Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Dashimaki Tamago

Inspired by a post on Delicious Coma I picked up some very fresh eggs at the Hillcrest Farmers Market today. I really need to fix that flat on my bicycle. I now realize how lucky I was with parking during my visit last weekend.

Anyway so I've been watching YouTube vids on making Dashimaki Tamago for several weeks now and I felt ready to finally break in my new copper dashimaki pan. I was as ready as an in theory dashimaki tamago expert can get I guess. :)

The Dashimaki Tamago (dashi = broth, maki = rolled) also sometimes referred to as Atsuyaki Tamago (atsu = thick, yaki = cooked). I found a range of recipes for it but I settled on something close to this one by Koichiro Hata on Otamajisyaku's YT channel. (Calls for 8 Eggs, 3/4 Cup Dashi (cold), 1/3 Teaspn Salt, 1 Tablespn Low Sodium Soy Sauce, 2 Teaspn Mirin.)

I think every Japanese household has their own recipe variance. I personally like a rather strong dashi presence in mine while the preferred sweetness also seems to differ person to person. Fyi, I shied away from recipes that used a lot of soy sauce because it darkens the color of the Tamago and the visual person that I am, I enjoy ones that are bright yellow.

I'm such a geek with my kitchen tools. See the beautiful contoured sharp ends on the chopsticks? Sanded it myself. N-E-R-D... haha. And what's that weird looking tool jerry-rigged to an IKEA hex wrench on the makisu you ask?

It's a tamago branding iron I made with a wire coat hanger. Hard to tell now but it's a Spiral-Egg-Maki-Chickie.. I was limited to the designs I can create with the thickness of the wire and my needle nose pliers. There's not much to it but I'll do a proper how-to post on this eventually.

These eggs were huge so I only used six. I also added a tablespoon or so of sugar. All recipes warn to not beat the eggs too far. Unlike when making a French Omelet the goal here isn't to whip and incorporate air. So some marbling with specks of whites are ok. The photo to the right is with the dashi and other ingredients included (added after the eggs were beaten).

No photos of the actual cooking process because that would've been way too much stress for me. But also in the future I plan to join the club of How-To Dashimaki Tamago Videos on YouTube. Just not any time soon because I was horrible! Could've been the new unseasoned pan.. yeah that's it.

Luckily the trick in letting it set while wrapped in the makisu had helped a lot. (And I mean A LOT.) It pretty much had only one smooth area in letting me try out my tamago branding iron.

So after heating it red hot and pressing lightly and evenly (and quickly, my second attempt stuck to the eggs!), I end up with this..

*Tweet Tweet*

Overall I was pretty happy with how it turned out. Most important it tasted good. Very fluffy too. Next time I'll be adding even more sugar though and the dashi broth I made with Katsuobushi flakes and Konbu will be much more potent.

And when I try one with Unagi inside it would be fun to come up with another design for it. :)

Here is a link to one of my favorite dashimaki tamago vids on YouTube. You can fast-forward the beginning minute or so of driving through a very rural part of Japan.. Looks as though he works out of a shipping container. Love it!

A nice chart of various artful Tamagos here.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

In Search Of Sunday Breakfast @ Hillcrest Farmers Market

Wow it's been a long long time since I visited Hillcrest Farmers Market. Biggest problem for me is trying to wake up early enough if I remember about HFM at all on Sunday morning. Today a rare planet alignment and I was able to do both. Later discovered the tires on my dusty bicycle deflated so decided to drive down.

Funny I was very gun shy with my camera which is unlike me. Not sure if they were all food bloggers but maybe it was the already many people taking photos.

A bit more stalls than I remembered this day but HFM is still relatively small. Lots of great smelling grilled food that teased my olfactory senses but these beautiful things caught my eye and I had to get one.

So pretty! They were cheesecakes from (I think) the Lisko Imports stall. At least that's what it said on the lids of the many wonderful pestos to try as well the bags of fresh pastas which I'll definitely be back for.

After paying with my olive oil stained bill I walked around a bit more but unfortunately the clouds were becoming grayer by the moment and it seemed like it may rain soon. So I got some coffee at the Joes on the Nose truck and headed back. There's always next week.

I was so ready to eat and I don't even have a sweet tooth! I guess cheesecakes were always an exception for me..

..Even for breakfast? At least I had the dairy and eggs part covered. Oh and fruit too. :)

The whipped texture was airy and wonderful. Sweet but not overly sweet with great flavors of cream cheese and vibrant blueberries.

It was like ice cream that managed to stay solid in room temperature.. :) And with my large latte it kept me very wired for the rest of the day. Explains my double posting today.

Note to self.. Fill bicycle tires with air and find that old tote bag.

The MOS Burger Re-Creation Project Update - 2

I may have randomly mentioned my love for MOS Burger here and there but for some additional context of what I've been up to you can read my first MOS Burger Re-Creation Project Update here. (The latest updates for this project can always be viewed by clicking on my MOS Burger Tag. Update 2.5 here.)

In a nutshell I'm a big fan of MOS Burger, a Japanese fast food burger chain.. but more specifically their burger with the same name and I've been trying to re-create it (so far without much success) here in San Diego.

There are a few things that make a MOS Burger a MOS Burger but the biggest element by far would be MOS' so called "Meat Sauce".. And imitating this uniquely adapted stewed tomato based Japanese sauce concoction of a burger condiment has been a very big hurdle.

As you can see trying to describe it in words is even difficult.. Google researching I found it often mistakenly referred to as the Chili Sauce (Not), Salsa (Nope), Tomato Sauce (Over simplified), and Marinara (No Italian herbs here).. It's neither Bolognese or a Sloppy Joe either. Secret Sauce I also hear sometimes which isn't bad (though I must clarify that this is nothing like the "secret sauce" on an In-N-Out or Big Mac where we all know it's Thousand Island Sandwich Spread) but again as far as MOS is concerned it is simply their Meat Sauce.

My "few tricks up my sleeve" I mentioned ending the last update were to try using these as a kakushi aji (hidden flavor ingredients)..

Again failed miserably. The several tries with stewed diced tomatoes with sauteed onions were all too sweet and resembled too much something you'd put on pasta. Maybe wasn't that big of a surprise. Still one version with a teeny bit of Miso was interesting enough to want to try again with another recipe in the future.

A leap for me that took things in another direction (in a good way) was in trying out this Japanese beef stew rue.

Used it (half the suggested amount for a true stew) again in some diced stewed tomatoes (I used beefsteak tomatoes which are less sweet) and onions (this time white)..

The final product was reduced much more than shown. I tried it with and without a little additional Demi Glace concentrate. Poured it on an earlier purchased In-N-Out with a teeny bit of Kewpie Mayo.. (Sorry no photos.) I felt I was much closer than the earlier versions influenced by Japanese tomato sauce mix but I can't really say it was a success either. Lessening the stew concentrate would be a good start but somehow my gut (haha) says I'd be better off starting again from a clean sheet.

Getting warmer though and I still have a few more ideas I'd like to try. At this point it's a challenge than anything else. One great thing I did manage to discover was that my theory of using In-N-Out's ordered with onions (raw), without sauce but with mustard, actually did turn out to be very decent donor burgers for a MOS! So I did make some progress.

Not to confuse things but MOS Burger is launching their special Tobikiri Burgers on March 24th with a Tomato Demi Sauce. Huh.. Well at least I feel I have a good head start on that one. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Afuri (あふり) Ramen - Ebisu, Tokyo

I was cleaning out the hard disk on one of my old computers the other day and found these pics from friends G.R.A. several years back when they had visited Afuri in Ebisu. I thought it was funny when I realized we've been swapping food photos like kids with baseball cards all along. Even more glad to have started this blog now so that I have a permanent place to store, collect, and also share them. :)

Afuri's Shio Ramen.

Looks amazing. They lightly grill their wonderful thicker cut Chasu (Aburi Chashu) before placing it in the bowl and serving the ramen.

Dang they look good. Actually this was the perfect reminder of the portable propane torch that I bought at the hardware store some time ago.. And especially after reading Kirk's recent post on Raku, I'm totally primed for some Aburi action again!

An article on Afuri in English I found for additional information.. And a YouTube vid from Cooking With Dog on how to make Yakibuta Ramen..

As I end, my list of torch-enhanceable meals in my head is growing rapidly.. Almost on par with Bubba and his shrimps'.. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kamome Shokudo - Pasco Bread CM's..

Kamome Shokudo was my highlight of food related movie finds last year (the movie was originally out in 2006). A Helsinki set somewhat strange but heartwarming Japanese comedy about a lady who opens up a Japanese Food Diner in the city. (The movie Udon (うどん) was my close second.)

While randomly browsing YouTube last weekend I found out there were a series of television commercials from Pasco that used Kamome Shokudo to highlight their "shittori" moist Chojuku shokupan bread. Was like finding extra deleted scenes of one of your favorite movies. :)

The Raclette like toast made in this later half looked so amazingly good!

Below is of their English Muffin version of the Chojuku.

Last is a compilation. After you pass a quick few of the tote bag offer you will be awarded with what looks like a yummy Potato Croquette Sandwich, mmm..

Reminds me of this that I had.

Looking very forward to watching Megane (めがね) which I think is produced by the same people of Kamome Shokudo.

Pronounced Me-ga-ne, it means (reading) glasses in Japanese. The food looks delicious and the humor a bit odd.. Can't wait! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lunching @ Sushi Ota - Something For Everyone

I dream of the day supremely fresh Sashimi Fish Tacos like these will be served on Marisco trucks all over town.. Three on a paper plate. I may wash it down with some apple soda.

Until then I make them myself with my order of any Sashimi plate. An Ooba Shiso Leaf wrapped around some daikon tsuma and sashimi with a bit of wasabi and soy sauce.

I constructed it from this wonderful medium-fat Chu-Toro Sashimi I had ordered ($8.50 for 2-pcs). I was only able to have such a luxurious appetizer because I planned to fill up with something much more frugal, the Chicken Teriyaki with California Roll ($7.50) on the Lunch Specials menu.

In retrospect I should've chosen fried rice instead of plain because I already had the rolls. Imitation krab is used in these but the set also comes with a nice bowl of miso soup. All basic but good.

What I found lunching at Sushi Ota is that there is something for everyone on every budget. While my first example was a bit extreme I found the key for me was how I would divide up my lunch budget pie.. (the entire lunch menu here.)

Like I can have a few pieces of sushi from the bar..

[This day, Salmon Belly, Aji (Spanish Mackerel), and Ika (Squid).]

Then take another stab at the Lunch Specials menu like this Chirashi for $11.

Listed with Salmon, Shrimp, Tuna, Octopus, Yellowtail, Eel and Shiromi. (Fyi there is another Chirashi listed on the Entrees menu for $15 and yet another Deluxe version for $25.)

Another way could be to order a few small plates. It was nice to see that Sushi Ota had an extensive appetizer menu that can put some Izakaya's to shame.

The Saba Sashimi ($10). I've learned Saba is almost always lightly marinated because it has an extremely short shelf life raw. The "Shime" marinate was very light and I thought the Saba had a nice fine texture. A subtle light vinegary sweet. Made for a great appetizer but I admit it isn't for everyone.

And of course my Saba Sashimi Fish Taco.. :) Makes me want to invent a Wa-fu salsa for it.

The Asari Miso Soup ($4) was the lightest I had but good as well.

Although I was hoping for something a bit stronger, it was piping hot with fresh clams and I enjoyed this. The main dish I had was the Buri Kama (Yellowtail Collar - $8.50). Lightly salted and awesomely grilled.

Sometimes also referred to as the Hamachi Kama, the only difference is the age and size of the Yellowtail. Fyi, Sushi Ota offers three types of Kama. The other two are the Kanpachi and Salmon.
Was accompanied with ponzu to dip the amazingly fluffy and partially oily pieces.

I thoroughly explore the nooks and cranny of the irregular shaped collar bone to find every last bit of mouth watering meats! And of course when it comes to me and my grilled fish I must do this..

Place it atop a bowl of hot rice ($1.50). It is so instinctive that I'm convinced it's encoded in my DNA.
Another day was with chopped Toro (with quail egg, +$0.50) and Scallops.

I would've totally guessed that the chopped toro would come gunkan style with wrapped Nori..

But the quail egg was carefully nested in a shallow divot. This day I had also fancied myself with a bowl of Akadashi ($4).

A much darker and richer version of Miso Soup, Yum. This versus an Asari Clam verision is always a toss up for me. I was curious about the Chawanmushi ($7) which I also tried.

First half I enjoyed the great aroma of the Yuzu and Shiitake. It was quite light. While it did end more substantial with a few chicken and Shiromi white fish pieces, maybe it was a bit too jyouhin for my taste buds.

I splurged once on the Osusume Sashimi-A ($28).

Needless to say this is on the pricey side especially when you consider it is for the platter itself and does not include rice or soup. But it consisted of some amazingly fresh Aji (tataki), 2 Toro (tuna belly) and equally mouth melting pieces (2) of Salmon and Yellowtail Buri.

I have to say was worth every cent. I also noticed this was served with actual grated Wasabi (not the usual finer green paste) which was also great.

My Aji Tataki Sashimi Taco. In a way these are a highlight to my sashimi platters because you're usually given one Shiso leaf as a garnish.
Like with most Aji Sashimi the bones are later deep fried creating a tasty senbei cracker like snack to finish. Not sure how much of the head is edible though.

A few Nigiri's I had with. I'm still pretty basic when it comes to them. Usually always in the mood for some Ikura ($5).

Ota always delivers fine fresh bursting Salmon Roe. Tamago and Uni ($3 and $7.50 respectively).

While I already love Tamago, I especially love ones that have an original signature twist. Ota's is a giant block sliced half way to caress a small amount of sushi rice. You can see a few more Tamago variations on my Tamago Index post.

Shoot, I need my own Tamago branding iron.. Sounds like a great future project! The Uni was decadent as usual. Large.. thick.. mildly sweet but creamy with a hint of the ocean breeze. I personally like mine with a bit of shoyu. A tip I learned from an old friend is to use a piece of dipped Gari ginger to lightly mop. This technique is great with Gunkan style sushi which you can't flip upside down.

Just wanted to share the few lunches I had at Sushi Ota. Most were from last year (2008) when I was curious to see what they had to offer for lunch. So once a month usually after payday and/or consecutive inexpensive meals I allowed myself for this treat. Tough hobby this blog!?

One thing I didn't try was the Chef's Special Fixed Menu at ~$50. You must sit at the bar for this. I saw some people who looked like seasoned regulars have this and it was an amazing sight. Lunch at Sushi Ota truly is a full spectrum of something for everyone.. :)

Sushi Ota, 4529 Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, CA 92109