Crunchyroll #96: Fried Eggplant from “Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi”

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If you haven’t been watching Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-, I suggest you jump on that before we move in earnest into the new season of anime. To say that it’s been very inspiring to me is a bit of an understatement- I’ve been loving every single episode. This will NOT be the last food I make from this anime…. Sorry, not sorry.

 

I can hear you asking me: Emily, fine, whatever, watch all the anime you want, but why are you so obsessed with this one meal Aoi made once for a couple who’s not even that big of a deal???

 

WELL, thank you for asking. The truth is, I’ve always been really enraptured with kaiseki, a traditional Japanese form of dining where the guest is presented with multiple small dishes, often in courses. These meals are complex and a great way to highlight unique flavors, specific ingredients, and beautiful presentation. The problem is that kaiseki meals take a long time to make. they require a ton of ingredients, and also require multiple preperation steps just to get through so many different dishes. So, for me, who lives by myself, that kind of cooking just isn’t worth it.

 

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Crunchyroll #95: Cucumber and Okra Salad from “Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi”

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Aoi-chan, from Kakuriyo -Bed and Breakfast for Spirits-, really knows how to wow with her cooking, which is probably why I’ve been obsessed with her food lately. A week or so ago I showed you how to make the stewed pork belly, the highlight of the meal for the important ayakashi couple, but also served with that meal were some side dishes that looked quite delectable.

 

Today we’re focusing in on the miso-plum salad. At its essence, it’s composed of blanched okra, cucumber, shio umeboshi, and dressed in a mayonnaise flavored with plum and miso. The mayonnaise is what really stood out to me as being bizarre – I’d never heard of such a flavor combination in what is essentially an egg- and oil-based sauce. I decided I really wanted to try it and see what I could come up with, especially since I’d never made mayonnaise before.

 

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Crunchyroll #94: Aoi’s Stewed Pork Belly from “Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi”

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Everyone loves bacon. This is an unequivocal fact. It cannot be denied.

Well, even if it’s not true, bacon went through a huge cultural reckoning in America from about 2005–2015, and honestly I’m surprised that pork belly, the cut of meat bacon hails from, didn’t become more popular as a result of that. The whole slab of pork is delicious – a pretty even distribution of fat to meat that lends itself well to crisping and slow cooking – bacon is just slices off the slab that have been cured for extra flavor.

Aoi, from Kakuriyo -Bed and Breakfast for Spirits-, clearly capitalizes on the flavor potential of pork with this stewed pork belly recipe. She makes the stewed meat for Tenjin-ya, the owner of the inn she works at in the spirit world. He calls her his Ogre Bride… she’s not really about that. So, as a result, they have a cute relationship where she tries to pretend she doesn’t like him like that, and he lets her pretend they’re not going to end up together. And, in traditional couple fashion, she of course makes a bento box for him, as thanks for sharing bottled spring water and onsen tamago with her.

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Crunchyroll #93: Onsen Tamago from “Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi”

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Onsen tamago is a dish that’s a bit confusing when first translated. It means “hot spring egg,” which you’re probably thinking is a fancy name for a special kind of egg dish, but actually, it just means that it’s an egg cooked in a hot spring. Yes, you heard me right. Just as some Americans try to fry eggs on sidewalks (though admittedly for fun, no so much to eat), some onsens in Japan make eggs cooked in what is essentially bath water. Fun, right?

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Crunchyroll #92: Hachis Parmentier from “Food Wars! Third Plate”

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Well, well, WELL, here we are again with another Food Wars recipe and a brand new opportunity to lose my mind cooking. This recipe, the product of Soma, his dad, and Erina, is a recipe for insanity! It’s a take on Hachis Parmentier, which is basically the French verson of Shepherd’s Pie. But, of course, these three decided to up the ante and turn out something that only faintly resembles the original dish, while providing a million times more impact.

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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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