After watching the lovely Ramen Girl movie (Yes! I like that movie so much! If you live in Japan you can absolutely relate, and if not, I highly recommend watching it to sneak a peek at Japanese culture, in ways that Lost in Translation completely ignored- gasp!), I was inspired to learn to cook homemade Japanese meals, and having lived in the udon prefecture and all, udon seemed like the right way to start.
Well, the story is a bit different, but I was taught how to prepare some basic Japanese fare, and since then a whole new tasty world opened up to me. I was always scared to cook Japanese food at home as I didn't know what ingredients to pick up, and what cooking techniques to use. Turns out it's much easier than I thought, and I stocked my kitchen with the essentials everyone should have on hand for cooking Japanese food at home: sesame oil, dashi (fish stock), vinegar, soy sauce, miso paste, tofu, negi (green onion), nira (garlic chives), and hakusai (Chinese cabbage).
The dinner menu was composed of gyoza (dumplings) and udon, two of my favourite dishes, and pretty much everything was made from scratch. It was one of the most scrumptious meals I've had, and I felt so happy I learned how to make it so I can re-create it by myself. Nothing beats having a private cooking session with a kind local, in my own (awful) kitchen.
Here are the steps to make gyoza and udon, in one meal.
You will need: sesame oil, dashi (fish stock), vinegar, soy sauce, miso paste, negi (green onion), nira (garlic chives), hakusai (Chinese cabbage), minced pork (or tofu for veggie alternative), ready-made gyoza shells, and udon noodles.
|The loot from the supermarket.|
|Slice the nira (garlic chives) and negi (green onion)|
|Don't slice your finger like this geezer.|
|Boil the hakusai (Chinese cabbage), |
then squeeze the water out and slice it
|Mix some minced pork and the vegetables,|
along with a dash of sesame oil, salt and pepper
and a secret ingredient: a dab of miso paste.
|Put a small spoonful of the mixture in the shell|
and prepare to fold it shut,
lined with a bit of water on the edge, origami style
Gyoza can be steamed in a cover frying pan,
with a tad of sesame oil and water
|Leftover filling was shaped into meatballs|
and boiled in the udon broth
|Udon broth: water, dashi (fish stock) and a bit of soy sauce.|
Simmer and add the noodles
|Cooked gyoza, on a Kitty-chan plate, what else.|