fried rice balls yakionigiri

Freezing Yakionigiri

fried rice balls yakionigiri

I think one of the first frozen foods I had in Japan was frozen onigiri. The hubby bought them one evening and I was skeptical. I don’t really like frozen food and these seemed to simple to be good. I loved them. Haven’t bought them since but they did inspire me to explore the world of yakionigiri. There have been terrible results in the past but now all is good. I haven’t perfected them but they are pretty good. I usually use the frying pan but I tried them in the riceball plates of my waffle iron and was pleased. It’s so easy. Since I need to have some food prepped in the freezer for work day breakfasts, lunches and dinners, freezing riceballs seemed to be perfect. You can just reheat with miso soup for a quick meal. They are best heated in a toaster oven so they don’t get too soggy. I use the grill setting in my microwave but keep the pan on a lower level than when actually grilling.

Basically, lightly salt the rice and make riceballs. If you need a tutorial, check out this one on Just Hungry. In a small bowl mix a bit of soy sauce and grated ginger. Lightly oil a frying pan and heat up the pan on medium. When the frying pan has heated up, place the rice balls and fry until they are just starting to turn golden. Turn over and either brush or sprinkle with a spoon the ginger soy sauce mixture on the cooked side. Just a little at a time so the riceball doesn’t fall apart. When the other side has started to change color turn over again and repeat with the sauce. Now you can fry them until they turn a deeper color. If you are freezing them, cool them completely before putting them in the freezer. Either thaw at room temperature or microwave for about 30 seconds and then put them in the toaster oven until they look nice and toasty.

homemade-taiyaki

Homemade Taiyaki

homemade-taiyaki

My first apartment with my husband was near a shopping street with a taiyaki place right in the middle. The shopping street led to a train station we used somtimes and taiyaki was the perfect winter hand warmer. When I decided to buy a waffle iron a couple of months ago I decided that it needed to come with taiyaki plates. This was my first attempt at taiyaki batter and I quite liked it. Before I bought the waffle iron I searched online and most recipes were very similar to my pancake recipe. The little booklet that came with the waffle iron had a very different recipe for taiyaki batter and I gave it a go. I think it will be my goto recipe for taiyaki batter. I made a non-traditional savory filling but you can put anything you want in it. I’m thinking nutella would be amazing. If you don’t have taiyaki plates for your waffle iron I imagine you could use the batter with the hot sandwich plates.

Traditional fillers for taiyaki: custard or an (sweet bean paste)

Nontraditional fillers: peanut buter & banana, nutella, stir fry, taco meat and cheese, anything you can think of

Taiyaki batter

from the Mighty Sand Plus One Owners Manual

200 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (I used 1 as I made a savory filler)
200 milliliters water

Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the sugar and then the water. Let sit for 30 minutes.  After you have preheated the taiyaki iron fill the bottom up with batter, put a spoon full (or a bit more) of the filler in the center and press down a little bit. Add some more batter on top, close the iron and wait until your finished light goes on. Cool a little before eating to prevent burnt tongues.

chigasaki-industrial-fair

Chigasaki Industrial Fair

Chigasaki Industrial Fair

Last weekend I went to the Chigasaki Industrial Fair. It sounds boring but it was actually more like a huge farmer’s market. Lots of tables with local businesses and their products. I picked up some great black current jam (from an import company) and promptly made muffins with jam swirled in. Yum.

chigasaki-industrial-fair

The classic choco banana. I didn’t actually have one because I find the chocolate is not up to par. Great fun though.

breaded deep fried tunaThese breaded deep fried tuna bites were amazing. They added a bit of onion before they breaded them and it added great flavour.

spiral sausageAnd these cute little spiral sausages. Pretty good sausage but it was all in the presentation.

 

industrial fare garbage station

 And what impressed me the most was the garbage station. You had to separate garbage, wash out plastic bottles/cans, remove bottle labels and squish them. They had people to help and monitor to make sure everything was done correctly. Good planning.

 

Sakura products in japan

Sakura Love

Sakura products in Japan

For some reason I am in love with sakura flavored stuff this year. In past years I didn’t give sakura flavoring the time of day. Probably because sakura season is during allergy season so I don’t participate in all of the hoopla. No picnics for me. I think I have only done it twice in my eight years here.

In the picture:

1. Sakura green tea
2. Sakura salt
3. Sakura macaroons
4. Sakura umeshu
5. Sakura bean paste
6. Pancakes topped with sakura bean paste
7. Sakura rice mix

sakura an on pancakes

Sakura An

sakura an on pancakes

For some reason I am somewhat obsessed with sakura flavor this year. This is my eighth sakura season but the first time I have been interested in sakura flavored anything. I asked on Facebook and Twitter about the best flavoring to use and was told that the flavor is in the leaves, which are preserved in salt and need to be rinsed well. I bought both the leaves and the flowers (also preserved in salt) as well as some extract but it smells too floral. I decided to make sakura an (bean paste) and put in on pancakes (see above picture). I replaced 1/2 cup of the flour in the pancakes with kinako powder (soy bean powder) to make them match better with bean paste. I added a preserved sakura flower on top (rinsed with boiling water as they are very salty).

Apparently it takes a little while for the flavor to come out so I made the bean paste the night before. Many visitors to Japan don’t really like bean paste because it is sickly sweet. The great thing about making it yourself is that you can control the sweetness. I put just enough sugar to make it sweet but not so sweet that I couldn’t eat is as part of my breakfast.

Sakura Bean Paste

1 cup cooked white beans
1 preserved sakura leaf
enough water to puree the beans
sugar to taste
red food coloring

Rince the sakura leaf in boiling water to remove most of the salt. Puree the beans and the sakura leaf in a food processor adding only as much water as necessary to get a smooth paste. Blend in sugar to taste and add a bit of red food coloring to get that nice pink color (if desired). Let sit overnight for the flavour to blend.