Monday, May 11, 2015

Hawaiian Style Omusubi!












     Japanese Omuraisu Made With A Fancy Hawaiian Brown Rice Spam Musubi Roll!
     There are two kinds of noodle house style Omuraisu.  Traditional or creative!  
     Omuraisu first became popular in a trendy Tokyo restaurant district nearly 100 years ago.  A Japanese gourmand visited America and he really liked American style omelets.  Back in those days, Americans were in the habit of pouring ketchup all over omelets.  The Japanese traveler thought that ketchup was traditional, so after returning home to Japan, the ketchup garnish evolved to be part of the traditional Tokyo style Omuraisu recipe.   
     Omuraisu is an interpretation of a classic American omelet.  "Omu" translates to omelette a "Omuraisu" translates to Fried Rice Omelette.  Back in the early 1900's, the Omuraisu creation was a smash hit in Japan.  Eventually Omuraisu ended up being one of the top selling street food items at trendy Tokyo shops.  

     Brown rice is popular in Hawaii and it is a healthy natural grain choice.  Many Hawaiian chefs prefer brown rice for making sushi items, like Spam Musubi.  
     The popularity of Spam in Hawaii is legendary.  One does not simply say bad things about Spam in Hawaii, without infuriating the volcano gods!  Hawaiians hold Spam in high regard and many of the greatest Spam recipes on earth were created in this chain of Pacific islands.  
     Spam Musubi was created by Japanese Hawaiians during WWII when fresh seafood was in short supply.  Spam Musubi is probably the most famous Hawaiian Spam recipe of them all.  
     There are few different ways that a Spam Musubi roll can be made.  Centering strips of Spam in the roll is the most popular way.  
     Sesame Fried Brown Rice is what I chose for jazzing up the Spam Musubi Roll for today's Omu recipe.  Fried Brown Rice is easy to make, because the grail hulls are attached to the rice and the rice does not stick to the pan.  
   
     Making ketchup from scratch is not difficult to do, but purchasing organic ketchup is more cost effective.  The cost of making homemade ketchup is not cheap these days.  Bottled organic ketchup can be used as a cooking sauce or to make condiment sauces.  
    Modifying ketchup with additional flavors can increase the appeal of Omuraisu.  Habanero Ketchup is one of my favorite ketchup sauces, but not everybody likes spicy hot ketchup.  Ginger Ketchup is another popular flavor and it was used as the ketchup garnishing sauce in today's recipe. 

     Ginger Ketchup:
     This recipe yields about 1/2 cup.  
     Place 1/2 cup of organic ketchup in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of ginger paste.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Place the ginger ketchup in a plastic squirt bottle and chill till the sauce is needed.

     Sesame Fried Brown Rice:
     This recipe yields enough fried rice for 4 to 5 Omusubi.  Any leftover fried rice can be served on its own or with another entrée.
     • Have all the ingredients ready, before starting this quick recipe!  Leftover brown rice that is partially dried is best for making fried rice.
     Step 1:  Heat a seasoned wok or non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add these ingredients:
     - 2 tablespoons of small diced carrot
     - 2 tablespoons of small diced celery
     - 2 tablespoons of small diced onion
     Stir fry till the hard vegetables start to cook.
     Step 2:  Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Sir fry till the garlic and ginger are aromatic.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 cups of leftover cooked brown rice.
     Break up any clumps of rice.
     Stir fry and toss the rice with the ingredients in the pan.  (Add a little bit of vegetable oil, if the rice absorbs the oil in the pan.)
     Stir fry till golden highlights appear.
     Step 4:  Add 2 tablespoons of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/3 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice. 
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese chile powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of black sesame seeds.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Step 5:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Stir fry and toss, till the liquid has evaporated and the rice starts to fry again.
     Step 6:  Place the fried rice in a container and keep it warm on a stove top.
     
     Sesame Fried Brown Rice Spam Musubi Roll:
     This recipe yields 1 Spam Musubi Roll!
     Covering a bamboo sushi mat with plastic wrap is a good idea.  This creates a non-stick surface and it protects the mat.
     Step 1:  Cut 2 long rectangular slices of Spam that are about 3/16" thick.
     Place the Spam on a roasting pan.
     Warm the Spam in a 300ºF oven, till it is hot and aromatic, but not browned.
     Keep the Spam warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Place 1 sheet of roasted nori seaweed on a sushi rolling mat.
     Place the Spam slices lengthwise across the center of the nori sheet.
     Spread enough sesame fried brown rice on the nori sheet to cover the Spam with about a 3/8" thick layer of rice.  (Be sure to spread the rice evenly and leave a portion of the nori sheet bare on the two opposing edges.) 
     Step 3:  Dampen the far edge of the nori sheet, by spreading a few drops of water on the bare nori sheet.
     Roll it up! 
     *The Spam Musubi Roll should look like an even long cylinder shape.  Do not trim the ends of the roll, till the roll is wrapped with the thin omelette.
     Keep the Spam Musubi warm on a stove top.   

     Wasabi Paste Ball Garnish:
     Add just enough water to 1/2 tablespoon of powdered wasabi to create a paste.
     Roll the paste into a ball shape. 

     Hawaiian Style Omusubi:
     This recipe yields 1 Omusubi.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of water.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Whisk the ingredients till they are blended.
     Step 2:  Heat an 8" wide non-stick sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add about 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.  
     Add the egg mixture.
     Gently sauté the omelette, till the bottom half is cooked firm with no browning.  (Tilt the pan occasionally and use a rubber spatula to even the edges.)
     Step 3:  Flip the omelette.
     Sauté till the omelette is fully cooked with no browning.
     Step 4:  Place the omelette on a cutting board.
     Place the Spam Musubi Roll across the center of the omelette.
     Trim a little bit of the round edges of the omelette off, so it can be rolled evenly.  
     Roll it up!
     Step 5:  Trim the ends of the Omusubi so it looks nice. 

     Presentation:
     Ketchup is the traditional sauce for Omuraisu!  
     Place the Omusubi on the center of a plate with the seam side facing down.
     Paint the Omusubi with ginger ketchup.
     Place the wasabi paste ball on the center of the Omusubi.
     Garnish the wasabi with a long thin bias sliced green onion sliver.
     Garnish the plate with sliced pickled ginger and curly leaf parsley sprigs.

     Hawaiian Style Omusubi tastes awesome!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Blue Mussel, Mushroom and Chuka Kuki Wakame Miso Soup




     Noodle House Style Gourmet Miso Soup!     
     This miso soup tastes great!  The dashi was made with shrimp broth and sun dried anchovies and the flavor is perfect for mussels.  The mussels release their juices into the soup and this adds even more rich seafood flavor.
     Chuka Kuki Wakame is a Japanese bento style pickled wakame seaweed salad.  The wakame is cut into a fine julienne strips and then is lightly pickled with mustard seed, dill seed, sesame oil and seasonings.  Chuka Kuki Wakame most often garnishes sushi platters or is served as a petite salad.  Chuka Kuki Wakame can be found pre-made in Asian food markets and the quality is very nice.
     Chuka Kuki Wakame is added to the miso soup just before it is served.  Because the flavor of this seaweed salad is strong, it is not necessary to flavor the dashi broth like one would normally do.  Just a plain dash with no seasonings, soy sauce or sesame oil is best for today's recipe.

     Shrimp, Ikan Bilis and Wakame Dashi Broth:
     This recipe yields enough dashi for 1 portion of miso soup!  
     Boil 3 cups of shrimp broth in a sauce pot over medium high heat.  (The excess liquid will evaporate when boiling.)
     Add 2 tablespoons of small sun dried anchovies.
     Add 3 tablespoonsl of chopped rinsed salt packed wakame seaweed.
     Boil the dashi broth for 10 minutes.
     Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.  There should be about 2 1/4 cups of broth. 
     *Discard the anchovies and seaweed or use them in another recipe.
   
     Miso Soup with Mussels:
     Place the sauce pot of dashi broth over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of red miso paste, while whisking till it combines.
     Add 4 cleaned and de-bearded raw Blue Mussels.
     Gently simmer the soup, till the mussels open up.  (Discard any mussels that do not open.)
   
     Blue Mussel, Mushroom and Chuka Kuki Wakame Miso Soup:
     Place 3 or 4 tablespoons of Chuka Kuki Wakame (pickled wakame seaweed salad) on the center of a shallow soup bowl.  
     Remove the musseles from the soup pot and place them around the wakame salad.
     Slowly pour the miso broth into the soup bowl.
     Float a few very thin slices of button cave mushroom on the center of the soup.
     Sprinkle some thin bias sliced green onion on the the soup.
   
     The mustard seed and dill seed flavor of pickled seaweed salad adds a nice zesty flavor to this miso soup!  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lomi Noodles with Banana Blossom Flowers and Crispy Ikan Bilis



     A Tasty Malaysian Style Noodle Entrée!
     Traditional Malaysian cuisine is an entity of its own, but modern Malaysian cuisine can be considered to be a melting pot of Asian fusion style cooking.  Traditional Malaysian food has a tropical theme and many entrées are served on banana leaves instead of plates.  Old fashioned Malaysian cuisine is tropical food at its best!

     Lomi is another name for thick fresh egg noodles.  Lomi Noodles can easily be made from scratch or they can be purchased fresh at an Asian food market.  Packaged fresh Lomi Noodles are a nice convenience, because these noodles are usually pre-cooked.
     Ikan Bilis translates to sun dried anchovies.  Sun dried anchovies do not have a strong fishy aroma or salty flavor like European anchovies.  The flavor of sun dried anchovy is gentle and the flavor falls into the umami range of taste sensations.  When sun dried anchovies are fried crisp, the flavor actually is similar to deep fried chicken wings.  Crunchy stir fried ikan bilis is commonly used in Indonesian and Malaysian entrées as a garnish.
     Whole fresh Banana Blossoms can be purchased at Asian food markets.  If no fresh banana blossom is available, then salted dried banana blossom flowers are a good choice.  The outside of a banana blossom has an artichoke kind of flavor, while the long slender flowers have a pleasant bitter flavor.  I used salted dried banana flowers for today's recipe.  The salt does have to be rinsed off, before cooking.  

     *This entire recipe yields 1 noodle entrée!

     Fried Ikan Bilis:
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan or mini wok over medium heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.
     Add about 1/3 cup of small sun dried anchovies.  (ikan bilis)
     Stir fry, till the sun dried anchovies are crisp and lightly browned.
     Step 2:  Use a slotted spatula to remove the pan fried sun dried anchovies from the pan and set them on a parchment paper lined platter.
     Season the ikan bilis with sea salt and white pepper.
     Keep the ikan bilis warm on a stove top.

     Lomi Noodles with Banana Blossom Flowers and Crispy Ikan Bilis:
     Packaged pre-cooked fresh Lomi Noodles were used in this recipe.  If fresh uncooked Lomi Noodles are used, they can be boiled in water with lye to create a nice texture.  
     *Keep a pot of water boiling so the noodles can be heated.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or wok over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1/2 of a thin sliced shallot.
     Add 1/2 cup of a mixture of these vegetables:
     - julienne sliced onion.
     - red bell pepper strips.
     - green bell pepper strips.
     - 2 green onions that are cut into bite size pieces.
     Sauté till the vegetables just start to cook.
     Step 2:  Add 10 to 12 rinsed dried banana blossom flowers.  
     Add 1 1/4 cups of light fish broth.
     Add 1 pinch of yellow curry powder.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese chile powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of palm sugar.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Heat 1 portion of prepared Lomi Noodles in boiling water.
     Drain the water off the noodles.
     Step 4:  Add the noodles to the vegetables in the pan.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid, till only enough thin sauce remains in the pan to coat the noodles with flavor.
     Take the pan off the heat.
     Step 5:  Place the vegetables and noodles on a plate. 
     Sprinkle the reserve crispy ikan bilis over the vegetables and noodles.
     No garnish is necessary!

     This is a very healthy Lomi Noodle recipe!