For those who are new to my blog, Burning Down The Kitchen is a weekly series where I make a recipe belonging to a fellow blogger that I’ve bookmarked. I also interview that blogger so myself and others get to know them better. It’s just a fun, light-hearted interview where I get to ask silly questions and showcase another blogger. I adore doing this series and it is always a blast every single week. So for any of you who have showed up in my Lunatic Loves These Links series I may be coming for you next!
BURNING DOWN THE KITCHEN WITH NAMI FROM JUST ONE COOKBOOK:
This week we get to know Nami from Just One Cookbook a little better. I met Nami through Foodbuzz last summer. She is just the sweetest lady you could ever meet. I was new to blogging and just trying to find my footing. Nami and I exchanged some emails and she tried to help me understand the blogging world a little better. She was so kind to me and it’s something I’ve never forgotten. Nami does “quick and easy Japanese home cooking”. Every single thing she makes is not only delicious but beautiful as well. Her photos of the food she makes is striking. She has a section called Pantry where she helps you stock your own pantry and helps explain what things are if you are unfamiliar with the items. It’s an invaluable resource if you are new to Japanese cooking. She also has a How To section where you can quickly link to things like how to wrap a wonton or how to make sushi rice. You can learn some things on her FAQs page about Nami, her blog, and get some answers to her most frequently asked questions. I love all of Nami’s recipes, she can tantalize this picky eater like no one I’ve ever met. I find myself wanting to make things I would normally shy away from, which just shows her talent for cooking and photography. I am in love with so many recipes of Nami’s and have bookmarked hordes of them over the past year. Things like her Beef Teriyaki, Red Bean Ice Cream, Green Tea Ice Cream, Green Tea and White Chocolate Cookies, Chicken Teriyaki, and Strawberry Daifuku. You will love everything she makes as well. And you will fall in love with Nami once you learn more about her. She is an amazing lady, talented blogger and a wonderful mom. I am so thankful to count her among my blogging friends.
Rapidfire Q & A with Nami from Just One Cookbook:
1. How did you get started blogging?
It may sound like a typical story but here’s how I got started blogging. My close friends really wanted to learn how to cook Japanese food and they were interested in how I managed to cook meals everyday even with two small kids around. I started sharing my quick and easy Japanese recipes through emails and Facebook with friends. About a year later my husband and friends suggested me to expand my sharing through a website or blog because it was not easy to search for older recipes on Facebook. So at the end of December 2010, I decided to start a blog and named it Just One Cookbook. The reason is because I really wanted to have just 1 cookbook to keep all my recipes that we enjoy and I thought it’s a great way to pass the recipes onto my children one day as well.
2. Having grown up in Japan, do you find a huge difference in culture and cuisine? Was it hard to adjust to living in the States?
Japanese and American cultures and cuisines are quite different, but luckily it wasn’t too hard for me to adapt. My home Yokohama, Japan and my current home San Francisco are both port cities near the ocean. Culturally and culinary, both cities are very diverse, so in that sense, it was easier for me to adapt to my new life in San Francisco than perhaps other cities in the US. I can find almost everything I need to cook Japanese food nearby, and Japanese food is pretty popular so I could also enjoy authentic Japanese food in restaurants.
3. What do you love most about Asian cuisine?
Diversity in Asian cuisines is amazing. Even within Asian cuisines, each cuisine is distinctly different when you go across Asia from Japan to India. For example, we don’t have too many spicy ingredients in Japan but the majority of Asian countries enjoy them. On the other hand, the practice of eating raw fish started in Japan because the country is surrounded by the ocean with abundant fish and seafood. There are many countries in Asia but each one has many unique varieties within their cuisine.
4. What do you love most about American cuisine?
I really like that the fact that some American recipes can be prepared in large portions and baked in the oven which saves cooking time. We don’t have big American-sized oven in Japan so it’s very hard to feed a lot of people at home. Also preparing Japanese food can be tedious, even for a simple dinner. My mom always start prepping and cooking at 4pm for 6pm dinner time. It’s not unusual for a Japanese mom to prepare and cook for 5-6 hours if she is hosting even just a small party.
5. You take such beautiful photos, do you have any advice for those of us who are just learning photography?
Thank you for your kind compliment, Kim. I am still learning and get nervous every single time before the photo shoot. I’m not at a comfortable stage yet and usually it’s a lot of trial and error before I get the results I want to achieve.
If someone wants to hear my humble advice… then first, find the best location in the house where you get good natural light (supposedly north facing window is the best but I use south facing window with diffuser). Then always use a tripod to take pictures so the images are clear. My usual photo shooting setting is like this. With the light source coming from the back, my food is on the center and I use silver reflector on one side and white foam board on the other side to light the object. If natural light is not available then I use a studio light as the light source.
Regarding food styling, I’m not really an expert and I always tell people that my friend Xiaolu from 6 Bittersweets wrote an excellent post about Food Styling and Photography and I learned a lot from her.
6. You just took a trip back to Japan to see your family, how did the kids enjoy the trip, cuisine and culture?
My kids love going to Japan and we bring them back every year to see my family. They love soaking in hot springs, eating tasty sashimi (& sushi), and riding all kinds of public transportation. There are so many things to do in the cities for young kids, so everyday is like a field trip for them. This time they wore traditional kimono for the first time for special celebration.
7. Do you have a signature dish that you make for company?
Gyoza is always popular and I would probably call it my signature dish. It’s not as difficult or tedious to make from scratch as people might think. However if you are making them to feed a large party then it’s a little bit labor intensive.
8. Do you have a favourite post that you’ve done?
Temari Sushi was really fun. I’m not very creative but I really enjoyed making all kinds of beautiful round sushi for this post.
9. How do you balance life with the kids and blogging? Any advice for fellow bloggers who are moms too?
It will be always my challenge to balance kids and blogging, but my simple advice is to know where to draw the line. I don’t do any blogging related work during the day when my kids are at home. I don’t want to regret a few years later that I didn’t spend enough time with my kids because of blogging. They are still young and I want to spend as much time with them as possible and I don’t want to miss anything… So that’s my boundary.
I have 2 hours every day when both of my kids are not at home. And that’s the time I clean the house and do other house chores, as well as go grocery shopping, run all kinds of errands, and create content for my blog. I usually pick 2 mornings for cooking and photo shoot for the blog.
On those 2 days, my family has to enjoy re-heated meals for dinner, but they are very supportive and they know that next time I cook the same dish it will be hot and fresh. For each recipe I share, I always need to do one photo shoot during the daytime for the blog to take good pictures.
I do the rest of the blogging related work after my kids go to sleep. Considering how much I want to get done each day, I naturally stay up late. But these days I try to take care of myself by having good beauty sleep since I’m going over 35 this year…
10. Do you like cooking to music or do you like the quiet? Do the kids help?
When I was younger I used to enjoy listening to music to cook (I almost forgot about that). But these days when I cook dinner, my kids are at the table doing homework and I’m talking to them, so my kitchen is always busy with activities. I guess I don’t really think about music as I have enough background noise for cooking!
11. Do you have a kitchen disaster story to share with us?
My husband will tell you – disasters always happen in my kitchen when I have guests coming over! I broke many dishes and burnt so many dishes because I tried to multi-task. I’m not really an elegant type of host. It’s always chaotic in my kitchen!
12. Is there any foods you just cannot stomach? Things you dislike greatly?
I can’t eat oyster. I never thought it’s tasty – both raw or cooked. My mom used to make fried oyster and she always made me eat at least one (it was her philosophy for eating food – and ironically I’m doing the same for my kids). I dislike it so much every time I finish eating just one oyster, I feel like I am completely mentally exhausted as if I was on some crazy game show having to eat exotic food.
13. Sweet or savoury?
Savory. I like sweet, but it depends on what kinds. But I always love savory.
14. Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?
Absolutely dark chocolate!
15. Chicken, beef or pork?
Hmm… chicken. I only use free range chicken or organic chicken at home.
16. Pepsi or Coke?
I don’t drink soda enough to recognize the difference. I only drink diet pepsi/coke (whichever available) when I eat pizza and hot dogs (and hamburgers too if there is no milk shake available).
17. Peanut butter or nutella or biscoff?
Nutella! Never had biscoff spread but maybe it’s time to try.
18. Apron or no apron?
I usually don’t wear it, but I have been looking for a very nice one for a long time. If I ever find the one, I’ll wear it all the time.
19. If you could cook with one celebrity chef who would it be? What would you make?
My answer makes me not much of a foodie, but I actually never thought of any before. But after I started blogging, I realized that I really want to learn Kaiseki style cooking from a traditional Japanese chef. In Kaiseki style meal, only seasonal and local ingredients are used and they are prepared in ways to enhance their original flavor rather than over-seasoning them. The dishes are then carefully and beautifully presented to enhance the appearance and seasonal theme of the meal.
20. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Is blogging still a big part of your life?
Actually 5 years is the goal that I set when I started blogging (one and a half year has passed so far). I wanted to see what I can do in 5 years. I didn’t start blogging as just a hobby. I had a goal to create my one and only “just 1 cookbook” and translate all my recipes written in Japanese to English so that my children can read and enjoy them one day. However soon after I started blogging, I started to have followers to my humble blog, and my goal has changed a bit. Now I have a broader goal – to share my authentic Japanese recipes with many people around the world. So yes, I hope that I will be blogging in 5 years and is a big part of my life besides my family.
Show us a photo of your favourite kitchen appliance. The one you use most and cherish.
It has to be my rice cooker. It’s a very nice rice cooker and I can’t live without it. I usually rinse rice after lunch and set the rice cook timer so rice is automatically cooked at dinner time. In a Japanese meal, the most important part is actually the rice and Japanese rice is quite pricey. We tend to stock up whenever they go on sale because my children love rice as well. When we have a bowl of steamed rice, we look for the shininess, flavor, texture, and how perfectly it’s cooked. My induction heating rice cooker does a perfect job for me every night!
So I am now on a Lunatic hunt to find this rice cooker on sale somewhere. I love rice. So I figure if Nami uses this beauty then I must have one. It’s gone on the list of “must have’s” along with a meat grinder. I really want a meat grinder. In a big bad way. Aren’t kitchen toys fun? I get why men love tools so much. Of course I’m also one of those gals who knows her way around a sander so toys for the kitchen and the garage rank high on my list. Have I told you how much I love my dremel, almost as much as I love my deep fryer. Crazy, weird, obsessive kind of love. If appliances could file restraining orders I’m sure they’d team up and make sure I can’t get within 50 yards of either of them.
So I chose to make Nami’s Beef Teriyaki. It spoke to me. Like loud, screaming in my ear kind of deal. “Make me, make me now.” Honestly me and steak are >likethis<, we could not be any closer. Steak is the only thing that keeps me from being a vegetarian. It calls out to me at night. It stalks me I swear. To me there is nothing like a good steak. Well, unless it’s 2 good steaks. I swear I can eat my weight in this stuff. I should enter one of those contests where you have to eat the massive steak no one can ever finish. I’d finish and ask for ice cream for dessert. It’s a talent. No really it is. They should make it part of all pageants if you ask me. “What’s your talent Miss?” I can just see Miss Universe pull a knife and fork out of her dress and go for broke. Now that’s a pageant I would actually watch. Reality Pageants, it’s the new thang!
Okay so now that I’ve gone on a tear, I’ll rein myself back in. You must make this recipe. You will never buy teriyaki from a store again. You will never order Beef Teriyaki at a restaurant again. Once you know how to do it yourself a whole new world opens up to you. Nami’s world. I love it here and think I need to spend more time living in this land of flavour. Check out this meat. It’s bee-u-tee-ful! I am in love. In a big, bad way. I’ll show you a photo of Nami’s dish first, then my version of it. I’ll give you a little heads up, hers is prettier.
So the only thing I really did differently than Nami is I used ginger is spice form. I also left out the sesame seeds. I only had black sesame seeds and was worried they would look weird in the photos. So I did not use sesame seeds in the steak recipe. Other than that I followed her instructions and was so pleased with the results. I normally like my meat very well done but I restrained myself from scorching it this time. Very pleased I resisted the urge.
- 2 Wagyu Style Beef Rib Eye for Steaks (I used regular rib eyes from Costco)
- ½ tsp. corn starch (optional)
- 1 tsp. water (optional)
- ½ Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds (I left the out of mine)
- 1 Green onion (I left it out of mine)
- For the teriyaki sauce:
- 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp. sake
- 4 Tbsp. mirin
- ½ Tbsp. ginger juice (I used the spice form of ginger)
- 2 tsp. sugar
- In a bowl, combine all of your ingredients for Teriyaki Sauce, mix well.
- Trim off any extra fat from the steaks, and stick them in a Ziploc bag. Add 4 Tbsp. of the marinade in the bag. Tightly seal up and stick in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- In Japan, Teriyaki Sauce is thin but American Teriyaki Sauce is always thick. If you prefer thick Teriyaki Sauce, combine your corn starch and water and whisk in a small bowl.
- Bring the Teriyaki Sauce to a boil in a frying pan to evaporate the alcohol (sake) for 15 seconds. If you prefer thin sauce, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- For thicker sauce, stir in the corn starch mix to the sauce and whisk all together so that the corn starch mix is well blended. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a cast iron skillet or a frying pan, heat your oil on medium high heat. When your pan is hot, remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel before cooking to prevent steaming.
- Sear the meat for 2 minutes on one side, then 1.5 minutes on the other side. That’s for medium-rare/medium for ½ inch thick steaks. Use your judgement if your steaks are thicker or thinner than this. You can vary the cooking time depending on how thick your steaks are and how you like yours cooked.
- Pour 2 Tbsp. of Teriyaki Sauce over each steak. The sauce gets bubbly and gives nice glaze over the steaks. Make sure you do this step as it adds so much flavour to the meat.
- Remove the steaks from the pan and transfer to a plate before the sauce starts to burn. Let the steaks rest to allow juices to distribute for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
- Slice steaks into thin pieces.
- Serve with leftover sauce in a dish so you can drizzle it over top.
- Serve with a big smile. Your going to love this meal!
I did a medium and a well done. Below is a photo of the one that was more well done. You can see a slight difference.
They were both delicious. I tend to like mine almost overcooked. Dates back to childhood. My dad would freak if he saw pink in any meat. So I think it’s taken me some time to get over that as an adult. I am doing much better.
I would like to thank Nami so much for allowing me to do this project with her. I hope you all enjoyed getting to know her better. I know I sure did. She is a class act and just the sweetest lady on the planet. I encourage you all to visit Just One Cookbook. You can also follow Nami on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Hop over and follow her everywhere. You will not be sorry.
Edit: I almost forgot to say I went to a Japanese market for the first time. It was such a lovely experience. So many unique and interesting ingredients. I picked up all sorts of things to try out so you may see some more Asian inspired meals here. If you are a local reader (Windsor, Ontario area) there is a wonderful store called Enchie Mart on Provincial Road. I really liked the gentleman who helped me out there. Great store, great atmosphere and wonderful staff. If you get the chance you should stop by and check it out. They also carry organic goods. Very cool place. It’s across from the Petsmart in the little plaza by Cartoon Kingdom. Tell them the crazy blonde lady sent ya.
Till next week…
Toodles and smoochies! xx