Tag Archives: sesame seeds

hiyashi chuka (japanese cold noodle salad)

Hiyashi Chuka (japanese cold noodle salad) 01

Hiyashi Chuka is a Japanese cold noodle salad which is only available in summers. In the past I did not really like it, I always ended up choosing a bowl of hot ramen. However yesterday, we had 31ºC in Basel, and it was not common to have air conditioning like as in Hong Kong. Therefore it made me think of making this cold noodle at home to chill out a bit. It also serves as a great fitness meal. I had all ingredients I needed at home and did not even need to go to the supermarket. It is very easy and quick to prepare so I went swimming in the afternoon to burn some calories and get ready for summer.

To make this cold noodle, it is very flexible, you can choose any vegetables you like,  the objective is to combine different colors of toppings (see below for suggestions) to create a colorful dish, so feel free to use your imagination and create your own. You can just skip the meat if you are vegetarian or if you feel like meat-free one of these days.

My recipe is inspired by the one I found in Wikia, thanks to the author for sharing this.

Serves 2-3 (depending on your appetite)

Ingredients:

  • 2 package boiled and drained ramen noodles (see picture)

Ramen

Toppings (choose as many as you desire):

  • sweet corn or thin strips of pan fried egg
  • thinly sliced cucumbers
  • grated or julienned carrots
  • handful bean sprouts, boil for 1 minute and drain
  • handful pak choi, boiled & cut into thin strips
  • tomatoes, cut into thin strips
  • Choose one:
    • ham, cut into thin strips) or
    • boiled chicken breast, hand teared into strips or
    • cooked prawns (I have used Louisiana peeled shrimps this time bought from ALDI) or
    • crab sticks

Sesame dressing :

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ground sesame seeds
  • 6 tbsp sesame paste chinese sesame paste or tahini
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
  • 1 tsp  fresh grated ginger (optional, see notes below)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the toppings as described above and set aside.
  2. Boil the noodles, rinse in cold water to avoid over cook it as well as chill the noodles and drain to remove excess water.
  3. Mix well the seasonings for the sesame dressing in a bowl, make sure the sesame paste is well blended into the rest of the seasonings.
  4. Divide the noodles into 2-3 flat bowls. Place the toppings on top of the noodles.
  5. Serve at room temperature. Pour some dressing on the noodle just before eating.
Enjoy!
Hiyashi Chuka (japanese cold noodle salad) 02
Notes:
  1. You can use chinese egg noodles if ramen is not accessible to you. I personally prefer ramen as I like the slight chewiness.
  2. You can prepare everything a few hours in advance if you like.
  3. I have tried one bowl with garlic and ginger added to the dressing. My personal feeling is that the garlic and ginger is not a must but if you are a garlic lover like me ……..

homemade japanese sesame ice cream (made without ice cream machine !!!)

Japanese sesame ice cream_366

I have been busy with Spring cleaning, never like cleaning but don’t know why I got into mood of tidying up things. There are days like this, I suppose. Our garden is now in good shape & the terrace is finished, many thanks to my in-laws and my hubby : ) Now we have to wait for the terrace furniture but unfortunately gotta wait until late June as the model we chose are selling too well. I guess the shop does not expect to have such good response in the current economic environment and did not dare to keep too many in the inventory.

And in the coming days, we have to start working and planning for our vegetable garden, really looking forward to having your own vegetables again, they really taste better and more special.

As for cooking, these two weeks I have been exploring in making ice cream without electric ice cream machine, after the big success with the Giandaja Chocolate flavor, I could not wait to explore other flavors. I made a green tea flavor for my friend Carmen, I made it without yolks since she is expecting a baby and it’s better to be on the safe side, and I found out that using sweet condensed milk is a great solution to avoid egg yolks and the ice cream came out as creamy.

I have been missing the Japanese ice cream, the most popular flavors are probably green tea and black sesame. I could get green tea in the Japanese restaurants here in Switzerland but no luck for the black sesame flavor so I attempted to make myself and it proved that it’s actually not that difficult. My version is probably more fibery as I grounded 90% of the toasted sesame seeds and the rest were keep ungrounded. So here is another long-lost taste I have rediscovered, and I can sit back and relax my favorite ice cream at home, even freshly made.

 

Make almost 3 cups (700ml)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups (360ml) full cream
  • 0.5 cup (120ml) semi skimmed milk
  • 80 ml sweet condensed milk/ maple syrup
  • 1 tsp castor sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 50g black sesame seeds
  • 50g white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Directions:

  1. The method is not much different to the Gianduja Chocolate flavor, except I have used 4 yolks instead of 3 this time and have used sweet condensed milk instead of castor sugar. You can refer to my other Gianduja chocolate ice cream for more information of my first ice cream making experience.
  2. Several hours ahead, place a stainless steel bowl in the freezer.
  3. Toast the sesame seeds on a pan, be careful not to burn them. Ground 90% of the seeds with a pestle & mortar. The rest keeps aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar & vanilla essence for a minute or so.
  5. In a large saucepan, pour in the milk, full cream and sweet condensed milk (maple syrup), heat it up without boiling. Stop when you can see hint of steam coming up. Keep stiring to avoid burning. Pour this mixture into the beaten eggs gradually. Mix with an electric blender at medium speed.
  6. When the cream and egg mixtures are mixed together, turn the mixture back to the saucepan and put the heat on again. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon, you will see the custard mixture will get thicker very quickly, you can stop when the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon. Your ice cream mixture is now ready.
  7. Take the pre-frozen stainless steel bowl out from the freezer. Pour the ice cream mixture to the bowl, add in the all the toasted sesames, stir with the wooden spoon until mixed and put the bowl back to the freezer.
  8. Take the bowl from the freezer every 30-40 mins, stir with the wooden spoon. You will see the sides of the ice cream mixture begins to freeze, scrap them off to mix with the non-frozen mixture. The sesame seeds may sink to the bottom, stir until mixed again. Repeat until the ice cream mixture gets thick enough, close to the consistency of the ice cream. This will take 4-5 times.
  9. Transfer the ice cream mixture to a plastic container and freezer for another 1-2 hour or until the ice cream is fully set.
  10. Scoop to a nice bowl and enjoy!

kinpira gobo, japanese braised burdock root (牛蒡)

 

kinpira-gobo_68__008resize

What is Gobo (burdock root)?

Gobo is a root vegetable and also known as a medicinal herb. It is a very common in Japanese cuisine.

Gobo_Burdock Root

Gobo, before peeling

The first time I tried Gobo was in Hong Kong some years ago when I had omakase in a Japanese restaurant, they served each of us a petit dish of burdock as a free appetizer. Because of the minute quantity, it makes it feeling more precious. Burdock roots comes in different sizes, some are thicker than the other. I have tried ones that are thin enough to prepare as they are without cutting into thin slices. In the Japanese supermarket, my mom will buy the very thick ones which she will prepare a simple clear vegetable soup with sweet corn, carrots and dried figs. which was said to have a diuretic effect and can help detoxing our blood. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can find these thick ones in Switzerland. The above gobo you see in the picture is bought from Japan Centre, London. They are not cheap at all, almost £6 for just 2 sticks but I really want to try to cook them myself and enjoy at home. They can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks if you do not feel like to cook them yet. One problem with me is that from time to time, I would look for those long lost tastes : ) therefore I did not mind to give an effort to search for the food I miss/ like/ crave.

To prepare them, I have adapted the recipe from About.com, my favorite place for authentic Japanese recipes. I did not add carrots to mine as described in the original recipe, although it seems to be common to have carrots added to it but the ones I had in the restaurants do not have carrots in them. In this way I can concentrate chewing the crunchiness and unique flavor of the gobo. The cooking itself is very simple and easy, it was the cutting process which took the most time but absolutely worth it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces gobo (burdock root)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tbsp sake
  • cooking oil

Before serving:

  • sesame oil
  • ground black & white sesame seeds
  • seven spices (optional)

kinpira-gobo_after peeled

Gobo after peeling

Preparation:

  1. Peel the gobo, cut into 5-6cm sectors, and julienne the gobo into long very thin strips.
  2. Place the gobo strips in a large bowl of water and  let them soak for about 15 mins.
  3. Discard the water and drain them on a sieve for a few minutes or pat dry with kitchen towel.
  4. In a small bowl, mix all seasonings and stir to help melting the sugar for as much as possible.
  5.  Heat a little cooking oil in a frying pan, and stir fry the gobo strips for a few minutes. 
  6.  Add all seasonings in the pan and stir-fry well.
  7. Turn off the heat, drizzle a little sesame oil to enhance the fragrance.
  8. Divide the gobo strips into small serving plates, leave the excess liquid in the pan.
  9. Garnish by adding some sesame seeds (use sesame seeds mill if you have one) & add a little seven spices if you like a little spiceness.

 

Serving suggestion:

  • You can serve this as a side dish to any Japanese main dishes or noodles.
  • I like it so much that I could just eat a little like a salad.
  • If there is seasoning left in the pan, kept for use in other cooking, too good to discard them!

Enjoy!!!