Image Map

Friday, February 22, 2013

Kinako Mochi (きな粉餅)

Here's another recipe for kirimochi! This is traditionally eaten at New Year's for good luck, but it is so delicious and easy to make you will find that people eat it all the time as a treat with tea.

Kinako, also labeled Toasted Soybean Flour, is a powder made from roasted soybeans that have been ground up. The name "kinako" means "yellow flour" in Japanese, which I suppose is accurate but does nothing to describe how delightful it is. It is very tasty, smooth and nutty, almost like dried peanut butter. This recipe is probably the most traditional use for it, but it is also very tasty on ice cream and in Greek yogurt.

Another traditional use for kinako is another wagashi, called warabi mochi (蕨餅). It's made from braken fern starch, which makes it more jelly-like than mochi made with rice, and it is served rolled in kinako.

My mom's favorite mochi from the Japanese market is a daifuku that is green from the herb yomogi and covered in kinako. The combination of sweet azuki bean paste and kinako with the mochi is definitely a winning combination. I'm not sure if the commercial version is merely colored green or if it actually has the juices from the yomogi, but it is delicious nonetheless. I will have to try to make some yomogi daifuku myself and compare it to the supermarket version.

But right now, let's make some kinako mochi!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Braunschweiger Sandwich

Certainly I love Japanese American food. Most of my blog is a testament to that. It is a food that ties me to my mother's side of the family, that never fails to bring me comfort, from the simple crunch of my favorite tsukemono to the gentle puff of the rice cooker it is warm and familiar.

But my mother's side is also German American, through my grandfather's family. Through this, I grew up loving the cuisine, although a lot of it I didn't even realize was German American, like potatoes pan-fried with onions. At dinner, we would be served an ungodly amount of sauerkraut with bratwurst, my mother boasting about its health benefits and vitamin C content. Even her favorite cookbook is largely German American, The Joy of Cooking. And I've already blogged about Pennsylvania Dutch pickled beet eggs, where German Americans added beets to pickled eggs for glorious pink color and flavor.

I even look more German American than anything and inherited his family's light coloring, compared to the Japanese and American Indian that allows my brother to tan. I would look more the part in a dirndl than a kimono.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

California Shabu Shabu

Whenever I talk about Japanese American cuisine with people unfamiliar with it, I always hope to dispel the notion that it's nothing but cold raw fish. Tell a person your family is part Japanese American, and you invariably get the awesome response:

"You guys must eat sushi every night!"

Don't get me wrong, sushi is great. But it is the tip of the iceberg; saying you love Japanese food and only knowing sushi is like claiming to love French food and only knowing their pastries. I've heard plenty of people claim to hate Japanese food because it's all cold and raw. I usually challenge them to try some yakitori or kare, but tonight I challenge you to some shabu shabu!

Busy boiling hot pot
Shabu shabu literally means "swish swish" due to the action or sound the ingredients make as you gently swish them in boiling water. It's a one pot meal that usually involves a pot of boiling water flavored with kombu that is communally shared, while more contemporary shabu shabu places might offer heavier flavored broths. First in go the veggies (napa cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and more) because they take longer to cook. Then you take a piece of thinly shaved raw meat and swish it in the water until it turns color. Dip it in either ponzu sauce or gomadare sesame sauce, and pop it in your mouth. Make sure not to leave the veggies in too long, and pull them out and eat as your preference dictates. After you have swished to your heart's content, you can use the now very tasty broth as a base for udon soup as an end to your meal.

If you live in Southern California, there are many fine shabu shabu establishments for you to try. One such establishment I ate at recently is California Shabu-Shabu.