kruizing with kikukat

Monday, February 26, 2018

Kamaboko Patties

It's nice to have had a holiday last week.  The next holiday will be spring break, so it is still weeks away.  And there will be no trip to sweeten the deal of spring break (at least not this year).  Oh well.

I was hoping to be posting a bunch of Instant Pot recipes by now, but that won't happen this week.  I've been trying things in the Instant Pot (IP), but I don't think I'm ready to throw out my Crock Pot and Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker just yet.  I learned that you CAN overcook food in the IP.  Last week, I tried making braised English-style short ribs.  It was a conventional recipe (stove top, oven) which I attempted to adapt to the IP.  I overcooked the ribs!  Yes, overcooked.  The meat was falling-off-the- bone tender, and that was not a good thing.  Short rib has a thick piece of non-meat which feels like a cross between rubber and plastic.  These pieces were attached to every bit of meat!  Gross.

And if that wasn't bad enough, I managed to spill short rib liquid on a placemat.  In spite of washing the placemat multiple times, the placemat, my washer and my dryer still smell like beef.  Seriously.  I will not be having beef for a while.

So until I get things like that  (as well as the clean-up) sorted out, I will not be posting any IP recipes.  I'm going to stick to safe recipes while I wait for additional IP accessories to arrive.  I ordered a silicone steamer, some mini mitts, and a 7" springform pan.  I have not ordered a glass lid yet, although I probably need to get one since I do not have a glass lid which fits it.  My friend Odie ordered a non-stick pan.  That might be something to order eventually.

With the Olympics on TV, I did not spend much time in the kitchen.  I wanted to watch my favorite events, the alpine events...Super G and Downhill.  I'm always amazed at how quickly those people make it down the hill.  I'm even more amazed at some of the freestyle events and how more of those athletes don't end up paralyzed from nasty falls. 

And it's not your imagination.  My last blog post was also about patties, clam patties to be exact.  I guess I like making patties.  In addition to being quick to cook, they are easy to serve and easy to pack as leftovers for lunch.  If you have burger buns on hand, these patties make a great sandwich filling too.  While these are good as is, The Help likes his with Bulldog tonkatsu sauce.  I like to have mine with a sesame kochujang dipping sauce.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 kamaboko, grated (medium coarse)
     6 shrimps, chopped
     1 can water chestnuts, chopped
     green onion
     3/4 c flour
     1/2 tsp salt
     1 tsp sugar
     1/4 c water

Combine flour, salt and sugar.  Stir in water.  Add remaining ingredients and combine well.  Using a small ince cream scoop, make patties.  Fry on both sides in oil until light brown.

Last Day
October 13, 2017:  Day 5

Saying goodbye to Hokkaido was a sad day.  Toyoko Inn graciously offered to hold our things while we spent the day traipsing around Sapporo.  In spite of Toyoko Inn being a basic hotel, I actually enjoyed my stay.  The place was clean and the daily breakfast, had I not been a piggie, would've been more than ample.

Most of my day alone was spent looking for yarn stores.  I managed to find Mariya, which was a total disappointment.  There was hardly anything of interest to me.

A few days prior, I managed to find a Kanariya outpost in the ESTA shopping arcade at the Sapporo station.  I was thrilled.

But I hit the motherlode again when I found this store, Yuzawaya.  I cannot read Japanese, so I asked someone to read the characters for me, even though the knitting sheep made me quite certain I was at the right place.

This was indeed an awesome store, and I bought some goodies to share with a few special Rav friends.

After all that shopping, I was totally hungry.  I knew I could find something to eat at the station, and it would put me closer to retrieving my bags at Toyoko Inn.

The Keeper was on the outskirts of the city exploring some kind of temple so he was out of play.  Just when I was trying to decide what to eat, I came across Nakaz, also looking for a meal.  We decided to indulge ourselves one last time at Tonkatsu Wako.  Since it was lunch, there was a slightly different menu...different combination sets.  Yum!  This was a great last-meal-of-the-trip, and it was nice to have good company as well.

There was another memorable food experience...a frozen fruit cocktail mochi.  I regret not getting any pics of it, but it was like eating a creamy fruit cocktail in a mochi.

A final thank you to The Keeper for getting me to Sapporo and back home (and every minute in between) safely.

Goodbye, Sapporo...until next time.

After many hours, I finally walked into my home.  Traveling is fun, but it's also nice to come home and enjoy the travel mementos (sake glass from Kitaichi Glass, Otaru).

Monday, January 29, 2018

Clam Patties

There are nights when I really have no idea what to cook.  And for whatever reason, going to the supermarket after work seems like too much trouble.  That's when I start digging in the pantry for my stash of clams.

These clam patties are quick to make, and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.  Clams are reasonably priced, and they are often on sale at KTA or Longs.

Feel free to buy canned clams wherever you want, but you won't run into me at Long's.  I don't go to Longs anymore since the pharmacy lost my mom's pain killer prescription when she was dying of cancer.  Imagine that...the pharmacist blamed the misplaced prescription on a pharmacist-in-training from the local college.  She told me she would have the prescription ready the next day.  Bullshit!  My mother had just been released from the hospital and had only a few hours to fill her prescription before getting on a plane for a last-ditch treatment effort.  So no limp apology from a pharmacist can compensate for my mom's pain.  Thanks for nothing, you incompetent dipshits!  Actually, I stopped going to Long's way before that, but I was there to pick up my mother's prescription.  Long's pharmacy does not have their shit together, that's for sure.   They seem to have the fake apology down though, and the pharmacists are good at talking down to people too.  I take my business to Safeway or KTA.

Maybe this rant isn't fair.  Maybe there IS a Long's pharmacy out there which is staffed by competent people.  My mother's incident happened in June 2016 at the Long's which used to be next to the Hilo Safeway.  Okay, enough about Long's.  This is pissing me off all over again.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, I was talking about clam patties.  When we have this, I ask The Help to make tartar sauce (he does a good job).  It also goes very well with potsticker sauce.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 cans minced clams
     1 egg
     2/3 c flour
     1 tsp baking powder
     dash of Tabasco
     1/2 tsp salt
     dash of pepper
     2 tbsp minced celery
     1 tbsp minced parsley
     oil for frying

Drain clams, reserving 1/3 c liquid.  Beat egg in a small bowl and whisk in reserved clam liquid, flour, baking powder, Tabasco, salt, and pepper.  Stir in clams, celery, and parsley.  Heat 1/2" oil in a skillet.  Drop a teaspoonful of batter into hot oil.  Batter will flatten out.  Flip when golden brown to fry other side.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with tartar sauce or potsticker sauce.  Patties can be kept warm in a 250 degree oven.

Hakodate, Japan
October 12, 2017:  Day 4

Prior to heading to the train station, The Keeper and I went to the far end of the Hokkaido University campus.  He wanted to check out picturesque gingko trees lining the entrance to the campus.

The Keeper told me Hakodate was a 3+ hour train ride away from Sapporo.  I was excited because I had fond memories of train rides.

 Our first stop in Hakodate was the morning market.  In spite of snacking on the train ride, I was starving when we arrived.

The Keeper suggested a restaurant on the edge of the market which served freshly killed seafood.  After the abalone at Ohiso (near Nijo Market in Sapporo), I knew I had to get abalone again.

The specialty of the restaurant was finely minced fatty salmon with ikura over a bowl of rice.  I regret getting the small portion.  I know I could've eaten the large size.  This was probably THE best raw food I had during the trip.

One of the "attractions" at the Hakodate market is catching your own squid and having them clean (read=kill) it and prepare it for you.  The restaurant we went to for breakfast also served freshly "prepared" squid.  It wasn't a big deal to me about catching my own squid, but I knew this was something I had to eat too.  Good thing The Keeper has a good appetite.

Like Otaru, Hakodate has a bunch of red brick buildings.  These are now filled with shops.  Marion Crepes, which also has an outpost in Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, has a counter in one of these buildings.  The yummy filled crepes are half the price of the ones in Honolulu!

We took a streetcar to get to Goryokaku, a star-shaped fort built in the mid-19th century.  We didn't actually go into the fort, but we went to the top of the observation tower.  The tower has sweeping views over the fort and the city.

I love how the manhole covers are whimsically decorated with regional touches.

We returned to Sapporo and went to grab dinner at the ramen yokocho in Susukino.  This time, we ate at Aji No Karyu, the place where Anthony Bourdain ate (this is the first shop, the one that is on the main street at the entrance to the yokocho).  I took a picture of the shop here.  I wanted to take a picture of my corn-less bowl of shoyu ramen (by this time, I realized I don't like corn in my ramen), but there was a large sign in English saying "no photos".  Shit!!!

This was a sad day for me because I knew that in a few days I would be back at work. . .and I was staring down the barrel of an 8-hour plane ride the next day.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cinnamon Pretzels

Have we recovered from the holiday?  Maybe you have, but I haven't.  I'm not looking forward to the full-blown work day, although I am prepared to welcome the 2nd semester. 

My vacation was really not a relaxing time.  There was so much to be done.  Not only did it take half my vacation to wash the winter ball linens, but I seem to have been in the cooking cycle for the entire time.  I had a bunch of guests to prepare for...the old aunties for Christmas lunch and working palz for sake.  By the time that was over, I was making desserts for New Years Day AND preparing for another bunch for dinner.

The Old Aunties coming over for lunch on Christmas was not bad at all.  I made prime rib with a nice chunk of beef The Help found at Costco.  The working palz were fed a bunch of things, but I think they appreciated the potstickers and sauce.  They also enjoyed the miso salmon.  My fave part of the night (in addition to the company), was the sake.  The Keeper brought some good sake.  We weren't able to finish all the sake (plus another guest brought a bottle), so I shared some with my cousins on New Years Eve, after the crab lasagna dinner.  I don't think sake would pair well with crab lasagna!

I did get a special treat this vacation...I got to meet up with my cousin Michelle and her family for breakfast.  Michelle grew up and lives in Honolulu, but her hubby is from Hilo.  In a strange coincidence, his older sister is my high school classmate.  Small world!  The Old Aunties joined us, and Michelle got to ask them a bunch of questions about her grandfather (their brother).

In addition to the get-togethers, I was busy with projects.  I did a test knit for Kay Hopkins.  I knew when I agreed that the cardigan was not something I would wear, but I saw it as an opportunity to practice stranding.  I gave the cardigan to one of the Old Aunties for Christmas (whew...I managed to finish the cardigan in a week!).

I was not as successful with another cardigan (veronika) D1 requested.  I was hoping to finish it before she left, but with all that was happening (cooking, get-togethers, etc.) between Christmas and her leaving, I was not able to finish.

With the beginning of the 2nd semester tomorrow, I am grateful to be done with my advisorship (and the after-shit which accompanies the event...the washing of the linens).  The students I got to work with for the project were awesome, and they did a great job putting the event together.  On the final day of bid sales, I distributed Cinnamon Pretzels to the students who helped.  I made a few extra bags so I gave some to Ma (if you know, you know), which she consumed in lieu of lunch.

Although I would've enjoyed relaxing during the vacation, seeing friends and family was not a bad trade-off.  

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     18 oz pretzels (we like butter snaps or honey wheat twists)
     1/3 c butter
     1/4 c sugar
     3/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Place pretzels in a 9 x 13" pan.  Melt butter.  Stir in sugar and cinnamon.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Pour over pretzels and toss gently to coat pretzels.  Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

 Otaru, Japan
October 11, 2017:  Day 3

We spent the 3rd day in Otaru.  Otaru was about a 45 minute train ride from Sapporo station.

In a way, Otaru reminds me of Lahaina, where much of what's to see is along one main street.

Otaru boasts a picturesque canal, which was probably vital to the main economic base of the town back in the "olden days". 

Before tackling the shops, we stopped at a small cafe to sample soft cream.  I got the 3-flavor variety...lavender, vanilla, and melon.  It was delicious, but I should have just had a gigantic cone of just the lavender.  A few of my friends bought the 7-flavor jumbo cone, but I knew I would not be able to finish that, lunch, and what I really HAD TO HAVE.

Today, Otaru is known for glassware.  A wise friend told me that the glass industry evolved from Otaru's past as a fishing village.  In the "olden days", fish net floats were made out of glass.  With more modern materials being used for floats, the glass industry switched their focus from fish floats to table ware.  Kitaichi Glass, a famous glass vendor, is based in Otaru.  Encouraged by The Keeper, I spent a shameless amount of $ on no-drip shoyu containers (KikukatDad requested at least 3 large dispensers) and hand-carved glass, one-of-a-kind sake cups.

I ended up having lunch at a place recommended by The Keeper.  He said it was where the tour bus and taxi DRIVERS dine with the locals.  I had a raw scallop and ikura don.  The ikura was perfectly seasoned, and all of this came on a bed of finely shredded egg.

But my real goal for the day was getting to LeTAO, a pastry shop reknown for creamy desserts.  Prior to my trip, I spent a good amount of time researching specialty food of the region.  Several guides mentioned the Double Fromage cheesecake and Bin de Fromage.  I had been talking about LeTAO to The Keeper weeks before we left Hawaii, so it was only fitting to enjoy the LeTAO experience with him.  I was worried about finding LeTAO, but it turned out that LeTAO is like Starbucks...there were several LeTAOs on that one main street! We ended up at a small LeTAO outpost where there was an open table and a bathroom.

Double Fromage is a luscious cheesecake-like layered creation.  This alone was worth the trip to Otaru.  I have never had anything like it before, and if anyone wants to try testing a copycat recipe for it, I'm in!  It IS available in Sapporo Station, but really, this experience wasn't about finding it in Sapporo. . .it was about having it where it was born. . .in Otaru.

And since I was at the shop, I really wanted to try the Bin de Fromage which was like the Double Fromage but in a cute miniature milk bottle.  I was too full to eat it then, but since it was available frozen in a 3-pack, I bought the 3-pack to share.   The frozen bottles kept nicely during the ride back to Sapporo.

A word of caution with the Bin de must be eaten all the way to the bottom of the bottle for the full taste experience.
After the Double Fromage, I had a gigantic square of kakimochi (The Keeper was sent to buy this for some friends in Hawaii) courtesy of DHS and a persimmon-filled daifuku from a small store on the way to the Otaru station.  Yet, I knew I still had to have dinner.

Because Otaru wasn't far from Sapporo, we returned to Sapporo at a decent hour.  Not everyone was hungry, so everyone went their own way.  I was hungry and thinking about going back to Tonkatsu Wako when I ran into The Keeper.  Turns out The Keeper was also looking for food.  We ended up at an unagi restaurant in the station, Miyagawa Honten.

It turns out that Miyagawa Honten is actually in the Daimaru department store at the station.  Apparently there were some bad reviews, but The Keeper and I were well-aware that the eel is prepared (read:  killed and cooked) to order, so it's certainly not fast food.  I ordered a small set, so the eel came in a porcelain bowl.  The Keeper ordered a larger meal so his eel was in a lacquered box.  I didn't take a pic of his meal, but it was lavish.  And in spite of the humble appearance of my bowl, this was THE best unagi I have ever had.
After the unagi meal, The Keeper and I stopped at a convenience store to buy stuff for the 3-hour+ train ride to Hakodate the next morning.  

. . .another day of mega-eating in the books and another epic eating day ahead. . .

Monday, December 4, 2017

Almost Noodle Club: Korean Fried Chicken Wings

For various reasons, I have been spending lots of time on the road.  In the past two months, I must've made at least a half-dozen trips to the other side of the island. 
  • The Help developed an interest in Japanese whiskey, so of course we had to stop at the liquor store in Waimea and check out the selection at Costco.  
  • On another weekend, my vacuum broke, and Costco just happened to have a good deal on a Shark (I killed 2 Dyson's in a span short of a decade so I was ready to try something else).  
  • I just "happened" to be at Costco when they started selling Christmas trees, so that trip turned out into a full-weekend activity...decorating the tree.
And there were a handful of trips between all of those, including a trip just to Waimea to check out the local wool for sale at the Waimea farmer's market (Parker School).

In spite of the good restaurants in Kona and Waikoloa, The Help and I have been regulars at Noodle Club, making the detour to Waimea instead of heading straight home on the Saddle.  Noodle Club is owned by the same gentleman who owns Village Burger (must try the Ahi Nicoise salad there), and like Village Burger, Noodle Club is an awesome eatery.

It might come as a surprise that one of my fave things to eat there is NOT a noodle dish, but a chicken dish.  I said "one" of...I have many favorites there.   I find the KFC...Korean Fried Chicken...difficult to resist.  The sticky, sweet, spicy sauce surrounding crispy chicken lollipops is not the Korean chicken many of us grew up with (like Kay's Lunch Center or the kine one of the aunties makes).  It has a unique flavor, as well as a unique look.  Noodle club wings look like the meat has been pushed upwards on the bone, giving a lollipop appearance.

I will be the first to admit that my version is not exactly like the KFC you get at the Noodle Club, but it's equally delicious.   I also refuse to spend the time to make the chicken look like a lollipop.  If you want the experience the chicken lollipop, then make the drive out to Waimea.  If you want a delicious meal without too much hassle, then this recipe might be just what you need.

 click on recipe title for printable recipe

     3 lbs chicken wings
     1/4 c flour
     2 tbsp cornstarch
     oil for frying
     1/4 c brown sugar
     1 tbsp honey
     3 tbsp rice vinegar
     2 tbsp shoyu
     6 tbsp gochujang (spicy Korean bean paste)
     1/4 tsp sesame oil

Cut chicken wings apart at the joints; discard tip portion.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss with flour and cornstarch.  Set aside.  Heat 1/2-3/4" oil in a skillet.  While oil is heating, prepare sauce by combining all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Fry chicken pieces until golden; this may take up to 25 minutes (15 minutes on the first side; 10 minutes on the second side).  Remove from oil and drain.  Fry all chicken pieces.  When all chicken has been fried, return each chicken piece to oil, frying for an additional 5-10 minutes.  Remove 3 pieces at a time.  Drain on paper towels then place in sauce, turning to coat.  Continue until all chicken has been coated.  Return all chicken pieces to sauce and coat again before removing to a serving platter.
Sapporo, Japan
October 10, 2017:  Day 2

Since our hotel was across the Hokkaido university campus, The Keeper suggested we walk the ground of the campus before embarking on another day of gluttony.

The campus could have been a university on the east coast or looked "collegiate".  The architecture was very western.  Walking the grounds brought back memories of my own college days.

The leaves were turning color. . .reminded me of my trip to Connecticut in the fall.

The fun part of this trip was the opportunity to wear Doc Martens and things I made.   I went full Nelkin on this day:  Caragh, Transitus and Las Cruces.

Don't get me wrong...I often DO wear things I make AND I always get strange looks from The Help, often with a comment like, "this isn't Puget Sound" or "we are not in Canada now".

We met up with the rest of the gang and headed to Nijo Market for breakfast.  Nijo Market was similar to Jougai Ichiba (from the day before).  Of course, I was gonna get seafood for breakfast!
Nijo Market

While walking around Nijo Market, I found shine muscats!  $15 USD was a small price to pay for mouthfuls of joy.  I had to take a pic because I don't think anyone at home would believe I actually bought "grapes".

A few of us ended up having breakfast at Ohiso.  After watching DHS eat crab at breakfast the day before, there was no way I was gonna miss out on crab.  I decided to try the hairy crab and salmon don.  The mini was about $11 USD, which I figured would hold me over until the next meal.  I also got a small bowl of ikura, a bargain at $3.40 USD.

I was actually not impressed with the hairy crab.  The meat wasn't as tasty as Dungeness nor was it as sweet as king crab.  But at least I can say I tried it.

On the other hand, the ikura was superb.  Perfect flavor.

I couldn't find the picture of the awabi (abalone) sashimi from this place.  I even had a pic of the innards, which The Keeper made DHS try.  She said it was nasty.

We had some time on our own after breakfast, so I decided to go on a treasure hunt which took be back to Sapporo station.  I was looking for a special store.  I was just about to give up, but then I arrived at the promised land!

OMG.  Kanariya was awesome.  I just wish I could speak and read Japanese.  I bought a bunch of pattern books (which I will probably never use) and some omiyage for a few special Ravelry friends and some friends who sew.

I could have stayed at Kanariya much longer, but I had to meet up with the pandas for lunner (lunch + dinner).

We caught a bus to Sapporo Beer Garden.  I tried out the panorama feature on my camera, but I just couldn't make it work properly.  The beer garden building is red brick (many old buildings in Sapporo are red brick).  I guess we were hungry so we went straight to the dining hall and got started.

I was worried about liking lamb, but after stuffing my face with jingusukan (Genghis Khan, to the rest of us), I decided I like lamb.  I love the helmet-shaped grill!

This is a cook-your-own place.  You can have as much as you want, be it meat, veggies or drink.  Nakaz and I couldn't get enough of the melon soda (since we can't drink beer).

And no visit to the Sapporo Beer Garden is complete without a picture of the iconic brew kettle.  It was huge!

Before heading back to the hotel, The Keeper and I bought some goodies from the station:  (clockwise from upper right) Little Mermaid steam cake, Little Mermaid melon pan, parfait, and Kinotoya cheese tart.  The steam cake was similar to other steam cakes I've eaten.  It was mild flavored and very light.  And yes, the bottom right pic IS melon pan, or at least what the Little Mermaid Bakery calls melon pan.  It was delicious, but it did not taste anything like the St. Germain version of melon pan.  I'm glad The Keeper bought it for me to try.  The parfait was very good (apparently parfait in Japan is a "thing") and easy to eat.  There was a small slice of cake and a few cornflakes (yes, like cornflake cereal) atop the parfait.  I found that interesting.

The Kinotoya cheese tart gets it's own paragraph.  It is definitely a no-miss treat when visiting Sapporo.  The aroma of the cheese tarts baking is incredible.  It must be so difficult for people in the waiting area to resist buying a some.  Although it looks like it might be "egg-y", it is not.  I think the color automatically makes you think its custard.  But it's definitely more cheese than custard.  I wish I had eaten another one or two before leaving Sapporo. 

It was another day of eating.  Thankfully, it was less eating than the previous day, and I knew that the next day was going to be another adventure.