Saturday, February 20, 2016

Week 8 - Japanese

We love Japanese cuisine and have eaten so many different types of Japanese food that it was a challenge to figure out what to do for the Japanese cooking challenge for Week 8. After looking through some of my saved recipes, I stumbled upon the perfect one for the challenge - oyakodon, chicken and egg over rice. I first fell in love with oyakodon in, of all places, a mall food court in New Jersey, and really wanted to try making this on our own. For a vegetable side dish, I was initially thinking of some type of salad, like maybe pickled cucumbers or something, but we were going grocery shopping a week before the challenge and I didn't think some of the fresh produce would keep. For that reason, I decided to make green bean shiraae instead.


I made the oyakodon based on this recipe I found on Serious Eats, which I guess is from the cookbook Japanese Soul Cooking. I modified it slightly, as we always do, for what we had.

The ingredients that I used for the oyakodon were:

- 2 cups uncooked brown rice ($1)
- 1 large onion ($0.60)
- 2 pieces of boneless skinless chicken breast ($3)
- 4 scallions ($0.30)
- 1/2 cup mirin ($0.50)
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce ($0.50)
- 1/2 cup sake ($0.75)
- 1/2 cup dashi ($0.25)
- 4 eggs ($0.66)
- sesame seeds ($0.05)
- shichimi togarashi ($0.05)

The total for the oyakodon part of dinner was approximately $7.66. If we added in some mushrooms in the future, this could be a complete dinner without the need for a side dish, and also still be under $10. We are definitely thinking of trying that in the future.

I stuck closely to the steps for making the oyakodon that were in the original recipe, although I modified them a little bit based on some of the reader comments. At least I followed them the first time. The second time, my memory of what I did failed me and I missed one of the steps (more on that later), but it still turned out okay. The basic method of making the oyakodon was:

1. Prep work. Start the rice in the rice cooker (with extra water to make it as fluffy and sticky as possible). Slice the onion (in half vertically, then each half horizontally in half, and then thin slices). Chop the scallions into medium sized pieces. Slice chicken into bite size pieces.

2. Add onions with a little oil to a large skillet over high heat and saute the onions for a few minutes until they soften.

3. Add the chicken along with the mirin, soy sauce, sake, and dashi. Mix together well. (I don't know if you are supposed to mix the liquid ingredients together before adding, but I didn't and it was fine.)

4. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer the whole mixture for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. (I don't remember exactly how long it was, but I think it was a little over 5 minutes.)

At this point, it was time to make each individual portion of oyakodon, and I repeated the process for each of us.

5. Set up a small skillet and move about 1.5 cups of the chicken mixture (with broth) to the small skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. (I thought this would make several portions, but doing 1.5 cups at a time, the chicken mixture was pretty much just enough for the 2 of us.)

6. Crack 2 eggs into a separate bowl, very lightly beat them, and then add 3/4 of the eggs over the chicken without mixing it.

7. After cooking the egg for a couple of minutes, add the rest of the eggs and some of the scallions. Cover the skillet, cook for another minute or so. Then turn off the heat and let it rest for another few minutes. (This was the step I screwed up the second time. I put the cover on, let it cook, and forgot to turn off the heat. It was fine, but the eggs were a little less runny in the second run.)

8. Add rice to bowl and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top. Slide the entire oyakodon mixture from the skillet on top of the rice. (We used wide, shallow bowls for exactly this reason, since they were about the same size as the skillet.)

9. Add more scallions as garnish for each bowl, and sprinkle on some shichimi togarashi to taste if you want. (A added it and found it added a little bit of spice, but I didn't add any as I liked it just as it was.)

We both really liked the oyakodon, as it's basically Japanese comfort food. The flavor was spot on for what we were looking for, and it was a pretty healthy dish. It was also relatively easy to make, so hopefully we can make this part of our repertoire going forward.

Green Bean Shiraae

For our side dish, I made a side of green beans based on this recipe from Just One Cookbook for a dish called green bean shiraae. We didn't have all the ingredients for the recipe, so we modified it for what we had. Probably doesn't taste the same, but it was good enough.

The ingredients we used were:

- 1 bag of frozen whole green beans ($1.99)
- 1/2 block of firm tofu ($0.66)
- a few tsp of sesame seeds ($0.10)
- a few tsp of yellow miso ($0.40)
- a few tsp of agave ($0.10)
- a few tsp of low sodium soy sauce ($0.15)

That totaled about $3.40, not too bad for a pretty big side dish.

To make the dish, we went through the following steps:

1. Cook green beans in boiling water, then drain and cool.

2. While the green beans are cooking, mix together the sauce of sesame seeds, miso, agave, and soy sauce, and adjust to taste. Also, place the tofu on towels to drain (and put the rest of the tofu in water to save for another day).

3. Once the beans have cooled, time to mix everything together. To try to ensure everything got covered with sauce (there were more green beans than I thought), I first crumbled the tofu in the bottom of the bowl, added half the sauce, mixed it together, then added the green beans and the rest of the sauce, and then just kept mixing.

The side dish was pretty good, mostly a sweet profile which I was expecting from the miso and agave. It was clean, healthy, and simple in flavor, which is something I associate with the Japanese philosophy. We aren't sure if we would make it again, just because we have other vegetable sides we like better, but it was good.

Japanese Chilled Tofu

Sometimes cooking challenges also mean I unintentionally discover something great. I stored the leftover tofu in water for a couple of days after making the green bean shiraae, and then I had some leftover scallions from the Week 9 challenge, so I thought the best way to use them all up would be together in a chilled tofu.

After draining the tofu for about an hour, I put together a sauce with all the scallions, some sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. I didn't really measure anything, but just put it together to taste. Then I poured the entire thing over the tofu and let it chill overnight. This was great, the perfect way to use up tofu. It was so good that I would even consider making this as a dish on its own, especially in the summer when something cold like this would be perfectly refreshing. I had no plans to make this before I realized how many scallions would be left after the Week 9 challenge, and I didn't even realize until writing this post that it ended up being a third Japanese dish during the Japanese challenge week, so it was kind of a happy accident that this even turned out as well as it did. I would definitely make this again, as I was pretty happy with the results, just like the oyakodon.

No comments:

Post a Comment