Archive for the ‘Japanese’ Category

When my brother in Canada announced that his eldest of 4 sons was getting married, we felt elated at hearing the news. That was Nov 2018. With the cold and dreary Canadian winter (ahem … Alberta to be precise), the low-keyed garden wedding was beautifully executed.

Since the garden prenuptial was purely a Canadian family affair, families from afar did not get the feel of the joys of that matrimony. Knowing this brother of mine, he’s not one to fall short for such plan. Let’s put it this way … he’s not an ‘alang-alang’ guy. LOL!

One fine morning we all got up to reading a pleasant message from my brother via WhatsApp

We’re going to Kyoto for the wedding!

So desu ka?

So desu ne!

I was over the moon with that news …

If you’re wondering, why Japan? Well, my brother has embraced a new addition to the family. His daughter-in-law-to-be is a stunning Japanese 😉

By the way, Japan has always been one of the countries I have bookmarked. Coincidentally, it’s also the destination I have promised my younger son with a sworn statement, swearing my promise to bring him to the Land of the Rising Sun, one fine day… Here’s the story if you missed it : My ‘Japanese’ Boy

A Damper!

Just as we were feeling euphoric with the news, our ecstasy suddenly fell flat southward. Alas, the cruel force of gravity! Our joys were short-lived because there was not going to be a trip to Japan. Sob! Sob! Instead, the Japanese contingent preferred to travel to the Land of the Hornbills! So much for my Japanese dream … sigh!

Another stumbling block was the Wedding date: 30th January! It’s the month-end close and coupled with the unceasingly intense news coverage of the pandemic Covid-19. Ai yai yai! So how?

Well, I could choose not to make the trip, but the thought of missing such event that occurs once in a lifetime was just unendurable. So, geared with my laptop et al, I booked my flight and hotel. Hubs and BIL booked theirs separately.

Exit Miss Piggy, Enter Stuart Little

We touched down Kuching International Airport exactly on the first day of the Lunar New Year. While the family were enjoying scrumptious Chinese New Year Eve reunion dinner, we had to make do with the mediocre Emirates meals on air. The 24-hour flight and transits covering 4 airports and 3 continents had left me feeling absolutely knackered and groggy. To add salt to injury, 3 of 4 of our check-in luggage went missing, or rather, they did not arrive in the same plane as our ETA, therefore, we had to go through the hassle of filing reports of our missing baggage. At that point, I could not wait to have a nice warm shower and jump into a comfortable bed. Luckily the hotel shower was excellent and the bed was very clean and comfortable. I was in slumberland in no time at all.

Oh by the way, the 3 luggage arrived the next day.

Working Holiday

In between working and delivering my reports, I thought some free moments could be spent with my family or friends, but I was wrong. The time zone difference of 7 hours was the most challenging factor. When I was free, it was already midnight M’sia time and time to hit the sack. This was the mode I had to endure for the next 2 weeks …

I must thank my hubs and especially my younger sis for being the protector of my tummy while I was on “lockdown” in my hotel room

All I needed to tell them was what I craved and hocus-pocus, my wish was granted. Ha ha …

Wedding Day: Morning

The day arrived when the Lands of the Hornbills and the Rising Sun became ONE.

The beautiful bride and the handsome groom exchanged their Holy Matrimonial vows with their unyielding “I do” and promised to be true to each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for they will love and honour each other until death do them part.

Amen to that!

With teary eyes of joy, families from near and far flocked together and rejoiced in jubilation. 

 

Teary-eyed moment between Mum and Daughter

Congrats Kanoko. You’re next … 😉

Wedding Day: Afternoon

While the melodic morning bells chimed and made way for the fiery afternoon crackers, we adjourned for the traditional Tea Ceremony at the groom’s uncle’s house with a “light” brunch. 

A Wedding tea ceremony is the epitome of respect and gratitude by the newlyweds towards their parents and elders by serving them tea.  It also symbolizes that the bride and groom officially belong into a new and extended family. 

Wedding Day: Evening

My sisters, a niece and I were the first to arrive and therefore we had the first glimpse of the banquet hall without any mortal in sight.

Oh no, we were not trying to be prying “kaypo“, but we were there early as ‘duty managers’. Lol!

Duty calls. The early birds at their work station 😅

Once upon a moment, very immaculate, absolutely quiet and empty …  Sssh… ssshh..

The empty banquet hall was slowly filled with guests, one by one, filling each table to the brim, and zing, boom, bam, the roof caved in and the noise began!  Forget whispering to your neighbour because you would never get your message across to the recipient correctly 🙂

Bless me Your Grace for I have sinned …

The party began with the clamourous and deafening Yuuuuuummmm Seng!

The Prosperity Toss

What an appropriate dish to serve as we were still in Chinese New Year mood.

The higher the better, the messier the table means you have done your part in shouting at the top of your lungs, the blessings of good luck, fortune and happiness. Toss High! Lo Hei! 

Reunion of Family and Friends

Although it’s the Bride and Groom’s day, it was, without a doubt,  an opportune day of reuniting with long lost relatives and friends. My brother must have invited his entire year school mates that evening.  Buddies whom he had not met for more than 30 decades came from near and far!  It was practically a class reunion.  I bet the boys felt 17 again …

Likewise, it was great meeting cousins and relatives whom we have not met in donkeys years!

Only an event as such, could bring us together.

And by the way, I shared my fair share of reuniting with long lost friends whom I have not met since Primary school, since Form 5 and since Form 6.  They have evolved to be successful ‘towkay’ and ‘towkay neos’. One owns the chain of Curry House restaurants throughout Sarawak, one an acclaimed Music teacher and one ‘Superman’ in the person of the Most Hallowed, His Grace, the Archbishop of Sarawak!  I was so thrilled and blessed to have met them all in one evening!

Cheers!

 

Family Bonding

Luckily, I was not the one getting married. A wedding day is a very exhausting affair akin to a full time job with full-blown overtime albeit for a day! Been there, done that. Ha ha …

It was a BIG relief when the party’s over and we’re back on the normal track.

Although I was physically in Kuching for 3 weeks, it was a working ‘holiday’ for me for 2 weeks . I had only one week of ‘me-time’, therefore, it was very precious.  I had consciously chosen to spend more time with my siblings, reminiscing the good old days. There were too many stories to share in too short a time.  We knew Mum and Dad were with us throughout because we could not stop talking and thinking about them.  How else could we be here without them, right?

As we grow older, we’ll find the only things we regret are the things we didn’t do, and one of the things is making the most out of visits to our elderly relatives.

They’re not getting any younger and so are we.

Life is too short so let’s make the most out of it.

Live SIMPLY

Laugh OFTEN

Love DEEPLY

The truth is, a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by the headcount at dinner table, but by the tradition you help family members create; the memories you share, the commitment of time, cares and love you show to one another.

Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as ONE.

Have a Blessed Weekend!

Cheers!

Two months ago, we had a small CNY pot-luck reunion with some closed friends.  The pot-luck was decided at the eleventh hour as we had planned to dine at a restaurant, hoping for a larger turnout. Since most of the invited friends had scheduled prior appointments with their families and friends for separate reunions, the planned quorum dwindled further. 

 

Then one of the girls suggested meeting up for a simple pot-luck reunion at her house. The rest of us were thrilled because the lady-of-the-house is a fantastic cook and I kid you not! Not only that, she is a Jane of all trades and ‘master’ of all, which completely defies the figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” 

  

 

As you  can see from the photo collage, we were well fed with simple, purely homemade yet fantastically delicious dishes!  The lady-of-the-house made the absolutely delicious Yee Sang (Prosperity Toss) and tasty Pan Mee (with noodles she made from scratch!).  She also baked a flawless pandan chiffon cake, almond/ cashew cookies, chocolate mousse and kueh sepit (not in photo).  I brought my signature dish, Ngo Hiang.  My friends, X, brought a meringue cake and C brought a bowl of minced mix ingredients and a packet of frozen gyoza wrappers or gyoza skins.

 

It was the last item that ‘pushed’ me to write this post. Thanks, C for “reminding” me 😉

 

By the way, it was a good thing that C did not bring pre-wrapped gyoza‘s.  That way, we all had the opportunity to learn first hand crimping of the gyoza’s from … who else? The lady-of-the-house herself!

  

 

Not the First and Definitely not the Last

 

This was not the first time I have cooked a dish that turned out into something else quite differently but completely edible, like so …

  

 

Making yaki gyoza or guo tie or wo tieh or potstickers has been at the back of my mind for a long, long time. The origin of this dish is Chinese. In China, they are called jiaozi.  The Japanese word gyōza indicates that the word is of non-Japanese origin and was derived from the Shandong Chinese dialect giaozi. There’s 2-in-1-method of cooking gyoza. First they are shallow fried with a small amount of sesame oil in a hot pan or wok until  brown crusts appear on the flat base, and then a small amount of water (or cornstarch mixture) is poured over the dumplings, with the pan or wok covered. The liquid helps to steam the dumplings, creating a texture contrast of the thin crispy bottom and soft and juicy upper part, typical of Chinese cuisine.

 

Why I chose to use the word gyoza is because the ingredients I used as filling were more Japanese than Chinese.  I’m also referring to them as  potstickers, because it’s an English word and a lot easier to pronounce.  Anyway, “pot stick” is the literal translation from the Chinese word guōtiē.

 

Grievous Mistake 

 

I have made a calamitous error when purchasing the gyoza skins or wrappers. I knew the wrappers should be round and not square.  The square ones are used for making Wonton. Without reading the label, I placed the round dumpling wrappers in my shopping basket.  I was a happy bunny that day. 


Finally


I’m gonna make potstickers!! Yay!  


My sons were looking forward to the tasty finger food.  They were thrilled and couldn’t wait for the end result!

 

BUT wait a sec … there’s a difference in the thickness of the wrappers! Gyoza skins are generally thicker than the delicate wonton skins, hence, making them more suitable for frying.  It was a shame I bought the thinner and delicate dumpling skins used for wrapping sio bee or siu mai (popularly served at dim sum restaurants).

  

 

Hmmmm….. I had already marinated a bowl of minced filling for the gyoza.  There was no turning back.  The show must go on!

 

Splashing Plan B !

 

With the flopped original plan of making gyoza or potstickers, I told my clearly disappointed looking boys that there was not going to be any dry finger-food-type gyoza but a wet and soupy dumpling soup! If only you had seen their faces and heard their remarks …

 

I told myself that if the Potstickers won’t stick then I had to transform the dish into something equally appetising, hence, Plan B was put into action 🙂

 

Yup, a splashing runny dumpling soup!

   

 

Ingredients –

  • 300g minced chicken
  • Napa cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 1/2 Leek, finely diced (or 2-3 spring onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cm Ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 Carrot, grated
  • 5 cm Daikon, grated
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp sushi and sashimi soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Thai spicy fish powder ( in lieu of bonito powder)
  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine ( in lieu of mirin)
  • 1 Tbsp corn flour
  • Freshly milled white pepper
  • Salt, to taste

1 packet (250g) Round dumpling skins

For the broth

  • 1 big carrot, washed and cut in very thin rounds
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and remove stringy outer layer
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • 3 cm ginger, bruised
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • Sesame oil
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Dried Coriander (I did not have fresh coriander that day)
  • 1/2 a chicken stock cube
  • Coarse Sea Salt to taste 
  • Freshly milled white pepper to taste 
  • 1.7L Water, boiled in electric kettle
  • Water, boiled for cooking the dumplings 

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least one hour 
  2. Remove the minced mix at least 15 to 30 mins before starting to wrap the dumplings
  3. In a soup pot, throw in the cut carrots, celery, 2 cloves garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander and chilli. Pour in the boiling water into the pot.  At this point, you can smell the fragrance and aroma of the herbs and vegetables whiffing past your nostrils
  4. Season the broth with sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt and white pepper
  5. Cook the broth further until boiled 
  6. In another pot, boil enough water to cook the dumplings per serving. Note: this water is NOT the broth for consumption, but just to cook through the dumplings separately.
  7. Ready to serve.  Place 8 to 10 pieces of dumplings in the hot water. The dumplings are cooked when they start floating to the surface. Scoop the dumplings, removing as much water as possible to a serving bowl. Then scoop the broth picking up some carrots, celery, chillies and coriander and transfer to the serving bowl.

Et voila!

 

Verdict: Without a word said, my boys slurped their bowls of  dumpling soup clean. I think that’s translated as “Thumbs UP” 🙂

Be warned, though, of the spicy filling (spicy fish powder) and the extra chilli in the broth. The extra garlicky flavour differentiates the Gyoza soup with a twist from the milder wonton soup. I will definitely make these again 😉

I’m linking this post to Little Thumbs Up April event “CHICKEN“, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY, and hosted by Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

 



Have a great weekend!

Cheers!

Christmas and the New Year celebrations have just passed us by. We have been pampered with a bit too much eating, from appetizers to starters to soups to main courses to desserts. Munching, chomping, slurping, burping… OMG!

I’m glad it’s over for now, albeit temporarily. My stomach needed a bit of rest after the eating marathon, so I decided to make something really clean and simple and yet very attractive and tasty. It’s everyone’s favourite – at least in my family – the delectable sushi, or rather, Makizushi or nori rolls.

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DIY Sushi Meal Kit

I have made sushi before when I was still in Kuching many moons ago. We made it from scratch, my sisters and I. Homemade sushi are definitely a notch higher than the store-bought ones or even the restaurants’ because we have control over what goes in the cylindrical gems. More often than not, the sushi rice served in restaurants are way too sweet, which I am not a fan of.

Both my sons are fans of Sushi of any type. I have made Inarizushi (sushi stuffed into fried tofu skin or aburaage). That became a hit with my guys.

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Once in a while during impromptu outings with my younger son, we would always end up in a Japanese resto ordering a sushi set lunch. My son, who is not a big eater could down these sushi in record time. But that also meant burning a hole in my pocket, hence the urge to home make the sushi rolls 😉

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Just before Christmas last year, I was at Stonemanor, a British store located at Everberg, Belgium.

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While filling my trolley with Christmas goodies, I was thrilled to see a Sushi Meal Kit on the Asian shelves, I grabbed 2 kits.

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Both kits included the following items –

• A Bamboo Rolling Mat (makisu)
• 4 Sushi Nori Sheets
• Sushi Rice (2 “Uncle Ben’s” type bags)
• Sushi Vinegar
• Japanese Soy Sauce
• Wasabi Paste
• Chopsticks (4 pairs in the red kit and 2 pairs in the yellow kit)
• Sushi Ginger or gari (not included in the yellow box)
• Sushi Recipe/ Instruction Leaflet

Per kit makes 4 large Makizushi, a main course for 2 or a starter for 4. Since there are 4 of us and I have planned to serve the sushi rolls as a main dish, hence I bought 2 kits. And by the way, I had actually planned to make those sushi rolls during the weekend of Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year. Since CNY 2015 falls on 19th Feb, which is a Thursday, it will be difficult for me because it’s a workday. Honestly speaking , the 2 kits were too enticing for me to wait that long, I decided to ceremonially open both kits on the same day for our first weekend lunch anno 2015 🙂

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Instructions (per kit)

1. Put the 2 rice bags into a medium-sized saucepan and add enough water to cover the rice bags, soaking evenly.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 11 – 12 minutes with the lid on.

3. Turn off the heat and drain the water using a sieve; put the rice in the sieve back into the saucepan and leave to stand for 25 – 30 minutes with the lid on. Do not open the lid!

4. Remove the rice from the bags and transfer the hot rice into a large bowl. Fold Sushi Vinegar into the rice. Wait until the hot rice cools down to a warm temperature before rolling the Sushi.

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Fillings

While the rice is cooking, prepare the fillings. At this point, just let your imagination run wild with you. I have actually used leftover vegetables from my fridge (yellow, orange and green paprikas, cucumber, carrot, spring onions and chives). Then again, the list is endless. You may want to go vegetarian or vegan or add slices of chicken or Peking duck meat. The sky’s the limit! I made a vegetarian version, with mock crab sticks and omelette with chives as protein.

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To Roll …

1. Place a sheet of nori onto the makisu (bamboo rolling mat). Spread the cooked rice as evenly as possible over the nori making sure to keep a thin layer of rice and leave a 1 cm gap free from rice at top and bottom as you will need this to seal the roll.

2. Before placing the strips of vegetables, surimi/ omelette on the rice, brush some wasabi paste or mayonnaise on the rice, from one end to the other, horizontally. Do not put too much filling in otherwise it will be difficult to roll.

3. Begin rolling the nori carefully and evenly around the filling, using the mat to help shape the Makizushi, rolling away from you and pressing firmly. Pull the bamboo mat away from you, and make sure to keep rolling the nori around itself.

4. Once the roll is complete, press down firmly on the mat helping to compress the roll slightly so that it keeps its shape.

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To Cut …

1. Remove the rolled sushi from the rolling mat and place onto a dry chopping board.

2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll in half. Then cut the 2 halves into 4 even lengths, making 8 Makizushi. Wash the knife occasionally between cutting each Sushi roll to prevent the rice from sticking to it and to ensure a cleaner cut.

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I served my Makizushi on a tray with some gari (sushi ginger) and wasabi paste. As far as the presentation is concerned, there’s still room for improvement, however, since that was the first time I have attempted making the Makizushi on my own, I thought that was not too bad at all 😉

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Without a doubt it was a mouth-watering lunch and what was even better was it was wholesome, healthy and à volonté.

No wasabi paste? No worries.

Not many people will go gaga on this green-colured paste. Wasabi is Japanese horseradish and its stem is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong flavor. Its hotness is not akin to that of a chilli but more so of hot mustard. The heat from the wasabi paste produces vapours that stimulates the nasal passages more than the tongue. And sometimes it even goes up to the head. Ha ha..

I found a good substitute for the wasabi paste. It’s also green in colour. It’s a cousin of the Tabasco sauce, the Tangy Green Jalapeño hot and zesty sauce from Heinz. I always have this bottle in my fridge. It goes very well with pizzas, salads, soups… It’s just so zingy and funky! Love it!

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The Day After

There were 2 sushi rolls left after the day before’s à volonté lunch. I used those as starter for our Sunday lunch. There were no gari and wasabi paste left, hence I made a simple and quick pickled cucumber with dhill. It went so well with the sushi rolls. It was super refreshing and scrummy. Yums!

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I’m sharing this post to the following blog-hop Cooking Challenges, my first linkup in 2015 😀

The Great Britsh Store Cupboard: Cooking with Herbs Challenge – January 2015

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“My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb 2015)” hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Tasty Tuesdays by HonestMum

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January 2015 Family Foodies hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash

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January 2015 Vegetable Palette hosted by A2K – A Seasonal Veg Table

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Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

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Extra Veg with Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy

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Have a Healthy and Happy year!

Cheers