What to Eat in Hokkaido: Jingisukan

September 23, 2017 § 1 Comment

JingisukanCredits: Jsprague TW Dialog template; papers by Splendid Finns’ You are Awesome and Sus Design’s Saving Memories Kit.

Named after the Mongolian ruler, Genghis Khan, Jingisukan is essentially Hokkaido-style Yakiniku.

family-style-cooking

In a dome-shaped cast iron looking a lot like the helmet of the Mongolian soldiers, thinly sliced meat (in this case, lamb or mutton) is grilled on the table and shared family style much like how the Koreans do it. It also reminded me of the Laotian Barbecue (sans the soup) I so enjoyed in Luang Prabang some years back. An unforgettable meal, that was. Come to think of it, Asian cuisines although diverse in flavors have a lot of similarities, especially in how meals are cooked and shared.

On our last night in Asahikawa, we chose a restaurant close to our hotel, highly recommended on Foursquare.

Facade

The line was not visible when we arrived because it was so long, the weather so cold; we were asked to wait in a room across the restaurant.   It was worth the wait. Right off the grill and dipped in a soy-based sauce, the lamb was superb.

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It was tender and flavorful and not gamey at all. We ordered several cuts and all were satisfying. Do find your way to a Jingisukan place when in Hokkaido. Better yet, if you find yourself in Asahikawa, make sure to look for Jingisukan Daikokuya. It could be your best meal in Hokkaido.

Other Must-Eats when in Hokkaido:

The island of winter sports, hanging cliffs, and endless lavender fields is also known to offer the best food adventures in Japan.

seafood

In fact, it is one of its biggest attractions, specifically its seafood and agricultural products grown on its extensive farmlands.

king-crabs

The prefecture has a massive dairy industry that produces about half of Japan’s milk and other dairy products like butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

melon-soft-serve

The best melon in Japan is grown here too, making it quite a popular flavor for milk and ice cream.

hokkaido-cheesecake

And of course, don’t forget to grab some of Hokkaido’s famous cheesecake.

Jingisukan Daikokuya
5 Chome 4-jodori,3,4 Naka, Asahikawa
+81 188-24-2424
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Korea On My Mind

August 22, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’m almost halfway through my Korean visa, and I should make better use of that 5 years that they’ve given me. So here I am planning a mini Korean holiday that is getting me more excited by the minute.

Seoul-Food

I imagine chicken and beer or chimek, mageoli, kimbap, fresh kimchi, samgyeopsal, deep-fried mandu, haemul pajeon, bingsu… My mouth water at the thought of grilled Hanwoo beef that melts in the mouth and I remember our incredible meal in Hongdae. And then my mind wanders to the other food I have to yet to have. I promised to go back for— jjajangmyeon, samyetang, soy sauce crab, sundae (not the frozen dessert but Korea’s blood sausage that got my attention because of these twins) and much more that I’m still not aware of.

So now I crave Japchae. That’s a Korean-style noodle dish that is usually served as a side dish consisting of vermicelli noodles, meat, and assorted vegetables sautéed in soy sauce. This version is without meat, and even my meat-loving hubby gave his thumbs up.

Japchae

Japchae (Korean Style Noodles)

Adapted from this recipe in Epicurious

What You Need:

  • 5-6 ounces Korean vermicelli noodles
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. Sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 med onion sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick (1 ½ cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/8 inch thick matchsticks
  • 1 ½ cup mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thick
  • 1 ½ cup snow peas (recipe called for spinach but I didn’t have that)

What you do:

  1. Soak noodles in a bowl of warm water to cover until softened, about 10 minutes, then drain in a colander. Cook noodles in a 3-4 quart pot of boiling water until tender, about 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until cool.
  2. Blend soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic in a blender until smooth.
  3. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until it just begins to smoke, then stir-fry onion and carrots until onion is softened. About 3 minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add snow peas and stir-fry 30 seconds, then add noodles and soy sauce mixture and toss to coat.
  6. Simmer, occasionally stirring, until most liquid is absorbed, 3-5 minutes.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate and Orange

March 16, 2017 § Leave a comment

Chocolate-and-Orange

A combination that the hubby absolutely adores, and I have, through him, learned to love as well. I’m not exactly a chocolate kind of girl but this union has made me crave it at times.   It’s now my combination of choice when it comes to chocolate. If you’re wary of the fusion, one taste of this will make you a believer.

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The recipe I found was weak in orange flavor, so I added grated orange and orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier, on the frosting.

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And because a quarter has almost past that I’ve been silent on the blog front, here’s the recipe without further ado…

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (tweaked from a Williams-Sonoma Cake Recipe)

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What You’ll Need:

  • 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 -2 oranges (depending on the size; I used 1 large orange)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract / essence
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

For the Frosting

  • 6oz. (170g) bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  •    2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the hot water until dissolved; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Grate the zest from the orange into the bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the dissolved cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter, then the dry ingredients.
  4. Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each about half full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed, and a skewer inserted into the center of one comes out clean 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.2013-03-10-11.48.07
  5. To make the frosting, melt the chocolate and let cook to room temperature. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar with the paddle on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, orange liqueur, and zest until combined. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch (12mm) star tip with the frosting and pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Melting Chocolate

To melt chocolates, chop it into small pieces and put it in a stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a saucepan over but not touching, barely simmering water. Heat until the chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Do not allow any water or steam to come in contact with the chocolate, or it will become stiff and grainy. Or, chop the chocolate into large pieces, place in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave on low for 1 minute. Continue to microwave if necessary, checking every 20 seconds, until the chocolate looks softened, then stir until smooth and liquid.

What to Eat in Kunming: Across the Bridge Noodle Soup

January 16, 2017 § Leave a comment

Yunnan-Eats.jpgCredits: JSprague Digi In Deeper Course Material

This noodle soup dish has a typical Yunnan local flavor that could only be had in some parts of Yunnan and carries with it a love story. A scholar, preparing for the imperial exams retreated to an island in a lake. The wife delivers lunch to him daily, crossing a long wooden bridge. Dismayed that she couldn’t keep it warm, figured out that adding a thin layer of fat on top prevents the heat from escaping. And by doing this, she discovered that she could bring the broth across the bridge and cook the rest of her Noodle Soup there.

And with that, I had our driver bring us to Qiao Xiang Yuan, a restaurant chain famous for its Guo Qiao Mi Xian, which translates to Across the Bridge or Crossing Bridge Rice Noodle.

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Driver Wang ordered for us. Minutes later an attractive mix of ingredients laid before us. There were slices of lightly cooked (some raw) meats, Yunnan ham, strips of bean curd sheets, mushrooms, vegetables, rice noodles (of course) and a piping hot broth with a layer of chicken fat and oil glistening on top, the key to this noodle soup. The meat sliced wafer thin so that it will cook almost immediately when added to the broth. Once the vegetables and noodles are added, stir it a bit, and the Guo Qiao Mi Xian is ready to eat.

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A must try when in Kunming.

To read more about Kunming and Yunnan, read this and this.

Qiao Xiang Yuan: Shulin Jie, Wenhua District, near Jinbi Guang Cheng

Fennel Salad with Green Apple and Parmesan

November 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

img_4216

This salad made me a fan of fennel. Crunchy and has a fresh, sweetly musky taste similar to liquorice and anise. Paired with apple, it masks the licorice flavor (perfect for those not keen on its taste) and adds to the freshness of this salad. Packed with many health benefits from relieving anemia to improving eye care, this salad was my intro to this herb.

fried-chickenGood as a side dish — I like it with fried or grilled meats.

In fact, it has opened the door to many more delicious Fennel recipes, which I will share with you eventually.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life.

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What you need:

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, about 10 ounces
  • 1 small Green Apple
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Sea Salt
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper

What you do:

Prepare the fennel:

  1. Cut off and discard the stalks and fronds.
  2. Using a vegetable peel or a small knife, trim away any bruises or brown spots on the bulb’s outermost layer of skin.
  3. Cut it in half from root to stalk, and trim the root end.
  4. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin and working with the one-half of the bulb at a time, slice the fennel very thinly, 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

Prepare the Green Apple:

  1. Using an apple core, remove and discard core.
  2. Then cut the apple in half from top to bottom.
  3. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice it very thinly, just like the fennel. Set aside.

Assembling the Salad:

  1. Make a layer of fennel slices. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  2. Then place a layer of apple on top of the fennel. Sprinkle lightly with lemon juice, and season with salt.
  3. Shave thin ribbons of cheese. Drizzle with oil.
  4. Repeat and finish with a good sprinkle of lemon juice, a generous splash of oil and a few shavings of cheese to garnish.
  5. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.

Where to Eat in HK: Under the Bridge Spicy Crab

April 12, 2016 § 1 Comment

Work will bring me to Hong Kong in a few weeks and I am reminded of the last dish I had a few years ago in Wan Chai. We walked from Gloucester to Lockhart Road to look for Hong Kong’s famous Under the Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant. Known for their authentic and mouth-watering typhoon shelter crabs.

Back in the day before modern HK, there lived a community of fishermen living in typhoon shelters. Within this community rose a distinct culinary culture that centered on freshly caught seafood. As Hong Kong’s status as a fishing city decline, this community started moving to land, the younger generation trading up for better jobs.

Under-Bridge-Spicy-Crab

We found the modest restaurant with staff that hardly speaks English. With an atmosphere like this, it almost always promises an authentic meal. The star of the show is the bits of garlic, chili peppers, and spring onion stir-fried till crisp then tossed with the deep-fried mud crab—insanely addictive. I love this version because I prefer fried or just steamed crabs sans any sauce, which sometimes masks the sweetness of the crab.  The dry chill-garlic bits, albeit on the oily side, adds just the right flavour and heat to the crabs.  A must-try when in the area.

See you in a few weeks Hong Kong. I hope to devour your impressive crab dish once again. And hopefully, introduce you to the people traveling with me.

Shop 6-9, G/F, 423 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai

Phuket Eats

December 23, 2015 § 1 Comment

Not only once did work bring me to Phuket, not exactly a destination on my bucket list. Sorry to say that I don’t particularly find the beach appealing and I’m not one who really care for big resorts. But one thing I love above Thailand is its food. Thai flavors had appeal to me since my university days when I first discovered its cuisine.

In the few times that I have been to this island, I have yet to have a bad meal, a few quite memorable in fact. Here are three that I give my thumbs up.

Tunk-Ka Restaurant

tunka-atmosphere

While in Phuket with my staff a few years ago, I decided to treat them to a tour of the town.

Chaya

I contacted Chaya of Phuket Heritage Trails and as part of her tour, she brought us to this well-known restaurant perched on the side of Rang Hill with panoramic views of Chalong Bay and even the big Budda.

Tunka-View

The Café has three separate terraces, foliage surrounds. I think she brought us not only for the view but for the food as well.

tunka-pak-liang

From the extensive menu, Chaya chose for us a superb lunch of Pak Liang with smoke-dried shrimp – a chili paste with dried shrimp, eaten with boiled vegetables,

Tunka-Pork-stir-fry

Pork stir-fry with butternut and minced shrimp, and

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Crab meat stir-fried with turmeric and coconut milk.

Getting there:

There are two easily accessed ways to drive to the summit; one by Vachira Hospital on Yaowarat Road, the other around the corner on Mae Luang Road. Tung Ka is right on the top of the hill and has ample car parking space.

Suay Restaurant

Suay-facade

Top quality food at reasonable prices, Suay offers a range of creative Thai cuisine in a simple, modest house. Upon the recommendation of Chaya’s, we walked through the gate, through the garden setting to our reserved table.

Suay

The place exudes a pleasant ambience that promises a good meal.

We chose to go for a set meal, which includes: Spicy Fried Yellow Fin Tuna tartar Isan Style,

Suay-tuna-tartar

Grilled Sea Scallops with exotic fruit salad,

Suay-Green-Papaya-Salad-and-soft-shelled-crabs

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft Shelled Crabs,

Suay-Fresh-Prawn-Spring-Roll

Fresh Prawn Spring Roll with peanut sauce. These are just the appetizers. Main course had us feasting in Roasted Duck in red curry with lychee and pineapple, Grilled River Prawns with Lemongrass salad,

Suay-shanghai-noodles

Shanghai noodles with Squid and pesto sauce, green chili salsa;

Suay-Turmeric-Sea-Bass

Grilled Turmeric Sea Bass in Banana Leaf Wrap. A must be when in Phuket.

50/2 Takuapha Rd, Talad Nuea, Phuket Old Town

Raya Restaurant

Raya

Set in a beautiful Sino-Thai mansion that exudes old world charm. Not only does it boast of a well-preserved heritage of its colonial past, but it is also known as THE Thai restaurant in Phuket. Serves authentic local cuisine that do not disappoint.

Dishes such as Crab Meat Curry served with rice vermicelli,

Raya-Fish-with-Tamarind-SauceDeep Fried Sea Bass in a Tamarind-Lemongrass Sauce,

Raya-Pork-with-Kefir

Fried Pork with Kefir Leaves.

Locals flock to this restaurant in Dibuk Road, what better way to gauge authenticity then having locals as patrons? Yes?

48 New Dibuk Rd., Phuket Old Town

And with this, I leave you with this thought:

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland.

Merry Christmas and an Adventurous New Year to all!!

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