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 #85: Salt Bae’s Fried Rice from “Black Clover”

Salt Bae took the internet by storm by liberally (and sassily) sprinkling salt onto a giant hunk of delicious, sizzling meat. It only makes sense that this incredibly over-the-top cultural icon would make its way into one of the most over-the-top anime out this season (I mean, have you HEARD Asta speak?). In any case, because Salt Bae is so classic, I wanted to immortalize Anime Salt Bae’s special recipe here for our consumption.

As the episode goes, the gang runs into a head chef who is busy cooking his best dish. Though enemy forces are invading, he decides not to leave in the interest of cooking his dish to completion. As he would argue, nothing comes before cooking a perfect meal. Charmy pops in and insists on trying his famous dish, inspiring him to carry on cooking. He goes back to his giant wok and sprinkles seasoning in, a la Salt Bae.

The sprinkling technique, though it looks very excessive, is actually a good way to make sure you are evenly seasoning food. By sprinkling seasoning from on high, you give it a greater opportunity to spread out in the air before hitting the food. The further it spreads, the more evenly you season. There, now you have a legitimate excuse to season like Salt Bae, as if you needed one in the first place. The question, at this point, is WHAT exactly is anime Salt Bae seasoning?

He has a large wok, and appears to be tossing a rice concoction that is rife with shrimp, peas, and egg. It looks to me like a classic shrimp fried rice, so that’s the recipe I chose to go with today. The recipe is incredibly versatile – you can add pretty much anything you want to it to achieve great flavor, but you can also keep it simple. I’ve put a basic recipe down below, but of course feel free to tailor it to your desires as you see fit.

A few fried rice secrets – if you have a gas stove, cook with a wok to achieve the wonderful smokey oil flavor possible only through wok cooking. A flat bottom wok works as well as a traditional one if you don’t have a range that will accommodate the round bottom of a traditional wok. If you have an electric stove like me… womp womp. It’s harder to achieve the smokey flavor synonymous with good fried rice, simply because it’s much more difficult to heat the sides of the pan and to create a truly hot surface all around the rice. Stick with a pan that is wide and deep to accommodate the tossing of the rice. Furthermore, cook with cooked & cooled medium- to long-grain rice, or rice that has been cooked the day before. You don’t want to cook with fresh rice, or it will get mushy in the pan as you stir it, making for an unpleasant dish. Instead, you want rice that has had some of the surface moisture evaporated out of it, leaving a rice that will be easily coated with oil and won’t continue to exude starch as you toss it.

Anime Salt Bae knew what he was doing here – this dish is a little sweet from the onion, has the perfect tang from the soy sauce, and is well seasoned thanks to that traditional Salt Bae seasoning move. It’s great to feed to a crowd, just make sure not to overcrowd your own pan – you want to give the rice room to fry up and absorb those delicious flavors you’re showering the dish with.

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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Crunchyroll # 84: WcDonald’s Burger

One of the first anime I ever got into was Inuyasha, which has a lot of charming features. But the one that stuck with me the most was the WcDonald’s burger that Kagome visited often with her friends. Being fairly new to anime, I was also new to the concept of taking popular brands and altering the names juuuust a tiny bit so that the production wouldn’t get sued. The idea of WcDonald’s being a discount version of McDonald’s just made me laugh – the duplicity wasn’t even hard to see through! It was so OBVIOUSLY just a McDonald’s. For years I didn’t give it much more thought than that.

But recently, something has changed.

A WcDonald’s restaurant is no longer just a fictional concept.

You may have seen the headlines – McDonald’s recently experimented with their branding by flipping the ‘M’ upside down at real restaurants. Japan is considering installing a WcDonald’s restaurant somewhere in Japan to appeal to anime fans. This restaurant we all thought to be a joke… is suddenly real.

Which begs the question, at least for this anime food fan: How does one make a WcDonald’s burger?

It seems like it would be identical to a McDonald’s burger – a toasted sesame seed bun, ketchup and mustard, cheese, a ground beef patty, more cheese, pickles, and onions. Yet, it can’t be that simple. How do you take a McDonald’s burger and turn it into a WcDonald’s burger instead? M, W, M, W, M, W, M, W… what is the secret to unlocking the true potential of the WcDonald’s burger?!?! It’s just one letter that separates the two brands… who knew that one letter could be the crux of anime’s biggest question – what IS a WcDonald’s burger?

After much research, testing, retesting, and more research, I discovered the technique that can turn simple McDonald’s ingredients into the anime burger of your dreams. After this, there is no more need for McDonald’s burgers. It’s so simple – how could we not have seen it before? We can now conquer the known world with anime commercialism and WcDonald’s.

I am pleased to present my findings to you. Please watch the following video to see exactly how one makes a WcDonald’s burger.

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Crunchyroll #76: Reindeer Soup from “Ancient Magus’ Bride”

Learn how to make it here!

OK, let’s address the elephant in the room. Or, rather, the reindeer in the room. I know eating reindeer, for quite a few people, seems a bit… wrong. Or, it would to the people who live here in California with me. Most of it has to do with the fact that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is practically the mascot of Christmas in America. I mean, it would be unusual to eat them anyway, considering most of America doesn’t get cold enough for reindeer. But reindeer are just not considered common food. However, I am here to tell you that if you are one of the people that harbors these feelings about eating reindeer, you need to set those feelings aside immediately and find a kind stranger in Alaska, or some other reindeer-populated area, to mail you a package of frozen reindeer at the next available opportunity. 

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Crunchyroll #75: Curry-Men from “Laid Back Camp”

Learn how to make it here!

Welcome 2018! This is my first food recipe of 2018, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Laid-Back Camp, the adorable new 2018 winter anime, is all about a girl getting away from the hustle and bustle of regular life to go camping for the weekend. As someone who just came back from a two-week winter break, I can tell you that there is no better thing to do while “getting away from it all” than eating some really, really good food. To be fair, camping food is not my go-to comfort food, but the recipe we’re talking about this week has a certain charm to it.

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