Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Category Archives: Recipes: Japanese

Simmered Kobocha Squash

Simmered Kobocha Squash

 

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of bringing bentos to school for lunch.

That’s right, bentos.

Those Japanese-type of colourful boxed lunches (with some special containers that come with a slot for your pair of chopsticks and a compartment for an ice pack to keep your lunch cool even by the time you eat it) that take packed lunch to a whole new dimension altogether. It’s only recently that this bento craze has been circulating the far reaches of the blogosphere thanks to Just Bento (such a lovely site and a good read), and in between gawking at Mickey Mouse-shaped slices of carrot and getting completely mind-boggled at seaweed cut-outs of Barrack Obama, I must admit that I thought these people utterly crazy.

Well obviously it’s time-consuming.

Planning meals, buying ingredients, cooking ingredients, stocking up on rice and other foodstuffs that can be frozen or refrigerated, preparing that boxed lunch every day…

That’s like telling me to go grow wheat and make my own corn flakes.

But hey, who knew that throwing together a few liquids and cubes of pumpkin, letting it blip away on the stove while you go grow your wheat plantation would taste so darn good?!

And this recipe’s completely bento-friendly, nomnom-ish yummy out of the fridge – especially out of the fridge – and so easy you’d begin to get curious about the other possible, quick-fix dishes that the Bento Realm has come up with while you were chowing on listless, dull kopitiam food. Read more of this post

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki

It’s been a while since I’ve made this.

Can anything be simpler? Well besides an omelette. But where’s the fun in that?

I wasn’t looking for a quick egg fix. Trust me to make what could have been a five minute crack-beat-salt-pepper-pour-and-cook process into something long-winded but I needed something to nibble on, and my notes weren’t exactly very tasty. I tried.

I wanted sushi, but as much as I always have some odds and ends (I occasionally find things like squares of Godiva and packets of Toggis squirreled away at the back of the fridge, I might find the Templar treasure there someday) I didn’t have sushi. I mean, not that I made sushi in the end or anything, but this was close, just without the rice. And the adorable belt of seaweed.

There are plenty of people who can’t stand this sweet omelette, and that’s why they’re my friends. I’m there to put them out of their misery and administer instant relief. The things that they push around on their plates in disgust are those I gobble up. My presence is always valued since I eat everything they’d rather see incinerated and the ashes scattered into the wind. Ok, I apologise, Martyr Syndrome, gotta feel like I can save people because I can’t save my grades.

Anyway, I’ll get back to what drove me to roll around eggs in a pan (charming, isn’t it?). If you’re feeling as peckish as I am, caffeine running through your veins and the ends of your pens gnarly and twisted from all that gnawing in frustration, make some sweet Tamagoyaki nibblets. Omnomnomnom.

Now go.

And stop chewing on your stationery.

Same goes for you Christine
Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki

I do not possess saintly egg-rolling skills and can never fathom how those in restaurants and supermarkets get so fluffy and perfectly yellow. It takes practice but the outcome’s always a treat to eat. Keep your stove heat on low and be patient. I wasn’t, which explains the slightly overcooked, browned bits in my tamagoyaki, but they’re yummo anyway. Here’s a video to inspire, if not send you into spasming awe, of a master chef in action.

Makes 10-11 slices

Equipment:

1 sushi rolling mat.

1 rectangular tamagoyaki frying pan. (I used a pan about 7 x 6 x 1 inches. I think Daiso probably has smaller ones.)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp japanese light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs dashi stock*

Directions:

1. Have ready a small sauceplate of oil and a brush or a piece of kitchen towel soaked lightly in oil.

2. Have your pan heated up on low heat and brush it with a little oil.

3. Beat all the ingredients together with a fork or chopsticks, but not too vigorously to prevent formation of bubbles.

4. Pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the egg mixture into the pan, just enough to coat the bottom in a thin layer while rotating the pan. When it looks set but not runny, roll it up with a pair of chopsticks or a spatula to one side of the pan. Try to get it as compacted as possible like so:

 

Rolled to one side.

6. Brush the exposed side of the pan with a little oil and repeat the pouring process, lifting the bottom of the rolled up egg to allow the new layer to coat the bottom so that it adheres to it.

7. Once the layer looks set, roll the cooked egg to the other side and repeat the entire process until you’re out of the mixture.

8. Once done, tip the tamagoyaki onto a sushi mat and roll it up firmly, securing it with a couple of rubber bands and placing is on a ventilated surface to prevent condensation (a plate or wire rack works fine). Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before placing it into the fridge to chill it or to slice and nibble immediately.

 

Sushi Mat

Notes: *The dashi stock I have at home is in powder form. I mix about 1/4 tsp of dashi concentrate with 3 tbs of water. If you don’t have dashi stock, simply substitute it with water. It’s not all that crucial.

Squid Ink Ramen

Squid Ink Ramen

I have a morbid fascination for black food. If it’s black, I want it and I don’t care if I can’t even pronounce three syllables of it. And if it’s black because it’s been stained by squid ink, even better!

Told you I’d take a pretty picture.

I took a good long time deciding how I was going to eat this, and because I wanted to be able to taste every nuance in the strands, I thought eating it cold would be best. This tasted just like regular egg ramen, and even better with the slgihtly spicy shio (salt) seasoning it came with. And this was only half of the portion from a packet from Isetan. I guess I really don’t eat much when I cook for myself.

And Adam, yes, this was my simple ramen lunch before I met you guys at the studio and drowned you with cookies. 😄

I haven’t had maggie mee in years, and now I’ve upgraded to ramen. I don’t know when I’ve become such a snob. Yea I see your everlasting support of me, Ashley. Our level of snobbery will soar to greater heights. Well it’s burning a hole in my pocket. Psh.

I haven’t seen squid ink ramen in regular supermarkets, although the cooking method is the same.

I find it interesting what writer’s block does to different individuals. For my case, it makes me cranky and I feel like gnawing my finger off. Or having that last half of squid ink ramen…

Mitarashi Dango

Mitarashi Dango

It is easy to forget the other aspects in life when one is caught up in the flurry of university applications and the inevitable paranoia of starting down the wrong path at the crossroads. And by ‘other aspects’ I am actually just referring to my dreadfully late blog posts. 

What do people do with late blog posts though? Harden their resolve and plow right on, typing out scatchy details and different variations of ‘It was great…I think’, that at the end of the day when they view their completed post, they feel like they’ve created an entire fictional account and proceed to quickly hit the ‘Move to Trash’ button? 

Someone, please do enlighten me – I’d like to feel normal.  Read more of this post

Chilled Sesame Soba

Chilled Sesame Soba

My computer’s finally up and running and I’m a few posts behind. And, you know, if things really can’t get any worse, it was confirmed today that the 2009 A Level results will be released on Friday. Oh joy. 

It’s never meant to be easy. This is merely a rite of passage, as they say. 

Well in that case, I’m sure it’s not too late for me to join a tribe where they just pierce something, or cut something off. Because I suppose I could survive without a limb. See, now that’s a rite of passage – done the proper, predictable way. You know what to expect, and if they’re kind, they’ll count to three for you. 

This isn’t a rite of passage. 

This is purgatory – torturous and excruciating, where the seconds stretch on into hours and where the probability of suffering from an apoplexy is high up in the upper quartiles. 

Feel free to pee in your pants, because life’s like that you see, you just have to let some things go. 

Let’s spend these last few days relishing in what life is and never will be again. (ie. EAT) Read more of this post