Summertime Session #4: Chirashi-sushi

9 09 2009

Summertime Forking Lesson #4: Get all torn up

Chirashi sushi

(serves 4)

Feeling a bit torn up about all of your scandalous summer forking?  Dipped your noodle in too many sauces? With summer coming to an end, you may need to indulge in a little guilt-fest by forking this “torn-up” dish. Just like guilt (religious, sexual or otherwise) Chirashi (literally: “torn”) sushi is dead-easy, since it’s just an assortment of toppings on a bed of sushi rice – no rolling required. While sushi restaurants display gorgeous arrays of sashimi atop their glistening beds of rice, the humble Japanese housewife expresses torn-up feelings of guilt with the following: sushi rice mixed with boiled vegetables and topped with fish (if you like) shredded egg and nori (seaweed).  Are you a glutton for self-loathing? If so, here’s an easy way to get “all torn up”.

Ingredients for “All torn-up Chirashi Sushi”

Sushi Rice:

  • 2 cups hot, cooked Japanese rice
  • 4 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 – 1.5 Tbsp sugar, depending on your taste, pinch of salt OR “sushinoko” powder (follow package directions for amount)


  • Boiled vegetables: Your choice or combination of thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, julienned carrots, and peas boiled in a broth of: ½ cup fish stock (“dashi”), 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, pinch salt
  • Assorted sashimi (Totally optional. e.g. tuna, salmon, cooked shrimp, salmon roe, etc.)
  • Shredded egg – 2 eggs, beaten
  • Sushi nori – ½ sheet, shredded by hand or finely cut with scissors

How to make “All torn-up Chirashi Sushi”

  1. Get in bed. The best place to retreat to when all torn up is a bed (of rice). Put on the rice to cook, and then get to prepping your toppings.
  2. Make your veg limp.  You’ve been naughty all summer – it’s time to punish your veg. Bring the broth (as outlined in the “toppings” section) to a boil, and then boil each topping in turn, scooping the toppings out when limp and re-using the broth to boil each subsequent topping. Set your limp veg aside and allow it to cool.Boiled veg
  3. Shred a tear. To make shredded egg, beat the eggs and make thin egg “crepes” by frying in a hot, lightly oiled pan. Hold the hot frying pan in one hand (by the handle, unless you are a glutton for punishment) and pour in the egg, swirling it around so that it creates a thin, flat sheet. When it’s cooked most of the way through, carefully flip it to cook the other side (I slide it out of the pan, then pick it up and place it back in on the flip side). Slide the crepe onto a cutting board, and cut it into 1-inch strips. Then, cut the strips cross-wise as thinly as you can, creating 1-inch long egg “sprinkles”. (If this is too much for you, just scramble the eggs instead, using chopsticks to mix up the egg as you cook, so as to create little bitty egg pieces.)Shredded egg
  4. Get all cut up. Create shredded nori pieces by cutting the sheet of seaweed into 1-inch strips, then cutting cross-wise like you did the egg.
  5. Salt (and vinegar) your wound. When the rice is cooked, it’s ready to be cooled and given a vinegar treatment. Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt, and then transfer the rice into a shallow dish – the shallower, the better (to allow for quick cooling). Drizzle the vinegar mixture over it, distributing it evenly, and then cool the rice by gently turning (not stirring!) it while fanning it at the same time. Do this until your fanning arm gives out and falls off or your rice is cooled, whichever comes first.Rice fanning
  6. Get all mixed up inside. Add your limp (and by now, cooled) veg to the rice, and gently mix in.
  7. Get topped. Transfer the rice/veg mixture to your serving platter, and then artfully arrange the shredded egg and seafood (if you’re using it) on top, sprinkling the whole thing with your shredded or cut nori.
  8. Indulge in your guilt. Don’t listen to your therapist, being all torn up can be a beautiful thing, especially when expressed in artfully arranged chirashi sushi.Chirashi

Summer Session #3: Zaru Udon (Cold Thick Noodles)

24 08 2009

Summer Forking Lesson #3: How to Dip Your Thick Noodle

Zaru Udon(serves 3 – 4)

If you’ve been following along in the summer sessions, you now are well (socially) lubricated and have managed to look good and stay cool while doing so. You’ve done the difficult part, now it’s time to get down to dipping your noodle. Zaru udon (cold thick noodles dipped in a soy-based sauce) make for perfect summer forking. Tasty, quick, and cold, you’ll easily have your noodle slipping and sliding just the way you like it. (Speaking of “just the way you like it”, if you find udon noodles have too much girth, you can replace the thick, white udon noodle with the thinner, darker soba.)

Ingredients for Zaru Udon

  • 3 to 4 bundles of udon noodles

For the dipping sauce

  • Boiling water, 2 Tbsp
  • Dashi (fish or kelp stock) powder, ½ tsp
  • Sugar, 1 Tbsp
  • Cold water, 1 ½ cups
  • Soy sauce, ¼ cup
  • Mirin, 1 Tbsp
  • Garnish: 2 green onions, chopped, and grated wasabi or ginger

How to make “Zaru Udon”

  1. Get hot. Put on a large pot of water to boil (for the noodles). Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl (big enough for 2 cups of liquid) prep the cold dipping sauce by throwing in the dashi powder and sugar and a couple of tablespoons of boiling water stirring until the dashi and sugar dissolve. If you nick the boiling from the large pot, do so before putting the noodles in it! The starch from the noodles are not desired in your sauce.
  2. Be saucy. To your dissolved sugar/dashi mixture, stir in the cold water, soy sauce, and mirin. Put the sauce into the fridge to chill.
  3. Get your thick noodle ready. Once your water is boiling, dump in your udon noodles. While the noodles are boiling, prepare a large bowl of icy-cold water (add a dozen ice cubes if you have them) which you’ll use to chill the noodles.  Once the noodles are al dente (around 5 -6 minutes, depending on girth) drain them, rinse in cold water, and then dump into the ice-cold bath, shaking them around until they are nice and cold.
  4. Present your noodle for dipping. Drain off the noodles and present each portion in a shallow serving bowl or, if you have it, a shallow woven basket (this is how the Japanese like to present their thick noodles). Pour out the chilled sauce into small bowls and garnish with chopped green onion and about 1 tsp of grated ginger or ½ tsp of grated wasabi per dish.
  5. Get dipping. To eat – take a few noodles and drop them (gently, don’t splash!) into the sauce. When you fish them back out, they will be dripping in cool, salty, yumminess, perked up by a little kick of ginger or wasabi. Enjoy!

Zaru Udon dipping

Special Bonus – Sloppy Seconds!

As an added bonus, you can have an amazing lunch or dinner the next day with leftover udon and sauce.

Yaki-udon: Fry the noodles up with some leftover veggies, meat or seafood. Add a little dissolved cornstarch to the sauce, and throw it on at the last minute, cooking until the sauce thicken.

Udon salad: Top your fave salad veggies and then pour on the sauce for a noodle salad. Add a bit of sesame oil for extra flavour.

Leftover udon salad

Summertime Session #2: Summer Somen (Noodle) Salad

16 08 2009

Summertime Forking Lesson #2: Look good, Stay cool

somen salad 2

If you’ve completed Summer Session #1 (Sassy Sangria), then you are by now well lubricated (and possibly also inebriated) and ready for the next step – get out your noodle. This noodle salad is not only delicious and easy to make with whatever you happen to have on hand, even the most inexperienced forker can make it look good.  This one gets bonus points for a water-based (instead of oil-based) dressing – keeping things fresh and friendly to your waistline. Warning: this dish is extremely tasty, once created, prepare to beat off potential forking partners.

Salad: (Substitute with your favourite toppings, but stay fresh and light)

  • Somen noodles, one bundle (rice noodles are a good substitute if you can’t find somen noodles)
  • Cooked shrimp or crabmeat, about ½ – ¾ cup (optional)
  • Thinly sliced, salt-massaged hard vegetable, about ½ – ¾ cup. I use cucumber, but you can use thinly sliced daikon radish, julienned carrot, etc.
  • Roughly chopped soft leafy veg or herb, about ¼ – ½ cup. I used chopped shiso leaves, but you can use spinach, cilantro, butter lettuce, etc.
  • Reconstituted dried wakame (kelp) (soak 1 Tbsp dry wakame in ¼ cup water for 5 minutes, and drain excess water once reconstituted)
  • Daikon sprouts to garnish (optional)

Fresh Sesame-Ginger Dressing:

  • Sushi vinegar, 1 Tbsp. (or rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. + sugar, ½ tsp)
  • Water, 2 Tbsp.
  • Ponzu, 1 Tbsp.
  • Sesame oil, 1 tsp.
  • Grated fresh ginger, 1 tsp.

How to make Summer Somen Salad:

  1. Give your hard veg a good massage. To soften up harder veg like cucumber, daikon, or carrot, julienne or slice them in paper-thin rounds, throw into a bowl, salt generously (about ½ – ¾ tsp. per 2 cups chopped veg.) and then massage (yes, massage) the salt into your veg. After a good going-over with the salt, your veg will start to weep (its moisture). Leave it to weep for 10 – 15 minutes, and then drain excess water, squeezing your veg to get out a good portion of the moisture.
  2. Take out your noodle. While your veg is weeping, boil some noodles according to package directions. While they are boiling, prepare a large bowl of cold water with plenty of ice cubes. It sounds cruel, but once boiled, drain your noodles out in a colander, and then plunge them into the ice-water, using your hand to roughly and vigorously shake about your noodle. This will cool it right away and stop your noodle from becoming too limp. Refresh the ice-water, and keep noodles in cold water until ready to use.
  3. Prepare your veg. Chop up your leafy veg, re-constitute the wakame (kelp).
  4. Get on top. Strain your noodles, and pile them into a shallow bowl or plate.  Arrange the toppings artfully on the bed of noodles.
  5. Lube up and caNoodle. Throw together the dressing ingredients, and pour on top or around the sides.  Present to your forking friends, and prepare for some canoodling.

somen dinner

This salad is so forking delicious, look at the hot people it attracted!

Somen Salad friend 1



    Ashlie’s Cheesy Balls (served warm)

    8 08 2009

    Chevre Cheese Ball(serves 1 – 15)

    Have you been asked to a pot-luck and don’t know what to bring? Like me, you might have your standby forking pot-luck dishes – your fruit salads, bean dips, or guacamole with chips. BORING! My friend Ashlie’s standby is much more exciting – that’s why I got her to show me her balls. Her sundried tomato and goats cheese balls. Dead easy to make, and delicious in every way, they are also good for friends who are forking gluten and lactose intolerant (goat’s cheese is friendly to lactose-phobic bellies).

    Ashlie’s balls are a hit at parties, especially if you take a little extra care with the forking presentation. At the latest gathering, she brought out her hot balls elegantly surrounded by grapes, and before you know it, the ladies had practically licked those balls clean off the plate!


    • 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
    • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
    • 200g chevre (soft goat cheese)
    • Topping: ¾ – 1 cup of chopped cashews or pecans

    How to make “Ashlie’s Cheesy Balls”:

    1. Be smooth. Puree until smooth (or almost smooth) all of the ingredients except for the cheese and nuts.

      Making cheese balls

      Ashlie making her balls

    2. Be Cheesy. Add the cheese to your mix and pulse until blended. If your cheese is too stiff to blend, then add a little lemon juice or oil from the sundried tomatoes to soften it up. Taste and adjust to your liking with more garlic, lemon peel, or dill.Cheese mix
    3. Be Ballsy. Turn out the cheesy mix onto a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a ball. I find it’s easiest to line a very round bowl with the wrap and scoop the cheese into it – the bowl does most of the work for you. You can make one large ball or two small onesBall
    4. Be Chill. Chill your ball(s) in the fridge for a few hours (or a ½ hour in the freezer if you’re stuck on time).
    5. Be Nutty. Once chilled and firm, unwrap your balls and prepare the chopped nuts on a plate. Roll your balls in the nuts until they are encrusted.
    6. Be Warm. Place your cheesy balls onto a pie plate or other baking dish with sides (just in case of melting) and bake at 375 for 12 – 15 minutes for one large ball, 7 – 10 minutes for two small. Check often to make sure your balls aren’t melting. They should be warmed through, but still firm.
    7. Present your balls. Arrange your balls on a platter with crackers, grapes, and anything else you think might complement your salty, tangy balls. These balls are so good, you might just eat them all yourself – remember that you’ll also get a lot of pleasure by letting others enjoy your balls!

    Recipe originally from Dana McCauley’s “Pantry Raid”

    “Hot Veg!” Donburi

    18 03 2009


    Craving a filling of some hot veg? I know I sure was – so I whipped out… ahem… whipped up this delicious and steamy donburi. With warm egg and delicious sauce dripping over a hot bed of rice, this is the way I like my veg – hot!

    Ingredients for Hot Veg! Donburi

    (per serving)


    • 1 Tbsp Sugar
    • 1 tsp Mirin
    • 1 tsp soy sauce
    • 1 cup dashi (1 cup water + ¼ tsp dashi powder)


    • ¼ onion, sliced thin
    • 2 – 3 green onions, sliced
    • ¼ – ½ cup other veggies of your choice (Optional) (e.g. julienned carrots, bean sprouts, nappa cabbage, tofu, usu-age tofu slices)

    The rest:

    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 bowl of hot Japanese rice

    How to make “Hot Veg! Donburi”

    1.       Prepare your veg. Thinly slice the onions, and wash and cut whatever veggies you want to add. Note the thickness and rigidness of your veg , and remember that hard veg. should be cut thinner so that it will finish cooking at the same time as the thicker veg.

    2.       Get hot and saucy! Pour all of the “sauce” ingredients into (naturally) a saucepan, and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Once it’s boiling, add the onion and cook until it begins to soften. Add the rest of the veggies and cook until just ready. (Don’t overcook – you don’t want wilty veg!)

    3.       Get semi-solid. Now, I know it seems counter-intuitive, but real Japanese donburi is made with semi-soft egg. So once your sauce is boiling and your veg is ready, pour in the beaten egg and turn down the heat, cooking the eggs for only a minute or two. Don’t mix it – just let the egg begin to set as is. If there are really raw sections of egg, you can spoon some of the hot sauce over the particularly raw parts, but the key to a really delicious donburi is to stop cooking the egg before it’s hard, and pour the whole lot over a steaming bowl of rice. Let the gooey, saucy mess penetrate right down to your bottom… ahem… I meant, the bottom of the bowl. Forking delicious!!

    Recipe by: Hana

    This recipe in Japanese (link to come)

    CHana’s Masala

    18 03 2009

    chana-masala(serves 4)

    I have to say that my forking life has been lacking of late, so I turned to a new gentleman for some help.


    Not only is Ameet Muturu cute, his recipe blog (Rice of Life) is full of some forking fantastic recipes. Just what the doctor ordered – a new man and some spicy forking! I have to admit that the title was appealing to me (it includes my real name [Hana] and my nickname [Chan]) but it was the aroma of the garam masala, coriander and cumin that left me forking satisfied. Ameet, if you are ever in Vancouver, you are so invited over for a forking session.

    Ingredients for Chana’s Masala

    • 1 tbsp olive oil or ghee
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric
    • 1 small red onion, diced
    • 2 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1/2 tsp garam masala
    • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
    • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
    • 2 15-oz cans Chick peas
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • a few sprigs cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

    How to make “Chana’s Masala”

    1. Get fragrant. In a wok or skillet, heat the olive oil and add turmeric. Cook the onion until it just starts to soften (about 5 minutes), and then add the tomato paste and spices and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Mmmm… heavenly.

    2. Get the chicks (peas). Pour in the chickpeas, including the reserved water in the tins, and simmer on medium heat for another 10 minutes or so, until you get a nice, rich sauce.

    3. Get tasty. Add the salt, lemon, and garnish with some chopped cilantro to finish. Serve with basmati rice and a side of greens for a forking amazing meal -Yum!!

    Recipe re-vamped by: Hana

    This recipe in Japanese (link to come)

    Luscious Lentil Soup

    13 03 2009


    I have to admit that I have been over- indulgent when it comes to forking lately – forking whatever I want, whenever I wanted. I mean, really, two batches of oatmeal cookies in as many days? It was time for a self-imposed “Forking Lent”. And what better way to start off Lent, than with this Luscious Lentil Soup and a slice of home-made bread?

    I got this recipe from Nigel Slater’s book “Real Cooking”, and it is honestly the best lentil soup I have ever tasted – the chili pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice make these leg(ume)s stand out in a crowd. Ridiculously easy to make and so full of flavor, you won’t even notice it’s Lentils.


    • 2 large shallots or small onions
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 large cloves garlic
    • 1 large dried chili, 1 small fresh chili, or 2 tsp dried chili flakes
    • 100g brown mushrooms
    • 1 cup small brown or green lentils
    • 1 L stock
    • Bay leaf (or 2 or 3, you can indulge in this)
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • Juice of ½ – 1 lemon

    How to make “Luscious Lentil Soup”

    1.       Get Rough. This is a rustic soup – so roughly chop onions and sauté until soft (but not browning), and don’t even bother chopping the garlic. Just peel it and give it a bit of a smash with the side of your knife before throwing in the cloves whole. Add the chili at this time, too.

    2.       Prepare your nuggets. Chop mushrooms into large nuggets and add them to the mix. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

    3.       Use those nice leg(ume)s. Throw in the lentils, enough stock to cover them twice over, and the bay leaf (or leaves – I like to add two). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let it all cook until the lentils are very soft.

    4.       Savour. Once it’s all done, season with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. These last two are important, so don’t skip them!

    Recipe written by: Hana

    This recipe on the Japanese Blog