Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Taberu Rayu Cucumbers (きゅうりの食べるラー油)

It's hot here in Southern California, and the drought is so bad I'm almost afraid to do dishes. Rather than relying on fast food, chips and dip while it's too hot to cook, I'm brainstorming healthier, faster, and cooler options for a busy cook.

Like with my Togarashi Zucchini, this is a dish that is a snap to make, and is a great busy weeknight side to serve with something else prepared just as fast or pre-made. Even better, this recipe is a chilled side, which for late summer is a great treat!

This almost isn't a recipe it's that easy, but that also makes it easy to double or triple. It is also a great example of how easy and versatile taberu rayu is: making a super-tasty and healthy veggie side dish in minutes. You can turn cucumbers into a savory spicy powerhouse side with very little effort.

If you want to prep this ahead, chop the cucumber ahead of time and dress right before serving, that way if any water leeches off the cucumber in the fridge, you can drain it before adding the taberu rayu.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Taberu Rayu (食べるラー油)

To explain what Taberu Rayu (食べるラー油) is, I really have to back up and explain what rayu is. Rayu is sesame oil that has been infused with chilies until it is a nice glowing orange-red. It is delicious mixed with vinegar and soy sauce as a dip for gyoza and often seen in ramen shops that serve dumplings.

Taberu Rayu, on the other hand, starts with that same hot chili oil base, but it has crunchy bits in it. Minced fried garlic, fried onion bits, sesame seeds, even bits of almonds are included for a chunky crunchy condiment that can be spooned or mixed into just about anything. On top of ramen, spooned on a bowl of plain rice, even outlandish ideas like putting it on ice cream have surfaced in Japan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jalapeño Cheese Age-Gyoza (揚げ餃子 の ハラペーニョ チーズ)

Normally here in the United States, we'd call these "Jalapeño Cheese Wontons", but since these are inspired by Honda-ya's Cheese Age, I thought it appropriate to called them gyoza instead.

Izakaya Honda-ya is our go-to place for a cheap but satisfying night out. Late on a Monday or Tuesday normally doesn't draw a crowd, they don't mind us lingering and ordering sporadically throughout the evening.



One of our favorite indulgent dishes is their Cheese Age, which means "fried cheese" but is so much more and very crave-able.

Luckily for you, it's also very simple to make. With just four ingredients, and the ability to prep these ahead, these are a great party snack.

Age (pronounce ahh-gay) means "fried" in Japanese, so age-gyoza means simply "fried dumpling." I'm still working on my Japanese grammar and sentence structure, so feel free to correct me in the comments regarding the Japanese title.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Togarashi Zucchini

I like creating simple recipes that take little time or effort to make. Sure, sometimes I mix things up with a more-involved recipe, but most of the time my ideas are ludicrously simple.

Like most of you, I'm willing to wager, I've got a Pinterest full of very ambitious ideas I really just don't have time for. But they are inspiring, and I love browsing through and finding these bloggers who invest some serious time into creating amazing things.



This blog isn't one of the ambitious ones. But I'd like to think it's one of the real ones.

I work full-time in a very physically and emotionally draining career. When you've had to wrestle an aggressive 130lbs dog and euthanize someone's childhood friend within 20 minutes of clocking in to your shift, it's hard at the end of the day to want to prepare anything for dinner.

Most workdays, I have to have dinner done in less than 10 minutes (including clean-up) or it just won't happen. Especially when I get off work at 9:30pm and have to be back at 7:30am.

Therefore I rely a lot on easy-to-make entrees, pre-made sides, and fresh veggies that require no preparation in order to get things on the table fast. Here's one of my go-to sides that requires
little-to-no clean up and is healthy to boot!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quail Egg Spam Sliders

It's been pretty hectic since I came back from Japan. I started teaching (registered veterinary technician classes) and it's amazing how the weeks can slip away from you. I can't believe it's almost July.

Though I'm glad things have slowed down a bit, because I have a lot of backlogged recipes to share with you, and I'm especially excited to bring you recipes from my trip to Japan! Plus this summer I have tons of events to share with you, from the plethora of night markets that abound to dancing through Obon matsuri season!

This recipe, however, certainly didn't come back with me from Japan. This is something born out of my love for SPAM and King's Hawaiian sweet rolls. You've already heard about my obsession with SPAM in multiple posts, but King's Hawaiian sweet rolls are another favorite of mine. My Japanese American side of the family always serves them at Thanksgiving, and I love making sliders with some sweet rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry-orange relish at the dinner table.

No, I never grew out of playing with my food. Thanksgiving sweet roll sliders are amazing, though. Dunk them in gravy.

These sliders might be even better. Sunny-side-up quail eggs, crispy slices of SPAM, and gooey American cheese are sandwiched in a sweet roll and drizzled with raspberry sriracha sauce for an easy-to-make party dish that takes only one skillet to make. These puppies are sweet, salty, savory and spicy, all in one bite, with oozey egg yolk and crispy SPAM making for a great textural contrast.

These may sound crazy, or like they have too much going on, but take a leap of faith and try one.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

OC Night Market 2014

Last year, my favorite event I went to was 626 Night Market. I practically wassailed through the stalls, sampling foods from all over the world: Japanese takoyaki, Chinese bing tang hulu, Taiwanese bubble tea, and more hapa fusion food than you can imagine.

This year, the team behind the 626 Night Market got even more ambitious and brought the night market experience to Orange County in May.

I wanted to share my experience with you, because I am excited that their next stop in their smorgasbord is downtown Los Angeles this weekend, June 20th and 21st.

Since undoubtedly I talk way too much, I'll be doing small captions and mostly photos for this post, with a short bit at the end about my overall experience at the OC Night Market. All of the food posted was so good, I'm almost glad that the OC Night Market was only one weekend because I would get huge if they were regularly available all in one spot.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dami Sushi & Izakaya + GIVEAWAY!

Mr. Mochi and I recently went to a media tasting event for a new izakaya in Orange County, Dami Sushi and Izakaya. Since we love our local izakaya, where you can always grab a cold pint and perhaps a yakitori skewer or two, we were very excited to try another one close by.

Dami Sushi and Izakaya in Buena Park, California, just had their grand opening and invited us to try some of their signature dishes. They also generously donated a $100 gift certificate that you can enter to win below!

I loved the decor and greenery everywhere!
I'm not a big decor person, but the first thing you'll think when you walk in is how cool this place looks. I love the mix of modern technology (the wall above the sushi bar changes color!) with rustic wood and fresh plants. The restaurant also manages to have great airflow, it's breezy in there without us needing a jacket. It also strikes an important balance between atmospheric izakaya lighting and the need for me to see my food. All of these pictures below were taken without any additional lighting, but Mr. Mochi commented that the atmosphere in Dami meant this place was going to be a surefire date place for us.

Especially once we tried the food.