Apparently today is national coffee day. So, what do you do if you don’t drink coffee?! There’s tea, but what if you want something non-caffeinated? I like herbal teas, but they aren’t SWEET! Someday I’m going to tell you about my OBSESSION with mugicha aka roasted barley tea, but that’s kind of an acquired taste, and the average non-Japanese/Asian person would probably say it tastes like cigarette butts.
Moving on! I want to tell you about this hot caramel milk. Last week I was kicking the sheets off at night because it was so HOT! Last night I put my fluffy bathrobe on in the middle of the night because I was freezing! What’s up, weather? Anyways, this week has had some chilly mornings, and when the mornings are cold, you want to drink something warm, obvs.
If morning coffee is your thing because, caffeine, then I’m going to let you in on something. Hot milk before bed. It’s not just for little kids. There’s sugar in this, but, I mean, I ate cheesecake right before bed last night, and this is a 100x better idea than that. Just to let you know, I brought the cheesecake to my room to share with my husband but he said he had already brushed his teeth… traitor.
Back to this hot caramel milk. It’s sweet but not overly so, and you can adjust the sweetness to you liking by… adding more milk! Or less, if you’re going for more of a dessert drink. You caramelize the sugar to a deep amber for a deep caramel flavor, or just a little if you don’t like that burnt sugar taste (you’re crazy if you don’t, sorry). The flavor shines through the milk perfectly. Milk makes such a good base for drinks, don’t you agree? There’s also butter in it, which you might think is weird, but it adds a smooth richness to it that is just great. You can skip it if you really must.
I also want to mention that this is great COLD as well.
It’s really easy to make and comes together in just a few minutes. Plus you have all of the ingredients. Try it out!
p.s. aren’t these cups so cute? My friend in Japan gave them to me as a wedding gift. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough that I can let them use it. My oldest already loves them, but I can only let her drink from it if I’m watching her like a hawk O_O.
Hot Caramel Milk
- 2 cups milk
- 3-4 T sugar
- 1 T butter
Add sugar and butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. As the butter melts, stir to combine with the sugar. Meanwhile, microwave the milk to warm it.
Caramelize the sugar: cook to a deep amber. Be careful not to let it burn! You can also caramelize less if you want a less intense caramel flavor. When sugar is ready, remove from heat. Add milk in a steady stream as you stir. The sugar will seize up and there will be sizzling, but keep stirring.
Place back on stovetop over low heat. Make sure to keep the heat sufficiently low so that you don't boil the milk. Continue stirring until all of the caramelized sugar is melted into the milk.
Store the left overs in the fridge.
To go along with yesterday’s karaage chicken, here is another bento classic. It’s a simple egg roll, called the tamagoyaki. Loose translation: cooked egg. Basically. BUT before you read any further, I have you tell you… you need a special pan to make this. I have this one. Is it worth it to buy a pan specifically to make tamagoyaki? I guess it goes to show how popular of an egg dish this is in Japan, because basically every household has one of these. But back to the question. Is it worth it for YOU? Eh, probably not. But before you quit this dish, let me give you an alternative. This recipe- scrambled. Or omelette style. Whatever you want. I mean, the flavor is the same, so if you want to eat Japanese tasting egg (really yummy, obviously), you can just scramble it! Secret: I sometimes do that, because rolling the egg up is a pain and I’m actually pretty bad at it. I just don’t have that stereotypical Asian dexterity. I’m good at math though!
Right, so now that we have the pan problem out of the way, this recipe does require dashi stock. Dashi stock is a basic Japanese stock made from kelp, bonito, or both. You can buy it in granule form and mix it with water. It’s really easy- just follow the instructions on the container. You can get dashi granules at any Asian store. Actually, you might even be able to buy it at a regular grocery store in the Asian section. No promises though. Here where I live, the Asian section of grocery stores are laughably small.
Finally, how do you like that pretty cloth I used in the pictures? Isn’t it cool? It’s called a furoshiki, which is a cloth that is used to wrap things (like bento!). In this case, I guess I’m implying that I’m just gonna wrap those dishes up and take them to lunch or something. But the reason I bring up the furoshiki is, this is a special furoshiki. It’s designed by some guy and it’s really pretty and my husband made me trek across Tokyo and buy it for him when I visited Japan (and left him behind because he had to work). Basically what I’m saying is that after all that, I dug it out of a box it’s been sitting in for over two years, and finally used it for something! Isn’t that funny that the things we just HAVE to have end up not being thrown into a box and forgotten about? I’m glad I could put it to use because, really, it’s a beautiful piece of cloth.
Anyways, make these eggs! They are super good!
NOTE: Just to let you know, this egg has some sugar in it. The sweetness might throw you off a bit, but don’t let it weird you out. Instead, realize how it just… works.
Note 2: I’m going to assume that if you have a tamagoyaki pan you know how to make tamagoyaki. Therefore you don’t need step by step instructions. Can I also assume that if you don’t have the pan and you are going to scramble it… you know how to scramble eggs?
Japanese Egg Roll- Tamagoyaki
- 4 eggs
- 2 t soy sauce
- 2 t sugar
- 4 T dashi stock
Add all of the ingredients into a bowl and beat together. Either make traditional tamagoyaki in the rectangular pan, or scramble, or make an omelette.
Need a Tamagoyaki Pan ? (affiliate link)
Today was my middle daughter’s second birthday and I wanted to do something fun for dinner. Going out to a restaurant is fun, but then you have to constantly tell your kids to sit down and don’t climb out of the highchair, stop pouring pepper on your fruit… the usual stuff. I thought it would be more fun and relaxing to have a picnic! So I made some basic picnic/bento lunch foods and we packed it up and headed to a park.
The first thing on my list of picnic foods is Japanese fried chicken, aka karaage. It’s bite sized and you don’t feel like a bad parent when you let your kids eat it sans-utensils. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is totally doable for those who don’t have many Japanese ingredients. When I was looking around online at other karaage recipes, I noticed that they had lots of ingredients in the marinade, including things like sake, mirin, stuff you might not have in your pantry. The marinade I used has just two ingredients: soy sauce and grated fresh ginger. Now, I wondered if I would be missing out, not using these other ingredients. And then I had an epiphany. It’s salty and I’m frying it. I’m not necessarily saying this tastes better than other marinades, but what I am saying is that it’s really good, and you only need two ingredients soooo… yeah. Decide for yourself.
One ingredient that you may not have is potato starch that you coat the chicken in. You can buy it at the Asian market, but, then, if you were there then you’d probably also pick up mirin and sake right? You can substitute corn starch for the potato starch, but be warned that it’s not quite the same. I heard it’s a little less crispy. But probably still delicious, so don’t let the lack of potato starch stop you from trying this out.
I fried mine in a wok, which is my new favorite way to deep fry things. It’s also the best way! J. Kenji Lopez-alt who is my favorite food writer said so, so it’s true. You should try it out! I used to fry in my dutch oven and I find that there really is less splattering and less gunk build up on the sides with the wok.
Feel free to use chicken thighs or breast. I usually use chicken breast because that’s what I have on hand. Although it’s more dry, I find that thighs are a little too fatty for me. I know thighs is the traditional Japanese way to do it, but, sometimes we break the rules here.
Try it out!
Japanese Fried Chicken with two ingredient marinade
- 1 lb chicken breast or thighs
- 3 T soy sauce
- 1 inch grated fresh ginger or more if you like ginger
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1/4 cup flour
- oil for deep frying
Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Combine soy sauce and grated ginger in a baggie and add chicken. Seal bag and massage the chicken. Let marinate for about 20 minutes.
Heat oil to 350 degrees f. Combine potato starch and flour in a bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the mixture to a bag and add 5-6 pieces of chicken (these small batches keeps from overcrowding and lowering the temperature of the oil too much). Shake bag up to coat the pieces, shake off excess powder and fry until golden brown. Make sure to stir the chicken pieces around periodically while frying.
When golden brown, remove from oil and place on paper towel lined plate.
I made this strawberry curd as soon as I found out you can make strawberry curd. I had a tub of strawberries in the fridge that needed to be used and I thought, hey, why not? I’m not a huge fan of lemon curd, although I don’t not like it… You know what I mean? Anyways, I thought I’d give it a try. When I tasted the finished product I was really happy with it. The strawberry taste is strong and clear, and even the end of season so-so strawberries that I used were able to produce that crisp berry taste.
I used them first for my pavlovas with lemongrass infused cream and strawberry curd, and I’ve been eating it on everything since then. Like this morning, I put it on bread and then sprinkled some granola on it. I didn’t even toast the bread, but it was delicious.
Another easy but pretty way to use it up is to eat it on puff pastry. I used this recipe here. So easy and yummy!
It’s a great way to extend strawberry season, since curd should last in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. You can also freeze it and have a taste of summer even when it’s snowing outside!
It’s so simple to make…Give it a try!
- 12 ounces hulled strawberries
- scant 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 T cornstarch
- 1 T lemon or lime juice
- 3 egg yolks
- 4 T butter
Puree strawberries in blender or food processor. Blend until seeds are pulverized, and pour into a medium sized saucepan. (If your blender cannot pulverize the seeds, start with a little more strawberries and strain into saucepan.)
Stir together sugar and cornstarch and add to the strawberries. Add lemon/lime juice and whisked egg yolks. Place over medium heat and stir continuously until thickened.
Add in butter one pat at a time and stir to combine. Place in container, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool. Transfer to fridge to cool completely.
Recipe NotesAdapted from: Baked by Rachel
Long title, I know. I still had lemongrass left from making the melon lemongrass boba drink, so I needed to find a way to use it. I really liked the flavor of the infused milk, so I decided to infuse cream this time. I also had a pack of strawberries that would go nicely with the lemongrass. I could have chopped it up and used it as a topping, but I decided to make a strawberry curd.
Well, I’m glad I did. The strawberry curd was deeeelicious. I am going to put it on toast tomorrow for breakfast! It’d also be great on cake, cupcakes, cookies, etc. etc. etc. The recipe is right here.
These are the two toppings I chose for the airy crispy tender pavlova. Pavlova is a meringue type dessert that you can either make into one large “cake” shape, or into minis, like so. The cream and curd paired perfectly together, and the pavlova was great as a base! It all came together into a delicious, elegant dessert.
Pavlova with lemongrass infused cream and strawberry curd
- 2 egg whites about 80 grams
- scant 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 t vanilla
- 1/2 t white vinegar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- sugar to taste
- strawberry curd recipe in notes below
Make Pavlovas: Preheat oven to 250 F. Clean bowl and hand mixer to get rid of all traces of oil/grease. Whip egg whites. Once egg whites are frothy, add in sugar a bit at a time. Whip to stiff peaks. Add in vanilla and vinegar and whip for another several seconds to combine. Spoon onto a baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper. Makes 8 mini pavlovas- use back of spoon to create well in center. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until dry on outside and hollow sounding. Turn off oven and leave door open, allowing pavlovas to cool. Remove from oven.
Make lemongrass whipped cream: Cut lemongrass stalk into pieces. Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan. Add lemongrass and remove from heat. Let sit until cool and strain. Toss the lemongrass. Refrigerate the cream, and when cool, whip with sugar to taste.
Spoon cream onto pavlovas and top with strawberry curd.
Recipe NotesThe strawberry curd makes much more than you need for the pavlovas. Use it on things like bread, toast, cake, etc. Recipe here.
I loooove boba pearl drinks! The only problem is, I don’t drink certain types of teas, so it’s hard for me to go out and buy it. Some places have the milk based, but, I recently moved and the places around me are all tea based. Boo. But I still crave it. The actual flavor of the drink isn’t what’s important to me… It’s the pearls. Mmmm, chewy and sweet and delicious. When I was looking around online, I saw a lot of instructions saying to just boil the pearls and throw it in the drink. The ones I buy have a sweet bite to them, so I knew there had to be some kind of syrup they soak it in. Cue in The Kitchn. Their recipe has you keep the pearls in a simple sugar syrup. I tried it out and it. was. perfect.
I made my drink with things I had around the kitchen. My last trip to the Asian market, I came home with lemongrass because it was on sale. Ok. Lets use lemongrass. I also had a melon that I thought might be about ripe. It was a “kandy” honeydew. Yellow on the outside and… well, it’s kind of a cream colored inside. I dunno, it was on sale so I decided to try it out. Actually, it was a little light on flavor. I don’t think it was ripe yet but it was sitting on my counter for a WEEK and I was dying to try it! Guess I jumped the gun… My drink would have been even yummier if I had used a riper melon. Ah well.
I used the lemongrass by infusing the milk with it. It gives a subtle flavor that you can just notice. I’ve never heard of melon and lemongrass together, but it worked! You can make yours with any fruit combination you want. Try infusing the milk with other herbs and flavors! The possibilities are endless. And it’ll be delicious. Can I say what the best part of making this at home is? You can put as many pearls as you want in your drink. I definitely put in more than I should… Mmm.
Homemade Boba Drink
- 1/2 cup boba
- 4 cups water
- half melon cut in pieces and frozen
- 2 cup milk
- 1-2 stalks lemongrass
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
Make the infused milk: cut lemongrass stalks into pieces and toss the tough portion at the very top. Bring milk to a simmer, add stalks and take off heat. Let cool, strain and toss the lemongrass. Transfer infused milk to the fridge.
Make the boba pearls: Use instructions on pearls. Basic instructions: bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add pearls. Stir and cover pan with lid. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 12 minutes. While pearls are cooking, make simple syrup by boiling 1/2 cup of water in the microwave and stirring in 1/2 cup of sugar. When pearls are done, drain and place in bowl. Cover with simple syrup and allow to cool.
Make drink: place 4 cups or about half a melon and one cup of infused milk into blender. Add simple syrup that pearls are soaking in, to taste. Blend it up. Place boba pearls in drink containers and pour your drink over the top. Drink with boba straws.
Recipe NotesAdapted from The Kitchn.
I know I just posted a black sesame recipe, but the stuff is so good I think you can forgive me. I actually made these today because I signed up to bring a dessert to a potluck dinner. It said to bring something “ethnic, unique, or interesting”, and I thought, it doesn’t get more interesting than a gray and black dessert! I’m guessing most people at the dinner will have never heard of making a dessert with black sesame, so it should be an interesting experience for them.
Even though black sesame looks a little weird, it has such a great flavor and most of my friends who have tried it, love it! Yes, there are some who turn their noses up at new and “different” flavors, but in general, it’s a hit.
This pudding is great because it’s made with gelatin, so there is no baking involved. That’s especially good for when you are bringing it to potlucks or parties, because you can just use cheap plastic cups from the dollar store! You also don’t need sesame paste, which, as I mentioned in the black sesame ice cream post, is harder to come by. This recipe only requires black sesame seeds and other basic ingredients you can get at the grocery store.
I’m sure you’ll love the roasty flavor of black sesame in this creamy, delicious pudding!
Black Sesame Pudding
- 1 packet gelatin 0.25 oz
- 1 1/2 T cold water
- 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
Toast the sesame seeds in a small pan over medium heat. Make sure to watch closely as they can burn easily. Seeds are toasted when they release a nutty aroma.
Put cold water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the water to soften. Set aside.
Grind the sesame seeds in a blender or food processor. Make sure not to over-process or it can become butter-like.
In a medium sized saucepan, add the ground sesame seeds, milk, and sugar. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until it comes to a simmer. Add in the softened gelatin and stir to combine. Remove pan from heat and stir in the cream.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and place in an ice bath. Let sit for a few minutes to cool.
Once the mixture is cooled, whip for 5 minutes to lighten. Pour into containers and refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.
Recipe NotesOptional: top with whipped cream. Adapted from: La Fuji Mama
Did you know that you can make all kinds of yummy Japanese foods with just a few staple ingredients in your pantry? Two of them you probably already have: sugar and soy sauce. The other four: mirin, cooking sake, miso, and granulated dashi can be found at any Asian grocery store. The combinations of these ingredients form the basic Japanese flavor base.
For this Beef and daikon dish, we will be using all but the miso. It’s a really simple dish to throw together on a weeknight and is actually best when made in advance, to give the daikon time to soak in the flavor. In my household, things begin to fall apart around evening when the kids start getting hungry, are tired of playing with each other, and are wanting my attention. Trying to cook a nice meal with kids hanging off of you can be a challenge, so when there’s an option to make dinner during the more peaceful time of the day, say, an hour or so earlier, it’s definitely a win in my book!
The best part of this dish is the daikon. Have you ever had daikon before? It’s a white radish that soaks up the flavor of whatever you are cooking it in. It has an interesting/satisfying bite and is super delicious with this sauce.
Try it out!
Beef with Daikon Radish
- 2/3 to 1 lb thin sliced meat
- 1 to 1.5 lb daikon radish
- 2 T sugar
- 4 T soy sauce
- 3 T sake
- 3 T mirin
- 600 ml dashi stock
Peel and cut the daikon into 1.5 cm thick rounds and cut rounds into quarters.
Place daikon in pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until you can pierce with a little resistance. Drain and set aside.
Add a tablespoon of neutral oil to a large frying pan and cook the beef. Stir in sugar while beef is still a little red.
Stir in the soy sauce, mirin, and sake. Finally, add the dashi stock and daikon. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.
For best flavor, let sit for 30 minutes or so and reheat before serving. Optional: garnish with green onion. Serve with rice.
Recipe NotesThin sliced beef can be found at Asian markets. If you are using granulated dashi, make the stock according to package directions. Adapted from: cookpad.
Okay, I kind of struggled to name this post because… Crispy sweet toast?! But that’s basically what it is. A popular Japanese snack where a baguette or other type (usually french) of bread is thinly sliced and twice baked with a topping of sugar, butter, and perhaps some fancy fruity flavor. Today I made a rusk with the classic sugar and butter topping.
This treat is crispy, buttery, sugary, and delicious. Sure it might be a bit fattening, but it’s sooo worth it! Bread makes you fat?! – Scott Pilgrim… and me. I made 12 slices and my husband and I finished it off in like… 5 minutes. To be fair, I shared the other 3 slices (without butter and sugar) with my kids… heh heh. They never knew that what I was eating was any different from theirs. Mmm, mom this bread is so crispy! Yum! Yeah kids, so good right?
It is irresistible and you definitely won’t be able to stop at one. You’ll probably finish it off and then go and make some more. Good thing you only use a portion of the baguette. You can just turn around and make another batch pronto.
Can I be honest with you? It looks like I’m about to have a friend over for some tea and a nice chat. What really happened was my kids immediately took all of the raspberries after I put my camera down, my husband came home for lunch and snacked on the rest, and I drank both cups of tea because husband doesn’t like that unsweetened stuff. But can we pretend like I had a nice tea time with a friend?
Japanese Rusk- Crispy Sweet Toast
- 12 slices baguette 1/4"-1/2" thickness
- 2 T butter melted
- 2.5 T sugar
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Cut 12, 1/4"-1/2" slices from baguette . Keep the rest of the baguette for another use. Place on cooking sheet and bake for 15 minutes (keep an eye on them, as ovens bake at different rates. Don't let it burn!).
While bread is toasting, melt butter and stir in sugar. A good way to do this is by using a double broiler, but I just used the microwave.
Remove bread from oven and brush with butter/sugar mixture. Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with additional sugar after removing from oven. Cool and eat.
Recipe NotesI did a quick pass under the boiler to get a little more color. You can use more slices if you put less butter/sugar on each one. Adapted from cookpad.
Okay, so this isn’t really a recipe. It’s just a really yummy way to eat rice that you need to try! I’ve eaten bonito flakes with soy sauce on rice since I was a little kid and it’s one of my favorite rice toppings. All you need are shaved bonito flakes. Never heard of it? If you go to any Asian market you will be able to find some. Here’s what they look like:
I also added in an 8 grain mix to my rice to add a little nutty bite to it. That’s what the little colorful pieces in the rice is. Specifically: this.
Just mix 1-2 tsp of soy sauce with one pack of bonito flakes (3g) and put it on your rice and eat.
Bonito Flakes on Rice
- 1 pack dried shaved bonito flakes
- 1-2 tsp soy sauce
Mix the bonito flakes with the soy sauce. Top rice with mixture.