What's Cooking (in Yvonne's Kitchen)?

I've changed the name of this blog to What's Cooking (in Yvonne's Kitchen) because I will be getting a kitchen of my own very soon, it maybe small but will be able to produce more goodies to share with everyone!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Simple Oden

serves 4

Oden (ใŠใงใ‚“) is a Japanese stew, typically prepared in a hot pot. To me, it's a celebration of late-autumn harvest as it is a winter dish slowly cooked/stewed using root vegetables such as potato, lotus roots, daikon (aka white raddish), konnyaku (aka konjac or devil's tongue), hard-boiled egg and yong tau fu (fishballs, fishcake, tofu etc). In fact, my friend calls it the Japanese version of yong tau fu hot pot.

If you look up for traditional way of preparing oden, it would require quite of bit of work including preparing dashi stock made with bonito, kelp, mushroom, mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) and soy sauce from scratch. My unorthodox approach to this repertoire is a no-fuss, all-in-a-pot type of cooking.

All the ingredients you need are the freshest selection of root vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, konnyaku (my favorite as it gives a crunchy texture to the stew which is an excellent source of fiber) and a good concentrated dashi stock which is available in Japanese grocery store.

So, here is it my simple oden recipe. Enjoy!

4 cups water
1 cup or more concentrated dashi, depends on the concentration level of the stock
1 konbu/kelp (optional), cut into strips and make them into knots
1 carrot, chopped into chunks
1 potato, chopped into chunks
1 daikon (radish), chopped into chunks
1 lotus root, sliced thinly
4 shiitake mushrooms (if use dried mushrooms, soak in cold water for at least 30 miutes)
1 konnyaku, cut into triangles
4 soft-boiled eggs
10 pcs different variety of fishballs, fishcake, or yong tau fu

1. In a heavy bottom pot or hot pot, mix the water and concentrated dashi until the broth tastes slightly saltier than your preference. Add the knotted konbu if you have any.
2. Add all the chopped root vegetables, mushrooms and konnyaku into the broth, bring it to a boil and let it simmer slowly for approximately 1 hour.
3. Once the vegetables and mushrooms are tender, add in eggs slowly (without breaking the egg white) and fishballs, fishcakes or yong tau fu and let them simmer with the rest of the ingredients for another 30 - 45 minutes.
4. Serve the oden while it's warm.

Note: Do not use silk or soft tofu in the oden because they tend to break into small pieces during the simmering.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Mango Pickles

The good thing about having a mango tree in the office compound is that when the fruits are almost ripe, they will be hanging gloriously on the tree and gently 'whispered' :"Come get us while we are still green, sappy and oozing tangy aroma. You can make us into rojak, sambal belachan, chutney, pickle or just eat as we are." So like Pavlov's theory, all of us in the office are conditioned to salivate upon the visual of such enticing sight.

Thanks to the male colleagues who are so very kind to climb up the trees and pluck those emerald green apple mangoes while they are at their prime, we managed to bring home bags of raw mangoes.

In the past, I have made the mangoes into rojak petis (a Malaysia-style fruit salad with pineapple, cucumber, sengkuang, papaya and mango, drizzle with belachan-infused black sauce) but this time around, I want to be able to enjoy the mango for a longer period of time, so I decided to preserve them into mango pickles.

I am going to share two types of mango pickles--the typical salt-and-sugar traditional pickle and another is a humble creation of my own inspired by the making of kimchi with a twist, of course. The young baby mangoes (while the seed is still tender, can be cut through and removed easily) are used for the former; while the "older" and slightly more fibrous raw mangoes (the seed can no longer be cut through) are used for the latter.

Baby mango (right) is suitable for making salt-and-sugar mango pickle; while the "older" mango (left) is suitable for "kimchi"-style pickle.

There's no specific quantity for the ingredients in these recipes because the recipes are rather forgiving and the quantity depends on personal taste/preference. If you are unable to get apple mangoes, use the rawest mango you can possibly source from your local store for these recipe.

Salt-and-Sugar Mango Pickle (Jeruk Manga Muda)

raw baby mangoes (make sure it's young enough that the seed can be cut through)

1. In a big pot, boil the water and add enough salt to make the water taste as salty as sea water. Let cool.

2. Wash and peel the mango skin, cut the mango into quarters, remove the seed and a thin white membrane between the flesh and seed. Let dry.

3. When the brine (salt water) comes to room temperature, soak the mango pieces into brine, cover it with plastic sling and leave it for 20 - 24 hours. Note: for stronger-flavoured pickle, I let them soak for 48 hours

4. Drain the brined mango pieces, put them in a container (preferably a mason jar or glass container). In a pot, boil water and add a lot (I mean really a lot a lot a lot... of sugar) to make the water sweeter than syrup. Let the syrup cool before pouring it into the container until all mango pieces are soaked completely with syrup, cover the jar and store it in a fridge for at least 24 hours before you can enjoy homemade mango pickle.

Note: the longer the mango is soaked in the syrup, the sweeter the pickle becomes.

"Kimchi-style" Mango Pickle

raw mangoes (the seed CANNOT be cut through)
preserved mandarin peel
Korean red pepper flakes (the type used in making kimchi)

1. Wash and peel the mango skin, cut the mango into slices (like those in rojak petis).

2. Chop preserved mandarin peel finely, sprinkle it just enough to coat the mango slices. Add in the red pepper flakes, mix well. Note: the mango slices should have a beautiful yellow-red colour mix.

3. Keep the mango slices in a container (preferably a mason jar or glass container) store it in a fridge for at least 24 hours before you can enjoy homemade mango pickle.

Keep the mango pickles in glass (or mason) jar for better preservation of colour and flavour. Enjoy!

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