Kamo Nanban Soba | Buckwheat Noodles Soup with Duck Breast and Scallions

Kamo Nanban Soba

Duck is one of my favorite ingredients, and Kamo Nanban Soba became one of the most repeated summer soups in my kitchen. This dish can be made with duck tsukune (meatballs) and/or seared and thinly sliced duck breast. Duck meatballs should be pre-cooked, and they are the best when grilled. I prefer duck breast in this dish. One breast is enough for two portions. It takes time to render fat from its skin, so it makes sense to start doing it while making buckwheat noodles. The rest is simple — baste the breasts with hot rendered duck fat until 80% cooked, let rest and cool, keep refrigerated until ready to serve the soup. Thinly sliced and arranged on top of the soba in a bowl, the duck is cooked to complete doneness with steaming hot stock poured right over it.

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Miso Marinated and Roasted Fish | Saikyo Yaki

Halibut Saikyo Yaki

Saikyo Miso originated in Kyoto — a city that has been a center of politics, economics, and culture for more than a thousand years—and has been cultivated by the elegance of royalty. (Saikyo means “west city,” the former name for Kyoto.) Saikyo Miso has been a valuable part of the Imperial Palace’s hare (soul rejuvenation) ceremonies and has developed along with the food culture of the capital city. It is known for its generous amount of rice malt, its sweetness due to its low sodium content, and its beautiful light beige color.

The fermentation period for this miso is relatively short which contributes to the color and the buttery, smooth consistency. Compared with other miso, saikyo has the least amount of salt (5 percent to 10 percent) which minimizes the intense flavor to a naturally sweet, mild taste. Fish fillets are marinated in sweet miso for at least 2-3 days or up to 5-7 days for thicker slices before being grilled.

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Ramen: Pork Belly for Ramen | Chāshū | チャーシュー

Rolled Pork Belly Chashu

Chāshū is my favorite meat ingredient for ramen. Just like ramen, it came to Japanese cuisine from China and transformed into a very different dish. Originally, char siu 叉燒 is a kind of barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. In Japan, it is meaty pork belly slowly cooked in a flavorful broth. At the end of cooking, pork belly loses a lot of fat and becomes very tender and soft. Every bite of chashu melts in the mouth. For ramen, chashu os served thinly sliced. A very similar Japanese recipe for cooking pork belly to serve it with cooked rice, hot mustard sauce, and pickled vegetables is called Buta no Kakuni (豚の角煮, “pork cut square and simmered”). For both recipes, pork belly can be skinless or with pigskin, based on personal preferences and availability.

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Ramen: Eggs for Ramen | Ajitsuke Tamago | 味付け玉子

Ajitsuke Tamago

Every time I invite people to experience ramen for the first time and they pick the toppings, I suggest to include eggs. In the menu, they read “pickled” or “marinated” next to the eggs and say “No.” I smile and order extra eggs for my bowl of ramen, because I know what’s going to happen next — they will see them, ask for a bite, and I’ll have to share. Why didn’t you order them? — I ask. They are simply expected to be similar to American vinegary pickled eggs, which do not have a lot of fans these days. Ajitsuke tamago are completely different. They are soft with runny yolk and seasoned in a savory broth based on soy sauce. They are delicious!

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Miso-Braised Shishito Peppers

Miso-Braise Shishito Peppers

There is no Japanese cooking class I teach or tasting event I host without mentioning Asahi Imports store. Besides having the best selection of sake and Japanese beer in Austin, they now make really good fresh snacks in store. Every time I shop there, I treat myself with their onigiri, and they are always amazing. Last time I’ve got onigiri with miso-braised shishito — to die for! Today I’ve made my own at home using the recipe below.

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Basting Sauce for Japanese Grill

Pseudo Tare for Yakitori

Tare (垂れ?, “tar-eh”) is a general term in Japanese cuisine for basting sauces used for grilling. Mannen Tare (10,000 year old sauce) is and old school tare created by continuous use in traditional yakitori joints, where skewers are partially grilled, dipped into the tare, and then grilled to doneness. Every dipped skewer brings some drippings of dissolved proteins and fats into the sauce, which makes its flavor more complex and concentrated. At home, we can make a pseudo version of tare adjusted to our taste.

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Halloween Recipes: Eggplant Witches

Eggplants are magical. There are eggplant recipes in almost every cuisine in the world. Eggplants can be transformed into a delicacy by applying almost any cooking method: simmering, steaming, frying, deep-frying, stir-frying, baking, roasting, charring, drying, marinating, fermenting… They can be cooked savory and sweet. Their flavor is very meaty and full of umami. Eggplants ARE magical. Serve them shaped as witches this Halloween!

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Fried Rice with Hamachi

Making Kona Hamachi Fried Rice

This is perfect quick dinner for two if you happen to have a leftover sushi rice and a piece of good sushi grade fish. Yellowtail is my favorite, but salmon, fatty tuna, or escolar are good substitutions. They are available in Central Market, frozen. When prepping ingredients, I slice fish frozen. I normally cook and serve this fried rice not plated. My husband and I put our chairs close to each other and enjoy eating it from cast-iron skillet.

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