Asirpa’s Yuk Ohaw from “Golden Kamuy”

Asirpa’s cooking in Golden Kamuy is definitely a level beyond what I typically accomplish in the kitchen. It’s the ultimate farm-to-food cooking: She hunts, she kills, she eats. Not only that, but she eats well. If Sugimoto’s reactions are anything to go by, it’s clear that Aspira can cook some pretty darn good food. 

I’ve been dying to try some of the meals from Golden Kamuy, but there are two main problems: 1) Fresh food/game meat availability (I don’t live in a place where it’s easy to get squirrel brains and bear meat!) and 2) Ainu cooking recipes. As the show highlights, the Ainu people have a beautiful culture of their own, including recipes specific to their communities. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to find recipes of Ainu cooking online. 

How to solve these problems? Well, I did actually have some game meat stored in the freezer from earlier this year. A friend from Alaska sent me some venison for a Food Wars! recipe, and I didn’t use all of it, so I set it aside in my freezer. When I saw Asirpa make the Yuk Ohaw, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to use up the venison I had. Easy enough! I was surprised at how perfectly that worked out. 

The recipe was the more challenging issue. The last thing I want is to make a version of yuk ohaw and claim that it is authentic. Because I couldn’t find a recipe online and there is no clear recipe laid out in the episode, I think of my recipe as an approximation of an Ainu Ohaw only. It’s certainly not the real thing – just an attempt I was able to piece together with some information about Ainu Ohaws and how they’re made.

From the information I was able to gather, I believe “Yuk” means venison and “Ohaw” means stew. So, this is a basic stew that Aspira and Sugimoto share, made with venison Asirpa killed earlier. According to my reserach, Ainu Ohaw stews are made with kelp and fish broth. This sounds like a pretty typical dashi stock to me, so I used that as my base. I then salted the stock to give it a bit more depth, and added in leeks, mustard greens, and venison because, after careful examination, that is what seems to be in the soup pot in the episode. 

Leeks lend a nice mellow flavor to the pot, and the mustard greens help to hold onto the liquid as you eat and provide an earthy layer. The venison is, well, venison. It’s slightly gamey, but contrasts nicely with the simplicity of the broth. Whether or not this recipe is similar to what Asirpa actually made, it’s pretty tasty – I can tell you that!

Of course, if you want to take this stew up a notch, you’ll have to add in miso like Sugimoto does. This will essentially create miso soup as the base, but one that is incredibly rich and delicious thanks to the added boost of the leek and mustard greens. I was really surprised at how yummy this recipe turned out! I definitely thought it would be too bland for me, but was happy to find that I absolutely loved it (and scarfed it down as fast as possible).

Keep in mind, these are the results of my personal research! If any readers have a resources for an authentic Ainu recipe (for this or any other dish) please leave a comment below!

I hope you can try this recipe! Watch the video below for more step-by-step tips.

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Crunchyroll #91: Million Dollar Cocktail from “Hinamatsuri”

Hinamatsuri is a masterpiece of an anime, and my favorite thing about it may be Hitomi, the middle school bartender. As unethical as this seems (and is), Hitomi has an entrancing charm about her when mixing drinks! I don’t know what it is about her, but everything she makes seems like it’ll be the best drink ever. But how can a middle school girl look so professional???

At first I thought that the magic was all in the drink recipe. After all, if you follow a recipe, you can’t go wrong, right? She makes her teacher two drinks, but, to me, the Million Dollar cocktail looked the best, so that’s what I went for. This cocktail was reportedly invented in Yokohama, Japan, in 1894, by Louis Eppinger. He also invented the famous Bamboo cocktail for his European clientele. Eppinger was a German man, dubbed by Japan Times as the father of bartending in Japan. According to the same article, the cocktail was thus named for an expensive ingredient at the time- an egg.

“An egg???”, I hear you exclaim loudly, “You can’t drink raw eggs! Think of the DISEASES!”

Yes, well, nonetheless, the Million Dollar cocktail uses egg whites. At the time the drink was invented, I’m sure they didn’t care about “safety” or “bacteria” or trivial things like that. Nowadays, if you want to drink raw egg, you need to make sure the eggs have been pasteurized. Like pasteurizing milk, this process ensures any harmful bacteria is killed off in a low heating process before consumption. Pasteurizing eggs is pretty simple- heat eggs up in a pan of water to 140 F for 3 minutes. It heats the egg enough to kill bacteria, while not cooking the egg.

So, I compiled the ingredients and got shaking. The cocktail was good…it just didn’t seem to have the same joie de vivre Hitomi’s cocktail embodies. Where was I going wrong? Up till this point, I’d been serving it in a martini glass, renowned for its conical shape. But that wasn’t quite right…perhaps it was in the glass.

Hitomi uses a Coupe cocktail glass, otherwise known as a Champagne Saucer. According to legend, it was developed to model the shape of a lady’s breast, but practically speaking, this probably isn’t true. It was created specifically for Champagne, which we all know is expensive, sparkly, and classy. If you want to drink something fancy, most people will go for Champagne. Serving the Million Dollar cocktail in such a glass would surely serve to elevate the overall feel of the drink. After all, Hitomi is a classy girl. Who needs a martini glass- boring, plain, a has-been in the cocktail world- when you can have a Champagne Saucer. Right? I was convinced. I immediately dispatched my first available minion to go purchase such a fine receptacle for the Million Dollar Cocktail. Thank you, World Market.

Finally, I was ready to try again. I had the recipe. I had the glass. Was I missing anything else? In a last minute review of the episode, I wondered if I’d maybe glossed over the most important thing of all. Hitomi, when crafting her cocktail has such a peace about her, such an elegance. Perhaps the perfect cocktail was less about what I was making and more about how I was making. No furious shaking, no obsessive straining- what if I just needed to relax a little and become one with the cocktail.

So, that’s what I did. I quickly assembled the ingredients, tightened the lid, and started to shake. I thought only of sunny days, rolling green fields, and dandelion seeds. I poured the drink. I tried it.

It was *smooches fingers* perfect. Smooth, sweet, and a little fluffy in the mouth. Not sickly sweet, but rather sweet, tempered with the tang of the gin. The egg white creates the wonderful foamy texture, without hindering the taste. You must try this for yourself.

Assemble the ingredients, pick a mood to embody, and shake with every fiber of your being. What comes out of your cocktail shaker…well, that’s up to your shaker, and what you are able to find in your very soul.

I hope you can try this recipe! Watch the video below for more step by step tips.

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Crunchyroll #90: Bamboo Shoot Gratin from “Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family”

Shirou from Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family, of Fate/Stay Night fame, is quite the cook. I’ve remarked on this before, but I think it’s pretty awesome. In the Fate/Stay anime, he’s so cool and battle-ready! It’s fun to see him in the kitchen cooking up something delicious, and this week he coincidentally gives us the PERFECT dish to make for your mom this Mother’s Day- Bamboo Gratin, a creamy, cheesy, pasta and bamboo dish.

This recipe is simple, delicious, yet elegant at the same time. If you’re stuck on what to do for Mother’s Day, I’d really recommend this. It’s like a Japanese- inspired version of mac n’ cheese, using some truly Japanese ingredients to produce a unique baked pasta dish that still has that familar, home-cooked comfort to it. And, if you want to do something with her, why don’t you show her the anime as well? You can bond together over non-violent, pure-hearted cooking tutorials.

In terms of home-cooking, this spinoff is absolutely the winner. The meals are easy to make, don’t take an obscene amount of time, and the ingredients themselves aren’t too hard to come by. Even the bamboo shoots, which this dish utilizes, I was able to find canned in my local Japanese supermarket. What I love about this spinoff is the treatment of the food. Where a show like Food Wars is hardcore when it comes to making food and appreciating the food, Today’s Menu for the Emiya Family is much more considerate, more caring to the process. It’s relaxing, which Food Wars totally isn’t, and it’s also more instructional and functional in terms of teaching us how to cook. Shirou explains everything so clearly and concisely, it’s more about the process of putting together delicious food, rather than the fantastic ingredients or amazing technique.

The idea behind this particular dish is great, too. It’s a bamboo gratin. Until this point, I’d only ever heard of potato gratins, which are sliced potatoes bathed in cream and butter and topped off with cheese. I mean, sounds good, right?? As it turns out, pretty much anything can be a gratin as long as it’s topped with cheese and breadcrumbs. Theoretically, you could have a gratin grilled cheese, or gratin steak, or gratin soup. Oooooh….what if you made a gratin tomato soup? That would be fun. HOWEVER this dish is comprised of chicken, onion, macaroni pasta, and, of course, bamboo shoots. Which…if you’re familiar with traditional mac and cheese, which has bread crumbs on the top…is SORT OF similar to this bamboo gratin. Hence, Japanese inspired mac and cheese!!!

My friends, it’s not just the Japanese mac and cheese in name- the sauce base is a creamy roux, made with a Japanese cream stew mix, similar to a cheese based roux in American mac and cheese. The addition of the onion, asparagus, and the chicken bulks it up and makes it into a full-blown meal, and the toppings- cheese and bread crumbs- take it to the next level, upping the textures of the overall dish to make it multi-faceted.

Is this dish worth trying? Undeniably. Make it for a large group of friends (The below recipe would feed 4 EXTREMELY hungry people, or 6 with maybe a side of salad), or just make it to share with your mom (and give her tasty leftovers for the week ahead!). Whatever you choose to do, watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this dish!

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Crunchyroll #89: Oyakodon from “Kakuriyo Bed and Breakfast”

Kakuriyou -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits- initially intrigued me because of the odd premise – a girl’s grandfather basically her off to an ogre lord – but I’ve stuck around for the cooking in the show. What initially appeared to be a story about a girl who has to learn how to survive in the spirit world has transformed into my own personal bizarre quest to figure out what, exactly, Japanese spirits like to eat.

There’s lots of talk in the show about how Aoi is great at making food that appeals to the spirits, which begs the question – what makes her cooking so great for spirits? Through the course of the show thus far, she makes some really traditional Japanese foods, so I’m not exactly sure what sets her cooking apart from the average Japanese home cook. Most spirits admit they enjoy eating humans, and apparently her cooking is a great second choice to that. The flavors are *kisses fingers* delicious!

I have no idea what that means. Does the taste of her cooking resemble that of human flesh? Unlikely, as most of the dishes she makes keep to pretty traditional Japanese foods. I mean, seriously, I just took a cooking class while in Japan and we made half of the dishes she feeds the Tengu lord. So I sort of think that what Japanese spirits really prefer is just good old traditional home cooking. Which makes sense, if you think about it. Traditional spirits… Japanese comfort foods… of course!!

One of the dishes Aoi makes is the Oyakodon for the O-Ryo and Akatsuki in order to help replenish their spiritual energy. Apparently, the right foods can increase the very spirit-ness of your soul, and the O-Ryo requests this delicious meal. Oyakodon is an egg and chicken donburi, cooked to perfection with onions in a savory sweet sauce that is really common in Japanese cooking. It’s a bit like the chicken pot pie of Japanese food – warm, vaguely healthy, and comforting in the extreme. The perfect recovery food!

And, amazingly, it’s incredibly easy to make. I love Japanese cooking because it focuses on simple, clean flavors, crafted to be at their peak deliciousness. This applies here in every way. Don’t skimp – make your dashi from scratch. It’s easy and barely takes any time, but the flavor benefits are obscene. The mirin, soy sauce, sake, and sugar are perfect in proportion. Don’t change a thing – even if the sugar seems a bit odd. Sugar is pretty normal in Japanese cooking, and you should try it before you decide to axe it from the recipe. It compliments the onions really well, and gives the eggs a complexity totally foreign to an American palette.

Try this dish out – the whole thing took me less than 30 minutes to make, making it the ultimate quick meal. It’s really satisfying, too. Not just the taste, but the fact that it comes together in a snap and the flavor payoff is uniquely Japanese. Watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this dish!

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Crunchyroll #88: Gousetsu Udon from “Food Wars”

Ah, Food Wars! recipes! I feel like I always end the experience in a love-hate relationship. I love the final product, but the process to get there. Holy cow. And this particular dish is no exception. Soma and friends whip it up in order to pass the second stage of their exam. They ingeniously realize how to use their remaining supplies to craft together a delicious dish that will impress the examiner… but is it even possible to cook this particular dish in the time frame allotted?

Maybe. The dish, special Gousetsu Udon, requires a few moving parts. The soup base, thickened with potato shavings, comes together in a snap. The potato mochi too is brilliant in its simplicity; it comes together without a fuss. It’s the udon noodles that are the issue. Having never made udon before, I needed to learn two things: a recipe, and the technique. I was unsure where to start, but I found this guide to be invaluable when it came to forming the noodles. However, finding a recipe was nearly impossible. At least in English, this is a recipe that simply doesn’t exist. Luckily, my slight knowledge of Japanese helped me search, but even there I found only one recipe. I’m sure there’s more out there, but this is where my search capabilities ended.

So, I had a technique guide and a recipe… but I still needed to cobble together something that would work for this variety of noodle. The recipe below is based on a combination of the technique guide as well as the Japanese recipe. The thing with udon, though, is that it’s quite difficult to knead (requiring the use of feet) and require resting time – more time than Soma and friends had in the challenge. You can get away with resting the udon only a few hours, as opposed to overnight, but even so that’s cutting it a bit close for the time limit. Theoretically, it’s possible… if everything goes perfectly. And the team did waste time in the beginning attempting to go out to look for other ingredients.

A note on the potatoes- in the anime, they use Irish Cobbler potatoes, which are high in starch content. I couldn’t get the same potato in any of my local stores, so I settled for Russett potatoes, which are also high in starch. However, I’d love to try this recipe with the Irish Cobbler, if I could get my hands on some! It might change some of the proportions of the flour and potato starch, but it would be more authentic. In any case, this is a good base recipe to start with- if you’re able to experiement, let me know how it turns out!

In any case, is this dish even worth making? Well, yes. I was pleasantly surprised! My own noodles were nothing to write home about (honestly, unless you’re a master noodle maker, it’s always easier to buy pre-made noodles), but the broth was fantastic, as was the potato mochi. For me the mochi was actually the stand-out topping. It was creamy in the middle, yet crunchy on the outside; my favorite part of the whole dish!

If you make this at home, I’d advise buying pre-made fresh udon noodles (the potato flavor of the Gousetsu udon is really fun, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the trouble). Everything else I’d make from scratch – you won’t be disappointed! Watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this dish!

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Crunchyroll #87: Sakura’s Bento from “Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc”

If you’ve been watching Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc or even the original series for any amount of time, you’ll recognize that Sakura and Syaoran are the IT couple of anime in 2018. They were able to confess their love to one another in the first series, but in the new arc we are finally able to see them come together and go through a romantic relationship together. It’s like everyone’s CCS fanfiction dreams come true, except better because it’s all 100% canon.

Sadly, Sakura is always busy capturing Clear Cards, and Syaoran seems to always be dealing with the stress of living alone and sorting out his own magical abilities. They hardly have time to be together and be a couple! So when they got to visit the aquarium together again, I, as a humble viewer, was very excited for what was basically their first date since Syaoran moved back. Finally, we could have a moment to ooh and awww over their adorable middle-school love.

And THEN a Clear Card showed up and there went all their lovely plans to look at various fish together. Even worse, Sakura had made a delightful bento for them to share.

If you’re unfamiliar, bento boxes are essentially Japanese lunch boxes so “making a bento” typically means making a packed lunch. In Japan, bentos can get quite creative- and competative. When I was living in Japan, my host mom used to compete with other mothers to see who could make the more adorable bentos for their children. I received a Doraemon, a Totoro, and a very cute penguin in a few different bentos. I felt very lucky to have such a creative host mother.

Sakura’s bento, by all appearances, was going to be very delicious. According to her, she’d been practicing tamagoyaki and chicken karaage, both of which feature in this bento. They are accompanied by some fried sausages, rice, and what looks to be a medly of cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls (even though the later ingredient isn’t exactly common in Japan. I really wasn’t sure what else it could be.). If it’s one thing I’ve come to learn through anime, it’s that Japanese schoolgirls tend to want to impress their crushes with their fantastic home cooking, so this bento box fromo Sakura is truly a triumph.

Or, was a triumph.

The bento got ruined by a Clear Card, so they weren’t able to eat it. I found this to be a particular kind of food tragedy, so decided to recreate it for you here, so that we could realize Sakura’s dream even if she couldn’t eat it herself.

It was a good opportunity to try these easy bento foods out. The challenge here is really taking the time to make it all. You can definitely make some of this food in advance, because putting it all together the day of would be quite a challenge. The tamagoyaki does require some special equiptment, but was surprisingly easy to get the hang of. The egg roll I make below is actually my first try. The only thing I would change would be to use a light soy sauce for the eggs, as the dark soy sauce I used altered the flavor a bit. Chicken karaage is also easy, as long as you’re not afraid of deep frying things. The oil can be intimidating, but once you get the hang of it goes along pretty easily. Overall, I was surprised at how simple each individual component was! Here is a template for the little flags in the food if you want to make it totally authentic.

A final note- this makes a lot of food, so definitely gather some friends together to try this out- consider taking it for a picnic in the park, especially as the weather is beginning to change (at least in California)! I really hope you can try this out! Watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this bento!

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Crunchyroll #86: Tempura Egg Don from “Food Wars”

I don’t know about you, but if you watched the first episode of the second part of Food Wars! The Third Plate and was shocked and awed like I was, I am going to assume it’s because you also never knew that you could freeze eggs and then COOK with them. RIGHT? I was just so fascinated by cooking with frozen eggs, I immediately bumped the scheduled post that was going to go up today in order to make this and share it with you guys.

Eager as any beaver that ever lived, I went out and got all the ingredients, and then came home and immediately put my eggs in the freezer. All 12 of them. Even though I was only planning on making one bowl. I was excited.

I waited a solid 24 hours, and went to check my eggs, under the mistaken impression that they would be good to go. They were not good to go. I was flabbergasted. My resolve dwindled. How could I mess up freezing an egg? I knew there was hope as one egg had frozen completely. It had also cracked open. One out of 12. Not the best odds.

I kept cooking. Everything else went to plan. The single frozen egg peeled beautifully. The sauce came together in a snap. The tempura batter was really easy. The oil got up to temperature and stayed up to temperature (a true feat for me, as my oil seems to constantly fall below the temperature it SHOULD be at). For a Food Wars! recipe, this dish came together incredibly easily. Except for the frozen egg SNAFU. What did I do wrong??

48 hours later, I came back to find my eggs completely frozen, and all cracked. As it turned out, my eager beaver attitude actually hurt me here. These eggs need a solid two days in the freezer to get rock hard, as they should be when you cook. They will crack open, which seems somehow wrong, as I’ve been taught never to eat eggs that are cracked, but it should be ok as long as you cook and eat the eggs directly after peeling them. If you don’t keep up with my Youtube channel, I post Making-Of videos two days before the recipe goes live here. One of my commenters on the Making-Of video for the Egg Tempura assured me that in the manga, Soma has the same problem occur with his eggs. So, it turns out I was doing it right all along. How nice.

So, the star is obviously the egg, but what about the other ingredients? The shiso leaf is a really nice, mellow complement to the egg. If you haven’t had shiso before, it is sort of similar to perilla leaf, which is much more common in Korean cooking. If you can’t find shiso, you can use perilla. However, perilla definitely has a stronger, more peppery flavor, so it will have a bigger impact on the dish. The sauce is a very traditional Japanese flavor and works really beautifully against the egg. Definitely let it thicken in over low heat, and don’t use it sparingly over the rice, as it will soak in and sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Will this dish crack the heart of a stone-cold maiden like Erina? It is almost guaranteed. If the impressive cooking technique doesn’t get them, the delicious flavor of the dish will do it.

I really hope you can try this out! Watch the video below to get more pointers on how exactly to make this dish!

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