RECIPE: Vegetable Curry Udon

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A bowl of savory and mouth-watering curry noodle soup on a cold Vancouver winter day!

My recipe is loosely based and adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking (By Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat), one of my great recent cookbook finds!  They use soba broth (it’s called kake soba broth) to enhance the flavor of curry;  I added turmeric (when sautéed the onions and vegetables), diced apple and fukujinzuke, commonly used to serve with Japanese curry rice, are used as garnish (in addition to green onion) to a hint of sweetness and add “crunch” to the dish, the end result is much more flavorful.  Leftover curry taste even better the next day, add more vegetables or meat then serve with rice as a donburi (you can always add crispy fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu),  or simply freeze it ready for use anytime for quick ready-to-go weeknight dinner; Enjoy (OO).

Serves 2-4:

Ingredients:  4 bricks of fresh-frozen sanuki udon, 1 large onion (thinly sliced), 1 small head of cauliflower (florets roughly chopped), 1 medium zucchini (diced), 4 small bunched carrots (peeled and chopped), 3 Tablespoons of ground turmeric, 1 Tablespoon of mirin, 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 package (110g) Japanese curry roux (I used Glico Medium Premium),  6 cups of katsuobushi dashi, green scallions (white part only, thinly sliced on an angle), kosher salt (light seasoning when cooking vegetables).

Note:

To make the dish completely vegetarian, simply substitute the katsuobushi dashi with kombu dashi broth

For Meat Lovers: Thinly sliced pork or minced pork goes very well with the curry,  I used the a bit of ground ginger and apple, turmeric powder and kaeshi to marinade the pork (minced or thinly sliced) night before if I am adding protein to the curry.

You can use curry powder and potato starch instead of the instant curry roux.

Check out Ms. Namiko Chen’s  Just One Cookbook, she has a great pork curry udon recipe.

Here’s a picture of the fukujinzuke!

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*Recipe for kaeshi (makes 2 1/2 cups) – from Japanese Soul Cooking

Prepare 2 to 3 days in advance this recipe : Add 2 cups Japanese soy sauce (I used only 1 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup katsuobushi dashi to make it less salty), 1/2 cup mirin, 3 Tablespoons sugar (I used coconut nectar instead, adjust the sweetness accordingly) – Add all ingredients into saucepan and bring to boil over high heat.  Turn off the heat and allow mixture to cool off to room temperature.  Refrigerate for 2-3 days to allow the flavors time to mingle, store in glass bottle and refrigerate up to a month.

**In Japanese Soul Cooking – they prepare the kake soba broth (combining the kaeshi and dashi and a lot of mirin) ahead of time, I did not combine the katsuobushi dashi broth and kaeshi, I add them separately into the curry and use a lot less mirin.  Check out their book, it’s filled with wonderful recipes, thank you very much for your inspiration.

Preparation:

  • 2 to 3 days before – prepare kaeshi (see recipe above, refrigerate in glass container ready for use)
  • Prepare dashi broth (can be done 1 to 2 days ahead, refrigerate in glass container ready for use)
  • Prep all the vegetables
  • In a large saucepan, reheat the dashi broth (if you did not make from scratch the same day) and keep it warm
  • In a different large heavy pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil using medium high heat, add cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes, then add carrot (cook for another 2 minutes) and zucchini, lightly seasoned with kosher salt and 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric, saute in total 5 to 6 minutes then remove from pot, set aside.
  • In the same pot, heat another 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil (medium high heat), add sliced onion and 1 Tablespoon of mirin and saute, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, until onion becomes soft and turn translucent (I let it caramelize a little).  Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons ground turmeric and cook, stirring constantly and mix well, be careful not to burn the turmeric!
  • Add the warm dashi broth and 1/2 cup of kaeshi to the pot , scrape the bottom of the pot,  cook for 2-3 minutes and bring to a boil.  Skim off any scum and fat from the broth.  Reduce heat then let the flavors mix and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, add the curry roux, using a strainer or chopsticks, melt the roux and blend nicely with broth mixture.
  • Turn on the heat to medium high, heat the curry, stir occasionally, making sure it will not stick and burnt on the bottom.  Using small fine mesh strainer, remove any scum.
  • Add cauliflower, carrot and zucchini mixture to curry, using medium low heat, let it simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, gently stir occasionally to prevent sticking and don’t break the vegetables.  Keep it warm using low heat (and it will not burn), taste the curry and add seasoning (using kaeshi) if necessary.
  • Prepare garnish – diced apples (squeeze a bit of lemon juice to prevent it from turning “brown”) and scallions
  • Meanwhile using a separate pot, boil water to cook the sanuki udon (according to instructions approximately 1 to 2 minutes) – I prepare each serving individually
  • Turn off the heat, put udon into bowl, ladle the curry over noodles, garnish with diced apples, scallions and fukujinzuke, now ready to serve and enjoy!
  • If you are adding ground or sliced pork to this dish, lightly saute the pork in the beginning and set it aside, add the meat last when vegetables are cooked, bring curry to boil and turn off heat immediately, the meat will cook through and remain juicy!

Where to shop for ingredients in Vancouver: Fujiya (Japanese groceries, fukujinzuke is available – 912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC), Nikuya (11220 Voyageur Way, Richmond, BC – for sliced pork), T and T Supermarket (Various locations – for Sakura Farms ground pork), Japanese Soul Cooking (Available at Indigo, Amazon, I purchased mine from Crate and Barrel at Oakridge Centre).

Wafu “French” Onion Soup

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Bon Appetite!

I love soups; I basically can have soup every day as a meal especially during the Fall and Winter season. This idea came from a wonderful Japanese soup cookbook, I’ve combined the recipe (and translated into English) with some elements from a classic French onion soup preparation; the base is made with Japanese soup stock (dashi) which is a great option for non-beef eaters; Japanese rice cake is used instead of classic baguette toasts. You will be pleasantly surprised…Enjoy (OO)!

Ingredients (serves 2 as a hearty meal, 4 as a starter)

Two medium size yellow onions (thinly sliced), 1 teaspoon unsalted organic butter, 2 teaspoon olive oil, 1 bay leaf, Japanese mochi (store-bought packaged rice cake – 2 to 4), Gruyère cheese (finely grated – 1 to 2 Tablespoons), 4 cups dashi (I made my own using kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes), can use instant bonito stock packages), Japanese sake 2 Tablespoon, 2 Tablespoon organic soy sauce, pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

***see my June 16th ” Napa Shiitake Mushroom Tomato Soup” notes on Japanese soup stock (dashi)

Preparation:

– In a 6 quart pot over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil.  Stir in the onions and season lightly with sea salt and few grinds of black pepper.

– Reduce to low heat, press a piece of foil onto the onions to cover them completely and cover the pot with the lid.  Stir occasionally (lift the foil) and cook until the onions are very soft but not falling apart, it takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove the lid and foil, raise the heat to medium high and add Japanese sake (rice wine), gently stir often and cook onions until they are deeply browned (not burnt), approximately 10 minutes.

– Over medium high heat, add dashi broth, soy sauce and bay leaf to the caramelized onions and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to blend the flavours. Discard the bay leaf, season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

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Soup is Simmering and Flavours developing!

– While soup is simmering, prepare the Japanese mochi – remove rice cake from individual packages, using a paring knife, make a small “slit” (or X mark) in the middle of each rice cake.

Fill the saucepan (make sure it’s big enough for 2 to 4 mochi and there’s enough room they won’t stick together) with cold water, submerge the mochi and turn on the heat to medium high. Gently stir and move the rice cakes around to ensure they don’t stick to the pan.  Once the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium low and let it simmer for a couple minutes.  Take them out when they begin to melt.

– Place the rice cakes in shallow baking dish and be sure to allow sufficient space between them without touching (the rice cake will expand as it bakes in the oven). Sprinkle the grated Gruyère cheese over the rice cakes,  place baking dish in oven, position the rack from the broiler and heat broiler to high. At this point you have to be very careful not to burn them; keep very close watch and after a while they will start to puff, broil until they are browned and bubbly. Remove from oven.

– Ladle the hot soup in each bowl and gently place baked rice cake on top. Serve immediately.

Notes:

– The soup can be made up to 2 days ahead and store in refrigerator; reheat soup and bake Japanese rice cake when ready to serve.

– You can find the rice cakes at Japanese food stores; in Vancouver, my go to place is Fujiya (912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC ).

– As always taste the dish while you’re cooking and adjust the seasoning according to your own taste and dietary requirements. For cheese lovers, be generous with the Gruyère!  I bought my aged Gruyère from one of my favourite stores, Les Amis Du Fromage (843 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC).

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Packaged Rice Cake