Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inari Zushi ( Cooked Fried Tofu Stuffed With Sushi Rice)

Do you like INARI sushi?

We have various types of sushi or rolls in Japan, thick with seaweed outside roll is called FUTO-MAKI, square shaped using cured mackerel is called HAKO-ZUSHI, all different fish and other ingredients on the bed of sushi rice is called CHIRASHI-ZUSHI.

This sweet simmered tofu pocket sushi is a popular picnic dish and lunch box favorite. It is cooked with sugar or mirin, dashi, and soy sauce.

There are cooked packages available in Japanese markets, and I sometimes buy and keep in the freezer.

Inside is sushi rice, you can mix with sesame seeds, shiso leaf, pickled ginger... any thing you think is good.

The other day, I put shiso leaves and cheese in it. Some Japanese people might think that I am crazy, but when I first eat it, ( that was over 20 years ago!) that wasn't too bad.

That was one of the classes when I was taking in my junior collage year. I think that the cheese was called "processed cheese"( which two or more different kind of cheeses are mixed and reshaped into a semi hard type cheese, this is the most popular cheese in Japan back then and the only one I knew.) That idea blew my mind, I thought that it is weird combination, but the taste wasn't as bad as I imagined.

What do you think? Would you like to try it?

Talking about cheese, I have never tried any other kind of natural cheeses until I learned in one of the classes I was taking. Gouda, Cheddar, Brie, Emmenthar...That was my first encounter with the world of cheese for me.

Anyway, I cut a nice Cheddar into tiny cubes and mixed with sushi rice. The rich Cheddar and stickier short grain rice both have kind a similar texture and shiso gives a fresh accent.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Shiso Leaf


This are SHISO-LEAVES, a wonderfully fragrant, clean minty flavored Japanese herb.

I purchased a little plant last summer. However, some Caterpillars have munched all the leaves within a couple of weeks and left only a few leaves and stems :( However, I left the pot on our porch and totally forgot about it for a long time...

Last December, after it had stormed continuously for a week, I noticed the leaves were growing again and they really looked nice and healthy, like it supposed to the past summer the way I wanted them to be.

So, during all of January I was able to enjoy the Shiso, using a fresh summer herb in the middle of winter time was great.

In the U.S., SHISO is called "Japanese mint leaf", or "Beefsteak Leaf", but correctly it is "Perilla" in English and it has nothing to do with plants of any mint family.

In a sushi restaurant, this is always placed along with shredded daikon raddish for sashimi dish. These leaves are also great with white fish, tuna. I like tuna rolls with chopped shiso with a lot a wasabi in it, gives the roll a very refreshing taste.

Now it's February and they are still alive, I don't know how long I can enjoy this unexpected wonderful moment and what's going to happen to them, but it's lovely to see these leaves at this time of year, freshly picked.