Mabo / Mapo Tofu

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mabo tofu mapo tofu Japanese style
Winter is chili season: hot, spicy, and comforting food makes spirits warm in spite of the bleak weather! Mapo tofu is a Chinese dish well loved in Japan, both in Chinese restaurants and at home. It’s easy to prepare with common ingredients: tofu, pork, toban jiang, and green onions.

Mapo tofu is a dish from China adapted by the Japanese to their own tastes.

It is the texture of this dish which is interesting in the mouth: the tofu is soft and the pork is chewy. It’s an odd combination that: pork and tofu, neither vegetarian nor meat centered.

In this variation of the recipe I experimented with making the meat soft and the tofu chewy.

Avocado and Bacon Rice Bowl

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avocado, red pepper, peach, mango, and bacon donburiThe salty crispiness of bacon, the fresh crunch of lettuce, and the sweet juiciness of tomatoes, make BLT sandwiches a favorite lunch. Bacon, avocados, and tomatoes are a lesser known trio which provides a similar delight to the tongue, especially in summer when garden tomatoes are at their most flavorful.This winter has been unusually harsh: very cold and snowy here in the Midwest of the U.S. For me one escape is to eat what I want the weather to be, instead of what the climate is! This recipe from Hiroko Shimbo satisfies cravings for such a meal.

Gingered Pork

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ginger pork w wine_6319
This recipe is similar to one I’ve enjoyed often, but the method of preparing the thin slices of pork is ingenious. We’ve all heard about partially freezing meat to make it easier to slice thinly. In this recipe Ms. Shimbo has the cook use a mallet to pound pork cutlets thin. Pounding the meat means no need for knife skills!

I’ve made variations of this recipe, served with different vegetables, as donburi, as sandwiches, and they are all delicious! I even carried a bento with ginger pork on a plane to Florida—much tastier the the tiny packet of dry pretzels, though perhaps I’d advise leaving out the garlic…

Honey and Pepper Sesame Chicken

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honey pepper sesame chicken ingredients
This marinade for chicken, made with a traditional Japanese combination of sesame and soy sauce, is accented with the sparkling sweetness of honey and spiced with black pepper and garlic. You can slice the chicken into thin cutlets to fry; you can bake boneless thighs or breasts with the marinade then slice them. You can serve the chicken hot or cold, over rice or noodles or even on a green salad.

Miso Grilling Sauce: Dengaku

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grilled eggplantThe Farmers’ Market had lovely eggplants to remind me of this tasty grilling sauce called dengaku, made with miso, saké, mmirin, and sugar, and in this recipe, thickened with eggs. It’s a traditional Japanese grilling sauce for tofu, but one can use this grilling sauce with other vegetables, seafood, and fish. This style of grilling is very popular with home cooks. It’s easy to make, and with soup, rice, and pickles makes a filling meal.
The various vegetables that are grilled with dengaku sauce include sliced eggplant, large mushrooms, green pepper strips, and sliced sweet potatoes. More modern variations include scallops or small fish such as sardines, smelt, ayu, or trout. Some recipes include deep-frying the food before grilling and caramelizing the sauce. Simpler recipes use charcoal broiling, oven broiling, or pan-frying.

The Best Yakitori Sauce

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yakitori-chicken_3097This is a basic sauce (tare) can be used all summer for grilling chicken. Yakitori is usually chicken on skewers: yaki=grilling and tori=chicken.

This basic sauce can be used for more than yakitori. Use portions of the sauce to grill: chicken, pork, fish, or just about anything you can cook over charcoal, food you cook on skewers, or not!

Add some orange juice, honey, fruit preserves, spices, and voila: teriyaki sauce.

Barbarian Chicken: be prepared!

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japan-marinated-chix_2709Tori Namban-zuke is a versatile Japanese recipe that I love!I have prepared this Japanese marinated chicken at least once per year since 2008! This recipe is easy, but allow time for the chicken to marinate over-night. It will keep in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make it ahead in preparation for a busy day at work, or even better, for a party. The recipe has evolved over the years. I’ve made it with chicken thighs and breasts. I’ve fried, baked, poached, or steamed the chicken. I’ve served it hot, and cold.

Lasagna Bolognese

Christmas guest from China
Lasagne is a collated noodle dish.

My perfect lasagne would be straightforward al denté noodles framed with luscious sauce, just as lightning, seen against extravagantly swirling deep blue and grey clouds, is both dramatic and simple.

This recipe is not that, but it is luscious, subtle, to remember, to repeat.

As Christmas 2012 dinner, it is especially memorable because we shared it with an unexpected and charming guest.

Korean Vegetable Pancake

hanuka-candles
It’s Hanuka and we have been eating pancakes. These were pancakes made by Mr. Tess some time ago, yet they deserve some space on my blog.
I bought a bag of Korean pancake mix, thinking it would have some special secret ingredient. I’d made them from scratch with vegetables and seafood but they were not quite the same as the pancakes served at our favorite Korean restaurant. But no, just ordinary flour, baking powder, spices… I hate wasting food, and the minor convenience of one measuring cup, one bowl, a knife, and a frying pan means we’ll eat them at least a couple of more times…

Mark Bittman’s Chicken with Walnuts, Green Olives, and White Wine

This is a recipe we have often enjoyed.
In 2004, I copied it from The New York Times, from Mark Bittman’s Minimalist column called
“Crossing Over to the Dark Side” (July 14).
My old computer still has some files (recipes, emails, pictures) we occasionally want to look at: No matter how many times I print this recipe, it gets lost.I want to post this favorite recipe on my blog so it will be easier for me to find in future. And I hope you appreciate it as well.