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Japanese Recipes

02 September 2008

Orange Soy Glazed Scallops


I have never been a huge fan of scallops. When I've eaten them they've usually been undercooked or overcooked. My feelings have changed. Although I don't eat them often, I have a new-found appreciation for them.

The trick to cooking scallops is to have the fry-pan smoking hot. What I mean by this is that it should be giving off a tiny bit of smoke just before burning point. I usually use vegetable, canola or sunflower oil for these high temperatures. The pan should be lightly oiled and the oil itself should be swirling.

Scallops only require very little time in the pan. Medium-sized scallops such as the ones pictured were cooked for 80 seconds: 40 seconds on each side and - this is important - turned only once.

The high heat of the pan sears the outside of the scallop which helps to seal in the juices making the flesh firm yet tender.

The glaze is a combination of caramelized sugar, orange juice and zest and soy sauce. If you've never caramelized sugar before, then be warned, it requires a little patience and constant attention. The result is worth it though and it only takes about 15 minutes. This particular glaze is also excellent with chicken, oily fish such as salmon and halibut or pork.

Continue reading "Orange Soy Glazed Scallops" »

27 May 2008

Wild Salmon & Kaffir Cakes with Ponzu Sauce


I did a seafood & citrus cooking class last week at the Cookshop in Vancouver and these salmon cakes were one of the items on the menu.

We used wild Pacific Salmon which is oilier than the sockeye I'd normally use and much more 'forgiving' as the chef kept saying. What he meant was that Sockeye being a drier fish is much easier to ruin when frying in recipes such as this one.

The salmon cakes were simple to prepare and delicious. They were peppered with kaffir leaves which added a citrusy bite to the natural sweetness of the salmon. The little cakes were coated with Panko crumbs and then gently pan-fried about a minute or so on each side.

We made a Ponzo dipping sauce using soy sauce, brown sugar, green onions, ginger and lime juice.

The chef used an ice-cream scoop to make the salmon cake rounds which worked brilliantly and kept each cake the same size. I promptly raced out and bought one!

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Wandering Chopsticks.


Continue reading "Wild Salmon & Kaffir Cakes with Ponzu Sauce" »

21 May 2008

Thai-style Okra Tempura


Okra is the pod of a tropical perennial of the Mallow family. It is thought to have originated in the mountainous regions of Abyssinia, now known as Ethiopia. 

The earliest account of okra was in the early 1200s by a Spanish Moor traveling in Eygpt who witnessed the tender pod being eaten.

Since then okra has spread across the world where it is eaten today in Europe, South East Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas.

Okra is known by a variety of names including 'lady fingers', 'Bhindi', 'Bamieh' and 'Gumbo'. It is high in fibre and contains vitamins A, C and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

The versatile little pod can be used in a variety of ways. Here are just a few I found in my research:

  • It is cooked in soups, stews, battered, fried, dried, grilled or steamed
  • It is used as thickening agent for soups
  • It is ground into a fine powder and added to food such as cous cous to stop the grains from sticking
  • Its seeds can be pressed to make good quality oil and are also high in protein
  • Mature, dried okra seeds were ground and used as a coffee substitute in Central America, Africa and parts of Asia

I fried my okra in a light batter made of plain flour, tapioca flour (starch), soda water and baking soda. The okra was accommpanied by a Thai nam pla prik sauce consisting of fish sauce (nam pla), fresh bird chilis, coriander, lime juice and a little sugar.

I battered about four okra at a time and then placed them in the hot sunflower oil where I cooked them for 1-2 minutes until they were just starting to turn golden. The quick frying retains the okra's delicious crunch while still heating it up enough to make it tender.   

Continue reading "Thai-style Okra Tempura" »

15 April 2008

Oysters Tempura: Oishi Indeed!


There is something about the Japanese aesthetic which calms. So I'd like to say that it was with some hesitation that I destroyed the little Japanese garden I had just made on my plate.

The truth is that there was no hesitation. These little tempura tempters were gobbled up within 7.5 seconds of my camera going "click".

Happily, I was able to reconcile my appetite with the aesthetic by invoking Wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi, in terms of Japanese art and arrangements, is centered on the acceptance of transience. This view, rooted in Buddhist ideals, particularly values imperfection and incompleteness, and considers these qualities to be beautiful.

And it was beautiful. The oysters were delicious and, afterwards, looking at their empty shells, I saw the beauty of their transience - into my tummy!

Continue reading "Oysters Tempura: Oishi Indeed!" »

12 April 2008

Panko Prawns: Delicious and Healthy!


All right, all right! Perhaps not healthy... exactly.

These little guys certainly were delicious, though. So you'll forgive me for getting a little bit carried away.

Nic published a panko post last year and I wasn't planning on posting another one tonight - that is until I popped one of these panko'd pleasers into my mouth and it almost burst it was so juicy!

Recently, I have been tending to Asian White Shrimp which I've found to be sweeter than Black Tiger Prawns. Black Tiger Prawns are said to possess firmer flesh, but I can tell you that the White ones I had tonight were plump and bursting with flavour.

Oh, and as for the indubitable health benefits: I figure that the prawn shells are very high in calcium, so if you eat the tails, your bones will be sure to thank you.

If you want to have a look at this embarrassingly simple recipe, click on the link to the Nic's post.

27 July 2007

Half time bites - Panko Prawns with Kewpie Mayo


Hello, Tastebuddies,

I'm Nic - Syrie's extremely lucky and much less talented other half. I think it's appropriate that this is my first contribution to her blog. I made these Panko Prawns in the half time break in the second Bledisloe Cup match last weekend (for the uninitiated, the Bledisloe Cup is the most fiercely contested Rugby prize in the world - with the possible exception of the World Cup - and New Zealand and Australia play for it annually). So they took about 5 minutes from prep to bite.

For those of you who haven't Panko'd before, Panko is Japanese for breadcrumb. Panko crumbs are a bit different to normal crumbs, though - they are very light and a little larger than the granulated crumbs we're used to. I have used panko in non-asian dishes (on herb and mustard crusted lamb cutlets) and it's worked out a treat.

Next in our glossary of terms is Kewpie. Kewpie mayo is Japanese mayonnaise. It's sweet and creamy, but not like the horrible sweetness of Miracle Whip. That's really all I can tell you. Next time you're having sushi, ask the waiter to bring you some mayo. They'll bring Kewpie and then you'll know what I mean.

Panko Prawns with Kewpie Mayo

A dozen prawns - get a decent size: they're juicy;
Flour, Egg and Panko (enough for dipping rolling and dipping the prawns in);
Kewpie Mayo.

So this is a 5-step process and it's all over in about 5 minutes. (Actually I forgot about shelling the prawns...Ok, add another 5 minutes - you're still done before the second half begins).


  1. Set out the flour, beaten egg and Panko;
  2. Heat some oil (vege, maze, corn, etc) in a large pot on the stove on high heat for deep frying;
  3. Coat the prawns in the flour, egg and Panko (in that order); and
  4. Put them in the hot oil for about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the prawns with a dry, steel slotted spoon or strainer, put them on some paper towels for a minute while you put the Kewpie in a bowl...and then sit back and watch the Wallabies get Panko'd.
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