Monday, January 16, 2012


I love making Japanese food; and one of the ingredients used in almost all Japanese dishes (that aren't fried) is dashi. It's a subtle broth that adds umami to dishes. This is my recipe for a standard dashi; for a vegetarian version, omit the bonito flakes, and put about a cup of sliced fresh shitaake into the broth when you turn the heat on. You can also use shitaake in a non-vegetarian stock, for a stronger flavor (works well for a clear soup).

1 piece kombu (about 5" square, more or less; seaweed for making dashi stock; available online or at a good asian food grocer)
3 tablespoons bonito flakes
4 cups water
1 cup sliced shitaake (optional)
cheesecloth or very fine strainer

Put dried kombu and water into a pot. Allow kombu to soak for about half an hour. In the meantime, make a little pouch out of cheese cloth with the bonito inside (alternatively, you can put the bonito directly into the pan and strain with a fine mesh strainer afterwords) Turn heat to medium, and remove kombu when water just begins to simmer. Remove from heat, add bonito flakes and stir for one minute, then remove bonito pouch or strain thru fine sieve.

Grilled salmon in ponzu sauce with spicy mayo and avocado

Another recipe by popular request. This one is absurdly healthy, and really, really tasty!

Ponzu sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup yuzu juice (or lemon/lime mix, or if you're desperate, just lemon)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup or more dashi (in a pinch water will be ok, but not as good)

Combine all ingredients to make ponzu sauce.

Spicy mayo:
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce


Grilled salmon in ponzu sauce with spicy mayo and avocado:

2 salmon filets, halved
ponzu sauce
spicy mayo

Quarter the avocado (easiest to cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, then quartering it).

For the salmon, get the best wild caught salmon you can. Grill over a high heat, for three minutes per side; don't worry about the skin, it'll slide right off when the salmon is cooked (or just stick to the grill). Serve a fillet in ponzu sauce with a quarter of avocado (easiest to do in a bowl), with a dollop of spicy mayo on top. White rice as always makes a good side dish.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Here's my recipe for yummy yummy katsu, in both gluten rich and gluten free forms!

2 lbs meat - chicken, pork, wild boar, elk. Should be boneless, sliced or pounded to about 1/4-1/3 inch thick (for instance, I like elk round steak pounded thin - flavorful and tender; for pork, thin boneless pork chops work well; for chicken boneless breasts pounded or sliced will work, either way is fairly tender; pre-tenderized wild boar cutlets are perfect)
2-3 eggs, beaten (start with two, use another if you need it)
1/2-1 cup flour OR cornstarch (for gluten free)
1 box panko OR 1 1/2 cups crushed rice chex (again, gluten free - there are gluten free panko too, but rice chex sounds like it would work really well)
3" deep frying pan with about a inch and a half of fry oil of your choice
1/4 cup soy sauce (this is approx)
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar (this is also approx)
1/2 head of cabbage, very thinly sliced

Take your meat and put it in a non-reactive bowl; add soy sauce and rice vinegar (in approximate proportions) until meat is fairly covered - stir meat around so marinade gets all over it. Refrigerate a half an hour or more, whatever you've got time for (I tend to like about 2 hours if possible, but I've done it in 20 minutes).

While its marinating, prepare a plate of flour or cornstarch for dredging, a bowl of beaten eggs, and a plate of panko/chex. Once the marination is done, take your meat pieces one by one. First, dredge in the flour (this prevents the juices from escaping and making your panko all soggy). Next, dip in egg. Finally, lay in panko one one side, then flip to the other until you've got a good coating all around. You can let the meat rest on the panko while your oil heats up; I usually end up doing my meat in about three batches, leaving the extra that doesn't fit on the panko plate in the marinade in the meantime.

Heat oil in frying pan. You want enough oil so that your meat can float freely, but not so much that it boils over the side of your pan. I have an electric stove and usually heat it at about medium-high; you can also do this in a deep fryer if you really want. Prepare a receiving plate with paper towels!

Once oil is heated to about 350-375 (honestly, I don't use a thermometer, I just use my judgement and am used to when its ready), lay the meat gently into the oil. You'll want a pair of tongs! Once all the pieces for your first batch (don't double layer!) are in, let it fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, then turn all pieces and allow to fry on the other (use your judgement for chicken vs elk; elk doesn't have to be as done as chicken). Once pieces are golden brown they should be done; pull them out and put them on the paper towel bedecked plate. Repeat for the rest of the meat.

Serve on a bed of finely chopped cabbage (this helps keep the katsu nice and crispy) with white rice. Have katsu sauce and soy sauce available.