Posts in Japan
Japan GP 2018: Sushi, Ramen, and Udon Galore

I can’t say enough good things about our trip to Japan. Except for one glaring error, we did not make it to the race. Our trip was planned with 8 people and there was no way to see what we wanted to see, work with everyone’s schedules, and go to see the race.

So, I treated it like a research mission and ate everything I could fit in. Supposedly so that I could learn about Japanese cuisine and make this deliciousness for future races... in reality because everything was so so so delicious and I just couldn’t help myself.

Some of our favorites included Yakitori Alley and all its grilled goodness, Shin Udon in Tokyo where you can watch the chefs hand make the udon noodles which are silky and rich and the broth is bright and beautiful, Afuri Ramen’s yuzu broth and grilled chashu which was to die for, and of course fresh perfectly prepared sushi.

We also partook in our fair share of sweets. Desserts in restaurants are not all that common, but desserts in street stalls, for breakfast, in train stations, at 7/11, and anywhere else you might find yourself are ubiquitous. We tried soft serve in a multitude of flavors such as matcha, black sesame, yuzu, pear, and crystallized sweet potato. We had the fluffiest pancakes known to mankind… twice. Our travel companion was on a mission to try every possible egg tart in the Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Osaka area, hunting down Pablo and Bake at every train station and town we visited. (Bake was the resounding winner.) Coffee culture also has a strong foothold in the big cities and we had some stellar lattes. Our favorite being Turret Coffee.

As usual, being in new cities, we also set out on a mission to try every craft beer we could find. We thought this would be pretty limited given Japan’s propensity for lagers, but we were delightfully surprised by the burgeoning craft beer scene.

Bright Lights of Shinjuku, Tokyo

Bright Lights of Shinjuku, Tokyo

Benzaiten Shrine in Inokashira Park

Benzaiten Shrine in Inokashira Park

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Philosopher’s Walk, Kyoto

Philosopher’s Walk, Kyoto

View of Osaka from Umeda Sky Tower

View of Osaka from Umeda Sky Tower

JapanMaria DawsonFunComment
Japanese Fluffy Cheesecake

This cheesecake is honestly like nothing I have had before. It is fluffy and soufflé like, but with all the rich flavors of a just-sweet citrusy cheesecake. My husband deemed it an Angel Cheesecake and I think that is about right. Seriously fluffy and extraordinarily tasty, I highly recommend it!

The recipe is from Serious Eats written by Yvonne Ruperti. Honestly, I think I have a slight addiction to Serious Eats. After receiving The Food Lab for Christmas this last year, Kenji Lopez-Alt and his team have been my trustworthy source for so many cooking questions.

When I make recipes from their site, I can’t even say "adapted from" because there is no adapting... they have figured it out and they make it so clear and easy to follow I can’t mess up, or make it better! For pictures and step by step, definitely check out the link to the site, and if you haven’t checked out the Serious Eats blog yet, You’re Welcome!

Fluffy Cheesecake

 

Japanese Cheesecake

From: Serious Eats

Makes 8-12 servings depending on how you slice your cake :)

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar, divided
Pinch of kosher salt
5 large eggs, separated
1 packed teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/3 cup (1 1/3 ounces) cake flour
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 340°F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8- by 3-inch springform pan and wrap the bottom half of the pan with foil to create a waterproof seal. Set into a roasting pan.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt on medium speed until very creamy scraping down sides as necessary with a rubber spatula (about 2 minutes). Beat in egg yolks and lemon zest until smooth, about 30 seconds. Replace paddle attachment with whisk attachment. Whisk in the lemon juice and sour cream on medium speed, scraping down sides as necessary with a rubber spatula, until combined.

3. Sift the flour and cornstarch over the batter and whisk until completely combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, using a rubber spatula. Thoroughly wash and dry stand mixer bowl and whisk (a dirty bowl will prevent whites from aerating properly)

4. Using the mixer's whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until frothy. Slowly pour in the remaining sugar and continue to whip to medium-peak stage. Don't over-whip.

5. Fold a third of the meringue into the batter with a rubber spatula until almost combined. Gently fold in the remaining meringue in two more batches.

6. Pour the batter into the springform pan and set on the oven rack. Pour about 2 inches hot water into the roasting pan. Bake until the cake is golden and just firm in the center, 40 to 45 minutes.

7. Remove roasting pan from oven and let springform pan remain in water bath for 30 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool for another 30 minutes, then chill until set, about 3 hours.  

My only addition is that you can serve this with just about any fruit, we had mango and kiwi on hand but sliced strawberries, raspberries, or other fruit would be equally lovely. 

Japanese GP- Yakisoba
Japanese GP F1Cookbook

The Japanese Grand Prix is always a favorite, for so many reasons. Here are my top 5: 

1. The Fans are fantastic, fanatical, and know how to have fun
2. The track is a figure 8 and has some great corners
3. The drivers love it and you can see the excitement free practice all the way through the race weekend
4. Unpredictable weather, always a game-changer
5. At this point in the championship things can start to be decided, so every point, and mistake, and unreliability, and battle, seem so much more important

I gathered a small collection of examples of the awesome fandom in Japan:

Sources:
Alonso super fan: WTF1
DRS hat duo: check out the video of the working DRS hats on Reddit from 2015
Ferrari Samurai and Race track hat: Apex Online Racing
Honda fan crew: Honda Racing F1 Twitter

Who can resist such spirit and love of racing??

For this race we made Japanese stir fry noodles (Yakisoba) and started the meal with Blistered Shishito Peppers which we serendipitously got from our Imperfect Produce delivery this week! I love all things noodles, and this dish is no exception. With a nice umami-savory sauce and lots of veggies it hits all the right buttons. Served with two excellent Japanese micro-brews (Thank you Luiz!), the tiniest most adorable bottle of Suntory Whiskey hand-delivered from Japan (Thanks Chris and Natalie!) and an exciting race (Thank you Max Verstappen adn Fernando Alonso)! 

We finished off the meal with Fluffy Japanese style Cheesecake and some of that whiskey. 

Yakisoba

 

Yakisoba (Japanese Stir Fry Noodles)

Adapted from: Just One Cookbook

Serve 6

Yakisoba Sauce:

2 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
4 tsp oyster sauce
4 tsp ketchup
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Yakisoba:

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
¾ lb sliced pork belly (or chicken thigh or shrimp)
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, julienned
10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions/scallions, chopped into 2 inch pieces, plus more for topping (optional)
½ cabbage head, leaves peeled and cut into bite size pieces
½ lb fried tofu cubes (optional)
Pickled red ginger (optional for topping)

Yakisoba Noodles (1 package - 16 oz)

Pretty Prep Yakisoba

 

1. Make Yakisoba sauce: Whisk all the ingredients  in a small bowl and set aside.

2. In a skillet or large wok, heat oil on medium high heat. Cook meat until just browned.

3. Add onion and carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes.

4. Add the cabbage and cook until almost tender.

5. Add green onions, shiitake mushrooms, fried tofu and cook for 1 minute or until tofu is just heated through.

6. Rinse yakisoba noodles in hot water to warm and aid in separating noodles. Use tongs to separate the noodles (pour over more hot water if they are sticking).

7. Add the noodles to the wok, and lower the heat to medium. Stir all ingredients over medium heat, being careful not to let the noodles stay too long on the pan to prevent sticking.

8. Add Yakisoba Sauce, mix all ingredients together and warm up sauce. Serve topped with more chopped green onions, pickled red ginger (optional).

Note: my medium sized wok barely fit all of these ingredients, as a matter of fact when I added the noodles I couldn’t even stir to combine them, I had to transfer half to a bowl, etc. etc. So I recommend if you have a large wok to use that, or alternatively a large skillet or even a dutch over could work well. Alternatively you could halve the recipe for 2 generous servings, or 4 small servings to go alongside something else delicious!

 

Shishito Peppers

Blistered Shishito Peppers

Shisito Peppers
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flaky salt (sea salt or kosher salt)

1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until the pan is hot. Add the peppers to the hot skillet and cook the peppers, turning occasionally, until blistered on multiple sides and hot. 

2. Transfer to serving plate and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with generous pinch of salt. 

For a good time, make it Suntory time
— Bill Murray

And last but not least, Ferrari's Japanese GP Poster for 2017

Japanese Grand Prix- Sushi and Shrimp Stir fry
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The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka always proves interesting. The fans are crazy, the racing great, and the food... so fun!  If you've made your own sushi, you know the key is two things. Well made rice and the freshest fish.

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With a little sugar and some rice vinegar, sushi rice has it's own unique flavor and texture.

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Even though we planned to give a tutorial to our resident Brazilian, it turned out he was way better at making sushi than we were. Who knew!?

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My resident beer pourer also did his job sportingly.

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We made quite a feast, despite using only about 5 ingredients. That's the magic of sushi.

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Sushi

Basically the rice is the only thing you need a recipe for. Vinegared rice + fresh fish+ sliced vegetables + toasted nori = homemade sushi rolls.

Vinegared Rice (Sumeshi)

from   sushi: easy recipes for making sushi at home by Emi Kuzako, Fiona Smith, Elsa Petersen-Schepelern

1 3/4 cups Japanese style short-grained rice
3 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt

Put rice in large bowl and wash thoroughly, until water is clear. Drain and leave in strainer for 1 hour.

Transfer to a deep, heavy saucepan, add 2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes.

Lower heat and simmer, covered for about 10 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Do not lift lid until the end. Remove from heat and leave, still covered, for about 10-15 minutes.

Mix the rice, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small glass measuring cup and stir until dissolved.

Transfer cooked rice to a large shallow dish. Sprinkle generously with vinegar mixture.

Using a wooden spoon, fold the vinegar mixture into the rice. Do not stir. While folding, cool the rice quickly using a fan. Let the rice cool to body temperature before using to make sushi.

 

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

Adapted from Damn Delicious

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound snow peas
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Sriracha

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, cornstarch and Sriracha; set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add shrimp, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add snow peas, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in soy sauce mixture until well combined and slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion, if desired.