Turning Japanese I Think I’m Turning Japanese

Actually, I don’t.

Today was Asian ingredients day in my kitchen.  Once I get started, I can’t stop.

My kids were asking for Chinese take away.  My husband wanted me to make maki rolls. I wanted BiBimBap. What’s a girl to do?

I ended up making none of those (although I have the ingredients to make my beloved BiBimBap later on this week. Um. I just love that dish).

We had onigiri for dinner. We made 3 kinds of filling: shrimp, tuna salad, and Castelvetrano olives. Although it’s not traditional, I season my rice with mirin and a little salt.  Sometimes I leave the outside plain; sometimes, I use just a small strip of nori.  Today I rolled some of the onigiri in sesame seeds and some in this onigiri seasoning I bought.  The seasoning has seaweed, sesame seeds, and sugar.  It’s really yummy.

Onigiri with seaweed seasoning

I really intended to make some maki rolls but I got so carried away making the onigiri that I ran out of rice.  Really, look how pretty they look.  How could I stop?  5 cups of rice (5 cups before cooking) made 18 onigiri.  That’s 2 meals for my family (they are incredibly filling).

Onigiri with sesame seeds

After that, I made udon soup (I made enough food that I don’t need to cook for the rest of the week).  Although I made my stock using dashi and miso, it’s not a traditional udon.  I used spiced dry tofu, shelled edamame, onion, celery, and shrimp.  Oh, and of course, I used udon noodles.  I would’ve liked to have added carrots or some other veg but all I had on hand was the onion and celery.

Actually, spiced dry tofu just doesn’t get enough love.  It’s incredibly versatile.  I’ve sliced it up and used it in place of noodles.  I’ve chunked it and used it in place of meat.  It’s really yummy. I don’t know why it’s called spiced.  It really doesn’t have much flavor, but it makes up for it in texture. I usually try to remember to boil it in something (chicken stock, vegetable stock, dashi stock, something) before I use it, but even without that, it’s lovely.

My oldest, Thing 1, prefers that I make kitsune udon.  I use this recipe but substitute fish balls for fish cakes.  I’ve tried finding naruto for the soup but I’ve been unsuccessful.  I would imagine that it’s available in one of my local Asian groceries, but I’m not sure exactly where to look, and as many of the workers don’t speak English, it’s hard to ask.  But naruto is just so pretty, I look around for it every time I go.

udon (before I added the shrimp and the noodles)

And I couldn’t stop my cooking there.  I prepared the ingredients for a stir fry and my husband made it into a lovely curry.  He’s really much, much better at seasoning foods than I am.  And I’m really good.  But he’s better and often I’ll prep all the food and have him come finish it off.

That’s what happened with the stir fry.  I prepared all the veg and said which meat I was planning to use, and while I assembled the onigiri, he cooked the stir fry.  It was rice cakes (which I had boiled in dashi stock), a bag of frozen mixed veg, edamame, onion, whole water chestnuts, and some grilled chicken we’d had earlier in the week.

He put it together and used some lovely yellow curry powder (he loves using healthy ingredients.  tumeric, which gives yellow curry it’s beautiful color, is supposed to treat a boatload of ailments.  I don’t care if it does or doesn’t, I just think it’s yummy).

curry dish

The last dish I made is more of an appetizer.  It’s regular tofu that I slice and topped with a peanut butter/hoisin/soyaki sauce and broiled.  I used Trader Joe’s peanut butter with flax seeds.  I added hoisin sauce (about a 1:1 ratio).  Then, I added Trader Joe’s soyaki sauce to thin it out a bit.  I cut extra firm tofu into 1″ pieces (about, I stink at cutting exact), boiled the tofu in vegetable stock, drained the tofu, and arranged the tofu on a cookie sheet.  Then my middle child, Thing 2, spread my sauce on the top.  Then I put the cookie sheet under the broiler until the tops of the tofu squares were a bit crispy.  I almost let them cook too long as I was cooking them at the same time that I was trying to prepare everything else.

broiled tofu with hoisin/peanut butter topping

This tofu dish is a variation on a recipe I saw somewhere else.  I made that recipe once and couldn’t figure out where I put it.  So I decided I’d just wing it.  They are so yummy.

I love when we cook like this.  My two little ones love to help with the onigiri (although that means we have sticky rice all over the kitchen floor, and few things are as gross to step on as sticky rice).  And we often end up eating as we cook.  It’s nice to have my whole family in the kitchen.  Well, it’s nice to have my whole family in the kitchen when they’re not fighting.  And, since there’s food involved, their mouths are busy so there is no arguing.  It’s amazing.  It’s how I want to remember my kids.  All in the kitchen, cooking and eating and helping each other and happy.

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