Archive for the ‘japanese’ Category

Planning ahead

Yesterday was a great day! I spent about 4 hours in the kitchen well invested. For a couple of weeks I’ve been trying to figure out where to buy rice paper, or how to substitute it in the spring rolls recipe. People told me to use puff pastry, wonton or gyoza wrappers. I had that on my mind when I went to the supermarket and found out that they don’t carry puff pastry… when I was looking for rolled oats I found rice flour. Awesome, now I could make my own rice paper if I only add INSTANT FAIL. The grain is too small and didn’t have the hydrophilic effect I was looking for. The texture of the dough was very similar to the masa of tortillas… impossible to roll or make thin wrappers. Oh well, what should I do with 1 1/2 cups of this dough? Instead of looking in the internet, I decided to make some sort of surimi-carrot-cabbage pie, not one of my most brilliant recipes, but the filling was ready.


  • 1 cup of surimi
  • 2 cups of cabbage
  • 1/2 cup of carrot
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese

This is what I did, using a mini cupcakes pan:

  1. Grate the surimi, cabbage and carrot
  2. Mix all the grated ingredients with cream cheese
  3. Let stand for 1 hour in the fridge
  4. Fill the mini cupcakes pan with the dough, as in a pie crust
  5. Fill the crust with the surimi mixture
  6. Bake on a preheated oven on 350° for 45 minutes

The result was ok, on the first batch I baked the crust for 15 minutes causing the final product to be too hard to be eaten. For the second batch I didn’t bake the crust first and the “pies” were fine. Not a fan, wouldn’t do them again.

Back again to the spring rolls, from those 3  wrappers, I only know how to make gyoza ones, only made them once and was total hell. The problem was the rolling, it isn’t as easy as it seems… at least not to me, and if I got the puff pastry I’d have to roll it anyway. So this time I used a little bit more boiling water in the flour mixture, the dough was much more elastic, then I proceeded to make very small beads (about the size of a manzanilla olive) and cover them in flour then rolled it, it was no problem. It took me like a fifth of the time that it took me last time.

I was going to make gyozas too, so I only used the traditional (modified of course) gyoza filling for them and the spring rolls. The fact that I don’t have a deep fryer thingy or the slightliest notion on how to deep fry properly only cause my spring rolls to have funky little black particles attached to them (loose filling), but the flavor was delicious and the texture was crunchy enough. Next time I’ll roll the dough a little larger though or use more dough for each wrapper.

I froze some of the spring rolls and gyozas. The gyozas is easy to defrost in the microwave but for the spring rolls I had to heat them in a pan… that restored the crunchiness.

I still want the scone!!!!


Today’s dinner

Cooking was always the least favorite activity of my mom, when I was little she baked amazing cakes and cookies but eventually she wouldn’t do it again. I remember eating the same (about) 15 recipes my whole life until I started cooking. And I loved eating at restaurants and getting take outs, until I lost my last job and then I became really picky with the food, most likely I’m not willing to pay for meals that just don’t worth it if I can make amazing dishes for just a fraction of the price or if they have the worst service ever.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be having breakfast at iHop, which still is one of my favorite restaurants, at this point I make better pancakes but remember the egg dilemma? well I never walk away from scrambled eggs. So I’m starting dinner and tomorrow’s lunch about in a few minutes.

I’m awful at Mexican dishes, the ones that my mom passed to me include picadillo and cortadillo, pretty much the same, ground beef or diced beef with potatoes and carrots on tomato sauce, and that’s what I’m making for them, my mom and dad like that kind of stuff, I don’t. I’ll be having tuna maki and for the first time I’ll try to make gyozas, well a version of it because I don’t eat pork, most likely will replace it with some of the ground beef.

All the ingredients for the makis are ready in the fridge, and the extra rice became zucchini rice balls topped with sesame seeds, also in the freezer, waiting to be part of a bento.

The makis will be very simple just some tuna with mayo and soy sauce, carrot, avocado, cucumber and cream cheese, they are merely a side dish for the gyozas.

Today in the supermarket, couldn’t find all the ingredients for the gyozas so I’ll be substituting a few (maybe most of them!!!), here is the original recipe.

Now, this is what I used for the filling:

  • 1 cup grated cabagge
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup ground meat
  • 2 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 2 tbsp grated carrot
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili pepper
  • pinch of salt

After mixing it, put it in the fridge and proceeded to make the gyoza skins, I used chopsticks for mixing!!! I had to wait about an hour before starting rolling the skins. That was hard, I think there is something wrong with the rolling thingy, I don’t know, the recipe yield 20 skins, I ruined 3 :(. The frying cooking process is very interesting, most likely because I’ve never tried a dumpling before.

From the first batch I tried, probably half of them got ruined, and lost the bottoms, so for the next one used a different pan, one with teflon and used a little bit more oil. Big difference. It took me about 2 hours to get them ready but absolutely worth the effort. Another thing, is really important to watch the cooking time otherwise they would stick to the pan. I also believe I made the skins too big, but it was ok though I don’t think that was a problem.

When I tried them noticed that I had definitely forgot about the salt in the beef mixture, so I had to prepare the sauce, the recipe wasn’t near so I made a different one.

I mixed:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • pinch of crushed red chili pepper

Here the final result:

Gyozas were a lot of work, and considering my previous experience with rolling dough, I made half batch, enough for two, so I’ll be freezing half the recipe. Funny thing, without really think about it I saved the best ones for later.

Best gyozas I’ve ever tried so far.

Bento obsession

I love onigiris, but couldn’t find them near home, so once I could make sushi rice I thought it could be easy to make onigiris, after browsing a little found an amazing site Just Bento where they explain in detail how to make them.  I think my onigiris were decent in terms of shape, and the flavor was great, I fill them with a mixture of canned tuna, mayo and soy sauce.

While checking the site I found lots of pictures of bentos, and I must say, have been always intrigued about how Japanese make such interesting and beautiful dishes, of course now I know is a world wide trend. I’ve been a little afraid of trying to make my own bento, but every day I’m making things that go on that direction. I don’t have too many tools, my mom was never a cooking fan neither my dad, so I’m looking in the internet as I believe can’t find stuff like that in Monterrey. Said that I’m trying to understand the whole concept, one very obvious thing is the smart use of space and the aesthetic of the dish. Most bentos appears to be almost vegan, which would be a nice change for my daily diet.

Here my attempts towards making a bento:

I’m not comfortable eating from a box at home though, what I really want is a square set of dishes to eat at home and nice chopsticks, now I have only disposable ones that my mom saved through the many years I had japanese and chinese take outs.

Today (May 18th) I ate a bento, not a pretty one but I’m sure this one qualifies as a bento, it had cubed rice, steamed broccoli, schezwan beef with vegetables and corn. It was in a box because I’m cooking only for myself it’s hard to calculate how much to do, so I make 2 portions and freeze one. It was fun to eat from a container, my mom told me that wasn’t a bento that I should at least put a happy face on the rice or something or at least make rice balls she’s definitely funny ;), however it was delicious and nutritive.


So I’m tired of awful sushi. There are fine restaurants in Monterrey that have an amazing selection of sushi, but let’s face it there are even more restaurants (especially near home) that sell awful sushi too :'(.

I’m having a lot of time to do nothing, so why not trying sushi? Ok, maybe not sushi as it is because it’s May and we cannot eat fish at home during the months without R in it’s name, unless is canned and at this point I won’t even argue it.

I follow the recipe in the rice package, and watched this video to have an idea how to roll it. It’s flavor was AWESOME, not more Japanese restaurants for me except: Sr. Tanaka and Yamato… And all those places where I haven’t eat yet.