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.

Skewered Scallops


Scallops are fast food!

These sweet, succulent, toothsome tidbits smelling of the ocean are too delicious to eat only on special occasions.

Scallops are fast food. If you cook them too long they will become rubbery and inedible.

Bay scallops must be very fast. Smaller bay scallops are usually quickly cooked in a fast stir-fry, or in a sauce for pasta, or in a soup.

This recipe is unusual in that the little scallops are skewered, sauced, and broiled.

The scallops are fine served at room temperature so would make a nice appetizer or snack with drinks.


Stir-fried Liver and Garlic Chives

This Japanese Chinese-style recipe features Chinese chives and lovely tender calf’s liver which melts in your mouth with a salty-sweet gingery sauce.

The pretty green chives are sometimes called nira grass or garlic chives, and its Latin name, Allium tuberosum, means it is part of the onion family. It is a perennial plant which grows into clumps of flat straight leaves. Clusters of tiny white flowers appear at the end of summer on round stalks which rise above the clump. The flowers last well into autumn, providing a bright display in garden when many flowers are well past their prime.

Ebi Chili, Ebi Chirri, Shrimp in Chili Sauce


What’s better than chilli in winter? Japanese-style Szechuan Shrimp in Chili sauce!
Ahhhh…
Though the winter here has not been especially chilly, a nice spicy dinner is most welcome!

This recipe can be made quickly, and with only a little planning, it’s a pantry meal. We often have shrimp in the freezer, and the main seasonings are ginger, garlic, and toban jan.

Herb Fried Rice

http://1tess.wordpress.comThis recipe was originally posted with Miso Marinated Beef Steak, but I like it so much that it deserves its own post.
To make stir-fried rice use leftover rice that’s been in the fridge for at least a day. The grains become firm and dry making them much easier to separate as you stir your fry.

Remember the Frugal Gourmet: “Hot wok, cold oil: foods won’t stick!”

This is a tip worth following to make a simple, not-greasy, light and fresh tasting fried rice…

(Japanese) Pan-Fried Chicken, Part 3

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A delicious dinner calls for an encore! This chicken, marinated in a traditional Japapanese combination of sesame and soy has a sweet and spicy spark of honey and pepper. As inspiring as the flavors of this dish are, it also proves to be a recipe which allows for much diversity: no one wants to eat the same meal day after day!
Use the chicken to make sandwiches or to top a crisp summer salad. Even better: make sesame noodles topped with chicken, sweet red pepper, and green sugar snap peas.

Japanese Pan-Fried Chicken, Part 2

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Honey and pepper, sweet and spice, sparks the traditional combination of soy and sesame in a marinade for chicken. As inspiring as the flavors of this dish are, it also proves to be a recipe which allows for much diversity.
This recipe can be passively prepared by baking the chicken in its marinade.
Stir-frying is quicker than baking because the chicken is cut into small pieces.
This recipe is delicious served on its bed of blanched greens, but it would be wonderful to eat in a sandwich or as a topping for a fresh summer salad.
And, my most favorite way, the chicken and its cooked marinade is amazing on noodles!

Ginger Pork Stir-fry

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Buta no shogayaki is an extraordinarily simple and satisfying meal with many variations. Shoga-yaki means ginger stir-fry, but of course shoga (ginger) refers to the dominant flavor rather than to the main ingredient. Buta (pork) is the most popular choice in Japan because the meat becomes so tender and juicy. I found recipes using beef, chicken, squid, or tofu as the protein of choice.
I bought okra only because it looked so fresh, green, juicy, and I recalled how much I loved it last spring. It is an odd vegetable with its unusual sparkly slimy texture. In fact, if overcooked, it can be more slimy than bright. I came home from the grocery store and found some pork loin in the freezer, and being the efficient sort of person I am (also not wanting to go back to the store) I googled “pork and okra.” My adaptation of this recipe from Eri has more sauce than the recipe I’d made previously and turned out to be a very lovely dinner.

Sun Sauce

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A reader asked me to try to figure out a recipe for a sauce from a favorite restaurant of hers. This is my first attempt, and never having tasted the sauce, I can’t say whether my version is close to the original. But she is right: the sauce is delicious. Adjustments I will make to this recipe would be to make more: using the whole package of tofu, proportionally more miso, and proportionally less apple juice (the sauce was too sweet for my taste). Also, the the mustard and fennel would be more refined had I simmered the ground seeds in the vinegar and apple juice for a minute or two, then let it cool to meld the flavors.