes in a fryer in batches.
Once the potatoes (and onion) are cooked and in a frying pan add beaten egg that has been generously salted, stirring at the start is optional, and once set, cover the pan witha plate and flip over. Slide on the other side and continue cooking. It's fine to eat the next day (in my opinion a next day omelette at room temperature is best with the onion - freshly made and hot it doesn't need it.

Aug 20, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

What else can I use tahini for?

Excellent ideas here! Only one I can add that hasn't been mentioned is that you can stir some into miso soup.

Jun 02, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

[London] Koya - Serious Udon specialist in Soho..

I've been to Koya several times and have always been impressed, particularly as the udon here has always been better than any udon I've ever had in Tokyo - only some, not all, of the udon I've had in Takamatsu has been comparable.
Alas, I didn't feel this way yesterday. I had the hiya atsu walnut miso option, dipped the udon into the broth and slurped the slightly warmed noodles and... they tasted rather bland. The texture was OK, not quite as satisfyingly 'koshi' as I remembered, it was more the lack of taste. The only way to salvage the dish was to put the udon into the soup and let them stew there as long as possible so that they could get some flavour from the broth.
The walnut miso was delectable - shame I couldn't just eat it without diffusing its splendour into the stock. I also enjoyed the miso marinaded cucumber 'pickles'. The shock was realising that my own home made noodles were better tasting than those here, which has never been the case before.
I arrived before 12am and by the time I left the restaurant was still over half empty.
Did make me wonder if the lacking in excellence wasn't a one off phenomenon and that regular clients have been perceiving a decline in the quality.

Anyone else have any recent experiences?

Jun 01, 2012
MoGa in U.K./Ireland

Oji drip coffee in Tokyo?

Just saw the "Made in Japan" segment on the Oji Drip coffee 'machines' being used in the USA.
Since I'm in Japan for a while (until first Monday in April) I'd love to try some coffee made using this method.

Anyone know anywhere I can get it?
Easily accessible from Azabu Juban preferred.

Mar 15, 2012
MoGa in Japan

Authentic Alioli Recipe?

The odd part about the alioli you tried in Valencia is that it is called all i oli which sounds much more like aioli than alioli does (ll in Catalan/Valencian and Spanish is similar to the English 'y' sound).

Alioli/Allioli was one of the few kitchen tasks undertaken by the male head of the household in the South East of Spain. Typically the father would take out the pestle and mortar, a bottle of oil with a thin neck or spout, and go sit outside the front door in the breeze away from the mayhem indoors. My memories are of men with caps and cigarettes dangling from the corners of their mouths bent over the mortar with a zen like look of concentration.
One always stirred in the same direction (helps prevent the sauce from splitting) and the oil was added very very gradually. The women in the kitchen inside pestered by kids big and small and the demands of the range and kitchen equipment didn't have the luxury of time and patience.
The true test of the alioli (and a party trick for grandads) is to remove the cap from your head and hold the upturned mortar bowl over it. Properly made alioli is stiff enough to stay in the bowl and neither slide nor drip.
I've never seen all i oli made with measurements. Generally you take 2 or 4 cloves of garlic - the fresher the better - 2 cloves for around a quarter litre of olive oil or 4 cloves for a half litre. Or more cloves if you want something fiery, for instance as an accompaniment to potatoes.
You mash the cloves with a bit of salt and just keep stirring/grinding in the same direction adding a light steady stream of oil, but a bit at a time. It really is all about patience.
There are lots of alternatives - like adding stale bread at the beginning with the garlic, or egg yolks, or (perhaps the best of these) quince jelly, these are usually ways to help with the emulsification. They aren't necessary but they do make this easier.
I personally like it with strong flavoured olive oil - but then I've grown up with the stuff. Choose a light olive oil if you prefer. You might also like to try a little touch of vinegar which sort of freshens the taste, I can't offer guidance on this because I never add it.
The link you included is a good one and shows the little bottle with the thin neck which is in all the Spanish kitchens I know. It also demonstrates the circular motion I described.

Mar 06, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

Recipes for using Spanish turron candy?

If you melt some of the turron de Jijona in warm milk and let the milk/turron mixture cool you can stir it into ready made icecream and let it freeze again.

But you asked for an alternative recipe - a popular one in Spain (where creme caramel - called 'flan' - is one of the nations faourite desserts) is... flan de turron.
The idea is that you make creme caramel (generally made from a packet) and when you heat the milk you dissolve the turron into it and make the dessert as usual - often some extra milk or cream is used, about a fifth more than indicated in the packet.

Do remember that this kind of turron will melt in warmed milk, butter or cream. You can incorporate it into a sponge (something like a financier would be ideal) or a mousse or even a souffle.
I recently posted a couple of recipes for Spanish style hot chocolate - you could try melting in a little bit of turron de Jijona (and cut down on the sugar).
I rarely have a surplus but I've tried using it in ice cream and love it.
I've taken it to Japan as a gift before and it makes a nice wagashi as its intense sweetness goes well with matcha (tea ceremony tea). But for this I prefer turron de yema tostada which really is a perfect accompaniment to this kind of tea.

Feb 29, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

Catalan Hot Chocolate

Cornstarch is pretty important in this sort of chocolate.
In English
1000 g de leche - 1 litre of milk (about 4 cups
) 150 g de chocolate - 150g of chocolate (aim for about 65% cacao) - shave, grate or process into small pieces
50 g de cacao - 50g cocoa powder
200 g de azúcar - 200g granulated sugar
25 g de almidón (maizena) - 25g cornstarch.

Method - bring to the boil 3/4 of the milk with 150g of the sugar. In the meantime, in another receptacle, mix the cornstarch, cocoa powder and the remaining sugar and once blended stir in the cold milk and combine to a paste.
When the milk reaches a boiling point, add the grated chocolate, stir to dissolve, add the cornstarch paste and keep stirring constantly until it thickens.

Generally it isn't made from scratch as you can get cocoa, sugar and cornstarch in packets, the deluxe version is something like this
A "Valor" chocolate bar especially formulated to dissolve into hot milk to make "chocolate a la taza". Valor is perhaps Spain's most popular brand of chocolate and has a long history.

A better recipe (but which may not be so representative of what you enjoyed in Spain) is this one based on a Torreblanca recipe. Torreblanca perhaps being the most celebrated chocolatiers in Spain.
In this 40g of cornstarch is mixed with 50g of sugar. To this you add 1 litre of milk, 100g of cream, 0.5 g of salt and 1g of cinnamon powder. Bring the mixture to boiling point and turn off the heat.
Add 550g of grated chocolate (64% cocoa min) and stir well.
Unfortunately the recipe misses out the point where another 50g of sugar is added. Perhaps with the chocolate at the end?

Feb 27, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

Seeking Retro restaurants in Tokyo - Art Deco cafés, 1960s hotel bars, etc

Tokyo Sanuki Club - Azabu Juban
The photos show the two different areas used. On the left might be evenings only and is the location I had in mind.
On the right is the main dining room used at lunch time (where you can get literal buckets of udon).
I'm not a big fan of the noodles (too soft for me) but it's a pleasant place to eat and good value. Check at reception for a range of shikoku foods to take away (broad bean is a speciality and make a delicious snack or gift

Feb 26, 2012
MoGa in Japan

Any Suggestions for the Best Mid-Level Sushi in Tokyo?

To be honest, I don't know what the lady next to me paid, but her omakase (if it was omakase) had a much wider variety of items than mine. Which means that the 5,000yen I paid didn't quite cut the wasabi and this is why I've recommended spending more. There's no guarantee you'll get a gracious and charitable benefactor next to you to fill in the gaps in your sushi education and show you what you're actually missing by not paying the extra.
And this was 2002.

Feb 25, 2012
MoGa in Japan

Best Soba in Tokyo?

It's some time ago since I went but I'm hoping to go back this year. They have a popular set where three kinds of soba are served which is a wonderful way to appreciate this speciality.
The place is called Hojinbou (竹泉)
Map and photos here
Tablelog reviewers are a tough crowd and the highest rated soba restaurant in Tokyo only gets 4.1. Even so, Hojinbou does get a handful of rave reviews -so at least I'm in company by recommending it.
Best in Tokyo? Not sure about that but it has been perhaps the most memorable - and I've eaten a LOT of soba in Tokyo. I came here first through a recommendation in "The Book of Soba" by James Udesky.
You can see a photo of the three kinds of soba set here:

Feb 24, 2012
MoGa in Japan

Any Suggestions for the Best Mid-Level Sushi in Tokyo?

killersmile - absolutely correct
I presented 5,000yen because I was young, had just been clubbing all night and that was all I had left to spare. I didn't recommend this amount (although it's perfectly feasible to do so) as I'd suggested that 10k "could likely yield the best and best value sushi you'll ever eat."
My experience as a first timer at Tsukiji was heightened by a fellow female diner who I'd been queuing with. I didn't speak Japanese at the time (still barely do) but I did know a lot of food words and she did a beautiful job of guiding me through the whole experience and told me what I was eating (for instance I thought the soup was chicken broth but she explained that the 'meat' was toro). She also exchanged some of my sushi items for more 'deluxe' versions from her, more expensive, selection. This is how I first fell in love with uni (which didn't come in the 5,000yen omakaze).
I am still overwhelmed by this lady's kindness and generosity, but she also showed me why it's worth spending more on sushi, particularly at Tsukiji where the value is so high.
The benchmark for judging sushi is well set after coming here and when you do spend more money at higher end joints it's much better to understand what you are paying that premium for (and part of that premium involves not parting with money up front like an ignorant pleb!)

Feb 23, 2012
MoGa in Japan

Pickled Daikon like you might get at a sushi place?

The drying out of the radish is pretty important as the usual way to pickle daikon to make takuan (which is what you've described) is to immerse it in a crock or jar of fermented and seasoned rice bran (nuka). If the daikon hadn't been dried out first it would leach out too much moisture through osmosis and the bran pickling bed would get waterlogged.

The umami comes from the fermentation processes within the nuka pickling bed, so if you want to pickle it this way rather than with vinegar you will need to dry out the daikon with other techniques. It isn't always sunny in Japan so vegetables might be left in a draughty airy corridor, but you could always use an oven, turn it to the very lowest temperature and leave your vegetables to dry out overnight - you may need to cover them (so they don't absorb/impart flavours) and put them in the fridge for a few days to really dry them out. They get re-hydrated a bit in the nuka so they won't look limp on the plate.
Here's a fine recipe:
Just use the method I suggested or use your common sense in place of the 1-2 weeks in the sun the recipe instructs you to do.
Here isd the article that got me interested in nuka pickling many years ago:

Feb 18, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking


Those are beautiful!
You can put flaked salted salmon into yaki onigiri now you've mastered the general technique. Sounds to me like you'd enjoy these in ochazuke where you can add as much salmon as you wish.

Feb 17, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking


Perhaps Andoh should be clearer abut the tied end of the soba noodles being destined for the dustbin. It's best to tie them as far up the bundle as possible and use chopsticks whilst cooking to tease apart the strands as what remains close to the tie is indeed inedible.

Feb 17, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

Parboiled Rice [moved from Home Cooking]

I opened this thread for precisely the same reason. I don't get what the appeal of parboiled rice is and was curious to see an enthusiast's point of view.

Feb 16, 2012
MoGa in General Topics


I resisted a rice cooker for years but finally bought one. I still make it in a saucepan occasionally as my rice cooker is also a splendid slow cooker.
When I'm at my parents' house, as they don't have a suitable saucepan with tight fitting lid, I use this method:
It's perfect for those with lidded frying pans.
It's extremely similar to Andoh's method so worth trying if you're struggling or feel intimidated.

Feb 07, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking


Pg 160 - Toasty Hand Pressed Rice (Yaki Omusubi AKA Yaki Onigiri)
This evening London had its first snowfall and with the husband just gone to work I took the little one out for a late stroll so she could see the transformed neighbourhood.
Before we left the house I'd already washed and drained the rice, added the grains and left the rice to soak for an hour. I switched the rice cooker on and out we went.
My daughter was famished when we got back and it was short work to heat the pan, stir in a little salt and form the patties with wet hands and... I completely cheated here but used her instructions on page 96 for inspiration so I took a small bowl and added (roughly) a teaspoon of sugar, a drop of Mirin, a dribble of sake, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of commercial dashi concentrate. (But this has been a good reminder that it's worth making a batch up of Andoh's recipe to keep in the fridge)
The shaped rice was plonked onto the searing hot pan and left for a couple of minutes, once the first side was browned I flipped and brushed the seasoning onto the top whilst still in the pan (it sinks through the rice and a few drops caramelise on the other side which I quite enjoy). It was all done in less than ten minutes . We didn't mind just having the one kind of patty and rather than brush with nori sauce I just wrapped a piece of crisp nori round the patties just before eating them.
I was going to use the leftovers to make the ochazuke on page 162 but none remained, they were all demolished. Seems my daughter wasn't the only one who was famished. We had genmaicha to drink and I can't imagine a nicer supper after a walk through the snow.

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

February Cookbook of the Month 2012: Japanese Month

There's a wonderful film by Yasujiro Ozu called (in English) "The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice" where the protagonist goes to the nuka pot and takes a pickle out of the fermenting bran to make ochazuke with.
My husband will put any Japanese pickle to hand in his but, personally, I'm not sure anything too vinegary is right for this dish. Umeboshi is good (you can even get commercially made ochazuke packets with an ume plum taste) but takuan and other rice bran pickles seem the most appropriate but it really is your call.

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

Korean seaweed

There seems to be a misconception in this thread that the type of nori used for sushi is the only kind used in Japan.
Seasoned nori is very popular there. Visitors may come across it most served at breakfast time.
Korean kinds are readily available but there are distinct Japanese versions too. My favourite was given as a present to my daughter recently and it's lightly seasoned with Italian olive oil and French salt. Totally inappropriate for sushi.
Here is a selection from a Japanese company which exports to English speaking countries so you can see their range listed in English

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in General Topics

JAPANESE MONTH: A SIMPLE ART: Sushi, Sashimi, Rice and Rice dishes

Did you use gloves after salting the radish greens and squeezing them?!?
I started using them a lot this last year but as I still don't have Tsuji's book (it's in the post) the recipe that got me using radish leaves (and even growing them so there'd be a plentiful supply) was this one:
All the radish leaves I've ever used are so prickly and really need that minute or two in boiling water to wilt out the little bristles.

qianning - Is merely salting them enough to tame the prickles or are your radish leaves exceptionally tender?

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Vegetables, Tofu and Eggs

Perhaps it's about the radishes going a bit soggy after a week. They'll stay lovely and crisp for a few days, after that, whilst still good, the soft texture isn't so enticing. Crisp radishes are exactly what I want to be bringing with me as a gift seeing as I can't take along fresh ones.

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Vegetables, Tofu and Eggs

How pretty!
I must have skipped over this recipe a hundred times assuming that the radishes in the title were daikon rather than radishes.
This kind of radish can be pretty expensive in Tokyo and I feel inspired. I'll start marinading the vinegar tonight and put the rest of it together tomorrow. If it works out I'll make a batch to take to my family in Japan next month (should be fine since the vegetables are processed).

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

Have you ever tried to cook quinoa? How do you cook and serve it? What recipe do you like the best?

Was shown a recipe by Heston Blumenthal where rinsed, cooked quinoa is partly blended (50% put in a blender/liquidiser) to make the seeds sticky. The quinoa is seasoned with a tangy ponzu and then a filling selected and the quinoa is smeared onto nori seaweed and rolled up into makizushi rolls.
Turns out that if you make really thin long rolls they're perfect finger food for small kids - it's beautiful with avocado and smoked salmon.
My daughter enjoys quinoa but when eaten by a still unskilled fork and spoon handler it gets EVERYWHERE. This part blended technique sticks it together so even if it isn't rolled in seaweed it's still easier for toddlers to feed themselves with.

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking


Page 174 - Buckwheat Noodle Roll (Soba zushi)
This is the recipe I was most excited about when I purchased this book. I'd eaten soba zushi in Tokyo (at Kanda yabu soba) and my attempts to recreate it had been pretty messy. Andoh changed all that.
Since my daughter loves nori (if you've not figured it out already, small children almost invariably LOVE crisp nori - just cut it up small so that it isn't a choking hazard) and soba is an almost perfect food for kids I consider this recipe to be the ultimate snack food, both for serving at home and for eating on the go.
This morning I made a batch with avocado and julienned cucumber (to which I had applied the aku nuki technique she describes on pg76). If I'm make larger rolls more similar in size to that described in the recipe I might add rolled omelet. It gets a bit messy at this size when eaten by a toddler but it's still manageable and the combination is practically a meal.
But this morning I made smaller rolls than suggested. I did this by using half sheets of nori rather than whole ones (if this is new to you you might like to try a 2/3 size sheet and use the remaining third to wrap around rice balls like a belt or crunch over rice or cut into bits for the kids.)
I've found it isn't worthwhile tying the soba into smaller batches for coooking. It's easy enough to pinch half portion from the cooked cooled soba 'packages', slice it away and lay it on the smaller nori sheets. With small children the key is to ensure that you have enough free nori space left over on your sheet to make a secure fastening at the seam once you've rolled it up.
Personally (although these are at their best freshly made) I think these taste much better cold a few hours after making them than makizushi made with rice does so these are a bento staple for us in the way that rice based makizushi isn't.
I'm currently sipping on a hot broth made of the soba cooking water to which I've added some dashi concentrate (store bought not made from scratch). Lots and lots of B vitamins here which leached out of the noodles - have some of this with your meal and it makes soba a perfect food. It's very nice on a cold morning.

I used to find the cooking directions a bit confusing but got the hang out of it through practice. Here's a resource I found comparatively recently which makes the directions clearer. The blogger who posted these photos is in Andoh's kitchen in Tokyo taking a course:

Hope these photos make the recipe less daunting for anyone wanting to give it a go.

Feb 04, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking


2 Tablespoons per 1.5 cups sounds completely right but I must admit that I usually make 3 cups at a time and add about 3 very generous tablespoons. You might like to add a little less than what Andoh suggests if you're just using one grain.

I'm sure any Chinese millet (and there must be many kinds) would be wonderful.
Millet added to rice cooks perfectly in the rice cooker. Just don't forget to add that little touch of extra water just as Andoh suggests.

Feb 03, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking


Great news about your rice exceeding your expectations, smtucker (and what a wonderful menu!). I always try and let my rice drain for a full hour whenever possible but Andoh doesn't explicitly request this.

Has anyone been adding seeds and grains to their rice yet? On the front cover of the book there is a picture showing a bowl of rice full of bits. I think it looks particularly delicious.

On Page 38 Andoh gives her advice on how to make a Zakkoku Mai mix.
Using this advice my own mix is made up of:

Poppy seeds (took me months to finally find white ones but black/blue were fine before I did)
Flax seeds/Linseed
sometimes a bit of quinoa and/or a few sesame seeds make it in to the mix.
(I'd love to get hold of the sticky millet Andoh uses but haven't seen it anywhere. I should be able to finally pick it up in Japan next month)

My husband also prefers rice with some Zakkoku Mai but tends to forget to add it. For years if he added anything to rice it would just be a few spoons of barley. Both barley and millet by themselves make lovely single grain additions to rice if you have them to hand.

I'd LOVE to know what other people are trying.

Feb 03, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Stocks, Sauces, and other Condiments

I think the difference between home cooking and professional cooking starts to assert itself here. When you see chefs on Japanese TV making dashi VAST quantities of bonito flakes make it into the pan.
I've eaten home cooked meals made by friends and relatives who prepare their own dashi and much more modest amounts are used. On the one had, flakes made from traditional blocks which are shaved by hand using a special utensil take time and effort to prepare. And even with store bought mechanically shaved bonito, it's costly.

Feb 02, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking

JAPANESE MONTH: WASHOKU: Stocks, Sauces, and other Condiments

Dashi made daily as part of a traditional kitchen is very important and its part of the reason why so many families forsake this for instant dashi varieties. Once made it simply doesn't last very long. May I suggest that you freeze what you have left over rather than keeping it in the fridge. This will guarantee it remains available for a future recipe.

You can put bonito flakes in the freezer also. That will also help prolong the shelf life.
Stale bonito flakes are pretty revolting.

Feb 02, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking


Many years ago my Spanish grandmother gave me a pan with a lid where the lid has a thermostat. The instructions were to put the pan over the hob over a high heat until the dial got to a set point and then lower it so that it never went over another point. With these foolproof guidelines I got pretty good at gauging the amount of heat and when to change it so that I could easily do the same thing without the thermometer. This means I was fully prepared for cooking Japanese rice on a hob when the time came.

First part of the recipe you haven't mentioned, and that's to get the best rice you need to rinse it well and just as important.... you need to let it drain. Half an hour minimum is ideal for this as the rice should become opaque but each grain should be dry. If you're pressed for time this can be skipped, but I have to say that I've really started noticing the difference.

Next part:
Tight fitting lid. If the pan is very big you might need a touch more water when making a small amount of rice. The lid really should be tightly capping the pan, if there are vents in the lid I seal them with wet kitchen paper. Andoh says soak for ten minutes, I do it for longer but agree that ten minutes works as a minimum.

"Place the water on a high heat and bring to a rolling boil. "
If you're unfamiliar with the time it takes take a couple of cups of water (or however many you intend using) and bring it to the boil without rice. If you have a glass lid you can use, so much the better. Turn on a stop watch and keep checking. Stop the clock once the water is on a rolling boil and looks ready for spaghetti.
Now turn the heat down to the absolute minimum. If you have gas hobs you might like to try bringing the water to the boil on the largest hob and then transferring the pot over to the smallest hob for the rest of the cooking time. Depending on the potency of your smallest hob, it might need the very minimum setting or just slightly over this. See if you can keep the water you just brought to the boil on a very gently simmer without it bubbling over.
If you have electric hobs that take time to warm up preheat a large ring and smaller ring and do the same.
Once you've figured out the time you need and the intensity (and lack of intensity) of the heat required follow Andoh's instructions using this as a guide. Hopefully, what she says about dancing and hissing will correspond to what you're doing. Unfortunately, I find these sort of 'use your senses' guides are at their best with the wisdom hindsight brings.

As for the pot.
When you rinse your rice, pour the first batch of white rinsing water into your burnt pan and leave it overnight. It should give the Ajax a run for the money.

Feb 02, 2012
MoGa in Home Cooking