Home » Posts tagged 'recipe'

Tag Archives: recipe

Recipe: Simmered Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are native to Asia but have become popular all over the world because they are versatile and packed with flavour. They are particularly popular in Japanese cuisine and have a variety of uses. They apparently have some medicinal properties but, more importantly, they are absolutely delicious. We have a fantastic recipe for simmered shiitake mushrooms which can be used as a side dish for many Japanese meals.

Simmered shiitake mushrooms dish

Shiitake can be used as a key ingredient for dashi – Japanese stock – which is used in many traditional dishes, including miso soup. Dashi often uses shaved bonito (a type of fish) flakes but this can be substituted for shiitake mushrooms, complemented with kombu seaweed, to make a flavoursome vegetarian/vegan dashi.

This recipe for simmered shiitake mushrooms is used as a side dish to accompany a wide variety of foods. It is packed with umami flavour which complements the sweetness of the mirin and the saltiness of the soy sauce.

This simmered shiitake dish is very simple to make but requires a little – minimal – preparation as you will need to presoak the mushrooms. Ideally, we recommend soaking the mushrooms overnight as this will allow maximum umami. If you can’t soak overnight, we suggest a minimum of five hours. Also, make sure that you save the water the mushrooms have been soaked in as that is packed with flavour.

How To Make Simmered Shiitake Mushrooms

Ingredients

100g grams dried whole shiitake mushrooms

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs mirin (if you can’t get mirin you can use 1 tbs cooking sake and 1 tsp sugar and if you can’t get cooking sake use 1 tbs white wine and 1 tsp sugar)

Water to cover the mushrooms

shiitake mushrooms ingredients

Method

Place the dried mushrooms into a bowl and cover – just to the top of the mushrooms – with water. Soak the dried mushrooms until they are soft. Ideally a minimum of 5 hours, overnight is better. Save the water!

Remove the mushrooms from the water. They should have turned from woody to plump and juicy. Take off the stems if you wish and cut into slices.

Put the mushrooms into a pan.

Add 1 tbs mirin and 1 tbs soy sauce.

Then add the mushroom water to just about cover them. Be careful as there may be a little bit of residue at the bottom of the water bowl, don’t let that go in.

Bring the mushrooms to a simmer until the water has evaporated. This will take about 15 mins.

simmered shiitake mushrooms

Allow to cool and serve cold.

We often use these as a side to accompany a number of dishes – great eaten in the summertime with cold somen noodles, agedashi tofu (fried tofu), vinegared wakame (seaweed) and cucumber salad, and shira ae (mashed tofu and carrot salad).

Simmered shiitake mushrooms with meal
Miso soup recipe
How to make miso soup
japanese dashi stock recipe
How to make Japanese dashi stock
Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage
Japanese Fried Chicken Recipe – Karaage
Japanese simmered pork belly recipe
Japanese simmered pork belly recipe
How To Make Kimchi
Easy kimchi recipe
How to make umeboshi
How to make Japanese pickled plums umeboshi
More Tasty Recipes on VTW

More posts from Japan
If you liked this post, please share it:

RECIPE: Vegetable Biryani Tamil Nadu Style

Biryani is a delicious aromatic spicy rice dish that is a meal in itself. Eaten all over India, it is also very popular in Tamil Nadu, the south eastern state which runs from Chennai in the north, all along the Bay of Bengal to Kanyakumari in the south. We visited this brilliant state a couple of years ago and were not only inspired by wonderful places to visit but also the deliciousness of south Indian cuisine. And we have a recipe for vegetable biryani Tamil Nadu style.

Vegetable biryani tamil

Although biryani is best known as a dish from India it is thought that it probably originated in the Middle East. The Persian word ‘birinj biriyan’ means ‘fried rice’. The cuisine of the Mughals, who ruled much of South Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries, had a significant influence on Indian food. The Mughals also introduced ingredients, such yoghurt, and also the ‘dum’ technique of cooking the dish over a low heat in a sealed pot which helps retain all the flavours as the food cooks.

This recipe comes from Tamil Nadu courtesy of our dear friend, Shankari. We were lucky to be gifted a traditional Indian pressure cooker which is absolutely perfect for cooking this delicious biryani but we have adapted and tested the recipe for a standard hob top pan as well. We often use a rice cooker to cook rice but we find it really doesn’t work very well with biryani because you are sautéing spices and vegetables beforehand and the rice is layered on top of these. A rice cooker can do this to some extent but not really enough to properly cook the spices.

Many people in Tamil Nadu are vegetarian so this dish contains no meat. When we visited this region every restaurant offered both a veg and non-veg meal option. This biryani could easily be adapted to include lamb or chicken but we love the simplicity of the vegetables and it is so tasty, you really don’t miss the meat. The spice combinations are warming and aromatic. If you wish to make the dish vegan, fry the ingredients in oil and omit the yoghurt.

The process involves cooking whole spices first to release their oils and to maximise the flavour. We leave the whole spices in the finished biryani but they aren’t really designed to be eaten – they won’t harm you if you do but you might get an overly intense hit of flavour if you chomp on a clove!

The quantities here will serve 2 hungry people but you can double up to feed more people, or you can use these quantities if you are accompanying the biryani with other dishes. We use a cup that is around 200ml in volume.

How To Make Vegetable Biryani from Tamil Nadu

Ingredients:

1 bay leaf

1 stick of  cinnamon

3 green cardomom pods

3 cloves

2 tbs mint leaves

2 tbs coriander leaves

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

½  teaspoon coriander powder

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon garam masala

1 cup of Basmati rice

2 tbs ghee or butter (use vegetable oil for a vegan biryani)

Small, finely chopped tomato

2 tbs natural yogurt

1 tsp ginger garlic paste (you can buy this frozen or in jars, or you can crush 2 cloves of garlic and a thumb of ginger in pestle and mortar)

1 green chilli (add another if you like spice)

Chopped vegetables (anything you like but beans, carrot, peas and cauliflower work really well)

Method:

Add 1 cup basmati rice to a bowl and soak it in water for 30 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil or ghee or butter in a pot or pressure cooker.

Add whole spices:

1 bay leaf

1 inch cinnamon

3 green cardomom

3 cloves

When the spices, begin to crackle, add 1 sliced onion and 1 chopped green chilli. On a medium heat, sauté until the onions turn golden.

Add 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Sauté this for a couple of minutes until the raw smell goes away.

Add 1 cup chopped mix veggies and sauté on a medium heat for 2 -3 minutes.

Add the following:

2 tablespoons mint leaves

2 tablespoons coriander leaves

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2  teaspoon coriander powder

1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon garam masala

1 small finely chopped tomato

2 tablespoons of yogurt

Mix and fry again for 5 minutes on a medium heat until the tomatoes break down. The mixture turns aromatic after frying.

Add the drained rice and spread it evenly across the top of the mixture.

If you are using a pressure cooker: add 1 cup of water and salt to taste.

If you are using a pot: add 1.5 cups of water (this is because some steam will escape) and salt to taste.

Cover the pot or pressure cooker with the lid.

Pressure cooker – cook on a medium-high flame for one whistle

Pot – cook on low heat until all of the water is absorbed and rice cooked is nicely.

Once the rice is cooked, take the biryani off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Serve on its own as a main meal, with a biryani raita, or it also makes a great accompaniment to other dishes.

We often enjoy it as an accompaniment to palak paneer – a paneer cheese and spinach curry – for a really delicious veggie meal.

biryani raita recipe
A biryani raita recipe
South India Thali
A south Indian thali
A link to all posts about India
If you liked this post, please share it:

RECIPE: Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto

Every spring we make the most of foraging for greens in the English countryside. Wild garlic is our absolute favourite and we have a fabulous recipe for wild garlic pesto. But pesto uses cheese! So we also have a recipe for vegan wild garlic pesto.

In the UK you can forage wild garlic for free as long as you just take the leaves, stems and flowers. All these parts are edible. We make it a rule never to take more food than we need as it’s nice to leave some for other people and also ensure that the plant will appear next year. We try to pick one leaf from each stem so as not to disturb the plant too much.

Foraging for Wild Garlic

Wild garlic is pretty easy to recognise and has a very definite garlicky smell. Pick a leaf and crush it in your hand – it has a wonderful scent.

Wild garlic

A little later into the season lovely white flowers appear. These have a very mild garlic flavour – we use them to garnish dishes.

Wild garlic

As with any foraging, you have to be 100% certain of what you are picking. Poisonous plants can grow near wild garlic. Arum maculatum, also known as Lords and Ladies, is very toxic. Apparently even putting the leaves into your mouth will result in an immediate burning sensation. It can grows worryingly close to the wild garlic. When it’s more mature it develops shiny arrow-head shaped leaves but when young, looks very similar to wild garlic.

lords and ladies toxic
Young arum macularum (lords and ladies) – BEWARE
Wild garlic
Young arum macularum (lords and ladies) on the left, growing alongside wild garlic – BEWARE

Bluebells, or their white-flowered counterparts, which can also easily be confused with wild garlic’s white flowers, can also grow nearby. Bluebells are extremely pretty but also poisonous.

If you are the slightest bit uncertain, DON’T eat it!

Vegan Wild Garlic Pesto Recipe

Just like our standard recipe our vegan wild garlic pesto isn’t precise. We use cashew nuts but you can also use pine nuts (and weep at the expense) or pistachios. You can use a blender to mix everything together but if you’re feeling hardcore you can use a pestle and mortar.

We use nutritional yeast as a substitute for the cheese. It’s a brilliant product that is really good for you – a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. More importantly it has a cheesy flavour, perfect for adding that umami element to the pesto amidst the creamy cashew and heavenly garlicky scent.

Ingredients

Bunch of wild garlic leaves (around 150g)

Handful of cashew nuts (around 150g)

Generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast flakes (we recommend couple of tablespoons if you’re measuring)

Slosh of extra virgin olive oil

Squeeze of lemon

Pinch of salt

Method

Roughly chop the wild garlic leaves and place into a blender. Throw in the nuts and nutritional yeast flakes. We recommend adding the leaves first – to the bottom of the blender – so that the weight of the nuts helps with the grinding process.

Vegan wild garlic pesto

To take advantage of the season we make industrial quantities and freeze it, so we can enjoy the scented flavour of spring throughout the year. We don’t add the oil, lemon and salt before seasoning but stir it in after it has defrosted.

Blend together until you get the texture you like – smooth or nutty – both work well.

Vegan wild garlic pesto

If you want to freeze the pesto, decant it into containers and put it into the freezer. It will freeze well and will last many months.

Vegan wild garlic pesto

If you want to eat the pesto straight away (or store it in the fridge for a couple of days) add the oil, lemon juice and salt.

vegan wild garlic pesto

The great thing about this recipe is that is so easily adaptable – you can mix and match ingredients. It’s the underlying gentle garlicky flavour that the wild garlic leaves produce that make this such a brilliant pesto. We’ll be foraging and freezing for as long as the season lasts.

Stinging Nettle Hummus Recipe
Recipe: How to make stinging nettle hummus
Recipe How to Make Kimchi
Recipe: How to make kimchi
More Tasty Recipes on VTW
If you liked this post, please share it:

Recipe: Venetian Pasta Sauce

When we visited Venice we were surprised to learn that the cuisine wasn’t all pasta pasta pasta – rice dishes such as risotto are more typical of the region. And of course there is lots of seafood on offer.

Rialto bridge, Venice

When we explored the Rialto market we fell for the touristy foodie goodies – from different types of pasta to various herb and spice mix condiments. All wrapped up very prettily and ideal as a souvenir.

We wanted to try to make a sauce that was typically Venetian and came across salsa with bigoli.

This Venetian sauce is brilliant because it has a minimal number of ingredients, is really simple to cook, but packs a real punch in terms of flavour. The predominant flavours are sweet – from the onions which have a natural sweetness (any acrid onion flavour gets cooked away) – as well as salt and umami from the fish. It’s a fantastic combination.

Tinned fish is really popular these days and this recipe is great for using cheap ingredients – just onion and a couple of tins of fish. However, it does require quite a long cooking time, which uses energy, so we recommend making it in bulk and then freezing the leftovers. Then you can always have some to hand – just defrost and reheat.

Traditionally this sauce is served with bigoli, the pasta of choice in Venice. It’s like a big spaghetti, long and with a rough texture to soak up the sauce. We find it quite difficult to get bigoli in the UK, so spaghetti or tagliatelle work well as substitutes.

How to Make Venetian Pasta Sauce

Serves 4 people (or 2 and you can freeze any leftovers). Or double up and make a large quantity to freeze.

Ingredients

2 large onions

1 tin of anchovies in oil

1 tin of sardines in oil

Water

Black pepper to taste and green herb such as parsley to garnish

Pasta of your choice to serve it with (bigoli is traditional)

Method

Chop the onions very finely. When you think you’ve chopped them finely enough, chop them some more. The aim is to cook them to a mush.

Put the very finely chopped onions into a pan and add water – just to the level of the onions. Use a low heat to cook them. Keep an eye on the water and top up a little if it evaporates.

After around 35-45 minutes the onions should be nicely mushy. If there is still water in the pan, turn up the heat briefly to let it evaporate off. Otherwise use a potato masher or a wooden spoon to mash them if needed.

Open the sardine and anchovy tins and chop the fish finely. Retain any oil that’s in the tin.

Add the chopped fish to the onions and stir. Let them dissolve into the mixture.

That’s it. The sauce is ready. Keep it warm on a low heat while you cook your pasta.

pasta pasta pasta sauce

We didn’t have any bigoli on hand but we did have some tagliatelle, bought in Venice as a souvenir, in the colours of the Italian flag, which we felt was an appropriate pasta to use.

pasta pasta pasta

Cook the pasta. When we cooked the pasta we didn’t add salt to the water because the anchovies are pretty salty, but season to your taste if needed.

Add the pasta to the sauce and mix. We seasoned with freshly milled black pepper and our garnish was some foraged garlic mustard leaves but a green herb like parsley will be fine as well.

pasta pasta pasta
More Tasty Recipes on VTW
If you liked this post, please share it:

RECIPE: Biryani Raita Recipe

There are many cuisines around the world that use yoghurt-based dips or sauces to accompany particular dishes. Tzatziki is a Greek dish which incorporates cucumber and herbs into a Greek yoghurt. Salatat Khyar is an Arabic salad which is similar to tzakziki in that it uses cucumber and mint with the yoghurt but can be eaten as a standalone salad. And then there’s raita, often used in Indian cuisine as an accompaniment to ‘cool’ the spiciness of a main dish. This biryani raita recipe is simplicity itself to make and really delicious.

Yogurt is ideal to counteract the heat of chillies in any dish it accompanies. There’s a protein called casein which is found in dairy products. It binds to the active component of chillies which is called capsaicin and is the main cause of the burning sensation in the mouth. The casein helps soothe the burn. If you eat a spicy chilli, a drink of milk will help quash the heat far better than water.

(The combination of chilli and cheese in Bhutan’s national dish is cleverly designed to be spicy but the intense heat is tempered by the cheese.)

Raita uses cucumber but it can also have other vegetables such as onion and carrot, often diced. This dish can easily be adapted to incorporate different vegetables or even spices. If you wanted to add a warm earthiness, chuck in a teaspoon of cumin. Or add a touch of fire with a teaspoon of chilli or paprika. Harissa is a nice addition for a Middle Eastern dish. Similarly, you can vary the herbs – mint is a lovely alternative to the coriander or you can just add both in.

Our biryani raita is fantastically flexible in accompanying so many different types of dish.

Biryani Raita Recipe

Ingredients

3 heaped tbs plain natural yoghurt

2 garlic cloves (use 1 if you’re not so keen on garlic or are planning on kissing someone later on in the day)

Juice of half a lemon

Half a cucumber

2 spring onions (green onions)

Bunch of coriander/cilantro (mint also works really wall, or combine the two)

Pinch of salt. We particularly like crystal salt rather than table salt

Method

Grate the cucumber.

biryani raita

Gather up grated cucumber and squeeze the water out.

If you wish you can wrap the grated cucumber in a tea towel to absorb the rest of the water. It’s important to get as much water out of the cucumber as possible to avoid the raita becoming watery.

Finely chop the spring onions and coriander.

Place yoghurt in a bowl. Add the cucumber, spring onions and coriander.

Grate the garlic into the bowl – we find that a microplane grater is perfect for this. Our you could use a standard garlic press.

biryani raita recipe

Squeeze the lemon to extract its juice, making sure that none of the pips end up in the mixture, and add the salt.

Mix together.

Ready to serve.

biryani raita recipe

This works brilliantly to accompany a biryani, and cool it down if it’s particularly chilli hot.

Or a delicious dollop as a great accompaniment to felafel in a wrap.

Or to accompany a Middle Eastern mezze. Here with home-made dolma (stuffed vine leaves), baba ganoush (aubergine dip) and tabbouleh (cous cous herb salad).

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/1082130616708355345/
Vegetable biryani tamil
Vegetable biryani recipe
How To Make Kimchi
Kimchi recipe
More Tasty Recipes on VTW
A link to all posts about India
If you liked this post, please share it:

Happy New Year of the Rabbit

Year of the Rabbit begins 22nd January 2023 and celebrations will ensue. 

Like many festivals all over the world, such as Diwali, Eid and Easter, Chinese New Year is derived from the lunar calendar and is celebrated with food, family reunions and festivities. 

The animals associated with the years are based upon the Chinese horoscope. All twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac have different symbols and it is thought that people’s character traits can be reflected in those born in a particular year.

So the personality traits for someone born in the Year of the Rabbit could be deemed to be quiet, elegant, kind and responsible. The characteristics of Very Tasty World’s founders could be reflected in their zodiac animals because VTW has a compassionate, generous and very diligent Pig associating with a sharp, smart, recondite cheeky Monkey.

Year of the Rabbit

Our visit to China during the latter part of the New Year celebrations, known as Spring Festival, some years ago can be found in the post Gong Xi Fa Cai or Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year! It was a joyful time.

Food For the Festivities

Like many annual celebrations and gatherings this is the time for family and food with wide celebrations. Reunions and recipes join together in sociability and culinary joy.

Some of the more popular traditional dishes associated with lunar new year in China include a whole fish cooked with ginger, garlic and spring onion. Jiaozi – dumplings- represent coins which symbolise prosperity throughout the year. Long noodles suggest longevity and happiness and spring rolls signify wealth.

We have a recipe for baked whole fish cooked with ginger, garlic and spring onions using sea bass. The fish is always served whole as the head and tail represent the start and end of the year.

Year of the Rabbit

And it’s not all savoury. Sweet glutinous rice cakes suggest the possibility of moving up in the world and sweet rice balls which represent family harmony. Happy New Year!

More Tasty Recipes on VTW
If you liked this post, please share it:

RECIPE: How to Make Costa Rica’s Gallo Pinto

Gallo pinto is Costa Rica’s national dish. It’s so popular it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It comprises rice and beans cooked together and served with a variety of accompaniments – such as sausage, vegetables and eggs.

World's best breakfasts

Gallo pinto can be translated as “spotted rooster” and refers to the black beans dotted through the white rice, the colours of which resemble a speckled chicken. Costa Rican food is considered to be highly nutritious and gallo pinto is no exception, but importantly, it’s also hearty, filling and delicious.

The type of rice used is traditionally white long grain. Brown rice or short grain rice is okay to use if that’s what you have. Gallo pinto is great if you cooked too much rice for dinner the night before – it’s an ideal leftovers meal.

The sauce used in this dish is called Lizano. If you ask for salsa at a restaurant in Costa Rica they will bring Lizano. It is used to accompany many dishes and we managed to bring back a couple of bottles from our trip. It is a tangy, spicy (but not searingly hot) sauce that has a lovely piquancy. It’s available in the UK but often at a massively inflated price – we’ve seen it available at an eye-wateringly expensive £30 for two bottles! No, we didn’t buy it. Instead we’ve worked out a recipe using easily available sauces/spices that replicates the flavour pretty well.

Gallo Pinto Recipe (Serves 4)

Ingredients

2 cups long grain white rice (our cups are around 150 ml)

1 tin of black beans (240g)

2 Tbs Lizano sauce (if you can’t get this you need 1 Tbs brown sauce, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2   tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp celery salt)

Clove or two of garlic (depending on how garlicky you feel), finely sliced or crushed

2 tsp cumin

1 egg per person

Lots of fresh coriander

Side Dish/Accompaniment Ingredients

Chopped vegetables – bell peppers, tomatoes, onion

gallo pinto recipe

Method

Cook the rice. We use a ratio of 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Our cups are around 150ml in size. Gallo pinto uses long grain rice.

We use a rice cooker which is absolutely brilliant for cooking rice (as well as other things) as we can just bung the rice and water in and set it off. If you don’t have a rice cooker a saucepan is fine – use the same ratio of rice to water. When the rice has absorbed all the water it should be done. It’s absolutely fine to cook the rice well in advance and let it cool, in fact, it’s probably better not to put hot rice into the gallo pinto. Sometimes if we’re having a meal with rice the day before, we’ll make extra rice and let it cool down so that we can have gallo pinto the next day.

Gallo pinto recipe

When ready to make the gallo pinto, gently fry the garlic in oil and add the cumin. Then add the rice and stir through.

Open the tin of black beans and add the entire contents – including the water.

gallo pinto recipe

Add 2 Tbs of Lizano sauce.

Gallo pinto salsa

If you can’t get Lizano you can make a reasonable approximation by mixing brown sauce and Worcestershire sauce with spices: 1 Tbs brown sauce, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2   tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp celery salt.

Mix it all together gently.

Let the gallo pinto keep warm on a low heat while you fry an egg for each person.

Garnish with chopped coriander.

Gallo pinto recipe

For a more complete meal, stir fry some vegetables and serve alongside the gallo pinto.

Alternative – at the garlic frying step, add chopped vegetables such as onion or bell pepper and stir into the gallo pinto itself.

gallo pinto recipe
gallo pinto recipe

Gallo pinto can be eaten as a meal in itself but can also accompany other dishes. We enjoyed it with steaks, sausages and fried plantain amongst many other delicious ingredients.

Costa rica chocolate
Costa Rica’s chocolate
Cotopaxi volcano Quito
Visit Quito in Ecuador
Costa Rica Two Toed Sloth
Visiting a Costa Rica wildlife sanctuary
Tortuguero
Turtle watching in Costa Rica
More posts from the Americas
More Tasty Recipes on VTW
If you liked this post, please share it:

Recipe: Japanese Simmered Pork Belly – Buta no Kakuni

Japanese simmered pork belly, known as buta no kakuni, is a rich, indulgent dish that is sweet, savoury, sticky and utterly sumptuous. Pork belly is a really fatty cut of meat but fat means flavour and the process of cooking the pork for a long time ensures that a lot of the fat will melt away. Any fat that remains is soft and juicy.

Japanese simmered pork belly recipe

In Japanese, buta means pork and kakuni derives from two longer words: kaku- to cut into cubes and ni – simmer.

It is traditional to serve kakuni with a drop of Japanese mustard called karashi (辛子 or からし). Karashi is a bit darker yellow than most other mustard. It does not really have much acidity in it (unlike other mustards) and very hot. It is perhaps closest to hot English mustard, which is a good substitute.

How to Make Buta No Kakuni Japanese Simmered Pork Belly (Serves 2)

Ingredients

Portion of pork belly per person (allow around 150-200g per person depending on how hungry you are)

Water

Stock cube – dashi stock if possible or you can make your own

2 spring onions, sliced into 2-3cm chunks plus another for garnish

2 inches of ginger, peeled and cut into strips

16 tbs (1 cup) of water

4 tbs (1/4 cup) soy sauce

4 tbs (1/4 cup) cooking sake (if you can’t get sake, white wine will be a good substitute)

4 tbs (1/4 cup) caster sugar

4 tbs (1/4 cup) mirin (if you can’t get mirin, add a little more sake and sugar)

Generous splash of rice vinegar (we like this to counterbalance some of the sweetness of the dish)

simmered pork belly flavourings
glaze ingredients

Method

Place the pork belly in a frying pan and sear on both sides for a couple of minutes.

pork belly sealing

Place the pork belly in a pot and cover with water. Add the stock cube, spring onion and ginger. Turn on the heat and bring the water up to a simmer. Simmer the pork for 2 hours or until nice and tender. Alternatively, you can do as we do and use a pressure cooker. Just prepare the pork as above and cook at pressure for 40 minutes.

buta no kakuni

When the pork comes out it should be wonderfully soft and close to falling apart (but not actually falling apart). Cut the pork into chunks – about 2cm length. We also decided to cut off the rind at this stage.

buta no kakuni

Don’t forget to keep the stock – it will make a wonderful base for ramen noodles or soup. You can pop it into the freezer if you’re not going to use it immediately.

Japanese simmered pork belly recipe

Put the water, soy sauce, sake (or wine), mirin and sugar into a pan and bring to the boil.

perparing the glaze
preparing the glaze

Carefully place the pork chunks into the pan and press down so that the sauce completely covers them.

buta no kakuni

(In retrospect we should have put the pork into a deeper pan – a casserole dish – because the sauce did splutter a lot and because there was sugar in it, it stuck to our hob which made clearing up a bit of a nightmare!)

pork belly glaze

Reduce the sauce until it has almost become a paste – it will have coated the pork and caramelised on the underside. It will look glossy and luscious.

buta no kakuni

Serve atop plain white rice garnished with chopped spring onion. It is often accompanied with a splodge of karashi. We like adding some pickled ginger as well.

buta no kakuni

More Tasty Recipes on VTW
More posts from Japan

If you liked this post, please share it:

RECIPE: How to Make Umeboshi

A typical Japanese breakfast will comprise of a bowl of rice, some grilled fish and pickles accompanied by a bowl of miso soup. What a lovely way to start the day. And at the Japanese breakfast table you will often come across a bowl of pink, wrinkly fruit, roughly the size of an apricot.

How to make umeboshi

These are umeboshi, incredibly sour and salty ume fruit, which are like small plums or apricots, and are absolutely guaranteed to wake you up. They are also reputed to be a hangover cure, especially good if you are a salaryman who has had a late night out in the city. Or tourists who have had a late night in the city which involved chatting with all sorts of very interesting people in random bars and drinking quite a lot of booze.

Beware the stone, especially if you have a hangover.

Umeboshi are tsukemono, literally “pickled things” which  brined and therefore fermented, so they will last for ages. Some will even last decades. If they turn black, they should be chucked. We always bring some back from our trips to Japan and rationed them so had some in our fridge for about 5 years – they were still pink and wrinkly and utterly delicious. Most Japanese meals have tsukemono as an accompaniment but umeboshi are most often eaten at breakfast. They are also used in onigiri (rice balls) as a flavouring and can be converted into a paste to add plentiful salty/fruity flavour to a variety of dishes.

Some Japanese households make their own umeboshi. If you are lucky enough to be offered these, don’t be polite. Well, do be polite because that would be the right thing to do, but don’t hesitate to take your host up on their offer. Home-made umeboshi are absolutely delicious. The pink colour derives from red shiso – also known as perilla – which is a herb added during the pickling process. Shiso is a very common herb used a lot in Japanese cuisine. Green shiso is often the herb that garnishes a sushi platter.

It is possible to make sort-of-umeboshi in western countries. The ume fruit is not usually available, but you can have a bash using plums and salt.

We treated ourselves to a Japanese pickle press a while ago but it should be possible to make umeboshi using a wide-mouthed jar, just as long as you have something heavy that will fit inside the jar to weigh the plums down and a utensil that can extract them (tongs should be fine) as you will need to take them in and out of the jar after the fermentation.

We use plums from our allotment. They have the delightful name Warwickshire Droopers. The great thing is that we can assess how ripe our plums are and pick them. This year the plum tree has been very generous. If you don’t have a plum tree your local market or greengrocer may well have a variety of plums for you to choose from.

Warwickshire Drooper plums

You want the plums to be ripe but not over-ripe, they need to have a degree of firmness.

How to make umeboshi

How to Make Umeboshi

Ingredients

Plums – enough to fill your container but leaving enough space to add a weight. If using a press, make sure the press can close and provide enough pressure.

Salt – 8% of the weight of the plums. Try not to use table salt, as this contains anti-caking agents. We prefer Himalayan pink salt but any pure salt will be fine.

2 red shiso leaves (optional)


Method

Wash your plums and pat them dry. Weigh the plums.

Measure out your salt – the total should be around 8% of the plum weight. This is a lot of salt but most of it will leach into the juice during the pressing process.

Massage the salt into the plums

salting plums

Place in the press. Add the shiso/perilla leaves if you are using them.

Attach the lid and screw the pressure plate down as far as it will go. If you are using a jar, put a clean weight (you can put a weight inside a plastic bag) that puts pressure on the plums.

How to make umeboshi

This ferment doesn’t use a brine. The pressure of the weight will release juice from the plums.

How to make umeboshi

Leave in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks. Check the plums occasionally. You will start to see juice appearing in the bottom of the press.

(As with all ferments, if you ever see any mould on the fruit you should throw it away as the spores could cause illness if you consume the plums. It is unlikely that mould will develop with an 8% salt mix as that is lot of salt.)

The next step requires a bit of luck with the weather. Ideally you want a warm, sunny day. In fact, you need three warm, sunny days.

On your sunny day, remove all the plums and place them on a mat, or some kitchen paper, in the sunshine to dry. Place them back in the juicy brine at the end of the day.

Repeat for a further two days. They don’t need to be consecutive days but it would be helpful if you can dry the plums over the course of a week.

How to make umeboshi

After the third day, you can place the plums in a jar or a plastic container, or even a plastic bag. They will last for months and months. That’s if you don’t scoff them…or have too many hangovers to cure!

Save the Brine!

We hate food waste so we have devised a way to re-use the salty plum juice brine.

We use it to pickle ginger.

Peel the ginger and cut into matchsticks.

Place them in a jar and cover them with the brine. After a couple of weeks they will be deliciously sour and salty. We use them to add some zing to rice and noodle dishes or as a garnish.

Actually, we have been known to open the jar and sneak a matchstick or two for a quick snack.

Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage
Japanese fried chicken – karaage – recipe
Pumpkin Croquettes recipe
Japanese pumpkin croquette recipe
wasabi rhizome
How to prepare fresh wasabi
Recipe How to Make Kimchi
How to make your own kimchi
Osaka restaurants Japan
Japanese okonomiyaki
Chawan Mushi
Japanese chawan mushi – savoury egg custard
More Tasty Recipes on VTW
If you liked this post, please share it:

RECIPE: Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage

Fried chicken is one of life’s great pleasures. And Japanese fried chicken karaage is no exception. In Japan, it is a tradition to eat fried chicken from KFC on Christmas Day before the traditional new year celebrations commence. However, we feel that JFC offers far superior fried chicken.

Always use chicken thigh meat. It has so much more flavour than breast meat and is guaranteed to be juicier and more succulent.

Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage

Making karaage isn’t difficult but it also isn’t a quick process. However the results are definitely worth taking the time to make the dish. The chicken absolutely needs to be marinated – this adds so much flavour. The word karaage refers to the cooking technique, that is frying the food in oil. You don’t need equipment such as a deep fat fryer – a frying pan will be just fine.

Recipe for Japanese fried chicken karaage:

Ingredients

Serves 4

800g boneless chicken thigh (skin-on is fine), each thigh cut into 4 pieces

For the marinade

4 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs mirin (if you can’t get this, add a little more sake/wine and a tsp of sugar)

1 tbs cooking sake (or white wine if you can’t get that)

1 inch of ginger (finely grated)

1-2 cloves of garlic (finely grated) depending on how garlicky you like your food

For the coating

Potato starch. If you can’t get this, fine rice flour or even cornflour will be fine. (Icing sugar would not!) We didn’t have quite enough potato starch so mixed in a little rice flour. About a cup’s worth (275ml) – as much as you need to coat all the chicken.

For the cooking

Vegetable oil (enough to get about 1 cm depth of oil in your pan)

Method

Place the chicken thigh pieces in a bowl and add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, ginger and garlic. Mix well and leave to marinate for at least an hour.

Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage

Pour the oil into a frying pan until it’s about 1 cm deep. Heat up. The oil will be hot enough when you put a little flour into it and it sizzles.

When the chicken has had a chance to acquire those lovely flavours pour the potato starch into a bowl.

Take each piece of chicken, dip both sides in the flour, shake any excess off, and then carefully place in the oil.

Japanese Fried Chicken frying

Repeat for further pieces of chicken. Do not overfill the pan – this is a process whereby the chicken should be cooked in batches. We tend to use a clock method – put a piece of chicken at the top, then go round the pan putting further pieces in in a clockwise direction so we know which piece was put in first. Cook the chicken for 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until the pieces are golden brown.

Then remove from the oil and place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil. You can transfer the chicken from the first batches into a heatproof bowl in the oven set on a low heat to keep them warm.

Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage

Start the next batch and repeat until all the chicken has been cooked.

Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage

Serve with Japanese mayo. It’s not at all healthy but it’s oh, so decadent and delicious! If you’re feeling more health conscious, shredded cabbage is a popular accompaniment.

Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage

Karaage chicken is also yummy when served cold the following day. It often features in bento boxes.

Recipe How to Make Kimchi
Recipe for how to make kimchi
Vietnamese summer roll spring roll
How to make Vietnamese spring rolls
Okonomiyaki Osaka
Okonomiyaki in Osaka
Chawan mushi
Japanese New Year Tradition
Japanese new year traditions
Miyajima torii
The three best views in Japan
More Tasty Recipes on VTW

If you liked this post, please share it:

Sign Up To Our Very Tasty Newsletter

Loading