Saturday, October 23, 2010

Recipe: Yakitori (Japanese Grilled Chicken Skewers)

When walking around any shopping district in Japan you would be hard pressed to not see at least one place that specialized in yakitori.  Some of these places will advertise their menus with lots of red lanterns describing each type of yakitori they serve, some will have display cases full of fake yakitori luring you into their establishment, and street vendors will just have an assortment of yakitori sizzling across their charcoal grills ready to serve at a moments notice.
Since less than 2% of the world population actually lives in Japan we figured it would be nice to be able to enjoy yakitori anywhere in the world right from the comfort of our own kitchens.  Even though yakitori is traditionally cooked on a charcoal grill most of us don't have access to one of these in our kitchen, especially one that is specifically designed for yakitori.  To remedy this we worked out a cooking method similar to the traditional method but using common kitchen wares and the broiler in our oven.  In Japan all parts of the chicken are used, including various organs.  The following recipe uses only the white meat breast, dark meat thighs and skin.

Yakitori

Makes: about nine 3oz skewers

Time: 20 minutes from start to finish

Ingredients
  • Tare Sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 chicken thighs cut into 1 inch square pieces
  • Skin of whole chicken cut into 1 inch wide ribbons 
  • Salt
  • 20 10" or longer Bamboo Skewers presoaked in water for 30 minutes
Equipment
  • 13 by 9 glass baking dish
  • Basting brush
  • Oven with broiler
Begin by adjusting your oven rack so that the rim of the baking dish will be about 3 inches from your broiler element when its in the oven.  To do this you may need to put something between the rack and the baking dish to give it a little extra height, such as an upside down cookie sheet.  Remove the baking dish and preheat the broiler on high.

To prepare the skewers, begin by piercing a piece of chicken breast onto to two skewers by holding the two skewers parallel and sliding the meat down onto them, stopping about 1 inch from the end of the skewers.  Continue adding chicken breast pieces until there is about 1 inch of skewer left on the other end.  Repeat with the rest of the breast as well as the thigh pieces.  For the skin, start by piercing two holes with two parallel skewers at one end of a ribbon.  Fold the skin back onto itself so that the fold is about a half inch from the skewers and pierce the skin again.  Continue to fold and pierce the skin back and forth alternating leaving a half inch skin fold on each side of the skewers until there is about an inch of bare skewers on either side of the folded skin.

For seasoning there are two basic options, salt or tare sauce.  For salt, just sprinkle a little salt on all sides of the chicken on the skewer.  For tare seasoning, drizzle the tare sauce onto the skewer and use a basting brush to spread it around evenly.
Lay the seasoned skewers across the width of the glass baking dish carefully so that they are not touching each other.  Place under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes on the first side.  When the chicken begins to lightly char turn each skewer over.  Apply some more tare sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Check the chicken for doneness, the chicken will probably need about 1-2 minutes more per side.

 Notes: Two skewers are used as opposed to one so that you are able to control which side of the chicken is facing the broiler.  If cold water is added to the bottom of the glass baking dish before broiling a lot of clean up can be avoided.  Make sure it is cold and that a sufficient amount is present, otherwise it will boil away which will both steam the chicken as opposed to the desired grilling effect and leave the mess at the bottom of the pan you were trying to avoid. The amount of tare used is at your discretion and you can apply it at anytime during the cooking process or after. 

We like to keep some tare sauce in the fridge in a squeeze bottle and use it as a condiment, like ketchup or barbecue sauce.  Let us know your fun and creative ways of incorporating tare sauce into your everyday cuisine.

Here is an instructional video so you can watch us make the recipe above.





Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In Progress: Nikuman and Kareman, aka Japanese Steamed Buns

Kareman before being steamed
We are about half way through perfecting our homemade nikuman and kareman recipes.  We've been focusing on both the dough and on the filling.  So far we've tried different leavening agents and different levels of hydration.  Still to do, we will try different types of flours and combinations thereof.  We've had to somewhat reteach ourselves about dough because this dough must have different attributes than those for bread dough.  For instance this dough must be the proper consistency to both put a filling into the center and still have good rising properties.

The consistency of the filling before steaming has also posed some interesting problems.  We've tried various ways to thicken our curry and even tried freezing it individual portions.  The frozen filling messed up the last rise right before the steaming.  It must have made the dough too cold for the yeast to work.  We have a few more iterations to go, but this recipe is quick and easy so it won't be long before we let you in on our recipes.

Also, tomorrow we'll have our first Japanese street food recipe up, Yakitori.  So check back then and in the meantime leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite Japanese street food is.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tare Sauce

 The first thing we want to say to you about tare sauce is that once you look at the recipe you may be thinking “sweet thickened soy sauce? Isn’t this just teriyaki sauce?”  Yes, tare sauce is teriyaki sauce, but it is not the same teriyaki sauce you would find in a store.  Basic store bought teriyaki contains garlic powder, onion powder, various other spices and preservatives, and this is just basic store bought teriyaki sauce and doesn't include the dozens of flavored teriyaki sauces out there.  We will be using our tare sauce in various recipes, both by itself and with other ingredients, and we don't want or need these additional flavors to be present.

Tare Sauce
Makes about 1 cup

  • 3/4 cup mirin
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (shoyu)
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
Combine all of the wet ingredients in a 2 cup measuring cup.  Put the sugar into a small saucepan and place on medium high heat.  Swoosh the sugar around the pan to make sure of even heating and to prevent the bottom from burning.  Once the sugar is melted and starts to caramelize remove from the heat and add the wet ingredients.  This will cause a fair amount of bubbling and the sugar will solidify, this is why a sauce pan is better than a skillet.  Return the pan to medium heat, scrape and stir in sugar to dissolve, and reduce mixture by one half.  Let cool, then use or store.

Notes: Feel free to adjust the ratios depending on your personal preference, for instance if you want it sweeter or saltier.  We used cooking sake because it is more economical and is better suited for the purpose.  If you are unable to find sake in a grocery store you can try going to a wine or liquor store.  If you are still unable to find sake you can try to substitute in a dry white wine.  If you are unable to find mirin you can try substituting a mixture of sugar; and sake, dry white wine, sherry or rice wine vinegar mixed in a 1:3 ratio.  It is also possible to purchase these ingredients online from the following links: Mirin, Soy Sauce, and Sake

We like to keep some tare sauce in the fridge and use it as a condiment like ketchup and mayonaise.  So once it cools we store ours in these squeeze bottles.  They are perfect for tare sauce because its thickness prevents it from pouring well so being able to squeeze it out is perfect, plus they don't require cleaning up utensils or anything after applying it directly to your food.

We will be using this tare sauce in various Japanese recipes that we'll share with you shortly.  But in the mean time we'd love for you to let us know your favorite thing to eat with tare sauce, whether its Japanese or not.  So leave your creative responses in the comment section below.

For further instruction we have prepared this video:


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're Back...

It is true, we had quite a hiatus.  But, we are back now and though we haven’t been writing and keeping you up to date on our endeavors, we have been eating and cooking.  Now we are ready to share what we have been doing. 

If you haven’t already noticed we have changed our look and now have the domain www.pleasorderbynumber.com, so accessing us will be that much easier.

So, since you’ve been gone we’ve been working on a few things.  We have been continuing on our quest for homemade banh mi.  Our first recipe will be what holds the sandwich all together, the bread.  We are nearly done completing our baguette recipe and should have it up in a week or two.  Here is a sneak peak of what we’ve got so far.


It is close but not quite how we think it should be.  The recipe will contain some notes from our various attempts so that you can see how we go about working on a recipe.  The notes will also serve as a way for you to understand how we came about deciding on each step and for you to lend us your expertise on what we could have done differently.

We are continuing to work on the rest of the banh mi ingredients and will keep you updated on our progress and give you some more sneak peaks along the way.  So stay tuned for those.

Additionally, we have been to a number of Japanese street festivals over the past few months, recently including the Spirit of Japantown in San Jose, and have fallen back in love with Japanese street food as well as food eaten at izakaya. 

Okonomiyaki at street festival
 Our first recipe will be for yakitori, which is basically skewered grilled chicken.  After that we are open for suggestions, so please leave a comment below for any Japanese street food, or food found at izakaya, that you would like to see us make at home.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Restaurant Review: Song Que Deli (Vietnamese)

Another weekend, another stroll around to the Eden center. After our previous feast at Hai Duong we found ourselves seeking some lighter fare, sandwiches perhaps? Neatly tucked into a back corner we found ourselves in front of the Song Que Deli. Despite its hidden corner location the place was packed, for a deli, and it appeared as though this is not so uncommon as there are separate doors labeled enter and exit in order to properly funnel the sandwich craving traffic through the store.

Once you walk inside you will quickly realize that this place is more than just a deli, it’s a deli slash qwik-e-mart, sorta. Dividing the store in half is a long table filled with a spread of prepared foods, including many banana leave wrapped goodies that we have yet to identify and plastic wrapped portions of cold lunches and snacks, including one that looked like Bun Cha.

The menus for what we came for hang on the wall behind the counter, including some pictures of their Banh mi, French influenced Vietnamese sandwiches. If you’ve never had Banh mi then you are in for a pleasant surprise. They are served on an almost French baguette with a thin yet flaky crust and an airy crumb. Inside you will find pickled vegetables, cilantro, sliced jalapeƱos, a Vietnamese mayonnaise, nuoc cham, and various different meat fillings.
We decide to go hog wild, almost literally. We had the grilled pork, pate, and the grilled chicken. The grilled pork was very similar to the pork we had in our bun cha recipe, very tasty and great with the baguette, which soaked up all of the excess juices. The chicken is perfect for the less adventurous eaters in your group, though nothing like the sweet chicken teriyaki at subway you could tell them that to get them to take their first bite, and from there the sandwich will do the rest.

Stay tuned as Please Order by Number works hard to recreate these Banh Mi sandwiches from store-bought and homemade ingredients.
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