It's not all Sushi!

Japanese food, so easy to make at home even the kids can make it, but authentic enough that you'd think it was created in a restaurant.

A little taste of Japan.

Sensational Sushi and Sashimi. From a Disney restaurant in Florida, believe it or not. I'll be writing a feature on the fantastic food that can be found within the Disney properties and parks. It certainly isn't just burgers and hot dogs, but there are those as well.

It's easy to assume when talking about Japanese food that it is all about sushi ans sashimi, yes?  Well, yes those are very much a part of the culture and cuisine, but there is so much more.  Tempura, , dumplings, soups, pancakes, cheesecakes.  Are some of the many more specialities of the mystical far eastern country.

I know I am and my son and wife are facinated by Japan, the culture, the food, the weather, the nature, the technology.  Everything about it really.  It is a definite on our bucket list.  I mean they have snow monkeys, which means they have snow, which must mean there is epic skiing as well.  It's a no brainer for us.....get my passport!  Oh yeah, no travel until forever!  One day, one day we will visit.

So for the time being I'll do my best to transport you to Japan with 3 recipes that give you a little glimpse of what they have to offer with their fantastic cuisine. 

Chicken Katsu Curry

500g chicken breast                                       

Panko breadcrumbs

Milk                                                               

Egg

Plain Flour                                                     

Jasmine rice

2 onions                                                         

Garlic

2 tsp Curry powder                                         

½ tsp Chinese 5 spice

50ml Soy sauce                                               

Sushi ginger

Cornflour                                                       

Tender stem broccoli

Sesame seeds                                                 

Coriander

1 red onion

For the curry sauce –

Finely chop the onion (not red), garlic and some sushi ginger.

Sweat until translucent.

Add the curry powder, Chinese 5 spice and soy sauce.

Add 500ml water, and bring to boil and simmer for 5 mins then thicken with cornflour and season to taste. 

Either serve as is or blitz smooth. 

Cut the chicken into slices.

Make up the pane station.  Seasoned flour in 1 bowl, Panko breadcrumbs in another, whisked egg with a touch of milk in the last one.

Coat the sliced chicken in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.

Cook Jasmine rice as per instructions.  (Usually rinse first, and boil or steam for around 15 minutes.  Ratio for rice to water is 1 cup rice to 1 ½ cups water)

Either shallow or deep fry the chicken until golden and core temperature is at least 75c.

Steam the tender stem broccoli.

Finely slice the red onion.  Pick some coriander leaves. Toast some sesame seeds.

In a plate or bowl place some cooked rice, steamed broccoli, some of the chicken sliced, spoon over some sauce.  Garnish with finely sliced red onion, coriander and sesame seeds.

Tender strips of chicken coated in Japanese Panko breadcrumbs. The finished Katsu chicken with Jasmine rice and the aromatic curry sauce.

Crispy bottom squash dumplings - Gyoza.

Delicate little dumplings filled with a zingy squash and ginger filling. So tempting and very morish.

Ingredients - 6 side portions approx (4 bits)

1 clove of garlic                                           

6 cm piece of ginger

80g broccoli                                                  

1 teaspoon red miso paste

Vegetable Oil                                              

500g Butternut Squash

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar                

24 x 10cm square wonton wrappers or gyoza wrappers

½ a fresh red chilli                                       

2 spring onions

2 tablespoons sesame seeds                     

Soy sauce

1 lime                                                                                                 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Quarter the squash, deseed and toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then roast on a tray for 1 hour, or until soft and golden. Leave to cool.

Peel the garlic and 2cm of the ginger, then whiz in a food processor with the broccoli, miso and vinegar until fine. Pulse in the squash, then season to taste.

One by one, lightly wet the edges of the wonton wrappers with your finger, add 1 heaped teaspoon of filling to the middle of each, and pinch together to seal (don’t stress if they tear every now and again), placing them in a large oiled nonstick frying pan as you go. Put the pan over a high heat, then pour over 150ml of water and cover. Let it steam until the water has completely evaporated, then uncover and allow to fry, removing as soon as the bottoms are golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, peel the remaining ginger, finely grate with the chilli, and place in a small dipping bowl. Trim and finely shred the spring onions, toast the sesame seeds, then serve with soy and lime wedges.

 

Notes

The dumplings can contain any filling of your choice, vegetarian or containing meat or fish, be steamed only, as per recipe and deep fried.  Different shapes can be made by folding in different ways or by using 2 wrappers.

Sushi really is a family favourite with us. All three of us love it, I think you can tell by the look on George's face how much he likes it. 4 of the pictures are of sushi that I have made and the other 5 are of 3 occasions when we have had sushi dining out. Believe it or not in Disney in Florida, China town in Birmingham and 2100m up in the French Alps in Tignes! We really will eat Sushi anywhere. I wonder if you can guess which are which?

It is about the Sushi i this section! Vegetable Maki Rolls.

The steps of making the sushi, showing the prepared vegetables and the gap at the top of the nori sheet.

Sushi Rolls                                 

We all love sushi in our house, I would eat it every day if I could.  That's how much I love it.  It is so versatile and can incorporte so many things.  People can get a little squeamish about sushi because they think it is raw fish.  They couldn't be more wrong.  Sashimi is raw fish, sushi is a dish comprising of vinegared rice.  So really it is all about the rice.  And that is the really important thing to gey right when making it.  The secret is having all your other ingredients ready for when the rice is cooked to make assembly as easy as possible whilst the rice is still slightly warm.  This means residual steam and moisture will go into the nori sheet making it easy to roll and stick when rolled.  I usually roll them and then roll tightly in cling film to get a good shape.  These can be left in the fridge overnight to let them set up and make them easier to cut. 

Ingredients - 5 portions approx (4 bits)

2oog Sushi Rice.

Rice wine vinegar

2 Nori sheets                                     

Sesame seeds

1 piece Carrot                                 

Coriander

Sushi ginger                                      

1 Avocado

1 piece Cucumber                         

Red chilli

Shichimi tagorashi seasoning        

Soy Sauce                                                                                        

Method

For the rolled sushi, wrap the rolling mats in cling film before using.  This aids rolling and the cleaning of them.

Cook the sushi rice per instructions, ensure that the rice is well washed (polished), at least 6 times before cooking.  Season with sushi vinegar. The rice shouldn’t be washed after cooking or cooled to cold when rolling. 100g of rice will make 1 roll of sushi approx. This will cut into 10 pieces.

Slice the carrot into thin sticks, julienne.

Deseed and finely slice the chilli.

Slice the cucumber into thin sticks slightly larger than the carrot.

Peel and slice the avocado.

Place a sheet of nori on your mat. Lay the rice onto the nori a couple of grains deep, leaving about a 1/5 of the seaweed showing, fan to cool.

Add the veg in equal quantities and roll tight.

Rest and cut into 10 slices.                                                

Notes

You can make an inside out maki by putting the rice onto the rolling mat first and then a smaller bit of nori and the vegetables, roll and coat with sesame seeds.

You can fill the sushi with anything you want, from other vegetables, fish, crispy chicken etc.

Simple, elegant food.

The Japanese pavilion at Epcot - Orlando. I suppose it will just have to do until I actually get the chance to travel to Japan.

Japanese food really is fantastic and has so much flavour and really uses Umami, the savoury food sense that we all crave so much.  This comes about by lots of different fermented ingredints like bean paste, miso, soy sauce.  All highly savoury ingredients that are very morish.  

Like so many foods and styles of cooking, you need to be confident with it and not be scared of new things.  Take time to learn about some of the ingredients and don't be scared to try them out and experiment.  The results can be amazing.

Take it a little step at a time, learn some of the simpler dishes, like the ones I've shared and then ad to them.