“Nanakusa gayu” (7 spring weed congee)
According to Wikipedia,
“The seventh of the first month has been an important Japanese festival since ancient times. The custom of eating nanakusa-gayu on this day, to bring longevity and health, developed in Japan from a similar ancient Chinese custom, intended to ward off evil. Since there is little green at that time of the year, the young green herbs bring color to the table and eating them suits the spirit of the New Year.”
As well as it is for resting & healing the hard worked stomach from the new year’s rich, festive food.
I can’t have the plants until spring in Vancouver, but wait! Found some green plants outside.
However..I don’t have that much desire to go to wet forest ( Vancouver is rain almost all winter).
So that I made western version of the congee - less number of plants but I’d call “Nanakusa” risotto.
My method is hybrid of risotto & cooking rice in Japanese style. Japanese cook rice very thoughtfully. Control the heat, water- all for the texture of rice.
I found the idea of Risotto is a bit similar to japanese rice cooking method because Italians really think about the texture of rice and the liquid.
Nanakusa risotto - Yeld for 2people
Onion 1/4 piece, small diced
Garlic I clove, minced
Carrot 1 inches Julian
Radish red or white with top 1 piece, radish top : chopped. Raddish : Very thinly sliced
Rapini 2-3 pieces cut in 1 - 2 inches
Watercress cut in 1-2 inches
(If you can find dandelion leaves, that’s great adding too)
Dashi stock 2Lb
Evo 2 TB or more
Nutritional yeast 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil or evo to finish(2TB or as you like)
Salt to taste
Put oil in a frying pan, on medium high heat, stir fry the onion and a little bit of salt until slightly caramelized.
Add rice and toast them until the rice mixture have gotten good smell, then lower the heat as medium heat.
Add dashi stock carefully at first, little by little. You will continue keeping adding liquid, about 1cup each time.
At first 15 min, on medium heat and sort of boil the rice to be fluffed up them but keep stirring. Then change the heat to medium low heat . Keep stirring, wait to add next ladle until the rice absorbed the liquid.
Keep adding the liquid, at this point (photo), lower the heat. Keep stirring sometimes but not too often to avoid breaking the rice.
When the rice get your desired point(aldente or whatever), as well as until the sauce gets creamy, add seasoning.
Nutritional yeast and salt, add rapini, to get them slightly to be cooked.
Add carrot, chopped radish top.
Lastly add water cress and sliced radish.
Finish salt, coconut oil.
Add “good amount” of salt is a key point since the vegetables are just slightly cooked, the moisture would thin out the saltiness.
Happy new year to all.
I was abundant this blog for a while.. It have been crazy busy for two month.
So new year. In Japan we have several new year dishes.Osechi is a new year meal that traditionally in beautiful wooden boxes, every component has meanings.
I made some of them as vegan last year. See my last year's post.
So this year. I didn't have time to make a big project so just had a "new year's mochi soup". We have this soup on the new year's day morning.
Mochi sounds difficult to handle?
You don't need to pound sticky rice or don't need to buy square shaped dried mochis.
You just need sticky rice powder.
Here is an easy recipe.
New year's mochi soup
Yield : 2
Sticky rice powder 1cp
Water 1/2 -3/4cp
A pinch Salt to taste. The soup is going to be salty so not too much.
Ice bath in a bowl
Dashi stock 1L Click to see how to make.
Carrot small piece, thin juliene
Green onion small piece, thin juliene
Boiled green vegetables (if you desired) for garnish
Salt for taste.Very good amount.
Heat up the dashi until boiling. Add good amount od salt, taste like right before sea water (but drinkable) and stop heating.
Salty soup makes the mochi taste better.
Make the mochi.
Boil water in a small pot for boiling mochi.
In the mean time add sticky rice powder and salt in a bowl, adding water little by little with mixing the dough by hands.
As we often use the word for the texture of the dough, "until the softness of your earlobe" .
Then start making the shape. There's no rules but small round, flat shapes are easy to cook.
Get the ice bath bowl near you. Put shaped mochi dough in the boiling pot and wait until they are floating. After floating, wait about three minutes and take them into the ice bath.
If you desired, you can torch the mochi to increase the fravor.
Add vegetables and mochi in a small soup bowl, and pour hot dashi liquid over.
Cookhatter will be back at Juicebar on Nov 19th.(See last post)
Juicebar is a gastown cafe Birds and beets's after hours natural wine bar, it is running by Sion Iorwarth.
Since before I (cookhatter) work with them, I have been a fan of their style.
When I go there, I don’t need to be fancy.
The ambience is still cool and one of a kind, good music, cool selection of natural wines. Existential eating (Heather Dosman)& her showcasing of chef’s charming snacks.
They always bright up my end of day & beginning / end of night.
I feel lucky to be a part of her showcasing chefs.
My snacks are Shojin inspired foods(the food photos below are from the last time).
Western or Asian food meets Japanese simplicity.
Hope see you there.
The snacks from the last time
The photo : Juicebar
Museum eats - AKA Camille Franjack is doing wildcrafting workshops season to season.
She is a teacher for me when I go pick wildcrafting staff for my pop up restaurant. As well as I join her workshops every year.
Her workshops are fun, knowledgefull, good jokes and nice to talk about food and nature with people join there - It is also nice to have a time for simply being in the forest and forget about life in the city for a while.
This year was the best to me because we found so many mushrooms including pine, cauliflower, chanterelle musrooms and more.
This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada - I felt real meaning of thanksgiving - Harvest from nature.
Thank for the land.
Cookhatter will cook at Juicebar (55 Powel street, Vancouver, BC), with Existential Eating on 22nd September (Saturday).
Enjoy cool selection of natural wine & Japanese shojin inspired food (Vegan).
I usually do pop ups as course menus, this time is non course. Just fun snacks, great fit for the wines.
You don't need to get tickets. Come in and enjoy.
I will introduce a recipe of one of a part of the menu -
I have written about nettle goma-ae before, this time is with fruits.
Goma ae sounds like only with spinach - for general, but you can make it with many kind of vegetables, sea weed, even with fruits. They fit well with tahini kind of sauce.
Goma ae is great side dish, or appetizer.
I often use shiro - ae sauce, which with goma ae(sesame) sauce with tofu.
I will serve it with grapes and spinatch for the side of a skewer dish at Juicebar this Saturday.
Anyways. This is goma ae with pear and broccoli.It is nice bite texture from broccoli, good acidity and sweetness from pear. Goma ae sauce is basically a little bit sweet, it is nice with fruits.
The recipe is so simple.
30g soft tofu, squeeze off the moisture, before you start cooking, put tofu in between cutting boads and make the bords angle on a tray of something like, to run off the water from tofu.
1/4 cup sesame paste or finely grind sesame
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Maple syrup or agave
salt to taste
* for veggies
1 stem of Broccoli cut break in small pieces
1/2 Pear cut in cubes
Before start, you need squeeze off the moisture of tofu, as I wrote in the ingredients.
Boil hot water in a pot with good amount of salt to boil the broccoli.
Once it reach the boiling point, put broccoli and boil them. When it got bright colour and no crunchy part of the stem, drain to the sink and soak them in cold water for a while to cool them down.
Put all ingredients for the sauce besides tofu in a small bowl and mix.
Break off the tofu with hand, add into the sauce ingredients.
Drain the broccoli, wipe off the moist with paper towel.
Add broccoli and diced pear into the sauce, mix well.
Shojin means a lot of meaning in Japan.
Basic meaning is "make effort everyday for life"
As food, in Japan Shojin ryori(ryori means cooking) is traditionally food for monks since 6th century after they brought buddhism, influenced by China and India.
In Japan, the basic rule is Vegan, some are strictly ban garlic and allium family and spices etc as well as bold seasoning, but nowadays some are open to use those smelly vegetables but spices. Why? I think they will increase the taste and monks would want to eat more! Hahaha. Because in temples, "Bonnou" (desire for anything like things, food, people) are prohibited.
My Shojin style food - is not strictly at all. This is for good eating.Joy. Adventure. And importantly, good with alcohol!
Opposite thoughts of Shojin food. That's why I don't call my food Shojin. I say "Shojin style". I just use their ideas and technics for my food.
If you are into natural wines and you are in Vancouver, you must try Sion Iorworth's Juicebar at 55 Powel street (start at 6, day time is a cafe Birds and beets) .
They bring neat and nice selection of wines every week.
Their food is running by Existential Eating a.k.a.Heather Dosman, she showcases variety of chefs weekly with her foods.
Cookhatter will cook together with Her at Juicebar on 22nd Sep.
It is like an extension version of my vegan dinner event, Far east. Will serve Shojin style vegan dinner, but tapas style.No need to buy tickets, just come as walk ins and enjoy!
Menu?Still developing. (The photo is from my past creations)I will release an easy recipe from the menu in the next blog. Stay tuned.
Washing rice - I didn't like this process when I was young. My dad's hometown is famous for rice, so he really is stubborn about how to cook the rice.When I am at home..I never cook rice because he knows better about it and if I cooked rice, he complains.
I grew up with that however..this must be a little bit of process for people grew up in other countries.
Don't think its just washing rice. This process makes it difference..like professional.
In strictly traditional Japanese kitchen, they have "rice" person. The position is like "saucier" .In charge of cooking rice.
Anyways. This is the process.
Wash the rice 30 min beforehand.Put the rice in a metal bowl, then put very cold water.Gently running water is better, but at home cooking..doesn't matter.
Wash the rice with a palm likely pushing and rubbing in the bowl with water, then take your drain basket, drain the water.
Again, put the drained rice in the same bowl. Add cold water, wash with the same way.
I would recommend NOT washing in the basket, it would be faster, however it can harm the texture of the rice.Japanese call it "hurting the rice".
Then drain with the basket, and same process again until the water became clear.
The milky look in the water is starch. Some classical Japanese people said it makes smelly rice, but I kind of like the smell of rice. So I usually wash it right before perfectly clear.
As well as the starch creates different textures when you finish cooking rice. You may try and see how much do you like to leave the starch.
So the process is basically just wash the rice in a bowl and water, drain, wash it until the water become clear.
I got bunch of green pea pods from a farmers market and it inspired me.
Then tried to make fresh green peas rice - this dish brings me back memories from my mom's cooking.
She makes green peas rice when its season. Actually, in Japan, we cook rice with seasonal vegetables often when they are in seasons. It is like a celebration and appreciation for the season.
In spring, bamboo shoot or mixture of mountain wild vegetables, in summer, green peas, in autumn, chestnuts or pine mushroom, in winter,gingko nuts .. and more.
I didn't realize when I grew up in Japan but now I know such rich food culture my home country has.
So.Here is the green peas rice recipe.
The photo is with barley but this recipe is for white Japanese rice. You must change the amount of water if you substitute with brown rice or mixing with other grains.
This is pretty authentic one. Most of old time Japanese moms know.
Rice (Japanese rice) 2cups
Water 2 3/4 cups
Salt 1 pinch, for taste
Kelp (Konbu) about 2 inches square strip
Fresh green peas, depods around 10 pods
Wash the rice 30 min beforehands and drain well.
How to wash the rice : If you want to know how Japanese rice lovers wash,see this. Otherwise you can wash it 3 times until the water looks without milky fog.
Dissolve the salt in the water then pour over the rice and add kelp in your medium sized, tall( has a depth), heavy cooking pot.
Add peas, cover with a lid, then start cooking with medium high heat.
The point of cooking rice is controlling heat.
Wait until the water just being boiled, then change the heat to high make it to super, highly boiling.
The lid would be bounced by the boiling.
Then let the lid open just a little bit (max 1/4 inch), and let it boil likely 2-3 min, change the heat as low.Professionals don't let the lid open but I don't like to make my stove dirty so I do this.
Cook until the rice absorb all liquid. I found that the rice looks very slightly wet is better for another process.
Turn off the heat, then let the lid back to fully cover the pot, let it leave15-20min.We call this process "steaming". This is very important to rest the cooked rice to be fluffy, perfectly moist.
With rice spatula(we call it "shamoji"), gently flip the rice in the pot with sideways, like slicing rice.
It is very important to keep the texture of rice for fine cooking, however.. this is home cooking and also this time is with peas then no worries too much!
Then serve with rice bowls. Bon appetit.
I will separate this method how to cook rice in a pot sometimes soon.
I postponed blog for a while since I have been busy.
The travel in Japan and Europe was fantastic.
I did pop up in Japan, it was at Bar pancho in fujisawa, Kanagawa. They are Spanish tapas, I made their special menu- Vegan spanish tapas.
In Europe, it was for a short vacation - Amsterdam and Paris.
Then when I got back to Vancouver, did pop up. It was fun.
So. Now it have been a few weeks since the last pop up. I feel my life has been a little bit settle down.
I wrote this blog once a week before constantly - I must announce about a change - Blog posts won't be every week.
It will be random, but I will announce on Instagram & Facebook page when I posted.
I sometimes do easy dinner gathering with my house mate at our backyard to cheer up for our life.
We both are in food industry. Working in this industry is always have million things to do and sometimes rack of time to take a break for our life.
So we celebrate our hard working with this dinner gathering. It is always potluck so we both bring our creations.This time, I made Sangria.
The recipe is below.
I modified Minimalist baker's recipe - they have a good traditional sangria recipe.
My version is Sangria / Punch.
Yellow peach 1,cut into small cubes
Anjou pear 1, peel and cute into cubes
Grape fruits 1, cut into segments and small pieces
Lime 1, cut into 6
Mint leaves 1 stem
Passion fruits mix juice(you can substitute orange or mango juice, etc), as much as you like: I put about 2 cups.
Natural or organic red wine, Half bottle
Rum or Vodka 1/4 cup(I used elderflower infused rum)
Ice cubes -as much as you like
Put all ingredients besides liquids and ice into a glass Jar or bowl.
Lightly squish with a wooden spoon.
Put all liquid ingredients.
Put ice. Drink in 48 hours.
Tomoko Tahara A.K.A.#cookhatter
<Restaurans in Vancouver>
The Acorn : Vegetarian restaurant
The birds and beets : Cafe
Cacao Vancouver:Modern latin
The mackenzieroom:Modern coastal
Birds and beets
Tempea food: tempeh maker
<Restaurant in Japan>
Bon Gout: Bakery and wine
Bar Pancho:Spanish tapas
Takanoya :Gastro pub