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Grilled fish in foil is a very common home-cooking technique in Japan.  It is a very quick and easy everyday dinner, but also a healthy and delicious dish.




If cooking a light meal is your goal, cooking in a sealed aluminum foil packet is great.  It is essentially steaming your food and no fat is required, unlike sauteeing.  While we used a little butter to add richness to the dish, you can absolutely omit it if you’re watching fat intake.  Here we made the dish with salmon, but most any fish can work beautifully, especially white fish like cod.  Your favorite vegetables can be used in the dish, but we recommend to add some kind of mushroom to add a nice flavor to the dish.  Ponzu sauce goes very well with fish, and you can also add some Shichimi hot pepper if you like a little kick.

The best part is that there is not much cleaning after eating.  Use the packet on – or as – your plate and discard it when dinner is over.  You can also make this dish ahead in the morning when you have time, then your dinner is cooked in the oven within 15 minutes at night after a busy day.

Grilled Salmon in Foil Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube

Grilled Salmon in Foil Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 spears asparagus
  • 1/2 bunch Shimeji mushrooms
  • 2 salmon fillets (120-150 g each)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Sake
  • 2 tsp butter
  • chopped green onion
  • 2 Tbsp Ponzu Sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Slice asparagus spears diagonally. Remove the bottom of the Shimeji mushrooms and break apart into small pieces by hand. Salt salmon fillets on both sides.
  2. Take 2 pieces of large aluminum foil squares, and place half of Salmon, asparagus, and Shimeji on each sheet. Sprinkle with Sake and put butter on top. Close up the foil tightly by folding a couple of times in the middle and sides so that they form sealed packets.
  3. Put the packets on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  4. Just before eating, open the foil and top with green onion and Ponzu sauce.
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Japanese Cooking 101 by Japanesecooking101 - 1w ago

Anman are Japanese steamed hot buns with Anko filling.  The white bread part is made from both yeast and baking powder, and it is soft and tender.  The filling is Koshian, smooth sweet red bean paste with a hint of sesame flavor.  The name Anman comes from the Anko and the cake – Manjyu.  Even though Manjyu are more traditional Japanese sweet cakes, this is a steamed Manjyu Japanese people love eating for a hot snack and light meal, just like Nikuman, the savory counterpart.




Anman originated from Chinese Dim Sum steamed buns, but Anman has made its own evolution to fit to Japanese tastes over a long time.  Anman can often be found in a hot case next to Nikuman at Japanese convenience stores.  It is usually a fall or winter seasonal food there since it is a hot dish.  You can also buy frozen Anman in the freezer section of Japanese supermarkets.  Just microwave frozen buns for a few minutes and they are ready to eat.  Our Anman may not be as convenient as microwave foods, but we promise hot homemade Anman are the best tasting ones, and you will enjoy them very much.

If you like regular Anko (Tsubuan) instead of Koshian here, you can of course use it.  Anman is a great warm snack for any time, so try it at home!

Anman Recipe (Steamed Buns with Sweet Red Bean Paste) - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube

Anman Recipe

Ingredients

    Bread Dough
  • 100 ml warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 200g all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Filling
  • 1/2 recipe (about 250 g) Koshian
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. For the bread dough:
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder. Mix the yeast water and dry ingredients with oil in a stand mixer, knead for 10 minutes using a dough hook or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 30-40 minutes, until doubled. Deflate the air from the dough and it's ready to use.
  5. For Anman:
  6. Mix Koshian with both oils.
  7. Cut the prepared dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Roll a ball flat into a 5" (12.5cm) round, and put 2 Tbsp Koshian mixture in the middle of the dough round. Pinch the dough to wrap the filling, and shape into a ball (watch our video to see exactly how). Repeat for the remaining dough and filling to make 8 Anman balls.
  8. Place the Anman balls on 3" (7.5cm) parchment paper squares. Put them in a hot steamer (place them 2" or 5cm apart), and cook at medium high heat for 10- 12 minutes.
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Koshian (or koshi-an) is a kind of sweet red bean paste (Anko) used in a lot of Japanese sweets.  While Tsubuan Anko is bean paste containing whole beans, Koshian is a strained and smooth paste.  Koshian is used in many traditional Japanese desserts which have a more sophisticated feel.  It tastes a little less sweet than Tsubuan Anko, and it may be easier for people who don’t like that sweet of an Anko flavor.




The traditional way of making Koshian is much more complicated and time consuming than what we show here.  Skilled Japanese dessert artisans have special ways to make Koshian with many steps.  After cooking and mashing red beans, they strain and soak the paste in water.  Once the insides of the red beans has settled, the clear water on top is removed leaving red bean sediment.  Repeating this several times will let you extract pure form of red beans without the outer layer skins and other unwanted impurities.  And then you can finally cook the paste with sugar, stirring constantly to get the right consistency and texture with a lot of care.  Well …. who has time for that!?  We are certainly not one of those artisans, so we tried to find an easier way to make it; however, we still did want to make tasty Koshian.  Straining the cooked beans with a fine mesh strainer did the trick to avoid the long process above.  It may not be as good as Koshian from fancy old Japanese sweet shops, but we think it is pretty good for how much work we put into it.

It is really a matter of preference whether you want to use Tsubuan Anko or Koshian when a recipe calls for Anko, a lot of time.  If you typically use Tsubuan, try Koshian when you make Anpan or Dorayaki next time and enjoy  a different texture of Anko from the usual Tsubuan.

Koshian (smooth red bean paste) Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube





Koshian (smooth red bean paste) Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup (250 g) Azuki red beans
  • 1-1 1/4 cup (200-250 g) sugar

Instructions

  1. Put red beans in a pot with 4-5 cups of water. Let boil for 5 minutes and discard water.
  2. In a clean pot, place red beans and 4-5 cups of water, cover, and let simmer at low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (add more water to keep above the beans). Or beans can be cooked in a pressure cooker if you want, which takes only about 20 minutes. The beans should now be very soft, easily crushed between fingers.
  3. Mash up the cooked beans along with some of the cooked water in a food processor for 2 minutes. It will become a very loose paste. Strain through a fine mesh sieve (discarding the skin etc. in the sieve).
  4. Put the strained paste in a pot with sugar, and cook at medium low heat stirring constantly about 15 minutes. It will become very thick and shiny. Transfer the paste to a flat container (such as a sheet pan) and cool.
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Japanese Cooking 101 by Japanesecooking101 - 1M ago

Hakusai (Nappa or Napa Cabbage) Nibitashi is a very typical home-made Japanese side dish.  It is light, healthy, and subtly flavored, and can go with any entree and steamed rice.  You don’t see this traditional small dish very often at Japanese restaurants in the US, but it is a perfect vegetable side dish for everyday dinners.




Nappa Cabbage has large white stems with green frilly leaves.  Even though it is called cabbage, it doesn’t taste much like cabbage or have the same texture.  Nappa Cabbage cooks softer with a milder taste.  It contains a lot of water that is released when cooked, so it needs to be seasoned accordingly.  Today a lot of markets carry Nappa Cabbage in the US, so you don’t need to bother to go to the Japanese markets to buy it, which is a big plus.  Nappa Cabbage is the main vegetable for Nabemono (hot pot), but you can also cook in many different ways such as Nibitashi here or Tsukemono (pickled vegetables).

Nibitashi is a cooking method of braising vegetables with a seasoned broth.  Leaving and cooling ingredients in the seasoned broth is the key to absorbing flavor well.  As it hardly uses any oil, it is a very healthy way of cooking.  However, because it doesn’t contain much fat, it sometimes tastes a little too simple.

This recipe adds Aburaage, deep-fried thin Tofu, to the dish to deepen the flavor.  If you don’t have Aburaage at home (it is easily frozen, so it works well to buy in bulk from Japanese stores), or if you would like to add more protein, you can use some chicken thigh pieces to add more complex flavor.  Or omit Aburaage and simply enjoy Nappa Cabbage itself.  Either way, it is a versatile little dish and will come to the dinner table over and over once you taste it.




Nappa Cabbage Nibitashi - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube

Nappa Cabbage Nibitashi

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Cut Nappa cabbage into squares, about 2" in size. Cut Aburaage into 1/2" (1 cm) strips.
  2. In a pot, put Dashi, Soy Sauce, Mirin, and salt, and let boil. Add cabbage, and cook coved at medium heat for 5 minutes. When cabbage is wilted, add Aburaage. Cook for a few minutes, and let cool covered.
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Japanese Cooking 101 by Japanesecooking101 - 1M ago

Furikake Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube





Furikake are rice toppings which are made of dried seafood and seasonings.  Furikake is not typically made at home as a side dish, but is more often prepackaged products you buy at supermarkets and other stores in Japan.  However, if you don’t have access to shops that sell Furikake, it is easily made at home too.  There are many kinds of Furikake out there, but we will show you a very basic one with Nori and Katsuo (dried seaweeds and bonito flakes) here.

Furikake means literally “sprinkle” in Japanese, and it is typically sprinkled over Steamed Rice or Onigiri.  It could be sometimes used to top other food such as noodles and salad.  Other types of rice toppings like Tsukudani and Nametake, which are wet, should not be mixed with Furikake, because Furikake is completely dry and in a flakey/powdery form.

The main function of Furikake is to season rice, but it is usually not eaten with rice alone without other dishes.  However, when people have no time to cook or don’t have much appetite, Furikake works like a small side dish.  Some picky eater children in Japan who don’t want to eat any food still will eat rice and Furikake.  It doesn’t have much nutritional value, but it is better to eat something rather than nothing.  Furikake is also used as a splash of color for rice in Bento lunch.  When other dishes in Bento don’t have much color, using Furikake with pink and yellow ingredients brightens things up a bit.

If you go to Japanese supermarkets, you will see lots of convenient Furikake products.  Popular Furikake flavors are egg, Tarako (cod roe), salmon, and sesame and salt, and there are many others.  Because it is dried and strongly seasoned, and also with some help from preservatives, the shelf life of Furikake is long. We, as mothers, use convenient store-bought Furikake all the time when making Bento lunch for kids.  If you want to serve all natural food, however, home-made Furikake is the best choice.  There are no artificial ingredients in it, the taste is as good as the packaged ones, and it is very cheap to make!  Once you make it, it can be kept in an air-tight bag or container in the fridge and enjoyed for a whole month, so try it!




Furikake Reicpe

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put the Katsuobushi, crushing by hand, in a non-stick pan along with Soy Sauce and sugar. Cook at low heat about 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly and taking care not to burn. Katsuo may seize or clump but keep cooking and break apart as much as possible. Let cool on a vat completely, and crush into small pieces.
  2. Cut Nori into small pieces with kitchen scissors. Mix seasoned Katsuobushi, toasted sesame seeds, cut Nori, and Aonori together.
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Japanese Cooking 101 by Japanesecooking101 - 1M ago

Vegetable Gyoza Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube





Gyoza is dumplings, usually ground pork or chicken and vegetables wrapped in round (fresh pasta like) flour skins and pan-fried.  Gyoza is originally from Chinese fried dumplings, but it is so popular and rooted well in Japanese cuisine today.  Most of the time, Japanese Gyoza is pan fried (with some steaming action in the middle), however, here we deep-fry to make them crispy outside and juicy inside.

There are a lot of people on a special diet today such as a vegetarian diet.  This Vegetable Gyoza is great for people who don’t eat meat at all or even those who want to reduce some of meat intake.  Mince all the vegetables for filling, and add some binder like potato starch and Panko bread crumbs.  It has enough seasoning itself, but you can always use the tangy dipping sauce in the recipe for extra flavor.  Although we deep-fry in the recipe, theses dumplings will taste as good when pan-fried like our original Gyoza.  If you’re on a low-fat diet, that may be a better cooking method.

The most difficult part to make Gyoza is how to wrap the filling in the skins.  Well, it’s not that hard if you watch our video.   Or make it however makes you happy, it will still taste good.




Vegetable Gyoza Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 25-30 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1/4 head (200g) cabbage
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 (100g) brown onion
  • 1/2 bunch (100g) Nira, Chinese chives
  • 3 Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp bamboo shoot, boiled or canned
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ginger root, 1" long, grated
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Sake
  • 1 Tbsp Katakuriko, potato starch
  • 2-3 Tbsp Panko, bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 25-30 Gyoza skins
  • deep-frying oil
  • Dipping Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tsp chili oil (Rayu) or sesame oil (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop cabbage finely. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt over cabbage and mix. Let sit for 5 minutes, and squeeze out water very well. Do the same for the onion. Cut Nira, Shiitake, and bamboo shoot into very small pieces. Grate garlic and ginger.
  2. In a large bowl, put in all the ingredients (except skins and frying oil), and mix well.
  3. Take a sheet of gyoza wrapper in your hand and place about a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of the wrapper. Moisten the edge along the lower half of the wrapper and fold the upper half of the wrapper up to meet the moistened edge. Fold one of the edges in a series of pleats (about 6), leaving the other edge smooth. Press the edges together to seal the gyoza. Repeat for the rest of the wrappers.
  4. Heat deep-frying oil at medium high heat. Deep fry Gyoza until golden.
  5. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Rayu chili oil (optional) together for a dipping sauce.
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Ushiojiru (Hard Clam Soup) Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube





Ushiojiru is a simple clear soup with Hamaguri (hard clams).  It is often eaten on the girls’ festival in Japan on March 3rd.  Umami, savory flavor, from the shellfish is so rich and deep that the seasoning for this soup is very minimal.  The fresh green taste of Mitsuba leaves is a nice — and only — accent for this soup.

Hamaguri, known as hard clams in the US, are shellfish that look and taste like clams, but they are actually different kinds of shellfish.  Hamaguri are much larger than clams, and the meat is more supple and softer.  They are in season in February and March,  just before the breeding season in spring.  Because Hamaguri are large, you don’t need too many for one serving.  Also Ushiojiru is a dish where you enjoy the soup more than the meat itself.

March 3rd is Hinamatsuri, the girls’ festival in Japan that can be traced back almost 1000 years.  It is an old ‘holiday’ of celebrating girls health and well being and also hoping for good marriage.  Hamaguri have a pair of shells which can symbolize a couple so it is thought to be an auspicious food for marriage.  As a result, Ushiojiru became an appropriate dish for the special day.  On the festive girls’ day, colorful Barazushi is also a staple dish (Sushi Cake maybe more fun for girls today), and that unsurprisingly goes very well with this soup.

Although Ushiojiru is the food associated with girls, anybody can enjoy it.  If you can find Hamaguri at a market, try this very flavorful soup at home!




Ushiojiru (Hard Clam Soup) Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • Kombu 2" square
  • 2 cups water
  • Mitsuba leaves
  • 4 Hamaguri (hard clams)
  • 1 Tbsp Sake
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce

Instructions

  1. Leave Kombu in water for 30 minutes in a pot. Cut Mitsuba leaves into pieces, 1" (2.5cm) long. Set aside.
  2. Add Hamaguri in the Kombu water, and start cooking at medium heat. Add Sake.
  3. Just before boiling, remove Kombu and discard. Remove any scum on the surface of the soup, and continue cooking until shells open up. Season with salt and Soy Sauce.
  4. Pour into bowls, and top with Mitsuba leaves.
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Japanese Cooking 101 by Japanesecooking101 - 1M ago

Chicken Ramen Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube





Ramen is a very popular noodle soup in Japan.  Ramen noodles are originally Chinese style noodles, but they have changed and evolved to become a favorite Japanese food over many years.  There are millions of Ramen restaurants in Japan, from old neighborhood Chinese restaurants, to Ramen street carts open late at night, to slick and modern Ramen specialty shops in cities.  Those Ramen cooks all work so hard researching and testing to develop their very own original flavors for the noodles and soups of Ramen.  Because there are a lot of Ramen restaurants out there, the competition among them to be popular or even to survive is brutal.   But once they win the battle, customers won’t mind waiting for hours for their Ramen.

For those who don’t have easy access to great Ramen restaurants or don’t want to wait in long lines in 30F temperatures outside, here is the recipe for you!  Our Chicken Ramen is easy to make – simple ingredients, relatively quick, and, of course, tasty, especially considering the level of effort involved here.  The only thing is to prepare the soup and topping first, and assemble quickly as soon as the noodles are done.  This is an uncomplicated simple Ramen but with a surprisingly flavorful soup from chicken wings.  Not rich and heavy like the kind from Ramen restaurants.  This is the kind of Ramen you feel like you can eat often.  If you like, you can make multiple batches of the soup and freeze, so you will be able to eat any time you like. We used dried Chuka-men, Chinese style egg noodles, for convenience.  If you can’t find them at local stores, you can use thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta.  In that case, please watch our other Ramen and Miso Ramen recipes for detailed instructions.

If you are a Ramen beginner, this is a great place to start.  And even if you’re an expert, you’ll still enjoy this simpler basic taste from time to time.




Chicken Ramen Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

    Soup
  • 4 cups (about 1 liter) water
  • 5 chicken wings
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 slices ginger root
  • 2 green onion, cut into halves
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sake
  • 1/2 Tbsp Mirin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • Noodles
  • 150-200g dried Chukamen (Chinese style noodles)
  • Topping
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, blanched
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • shredded chicken (from the broth)

Instructions

  1. Make soup first. In a large pot, put water and chicken wings, and let boil. After boiling for a few minutes, remove any scum and fat that come to the surface of the soup. Add garlic, ginger, and green onions, and cook covered for 40 minutes or so. Add some water if losing too much liquid. Strain the soup, but save chicken wings and set aside. Season with Soy Sauce, Sake, Mirin, salt, and sesame oil. (You may need to adjust the seasoning if you added water earlier.) Keep warm on low heat, covered.
  2. Prepare the toppings. Blanch bean sprouts in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and strain. Chop green onion. Remove bones from chicken wings and shred the meat into small pieces by hand.
  3. Once everything else is ready, cook dried Chukamen according to the package. Divide the noodles in half and put in large bowls. Pour hot soup over, and top with bean sprouts, onion, and chicken. Serve immediately.
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Okonomiyaki with Squid Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube





Okonomiyaki is a cabbage pancake covered with savory Okonomiyaki sauce.  Okonomiyaki sauce is a Worcester-based sauce with some sweetener, similar to Tonkatsu Sauce, and it is the crucial flavor of this dish.  Okonomiyaki with pork is the one of the most popular kinds, but Squid is also a staple item on the menu at Okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan.  We recommend using raw squid because it will give the batter more flavor, but any squid you can find, such as calamari (not breaded), is fine.

You can read more about Okonomiyaki in our basic Okonomiyaki recipe which explains the ingredients used in the dish.  Some of the ingredients are ones you may not be familiar with or hard to find at local stores, but all of them contribute to make one great flavor.  So try to find as much as you can!

Okonomiyaki with Squid

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Dashi (fish broth)
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 Tbsp Nagaimo (long yam), grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cabbage (about 12 oz), chopped fine
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped fine
  • 2-3 Tbsp pickled red ginger Benishoga, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 3 oz (100 g) squid or calamari, cut into 1/2" x 2" (1 cm x 5 cm) pieces
  • Okonomiyaki sauce or Tonkatsu sauce
  • mayonnaise
  • dried green seaweed (Aonori)
  • dried bonito flakes

Instructions

  1. In a big bowl, whisk flour and Dashi (fish broth) together until smooth. Stir egg and Nagaimo yam into the flour mixture. Season it with salt and soy sauce.
  2. Add chopped cabbage, onions, and ginger to the batter and mix. Add squid pieces and mix.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet, pour half of the pancake batter into an 8" circle. Fry at medium heat until the bottom becomes golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Flip to fry the other side, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Flip one more time, and spread Okonomiyaki sauce and mayo on the pancake.
  6. Sprinkle dried green seaweed, then dried bonito flakes over the pancake. Serve hot.
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Japanese Cooking 101 by Japanesecooking101 - 1M ago

Buri Teriyaki Recipe - Japanese Cooking 101 - YouTube





Buri Teriyaki is Yellowtail fish cooked and coated with Teriyaki Sauce.  Although a lot of people may think of Teriyaki mainly with chicken, fish Teriyaki may be eaten more often in Japan.

Teriyaki means “grilled with a shine,” and it is an important cooking technique for meat and fish.  Sugar in teriyaki sauce gives a shine to food which makes it not only tasty, but also look more appetizing.  Japanese Teriyaki sauce is not as sweet as some Teriyaki dishes from restaurants here.  If you’re used to the taste of that and like it, adjust the amount of sugar and Mirin.

Buri, Yellowtail, Teriyaki may not be so popular in the US compared to salmon, but it is a very common fish for Teriyaki.  Yellowtail is a fish whose name changes as it grows, and Buri is the oldest and biggest of the kind. Hamachi, which is well known for Nigiri Sushi, is the young yellowtail 20″ (50cm) in size, about 2 years old, while Buri is 30″ (75cm) or bigger, about 4 years old.  Buri is the fattest and most flavorful in winter since it’s about breeding time.  Because Buri is the oldest (and the most promoted) of that type of fish, Japanese people consider it an auspicious food.  Buri Teriyaki is often seen in New Year’s feast, Osechi.

If you like Teriyaki dishes, you’ll like this.  When Buri is in season, try this at home!




Buri Teriyaki

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt over both sides of the fish. Let sit for 15 minutes. Then pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan at medium heat, and cook fish 2 minutes or so on each side until nicely browned. Remove fish from the pan. Clean the pan with a paper towel, and cook sugar, Soy Sauce, Sake and Mirin in the same pan. Reduce for a couple of minutes and add fish back. When the sauce has slightly thickened, remove from heat.
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