February 07, 2017

Recipe - Soy Wrapper ›


Onigiri Shumai Dumplings

Onigiri Shumai Dumplings

Onigiri Shumai Dumplings are ideal as elegant bento box fare or for enjoying with your favorite Japanese tea as light tea meal. These beauties are somewhere in between Japanese and Chinese, lending the flavors of one culture with the culinary technique of another.

Onigiri Shumai Dumplings

These onigiri, or Japanese rice balls, are made from sushi rice speckled with furikake. Think of furikake as savory confetti for rice. Among pre-made furikake, the wakame or radish leaf flavors are really delicious. I’ve even made homemade furikake with nori and green tea leaves before.

Onigiri Shumai Dumplings

If you want to serve these as a more substantial meal, try tucking a small piece of meat or veggies inside each rice ball. Cubes of ham, a few peas or a small wedge of cheese all make tasty fillings.

Onigiri Shumai Dumplings

After you’ve made the rice balls themselves, soy wrappers take these to the next level of beautiful. I like to change up the color of wrapper I use depending on what my dishes and tea wares look like, setting the stage for a visually rich and satisfying meal.

Onigiri Shumai Dumplings


Onigiri Shumai Dumplings

Makes 10-12 dumplings.

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked sushi rice
2-3 Tablespoons of furikake, pre-made or homemade
3 soy wrappers, each cut into 4 squares (I used the orange variety from Yamamotoyama)
sriracha and soy sauce to serve

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, gently fold the furikake in with the rice. The steam will help the flavors to bloom.

2. Measure out generous 2 Tbsp portions of the rice, then place in the middle of one of the wrappers. Use a few light dabs of water to help the wrapper stick to the sides of the rice ball. Lightly place pressure on the bottom of the rice ball to create a flat bottom.

3. Repeat the process until you get 12 dumplings. Top with sriracha to serve.


February 07, 2017

Recipe - Nori Seaweed ›


California Sushi Roll Bowls

California Sushi Roll Bowls

When you’re trying to eat clean, there couldn’t be a better pairing than sushi and tea–Japanese green tea to be exact! I don’t always have time to make sushi at home, but when I do it’s an event, a time to get crafty in the kitchen.

Just the other day I came back from the market with all the ingredients to make California Rolls, only to end up running out of time. I ended up nixing the sushi mat and came up with these beautiful sushi bowls instead.

California Sushi Roll Bowls

California Roll Sushi Bowls are like sushi for the busy person. Just throw the ingredients atop seasoned rice in a bowl and you have all the flavors of a vibrant and healthful sushi meal.

California Sushi Roll Bowls

You can make this bowl with white rice, brown rice or even no rice at all. The bowls remind me of bibimbap, except that they are eaten at room temperature and require significantly less cooking(cutting, yes–cooking, nope!).

California Sushi Roll Bowls

Any sushi bowl wouldn’t be complete without nori. Instead of using it like a wrapper as we do with sushi or temaki, simply rip the seaweed into small pieces and throw them onto the bed of rice. The thin, crispy sheets will enhance the ocean-like flavors of the seafood and also those fragrant sips of green tea.

California Sushi Roll Bowls

Make sure to include a large spoon when serving these bowls. Mix everything together thoroughly so that each spoonful has a piece of each colorful ingredient. With a recipe this easy to put together, now every night can be sushi night!


California Sushi Roll Bowls

Makes 2 bowls.

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked, seasoned sushi rice
6 crab sticks, cut into small pieces
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 avocado, sliced
4 sheets, Yamamotoyama’s Kiku Ariake
mayo
sesame seeds, to garnish
lemon slices, to garnish

Directions:

1. Place rice in large bowls. Add the crab sticks, cucumber, avocado and nori atop the rice. Add a few lemon slices to garnish.

2. Squeeze some mayo atop the ingredients. Scatter some sesame seeds atop the bowl to garnish.


February 07, 2017

Recipe - Nori Seaweed ›


Salmon Skin Temaki

Salmon Skin Temaki

So what is temaki? In the U.S., we know these as hand rolls–basically cone-shaped sushi that doesn’t require any cutting. These are ideal for sushi parties where your guests can mix and match ingredients to create a gorgeous Japanese meal.

Salmon Skin Temaki

Like many people, salmon skin is one my favorites at the sushi bar. Since the skin is rich in Omega 3 fats, I like to prepare it at home whenever I can find Wild Alaskan Salmon. To separate the skin from the flesh, use a thin, flexible fish knife to peel the skin off of a salmon filet. The smaller the pieces of salmon, the easier the process will be.

Salmon Skin Temaki

These sushi cones may look fancy, but they are actually fairly easy to make. All the fillings go into a square of space, and then a corner gets tucked in and rolled over to reveal a perfectly shaped cone. A smeared grain of cooked sushi rice will easily seal the roll.

Salmon Skin Temaki

For a pop of freshness and green, I’ve added some shiso leaf here. This leaf tastes something like a stronger version of thai basil. If you can’t find this, just use green onions, chives or even some regular basil.

Salmon Skin Temaki

I like to finish these rolls by drizzling them with some storebought teriyaki sauce that’s been perked up with some freshly grated ginger. Enjoy these temaki with hot Sencha (during colder months) or Iced Lemon Cucumber Green Tea (in warmer months). The astringency in the tea will help to balance out the rich taste of that crunchy salmon skin.


Salmon Skin Temaki

Makes 6-8 hand rolls.

Ingredients:

skin from one Wild Alaskan Salmon fillet, cut into 1′ x 3″ pieces
2 Tbsp of flour or cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste oil, for frying
nori, cut in half, parallel to lines on the sheet
2 cups cooked, seasoned sushi rice
fresh shiso leaf, basil, chives or green onions
lemon wedges and teriyaki sauce for serving

Directions:

1. Fill a medium pot with oil so that it comes up the sides of the pot by 1″, Heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Blot the salmon skins with a dry paper towel on both sides to absorb any surface moisture.

2. While the oil is heating up, lightly dredge the salmon skin pieces in the flour. Make sure to cover each piece completely. Drop into the hot oil when it comes up to temperature, then cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. When cooked, transfer the salmon skin to a plate lined with paper towels.

3. To assemble the temaki, lay a piece of nori horizontally on a work surface, rough side up. Scoop out 1/3 cup of the rice and place it on the left half of the rectangle. Spread the rice out so that it lays in a square. Top the rice with fresh herbs and 2-3 fried salmon skins. Take the bottom edge of the rectangle and fold it over the ingredients. Continue rolling to form a cone. Seal the cone with a grain of smeared sushi rice.

4. To serve, drizzle some teriyaki sauce or a squeeze of lemon atop the temaki. Enjoy!


February 06, 2017

Recipe - Green Teas ›


Triple Green Tea Affogato

Triple Green Tea Affogato

There aren't many tea affogatos out there, but when I have come across them they're always made with matcha. As wonderful as matcha is, there's another variation that I find even more delicious, and that's when they're made with roasty toasty green tea, also known as Hojicha.

Triple Green Tea Affogato

Triple Green Tea Affogatos start with store-bought green tea ice cream. As green tea becomes more popular, I was surprised to find this flavor being sold in my local (non-Asian) grocery store the other day.

If you can't find it, plain old vanilla or even chocolate will also work well. And if you're feeling particularly inspired, you can even try your hand at making your own No-Churn Green Tea Ice Cream at home!

Triple Green Tea Affogato

Like espresso, Hojicha needs to be brewed strong when being used in an affogato. To do this, be fairly heavy-handed when measuring out the tea. Also steep the tea for a longer amount of time than usual, which highlights the dark, nutty character of this bancha.

Triple Green Tea Affogato

Hojicha has a lower caffeine content than other green teas do, which makes this dessert perfect for serving in the evenings or when you're trying to wind down after a long day. The exception is if you choose to finish the scoops with some sprinkles of deep-steamed Fukamushi Sencha. After this finishing touch, that standard cup of espresso can take a permanent back seat!


Triple Green Tea Affogato

Ingredients:

green tea ice cream
Hojicha
Fukamushi Sencha, for garnish

Directions:

1. Steep the tea in a ratio of 2 Tbsp loose leaf tea to 1 cup of water for 1-2 minutes longer than suggested. Strain out the tea leaves.

2. Scoop the ice cream into the bowls or teacups. To allow your ice cream to keep its shape for a few moments longer, try waiting for the tea to cool a bit before pouring it atop the scoops. When ready to serve, pour the slightly cooled Hojicha atop the ice cream.

3. Finish with a sprinkle of Fukamushi Sencha and enjoy!


February 06, 2017

Recipe - Green Teas ›


Green Apple Pie Smoothie

Green Apple Pie Smoothie

I tend to think of Apple Pie as the perfect dessert anytime of year--autumn, summer and beyond. What could be better than a big slice during the holidays or enjoying it with a scoop of ice cream at a summer picnic?

Green Apple Pie Smoothie

But what about Apple Pie when you're trying to eat healthy? Sounds impossible right? With this Green Apple Pie Smoothie, I can assure you that it's not!

Green Apple Pie Smoothie

This amazingly tasty smoothie has a secret ingredient that makes it not only more delicious but also that much better for you--Apple Sencha Green Tea! Adding tea to a smoothie is always a great idea, and this is especially true when it comes to green tea, which is full of metabolism boosting EGCG.

Green Apple Pie Smoothie

For sustained energy and extra fiber, I add some rolled oats to the blend. Freshly brewed green tea is used to hydrate and soften the oats before this oatmeal is thrown into the blender with the rest of the ingredients.

Green Apple Pie Smoothie

Whether you enjoy thi s for breakfast, as a midday snack or as a dessert swap-out, Green Apple Pie Smoothies are the solution to those year-round, nagging pie cravings. Whip one up when you want to enjoy a extra slice of good nutrition.


Green Apple Pie Smoothie

Makes 1 large smoothie.

Ingredients:

1 Apple Green Tea Bag (Apple Green Pyramid Tea Bag)
3/4 cup hot water @175 degrees F
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 green apple, core removed
1/2 banana, peeled and frozen
1 cup spinach
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tsp flax meal
1 tsp apple pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Steep the tea for 3 minutes. Add the oatmeal to the hot steep, then let the mixture come to room temperature. You can also do this step the night before you plan on making the smoothie.

2. Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a large glass and enjoy!


February 03, 2017

Recipe - Green Teas ›


Everyday Detox Tea

Everyday Detox Tea

Everyday Detox Tea is the elixir you need when you’re struggling to jump-start your day. This mélange of natural flavors reinvigorates and refreshes, setting the tone for making healthier choices.

Everyday Detox Tea

There are more than a few ingredients here, but they’re specific ones meant for vitality. First, there’s green tea, an effective metabolism booster. Then, there’s mint and ginger, known for being anti-inflammatory. Honey, gogi berries and lemon juice are all loaded with antioxidants and finally, there’s a kick of cayenne pepper–great for simulating circulation.

Everyday Detox Tea

This soulful steep starts with a simple green tea bag–this time, using Special Occasion Green Tea. This tea is made from Saikoukyu Sencha, finest quality tea leaves cultivated in the highlands of Japan. When I’m traveling and want rich Sencha flavor without the hassle of steeping from loose-leaf, this is the tea I bring along.

Everyday Detox Tea

After the hot tea has a chance to sit a while, all the flavors will meld to create a bright and piquant brew. The gogi berries will also have had a chance to plump up and release their mild sweetness.

Everyday Detox Tea

I like to think of this drink as a gentle nudge eat a little healthier, exercise a little longer, care a little more. This is, after all, Special Occasion Tea, and every day should be just that!


Everyday Detox Tea

1 large cup of tea.

Ingredients:

1 green tea bag (Special Occasion Green Tea)
juice of 1 lemon
3 springs fresh mint
3 slices of ginger
1 Tbsp gogi berries
1 Tbsp raw or Manuka honey
pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in a large mug and fill with hot water. Enjoy!


February 10, 2016

Food ›


Good Nori, Bad Nori, & How to Tell the Difference

How picky are you when it comes to buying nori? Many think that all seaweeds are created equal. For recipes like sushi, chefs often spend much more time focusing on fish and other filling ingredients than they do on the nori itself. But like rice, nori is a foundational ingredient. As with temaki, nori is the first ingredient to touch a taster's tongue--in its own subtle way, it sets the stage for an exceptional tasting experience.

Not all seaweed is created equal. The best sushi chefs in the world know of nori's understated yet key role in creating a superior piece of sushi. In fact, in an exceptional piece of sushi, the nori is sometimes even more expensive than the fish itself! Connoisseurs of nori know that it can transform a recipe from mediocre to amazing. 

Although countries like China and Korea also produce nori, the  world's finest nori is produced in Ariake Bay, on the island of Kyūshū in Southern Japan. Called Ariake Nori, the nori cultivated in these nutrient-rich waters is highly prized and meticulously processed. Like tea, nori is harvested in "flushes," with higher quality nori being harvested earlier in the season. Location, water temperature, currents, and mineral content all   play a role in giving nori its unique taste.

If you know what to look for, there are many markers of a premium piece of seaweed. First off, inspect your nori. Poor quality nori is often brownish or green in color. You might notice some areas being uneven-thicker or thinner-with a rough finish. You may even notice some larger holes and irregularities on a sheet. Lesser grades of seaweed are often dry, tasteless, and noticeably tougher than best quality seaweed. 

A best quality nori is jet black in color and has an even, uniform thickness throughout. Premium nori has a subtle flavor and natural sweetness, with no noticeable off-flavors. This seaweed should be crisp out of the bag and yet it has a softness that melts in your mouth. Above all, you should taste lots of rich umami flavor, earthy and ocean-like at the same time.  

Like wine, chocolate, cheese, and other artisan ingredients, nori deserves a chef's extra attention. Curious? Conduct a taste-comparison yourself! It's only after you've tasted best that you'll realize what you've been missing.