Monthly Archives: January 2013

Day 15 – Japanese Week Day 7 – Onigiri Bento Box

Day 14 – Japanese Week Day 6 – Tempura

Our local Pub Grub restaurant serves this dish – A fish feast. On this dish you get a piece of battered fish, scampi, butterfly prawns and, wait for it, Tempura Prawns. They are beyond lovely. Unlike typical ‘Chip Shop’ batter which is thick and greasy these are light and crispy. I’ve had Tempura things from Japanese places to and they’re even more lovely. Moreish too. 

I thought I should try making some myself, I’ve also got mushrooms and peppers to use up from the bolognese. Now traditionally tempura batter is made with just cold water and flour though eggs, baking soda, spices etc can be added. The batter is mixed with chopsticks for only a few seconds, leaving the lumps that when combined with the chill factor create the light and fluffy crispness.

Day 13 – Japanese Week Day 5 – California Uramaki

So Japanese week is nearly over. Sad times. Today’s offering isn’t truly ‘authentic’ Japanese Sushi, it’s more of a Western thing – hence California in the name.

Uramaki is Maki that is rolled inside out. The rice goes down first, then the nori, then the filling leaving the rice on the outside. The California bit refers to the filling of avocado and fish sticks seen in the many Sushi Lunch Deals supermarkets offer. [There are loads of other Western-Themed Maki which may crop up later this year.] The Uramaki is then rolled in toasted sesame seeds.



Sushi Rice

Nori Sheets

Crab Sticks


Sesame Seeds

Wasabi Paste

Most sushi consists of the same basic ingredients so this week has been easy as I already had plenty of sushi rice and the only real variation is in the filling. The rolling of the sushi was really what I wanted to test out this week so here goes. I’m also going to knock up a Bento Box with leftovers for my lunch too.


1. The start to making an Uramaki is exactly the same as if making a traditional Maki. Place the nori shiny side down and apply a layer of rice, gently spreading over the nori. This time though, leave a much larger gap at the edge.


2. Carefully flip the nori/rice over so the shiny side of the nori is facing up and the rice is touching the bamboo mat. About 2-3cm from the bottom edge of the nori, lay the filling.


3. Using the same method as with the traditional Maki, hold the filling in place and flip the bottom edge of the nori over the filling. Gently roll the bamboo mat upwards, tucking the clear nori in as you go.


4. With a wet knife, slice the Uramaki into 6-8 pieces and serve.


This was much much harder than the Maki, though both were easier than the first time I tried a while ago and I will be making sushi a lot more often as it seems quite healthy too – depending on filling. I hope to try and experiment with varying the rice as there must be a wholegrain version out there somewhere. You may notice the rice everywhere over the bamboo mat. That stuff got everywhere. Some videos recommend plastic wrapping the mat but it brushed of easily enough when washing. I did have to swap avocado for cucumber too as the stores only had the ‘wait 8 days to ripen’ ones in stock. Shame.

I would love some ideas for fillings too, as well as any ideas of a rice substitute I could use if there is one out there.

Super Saturday Number One

So technically there has already been a Saturday so far this year but it was so close to last year I decided it doesn’t count. From today the plan is to recap the weeks kitchen escapades along with any other awesome tidbits I can think of to share.

When I decided to start this little challenge blog I didn’t really plan to much in advance – that’s why everything has been a little hit and miss. I’ve pretty much bought each meal the night I’m cooking it. This will hopefully change this week onwards. The whole week will be planned in advance, thus saving me time and money as I won’t be doing a million and one trips to the store for one item.

The new house is also more organised and there is now a plan so that’s a little less terrifying too. I just wish the new kitchen would hurry up so I can really start cooking. I’ve even bought a cookery book – Marguerite Patton’s Century of British Cooking no less.

Food Ideas For This Week

– American Burger Night

– Korean Kimchi

– Kedgeree

– Seaside Fish ‘n’ Chips with Mushy Peas

– Inside Out Sushi Rolls

– Tempura Battered Prawns and Rice

– A Mixed Bento Box for Lunches

That will hopefully cover the whole week, finish off Japanese Week and give me some lunches for work too. What a plan. Some things will take a while, Kimchi for example takes a few days to ferment so will update the outcomes on the next Super Saturday.

Favourite Food Of The Week – DoroWat, hands down the nicest, richest, most filling stew I have ever eaten. I don’t like stew. Ask anyone. But this was amazing, and will be made again in the not too distant future.

Worst Food Of The Week – Texas BBQ Beans, this was horrific. Maybe my measurements were off, maybe not. But still, it was disgusting. Such a shame as so many people rave about ‘Cowboy Fare’. Might find a more reliable recipe and try again, although that one was a BBC Good Food mag recipe so who knows.

Til next week. Nomnomnom.

Day 12 – Japanese Week Day 4 – Miso Soup

Japanese fare is not complete with out a nice bowl of hot miso soup. Miso soup is a Japanese dish made from Dashi, a typically fish based stock. Added to it are Miso Paste, Silken Tofu cubes and various vegetables such as Daikon.



1/2 Cup Katsuobushi (Dry Bonito Flakes)

16-20 Square Inches Kombu (Kelp)

4 Cups Water

To make the Dashi, you basically soak/heat all the two ingredients in the water to steep out the flavours. Strain, jar, enjoy.

1. Put the Kombu in the water to soak. Place on the heat until just beginning to boil.

2. Remove from the heat. Add the Katsuobushi. Leave to steep for a few minutes.

3. Pour through a lined strainer e.g. Coffee Liner into a clean container. Seal. Use.

And that’s it. Done. You can apparently reuse the Kombu and Katsuobushi immediately afterwards to create a second Dashi. The first batch is called Ichiban Dashi, the second is Niban Dashi.

Miso Soup

2 – 4 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)
2 – 3 ounces firm tofu (2 handfuls), chopped into 1/3-inch cubes
2 spring onions, tops removed thinly sliced
4 cups water
4 tbsp dashi

Day 11 – Japanese Week Day 3 – Tamagoyaki

Day 10 – Japanese Week Day 2 – Tuna Maki Sushi

So now I have an overwhelming amount of sticky rice, it’s time to make some rolls. Nori = Seaweed Maki = Rolls.

I did cheat a little and bought a ‘Sushi Making Kit’ though really this was mostly for the rolling mat. The fact it came with all the necessary ingredients was simply a bonus. On with the roll.


Sushi Rice

Nori Sheets

Tuna Mayonaise




Now there’s not a huge amount to rolling sushi step-wise. Technique-wise it’s beyond. According to Youtube videos I watched to hone my rolling skills, Sushi Itamaes train on the job training in Sushi creation for anything as long as 20 years to gain this title. I doubt I’ll be crowned an Itamae anytime soon.

Tuna Maki

1. Place a sheet of Nori shiny side down on the bamboo mat. Make sure the mat’s sticks are horizantal to you.


2. Gently press a layer of rice over the sushi leaving a 3/4 inch gap at the top of the nori – pushing not mushing. Respect your rice.


3. About 1/2 inch from the nori edge nearest you, smear a horizontal line of wasabi. I put three lines at intervals as I love wasabi.


4. Along the line of wasabi, lay the tuna filling.


5. Ready to roll. Pinch the bottom corners of the nori, hold the filling in place with both middle fingers. Roll nori edge over filling to the rice on the top side. Using the mat, roll until only the clear edge of nori furthest away from you can be seen above the mat.


6. Gently squeeze along the length of the mat. Dampen the clear edge of the nori and roll the maki onto it sticking the roll shut.


7. Slice your maki.

Tah Dah.

I think I may have just made the fattest Maki Roll in the world. I watched a Sushi Rolling video by Epicurious and theirs looked like mine, their video also received a fair amount of negative comments regarding the authenticity of the roll. I then found a video, after my attempt was done, with a Japanese Chef on an American cookery show and her roll was perfect. I think the instructions on my Japan-easy kit weren’t hugely clear – especially concerning the “leave a bit of nori out of the mat” part. Her video was excellent and I will totally follow it next time.

TASTE – Rice was plain, blame previous Sticky Rice recipe for not telling me what to do with the salt, sugar and vinegar. As a whole was lovely and filling. Would prefer a larger selection and make a meal of it next time.

DIFFICULTY – Hard Hard Hard!! If Japanese Sushi chefs train for up to 20 years I doubt a London girl in the Welsh Valleys is going to produce anything stellar anytime soon. Arranging the filling is so precise, rolling more so. Does give me a good excuse to make more sushi though.

COST – Hmm. Sushi rice isn’t cheap, but I have seen alternatives used with the same effect for a fraction of the cost. I wanted to go authentic for the first go though. Filling, you make of it what you want – 80p cucumber veggie roll or 10quid super salmon roll. Nori is 3.99 for a pack of unknown sheet quantity. Ordering online or going to an Asian store that stocks larger quantities would be cheaper than buying from the general store where World Items are a speciality.

Day 9 – Japanese Week Day 1 – Sticky Rice

This week is to be dubbed sushi week. I realise it is Wednesday but that’s when my week can really start. Mondays are manic, Tuesday I am recovering from monday and the weekends I am preparing for Monday all over again. See, it makes sense.

As another of my New Year goals, I’m hoping to lose 40lbs. So far this year, and last, my work lunches have consisted of whatever the not so impressive local shop has to offer- pasties, sandwiches, ready meals. Not the most nutritional fare.

Today we start with the basics. Sticky rice. I have attempted sushi before and it was a disaster – suffice to say my rice was not sticky. Time to try again. I’m hoping that this recipe will work equally well for some awesome sounding Korean dishes too.



2 Cups – White Sushi Rice

2 Cups – Water

3 1/2 Tbsp – Vinegar

1 Tbsp – Sugar

1 Tsp – Salt

I have seen a few recipes for sticky rice that call for normal short grain white rice. I will try them in the future as ‘official’ sushi rice is beyond expensive but I wanted to make sure all the ingredients this time were authentic to increase my chances of successfully making edible sushi.

Sticky Rice


1. Measure out the rice into a large bowl and cover with water. Gently mix rice around. The water should go cloudy with excess starch. Drain and repeat until water is clear. Leave rice to allow water to be absorbed for 30 minutes.


2. Into a pan place the rice and the measured amount of water. Cover with a lid and leave on a medium heat to come to a slow boil.


3. Once boiling turn to a high heat for 1 minute. Do not remove lid.

4. Turn down to a low heat and leave to fully soak up remaining water for 10 minutes.

5. Take pan off heat and leave for a further 10 minutes.


The recipe doesn’t actually tell you what you are meant to do with the sugar, vinegar and salt but having googled it, it seems you heat it all together in a new pan and ‘spritz’ over the cooked rice before using. A second recipe says to gently fork the seasoning through the rice.

Final result, sticky rice. It worked, I’m so excited. On to making maki rolls.

Day 8 – Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Cupcakes

I work in a cupcake shop. I love that I work in a cupcake shop because I love cake. It seems only right that I make cupcakes at least once a week this year. I hope everyone who reads this is as equally excited about trying out 52 who batches of cupcake awesomeness.

Day 7 – Parmesan Puffs

Yesterday I spent many hours in the car on a trip from Wales to Wigan to pick up our new puppy. Yay. This meant little real food and less cooking. Today we eat.

I made up yesterday a pot of my own style bolognese which is a household favourite. Today I am making some hopefully amazing puffs to serve with it. I’m not entirely sure what ‘puffs’ are but they have a vast amount of cheese in them so it’s all good with me.


1/4 Cup of Milk

60g Butter

14 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup Flour

2 Large Eggs

1 Cup Grated Parmesan


The recipe didn’t mention what sort of flour to use so I opted for plain. It didn’t turn out too bad really. The recipe is good as it’s pretty low on steps but does require some speed with the eggs and flour into a hot liquid situation.

Parmesan Puffs

1. In a saucepan combine the milk, 1/4 cup of water, butter and salt. Bring to the boil over a high heat.


2. Once boiling reduce to a medium heat and add the flour in one go, beating it in until the mixture forms a ball.


3. Remove from the heat. Stir in the eggs one at a time.


4. Add the parmesan and pepper to taste.


5. Form mix in to balls and place on a buttered baking tray. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 180 or until puffed up and golden, turning half way through so they cook evenly.


I have to admit to trying some of the ‘batter’ left over after the balls were made. It was beyond cheesy and rather salty – I normally salt everything but this was a little too much for even me. Luckily this didn’t remain in the finished ‘puffs’.


So that’s what a Parmesan Puff looks like.

TASTE – Cheesy, bit greasy but possibly doubled the butter by accident. Bit like a cheese scone. Came out a little doughy so I don’t necessarily agree with the cooking times.

DIFFICULTY – Simple. Bit faffy having to swap bowls all the time though. Would do it all in the one dish next time. And reduce butter.

COST – Cheese was dear at 2 quid but the rest was super cheap basic brands.

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