Takoyaki (たこ焼き)

Chef’s Armoury Event – Rosebery, Sydney

It seems that Asians like making edible things in a spherical shape: beef balls, fish balls, daifuku, dango, dumplings. Maybe the shape of the food represents the simplicity and the back-to-basic roots of Asian cuisine. I was having a discussion with the boyfriend the other day and we were talking about the difference between Asian food and non-Asian food. Asian food seems to be more focused on the natural flavours of a dish. Albeit, we do use a lot of sauces and different seasonings, but we find the right balance between each to create an intricate dish. Even then, the dish can still taste very natural like there hasn’t been much added to the main ingredient. I don’t think Asians could ever make a show like 4 Ingredients. The sauces alone would take up about 3 of the ingredients. While I do occasionally enjoy a steak, it makes you think how simple it can be. A piece of meat, some salt and some pepper.

Now I’m going completely off track. So going back to spherical shaped food, on Saturday, the boyfriend, my eldest ‘daughter’ and I went to a Takoyaki demonstration at Chef’s Armoury. I have loved Takoyaki since my high school years. It’s cheap, warm, tasty and so easy to get your hands onto. When Chatswood has their Thursday markets, there is always a Takoyaki stall (Colotako). They also have a stall at the night markets in Chinatown. Watching rows and rows of Takoyaki being made and dished out to the crowd of Takoyaki-lovers. They are a great street food that comes out piping hot and has led to many burnt tongues over the years.

I was excited heading to a Takoyaki demonstration and though it would be some basic ‘you sit there and watch me’ demonstration. But Leigh was very nice and allowed the boyfriend to do some hands on cooking. Now the boyfriend wants to buy a Takoyaki pan so that we can have a Takoyaki party.

Thanks to Chef’s Armoury, I have a Takoyaki recipe to share with everyone.

Thank you Eddie and Leigh for your wonderful demonstration!

Takoyaki

Serves: 60 balls

Preparation time: 5 mins + 1 hour resting time for batter

Cooking time: 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 300 grams cake flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 heaped tablespoon kuzu or other starch
  • 1 litre pre made dashi stock
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1½ cups finely diced cabbage
  • 1½ cups finely sliced shallots – green part only
  • Kezuribushi (bonito flakes)
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Takoyaki sauce

L – R: Shallots, Cabbage and Bonito Flakes.

L – R: Bulldog Osaka Takoyaki Sauce, Shimaya Katsuo Dashi, Nissin Takoyaki Flour and Kenko Offu Mayonnaise.

Method:

  1. Double sift flour into bowl.
  2. Add kuzu, eggs, soy sauce and mix.
  3. Slowly add the stock and whisk well until the mixture is smooth. It should have the consistency of thin cream.
  4. Add shallots and cabbage, mix and let the batter rest for an hour in the fridge. You can use the batter straight away but a rested batter produces better results.
  5. Heat the pan on high and oil well with rice bran or vegetable oil.
  6. Mix the batter and pour into the Takoyaki pan half way up each Takoyaki mould.
  7. Add a piece of octopus in each of the moulds and cover with more batter until overflowing.
  8. Overflowing moulds

  9. When the batter starts to set a little, scrape the excess with a skewer back into each ball.
  10. Spin with a turning spike with the uncooked side down. Keep turning until the balls are formed and are a nice crisp down all the way around.
  11. Serve with a splash of Takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and some bonito flakes.


Delicious Takoyaki

The boyfriend’s taste at Takoyaki making, now he wants to buy a pan.

Traditionally Takoyaki are filled with octopus, but they can be substituted with other ingredients. Try a sweet version by adding some matcha and substituting the savoury ingredients with sugar syrup, place some pieces of mochi or m ‘n’ ms inside to create a delicious dessert. This sounds interesting and if I buy a pan I will try and make both sweet and savoury *insert ingredient*-yaki.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

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Ichigo Daifuku (イチゴ大福)

Ichigo Daifuku are small round ball of Mochi (glutinous rice), that is wrapped around a filling of Ichigo (strawberry) covered with Anko (smooth red bean paste). It is then rolled in Katakuri starch (potato starch) to keep it from sticking to everything.

They are absolutely delicious. Chewy on the outside and when you bite it, there is the sweetness from the Anko and a burst of juice from the strawberry. Everything balances out and it’s like a party in my mouth. I love anything that is sweet and chewy so I absolutely loved these when I tried them at a recent Chef’s Armoury event. There’s another one happening on 11 September at 1pm if people are interested.

Thanks to Chef’s Armoury, I have a recipe for Ichigo (Strawberry) Daifuku  to share with everyone. Enjoy!

Ichigo (Strawberry) Daifuku

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 5 mins + 5 mins cooling

Cooking time: 15 – 20 mins

Ingredients:

  • 6 strawberries (about 2.5cm round) – de-stemmed, washed and dried
  • 100 grams Shiratamako/Mochiko – Glutinous Rice Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese White Sugar
  • 120 – 140 millilitres water
  • Potato/Katakuri Starch (for dusting)
  • Pre prepared chunky red bean paste

Method:

  1. Wrap a layer of red bean paste around the strawberry to create a ball.
  2. Dust the bottom of a tray with potato starch and set aside.
  3. Combine sugar and shiratamako in a rice cooker.
  4. Slowly add water and mix with a silicon spatula until you have a smooth paste.
  5. Cook in a rice cooker on ‘steam’ mode for about 15 – 20 minutes.
  6. Stir with a spatula dipped in water until smooth and turn out onto the tray with potato starch.
  7. Dust your hands and prepared mochi with potato starch.
  8. Let the mochi cool for a couple of minutes until touchable and divide into 6 balls.
  9. Press balls into disks and stretch each one around the strawberry/anko balls.
  10. Twist the bottom to seal in the strawberry and shape the ball.
  11. Enjoy straight away!

A whole plate of Ichigo Daifuku. Yum!

Dorayaki and Ichigo Daifuku

Tip: Do not put them into the refrigerator, otherwise they will go hard and will not be chewy.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Dorayaki (どら焼き)

Dorayaki are two small round pancakes sandwiched around Azuki bean paste. They take their name from the Japanese word for gong. Dorayaki are probably most commonly known by Asians through the famous anime and manga character, Doraemon. Doraemon is a cat-shaped robot from the future who has a famous four-dimensional pocket filled with useful gadgets. Doraemon absolutely loves Dorayaki. I have previously tried packaged Dorayaki from Asian supermarkets. However, after tasting them at a recent Chef’s Armoury event, I can say that they ,obviously, taste better fresh.

Thanks to Chef’s Armoury, I have a recipe for Matcha (green tea) Dorayaki to share with everyone. Enjoy!

Matcha Dorayaki

Serves: 8 – 10
Preparation time: 5 mins + 20 mins resting
Cooking time: 4 mins a batch

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 150 grams Japanese White Sugar
  • 3 grams good quality matcha powder (you made need more when using lower quality matcha powder)
  • 175 millilitres warm water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup or glucose syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 180 grams plain flour (cake flour is best)
  • Oil for cooking
  • Some chunky style red bean paste

Method:

  1. Combine  the water, baking powder and syrup. Make sure the syrup has dissolved into the water and cool.
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar until you have soft peaks.
  3. Sift the flour and matcha powder three time. This ensures that there are no lumps in both the flour and the matcha powder.
  4. Slowly add the sifted flour into the egg mix while whisking, followed by the liquids.
  5. Mix well and set aside for approximately 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the consistency should be slightly thickened. Adjust with a little bit of water to get a pancake mixture consistency.
  6. Cook the mixture in a pan over medium heat (180°C) until bubbles appear on the surface. Make sure they are all approximately the same size.
  7. Flip the pancakes over when the bottom is nicely browned. When the other side is nicely browned as well, they are ready to be taken off the heat.
  8. Serve two pancakes sandwiched together the prepared red bean.
  9. Enjoy while warm!
  10. Dorayaki and Ichigo Daifuku

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse!

The boyfriend was kind enough to help me make bittersweet chocolate mousse the other night. I think I enjoy having an assistant in the kitchen. But only one who follows my directions precisely. I rarely allow the boyfriend to really help me in the kitchen because I get annoyed as I like things done exactly the way I want them to be done. But the other night was an exception.

I wanted to make an easy dessert that didn’t require many ingredients or much time. This bittersweet chocolate mousse recipe fits the bar perfectly as I only need 4 ingredients (it reminds me of that show 4 ingredients on Foxtel, but I don’t like that show). It didn’t seem to take much time either, and if you have someone helping you it’s a breeze.

Start off by breaking 400g of dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl. I used 50% cocoa dark chocolate but I did prefer it to be darker. Lindt has a great range of good quality dark chocolate. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (also known as a double boiler, make sure the bowl is bigger than the pot, but also make sure the bowl can still fit into the pot) and stir with a whisk until all the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl or the direct heat will burn the chocolate. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow for it to cool gently. Be careful when you touch the bowl as it may be very hot. While the chocolate is cooling, separate 6 eggs (make sure there is no egg yolk in the egg whites, but a little bit of egg whites in the yolks is fine). When the chocolate has cooled slightly, add the yolks in one by one. As the yolks are added, whisk vigorously (otherwise the yolks will start to cook and you’ll have scrambled yolks in your chocolate). If your mixture turns out clumpy at this stage, do not fret. It’ll all turn out fine and dandy in the next step. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add 4tbs of caster sugar (I only had icing sugar, so I just used that) and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. You can also tell when it’s done if you take a bit in your fingers and rub them, the texture should be smooth and not grainy. Stir half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the remaining egg whites and fold through gently. Don’t beat the death out of it or you will lose the air that makes the mousse light and fluffy. Pour 300ml of thickened cream into the empty egg white bowl and beat until thick. Don’t whip it too much or it turns out like cream cheese. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Again, do it gently as the air inside the cream adds extra fluffiness. Spoon the mixture into ramekins/glasses/bowls, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until the mousse has set. Then it is ready to serve.



I think next time I’ll make it with darker chocolate. But overall I didn’t think the mousse was too rich or too sweet. It’s nice if you have some strawberries next to you. One chomp of the mousse, one chomp of the strawberry. Also, a mug of tea is always nice with dessert. I use the hot spoon from the tea to eat the mousse and it slices through it quite cleanly. Yes, I am kind of playing with my food, but it was fun. If you ever don’t have much time on your hands but still want dessert after dinner, this is perfect. You may even happen to have all the ingredients coincidentally sitting in your fridge or your pantry.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!

Japanese Curry!

I made Japanese curry last night! The first time I made it was up in Gosford during the Easter break. I was so excited when everyone took that first bite and they loved it. My friend Tommy suggested that I make him some curry the other night and that got my mouth watering. Unfortunately he was busy last night so he didn’t even get to come over for dinner. But I made some for the boyfriend.

I drove to Northbridge Plaza where it was my one-stop-shop/plaza for my grocery needs. As I entered Tokyo Mart, I could feel the Japanese culture surrounding me. I always love going into Japanese supermarkets/shops/restaurants. It just seems so warm and inviting. There always so many exciting and interesting knick-knacks. But I tried to not get too distracted and made a bee-line for the curry sauce mix. There was so many choices compared to the small Japanese supermarkets in Artarmon. But I picked up the one that I had used the week before: S & B Golden Curry Mild Sauce Mix. Essentially there are 2 packets inside so you can either use 1 to make a small pot of curry, or both to make a bigger pot. Which is good because there is no pressure for you to use it all in one go if you’re only planning on making a small meal. I find it really easy to use. I also headed up to Woolworths to buy some vegetables and ingredients used to make chocolate mousse.

After my shopping adventure, I headed back to my boyfriend’s place. I managed to get 5 bags of groceries and a 5kg bag of rice up the lift with the help of the family upstairs. Thank you!

As I entered his apartment, the cooking adventure began. I placed everything on the kitchen bench and quickly got to work by prepping the vegetables. I diced 2 large onions and put them in a bowl. I then peeled and sliced 4 medium sized carrots, 4 medium sized potatoes and 2 small sized sweet potatoes into bite size pieces (approximately 2cm x 2cm) and placed them in a separate bowl. I then cubed 750g of gravy beef and set it aside. I personally prefer to prep the vegetables first then the meat. I find that it is more hygienic that way. Plus I don’t have to waste water in washing the chopping board over and over again.

Then the real cooking began. I stir-fried the beef with the onion in oil until the meat had browned slightly and the onions became transparent. Make sure to keep on stirring to avoid anything getting burnt. As the meat and onion cooks, the aroma is just divine. You just feel like taking the pot off the stove and devouring all right then and there. But you have to be patient and the result will be even better. After the meat and onion have browned slight, you can add all the vegetables and stir it around in the pot. Here you can add the boiling water. As I learnt from my boyfriend, I poured enough water into the pot to just cover the vegetables. Although the measurement doesn’t follow the instructions on the packet, the curry with turn out fine, don’t worry. Reduce the heat and cover the pot, leaving a small gap to avoid a bubbling overflow. Simmer for about 15 min and go do something productive, but nearby. I went to wash and cook some rice, then watch television. I went to check on the pot every 5 min. After 15 min, prick a carrot with a fork to see if it has cooked yet. If it has, add the S & B Golden Curry cubes and stir until completely melted. Simmer for a further 5 min, stirring constantly. Have a taste and see if it’s too salty or too thick. If it’s too salty or too thick, add some more water until the taste or thickness you desire. I found it perfect. Serve it over some fluffy rice.

I served the curry over rice with a side dish of some blanched green beans in soy sauce. I know my photography skills are bad, but it looked a lot better in real life. The boyfriend enjoyed it.
“The sauce is thick and it sticks to the rice. I can eat it with a pair of chopsticks which is a very good thing. It’s very nice and it’s what curry should be like.” – the boyfriend.

I was very happy with the result and think I will make it again when winter rolls around. I also made the boyfriend help me make bittersweet chocolate mousse. But that’s for another post. I hope people try making japanese curry as it is so easy and oh-so-delicious! But if you’re lazy, place this recipe in front of a loved one and hopefully they’ll make it for you.

Happy nom nom nom-ing!