Hanami Picnic Food

 Like any picnic, you want food that will keep well, not take up a lot of space or be a lot of trouble.   These are some traditional Japanese recipes and often show up at hanami.  Of course, you can always do the KanzenSakura thing with a South meets East – have southern fried chicken and instead of potato salad, try the Hanami Salad or some pickled veggies along with other foods.  A note about onigiri – I think of it as “round sushi with stuff inside” and put things I like inside and can be square, round, or triangular. Cold sake, white wine, beer, apple juice, sparkling cider, champagne, water with lemon and mint….all are good to drink with this food.  よく食べる Yoku taberu  (Eat well!)

 

Hanami Salad

Hanami Salad 

8 oz  Rice vermicelli (fine noodles) or regular vermicelli

2-4 Spring onions

4 oz. asparagus

a few radishes

1 large carrot

2 tablespoons mirin (or sherry)

A dash of sesame oil (ordinary oil will do but add a few sesame seeds or a handful of peanuts to the salad to give it a nutty flavour)

A dash of light soy sauce

Cook the rice noodles according to the packet instructions and then plunge into cold water to cool. Drain really well even blotting with kitchen roll or a clean tea towel to remove as much of the excess water as possible.    Blanch or cook the asparagus for a couple of minutes and then plunge them in cold water too. Drain well, again trying to get rid of as much excess water as possible.

Chop the spring onions and slice the carrots and radishes finely into discs. Using a sharp knife cut 5 or 6 V shaped nicks out of the radish discs evenly spaced around the edge to make them into a flower. You can do the same with the carrots or use a flower shaped vegetable cutter (a metal clay cutter or cookie cutter will do just as well). (this makes them look like flowers!)  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss well to coat with the oil, mirin and soy sauce.

onigiri 2

Onigiri – Rice Balls

4 cups of hot freshly cooked Japanese-style rice (What kind of rice can you use? No, you cannot use long-grain, jasmine, basmati, or Uncle Ben’s.) Short Grain (sushi rice) rice

2 sheets of nori seaweed, cut into 3cm/2 inch wide strips

Salt

You can add a bit of red coloring to some of the rice to make the rice pink.

 Fillings – Traditional. Some classic fillings are pickled plum (umeboshi), bonito flakes just moistened with soy sauce (okaka), bonito flakes mixed with pickled plum (umekaka), flaked cooked salted salmon (shake or shiozake), cooked salty cod roe (tarako), chopped up pickles (tsukemono) **See my blog on this site for Quick Pickles – “Quickles”

Non-Traditional Fillings:  Ground meat (pork or beef or a mixture), cooked with grated or chopped ginger, then flavored with soy sauce, some red pepper flakes, sake or mirin, and sugar. It should be quite dry. Curry flavored ground meat mixture works surprisingly well too.  Canned tuna, well drained and flaked, flavored with a bit of soy sauce and/or salt to taste.  Flaked corned beef.   Chopped up western style pickles (as long as they don’t have too much garlic in the brine), well squeezed to get rid of excessive moisture .   Chopped veggies such as carrot, spring onion, avocado, cucumber: sprinkled with a bit of rice vinegar and soy, chopped barbecue chicken or pork, chopped deviled egg, chopped pickled vegetables.         Non-Traditional fillings are often perishable.  Keep in mind for picnics during warm weather take appropriate precautions!

Wet your iclean hands with cold water, and sprinkle them with salt. Take 1/2 cup of the rice and place on one hand. Make a dent in the middle of the rice with your other hand. Put in about 1 tsp or so worth of filling in the dent.

Working rapidly, wrap the rice around the filling, and form into a ball. To make the traditional triangular shape, cup your hand sharply to form each corner, and keep turning it until you are happy with the shape. Practive makes perfect.

Wrap the rice ball with 1-2 strips of nori seaweed.  Repeat for the rest of the rice.

To bring along on picnic, wrap in plastic film or in a bamboo leaf (which is traditional). Some people prefer to carry the nori strips separately, and to wrap them around the onigiri when eating, to preserve the crisp texture of the seaweed.  (This is what I do)

tamagoyaki

Tamago-yaki Recipe – Sweet Rolled Omelet

3 eggs
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon light soy sauce

I like to add very finely minced spring onion and parsley to mine.

Crack your eggs and lightly mix them. You don’t want to incorporate air into them so the best way is to use chopsticks: stir them gently without whipping, but make sure that the eggs and yolks are completely homogeneous. Add the mirin, sugar and soy and gently mix in.

Use a paper towel to evenly spread a bit of oil in your pan. Heat it on medium low heat, then add the eggs so they cover the bottom of the pan.

After 2-3 minutes, the egg will start to cook and solidify. The eggs don’t need to be entirely cooked, in fact, they should be a tiny bit moist on top so that the egg sticks to itself. Using chopsticks or a spatula, fold the egg over onto itself twice, like how you would fold a letter into thirds. Don’t flip the eggs, just push them to the end of the pan.

Use your oily paper towel to spread a tiny bit more oil in the pan and add a bit more of the eggs. Lift up the log of already cooked eggs so that the raw eggs are touching them. When the new layer of egg is almost cooked, fold the eggs over onto themselves again. Repeat until all the eggs are used.

Wrap in saran wrap and using a sushi mat, press the tamago into a rectangle shape. Let cool completely, slice and enjoy!  Or you can just into thirds instead of halves like a conventional omelet and cut into slices.  Videos making tamogyaki can be found on YouTube.

 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lly1205
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 19:39:57

    Awesome recipes, I hope picnic weather will arrive soon where I am, so I can use some of these!

    Lily

    Reply

  2. kanzensakura
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 11:09:57

    Have an indoor picnic! Invite some friends, spread a cloth on the floor, put out a vase or two flowers, use picnic utensils, and have at it! I hope you enjoy. They are all good. Hanami salad is a mainstay during hot weather.

    Reply

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