Jiro Dreams of Sushi and the Shogun sauce

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For some reason my title makes me think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (rolls off the tongue the same way). But this post is not related and and I will be jumping from one topic to another. You are warned, just go with the flow hi hi.

I am so happy to share my second post and participation with a new monthly group I have discovered called Food ‘n Flix. Once a month a ‘host’ picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe. This month’s pick is hosted by Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla. She picked a documentary style movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Banana Kiwi Smoothie with Rose Schizandra Kombucha

It seems like there is an influx of invitations to restaurant openings and product launches right now. It happens a lot with the arrival of spring. Most events I cannot be bothered with that much but there are exceptions. If something really grabs my attention and peaks my curiosity I will be there. And that is how I was introduced to a new product from Rise Kombucha by receiving an invitation for the launch of their two new flavors: Mint Chlorophyll and Rose Schizandra.

The curiosity word here is Kombucha. What the heck is it? The company calls it sparkling living tea. A more complete explanation would be that Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented with a yeast, called Mother culture, thus creating effervescence.

kombucha 02

This is hardly a new product, there are claims that the history of this beverage goes back 2000 years in China or Japan. So it covers my ethnic food attraction plus it is a local, raw, organic, vegan and a fair trade product. The Rise Kombucha company is located in my city of Montreal. Actually they are located 3 blocks away from where I work. So before the official launch party I asked for a visit of their brewery. I could not take too many pics to reasons of corporate secrecy but you will still get a unique glance here.

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

My Guest Post for My Cookbook Addiction: Peanut Butter Daifukumochi Balls

Out of commission as you saw from yesterday’s post…broken dislocated arm and wrist…..but this guest post was already written up…enjoy!

I have a very special guest post today, dedicated to my fellow foodie friend, Liliana from My Cookbook Addiction. Both being from the same city, I have had the pleasure to share a few meals with Liliana during our occasional friendly Montreal food blogger dinners. She has always been a great supporter of my work, always so encouraging. But what is most remarkable about Liliana is her generosity. The few times I have called on my readers for donations, either in the form of a small donation or a prizes for a charity event, Liliana has always lent a helping hand. This woman has a great big heart.

I was so very honored when Liliana asked me to guest post on her blog. As you can tell from the title of her blog, she has a thing for cookbooks. You will find tons of cookbook reviews where she cooks and presents one dish from her latest recipe book. Now on the ethnic front, she leans towards Italian recipes, having Italian blood running through her veins. I definitely wanted to prepare something different and challenging for her, in the same manner I always do for my blog.

I chose a wonderful Japanese sweet with a modern spin, Peanut Butter Daifukumochi Balls. Head over to Liliana’s blog to check out my guest post, recipe included. I hope you will give these little guys a try. They are so easy to prepare and have a fun unique texture and taste.

 

Blue Dragon

I was so looking forward to attending the Blue Dragon product launch but I had to cancel as I was sick. I asked if I could still get samples to try out, which they were happy to do. But imagine my surprise when I opened my apartment door in the morning to go to work, 2 days later, and this package is just lying there on my door step.I got home at 10pm the night before and I was now heading out at 8 am…when was this delivered?

I could not resit opening this suitcase box before heading out. It was the samples…I have to say I was very impressed. And opening the box was such a delight: 10 different samples of stir fry and cooking sauces. The Blue Dragon line does not end there: they also offer dipping sauces, noodles, wrappers, sesame oil, hoison and oyster sauce, fish sauce, and 2 types of coconut milk.

Blue Dragon is named after the Chinese symbol of good fortune. The company was created over thirty years ago when the founder realized there was hardly anything available in the shops that would help people create authentic Asian dishes at home at that time. Today Blue Dragon has become a great way to help you create delicious dishes from China, Thailand, Japan (UK site) and Vietnam. To bad not all the products are available in Canada, I guess I’ll have to go to there and look up cheap car hire from the uk to go shopping in London.

In the package I found the following flavors: Thai Red Curry Paste, Thai Green Curry Paste, Chinese Curry Cooking Sauce, Tomato & Sweet Chilli Cooking Sauce, Chow Mein Cooking Sauce, Sweet & Sour Cooking Sauce, Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Sauce, Wasabi Plum Stir Fry Sauce, Chilli Coconut Stir Fry Sauce, and Szechuan Pepper Stir Fry Sauce.

Obviously I have not gotten around to trying them all, I actually cooked 2 two meals so far only. I live alone and every sample gave me about 3 meals. All the sauces/stir fries mention they should be used within 3 to 5 days so opening everything to stick my finger in it was not option. Why a short self life you ask? Reading the ingredient’s lists of the Blue Dragon products is a pleasure because there are no preservatives at all! Just beautiful flavor packed spices, herbs, and sauces.

I really did love the ease of preparation for a full meal. All you have to do is cook your protein and/or veggies, add the sauce and cook a bit longer and then serve on a bed of rice or noodles. It’s a great way to use up all those veggies lying around in your fridge.

The stir fries suggest 350 gr of meat, chicken or seafood and 1 cups of veggies. I added more like 2-3 cups of veggies and I used chicken. The first one I wanted to try was the Chilli Coconut Stir Fry Sauce. I fell in love with it: so yummy, loved the coconut taste  and nice spiciness to it. I served it on a bed of Udon noodles. This one I will buy again and again.

Take a look at the ingredient’s list: Water, Coconut Milk (Coconut, Water), Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Lemongrass, Green Birdseye Chillies, Modified Maize Starch, Fish Sauce (Anchovy Extract, Salt, Sugar), Garlic Purée, Thai Basil, Ginger Purée, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Chilli Flakes, Galangal, Coriander, Lactic Acid, Lime Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid.

The cooking sauces ask for 3 meat, chicken, seafood portions. For this one I used a block of tofu and again 2-3 cups of veggies. I tried the Chinese Curry Cooking Sauce for this dish and I served the curry on a bed of Bamboo infused rice.

Ingredients listed are: Oil, Modified Maize Starch, Garlic Purée, Curry Powder (Coriander, Turmeric, Cumin, Salt, Garlic, Fenugreek, Chilli, Ginger, Fennel, Rice Flour), Onion Powder, Light Soy Sauce (contains Wheat and Soya), Chinese Five Spice, Spices, Salt, Citric Acid.

 

This one was a bit of disappointment unfortunately. The final taste was not packed with flavors and the only thing really coming though was the light spiciness. I also felt it needed salt…and I am not a salt kind a gal. Hopefully the other sauces pack a bit more punch, we shall see as I cook through them.

I feel like the theme in my kitchen will be Asian for a while. Normally I enjoy making my on sauce mixes and adding the amount of spices I like best but for someone with less experience or if you want a nice meal in a short amount of time I think Blue Dragon is definitely worth a try. Next I will try one of the Thai pastes for sure. The company seems to distribute out of the UK first, most of Europe and Canada. If you buy some let me know what you think.

The products were sent to me free of charge but my opinions are my own and are honest.

Matsuri Japon, Montreal Japanese Cultural Festival with foodies

Last Saturday, August 13th 2011, I had the pleasure of discovering a small festival I had never even heard about: Matsuri Japon.  Taking place in the backyard of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center of Montreal, this great little festival is presented in the spirit of a traditional Japanese festival, as a means to develop greater awareness of Japanese culture among Montreal citizens and foreign visitors. This was actually their 10th year!

There were neat kiosks for Japanese items and official Matsuri souvenirs, a games area, lots of traditional Japanese cuisine food kiosks, and  2 performance stages dedicated to martial art and traditional  performances like dances, Taiko drums and much more. Not only was the festival a thrill already I got to enjoy it with two very special friends: Valerie of The Chocolate Bunny who is a local food blogger and a friend, as well as the visiting Mary of Mary Mary and Culinary from Ottawa. It was a lot of fun to share such ethnic foods with fellow bloggers.

I will now let you enjoy the pictures of our day there with a few comments when a food is in the picture.  But first enjoy this (shaky) video of a Taiko performance, I love these drums. Oh you should check out Valerie’s post on this outing too, she has great pics of performances I did not snap.

 

 

 

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. This one was predominantly a rice base with cabbage. it was served topped with a sauce, mayonnaise and Katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna).

 

 

 

 

Hiyashi Udon is served cold and consists of  a bed of udon noodles with a sauce (made of soy, Mirin and Dashi) and covered with sliced negi and flakes of tempura batter.

 

 

 

Takoyaki are fried or grilled octopus ball-shaped Japanese dumpling made of batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan (see above). It is typically filled with diced or whole baby octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion.

 

 

Mochi Me Mochi You

If you are a food blogger like me you have a folder named FOOD on your computer with MANY pics and ideas for recipe and restaurant reviews that have yet to be blogged about. The problem is before I get to those I find new recipes that I have to do NOW!

This post is about a recipe that has been patiently waiting its turn to shine. It is actually a very simple yet unusual recipe: Mochi. Remember how I mentioned in my 2nd entry for the Project Food Challenge that glutinous rice flour was a relatively new ingredient to me? Well Mochis was my very first time using this ingredient. By the way voting for my post on Butsi with Ube Halaya is almost at an end. Please cast you vote for me to be the next food blog star! Just click to vote for my 2nd entry here. Thank you! Voting end Sept 30rd 6pm PST, hurry!

Mochi is a Japanese cake/snack made with glutinous rice that is usually served during Japanese New Year. The dough is also used in many other treats like sesame balls. OK so my first attempt at Mochis is just OK as you can see below, but it is a start! I used only 1 tsp of matcha which was not enough and my shapes are so so. They where none the less a treat to eat and have a particular texture. As you can see with the Butsi with Ube Halaya, my 2nd entry, I got the hang of working with glutinous rice flour!

Microwave Mochi from Paws are for Cooking
This recipe makes a small batch, around 8-10 balls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • potato starch for dusting (corn starch is great too)
  • flavoring, see below (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix glutinous rice flour and sugar in a bowl.
2. Add water and mix thoroughly. It will be watery.
3. Put in a microwaveable dish. Cover with plastic wrap.
4. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Take off plastic wrap.
5. Cool a bit till you can handle without being scalded, shape into balls or what ever shape you like.
6. Dust the ball with the starch

Variations for flavor:

– Add either food coloring, food extract flavoring, 1/4c chocolate, 1 tbsp of a fruit jam or 1 tbsp of matcha to the dough before cooking.

– Flatten into a disk, place a small amount of red bean paste, ice cream, chocolate, etc. in the middle, fold dough over to enclose filling and shape into a ball, then dust.

– Instead of water try coconut, soy or almond milk.

-Roll the balls in cocoa powder, shredded coconut, crushed nuts or sesame seeds.

Glutinous rice flour is a cheap addition to your pantry and is easy to find in any Asian grocery store. It is made from glutinous rice, also called sweet rice or sticky rice.The name is misleading as there is no gluten, rather this rice is sticky, or like glue, ,once cooked. Gluten-free diets can use this flour without hesitation. Most Asian countries have traditional dishes using this ingredient. Don’t be afraid to try it and explore!

Agedashi Tofu

I have a friend who introduced me to a series of cooking videos on YouTube. It is a series called cookingwithdog. This Japanese team is made up of a nameless lady and Francis the poodle. Every show (usually) starts with the dog saying “I am Francis, the host of this show Cooking With Dog.” And he remains on the counter supervising. It’s freaking hilarious.

But the recipes are awesome too! All are quick Japanese recipes presented in a very straightforward way. I love it and it really has demystified Japanese cuisine for me. The bento box video is AWESOME! There are about 40 videos right now. But picking my first video recipe to try was easy. I saw a video on Agedashi Tofu. I was made aware of this dish recently with a Montreal Foodie Blogger dinner outing at a Japanese restaurant. My table neighbor eagerly ordered it saying it was such a favorite of hers. A sophisticated fried block of tofu! I had to try it.

Agedashi Tofu

Ingredients

300g Firm Tofu (10.6 oz)
5cm Daikon Radish (2 inch)
A piece of Ginger
4 Shishito Peppers
Potato Starch
Frying Oil

– Sauce –
150ml  Dashi Stock (5.07 fl oz)
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Mirin

Note: I used corn starch instead of potato starch – a perfectly acceptable substitute. Instead of Dashi stock you could used fish sauce or vegetable stock if vegetarian.

I will let you watch the video for the directions. And check out the other videos, you won’t regret it.

(serves 2)