Tag Archives: goma ae

Thursday lunch with a bento debate

13 Jan

Thursday’s lunch included:

Carrot sticks

Baked chicken wingette and drummette

Watercress goma-ae, or blanched and well-drained (wrung) watercress cut into 1/4 inch pieces (easier for my daughter to manage), and tossed with a soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and ground sesame seed (goma) dressing.  The ratio was 1 tsp each ingredient except for the mirin – I added 1/4 tsp.

Multi-grain onigiri with turkey soboro filling

Sautéed mushrooms

During our car ride home yesterday, my daughter spoke softly as we slowed down at a stop sign.

“Mama, P__ and L__ said ‘Your lunch is IWWW’,” her eyes filling with tears.  I pulled my car over to the side of the road, and turned to look at her.

“Do you love sushi and noodles?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Do you know, when Mama was  a little girl, a lot of people in my school told me that sushi  and noodles in soup were yucky?”

My daughter’s eyes opened wide.

“Do you like eating sushi and noodles?” I asked her.

“Yes!” she replied, nodding her head.

“Don’t you think it’s silly that people would say ‘Iw” to something that’s so yummy and that you love?”

She nodded, slowly.  Both girls adore their ikura (salmon roe) sushi, as well as various other items.

“Well, it’s like that with your bento.  Your friends might not have tried any of your yummy bento, so instead of saying ‘Hey, what’s that?’ they are being silly and saying ‘Iw.'”

“If you want, I can pack you a sandwich every day,” I added.

“Nooooo I like my bento,” she replied, and brightened up.

She later explained to Jiji and Baba over skype, as well as to Papa when he came home from work. 

I added, “Don’t you think it’s a shame that those kids that said ‘Iw’ about ikura never tried it before they said it?  That’s why Mama and Papa always tell you to try something before saying you like it or you don’t like it.”

“I want a bento every day,” she replied, and nodded, firmly.

I hugged her tightly. 





Soboro onigiri, cresson goma ae and wings

20 Sep

This past Sunday night’s crazed cooking left me with a comfortable amount of bento ingredients and ideas for the next week.

Today’s bento includes:

Blanched watercress (cresson) “goma ae” or sesame dressing.  Into a pot of boiling water (pinch of salt) I added a bunch of cleaned and washed watercress.  Once the colors perked up (really, a quick blanch so it should only be 1-2 minutes to retain the crunch) I quickly removed the watercress from the pot and shocked them in an ice bath.  After they cooled, I carefully squeezed all the water out (otherwise you might tear the greens) and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces.

The goma ae or sesame dressing was made by combining the following:

2 tbs whole sesame seeds

1 tbs mirin

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp miso paste

I have a suribachi (mortar) that my mother had given to me, with a little wooden pestle (surikogi).  I ground up the sesame seeds, and then I gradually added the other ingredients, mixing everything well with the surikogi.  I then added the watercress into the actual suribachi, and carefully mixed them together with chopsticks.  You may want to adjust the seasoning – this happens to be the ratio I am comfortable with.  If you don’t have a suribachi, a food processor may serve well to grind up the sesame seeds, but there’s something soothing about grinding the sesame seeds down with the pestle, the fragrant seeds + wooden pestle + ceramic ridges of the suribachi creating a quiet and rhythmic gori gori sound in the quiet kitchen… Of course, you can always purchase pre-ground sesame seeds, but then you miss out on the fragrant grinding process of the seeds…

Also included today were:

Roasted beet stars

Baked Chicken wings and drumettes, seasoned with salt, pepper, a little organic poultry seasoning mix (courtesy of Makinajian Farm) and soy sauce, baked in the oven at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, covered, and then another 15 minutes uncovered.  A quick squeeze of lemon juice while hot usually rounds up the flavor very well, and keeps the chicken interesting even at room temperature

Multigrain (white, brown, pearled barley, quinoa, millet) Onigiri with turkey soboro filling

For the soboro, I sauteed 1/2 pound of ground turkey in a cast-iron pan, and then added the following ingredients, allowing them to slowly cook down over low heat – the flavors blending and concentrating in intensity as the liquid cooks down.

1 tbs mirin

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp freshly ground ginger

1 tbs miso paste (I use 1/2 red and 1/2 white)  – I dissolve this into the liquid ingredients

1 tbs sake or Japanese rice wine

1 tsp shiitake powder

Once the turkey cooked down, and there was no liquid remaining, I removed from the heat and allowed it to cool, and then put it in the refrigerator.

Similar to the other fillings, I took freshly steamed rice in slightly wet hands, and cupped my fingers to create a round onigiri With my other hand, I create a “finger” indent, and fill it with the daily onigiri center filling (soboro today) and form the rest of the onigiriNori strip to wrap up, and we are set.

Cherry tomatoes from the garden, picked by my oldest daughter

Hopefully she likes the slight change in filling and pace of her bento!

Spring time yet? Gyoza fest, and bento time.

7 Mar

My husband and I have a very interesting relationship.  Exhausting, many acquaintances and family members may say.  Interactive, I say.  The term, “Yes dear” seemed to have never made it to my husband’s list of vocabulary words utilized at home.  Instead, it is a constant battle between two incredibly stubborn individuals trying to stand their ground.

Yet, I know if I had simply settled with a “Yes Man” I ultimately would have been bored out of my relationship.

However, we both agree on one thing.  I make some *MEAN* (read: excellent) gyozas.  And this past weekend was the day I decided, a gyoza party was long overdue.

Here are the ingredients (approx 64 pieces)

1 package gyoza skins – These are conventional – Golden Dragon brand ROUND gyoza skins – my mother always used this brand, which is why I haven’t ventured to other brands, or sought out organic ones.  Defrost them in the fridge in advance.  Otherwise you will have to deal with a very aggravating block of rigid, thin, crepe-like skins that are brittle and hard to work with.

1 lbs ground turkey

1/2 block firm tofu – well-drained.  I cut the tofu block into 2, saved the other to add as the gu or contents of miso soup, and the other half, I put into a colander, and added a weighted bowl on top to drain out all the liquid.  I did this about an hour before prep.  The drained tofu was added into the processor with the veggies below.

4 large leaves of cabbage (can be any type of green), blanched.  Squeeze ALL liquid out of the cabbage. 

Have a small “dipping” bowl of water for sealing the gyozas

1 cup of boiling water (for use during cooking)

Add into a food processor, the drained tofu, the cabbage above, and 3 peeled and quartered carrots, 4 scallions, 1 inch piece of ginger, 1 head of garlic – I put these into the food processor and minced finely.

I then added 1 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs sesame oil, and mixed the meat and vegetables well with my hands.  Once the ingredients were mixed well, I put it into a bowl, and then into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

I enlisted the help of my older daughter who pulled up her booster seat at the table, and this is what we did:

Take a gyoza skin in your hand.  I’m a leftie when cooking, so I put the skin into my left hand, added a rounded teaspoon of the mixture into the middle of the gyoza skin.  I then took my ring finger, wet it with water, and ran it across the top half edge of the gyoza skin.  This will be the glue of the dumpling edge.

I then folded the gyoza skin in half, upwards, the edges meetings.  I then fluted the outside skin, pressing the edges together, creating a seal.

I realize I should have taken blow-by-blow pictures, but didn’t think of this until NOW.  Sorry dear reader.  I spent quite a few minutes adjusting the ones my daughter made for me, and trying not to seal my fingers together with turkey-tofu mixture and flour-glue.

I did manage a mid-way shot of the dumplings being made.

In a medium-sized frying pan (preferably with a lid) , I added 1/2 tbs canola oil, and set over medium high heat.  Once it heated up, I arranged the gyozas into the pan, the pieces in neat lines in the pan.  I fried them until the bottoms browned – about 4 – 6 minutes, depending on your stove/pan, and then added 3 tbs water into the pan, and put a lid on the pan.  This process steams the dumplings.

Once the liquid in the pan is cooked away, lift the lid, and take a spatula to lift remove the gyozas.  People who are very comfortable will be able to loosen the gyozas from the pan, and flip the entire frying pan over a platter.  The browned bottoms should be served on top. 

I don’t have the confidence to flip everything successfully, so I take a spatula, and remove columns of gyozas and put them on a platter.

I serve the gyozas with a dipping sauce of ponzu, or you can also make a dipping sauce with soy sauce and lemon juice or rice vinegar.  I also make a spicy oil (my version of la-yu) with some Korean kochukaru or dried, red chili flakes, mixed with some sesame oil.  I then mix it together, and let it sit for a few minutes.

As a side dish, I had steamed rice – we had a dear friend over for dinner, so I actually had plain rice (well, sprouted brown rice), miso soup with cubed tofu, wakame (seaweed) garnished with scallions, edamame, and steamed green beans with sesame dressing, or goma – ae

The green beans dressing is: 

2 tbs roasted sesame seeds – I actually have a ceramic suribachi or mortar and pestle which my mother sent.  I ground up the sesame seeds, well, and gradually added the wet ingredients below until it came together as a dressing.

1 tsp mirin (or sake)

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp rice vinegar

Grind, and mix the dressing well.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.  Toss together with the cooked beans and serve.  **This dressing also works well with blanched broccoli, blanched and well-drained (WRUNG) spinach or watercress – or any cooked vegetable with a subtle flavor that will be complemented by the dressing.  In my case, I should consider beets too!

I had about 18 pieces that suffered a sticky pan, and were absolutely demolished as I tried to get them to the platter.  These mistakes were gradually consumed by… The Chef.  What better way to hide your mistakes than to eat them? 

My daughters both liked their dinner, and my older one offered to make them again with me, very soon.

Today’s bento included:

Little turkey patties formed and fried – if you are not careful with the meat:dumpling skin ratio, you may run out of one or the other.  I fried these patties, and added to my daughter’s lunch.

Edamame – conventional

Roasted beets – quartered

Steamed rice (sprouted brown rice only), topped with sesame seeds and two pieces of takuan, or pickled radish.

Green beans with sesame dressing

Hopefully we had a hit lunch today.