Maguro no sutēki (tuna steak with butter soy)

We’re reminiscing about our summer holiday to Tokyo with this quick and easy recipe which we found in Kimiko Barber’s Cook Japanese at Home.

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There’s not much to this recipe. You fry the slices of garlic in oil first to flavour the oil, and then set them to one side once they’re crispy. Pan fry the tuna and then set it aside to keep warm. Finally, melt the butter and add some sake and soy sauce and reduce the whole thing down.

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Kimiko recommends sugar snap peas and baby corn on the side – we just used a packet of supermarket vegetables which included these and a few other things, and I did some sushi rice on the side. It’s a simple meal and tastes OK, but I can’t say it really seemed authentically Japanese to me… but that could be because my time in Japan was spent slurping ramen and scoffing sashimi!

Braised Cod with Seasoned Soy

We’re having another stab at a Korean meal here, with another one from Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo’s Our Korean Kitchen.

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This is a really nice meal for putting together quickly. The first thing to do is create your sauce – a mixture of sake, soy, honey, gochugaru powder, chilli and garlic. The fish then sits in this whilst you get on and boil some new potatoes. Part way through cooking, add the mushrooms and fish to the potatoes (balanced on top) and add the sauce too. The fish cooks quickly, and then you’re ready to serve.

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The recipe recommends serving this with some rice, but the potatoes were more than enough carbohydrate for one meal. Because the potatoes are well cooked, you can mash them up with your fork as you eat and thereby ensure you mop up all the rich sauce which is the heart of this meal.

Beef with Vegetables & Noodles

Another recipe from Our Korean Kitchen here, and another success story! I was quite apprehensive of this because there’s a significant amount of preparation required – from making an egg dish, boiling noodles, grating vegetables, marinating beef…

…but the whole thing comes together wonderfully! Lots of different flavours and textures which all work really well together. We were supposed to use sweet potato glass noodles but couldn’t track any down and just went with udon noodles instead because we had some in the cupboard. Accident or not, they worked really well!

Spicy Beef and Vegetable Stew (yuk gaejang)

Another Korean recipe tonight from Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo’s great book Our Korean Kitchen. We bought a great big bag of gochugaru red pepper powder and we’re damn well going to use it!

This isn’t a meal you cook in a hurry – there’s two hours of simmering involved, so there’s some planning required. We couldn’t lay our hands on brisket as suggested, but the casserole steak we ended up with seemed to work OK. Once again, the gochugaru is the star adding a flavour which is quite unlike anything in western cuisine and utterly delicious. That said, after two hour of simmering I was also hoping for something a bit more unctuous. This meal was really nice, but I didn’t think it was quite worth all the time it took!

Japanese Style Hamburgers (wafū hanbāgā)

It took me a while to realise that the Japanese name for this dish, handbāgā, is just a Japanese way of writing “hamburger”. This recipe is another one from Kimiko Barber’s Cook Japanese at Home.

I’ve got to admit though, the technique described wasn’t especially clear. It explained that the important thing was the mixing process, but then the only guidance given was to do it as if making pastry. Fortunately I’ve made pastry, but that seemed a very weak description of a process which is essential to the success of the meal.

The burgers are assembled and then steamed, but my upset really came when trying to turn them. The burgers completely fell apart. On top of that the accompanying red sauce which the recipe comes with turned out to be thin and runny. To add insult to injury the broccoli and cauliflower I’d bought to serve this with had gone mouldy.

Burgers tasted OK, but for the hassle involved and the mess that was created trying to make them, I think I’d put this recipe down as a miss.

Jjampong (Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup)

It’s another Korean recipe tonight from Our Korean Kitchen, and another chance to try out cooking with gochugaru powder. Despite being a seafood dish, there’s quite a lot of meat in here in the form of two pork loin steaks. Technically it’s supposed to include some shell-on mussels, but because we were cooking for two instead of four, I just bought a pack of mixed seafood from the supermarket rather than buying lots of different things.

Cooking is surprisingly easy and – apart from the noodles themselves – this is a one pot meal which doesn’t generate much washing up. Fry the powder first, then add the pork and carrot and fry some more. Now add the onion, garlic, grated ginger and mushrooms for a bit more frying, before finally adding some light soy sauce, fish stock and the seafood. Let it bubble and then serve with the noodles.

The most striking thing about this dish is the bright red colour of the sauce. It’s delicious and spicy but not overwhelming; we continue to be impressed with Korean cuisine (or at least our attempts at it!).

Oyaki Donburi

We’ve made chicken and egg donburi before, using a recipe from the Yo Sushi cookbook but this version comes from Kimiko Barber’s Cook Japanese at Home. OK, so technically she wrote them both but we’re counting this as a different meal…

Technique is pretty similar though! Cook some rice, then get on with the meal. Dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar get mixed together and brought to the boil, then chicken is added and cooked, followed by spring onions and finally some beaten egg gets whirled through.

The final meal isn’t the prettiest thing to look at, and we both found this to be a little lacking in flavour. However, I’m wondering if the instant dashi which I’m using is past its best and this may be the cause? Either way, it made for an interesting change from what we’ve been eating recently. Also, it’s pretty low fat but high in protein!

Dak Doritang

Another recent purchase of ours is Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo. Our only real exposure to Korean food up until now have been a few of Nigella’s recipes which call for gochujang sauce. We’ve enjoyed those, so decided to branch out into some more east-Asian recipes after our journey to Japan.

There was on extra ingredient missing for this meal which was gochugaru – Korean red chilli powder. We managed to track down a bag at one of Manchester’s great east-Asian supermarkets, and it was well worth it. The flavours of this dish were just out of this world – possibly a new favourite? It’s a nice and easy one pot recipe too.

I suppose technically this is a winter recipe – it’s English name is “warming chicken and potato stew” – but it’s so delicious it can definitely be enjoyed at any time of year.

Ishikari-Nabe (Salmon and Miso Hotpot)

We’re continuing our exploration of Japanese cooking through Kimiko Barber’s Cook Japanese at Home. This recipe uses quite a lot of miso paste, a product which we made an interesting discovery about this week.

We’ve bought miso paste in the past from Sainsbury’s – it comes in a small jar of 100g and is their own brand. It’s the only one we can get when doing an online shop with them. However, this week we were in a local Chinese supermarket and found a large jar of the stuff for the same price, made by Yutaka. You can buy it on Amazon (unfortunately at a much higher price) via this link.

The shock discovery is that the Sainsbury’s miso paste is not miso paste! The ingredient list is totally different. The smell is different. The consistency is different. The Yutaka stuff is much nicer and much, much more authentic.

THis recipe takes a little while to make but isn’t hard. Cube the potatoes and put them in a big casserole dish on the hob, along with some konbu, chopped onion, soy sauce, mirin and sake. Add a large volume of cold water and bring to the boil. Once it’s boiling, remove the konbu and simmer for about 12 minutes. Then add chopped carrot and cabbage and simmer for another 12 minutes. Finally, blend some miso and butter and add this to the mix, along with some salmon. The salmon should only take a few minutes to cook and then you’re ready to eat.

We found it a bit messy to eat – the cabbage leaves and liquid resulted in a lot of splatter – but this was a tasty, umami flavoured dish. I think I enjoyed it more than Mark did though.

Pan Fried Pork with Ginger

We’re keeping it Japanese tonight with yet another recipe from Kimiko Barber’s Cook Japanese at Home. This time it’s a pork dish with lots of cruciferous vegetables.

I got things a bit mixed up though when it came to timing. I decided to cook the with a side of rice, and I’d forgotten how long it can take to make rice “properly” – first washing it, then leaving it to stand for 10 minutes, then putting it on the hob in cold water and brining it to the boil for 10 minutes, and then leaving to stand (lid clamped on!) for 20 to 30 minutes.

This threw out the rest of my timings… I started the vegetables too soon. They were supposed to be steamed, a key fact I missed from the recipe, so I boiled them instead. But they were cooked too soon, so I had to keep them warm in the oven. I also probably left the pork in the sauce (equal parts mirin, soy and sake plus some grated ginger) for too long…

…but none of that really matters because it all came together in the end and tasted great! I was a bit worried that there was too much veg, but that wasn’t the case at all. The rice worked really well with it, and the sauce was really delicious. My only hesitation is that this isn’t what I would call a “japanese” meal… but that’s probably just my own narrow stereotypes coming into play. Either way, we had a great meal for dinner!