Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tonkatsu (#JapaneseHomeCooking)

Tonkatsu | Tortillas and Honey

This week, bloggers along with myself are celebrating the release of Masaharu Morimoto’s new cookbook “Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking” with a #Japanese HomeCooking Blog Party, which is being sponsored by authors of The Book Club Cook Book.

Morimoto acknowledges that people are intimidated by Japanese cooking and provides tips and encouragement. Morimoto also provides some history of cuisine and his relationship with Japanese food. Japanese food incorporates different cultures into its cuisine and they love to do renditions of different types of food, which you can see reflected in his book.

I love that Morimoto shows his readers how to make the perfect white rice. Even though I’m nearly half Asian, I’m not that good at making rice. Until now. While I thought the secret was rinsing the rice until the water runs clear (which is part of it), I think the real secret is letting the rice dry out after rinsing and before cooking. I can now make a pot of rice that I can be proud of, which isn’t mushy or sticking to the bottom of the pan!

While Morimoto considers rice to be a staple in his cookbook, I also would like to add dashi or kelp dashi as a staple to his cookbook. Several of his recipes use dashi, which only takes about 15 minutes to make and I’m looking forward to learning how to make it so I can make my way throughout the book.

For this post, I was debating between two recipes, tonkatsu or the Japanese-style curry, because both recipes bring back fond memories! But I ultimately decided on tonkatsu because of the ease of the recipe and lack of time as I was preparing to leave for vacation.

I grew up eating Japanese-style curry, which my parents used to make and Morimoto’s recipe is nearly the exact recipe I grew up with. Because my dad is from Hawaii, he grew up eating this curry and so I grew up eating this curry. Hawaii, like Japan, is influenced by many different cultures in its cuisine. The only reason I decided against making this recipe is that it calls for curry-roux blocks, which contain wheat, and I did not have the time to make this recipe gluten-free before I left on vacation. I was able to find Japanese curry powder, which I plan on using to adapt this recipe in the future so that it’s gluten-free. 

Tonkatsu was my favorite meal while visiting Japan 10 years ago (along with Japanese ramen). My friend, Nicole, and her, now, husband, Lucas both lived there for two years and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to visit them for a week and a half. They introduced me to tonkatsu my very first day and we ate it nearly every day I was there. The sauces were all slightly different, but my favorite restaurant was where we could choose the types of sauces and crush our own sesame seeds. You crush sesame seeds in this recipe, which reminds me of my visit to Japan. You can even provide your guests a mortar and pestle for them to crush their own seeds and add as many as they’d like! It’s a simple interactivity with your food that makes it a little fun.

Nicole and me in Nara, Japan (2006)

Nicole and Lucas preparing their tonkatsu sauce

Tonkatsu, one of our favorite meals in Japan

What I like about tonkatsu is that while the recipe itself isn’t really versatile, you can use the fried cutlet in other recipes. Morimoto uses leftover tonkatsu in his Katsu Don recipe, which is a pork cutlet and egg rice bowl. And while I was in Japan, one of the restaurants we went to poured Japanese-style curry on the cutlet with rice instead of serving it with tonkatsu sauce. For this recipe, I used gluten-free all-purpose flour and gluten-free panko breadcrumbs and it was very successful!

Another recipe that is used throughout this cookbook is his teriyaki sauce. While Morimoto offers a traditional chicken teriyaki recipe, he also uses the sauce to make a chicken teriyaki spaghetti, steak bowls with spicy teriyaki sauce, chicken meatballs with teriyaki sauce, and slow cooked pork belly with beer-teriyaki sauce.

My only wish for this cookbook is that the steam and stir fry sections were a little bit longer because they only contained three or four recipes. But that’s my only complaint, if that can even be considered a complaint.  

Please check out the rest of the #JapaneseHomeCooking Blog Party to see what other bloggers are contributing for this cookbook!

Tonkatsu | Tortillas and Honey

Tonkatsu | Tortillas and Honey

Tonkatsu | Tortillas and Honey

Tonkatsu | Tortillas and Honey

Tonkatsu (Japenese Fried Pork Cutlet)
from "Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking" by Masaharu Morimoto, pgs. 215-217

For the cutlets:
Vegetable oil for deep-frying (about 10 cups-- I only used about 2 cups)
4 1/2-inch thick pork loin cutlets, preferably with fat cap attached
Kosher salt and ground white pepper
About 1 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs (gluten-free panko works)
About 1 c. all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour works)
2 large eggs, beaten
3 c. very thinly sliced white cabbage
lemon wedges, for serving

For the tonkatsu sauce:
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds
1/2 c. seeded, cored, finely chopped canned whole tomatoes
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. molasses (not blackstrap)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

For the cutlets:
Pour about 2 inches of vegetable oil into a medium pot and set it over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350F on a deep-fry thermometer.

Use the tip of a sharp knife to score the cutlets, making about a dozen short, shallow cuts all over each side. This keeps the cutlets from curling when they fry. Season both sides lightly with salt and pepper.

Put the panko, flour, and eggs into three separate wide bowls. Working with one cutlet at a time, add it to the flour and turn to coat it, shaking off any excess. Transfer it to the egg and turn to coat, letting any excess egg drip off. Finally, transfer it to the panko, turning to coat well and piling on some of the panko and pressing lightly with your hands. The goal is to get as much panko to adhere as you can. Transfer the breaded cutlets to a plate and repeat with the remaining cutlets. Discard any leftover flour, egg, and panko.

Soak the cabbage in icy water for 10 minutes and drain well.

Just before you fry, stir the oil well. Fry the cutlets two at a time, adjusting the heat it necessary to maintain the oil temperature and turning the pieces over occasionally, until the cutlets are golden brown and crispy, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and fry the remaining cutlets. Let the cutlets rest for a few minutes, then cut them into 3/4-inch slices and serve with cabbage, lemon, and sauce for dipping.

For the tonkatsu sauce:
Put the sesame seeds in a medium pan, set over medium heat, and toast, stirring and tossing frequently, until thy're a few shades darker, about 3 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and let them cool.

Combine the remaining sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, stir, and set over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors come together, about 10 minutes. Season to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let it come to room temperature. It keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.

When you're ready to serve, pound the seeds to a powder in a mortar or grind them in a spice grinder and serve in a bowl at the table, instructing your guests to mix the paste into the sauce to taste.

Tonaksu makes 4 servings, sauce makes 3/4 cup

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter (#SoupSwapParty)

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter | Tortillas and Honey

I decided to share a second recipe from Kathy Gunst's new cookbook, Soup Swap, which we are celebrating with the authors of The Book Club Cook Book and a #SoupSwapParty. I made this Sillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter to go with her Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream and instantly fell in love with this recipe! 

Look at those photos... What is that? Butter? Frosting? No, that is custard. And cornbread. A custard cornbread! That is what sold me on making this dish. The custard layer is created by pouring milk on top after the cornbread had been baking for a bit. As it continues to bake, a custard layer is formed and it takes on some of the sweetness from the sugar. This extra touch is so unique, I immediately went out and bought all of the ingredients for it, even though I already finished my shopping to make the soup.

I actually don't have a cast iron skillet so I improvised and used a baking dish instead and it still came out lovely. I added in my notes how to make this without a cast iron skillet. I also suggest using the full 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the 1/4 because I felt that the custard layer was a little better with the extra sweetness. I also substituted all-purpose gluten-free flour and it worked like a charm!

This recipe is one that I'll be making again and again and most likely will become my staple cornbread recipe. Make it! Now!!

Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter | Tortillas and Honey

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter | Tortillas and Honey

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter | Tortillas and Honey

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter | Tortillas and Honey

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter | Tortillas and Honey

Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter
Slightly adapted from Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst

3 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. fresh chives, minced
1 1/2 c. cornmeal
1/4 to 1/2 c. sugar (this recipe I feel works best with 1/2 c. because of the custard)
1/2 c. all-purpose flour (all-purpose gluten free flour works great here)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. whole milk

Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350.

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat, melt the butter. As soon as the butter begins to brown, remove the skillet from the heat and add the chives. (I chose to do this in a small saucepan, then used a 7x11 baking pan to bake the cornbread. Please see my continued notes in parentheses for these adaptions.)

In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda until well blended. Add the buttermilk and eggs and whisk to combine. Whisk in 1 cup of the whole milk. Add 2 Tbs of the chive-brown butter, leaving the remainder in the skillet (or in the saucepan), and whisk until combined. (If you browned your butter in a saucepan, pour the remaining butter on the bottom of your 7x11 baking pan, swirling to make sure the entire bottom of the pan is greased.) Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, pour the remaining 1 cup of milk on top of the break and bake for another 25 to 35 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden brown and firm. When you gently shake the skillet, the cornbread shouldn’t wobble but it doesn’t need to be bone dry when tested with a toothpick in the center. Remove and let cool slightly. Serve warm, with butter and honey if desired.

Makes 8 servings (depending on size of pan used)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream (#SoupSwapParty)

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream | Tortillas and Honey

I was delighted to be invited again by the authors of The Book Club Cook Book to participate in their #SoupSwapParty to celebrate the just-released cookbook by Kathy Gunst called Soup Swap! Kathy is a James Beard award winner and the resident chef for NPR's "Here and Now."

This cookbook is filled entirely with soups and accompaniments. Kathy teaches you how to make different types of stocks from scratch (roasted chicken stock, recycled chicken stock from leftover bones, beef broth, and veggie stock), how to make different types of soups (hot and cold as well as a variety of different meats), and toppings and sides to go with her meals (like skillet cornbread)!

I've made four recipes so far from this cookbook and I must say that Kathy's recipes really make me feel like I'm an actual cook, from making my own stock to building layers of flavor profiles in the soup. I had never made stock from scratch so I used this opportunity to make Roasted Chicken Stock; it felt like such an accomplishment and made me feel like a rockstar. "Hey, I made that stock from scratch!" I also made her Chicken, Charred Tomato, and Chile Posole which used New Mexico flavors (New Mexico red chile, pinto beans, and Posole) so you know I had to make it! The two recipes that I am featuring on this blog are her Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream (see below) and Skillet Cornbread with Chives and Brown Butter.

I was drawn to the Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream because I had nearly all the ingredients, I grew up with my family's own version of corn chowder (which is very different from this version), and I loved the idea of using the corn milk and using the corn husks in the recipe. As I mentioned before, this recipe is a prime example of building layers of flavor which I found gratifying. The chowder is incredibly fresh and rich as well as beautiful. The veggies look like little jewels sprinkled throughout! 

Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst

Chef's Choice and Zeroll

I also want to thank Chef's Choice and Zeroll for their generous gifts to help me prep in participation of this event!  gifts to help you with your soup prep! Chef's Choice sent their ProntoPro™ Diamond Hone® Knife Sharpener, which sharpened all of my chef's knives and santoku knives. Believe it or not, this is my first knife sharpener and I was thrilled to receive it! Zeroll sent their 4-ounce Stainless Steel Ladle and their Nylon Slotted Serving Spoon which are awesome for serving all these fun soups!

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream | Tortillas and Honey

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream | Tortillas and Honey

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream | Tortillas and Honey

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream | Tortillas and Honey

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream | Tortillas and Honey

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder with Saffron Cream
Slightly adapted from Soup Swap by Kathy Gunst

6 large ears fresh corn or 5 cups frozen corn kernels
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch squares
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs all-purpose flour (or use ½ Tbs corn starch for gluten free)
4 c. vegetable stock
3/4 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. crumbled saffron threads
2 scallions, trimmed, white and green sections very finely sliced (forgot these)
1 Tbs. fresh chives, minced

If using fresh corn, shuck the ears, remove the silks, and trim off the end so that you can stand the cob flat. Using a sharp knife and standing each cob on its end inside a large bowl, remove the kernels from the cob by working the knife straight down against the cob. Using the blunt side of the knife, scrape down the cob after the kernels have been removed to release the corn “milk.” Mix the milk and corn kernels and set side. Do not throw out the cobs!

In a large stockpot over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until translucent. Add half of the yellow bell pepper and half of the red bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sweet potato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. 

Stir in the flour and cook, stirring well to coat all the vegetables, for 2 minutes. (For gluten free, omit this step and combine 1 cup of veggie stock and whisk in the corn starch. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe.)

 Turn the heat to high, gently whisk in the (remaining) vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the corncobs (not the corn kernels). Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the potato is almost tender.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the cream and saffron and steep for 5 minutes.

Add the saffron cream, corn kernels, and corn “milk” to the stockpot and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Using tongs, remove the cobs from the pot and, holding each one over the pot, use a knife to scrape off any bits of chowder or corn clinging to the cob.

Ladle the chowder into mugs or bowls; sprinkle with the scallions, chives, and remaining red and yellow bell peppers; and serve.

Makes about 6 full servings


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