Posts tagged ‘beef’

Yakiniku – Grilled Meat Japanese Style

Hello all!

Last night, Hisa’s family took Hisa and I out to a yakiniku restaurant (there’s a grill in your table, and you grill meat right at your table and eat it) for dinner. It was fun, and the food was great, but I’ve only been to a yakiniku restaurant in Japan once before that I recall, so I found myself a bit lost when it came to yakiniku etiquette. I managed to discover a few things in the process of dinner last night, however.

1) Yakiniku restaurants will make your clothes, hair, and very skin smell of grilled meat and smoke. I Febrezed my coat last night and hung it up to air out, but I think the smell is still lingering…

2) There’s no niceties with yakiniku. It’s eat or be eaten. Everybody would continually add meat to the grill when some was eaten, and I found myself not really knowing what meat was done cooking, and what meat was still a little raw (beef I’m okay with generally, but under-cooked pork and especially chicken freak me out). As a result, while I was a bit confused and hesitating, much of the meat was eaten up by my husband and sister-in-law. Opps.

3) I’m not a big fan of either cow tongue or cow liver. The was it works is you order whatever cuts of meat you want, and they bring them out on plates (it’s always cut into thin slices), and you grill it at the table. My husband ordered the cow tongue, so I thought I would try it. It looks like regular beef when cooked, but it tastes slightly different and is a bit….chewy. Not bad, but I think I’ll stick to more familiar cuts of beef in the future.

My father-in-law, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law

Me, Hisa, my adorable niece, and her mom (my sister-in-law). My brother-in-law was still at work and couldn’t come unfortunately.

Grillin’ away!

Adding meat, flipping meat, eating meat. I was a bit lost.

Next time (whenever that is), I think I’ll have a better idea of what to do. Or I can just steal all my husband’s meat, haha!


December 5, 2011 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Chop Chae (Jap Chae / Chap Chae) – Korean Noodles With Vegetables and Beef

Hisa and I are moving out of our apartment in less than a month!

The final countdown has begun!

*cue music*

Ba da da duuun

Ba da da da dun

Ba da da duuuun

Ba da da da da da

duuuun da da duuuuuun da da duuuuuun da da da da da da duuuuuuuuun da di da di duuuuuuuuun

Ah, sorry. I love that song though.

So we’re moving out of our apartment in less than a month. I’ve been trying to gradually get rid of things as it gets closer. Getting rid of things in Japan is not that simple though. You can’t just donate stuff to Goodwill (no such place around here), and you definitely can’t just throw stuff away.

Well, let me rephrase that. You can throw things away, but it takes careful planning and thought. All trash has to be separated according to the city’s standards and thrown away in the proper manner on the proper day.

If the trash is large (there’s specific measurements as to what qualifies), then it automatically becomes “over-sized trash”. For over-size trash you have to buy a special stamp (usually costing either 400 yen or 800 yen, about $4 or $8) to put on the item when you throw it away, call the city trash division, and make an appointment for them to come pick it up. Needless to say, over-sized trash is a bit of a pain in the butt.

I’ve been figuring out what needs to be thrown away and when, trying to sell other things, and figuring out what food we have a lot of that needs to be eaten/used before we leave.

For some unknown reason, we have a lot of noodles. Mainly Japanese somen and soba noodles (although we also have some Thai rice noodles). I’ve been trying to think of interesting recipes that I can use them for other than the basic cold soba/somen and hot soba in soup. It’s too chilly for the basic cold noodles, and although soba noodles in hot soup is good, honestly, I’m not a huge fan. So I’ve been improvising a bit.

I was searching online yesterday for interesting noodle recipes, and came across chop chae (also called jap chae), a Korean noodle dish with vegetables and beef. I love chop chae, but I haven’t had it in years, so I decided spur of the moment to make it for dinner last night.

Now if you know what chop chae is you might be thinking, “But wait! Chop chae involves neither somen nor soba!”. My answer to you would be yes, friend, this is true. But that’s what improvising is all about!

Chop chae uses cellophane noodles (also called glass noodles), which are made from sweet potatoes and turn clear when you cook them.

I used somen. Because I have a lot of somen. So there!

I also didn’t have any mushrooms or spinach (common ingredients for chop chae), and instead used Chinese cabbage (hakusai in Japanese). It still tasted great!

If you make chop chae, your noodles will be cellophane noodles and clear looking, unlike my somen noodles here. Or you can be cool like me and make it with somen!

I went a little crazy with the sesame seeds on top, but I just really like sesame seeds. Don’t hate.

Chop Chae (Jap Chae)

(serves 2 – 3 as a main dish)

  • About 250 – 300 grams cellophane noodles
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking sake
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet cooking sake (mirin)
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced beef
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 3 – 4 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (or half of one Japanese negi)
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  1. Mix cooking sake, mirin, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a bowl. Add beef and mix so that beef is coated. Set aside and let marinade.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook cellophane noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse noodles, mix with 1 Tbsp. sesame oil in a bowl, and set aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pour beaten eggs into pan and cook until egg is solid, without scrambling/stirring. Place egg onto cutting board and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
  4. Add a little more oil to skillet. Add onion, carrot, and mushrooms, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add beef to skillet and cook until brown. When beef is almost completely browned, add green onion, garlic, and spinach. Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes.
  6. Add remaining 3 Tbsp. of soy sauce, and sugar, and mix. Continue cooking for 1 – 2 more minutes.
  7. Add egg, vegetable mixture, noodles, and remaining 1 Tbsp. sesame oil to skillet. Mix everything so that noddles and vegetables are well coated with sauce and heated through. Serve with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

I served my chop chae with a spicy Korean vegetable soup.



October 20, 2011 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

Today’s Lunch

I made hamburgers for dinner last night, so I made sure there were extras to put into today’s lunch.

Today’s lunch: Hamburger with my homemade hamburger buns, edamame, and a persimmon

October 12, 2011 at 10:22 am 2 comments

Mabo Dofu (tofu and ground meat in a spicy chili sauce)

If you have no clue what mabo dofu is (you poor soul, you), it’s a delicious Chinese dish that consists of mainly tofu and a little bit of ground beef or pork in a spicy chili sauce. It’s very popular here in Japan, although as the Japanese tend to avoid overly spicy dishes, the Japanese version tends to be not spicy at all.

I’ve had this dish a million times, but I’d been wanting to try to make it myself. I’m still not too familiar with cooking many Chinese dishes, so I wasn’t sure how well this would turn out, but when I finally got around to making mabo dofu last night, the result turned out to be better than I’d expected! It was great actually!


Mabo Dofu (serves 2 – 3)

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 lb ground beef or pork
  • 1/4 c. leek or scallions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. ginger paste or grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. tobanjan (a Chinese fermented spicy bean paste available in most Asian grocery stores)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking sake
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c. broth (chicken, beef, veggie, doesn’t matter which)
  • 12 – 15 oz. tofu (1 package) firm or soft, cut into cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch dissolved into 1 1/2 Tbsp. cold water
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Add the ground beef/pork and cook until almost completely browned.
  2. Add the scallions, garlic, and ginger paste and cook for another minute. Add the tobanjan and cook for another minute. Add the soy sauce, cooking sake, and sugar, and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the chicken broth and mix well. Adjust seasoning to taste. If you want it spicier, add more tobanjan.
  4. Add the tofu and mix well. Cook until everything is heated through. Add the corn starch dissolved in water, and stir continuously until sauce thickens. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

I served the mabo dofu with a vegetable stir-fry and steamed rice.


September 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm Leave a comment

Niku-dofu – Japanese Simmered Beef and Tofu

I think when a lot of people think of Japanese food they think: sushi, steamed rice, ramen, pot stickers (gyoza), sake!, sushi, sushi…

While these are all popular foods in Japan (although ramen and pot stickers are actually Chinese foods), there’s so much more to Japanese food.

I think people also think of all Japanese food as being super healthy. While traditional Japanese food is very healthy, many of the modern Japanese foods are, well, not so much.

Example: tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is essentially a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet. While very good (is anything that’s been breaded and deep fried not good?) and very popular in Japan (you can find tonkatsu restaurants everywhere), it doesn’t exactly fall into the “healthy foods” category if you know what I mean.

People also tend to think of the Japanese as fish eaters, and, well, this is true. They are! But they also eat beef and pork much more than in decades past. I think the growing meat consumption of the Japanese is one of the big reasons that Japanese people are increasingly getting taller. Pork is generally cheaper than beef (pigs take up less space, and space is a commodity here), but people eat both. Generally when you buy meat, it’s cut into very thin slices. This is useful for a lot of Japanese dishes that include meat. Of course, you can also get things like steak and ground meat, but the thinly sliced meat seems to be the most common.

One Japanese dish that’s super popular (especially amongst men so they say) is niku-jaga, which translates into meat and potatoes. Yes, even the Japanese have a meat and potatoes dish! And it’s delicious! I once heard somewhere that if a woman in Japan wants to get a guy, she just needs to be able to cook niku-jaga for him, and then he’ll be hers. I guess the whole “way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” thing is pretty universal. Guys are guys, no matter the country.

While I love love niku-jaga, I also really like a similar dish, niku-dofu. It’s basically the same as niku-jaga, except instead of potatoes, it has tofu in it. Meat and tofu. It goes great with steamed rice, miso soup, and whatever other side dishes you want.

Here’s my niku-dofu recipe, based on the recipe from Recipes of Japanese Cooking


Niku-dofu (serves 2)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 package firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 150 g (about 5 1/2 oz.) thinly sliced beef loin, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 small package of konyaku threads (you can leave this out if you can’t find it)
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 Tbsp cooking sake
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp mirin (sweet cooking sake)
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  1. Drain and rinse the konyaku threads in cold water. Roughly cut into 1 – 2 inch lengths. Boil for 1 – 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the beef and cook for one to two minutes. Add the onion and konyaku and continue cooking.
  3. When the beef is completely cooked and the onion is translucent, add the tofu, water, sake, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. Mix well.
  4. Continue cooking briefly until dish is heated through, about 3 – 4 minutes. Divide into two bowls and serve.

Niku-dofu and simmered Japanese pumpkin (kabocha)


Niku-dofu, steamed rice, miso soup, and simmered Japanese pumpkin

August 25, 2011 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

Mexican Burger Burritos

I just dragged myself away from the Kitchen Aid website. I dream of owning my own lovely Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and making all manner of things (especially yeast bread) with ease. The whisk! The flat beater! The dough hook!! Not to mention all the extra attachments you can get for it! Pasta maker? Juicer? Ice cream maker?! Grain mill?!?! It’s like a fully equipped kitchen in one appliance! Not to mention they last forever! I also dream of having a Kitchen Aid food processor, but I won’t get into that. I dream of high quality kitchen ware. *dreamy sigh*

Moving on, I have a great recipe for a speedy, but delicious dinner.

Now, I love love love Tex-mex and I love making tacos for dinner, but sometimes you need something different. This recipe is just as easy to whip together as tacos, but a great twist on your regular old taco/burrito dinner.

It’s like a burrito and a hamburger came together and had a love child. A really delicious love child.

Mmmmm, burger burrito love child…

You can use just beef for these or a mixture of beef and pork. I used a mixture of beef and pork, because that’s what I had on hand.

Mexican Burger Burritos (serves 2)

  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 4 burrito size flour tortillas
  • 1/2 c. salsa (use your favorite)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 3/4 c. bread crumbs (I always use panko)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 – 1/3 c. salsa
  • 1/2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • 1 c. shredded lettuce
  1. In a large bowl combine ground meat, 1/2 c. salsa, egg, lime juice, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour. If you don’t have time, no worries. When ready to cook, add the bread crumbs and mix well.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine avacado, salsa, lime juice, and garlic powder, and mash everything together until the avocado has no lumps, and everything is well combined (note: you can substitute your favorite guacamole for this).
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Form the meat into four oblong-shaped patties, about 4 – 5 inches long and 1 1/2 – 2 inches wide, and add to the skillet. Cook for until browned on one side (4 – 5 minutes), then flip and continue cooking until browned on the other side and cooked through.
  4. On a heated tortilla (I usually just heat them on a really hot skillet for about 15 – 20 seconds on each side), spread 1/4 of the avocado mixture. On top of that, place 1/4 of the shredded cheese. Place one of the burger patties on top, and cover with some shredded lettuce. Wrap everything up into a burrito (fold the sides in first, then roll long-ways tucking in any loose corners along the way). Repeat until you have four burritos. Serve.
  5. Serve with extra salsa, sour cream, whatever floats your boat. Add your favorite Tex-mex side and you’re good to go!





June 16, 2011 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

Baked Samosas

I got my bicycle tire fixed yesterday.

It ends up that the tire didn’t just have a whole in it (easy enough to fix), but had actually burst (not so easy to fix), so they had to put a new tire on it. Like I said before though, I’m just glad it was just a tire and not stolen! So now my bike is back in working order.

Another great discover I made this week, I discovered that they DO have prescription Singulair in Japan!

What? You’re not excited about this? *gasp*

Okay, for those who don’t know, Singulair is a prescription allergy/asthma medicine in the States. It’s also the only allergy medicine I’ve had that actually helps, unlike Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, etc.

I’ve had horrible allergies for as long as I can remember. Grass, trees, cats, mold, you name it, I’m probably allergic to it (except for food allergies. Thank God I don’t have any food allergies!!!). In elementary school, I tried the shots for about a year, but I couldn’t tell any significant difference, and shots are just not fun. Especially when you’re in elementary school. I had to have surgery on my sinuses in high school, because I’d developed polyps in them due to years of allergy-caused irritation. All I have to say about that, is 2 1/2 inch-long sponges in each nostril for 48 hours. Not. Fun.

Anyway, so even here in ‘ole Japan I still have allergies. When I first came to Japan, I had no allergies for the first year. It was glorious, and the only time in my life I’ve never had allergies. I thought I simply didn’t have allergies in Japan. Over time, however, I discovered that my system was simply in a kind of shock from the new environment, and after I year, I adjusted, and my allergies came back. While my allergies aren’t quite as bad here as they are in Oklahoma (I think this is due to the general lack of grass which I’m allergic to), they’re still pretty bad.

Now, for reasons I don’t understand, there is no over the counter 24-hour, non-drowsy, all-symptom covering allergy medicines like in the U.S. They only have medicine for individual symptoms. For example, for itchy eyes, you can get allergy eye drops. For a stuffy nose, some nasal spray. For sneezing and a runny nose, you can get a pill that will make you drowsy. They don’t have anything like Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec.

Because of this, I was under the impression that they also don’t have Singulair, and it seems that I was partially right. They didn’t have Singulair, but at some point recently, they got it here in Japan. I have no idea when.

Upon this discovery, I immediately looked up the closest ear, nose, throat doctor, and yesterday I hauled butt to his office (after getting my bicycle tire fixed). I explained my situation to the doctor, and he wrote me a prescription for Singulair then and there. I went downstairs to the pharmacy, got my medicine, and then the glorious rays of heaven shined upon me as the angels came down and sang “hallelujah”. Well, ok, maybe not that last part. All in all, it only took about 30 minutes from the time I entered the building, to the time I left with my medicine. And it was cheap. Oh, Japanese health insurance, how I love thee!

Long story short (too late, I know), I not have Singulair here in Japan, and I am one seriously happy camper.

Despite the the fast that this post is already a bit lengthy, I’m going to tell you about making baked samosas! I made them for dinner last night, and they’re so good! If you don’t know what samosas are, they’re an Indian pastry that’s stuffed with either meat or vegetables and spices and then fried or baked. They can be a little time consuming to make, but they’re so worth it! They also make great party/pot-luck food!

This recipe is based on the Spicy Lamb Pastries recipe in Nourishing Traditions. I’m always mentioning this book. Just do yourself a favor, and buy the book. It has a lot of great recipes and nutrition information. Go on, do it. Do it.

First, cream 1/2 c. of yogurt and softened butter together. Try not to accidentally partially melt your butter in an attempt to hurry up the softening process like I did.

Add 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour and 1 tsp. sea salt.

Mix until everything is combined like so.

Not stick in your (clean) hand and start mushing!

Eventually, you’ll get a lovely ball of dough like this. Set it aside.

Brown 1 lb. ground meat and one diced onion in a skillet.

Add 1/4 c. toasted pine nuts, or if you’re like me, and never buy pine nuts because they’re expensive, then you can use 1/4 c. chopped up toasted almonds (or walnuts).

Add 1 c. cooked rice.

Add cinnamon, cayenne, the grated rind of one lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat. At this point, the filling is done. Try not to eat it with a spoon.

Take a break, have some graham crackers and milk, and communicate with your inner child. Oh, shut up.

Take some dough, make a roughly 1 1/2 inch ball, and place it on a floured surface.

Roll it out into a roughly 6-inch circle.

Place about 1/4 c. of the filling in the center of the dough.

Wet the edge with water, and fold up three sides to make a triangle. Pinch the sides closed to seal them, but leave a small opening in the top for steam to escape. You don’t have to fold over the edges like I did. I just do that so they’ll fit on my pan better.

Repeat until you use up all the dough. Bake in a 350 degree F (175 C) oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden brown.


Baked Samosas (makes 10 – 12)

  • 1/2 c. plain whole yogurt
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 1 med. onion, diced
  • 1 c. cooked rice
  • 1/4 c. toasted pine nuts (can substitute with walnuts or almonds, chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a large bowl, cream yogurt and butter together. Add flour and salt, and mix until combined. Use hands to squeeze dough together into one large ball. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet cook ground meat over medium heat for a few minutes. Add onion and continue cooking until meat is completely browned. Add cooked rice and mix until combined. Add nuts, spices, and lemon rind. Mix everything so well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
  4. On a lightly floured surface, take a piece of dough and make a 1 1/2 inch ball. Flatten with hand and roll into roughly a six-inch circle. Place about 1/4 c. of meat filling in center of dough circle. Moisten the edge of dough with water and fold up three sides to make a triangle. Pinch sides closed leaving a small opening at the top for steam to escape. Place on a greased (or covered with baking paper) baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used up.
  5. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with yogurt dipping sauce.

2 simple yogurt dipping sauces:

plain yogurt, garlic powder, lemon juice, peeled & diced cucumber

plain yogurt, dash of salt, pinch of sugar, cumin powder

For dinner last night, I served the samosas with yogurt dipping sauce (not pictured), and carrot curry with steamed rice.

June 2, 2011 at 10:19 am 4 comments

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About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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