Mackerel simmered in tomato sauce (can be gluten-free)

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mackerel-tomato-sauce

I spotted this recipe on Cookpad (Japanese) and I couldn’t resist trying it. It looked simple and I knew if I made one small adjustment it would be fabulous. I happened to have some mackerel in the fridge and the supermarket had a bag of super ripe tomatoes on the discount veggie rack and I knew it was fate. The original recipe called for one can of tomatoes but they are in season now so fresh is best. I will try this again with canned tomatoes but I think I will splurge on expensive canned tomatoes as the freshness of the tomatoes was one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much.

Mackerel simmered in tomato sauce

4 mackerel fillets – make sure there are not too many bones
3 small tomatoes, cut into large chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, diced/minced
1 tablespoon flour (to make gluten-free use rice flour)
salt and pepper to taste
splash of white wine or cooking sake (I used cooking sake)

Sprinkle some salt on the mackerel fillets and let them sit for five minutes. Dice/mince the garlic and saute it in the olive oil in a frying pan (large enough to fit all the ingredients) until it is fragrant but no darker than light brown. Pat the mackerel fillets dry with some paper towel and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Add the fillets to the pan and brown on each side. They don’t have to be fully cooked at this point. Once they are brown add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer everything on medium for about ten minutes. the fish will be fully cooked and the flavors will have melded. Serve.

If you are in Chigasaki on Sunday, June 9th please join me for a Hummus Workshop at Serendipity Cafe. You can find more details here.

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Freezing Yakionigiri

fried rice balls yakionigiri
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fried rice balls yakionigiri

I think one of the first frozen foods I had in Japan was frozen onigiri. The hubby bought them one evening and I was skeptical. I don’t really like frozen food and these seemed to simple to be good. I loved them. Haven’t bought them since but they did inspire me to explore the world of yakionigiri. There have been terrible results in the past but now all is good. I haven’t perfected them but they are pretty good. I usually use the frying pan but I tried them in the riceball plates of my waffle iron and was pleased. It’s so easy. Since I need to have some food prepped in the freezer for work day breakfasts, lunches and dinners, freezing riceballs seemed to be perfect. You can just reheat with miso soup for a quick meal. They are best heated in a toaster oven so they don’t get too soggy. I use the grill setting in my microwave but keep the pan on a lower level than when actually grilling.

Basically, lightly salt the rice and make riceballs. If you need a tutorial, check out this one on Just Hungry. In a small bowl mix a bit of soy sauce and grated ginger. Lightly oil a frying pan and heat up the pan on medium. When the frying pan has heated up, place the rice balls and fry until they are just starting to turn golden. Turn over and either brush or sprinkle with a spoon the ginger soy sauce mixture on the cooked side. Just a little at a time so the riceball doesn’t fall apart. When the other side has started to change color turn over again and repeat with the sauce. Now you can fry them until they turn a deeper color. If you are freezing them, cool them completely before putting them in the freezer. Either thaw at room temperature or microwave for about 30 seconds and then put them in the toaster oven until they look nice and toasty.

How to find a turkey in Japan

How to find a turkey in japan
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How to find a turkey in japan

For the first couple of Thanksgivings and Christmases it didn’t even occur to me to miss turkey. All of a sudden, about a week before my third Christmas here, I felt I had to roast a turkey. Since rarely went out of my way to get food that wasn’t sold in the local supermarket, I had no idea where to look. I was in Shinjuku that evening so I decided to pop into the basement of Isetan and check out the meat shop. I was lucky. They happened to have these tiny one and two kilogram turkeys for 3500 yen and 5000 yen respectively. They were imported from France. Not knowing where else to look, I bought one of the little ones and took it home. It was the best turkey I had ever had and worth the price. Thanksgiving the next year was a bit more of a challenge because turkeys aren’t hard to find around American Thanksgiving Day in November but Canadian Thanksgiving Day is a full month earlier. Luckily Nissin had one the right size.

The next Christmas I happened upon one in the supermarket in the Meguro station the day before I was going to go off in search of one. Lucky. Eventually I learned about The Meat Guy and that solved all of my problems. You can order a couple months in advance and have it delivered the day you would have taken it out of the freezer so you don’t have to worry about freezer space.

Where to find turkeys in Tokyo *updated*

  • Nissin has turkeys year round from 3-4lbs to the huge 20+lbs
  • National Azabu had turkeys before it shut down. They should have them again now.
  • Meat counters of large upscale department stores – only around Christmas
  • Some upscale supermarkets will carry them at Christmas time – ask at the meat department.
  • A friend buys her Christmas turkey from her local Hanamasa (website: Japanese language only) but I have never seen one at the ones I’ve visited so you would have to ask. Ask for ターキー(taakii) not 七面鳥 (shichimenchou) as many people associate the roasted bird with the English word and the live bird in the wild with the Japanese word.
  • Costco - you can actually call and ask them before you make the trip out

On the internet *updated*

Note: if you have an average sized microwave/oven you will probably want to go for a 1-2kg bird but be sure to measure the inside of your oven to check. I now have a 30L oven and find a 5kg is a great size.

Baked Stuffed Red Peppers

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I have been working on the rice cooker cookbook nonstop for the last little while and have scarcely had time to cook non-rice cooker meals. This may be the first time I have used my oven in about a month. I baked these in the pre-lunch heat since it really doesn’t make a difference when your living room is already 30 degrees to begin with.

Up until a few years ago, I wouldn’t cook or eat stuffed peppers. For some reason I used to strongly dislike the taste of cooked green peppers and that kept me from exploring all kinds of peppers. I now quite like cooked green peppers and enjoy them in a variety of dishes. I decided to go with texmex seasoning and red peppers today as it is hot, hot, hot.

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Stuffed Red Peppers

2 red bell peppers
150 grams ground chicken
1/2 cup spinach ribbons
1/3 cup panko (aka bread crumbs)
1 1/2 teaspoons taco spice
1 sleeve tomato paste (1 tablespoon)
1 egg
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and take out the seeds while leaving the shape intact. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the remaining ingredients  with your hands until fully combined. Divide the mixture into four balls and stuff each pepper half with a ball. I like to press the meat into the corners of the pepper but you can leave the mixture in ball form and set it in the pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the meat browns on top. Serve when cooled to a suitable temperature.

This would taste great topped with cheese and salsa. 

Tomato paste in Japan
Tomato paste isn’t that hard to find in Japan. Look for トマトペースト (tomato peesuto) near the canned tomatoes. You can find it in small cans and in one tablespoon sleeves which I prefer. I love the sleeves because I usually only need a tablespoon at a time. The box of six sleeves is under 200 yen (at the time of writing this post).

tomato-paste-in-japan

Rice Cooker Love

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As you can imagine, now that I’m working on a rice cooker cookbook, I have been making a lot of food in the rice cooker. I love how easy it is. With summer in full force, I don’t seem to have the usual cooking energy and five minutes of active prep works for me.

I’ve been having a harder time with cakes because I have a three cupper and cakes need a wider area like a five cupper. What a great excuse for a new rice cooker.

Here is what I’ve been working on.

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Pineapple Curry Chicken

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Roast beef

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Daikon and chicken in a gochujang sauce