Japanese food has always seemed a bit out of reach to me; out of reach in my kitchen that is. I enjoy eating it out, but making my own just seemed to complex with lots of unusual ingredients. I'm happy to say that is changing thanks to Harumi Kurihara's latest cookbook - Everyday Harumi.
As the title suggests, the book is aimed at recipes for everyday Japanese food - not the fancy dishes that even people in Japan only eat when they go out or on special occasions, but the food of the everyday person: Simple but flavorful food.
Harumi has captured not only that goal but she has also captured me with her choices of everyday favorites. Ground pork is a meat I've found myself liking more and more in the past year so I started with her "Green Beans and Minced Pork" dish. I also chose this as my first Japanese dish at home because, as you can see in the recipe below, it doesn't call for any unusual ingredients. The dish was easy to make, but full flavored with the ginger and chili peppers. I also liked that it focused more on the fresh green beans than the meat while still having enough meat to provide the underlying flavor boost.
While Harumi does have recipes that don't require special ingredients, a bunch require Dashi stock which is made from seaweed and fish flakes. You can buy premade Dashi stock or you can make your own with Harumi's recipe. Other than the Dashi stock the vast majority of the ingredients are common and most I already have in my pantry or routinely buy for other recipes.
After one recipe I was not quite ready to plunge so deeply into Japanese cooking by making my own Dashi stock. Instead, I went with the "Fried Rice with Crabmeat" for my second Japanese dish. This dish intrigued me with it's combination of crabmeat and ground beef which I don't think I'd ever had together before. That's too bad because the result is wonderful. In fact, the dish is a bit addictive. Harumi says this dish serves 2-4. My husband and I could have easily ate it all in one sitting, but we didn't. Perhaps that's another aspect of these dishes that appeal to me - they are not highly fat ridden as many American dishes are. Yet, they taste great and now I can't wait to try my hand at making the Dashi Stock and hopefully cooking many more Japanese dishes at home…
Green Beans with Minced Pork
From Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara, Conran 2009
This dish is something of a tradition in my household. It is easy to prepare, only needing soy sauce for seasoning, and makes use of wonderful ingredients like ginger, garlic and Japanese leeks. It is a great dish that can be rustled up quickly if guests drop in unexpectedly. I usually serve it with white rice and if there are any leftovers, they don't last long in our house.
- 3 cups green beans
- small leek (about 2oz)
- 1/2 oz fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 fat cloves garlic
- sunflower or vegetable oil-for frying
- 7 oz ground pork
- 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
- Sliced fresh or dried red chilies-to taste
- Sesame oil-to taste
1. Prepare the green beans, lightly cook in boiling water, then rinse under cold running water.
2. Drain the beans, pat them dry, and cut diagonally into bite-sized pieces.
3. Finely chop the leek, ginger, and garlic.
4. Put a little oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the chopped leek, ginger, and garlic, allowing the flavors to infuse in the oil, then add the ground pork and stir-fry.
5. Add the green beans, then add soy sauce and red chili to taste.
6. Continue to cook until the beans have heated through. Add a little sesame oil to taste and serve with hot white rice.
Fried Rice with Crabmeat
From Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara, Conran 2009
Fried rice can be enjoyed all year round, I even cook it outdoors when we have a barbecue with friends and family. I like to add soy sauce flavored with garlic and ginger because I think it works well with the crabmeat and as I usually have some of the sauce ready-made in the fridge. If you have the time to make the sauce 2 weeks in advance it makes this recipe quicker and easier and also improves its flavor. The real trick of making good fried rice is to remember to keep tossing the ingredients in the wok to make sure that everything is well mixed and that the end result is light and free from lumps.
- 5 oz cooked white crabmeat, without shell
- 1/4 onion, peeled
- 2 scallions
- 3 medium eggs
- salt and pepper-to season
- 4 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil-for frying
- 3 1/2 oz ground beef
- 2 2/3 cups cooked Japanese sushi rice
For the garlic and ginger soy sauce:
- 6-9 fat cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 oz fresh ginger
- 1 2/3 cups soy sauce
1. To make the garlic and ginger soy sauce: Slice the garlic and the ginger, add them to the soy sauce, put in a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate.
2. Loosen the crabmeat flakes, making sure there are no large chunks.
3. Finely chop the onion and scallions.
4. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
5. Put a wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Pour in the egg mixture and fry quickly, stirring gently as it is cooking. When lightly cooked, put into a bowl and set aside.
6. Put a little more oil in the wok, add the beef, and cook, adding the onion (though not the scallion), once the beef has browned.
7. Add the rice and toss the ingredients together in the wok, adding a little more oil if necessary, until all the oil is used. Pour 3 tablespoons of the garlic and ginger soy sauce around the rim of the pan and toss all the ingredients together, ensuring that the sauce is evenly mixed in and that the rice doesn't stick.
8. Continue to toss for around 7-8 minutes, then add the crabmeat and cooked eggs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss the ingredients again for a further couple of minutes to heat the crabmeat through. Turn the heat off and add the scallion. Mix in thoroughly and serve piping hot.
About Everyday Harumi
In Everyday Harumi, Harumi Kurihara, Japan's most popular cookbook writer, selects her favorite foods and presents more than 60 new home-style recipes for you to make for family and friends. Harumi wants everyone to be able to make her recipes and she demonstrates how easy it is to cook Japanese food for every day occasions without needing to shop at specialist food stores.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.
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