Category Archives: Japanese Food

Ramen Burger

Ramen Burger by The Aimless Cook

The ramen burger is gaining popularity in North America. Touted as the newest food craze, it’s a clever sandwich using ramen noodles as the bun. Today, I’m going to show you how to make your own. Enjoy!

You will need:

  • fresh ramen noodles (one package per person)
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the beef teriyaki filling:

  • 10 oz. thinly sliced beef (per person)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • a splash of sake (optional)
  • ¼ cup dashi

Cook the ramen like you normally would until cooked. Strain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the beaten egg and combine until the noodles are evenly coated. Take the noodles, divide them into 2 equal portions, and put them into ring moulds, ramekins, or burger patty moulds. Pack them and weigh them down so that they can set in the shape of your ‘buns’. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the Beef Teriyaki, start by sauteing the onion in a small pot on medium heat with a bit of oil. Cook until the onions are lightly caramelized, then add the beef. Cook until the beef starts to change colour. Next, add the rest of the ingredients and continue cooking until the beef is done and the sauce is thickened to your liking.

When the noodles are set, they should pop out of the moulds easily. Fry them on a lightly oiled skillet on medium high heat until they are slightly browned and warmed through.

Assemble your burger and enjoy!

 

*The ramen bun holds up well to sauce. You can of course enjoy them with hamburger patties, katsu, fried oysters, etc. It up to your imagination.

What are you going to put in your ramen buns?

Silken Tofu – The Aimless Cook at Downtownfood

Silken Tofu with Downtown Food

Silken tofu is incredible when made fresh, and Chef Darren MacLean from Downtown Food shows us how he makes his own tofu in-house daily. This is part 2 of our 3 -part special on soybeans!

You will need:

  • 3 cups fresh soymilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gypsum powder, available at the Asian grocery

Make a slurry by combining the gypsum powder with a teaspoon of water. Add the mixture to the soy milk and mix well to combine. Put into a ceramic vessel and set aside.

Heat up a steamer on high heat til you have a rolling boil. Lower the temperature to med – med low until you have a gentle steam. carefully place the soymilk into the steamer and cover, leaving it slightly ajar to let extra condensation escape. Steam for about 6 minutes per inch of soymilk in the container.

*The tofu is done when it looks the consistency of custard.

Serve with your favourite toppings and enjoy!

Some of my favourite toppings include green onion, ponzu, mirin and soy reduction, sansai, dashi broth…

How do you enjoy your tofu?

Tonkatsudon

Tonkatsudon by The Aimless Cook

Tonkatsudon is another delicious style of Japanese donburi, or rice bowl meal. Very simply, it’s a crispy pork cutlet which is then simmered in a broth of soy, dashi and mirin til it becomes slightly sweet and savoury. Add thinly sliced onions and a beaten egg and you have a meal in a bowl that you can make anytime you’re feeling the craving for something Japanese. Have fun in the kitchen!

You will need:

  • 100ml dashi
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten (for cooking)
  • 2 pork chops, boneless
  • all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten (for breading)
  • panko, or rice crispies
  • green onion, or furikake

Start by flattening the pork chops between 2 layers of kitchen wrap by pounding it with a mallet or a rolling pin. Dredge the chops in the flour, followed by a coating of egg, then a coating of panko or rice crispies. Set aside.

Combine the dashi, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a small bowl or measuring cup and then mix until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat a few inches of oil in a pot to about 350F. You can test the oil by putting in a chopstick. If it starts to bubble from the bottom of the pot, then you’re good to go. Carefully place the pork cutlets into the oil and cook until golden brown on both sides. This should only take a couple minutes since the cutlets are thin. When they’re done, drain on a rack or on some kitchen paper then set aside.

In a 10 inch skillet on medium high heat, add the sliced onions and just enough of the sauce mixture to cover the bottom of the pan. Squeeze in the juice of ½ of the grated ginger and let simmer until the onions are start to turn soft.

Slice the cutlets into bite-sized strips and using a spatula, lay a cutlet carefully onto the simmering sauce and onions. Immediately pour on half a beaten egg and cover, letting simmer for about a minute. Take off the cover and pour on the remaining egg, letting set for about 30 seconds.

Carefully lay the contents of the pan onto a bowl of freshly steamed rice. Top with fresh chopped green onion or furikake. Now grab a pair of chopsticks and enjoy!

Have you ever had to make an ingredient substitution in the kitchen?

Matcha Mochi Cakes

Matcha Mochi by The Aimless Cook

Adapted from Lemonpi

These are some tasty green tea cakes that make a delicious snack or dessert. They are moist and chewy with a slightly crispy exterior and not to overly sweet like regular cupcakes. Try them for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

You will need:

  • 220g mochiko rice flour
  • 5g matcha powder (green tea)
  • 85g unsalted butter, melted
  • 155g caster sugar
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • black and white sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a cupcake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 220g of mochiko, 5g of matcha and a teaspoon of baking powder.

In an electric mixer, whisk 2 eggs and 155g of caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add in 85g of melted butter, then ¾ cup of evaporated milk. Next, add in the dry ingredients and continue to mix til smooth.

Pour the batter into your cupcake pan, using about ¼ cup per cake. Sprinkle the tops with black and white sesame seeds.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes in a preheated 350F oven or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack, then remove from the pan.

What is your favourite tea-infused food or drink?

Tantanmen – Peddler’s Noodles

Tantanmen by The Aimless Cook

Tantanmen (Peddler’s Noodles) is a spicy Japanese ramen dish based on a Szechuan dish of the same name. Dan dan is the name of the pole that the peddler would carry across his shoulders with the soup and noodles on each end. The broth is made from doubanjiang, sesame and miso, giving it a wonderfully spicy and savoury flavour. There’s nothing better than warming up next to a large bowl of this incredible ramen. Try it for yourself!

For the pork:

  • 180g lean ground pork
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • ½ tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons doubanjiang* (Chinese chili paste)

The soup base:

  • 2 teaspoons tianmianjiang** (sweet soybean paste)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red miso
  • 1 tablespoon sake or shaoxing
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 litre chicken or pork stock (homemade or the best quality storebought)
  • ramen noodles

Toppings:

  • bamboo shoots
  • green onions, chopped
  • nori
  • boiled eggs

In a small bowl, combine the sake/shaoxing, soy sauce, miso, tianmianjiang and tahini and then set aside.

Heat a couple tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok on high heat. Add doubanjiang, garlic, grated ginger and a couple chopped green onions and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the ground pork and cook for about 3 minutes then stir in the sauce mix.

Pour in 1 litre of chicken stock and a couple teaspoons of chili oil, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and balance out with brown sugar.

Ladle the soup onto the cooked ramen noodles and top with green onions, some toasted sesame seeds, a drizzle of chili oil, bamboo shoots, a soft boiled egg, and a quarter sheet of nori. Now grab a pair of chopsticks and enjoy!

*doubanjiang is a Chinese chili paste made from fermented broad beans, soy beans and chilies. It’s also known as the soul of Szechuan cooking!

**tianmianjiang is also known as sweet bean paste and is similar to hoisin sauce.

When was the last time you bought an unknown ingredient at the market?

Tsukimi Udon – Moon Viewing Noodles

Tsukimi Udon by The Aimless Cook

Tsukimi Udon, or “Moon Viewing” Noodles are named for the egg that’s placed in the bowl as this Japanese dish is served. It’s usually a very simple affair, sometimes even consisting of a bowl of freshly prepared udon noodles, soy sauce, green onions and a raw egg. Today I will show you how to make my version of tsukimi udon using fresh oyster mushrooms, snow peas and a really easy soup broth. Enjoy!

You will need:

  • 2 servings udon noodles
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 ⅓ teaspoons dashi powder
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 small pieces of lemon zest
  • 6 snow peas
  • 1 cup oyster mushrooms (or whatever you got)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs

Start with 2 saucepans, one large and one small. Fill the large sauce pan with water and bring to a rolling boil. While you’re waiting for that, combine the soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar in a small bowl. Put 2 ½ cups of water in the small saucepan and the dashi powder. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the dashi powder then add ⅔ of the soy mixture. Bring to a boil, stir to combine, then lower the heat to simmer. At this point, you can add the snow peas so they cook briefly.

Shred the oyster mushrooms to manageable pieces then add to a frying pan on high heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes til they are fragrant and golden brown. Add the remaining soy mixture and continue cooking til the mixture thickens. Set aside.

Add the udon noodles to the large pot of boiling water and cook til tender (according to directions).

With the eggs, you can serve them raw on top of the hot soup, poached, or make onsen tamago.

To assemble, start by putting a piece of lemon zest on the bottom of each bowl, followed by the strained noodles. Follow that with soup stock and then top with the snow peas, mushrooms and the egg. Garnish with a sprinkle of furikake and serve.

It’s customary to slurp your noodles with enthusiasm, so be sure to enjoy yourself! Do you like to slurp loud or eat your noodles quietly?

Natto Gohan (Fermented Soybeans on Rice)

Natto Gohan by The Aimless Cook

This particular Japanese style breakfast is one of the simplest to make. In fact, I make this whenever I need a quick snack. This is natto gohan.

You will need:

  • a couple packs of natto (available in the Asian grocer’s freezer)
  • some steamed rice
  • 2 eggs (raw, or soft poached)
  • furikake
  • chopped green onions
  • soy sauce

Natto is fermented soybeans which, like miso, are rich in protein. They are, however, an acquired taste since they have a powerful smell and slimy consistency. If you like stinky cheese, It’s nothing you haven’t experienced before and I highly recommend you try it.

Natto

Natto is sold in the freezer section of the local Asian grocery and is packaged in foam containers like these. They usually come with packets of tare (a tiny stock flavouring) and karashi mustard. The moment you open it, you’ll know what I mean about the slimy texture. To prepare the natto, just add the 2 packets and mix well with chopsticks.

Now grab a bowl ‘cause it’s time to put everything together.

Start with a large bowl with enough room to mix. Put in a couple scoops of freshly steamed rice and top with the natto. Make some room on the other side of the bowl for your egg. In this case, I’m using a fresh raw egg. If you don’t do raw eggs, you can use a soft poached egg instead. Lastly, I’m adding furikake to finish. Chopped green onions are are delicious as well so use them if you got them.

To enjoy, simply season with a little soy sauce and mix everything together. That’s it!

Natto gohan can be enjoyed on its own or with a nice bowl of miso soup. You can make natto gohan even better with some diced avocado or some raw tuna. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Do you like natto? Would you ever try it?

Zaru Soba Recipe – Easy Japanese Cooking

Zaru Soba Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

Zaru Soba is a cold noodle dish featuring fresh buckwheat noodles and a delicious dipping sauce with additions like finely chopped green onion, grated daikon, wasabi and raw quail egg. This refreshing and healthy dish is perfect for a hot summer day and it’s really easy to prepare.

You will need:

  • soba noodles (dried in bundles or preferably fresh)

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 cup dashi
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mirin

The rest:

  • 4 quail eggs
  • 1 bunch of green onion (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup shredded daikon
  • fresh wasabi
  • 2 sheets of roasted nori, finely shredded
  • some roasted sesame seeds

Start with a small saucepan of the dashi on medium heat and add the soy sauce and mirin. Heat til the sauce comes to a simmer then let cook for about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Cut a 2-3 inch section from a fresh daikon and peel. Using a Japanese grater or box grater, grate the daikon into a small bowl. Taking the daikon pulp in your hand, gently squeeze the juice and save the pulp. Set aside.

Add the soba noodles to a large pot of unsalted boiling water then turn down to a simmer (don’t cook soba at a rolling boil like Italian pasta). Cook the soba noodles until they are just done. You want them tender, but not al dente and not mushy. As soon as they’re done, strain into a colander in a large bowl and run cold water til the soba is rinsed of all the starch and the water runs clear. When that’s done, drain well and set aside.

Put the sauce into individual dipping bowls and each of the add-on ingredients into small dishes. Start with the grated daikon, then a small serving of wasabi. Carefully take the top off a quail egg and pour off the egg white, keeping the yolk in the bottom half of the shell. Put the quail egg on top of the pile of daikon. Finally, add some finely chopped green onion and you’re ready.

Using chopsticks, take some of the noodles and wrap them around til you have a nice mouthful portion. Gently place on a plate and repeat til you have 3 nice bundles. Finish with some shredded roasted nori and roasted sesame seeds.

To eat, simply add the daikon and green onion to the sauce and mix. If you like, add the quail egg and as much wasabi as you prefer. From there, simply take some noodles, dip them in the sauce and enjoy!

What is your favourite cold dish in the summer?

Miso Maple Glazed Salmon Rice Bowl

Miso Maple Glazed Salmon Rice Bowl


The Rice Bowl is the epitome of Asian comfort food and this recipe takes Canadian and Japanese flavours and puts them together in this beautiful marriage of sweet caramelized maple syrup and savoury umami-rich red miso. Paired with the fragrant sesame seasoned brown rice and some simple grilled asparagus, this is happiness in a bowl.

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon red miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Whisk into a smooth paste and set aside.

For the rice seasoning:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons roasted black sesame seeds (or regular sesame seeds)
  • a dash of honey if you prefer

Mix together in a container and set aside.

The rest:

  • a bunch of fresh asparagus
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cups cooked brown short grain rice
  • 2 portions of salmon fillet

Start by preheating the broiler. On the stove, heat a large skillet on high heat with a couple tablespoons of canola oil. When it starts to smoke, add the salmon. Cook on the heat until the edges start to turn opaque, then spoon on the glaze. You will only need about a couple tablespoons per piece. Once the glaze is on the salmon, immediately put under the broiler (about 7-8 inches above the salmon). Depending on the thickness of the salmon, you will only have to leave it cook for about 3-4 minutes. At this point, the glaze should be starting to caramelize and brown. When the salmon is done, take out and set aside.

For the asparagus, simply toss in olive oil til coated then season with kosher salt. Put on the grill on medium heat and cook for a couple minutes until lightly coloured. Take off the grill and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the freshly steamed brown rice and slowly drizzle in the seasoning sauce. With a slicing motion, mix the rice and seasoning together until well combined. Taste and season with salt if you need to.

To serve, simply arrange the salmon and asparagus on the bowl of seasoned sesame rice. If you like, you can also add a fried or poached egg, some sauteed shiitake mushrooms or some diced avocado. Be creative and have fun in the kitchen!

 

The Onsen Tamago – Japanese Hot Spring Egg

Another egg post. Yes, because eggs are awesome and there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy them. This particular technique is one of my favourites because it produces an unbelievably silky and smooth egg that just barely holds it’s shape. This is the best of poaching without the vinegar water, swirl/no swirl, slotted spoon nonsense. This is the Japanese onsen tamago.

Onsen tamago literally means “hot spring egg”. In onsen towns in Japan, onsen tamago are a popular delicacy and are sold in stores everywhere. These slow cooked eggs take on a unique texture when cooked long and slow in the natural hot springs. As a result, you have a yolk that cooks before the white and is simply sublime. 

All you need:

  • fresh eggs
  • boiling water
  • a thermal container with a lid (or a small beverage cooler)

Very easy to do this. Simply put the eggs in the container and pour in the boiling water (enough to cover the eggs a couple of inches). Put the lid on the container and set a timer for 15 minutes. When the time is up, take your eggs out and you’re ready to use however you like. 

Crack them and they come out in one beautiful piece. There will be a little loose egg white but you can scoop up the egg with a slotted spoon to clean up the presentation. I like to use these eggs in ramen, congee, chili pan mee, bibimbap… need I go on?

onsen tamago at home

The best and most simple way to enjoy an onsen tamago is in a small bowl with dashi, a dash of soy and some chopped green onion. Enjoy!