Purin – Japanese Dessert Custard

 

All around the world, there are variants of this recipe – flan, crème brulee’, leche flan, caramel crème…The Japanese version is softer ,  more delicate, less sweet.  It is a delicious end to a heavy meal or an excellent light dessert to serve with a cold plate, salady luncheon.  I like to chill and then unmold on a plate and serve with some fresh cut fruit to garnish – strawberries, blueberries, aspic cutter flowers of thin sliced melons, thin slices or half moons of kiwi….. 

If The Kentucky Bourbon Cake (see recipe under a previous post) is a luxurious and expensive call girl of a dessert, this dessert is a fairy princess.

 Ingredients and Instructions

CUSTARD

2 cups whole milk

2/3 c. sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp. good vanilla extract

Butter (for greasing custard cups/molds) 

SAUCE

6 tbs sugar

2 tbs water + 1 tbs warm water 

Butter six custard cups/molds.  Heat 2 tbs. water in a sauce pan.  Add 6 tbs. of sugar and simmer until the sauce is browned (be careful not to let it burn!)  Carefully add 1 tbs. warm water to thin the sauce.  Pour sauce equally into the molds and carefully swirl around the bottom.  Put milk into a medium saucepan and heat to about 140 F.  Dissolve 2/3 cup sugar in the milk and add vanilla extract. Cut off the heat.  Lightly beat eggs in a bowl.  Gradually add warm milk to egg mixture, stirring so you don’t get sweet scrambled eggs.  Run the mixture through a strainer and scoop out some bubbles from the surface of the egg mixture.   Pour mixture over the sauce in the molds.  Please the pudding in a steamer and steam for about 15 – 20 minutes on low heat. Cut off the heat and let them cool.  Remove pudding from the molds and serve on plates.  If you don’t have a steamer, use bain marie method, covering the whole with foil.  ***Be careful lifting the foil or opening the steamer. 

custard 1 

 

Easy Corn Soup – Hakone, Japan

I like Japanese recipes.  I LOVE easy Japanese recipes.  A young engineering intern from Hakone, sent me this recipe as a “thank you” for helping him.  His mentor, a most venerable engineer here temporarily in the US from Japan, told him not only would it be polite, but friendly as well and that I eventually would ask him anyway! 

Hikaru said it was an amazingly easy dish, very comforting and frugal as well.  “We all of us, love corn soup!  It can be purchased from dispensers along side of coffee and soft drinks at internet cafes.  When I want taste of my home, I make this.  You can make in 15 minutes or less.  A recipe makes enough for me or, for four normal people.” 

1 can of corn (15.25 oz)

1/2 yellow onion (sliced)

1 1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp butter

1 sprig of parsley – chopped

1 scallion

2 cubes of vegetable boullion 

Partially melt butter in a saucepan, then saute onion for 5 minutes until soft.  Add corn and stir for a minute or so.  Add milk and heat on medium-low until hot but not boiling.  Crumble vegetable bullion cubes into the soup and stir.  Remove from heat and transfer to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Return to saucepan, heat, then garnish with parsley thinly sliced scallion.

 

Karaage Chicken – Osaka

Fried Chicken – Karaage
I received this recipe from an engineer from Osaka.  He said it was the ONE dish he could make and he fixes this dish after a busy week.  He and other Japanese engineers and their spouses get together and bring food they get homesick for while here in the States.  He said this was also good made with chicken wings.  I agree!!!  Karaage chicken is very popular in Japan, often enjoyed as a snack on the way home from work with a beer.  I found this dish to be equally yummy with Southern Sweet tea.  NOTE:  I add a sliced scallion to the marinade.

Ingredients
4 chicken thighs, each cut into about 8 pieces or 4 whole chicken wings, disjointed into 8 pieces

Marinade
3 Tb light soy sauce
2 Tb sake
1 inch fresh ginger, grated finely
4 Tb Corn Starch
Oil for deep frying (I use peanut oil because it can be heated to a nice bubbling high without burning or smoking)
Lemon or lime slices to garnish
Sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Dipping sauce:
4 Tb light soy sauce
1 Tb granulated sugar
2 Tb sake
1 star anise
Simmer the above in a small pot for 5 minutes.

Pat chicken pieces dry, and marinate in the soy sauce, sake and fresh ginger for at least 10 minutes (longer is fine). Heat oil in a small pot suitable for frying, pan or wok to a medium heat. Drain off marinade and toss chicken with the corn starch to coat. Shake off any excess and then cook pieces in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the cooking vessel. Cook until they are crispy and cooked through – about 4-6 minutes each. Serve with small bowls of dipping sauce and lemon or lime wedges.

The Perfect Cherry Blossom

To the Japanese, the cherry blossom is a symbol of the ephemeral – a bud that turns into a beautiful flower and then quickly fades and the petals drop to the ground, often the same day. They are reminded that such beauty is not lasting and the beauty only remains in the memory.  It is a philosophy that permeates their culture:  Beauty that that is one blink away from perfection, a life that is one breath away from death, love that is one kiss away from fulfillment, joy that is one heartbeat away from sorrow. 

My tagline is from Issa:  “There are no strangers beneath the cherry tree.”  We are all one together in our fleeting existence; we are one as we stand beneath the tree in full bloom and gaze upward at its glorious vision of pink; we are all relieved of the rain as we stand beneath it for shelter; we gaze at the moon through its bare branches in winter and sigh at its luminous glow in the black sky. 

In “The Last Samurai”, Katsumoto sought the perfect cherry blossom.  It was only at his dying, as he looked up at the cherry blossoms above him that he said, “Perfect. They are all perfect.”  Whether at that moment, all the blossoms above him were at that perfect stage or either, he realized, that their being, in and of themselves, were perfect, I do not know.  However, that is what I prefer to think – that the blossoms, in whatever stage they were:  bud, blooming, full blown, faded….were perfect.  They were as they should be just at that moment.

 My blog identity, Kanzen Sakura, means, “perfect cherry blossom”.  At least, I hope so.  My Latin is much better than my Japanese.  If it doesn’t mean “perfect cherry blossom”, please don’t tell me.  Let me live in my illusion that I got something right.  Because you see, I feel that whatever state I am in:  joyful, mourning, pensive, angry, cynical, full of faith, blooming,  fading: I am perfect – I am in the stage I should be at that time. 

We all strive for something and rarely realize, we are as we should be; that we are all ephemeral – we are not strangers beneath the cherry tree of life.  Sometimes when I am roaming around at night outside, or doing something in the yard with my husband, I look around.  I smell the autumn-summer-winter-spring aromas.  The bare limbs-delicate pale green leaves-the lush dark green leaves-the parti-coloured autumn quilt of the trees:  I sigh deeply and tell my husband “These are the good old days.”.  He looks at me as if I was crazy and doesn’t quite comprehend, but he does understand that I have gone to a place he can’t go and chooses to smile at me instead of trying to follow.  He respects my territory under the cherry tree.

 It doesn’t mean we should stop searching or dreaming.  But sometimes…….The perfect cherry blossom?  Hold out your hand and grasp the air in front of you.  You are holding the perfect cherry blossom.

Chicken with Garlic Sauce – Myazaki Prefecture

This is one of those recipes that someone is going to say isn’t “authentic”, doesn’t sound Japanese, whatever.  I was given this recipe by a Japanese engineer who is here in America working with a nuclear power company.  This is from the Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu Island.  He assures me this is delicious any time of year and makes the house smell wonderful.  He had called to ask me “huge favor” – how to make American Fruit “Cottler”?  I told him I would be most honored to provide him the recipe and that it would be good with all kinds of fruit.  To show his gratitude, with a great deal of courtesy (and I could sense some homesickness), he shared one of his favorite home style dishes in return. They often add a pickled cabbage salad and rice for this meal.  I think it sounds a lot like Southern barbecued chicken and coleslaw.  Truly an East Meets South kind of recipe. 🙂

 Chicken with Garlic Onion Sauce

5 boneless chicken thigh fillets (with or without skin) I use split chicken wings – about 10, split into drummette and long section, tips removed
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
 
Sauce
½ sweet onion, grated
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. cooking sake
4 Tbsp. Mirin
3 Tbsp. soy sauce 

Instructions:

Grate or very finely mince onion in a medium bowl and add all the Sauce ingredients in the bowl.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel.  If you use the chicken with skin, prick the skin with a fork.   Salt and pepper chicken and put in a separate bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes along with the sliced garlic.   In a non-stick frying pan, heat oil on medium heat, add just the chicken.  If the chicken has skin, cook the skin side first. Do not turn over the chicken until it’s nicely browned. After you turn over the chicken, lower the heat to  low. Adding in the garlic, cover half of the pan with the lid and cook for about 7 – 9 minutes.  When the chicken is cooked, add the Sauce. Cook on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Use a spoon to coat the chicken with sauce. Serve the chicken on a plate and pour the sauce over. Serve immediately.  I sprinkle with sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion.

Pickled Cabbage Salad
½-1 cabbage, julienned or shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1/4  cup cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, chopped, green and white portions
 
Dressing
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. white sesame seeds
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for dressing and mix well. Add all vegetables in the bowl and refrigerate at least for 1 hour.

 

 


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