We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and considering we are trying to refine our Japanese cooking skills, we decided to have a Japanese themed dinner.
We started off our morning gathering all of our ingredients. One of the dishes we wanted to make was Miso Clam Soup so naturally, we had to get some fresh clams.
Diana’s seafood was our go to fish market for this – it’s pretty far from where we live but we can always count on them for having the largest variety of the freshest fish.
We picked up a few items from there but we can post about those later 🙂 We picked up two types of clams for our soup since we wanted to mix it up a bit: Littleneck and savoury clams.
People often store their clams by throwing the closed bag in the fridge or soaking them in water until they’re ready to use. This is not the best way to store your clams as you are at risk of killing them. Clams need to breathe so the first thing you should do when you are home is to open up the bag. Although it is perfectly normal to soak the clams for an hour or so to help them purge the sand they were sucking in from the ocean floor, they should not be soaking in water for any longer than that as clams are not used to living in fresh water.
The best way to store your clams is in a bowl with a damp paper towel placed over it so that it doesn’t lose too much moisture (see picture below on the left). This will keep your clams good for 2-3 days.
Ok – enough about storing clams. Let’s talk about how to make the miso clam soup.
Now that you have the clams, you need to have miso paste to make the miso soup base. We like to use a combination of red (Aka) and white (Shiro) miso paste. You can typically buy this at Asian grocery stores – we bought ours at a Japanese grocery store. The ratio of red to white miso paste you use is personal preference – we like to do 2:1 of red to white miso paste. We also like to add a bit of Sansho pepper (Japanese pepper) to our miso soup prior to serving as it adds a hint of citrusy flavour. We’re not sure if they sell Sansho pepper here in Canada but we got ours when we were in Japan. However, this is completely optional.
Now that you have all your ingredients, you just need your dashi stock. Bring your dashi stock to a boil. Scoop a ladle of the hot dashi stock into a large bowl and add in your miso paste, whisking vigorously until the paste has completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Add in your clams and diced tofu and simmer until the clams open up. Then, you can add the miso mixture back into the rest of the dashi stock. Serve with optional Sansho pepper.
In a medium stock pot, bring dashi stock to a boil.
In a separate large bowl, add the red and white miso paste. Once the dashi is boiling, add one ladle of hot dashi to the large bowl with the miso paste. Whisk vigorously until miso paste has completely dissolved.
Meanwhile, add in your clams, firm tofu, and simmer for 5 minutes or until the clams open up. Then, add in remaining miso paste mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
Serve with a dash of optional Sansho pepper and garnish with green onions.
Chirashi bowls have become a thing in our household now. Whenever we want to make Japanese food, our default answer is to make Chirashi.
I guess the reason we tend to default to this is because:
a) We’ve found a pretty good sushi rice recipe
b) We can make numerous Chirashi bowls with a single cut of fish.
Although the cut of fish isn’t cheap, if you consider how many portions you can make out of it, it’s pretty worth it as it’s much cheaper than what we’d be paying in the restaurant.
As part of the #JapanWeek series, I decided to ball a little bit since it was for a special occasion. I chose Blue Fin Tuna (please don’t go extinct – you’re one of my favourite fishes for sushi), Uni from British Columbia, and Scallops from Hokkaido, Japan. I learned that the best way to make this bowl even more visually stunning is to include fish with different colors, top it with a generous amount of pickled ginger to cleanse the palette, and finally garnish it with a dollop of fresh wasabi.
If you want to make a simple dish that would impress your friends and family, this is it. It’s really not that hard to make but the presentation is just stunning. I would say the hardest part was slicing the fish evenly ^_^”
I love miso black cod. Everytime I go to a Japanese restaurant, this is the default dish that I order. When it came to me brainstorming what I should make for our anniversary dinner this weekend, this dish immediately came to mind as it’s one that I think we’d both enjoy. Besides, I wanted to learn how to make it so that I don’t have to wait until I go out to a restaurant to have it. This post will be part of an ongoing series called #JapanWeek
While searching for a recipe online, Nobu’s recipe was clearly the most popular one. As always, I cross referenced this recipe with several others to see if there was a significant difference in terms of proportion of ingredients and method of preparation but it was pretty unanimous. All recipes required me to marinate this fish 2-3 days in advance to get the most flavour out of it.
And boy was it worth it. The fish was so flavourful… and after searing it in a hot pan and baking it the oven afterwards, it left this nice golden crust which was soooo goood.
I’d make this more often but the fish itself was pretty pricy – I paid $20 for 2 pieces of fish… mind you it was a very generous cut of fish but still…
Thanks to the power of reddit, we discovered a Japanese Condensed Milk Bread recipe. Being the baker in the relationship, I took a look at the ingredients and it looked fairly simple so I decided to give it a go since I already have everything (minus the almonds which I can do without). The overall process was quite simple though as with all bread recipes, it’s time consuming. However, the time it took for the dough to proof allowed me to make other things like my fudgey, cakey brownies 🙂 More on that later.
This bread was soft and had a nice sweetness to it from the condensed milk.
Best of all, the presentation looked great! The original recipe asked for this to be baked in an angel cake pan but seeing as I didn’t have one, I improvised with a loaf pan instead.
Want to know how it’s made? Here’s how:
Prepare your bread dough. Knead it into a smooth ball and allow it to rise for 30 mins or until it doubles in size.
While the dough is proofing, prepare your condensed milk filling. This is just a simple combination of softened butter and condensed milk. Mix together until it forms a paste.
Sorry for the radio silence, we went on a 2 week vacation to Japan and got back not too long ago 🙂 We had a really great time having visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Miyajima Island, Nara, and Nagano. Each city was very unique and they all had their own local specialities as well! For example, Miyajima Island was famous for their oysters and anago (sea eel). Nagano was famous for their Buckwheat Noodles.
We think the great thing about Japan aside from their unique culture is that no matter where you go eat, it’s very rare to stumble across food that won’t taste good. We think their standards when it comes to quality of food is generally just a lot higher, especially in Tokyo since it is one of the food capitals in the world.
As major foodies (and the fact that this is a cooking blog dedicated to food), we had to document all of our food adventures but if we were to post all of our photos, you would be scrolling for days! So we just picked some of our favourites to share with you 🙂
The photo above is one of the many decadent dishes we had in Shoraian, a restaurant hidden in the forests of Arashiyama, the outskirts of Kyoto. They specialize in tofu dishes but aside from that, you can see that they take great attention to detail even in their plating presentation.
Even the food they presented us there were super cute. Check out this frog (made from what seems like an Edamame bean) sitting on a rock which they placed on a leaf lily pad. Adorable!