Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Golden Nuggets

Chestnuts and Sweet Potato Steamed Rice  栗と薩摩芋のおこわ


Deep into the Autumn – my craving for chestnuts rice happens this time of year. However, removing the hard outer and inner shell of chestnuts is quite a task which I simply loath. I wish I have a Chestnuts rad 2 (栗くり坊主2see video, it’s all in Japanese but you will see what I’m talking about) gadget. It seems to do a wonderful job. I wish I had invented this handy tool._DSC1617

The idea of using chestnuts in heavy syrup in place of fresh ones is a bit wild. I fear that it may lead to a costly mistake?- one jar of chestnuts sets you back like $7 and only seven in the jar… what ..the…heck! Is there gold in there? Good news is that I didn’t have to deal with the dreadful shell business…yeah it was a tad sweet but not too shabby. OK, I’ll only make it this way if I’m pressed for time.   

Ingredients and directions for 4-6 servings _DSC1561

Necessary equipments: Steamer pan or bamboo steamer lined with silicone, coated parchment paper or moist cloth. Cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

  • Sweet rice (もち米) 3 (rice cooker) cups, rinse and soak in water for 1 hour
  • Sweet potato, prefer Satsuma sweet potato, chopped in chunks to make up about 1 cup, soak in water for 10 minutes to prevent discoloration
  • Chestnuts in heavy syrup 7-14, drain the syrup and soak chestnuts in hot water for a minute or so to tame some sweetness.
  • Water 350cc
  • Salt 2 teaspoons
  • Sake 2 Tablespoons
  • Black sesame for garnish. If you have pestle and mortar, grind it for more flavor and aroma.
  • Kosher salt to taste (optional) 
  1. After soaking rice for an hour, drain water through sieve, leave rice on the sieve to dry for 30 minutes
  2. Pour 350cc water in pan and add salt and sake. Heat at medium high heat. When the liquid starts to boil then add dried rice and cook for 2-3 minutes or until rice soaks up all the liquid._DSC1581
  3. Fill the steamer’s bottom part of pan with water about 2 inch depth. When the steamer is ready, spread the rice on the upper part of steamer, place soaked and drained sweet potatoes and chestnuts on top of the rice in a single layer.
  4. Put the lid on and steam for 15 minutes. Spread rice onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to remove excess moisture._DSC1594
  5. Sprinkle with black sesame and Kosher salt and serve._DSC1613

A little something on the side – boiled crown daisy (春菊) and bean sprouts. It compliments the chestnut rice well. _DSC1618

We raked the leaves last Saturday. There is more to come. “Then why are we doing it now?” said my husband. Because… this is in the Honey-Do list?IMG_0544Many of my friends deck their house for Halloween. Me? Not this year, I just don’t want to go up in the chilly attic to search for the ‘Halloween’ box. IMG_0550My friend made this loveable Frankenstein. Dressed up like a million dollar trooper…I start tap dancing and singing – Puttin’ on the Ritz!  Now if you’re blue… watch Young FrankenSteve version. Super-duper!

I hope you have a fun Halloween! 



Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Pan Fried Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

_DSC1511The La Branche French restaurant in  Aoyama, Tokyo which opened in 1986 has a well supported fan base. The understated yet polished décor is lovely. The owner chef Kazuhisa Tashiro (田代和久) is always in a creative mode. I’m glad to encounter one of his concoction introduced in an old magazine.

No fancy ingredients are necessary and the relative simplicity is what we like about this recipe. One of these days. I will make just the soup because the soup itself is very satisfactory with freshly baked bread for a cool Autumn night.

Ingredients and instruction to make 4 servings_DSC1477

First make mushroom sauce/soup

  • Garlic 4-6 cloves minced, divided
  • Onion  minced to make up 1/2 cup or less
  • Mushroom 5-6 minced plus 5-6 mushrooms cut in half
  • Butter 1 Tablespoon
  • Olive oil 1 Tablespoon plus 1 Tablespoon
  • Chicken broth 1-1/2 cup or use vegetable broth if you want a vegetarian option
  • Cream 1-1/2 cup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat butter and oil in a thick sauce pan at medium heat. Add 2/3rd of minced garlic and sauté until fragrant (careful to not burn the garlic)_DSC1481.
  2. Add onion and minced mushroom to the pan and sauté at low heat for 15 minutes
  3. Pour in broth and cream and simmer for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Note: if the sauce is too thin add thickening agent (mixture of 1 teaspoon corn starch and 2 Tablespoons water) to thicken._DSC1485

Making topping

  • Minced Italian parsley about 2 Tablespoons

Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a non stick pan and sauté the mushroom halves for 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the minced garlic and Italian parsley and sauté  for additional 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside._DSC1489

Pan fried chicken

  • 4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil 1 Tablespoon (optional)
  1. Rub salt, pepper and olive oil all over the chicken – I score skin lightly with knife for more flavoring
  2. Clean the pan used for making the topping with a paper towel. Heat the cleaned pan then place chicken skin side down and fry for 10 minutes until it develops a deep golden brown color.
  3. Flip the chicken and cook through at low heat for about 6-7 minutes. You want to aim for crispy outside, juicy inside._DSC1508


Ladle the soup in the bowl then place several pieces of sautéed mushroom on top along with the pan fried chicken. Garnish with Italian parsley for color. It’s tricky to eat bone in chicken with soup, remove the bone before placing on the soup if you like._DSC1522

I served the chicken with Charles’s crusty ‘No knead bread' my husband baked. It was mighty fine!_DSC1514_DSC1529_DSC1521

Someone rang our door bell and dashed to run away! We were Booed! The chocolate treat and lollypop ghosts are a really fun surprise!_DSC1471_DSC1472.

My friend showed up with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers yesterday. I accepted that my father is gone but the beauty of flowers and the kindness of my friend melted into my core._DSC1535 She also brought me belated birthday presents I absolutely adore. _DSC1543Gifts like these encourage me to continue food blogging a little longer against the objections of Martha Stewart. No, I don’t have a Ph.D. in food preparation nor 50 assistances however I hope my 30 some years of cooking count for something…but hey, you’re expert, so whatever.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Chinese Pork Sauté 

_DSC1464Funny, the flip-flops I wore in tropical climate Hawaii were no longer fashionable here, Cold air forced my toes to curl, we rushed to the parked car. I zipped up my jacket and slouched over against the car window while my husband drove home deep into the night.

I must be creative for the day-after-a-trip meal. I stood in front of the wide open refrigerator for some time and brainstormed what can I make without going to the store. Gross! I removed a liquidized bag of bean sprouts into the trash. I inspect more for spoilage; yup, this is no good…and neither is that. In fact, most of the vegetables are not looking happy. What a waste!

Goody! I found thin slices of pork belly in the freezer! This dish has become our staple since I found it in Today’s Cooking magazine. It consists of a few ingredients and is very quick. Also the pork‘s vitamin B1 will combat fatigue and give you energy…at least that is what it said. Exhausted from trip, we need that.

Sake may be substituted for shokoushu (紹興酒) however this sweet rice fermented cooking wine is the key for flavoring. It’s cheap and you can use it for many other Chinese dishes so you may want to stock in your pantry? We like this pork sauté on warm cooked rice though, over noodle or in buns such as Momofuku’s are excellent choices too._DSC1437

Ingredients for Pork Sauté for 4 (or 2 hungry) people _DSC1434

  • Thinly sliced pork belly meat about 1 pound, cut in two-inch strips
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Fresh ginger roots 1-2 Tablespoons, minced
  • Shokoushu (紹興酒) 3-4 Tablespoons
  • Brown sugar 4-5 Tablespoons
  • Green onion 4-5 Tablespoons chopped small.
  • Soy sauce 3-4 Tablespoons 
  1. Separate some fatty part of meat from pork belly._DSC1440
  2. Heat non-stick pan and toss the fatty meat in and sauté until the fat is rendered at medium heat.
  3. Put 1/3 of garlic and all of ginger in the pan and cook until fragrant. Do not burn the garlic
  4. Put rest of meat in and cook until meat is half way cooked. Turn the heat up to high and put in sugar and shoukoushu. Coat the meat with sauce while constantly moving it around.
  5. Add soy sauce and sauté more.
  6. Put rest of garlic and turn off heat. Stir for 30secounds or so .
  7. Taste meat and adjust seasoning – we like saucy meat so tend to add more sake and soy sauce. Serve over rice and sprinkle with green onion on top. Optional; Make a well in the center of rice and drop an egg yolk in there. If you prefer thicker sauce, add water diluted cornstarch (1 teaspoon of cornstarch and 3 Tablespoons of water) at the end.


After a long fright plus one hour drive from the airport, my husband and I still felt very lucky to reunited with our beautiful grand children.IMG_0401We were invited to swim at Turtle Bay Resort’s pool facility. Our son-in-law gave his son a fast ride at pool.IMG_0407Peace!IMG_0414Sharks Cove was other fun place to swim and snorkel. IMG_0423We stopped at Matsumoto for shaved ice afterward.IMG_0435Grand children and their equally gorgeous cousins are very close – play well…occasional fights happen though.IMG_0439Today was not life on the beach day, My husband and I took grand children to movie then hurried to un, deux, trois, we observed granddaughter‘s ballet lesson. Too many popcorn ruined our appetite too. IMG_0415We went to the Zoo zoo,zoo with cousins. Hey look over here girl!IMG_0481Nature is a great artist. Love the gum tree.IMG_0485The Little Prince..like tree…Baobab? IMG_0506

We adults had an amazing meal at Morimoto’s. Here are some from the experience. I wish I was better Iphonographer! Abalone chawan mushi was velvety! Fried pineapple with iberiko topping was in the back.IMG_0458Poke with dashi foam. Oh my!IMG_0464Iron Chef Morimoto was in the kitchen. Mahalo for kindly posing for the photo.This is clearly not good pic but my husband couldn’t ask for an another photo. He was very nice though. IMG_0456This is Molten lava cake.Taste and artistic plating we enjoyed throughout meal!  IMG_0475Lovely beach is short walking distance away.IMG_0444IMG_0450

My husband and I stopped at La Palme D’Or cake shop “our usual travel pattern” before heading to airport.IMG_0516Mont blanc and strawberry shortcake. So so good! or should I say ono?IMG_0519

Back home, Portland made Autumn transformation already.  IMG_0524

Brrrr. Body react for 30 degrees colder.