Shoyu Chicken

One of the easiest recipe ever! As easy as – place everything in a saucepan, simmer until done and sauce is reduced to a thick, sweet syrup. And of course, the chicken cooked through.

This is another Brentwood UCLA recipe that I still constantly prepare. The original recipe is from my work spouse, Loraine Yokote. She has a lot of easy to prepare yet utterly delicious recipes that I love! I mean who won’t like easy recipes, as we mostly work away from home yet still need to feed our families when we get home, right?

This is perfect, specially for when you are crunched for time. Simmer this on the stove then prepare the sides (rice in a rice cooker needs no supervision, a salad will come together in 5 minutes…) and you will still have enough time to take a shower, or help with homework while dinner is cooking by itself. All around awesome, I think!

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Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs, or 8 drumsticks

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon sake, vermouth, or sherry

Procedure:

1. Place chicken pieces in a saucepan. *I used up a whole package of chicken drumsticks. There were 11 pieces and so I adjusted the amount of the other ingredients accordingly.*

2. Pour in water,

3. Soy sauce,

4. Sugar,

5. garlic and ginger, (I love garlic and ginger, so I added more than what the original recipe called for!)

6. and finally the sake. Stir, stir, stir!

7. Cover the saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

8. Lower heat and simmer for about an hour. The longer you cook it, the more tender the chicken will be. Watch the level of the liquid in the pot. You do not want this to burn.

9. After about an hour you will have this deliciously sweet, glazed chicken that goes perfectly with freshly cooked white rice! Or salad if that is what you like!

10. Enjoy and I hope you like it!

The original recipe by Loraine Yokote

Japanese Strawberry Short Cake

Strawberries are pretty tasty this time of the year. I had been purchasing them from farmer’s stands and farmer’s markets as they are always good, unlike other places where it’s hit or miss.

They’re quite expensive though, at $5 -$8 per green basket, but totally worth it as they are sweet and delicious all the way through. I like eating them just as is, after washing. No need for anything else as they are very tasty…and fragrant.

There are no green sour patches on these at all. And since they are so good, I decided to make a cake for my mom’s birthday. I have quart of whipping cream and a dozen home grown eggs in the fridge so I’m all set.

I had been trading loaves of sourdough bread for eggs with my co worker once a week, so the eggs I have are really fresh. Which is important, as the cake is a simple sponge cake recipe where in your ingredients need to be really good and fresh for it to taste great. The frosting is a simple, lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream, and topped with the best tasting strawberries you can find, this will be a cake you will make over and over.

We had to go to a soccer game at 9 am so I baked the layers and let it cool upside down for 20 minutes while we got ready, turned them right side up to cool completely while we were gone. I then whipped the cake, sliced the strawberries, and put the cake together after lunch, then chilled it for an hour before driving it over to my mom’s. Busy day!

I did not expect a lot of requests for this recipe so I did not photograph anything while whipping up the first, full sized cake. I did not have the time to either as I was rushing to get it done before we had to leave. However, since I did get a few requests, and since there was no left overs after it was demolished at my mom’s, I decided to make another, smaller cake for our home.

I halved the recipe and baked them in two 5-inch round cake pans. They were filled and frosted the same way as the full sized 8/9 inch cake. It was just enough for 6 slices, 2 each for me, my husband, and my son.

So here it is. There are a lot of steps but it is easy and the results are more than worth it. Feel free to break the steps down like I did to fit your schedule. I promise you will be amazed with the end results.

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Ingredients:

275 grams eggs

124 grams sugar

146 grams cake flour

45 grams milk

14 grams melted unsalted butter

1 pound fresh strawberries

500 grams cold heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans with parchment paper cut to fit.

2. Combine eggs and sugar in a small metal bowl. You will make a makeshift double boiler using the bowl and a small saucepan.

3. Place bowl over a small pan with simmering water.

4. Cook, stirring, until a thermometer reaches 98F.

5. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.

6. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for 4 minutes.

7. Lower speed to medium and beat until ribbons form, about 5 more minutes.

8. See the videos above to determine when to stop. You should be seeing clear ribbons in the batter. This is important as this cake has no leavening, aside from the air trapped in the egg mixture.

9. Sift flour into a bowl to aerate it.

10. Place milk in a microwave safe bowl.

11. Place the butter in the bowl too.

12. Heat the mixture for 30 seconds and stir to melt butter.

13. Fold in 1/3 of the flour into the egg mixture until combined. Repeat twice more to use up the flour.

14. Slowly add the milk and butter mixture and stir to combine.

15. Do not overmix as you need the air in the mixture to make your cake light and fluffy. Mix just until combined.

16. Pour into the prepared pans. Drop the pans from about 2 inches from the counter to release any big bubbles.

17. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

18. In the meantime, slice a few of the strawberries into thin slices, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

19. Remove the cakes from the oven when done.

20. Invert them onto a cooling rack sprayed with nonstick spray. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.

21. Turn them right side up and cool completely.

22. Unmold and peel off the parchment paper.

23. In the meantime, pour the whipping cream in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

24. Wash, rinse, and dry a few strawberries left whole. Cut them in half lengthwise if desired.

25. Place on cake layer on the serving plate.

26. Spread an even layer of whipped cream over.

27. Top with sliced strawberries, trying to follow the shape of the cake. Cut the strawberries if needed.

28. Top with a little more whipped cream, just enough to cover the strawberries.

29. Top with the second cake layer and gently press down.

30. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.

31. Top with whole or sliced strawberries. Chill until set, about an hour or so.

32. You can serve it like this or decorate with melted chocolate.

33. I used melted Hershey’s sugar free chocolate to pipe zigzags on the strawberries I used to top my mom’s cake. You can also pipe it across the top of the cake.

34. Slice it carefully, serve and enjoy!

35. See how beautiful this cake is? Yum!

The picture below is my mom’s 9 inch cake, all lit up, with the chocolate topped strawberries and chocolate greeting on the side. It was totally out of this world delicious.

Home made Natto (Fermented Soybeans)

Have you heard of, or even maybe TRIED, Natto (fermented soybeans)?

When you see it in Japanese or other Asian grocery stores, they come in a package of 3 little white, styrofoam boxes. It is usually served with rice in Japanese meals, most often breakfast. You stir it well to make it super stringy and slimy, add the tiny mustard and soy sauce packets that come with it, and pour everyting over hot rice. Then, you dig in!

It is for sure an acquired taste, even for those who grew up eating Japanese food. You either love it or loathe it. However, with all the fermented food craze lately, I read that it is added to everything, and I even saw it used to top a pizza! Now that is something I have to try! 😋

I prefer to use these small, organic soy beans when making natto and soy milk. The ones at the grocery stores are bigger, but are okay to use too.

So, in this post, I will show you how to make this super healthy, fermented food at home. In case you are like me and my mom, who happen to love natto, you can have an unlimited supply if you make it.

You will need an incubator that can keep a constant temperature of 100C. You can use an oven, a proofing box for bread making, or an Excalibur Dehydrator.

A few years ago, I purchased a Japanese Yogurt maker specifically because you can adjust the temperature, unlike the ones available here in the US. The brand is Tanika and it is really a handy little appliance that I always use to make my homemade natto. Of course, I also have an oven, an Excalibur dehydrator, and a Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer, but I do not like warming up that much space for a little jar of natto. So this little yogurt maker is just perfect for me. Labels on the appliance and the manual are in Japanese but I recently saw some on Amazon that are made for the US market with English labels.

Just like yogurt, you need to buy a package first to be able to get the bacteria you need to make natto, then if you make it regularly, you just get a little from the prepared batch to make more. This is the easiest way to get started. Of course, you could also buy some natto spores to start the Bacillus Subtilis culture. Mitoku is the brand I use. It’s from Japan and makes really tasty natto. It comes with a tiny measuring spoon so you get a lot of natto even though the culture bottle is tiny.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups soybeans, preferably organic

Water

Store bought natto, or natto spores

Procedure:

1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups of soybeans in water and soak in at least 5 cups of water overnight at room temperature.

*the soybeans will more than double its size, see photo below, so make sure you use a lot of water when soaking the beans.*

A dry soybean on the left. After soaking for 12 hours, it will look like the one on the right.
I use this footed strainer basket with a handle to steam the soybeans in an Instant pot.

2. Rinse and strain soybeans and place in a metal footed strainer basket (or a colander over a trivet).

3. Pour 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker liner.

4. Place the strainer with soybeans in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 45 minutes.

5. Let pressure drop for 10 minutes, then release pressure, placing a kitchen towel over the vent to help dissipate the steam.

Cover the vent with a clean towel. I just took a photo to show the release of pressure.
Soybeans after cooking for 45 minutes.

6. In the meantime, prepare your yogurt maker.

7. Place 1/4 cup of water in the Tanika Yogurt Maker’s inner container, place the spoon inside and cover with the clear cover.

8. Position the spoon so that the handle sticks out of the cut out in the cover.

9. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to sterilize. Dump out the water.

10. If using the natto spores, mix 2 teaspoons boiled and cooled water with 1 tiny spoonful (included in the spores box) of the culture. Mix well and set aside.

*water mixed with natto spores*

11. Take one soybean and squeeze it between two fingers, it should be soft enough that it will crush easily.

12. Transfer half of the hot soybeans in the prepared yogurt container.

13. A. *If using spores, pour the half of the diluted culture over the hot soybeans.

13. B. If using ready made natto, add a spoonful of it onto the hot soybeans. Stir with the sterilized spoon.

14. A. *Add the rest of the soybeans to the yogurt container and then the rest of the diluted culture, if using spores. Mix well.

14. B. *If using pre made natto, add a spoonful more to the soybeans, then mix throughly.

15. Make sure to mix well, but be careful not to crush the beans.

16. Set the container into the yogurt maker, cover with a clean towel and place the blue cover over, slightly ajar to allow air in.

17. Set the fermentation temperature to 45C and the timer to 24 hours.

18. Carefully remove the blue cover and check the beans after 24 hours.

19. They should have a white, fuzzy growth around most of the beans.

20. Cover with the clear cover then the blue screw, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.

*this is how it looks like from the bottom of the container.

21. Take a big spoonful of the natto and place on a serving dish. Cover and return the rest to the refrigerator. Using a spoon or chopsticks, thoroughly mix the natto until stringy and slimy. I was told to stir vigorously 100 times! Add a little soy sauce and hot mustard, serve over hot plain rice. Enjoy!

Microwave Mochi

Microwave mochi was one of the food that me and my coworkers at Brentwood made one fun day.

I purchased a few of the microwave Mochi makers from Marukai (now Tokyo Central) in Gardena, CA. We brought in boxes of Mochiko rice flour, sugar, and any filling we want to eat! There was strawberries, mangoes, coconut, chocolate, peanut butter, truffles, peaches, blueberries….anything and everything you can imagine.

We made batches upon batches and quickly formed the hot mochi into little balls with our chosen filling inside. Then quickly pop it in our mouths. We had an hour lunch so we had time to make our mochi and enjoy it too.

I really like the mango filled ones that I then rolled in desiccated coconut. That was yum!

So here I’m sharing the basic recipe! It’s easy to make and takes 5 minutes or 9 minutes depending in which method you follow!

You’ll need:

Microwave Mochi

1-1/2 cups mochiko (rice flour)
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
Katakuriko (potato starch) or kinako (roasted soybean flour), for dusting
1 cup tsubushi an (mashed bean paste) or koshi an (smooth bean paste)

Lightly coat a microwavable tube cake pan with cooking spray.

Mix mochiko, water, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Pour mixture into pan and cover with plastic wrap or a microwave cover.

Microwave 3 minutes on low, then 3 minutes on medium and 3 minutes on high, for a total of 9 minutes.

OR microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Cool in microwave 5 to 10 minutes, then turn onto a baking pan sprinkled with katakuriko, kinako, or cornstarch. Cut into 16 pieces using a plastic knife.

Dust hands with katakuriko or kinako and flatten each piece. Place 1 tablespoon an (or any filling of your choice) in center of each piece. Bring edges together and pinch to seal. Shape as desired.

Note: This recipe is based on microwave wattage of 1,000. Depending on your microwave wattage, cooking time may need to be adjusted.

Variations

>> Add fresh strawberries, peanut butter or sweet chestnut covered with bean paste.
>> For chocolate flavor, stir 1/4 to 1/3 cup melted chocolate chips into mochi batter before cooking.
>> Add a few drops of food coloring into batter for color variation.
>> A few drops of flavoring (strawberry, grape, orange, blueberry, etc.) may also be added.

Electric Lunchbox #91: Strawberry Nesquick Mochi

I always have this big can of Nesquick Strawberry mix as my son loves it mixed in his morning mug of milk. I started buying it when I was pregnant, as I didn’t like chocolate then, so was happy to see they offered it in strawberry flavor! It was the only way i could drink milk then. I guess it got passed on to my son! 😊

When I was making the mochi recipes for the ELB, I happened to see the can of Nesquick and immediately thought of using it as flavoring. And here is the result of the experiment!

I would add more Nesquick next time as the flavors and color was minimal. Otherwise, the mochi was chewy, sweet, and delicious enough for a snack.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup mochiko rice flour

1/4 cup sugar

2- 3 tablespoon Nesquick Strawberry drink powder

1/2 cup water

Katakuriko or cornstarch for dusting

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, mix rice flour,

2. Sugar,

3. Nesquick powder,

4. And water,

5. Mix well until blended.

6. The mixture will be thin, see photo below.

7. Spray the medium or large ELB bowl with nonstick spray.

8. Pour mochi mixture into the bowl. Cover with foil and place in the ELB base. Pour 3 ELB cups of water in the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

9. Carefully open the ELB, and check if mochi is set. Add more water to the base and steam longer if needed.

10. Dust the top with katakuriko or cornstarch.

11. Turn out onto a plate dusted generously with katakuriko or cornstarch.

12. Using a plastic knife, cut mochi into bite sized pieces.

13. Dust with more katakuriko or cornstarch to prevent sticking.

14. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #86: Jello Mochi

While experimenting with the mochi recipes using pudding mix to add flavor, I can’t help but notice the Jell-O packages next to the pudding mixes at the grocery store shelves. I am aware that there are more flavors of gelatin available than pudding, so a lightbulb went off immediately!

I picked up one that sounds so delicious – mango passion fruit! I only got a pack but now I wished I got more. It tastes like Hawaii…if ever Hawaii was a flavor!

I tried making 2 bowls of mochi at a time in my Itaki Jumbo but it didn’t work out so I recommend you only make one bowl at a time, using the big ELB bowl. This way, the steam can concentrate on cooking your Mochi properly.

When I made two, the cooking time was way too long (I was up to 5 ELB cups of water!) and still, it wasn’t cooked through. So I decided to scrap those and start over with only one batch at a time. It worked out better so please try it this way. If you notice the photos, it will show the small ELB bowl. I forgot to take photos of the time I made it using the big ELB bowl, except for when it was done.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup mochiko

1.5 oz (3 tablespoons) jello mix, any flavor you want (I used Mango Passion Fruit)

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup hot water

Katakuriko

1. Place rice flour in a small bowl.

2. Add Jell-O mix,

3. Sugar….

4. And the hot water….

5. Mix everything well until there is no visible clumps and mixture is smooth.

6. Spray the ELB bowl with a nonstick spray.

7. Pour the mixture in and cover with foil. Set the bowl in the ELB base. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base.

8. Covers and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour. Carefully open the ELB and check if the Mochi is pulling off the sides and set in the middle. Add more water and steam a bit longer if needed.

9. Dust top of the mochi with kinako, katakuriko, or cornstarch.

10. Dust a plate with kinako, katakuriko, or cornstarch.

11. Run a spatula around the mochi and gently release it from the ELB bowl onto the prepared plate.

12. Dust with more kinako, katakuriko, or cornstarch. Then cut into pieces using a plastic knife.

13. Dust with more powder if needed. Cool completely. Enjoy!

Tiger Mochi Maker

One of the ladies at an ELB group I’m in mentioned a blogger making mochi like I did at the beginning of the year. Since I am making some that day, I figured I’ll just write about it too.

The holidays got a bit too busy to catch up with writing recipes (even though it was the perfect time as kitchens all over are definitely churning out yummy goodies non stop!). But I was able to snap photos (and videos!) along the way and I hope you’ll enjoy this read! Oh the beautiful chaos in the kitchen!

Mochi is traditionally eaten in Japan during New Year’s, it is added to soups like Ozoni, (made with chicken, vegetables and mochi) or Zenzai (sweet red bean soup with soft mochi pieces swimmimg around!) we also have kiri mochi, which is made from pounded sweet rice shaped into bars and dried. You toast them and dip in soy sauce. Yummy!! I like all those but I love stuffed mochi even more!

I had always used this brand of sweet rice so I’m not sure if there is any other brand out there. Filipino cuisine uses a sweet, sticky rice too but the appearance is different. These ones are almost round and the “malagkit” rice is more elongated. Not sure if they are interchangeable as I have both and never tried to replace one with another.

For my New Year’s mochi, I start the process a day before I want to cook and pound the rice.

I use 10 cups of rice. This is the maximum amount this mochi maker can handle and since I’ll be bringing some over to my mom, I figured I’ll just make a big batch. You HAVE to use the rice measuring cup that came with the mochi maker. Do not lose it!

Wash the rice thoroughly, until water runs clear. To do this, you place the measured rice in a big bowl, fill with water and run your fingers through it. I try to gently rub the grains together too. Drain and refill the bowl. Do this several times. Then fill the bowl with water one last time. Soak for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.

After soaking, drain the rice and place in a strainer for 30 minutes. This is important as you do not want the rice too wet which will make your mochi too soft.

Add 2 1/2 cups water in the base of the mochi maker. This amount corresponds to the amount of rice you’ll cook. There is a chart in the manual. Reminder that you HAVE to use the cup that came with the machine to measure both the rice and the water.

Next, attach the bowl, twisting to set it in place. Place the impeller in the bowl turning until it settles in.

Carefully place the drained rice to the bowl.

Level out the top if needed.

Place the plastic cover over the bowl.

Press “steam”. It will steam until the reservoir runs out of water. When it is done, the buzzer beep loudly. Press “off”.

Remove cover, test rice for doneness. You should be able to crush it between two fingers.

Press “pound” and start a timer. This time, you DO NOT use the cover. It’ll take about 10-15 minutes. See the videos below to help you estimate the texture.

This is what the rice looks like in the beginning.

After a few minutes, a ball starts to form and the texture starts to look smoother.

In about 12 to 15 minutes, you would have a homogenous, smooth looking ball.

There should be no rice grains visible, just one smooth, white mass.

Sprinkle katakuriko (or cornstarch)on the cover or a clean board.

Invert the hot mochi onto the prepared surface.

Lift the hot bowl with pot holders and gently nudge all of the delicious mochi out of the bowl. Go ahead and taste some! I pinch a few pieces here and there and fill with an. See the last photo! Work (and eat!) quickly as this mochi hardens really fast.

You can roll them in the tray, sprinkling with katakuriko or cornstarch as needed.

Or you can transfer them into 2 plastic, one gallon freezer bags, snipping both sealed ends so you can roll the mochi all the way to the corners.

Leave bag open after rolling to dry the mochi a little. I leave it for several hours, turning it over and loosening the plastic a couple of times. Then remove from bag, cut into pieces and let dry a few more hours.

Store these in the freezer as it will get moldy rather fast at room temperature.

To serve, toast the squares until puffed and toasty. I use my toaster oven for this but a pan on the stove over low to medium heat, or even just microwaving till it puffs up, are both good too. Dip in lots of soy sauce and enjoy!

Mochi stuffed with An. 😋

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Electric Lunchbox #84: Pistachio Mochi

A lovely variation to the previously posted recipe for Banana Cream Mochi https://athomewiththeresa.com/2021/01/11/electric-lunchbox-83-banana-cream-pudding-mochi/

After this experiment, I can say now that you can use any flavor pudding you like to make whatever flavor chichi dango you like! I am looking at chocolate 😋 but am still wondering if it’ll be chocolatey enough…one day I’ll try it!

In the meantime, try this Pistachio version. Mildly flavored but yummy nonetheless! Very pretty light green color too!

The pudding mix I got had little pieces of pistachio nuts in it. It was delicious but be careful if you have allergies in your household like we do.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup mochiko rice flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon Pistachio flavored Instant Pudding

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

Katakuriko (potato starch) or kinako (roasted soybean flour)

3 ELB cup water to steam

Procedure:

1. Spray the medium or large ELB bowl with nonstick spray.

2. In a bowl, place rice flour,

3. Sugar,

4. Pistachio pudding mix. Mix.

5. Pour in water,

6. and mix until blended.

7. Pour mixture into the prepared bowl.

8. Cover with foil and place in the ELB base. Pour 3 ELB cups of water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

9. In the meantime, dust a plate with some katakuriko (potato stach), or corn starch.

10. Carefully open the ELB and check the mochi. It should look like it is pulling away from the sides of the bowl, and looks a little dry and set in the middle. Pour off any pooled water.

11. Run a knife along the edges to loosen the mochi. Invert onto the prepared plate and gently nudge it out using a rubber or silicone spatula.

12. Dust tops with more katakuriko or cornstarch.

13. Cut into bite sized pieces and roll in more katakuriko.

14. Cool completely and enjoy!