Japanese Gratin: Doria

The Japanese have their own version for Gratin called Doria which is prepared with rice, especially leftover rice.
It is said it was first invented by an Italian family with the name of Doria who tried to represent the Italian flag (with tomatoes, cucumbers and chicken) in this recipe they first cooked in Paris.
It was first prepared in Japan in Yokohoma by a French cuisine chef from Switzerland at the New Grand Hotel in 1925!

It has become a mainstay in Japan in homes and restaurants.
The variations are endless, but here is the basic recipe:

Japanese Gratin: Doria

RECIPE:
I leave the kinds and weights for the ingredients to your creative imagination!

First make a bechamel sauce:
Use the smae volume of flour and butter.
Melt butter in a large saucepan.
Once the butter is melted, add flour and stir until you obtain a smooth mixture.
Add milk (warm will make things easier) cup by cup and stir well. make as much as you want. Keep stirring until you obtain a thick (the thicker, the better) bechamel sauce. Season with salt (easy on that!), pepper and nutmeg.
Set aside and let cool completely.

Slice onion thin and fry in a little oil until soft and just before colouring.
Scoop out and set aside.
You may of course add such vegetables as sweet pimentoes, etc.

The Japanese make their doria with chicken usually, but you may of course replace it any white meat, fish or seafood.
Cut the chicken into small pieces and fry them in same oil until crispy.
Scoop out and set aside.

Use leftover steamed rice.
Fry it with salt (careful on that one again!), pepper and tomato sauce (ketchup is fine, tomato puree is even better).
Season with other spices if you wish to.
Add onions and chicken and stir fry until all ingredients are well mixed.

Butter the inside of an oven dish.
Pour the whole fried rice inside.

Cover the rice with as much as bechamel sauce as you wish.
Add a generous layer of cheese of your choice.
The original recipe called for parmegiano, but cheaper cheese did not exist then!

Bake inside oven as you would do for any other gratin.
Keep in mind the colour you wish to attain.
It might be a good idea to serve them in individual dishes as they come out very hot!
Can be frozen until cooking them in an oven!

The same recipe with boiled macaroni!

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Real Potato Chips

Now, what are real potato chips?

Not the French fries, which are actually Belgian fries.

And not the poor imitations you wolf down with untold amounts of salt and preservatives!

Real potato chips, as known in Great Britain or France (!) are made with potatoes, real ones I mean, and they are easy to make and much, much healthier!

Now, what do you need?
Potatoes, of course, a (very) little salt and good oil.

How do you prepare them?

Your potatoes, being old or not, can be used with a simple technique.

If they are old, no problem.
If you brush them (with a real hard brush) under clear water, you will be able to reduce their outer layer to a very thin skin that is edible (actually most of the really beneficient matters are contained in their skin!).

Cut them as thin as possible (with their skin!).

Important: slices of different thickness should not be fried together.
Try to separate them as shown on above pic and fry them separately.
Great fun if you have the kids around!

Clean potato slices in cold running water. This is an important step unless you want them to stick together, turn black and make a mess!
Dry them thoroughly inside a large clean cloth (or the water will fly upon frying!).

Heat frying oil to 170 degrees Celsius.

This is how your chips should look just before frying!

Use long wooden chopsticks to prevent chips from sticking to each other.

Your chips will change colour and if the oil is at proper temperature swell nicely!

Once you are satisfied with their colour, take them out of the oil and let them rest for a very short while over a fine mesh to get rid of excess oil. Sprinkle a (very) little salt for taste. I personally like some parmegiano and pepper instead of the salt!

Don’t forget the “wrong shapes”! They make for great chips, too, especially with the kids!

I susally serve the round chips with oven-baked chicken or guinea fowl!

Did I mention vegans can eat these?

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Bread + Butter
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Frank Fariello
Elinluv Tidbit Corner
Tokyo Terrace
Maison de Christina
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Comestilblog
Greedy Girl
Bouchon For 2

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Vegan Smoked Tofu

It is sometimes a hard world for vegans when it comes to find new ideas and recipes, even you love tofu!
Here is a simple way to prepare and enjoy tofu as it was a big piece of cheese!

Vegan Smoked Tofu!

INGREDIENTS: for ? People

-Tofu: a large piece 300~400g or more
-Miso of your liking, as much as you wish
-Soy sauce, not too much (beware the salt)
-Sake or mirin, a little just for the taste
-Spices, if you wish!

RECIPE:

-As the tofu shouldn’t be too soft, choose “momendofu”, or slightly solid.

-Place the tofu on a clean cloth.
-Top it with a clean plate or board.
-Put a heavy weight on top.
-Leave it like this for half a day. The tofu will reduce to half.

-Smear the whole tofu on every face with plenty of a mixture of miso, soy sauce and other ingredients of your choice. The more, the better.

-Wrap it carefully in cellophane paper and leave it in the fridge overnight.

-Take it out of the fridge and take off the cellophane paper.
-Let it dry for 2 hours at room temperature over a piece of kitchen paper.

-Smoke inside a Chinese smoking set for 1 hour.

-Very practical for smoking small quantities!

-Here you are! Enjoy!

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
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Bread + Butter
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Frank Fariello
Elinluv Tidbit Corner
Tokyo Terrace
Maison de Christina
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Greedy Girl
Bouchon For 2

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Cream Cheese Brownies

The Japanese have become extremely efficient at reproducing and improving on European/American (I mean the continents!) recipes when it comes to cakes and desserts.
Here is an example I found in my notes:

Crema Cheese Brownies!

INGREDIENTS: 20×20 cm square mold or a 23cm diameter round mold.

Cream Cheese Topping:
-Beaten egg: 1
-Cream cheese: 225 g
-Sugar: 50g
-Vanilla essence: 1 teaspoon

-Brownies
-Chocolate (for cakes and baking): 115 g
-Unsalted butter: 115 g
-Brown sugar: 150 g
-Beaten eggs: 2
-Light cake flour: 75 g
-Baking powder: 1 teaspoon

RECIPE:

-Butter/oil the inside of the mold and sprinkle with flour/line the mold with baking paper.
Sift and mix flour and baking powder together.
Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (3725F)

-Soften cream cheese inside microwave oven for 10 seconds and beat it just long enough as to obtain a smooth cream.

-Mix in te beaten egg, sugar and vanilla essence.
Set apart.

-In a separate bowl, drop the chocolate and butter and soften for 10 seconds inside a microwave oven. Take care not heat it too long, otherwise the chocolate will solidify.
Mix well with a spatula.

-Add brown sugar and mix well with electric mixer. Ad the 2 beaten eggs little by little and mix well.

-With a spatula (no mixer, please!) fold in the flour and baking powder in three equal steps.

-Pour in the brownies mixture inside the mold (about 4 fifths of its depths) and smoothen surface with spatula.

-First place the cream cheese into 4 parts on top as in picture.

-Spread each cheese cream “ball” around with the spatula.

-Make “patterns” with a stick.

-Bake at 160 degrees Celsius (325F) for 25~30 minutes.
Let cool completely before taking out the cake.

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, One Frugal Foodie, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet

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Ramen: Tonkotsu Ramen-Professional Recipe

Here is the “professional Recipe for Tonkotsu Ramen as promised!

INGREDIENTS: (will provide 3.5 litres of soup, enough for quite a few servings!

-Pork bones: 5 (2500 g)
-Water: 13 litres

RECIPE:

Bring frozen bones to room temperature in plenty of water.
It should take about 2 hours. If you cook frozen bones directly, the blood will solidify and will be very difficult to get rid of.
If you can get fresh bones, skip this step.

Fill a very large cooking pot with water and bring to boil.

Switch off fire as soon as the water boils. Drop in the bones and let cool. This process will help you get rid of the blood and blood vessels easily.

Leave it to cool down for 30~40 minutes.

Drain the water off the bones in a large strainer.
Throw off the water.
Check and take off any blood or blood vessels for the bones.
Don’t forget to clean the pot!
Break all the bones in two with a hammer.

Fill the pot again with clear water and bring to boil.
Drop the bones inside.

Keep cooking over a strong fire and scoop out foam and unwanted matters coming up on the surface (this should take 20 minutes at the most).
As the bottom might get hooter than near surface, stir with a large ladle from time to time.
If the inside of the pot over the water surface gets clogged with matter or gets dark, switch off fire, clean with a clean cloth and switch fire on again.

Above picture shows the soup after all unwanted matters have stopped coming up.

Cover with a lid and a weight to prevent steam coming out from under the lid. Keep simmering on a low fire.

That’s how it looks after 1 hour.
Keep cooking.

That’s how it looks after 3 hours.

That’s how it looks after 6 hours.

That’s how it looks after 10 hours.

And after 12 hours (start early in the morning!)!

Keep cooking. Remember you are aiming at 3.5 litres of soup.
After 12 hours you may raise the fire to accelerate the cooking.
Keep the lid on!

This is what you are looking for!

This is how the bones will look after 15 hours of cooking!
Cooked at last!

Filter the soup and here you have your tonkotsu base soup ready!
After that it is up to you and your preferences: add miso, tofu, salt, sesame oil, garlic chips and your little secrets!

Now what secret ingredients have I thrown in? LOL

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Tempura: The Basics

Home-made style tempura

Tempura (天麩羅, or 天婦羅, tenpura, also written as “天ぷら”), which may be of Portuguese origin, is a popular Japanese dish of deep fried, battered seafood, or vegetables which has spread all the world!

The word tempura, or the technique of dipping fish and vegetables into a batter and frying them, comes from the word “tempora,” a Latin word meaning “times”, “time period” used by both Spanish and Portuguese missionaries to refer to the Lenten period or Ember Days (ad tempora quadragesimae), Fridays, and other Christian holy days.

Tempura at a Japanese Restaurant

In Japan, restaurants specializing in tempura are called tenpura-ya and range from inexpensive fast food chains to very expensive five-star restaurants. Many restaurants offer tempura as part of a set meal or an obento (lunch box), and it is also a popular ingredient in take-out or convenience store obento boxes. The ingredients and styles of cooking and serving tempura vary greatly through the country, with importance being placed on using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Vegetables Tempura

Batter
A light batter is made of cold water and soft wheat flour. Eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added. Tempura batter is traditionally mixed in small batches using chopsticks for only a few seconds, leaving lumps in the mixture that, along with the cold batter temperature, result in the unique fluffy and crisp tempura structure when cooked. The batter is often kept cold by adding ice, or by placing the bowl inside a larger bowl with ice in it. Over-mixing the batter will result in activation of wheat gluten, which causes the flour mixture to become chewy and dough-like when fried.

Specially formulated tempura flour is available in worldwide supermarkets. This is generally light (low-gluten) flour and occasionally contains leaveners such as baking powder.

Some varieties of tempura are dipped in a final coating, such as sesame seeds, before frying. Tempura generally does not use breadcrumbs in the coating.

Shrimps Tempura

Frying
Thin slices or strips of vegetables or seafood are dipped in the batter, then briefly deep-fried in hot oil. Vegetable oil or canola oil are most common, however tempura was traditionally cooked using sesame oil. Many specialty shops still use sesame oil or tea seed oil, and it is thought that certain compounds in these oils help to produce light, crispier batter.

When cooking shellfish, squid, or hard-skinned watery vegetables such as bell pepper or eggplant, the skin is usually scored with a knife to prevent the ingredients from bursting during cooking, which can cause serious burns from splashing oil.

Oil temperature is generally kept between 160 and 180 degrees Celsius, depending on the ingredient. In order to preserve the natural flavour and texture of the ingredients, care is taken not to overcook tempura. Cooking times range between a few seconds for delicate leaf vegetables, to several minutes for thick items or large kaki-age fritters.

The bits of batter (known as tenkasu) are scooped out between batches of tempura, so they do not burn and leave a bad flavour in the oil. A small mesh scoop is used for this purpose. Tenkasu are often reserved as ingredients in other dishes or as a topping.

Tempura Tendon (on a bowl of rice)

Ingredients
Seafood: Prawn, Shrimp, squid, scallop, anago (conger eel), ayu (sweetfish), crab, and a wide variety of fish and shellfish.
Vegetables: bell pepper, kabocha squash, eggplant, carrot, burdock, green beans, sweet potato, yam, potato, renkon (lotus root), shiitake mushroom, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, okra.
There is no real limit, actually.
Keep in mind that it is probably the best way to appreciate wild mountain vegetables!

Tempura served on Soba!

Serving and presentation
Cooked bits of tempura are either eaten with dipping sauce or used to assemble other dishes. Tempura is commonly served with grated daikon and eaten hot immediately after frying. The most common sauce is tentsuyu sauce (roughly three parts dashi, one part mirin, and one part shoyu). Alternatively, tempura may be sprinkled with sea salt before eating. Mixtures of powdered green tea and salt or yuzu and salt are also used.

Kakiage on a bowl of rice

Kakiage is a type of tempura made with mixed vegetable strips, such as onion, carrot, and burdock, and sometimes including shrimp, which are deep fried as small round fritters.

Tempura is also used in combination with other foods. When served over soba (buckwheat noodles), it is called tempura soba or tensoba. Tempura is also served as a donburi dish where tempura shrimp and vegetables are served over steamed rice in a bowl (tendon) and on top of udon soup (Tempura Udon).

Tempura and Kakiage Professional recipes coming soon!

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Kabocha Lemon Cupcakes

It seems I have finally caught the “cupcakes disease”. I cannot fail being attracted to cupcake recipe, but with the difference I’m only interested in the Japanese varieties!

Kabocha, or Cambodia abóbora in Latin, originally came from the Andes region in South America but was develpped as the present variety in Cambodia, hence its name.
The Japanese grow a lot of them but they have to import them notably from Tonga in the South Pacific to satisfy the enormous demand!

Here is a very simple recipe for people in a hurry!
Kabocha Lemon Cupcakes!

INGREDIENTS: 8~10 cakes

-Hot-cake mix: 200 g
-Honey (liquid): 3 tablespoons
-Kabotcha (or pumpkin): 3 tablespoons (mash them first)
-Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
-Milk: 60 ml
-Unsalted butter: 80 g
-Eggs: 2 large
-Almond slices (to taste)

RECIPE:

-Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Bring butter back to home temperature.

-In a bowl mix the eggs and butter well until smooth. Add honey and mix. Add mashed kabocha and mix.

-Add milk and mix. Add hot cake mix (powdered mixture) and mix well.

-Add lemon juice and mix well.

-Fill cups up to 6 or 7 tenths of their depths. Decorate with almond slices

-Bake in oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 2~23 minutes.

Easy, isn’t it?

RECOMMENDED RELATED SITES:
Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Mangantayon, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles, Lexi, Culinary Musings, Eats and Everything, One Frugal Foodie, Bite Me New England, Heather Sweet

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