Thursday, February 2, 2012

Home Cooking Updates, Other Random Ramblings

Sorry, haven't been in the mood to write these past weeks, not sure why. From experience I tend to post more the busier I am, the blog being my outlet for stress release and personal relaxation. But definitely been making meals at home a whole lot more and as I've mentioned before, once I get into a particular dish I tend to keep making it until I feel I've mastered and earned its 'merit badge' sort of speak.

Haven't made a Mapo Tofu of any kind in a long while, especially one this spicy. This was based on one of Chin Kenichi's recipes found online. The process was easy enough, where gathering all the ingredients for it was the hardest part... Silken Tofu, ground pork, fresh garlic, Toubanjyan spicy chili paste (gotta find me some 3-year fermentation stuff), Tenmenjan sweet miso, powdered red chili peppers, Ra-yu Chili Oil, Szechuan Peppercorn Oil, Douchi preserved beans, Chinese chicken soup stock, salt, ground pepper, Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, long onions, corn or potato starch for thickening, and of course some whole Szechuan peppercorns to crush and use at the end.

If you noticed I really prefer mine meaty with lots of ground pork. Was only my second trial with the recipe and have already made many revisions. So far swapped the Tenmenjan miso to the even sweeter Hoisin and also cut down on overall oil usage. It's all about optimal rice craving potency for me. When I feel I've gotten something very close to my liking, will be sure to share. In the meantime you can check out one of Kirk of Mmm-yoso's version and many more online.

So while I think February is going to be the month of perfecting my personal style of Mapo Tofu, last January was definitely all about the Oyakodon. Been searching any information online about the originator of the Oyakodon - Tamahide in Ningyocho. I actually tried visiting them my trip last year but unfortunately due to the New Years timing they were closed. Without saying was super bummed.

Tamahide is a close to 250 year old Shamo-Nabe specialist in Tokyo that is credited in being the "Ganso" (originator/creator) of the Oyakodon. Serving an heirloom gamefowl chicken hotpot of sorts, the course meal typically ended with some chicken meats, raw eggs and rice, tied together with the sweeter shoyu based simmer sauce Warishita. So it may not be all that hard to imagine how it came about.

But incorporating all of Mr. 6th Generation meister Kounosuke Yamada's theories of what constitutes to his definition of the perfect Oyakodon was a fun challenge. The elegantly simple dish is deceptively detailed and laborsome. Will be sharing all of what I know hopefully soon.

One of the easier noticeable difference was their 2:2:1 ratio of the the simmer sauce Warishita (as opposed to typical 4:1:1 - dashi, shoyu, mirin). That's 2-parts Kombu Dashi (And Only Kombu), 2-parts Mirin, and 1-part Soy Sauce. Still, this only gets you halfway as Tamahide's sauce has been supposed continually Tsugitashi supplemented to the mother batch now for twenty-five decades, giving it a complexity that is pretty much impossible to replicate to say the least. In any case, most proper Oyakodons may not be for everyone as they tend to look like a very rare omelet that has yet to be folded over.

Aside from those, been going out to a few older haunts again lunch wise. Hope to also share those this weekend maybe.


K and S said...

mabo tofu looks good! am gonna note that tamahide for the next time I go to Tokyo...hope you get your mojo back! take care.

Ginger said...

I am exciting to watch the process "Dennis become Mapo-tofu master" !!
Then I recommend a little Japanese Pepper (Sansho=mainly for Unagi Kabayaki)on Mapo-tofu. It must become professional taste.

I know you were very unlucky about Tamahide. Otherwise, if you eat Oyako-don, you must stand in the line over 1hour.
But first branch was opened at Haneda International Airport (oyakodon special shop of Tamahide) Maybe You don't need standing.Next time in Japan, we will try togather!!

Mike said...

I've never had Oyakodon before - looks really good! I love all sorts of variations on mapo, so I'm looking forward to your recipe.

caninecologne said...

very cool post - i've never had any of those dishes before! we should have a potluck, hint!

Dennis K. said...

Thanks Kat! The Mabo was probably 80% authentic spicy. Enough for me! :)

Hi Ginger-san! Hope you're doing well! Szechuan peppercorn would be the real stuff (中国山椒), but I agree Japanese Sansho is nice for milder effect with a pleasant aroma but without the numbing heat.
That is really great to know Haneda Airport now has a Tamahide outlet!!! Yes I'm looking forward in meeting you for a meal again soon. Take care!

Hi Mike! Many Oyakodon's served in town can be pretty forgettable and have to say the best I've had were at home. My Mapo recipe may be leaning toward Japanese tastes, but still fairly authentic considering. It always comes down to how to best match with that Japanese sticky rice that I love so much.. ;)

Hi CC! A potluck would be so fun! I also thought about meeting up with food bloggers at a cafe. Working on posts on laptops and whatnot. But that's my typical uber nerdy idea, haha.