Gyoza

My family and I are obsessed with my mother’s gyoza. For some reason, any other place we eat gyoza out at just doesn’t compare to the homemade ones I grew up eating. I wonder if it’s just due to tasting familiar? Or are they really that spectacular? Well, I’ve fed a lot of my friends her gyoza as well and they all agree that it is BOMB. So I think she’s got something special going with her recipe.

I really get peeved when I eat gyoza at Japanese restaurants and they serve me what OBVIOUSLY are those ajinomoto frozen ones that they’ve just pan fried. Like C’mon man!! I get that making gyoza from scratch is a labor of love, but if you’re going to offer it on your menu, please just make it. The frozen stuff is never on the same level as the legit homemade ones. I also prefer Japanese style gyoza over Chinese ones since I like the THINNEST gyoza skin possible.

This recipe isn’t that difficult as long as you have a food processor. Cutting up all the cabbage by hand will take FOREVER. I mean, it is doable of course, but get yourself a food processor if you don’t have one. You can get one on Amazon for a decent price and it’ll save you soooo much time. I’ve also included a video on how to fold the gyoza so hope that helps!

 

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The nira should be chopped to about this size:

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Once your mise en place are ready (all your chopping, grating, juicing is done), add your ground pork in a large bowl. Add the garlic, ginger juice, miso, egg and waipa to your pork.

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Mix well by hand

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Once mixed, add the chopped cabbage and nira and mix well by hand again

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Once all your filling is mixed, set up your “folding station” with your gyoza wrappers, spoons, filling, a bowl of water, and a cookie sheet dusted with potato or corn starch.

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Take about a 1/2 tablespoon of filling and add to the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger into the bowl and moisten the edges of the gyoza wrapper. Fold using method below:

Once all your gyozas are folded and neatly aligned, you can choose to freeze them or cook them immediately.

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If cooking, heat a medium sized nonstick pan with 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the gyoza in a single layer to fill the pan. Sear until lightly browned on the bottom, add 1/4 cup boiling water and cover with a lid for 6-7 min. Once water is evaporated, take lid off and cook until browned and crispy. Optionally, you can add sesame oil at this point if you’d like to make it a little more crispier and add sesame flavor. Serve with your choice of sauce mix.

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These taste best fresh out of the pan so I suggest freezing whatever you don’t eat so. Just a warning, if you decide to pack these up for lunch, once cooked and kept overnight, these gyozas emanate a VERY pungent smell due to the nira. Just a word of caution!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 – 1.85 lb. lean ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves of garlic grated
  • 1 Medium sized cabbage finely chopped in food processor*
  • 1 bunch of Nira (Chinese Leek) finely chopped by hand*
  • 1.5″ chunk of fresh ginger grated and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp. miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp. Waipa (Chinese Chicken Stock Paste, can substitute chicken stock cube)
  • About 100 gyoza wrappers (Can be purchased at any Asian grocery store)

*Please make sure to wash all vegetables before using. The cabbage can be added to a salad spinner after chopping and spun to release excess moisture. The nira should be washed prior to chopping and dried using paper towels.

Recipe

Mix ground pork and egg, garlic, ginger, miso paste and waipa in a bowl by hand. Add finely chopped cabbage and chopped nira and mix well by hand. 

Set up dumpling folding station with your gyoza wrappers, filling, a bowl of water, and a baking sheet dusted with potato starch or corn starch powder.

Add about 0.5 Tbsp of mix into each wrapper, dip your finger in the water and lightly moisten the edges of the wrapper. Fold using method shown in video. Once all wrappers are filled, you can either freeze them at this point or cook immediately.

To freeze: Put the lined up gyoza on the baking sheet directly into the freezer and let freeze for about 30 minutes to an hour until semi solid. Once it is solid enough, take them out of the freezer and wrap about 10 gyozas (or however many you’d like per serving) in saran wrap (make sure not to stack any of them, they should all be in one layer) and then wrap again tightly in foil. Place them in freezer safe ziploc bags and freeze up to 2 months. The frozen gyozas can be cooked the same way as below.

To cook: Sear dumplings in a medium hot nonstick pan coated with oil. Add 1/4 cup boiling water and cover for 6-7 min. Once water is evaporated, take lid off and cook until browned and crispy. Optionally, you can add sesame oil at this point if you’d like to make it a little more crispier and add sesame flavor. Serve with your choice of sauce mix.*

Sauce mix options: Many people enjoy their gyoza with a mix of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and rayu or chili oil. I like mine with just rice wine vinegar and black pepper. You can also add yuzu kosho or toubanjan (fermented chili bean paste). Be creative! I think the gyoza goes really well with more sour, pungent sauces but to each their own 🙂

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Curry Pan (Japanese Curry Donut)

A not so well-known fact about Tokyo (and Japan in general) is that there are some insanely delicious bakeries scattered around the entire city. My favorite bakery is located in the neighborhood where I grew up, Azabu Juban, called Mont-Thabor. They are most famous for their milk bread which is like a buttery, milky, sweet rolled up loaf. They have a copy-cat version of it at 85 degrees bakery but it pales in comparison to the real deal.  They also have some famous French & New York bakeries/pastry shops in Tokyo such as Maison Kayser, Dominique Ansel’s, Magnolia Bakery, etc. but I prefer the bakeries that sell old school Japanese baked goods.

One of my favorite Japanese bakery items is the Curry Pan. I’ve been eating these deep fried savory delicacies for as long as I can remember and it combines two of some of my favorite food items: fried bread and curry. It’s basically a savory donut and if you’ve never had it run to your nearest Japanese (or Korean) bakery and grab one. It’s SO GOOD.

I’ve been wanting to try making curry pan for some time now and since I had made my mother’s dry curry recipe, I figured the dry curry would be the perfect filler for my very own curry pan. I first did my research by looking up the best curry pan recipes on CookPad (a Japanese recipe app/site) and watching various YouTube videos. The end result went over very well with my “test subjects” aka my family and friends. If making this recipe, I recommend using my curry recipe as the filler, or some sort of drier curry as your average Japanese curry may be too runny. The dry curry should be kept in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to make sure it’s hardened and easier to handle as a filling.

Once you have your filling prepared, you can start on your bread dough…

Ingredients
makes about 8 servings

Bread dough

  • 250g Bread Flour
  • 10g Granulated Sugar
  • 3g Salt
  • 150g Water
  • 2g Dry Yeast
  • 5g Butter

Filling

Dredging/Frying

  • 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Vegetable Oil enough to fill your frying vessel about 4 inches

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Mix everything except the butter in a bowl until it is no longer “flour-y”. Flip dough onto your work surface and knead in butter and knead until smooth. It may be a little lumpy but that’s ok.

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Put the kneaded dough ball in a bowl and cover and let proof in a warm area for about 1 hour. After the first proof, divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Let it rest for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, divide your dry curry into 8 equal portions for your filling.

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Take one ball and softly pound out the gas bubbles that may have formed and roll it into an oval. Put in 1 portion of the filling in the center.

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Take both sides of the dough and bring them together in the middle and pinch at the top. Then pinch your way down both sides so that no filling is showing.

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Once you’ve pinched it all the way, roll it on your surface and shape it in a pointy oval (I’m sure there’s a name for this…). Lay it to rest seam-side down. Repeat these steps for the rest of the 7 balls.

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Once you’ve filled all 8 of the dough balls, set up your work station to dredge the filled dough.

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Dip each piece into the egg and then the panko and set it down (make sure you put it seam-side down again!).

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Keep the dredged pieces in a warm area and let it proof a second time for 30 minutes until they are slightly larger.

Heat up the vegetable oil to 160-170 C (320 – 338 F) and fry about 3 pieces at a time.

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Fry each side of the pieces until golden brown (about 6 minutes total). Sprinkle with flaky salt (optional). Serve hot!

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Instructions

  1. Mix everything except the butter in a bowl until it is no longer “flour-y”. Flip dough onto your work surface and knead in butter and knead until smooth. It may be a little lumpy but that’s ok.
  2. Put the kneaded dough ball in a bowl and cover and let proof in a warm area for about 1 hour. After the first proof, divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Let it rest for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, divide your dry curry into 8 equal portions for your filling.
  3. Take one ball and softly pound out the gas bubbles that may have formed and roll it into an oval. Put in 1 portion of the filling in the center. Take both sides of the dough and bring them together in the middle and pinch at the top. Then pinch your way down both sides so that no filling is showing.
  4. Once you’ve pinched it all the way, roll it on your surface and shape it in a pointy oval (I’m sure there’s a name for this…). Lay it to rest seam-side down. Repeat these steps for the rest of the 7 balls.
  5. Once you’ve filled all 8 of the dough balls, set up your work station to dredge the filled dough. Dip each piece into the egg and then the panko and set it down (make sure you put it seam-side down again!).
  6. Keep the dredged pieces in a warm area and let it proof a second time for 30 minutes until they are slightly larger.
  7. Heat up the vegetable oil to 160-170 C (320 – 338 F) and fry about 3 pieces at a time.
  8. Fry each side of the pieces until golden brown (about 6 minutes total). Sprinkle with flaky salt (optional). Serve hot!

 

Japanese Dry Curry

My mother is a phenomenal cook. I know everyone says this, but I’m dead serious, she is a GREAT cook. There are certain people who just know exactly what needs to be added to a recipe to take it up a few notches and my mother is one of those people. We could make the same exact recipe and hers will always turn out better. Every time I cook, I strive to be as good as she is but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to compete!

Growing up, my mother, aka the best cook eva, had a few dozen recipes that were in rotation as her “go-to” recipes if we couldn’t decide what to eat for dinner. One of these recipes was her Japanese dry curry. If you’ve never had Japanese dry curry before, it is most similar to a Keema curry although it tastes slightly different. The curry is spicy, slightly sweet and best served with some hot white rice. The dry curry is super easy to make and is also a great filling for Curry Pan (curry bread- recipe to come soon!). You can always customize your recipe by adding more vegetables (corn is really good in this recipe) and making it spicier or sweeter depending on what you like.

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Onion chopped coarsely
  • 1.5 Carrots chopped coarsely
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp of Curry Powder
  • 3 Tbsp of Ketchup
  • 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1.5 cups of Whole Milk*
  • 1 Bouillon Cube crushed to a fine powder
  • 2 tsp Red Pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1) In a food processor, pulse the 3 garlic cloves a couple of times and then add the coarsely chopped onion and pulse until minced. Do not overly pulverize the onions or you will extract too much liquid.

2) In a medium sized Dutch oven on medium heat, add about 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and add the minced onion and garlic. Caramelize the garlic and onions until they become golden brown. This step may take a while. Adding a tbsp or 2 of water to the pan when the onions start to stick prevents the onions from burning.

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The finished caramelized onions should look like this

 

3) While caramelizing the onions and garlic, add the coarsely chopped carrots to the food processor and pulse a few times until minced. Again, do not over-pulverize the carrots.

4) Cook the vegetable mixture until the carrots have softened, and add the ground beef. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.

5) Add the curry powder and the bouillon powder into the pot and sauté with the meat and vegetable mixture for about 1 minute.

6) Add the milk (*the milk should cover the beef and vegetable mixture, if 1.5 cups is not enough add more), ketchup and worcestershire sauce (if using) and mix. Keep the curry on medium low heat and cook until the milk has evaporated. Stir every once in a while to prevent the curry from burning.

7) Once the milk has evaporated, add the red pepper flakes (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.

8) Serve hot with steamed white rice. I served ours with steamed broccoli because I like the texture of the broccoli combined with the curry 🙂

 

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Temaki Party!

Sushi is one of my FAVORITE meals, but if you order omakase it can become quite an expensive dining habit. I’m lucky enough to live near an awesome Japanese supermarket (Mitsuwa) that sells great quality sashimi (raw fish). The fish isn’t cheap by any means, however, if you plan on going out for a sushi dinner with 3 or more people, it is waaaaay more cost effective to have a temaki party at home! Temaki (handrolls) parties are a fun, easy way to eat sushi at home for a fraction of the price. No need for any fancy equipment, below is a list of things you will need:

  • Sashimi (PLEASE make sure to purchase from a reputable store!! Make sure it is sashimi grade fish)
  • White sushi rice
  • Sushi powder vinegar
  •  Imitation Crab
  • Japanese Mayo
  • Avocado cut into thin slices
  • Scallions chopped
  • Shiso chiffonaded 
  • Japanese Cucumber julienned 
  • Kaiware (Daikon radish sprouts)
  • Nori (seaweed) cut into 5.5″ x 5.5″ squares

First, mix your hot rice with the sushi seasoning powder. If you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to season your rice with your own mix of vinegar, sugar and salt. When mixing the rice with the powder, make sure to “cut” the rice as you mix so as not to smash any of the grains.

Cut the imitation crab pieces in half and separate the strands into a bowl. Add Japanese mayo (add sriracha for a spicy kick!) and mix. Set aside.

Arrange your cut up vegetables on a large platter.

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Cut your sashimi into thin slices and arrange on a separate platter.

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My family and I usually have a couple of side dishes with our temaki. Pictured above, we have a side of Kinpira Gobou (recipe coming soon!) and Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken). Make your own plate and voila! You and your guests are ready for your very own Temaki partay!

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To assemble your own Temaki, place the seaweed in your hand, add a spoonful of sushi rice, a piece of fish, and vegetables of your choice. My favorite combination is toro (fatty tuna) with kaiware, scallions, and shiso. Yum!!

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The beauty of hosting a Temaki party is that it is highly customizable to what fish and vegetables you and your guests prefer. My family always opts for Toro, Hamachi and Salmon. The vegetables listed above are always a must at our parties as well! Toro is usually my favorite piece at any sushi restaurant anyway and by having a Temaki party at home, I can eat several pieces without having to worry about the bill at the end 😛

What’s your favorite sashimi? Do you have DIY cooking parties at home? Please leave a comment, I would love to hear everyone’s suggestions!

Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

 

Growing up, my mother would make Karaage on special occasions, especially for picnics or birthday parties.  Karaage, or Japanese Fried Chicken (JFC) are pieces of chicken (thigh meat) marinated in a tasty ginger-based soy sauce and then deep-fried to a golden, crunchy, morsel of heaven.  From my knowledge, using dark meat is what makes this dish Karaage, whereas using the white meat makes this dish Tatsutaage.  Whichever name is used, all I can tell you is that it is absolutely delicious.

The great thing about Karaage is that as it cools down to room temperature, the chicken becomes more flavorful, which makes it perfect for Obentos (packed lunches), picnics, and parties!

Karaage is one of my husband’s favorite dishes that I make, and recently our family was having a temaki party night (DIY sushi handrolls) and I thought the karaage would be a perfect side dish. I think hubby ate more chicken than he did the sashimi 😉 The recipe is quite easy and the marinade can be adjusted to your preference of sweetness, saltiness or gingery-ness.

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces (can substitute chicken breast or add chicken breast if so desired.  I like white meat better so I use both)
  • Grated ginger (About a 2-inch piece of ginger..more can be used if you like it a little spicy)
  • 1 clove grated fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Japanese sake
  • 1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • Katakuriko (Potato Starch) to dredge the chicken
  • Vegetable oil for frying

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1. Pour the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and garlic into a bowl big enough to fit all the chicken pieces.

2. Take the grated ginger in your hand and squeeze out all the juice into the marinade bowl.  It is best not to get all the pulp in the marinade, because it may burn while frying the chicken.

3. Place all the raw cut up pieces of chicken in the marinade bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.  The longer the chicken marinades, the stronger the flavor will be but it is best not to marinade longer than 2 hours or the chicken will be too salty.

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4. After the chicken is marinated, drain all the marinade from the chicken using a fine mesh strainer. This step is important in ensuring that the katakuriko doesn’t form a paste when coating the chicken. If the chicken is too wet, you will end up with a huge mess on your hands!

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5. Set up your fry station. Heat vegetable oil (about 3 inches) to 170 degrees Celcius (338 F) in a heavy bottomed pot (I used my dutch oven). Make sure you have a baking sheet with a cooling rack sitting on top of it to place the Karaage on after frying, to rid of the excess oil.

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6. Pour the katakuriko into a plastic bag (ziploc or any produce bag works). Drop about 5 pieces of chicken at a time into the bag and shake to coat each piece with the katakuriko.

7.  Once all the pieces have been coated, start frying the chicken in batches. Deep-fry about 5 to 6 pieces of chicken at a time.  Too many pieces in the fryer will lower the temperature of the oil and yield oily chicken.  Too little pieces in the fryer will make the temperature of the oil too hot and will burn the chicken before it is cooked through.  Fry each batch for about 3 – 4 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown.

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8.  Once you have let the excess oil drip from the Karaage, transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate. Serve with wedges of lemon or Japanese mayonnaise mixed with sriracha on the side!  Can be served hot, room temperature, or even cold 🙂

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Enjoy the J.F.C.!  This stuff is seriously addicting so make sure you make enough for everyone 🙂

Chicken Nanban with Japanese Sweet Potato Salad

Chicken nanban is a crispy chicken dish which originated in the Kyushu region of Japan. Nanban, which directly translates to “European” in Old Japanese, comes from the influence of European traders and missionaries in Japan during the 17th century. The chicken is usually deep fried, but my version is a liiiiittle bit healthier since it’s pan-fried. Once the chicken’s been fried, it is lightly seasoned with a sweet, sour and savory sauce. Chicken nanban is traditionally served with tartar sauce, but mine is served with a quick Japanese sweet potato salad and some tossed arugula.

The Japanese sweet potato, (which I am loooooorve) has purple skin and a golden yellow flesh. A little more mild in sweetness than a yam or regular sweet potato, they can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. I like to make Japanese sweet potato muffins when I have the sweet potatoes on hand, but they are also equally delicious simply roasted in the oven and served with a little coarse sea salt and butter.

The Japanese sweet potato salad is a great side dish to Japanese chicken dishes, like the Chicken nanban, but also pairs well with panko fried chicken (chicken katsu). This particular recipe calls for rice vinegar to be added to the potato salad, but if using Japanese mayonnaise (such as Kewpie), you can omit the rice vinegar.

Note: Though this recipe uses a bone-in-skin-on chicken thigh, chicken breast can also be used. If using chicken breast, cut each breast horizontally so you have 2 to 3 thin pieces of chicken. The chicken breast will only need to be pan-fried and does not require any oven time.

I food styled this shoot, and the photos were shot and are owned by White Loft Studio*

Ingredients

Servings: 2

2 Bone-In-Skin-On Chicken Thighs
1 Japanese Sweet Potato sliced into 1/2 inch thick coins
1 Inch Piece Ginger grated
3½ Tablespoons Rice Vinegar divided into 2 tbsp and 1.5 tbsp
1 Tablespoon Mirin
1½ Tablespoons Soy Sauce
½ Teaspoon Aleppo Pepper (can be subbed with any red pepper flakes or omitted completely)
1 Shallot minced and divided
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Baby Carrot thinly sliced horizontally
3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
3 Ounces Arugula

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Step 1: Boil the Japanese sweet potatoes

Set oven to 350°F.
Bring a small pot of water to boil over high heat. Add Japanese sweet potato coins and boil for 20 minutes.
Drain and set aside.

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Step 2: Make the Ginger Sauce

In small bowl, whisk ginger, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, and aleppo pepper (if desired).
Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and whisk until combined. Add the minced shallot and combine. Set sauce aside.

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Step 3: Dredge the Chicken Thighs

Crack eggs into medium bowl and whisk to break the yolks.
Dust each chicken thigh with our and then dip in whisked eggs to coat. Place dredged chicken thighs on plate.

 

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Step 4: Fry the Chicken

Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in oven proof skillet over high heat. Once skillet is very hot and just starting to smoke, place chicken skin-side down. Let fry 5-7 minutes, then ip and cook another 5 minutes on the other side.
Place skillet in oven to finish cooking for 10 minutes.

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Step 5: Make the Japanese Sweet Potato Salad

Once cool enough to handle, peel sweet potatoes. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes in small bowl and add the rest of the rice vinegar and let cool.
Add carrots, remaining minced shallots, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and mayonnaise. Mix to combine.

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Step 6: Make the Arugula Salad

In medium bowl, toss arugula with 2 tbsp of the ginger sauce prepared in step 2.

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Plate the Dish

Place one chicken thigh on each plate. Divide arugula and Japanese sweet potato salad between the two plates.
Drizzle 2 tbsp ginger dressing over the crispy chicken (you may have extra ginger sauce leftover.)

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*These photos shot by White Loft Studio were from a recipe kit start-up that is now defunct

 

Tofu Chicken Burger

I am an avid meat lover.  I lived with a Vegan friend for a year and always admired her healthful and ethical eating choices.  However, being the carnivore I am, there were nights that I would make myself a full steak dinner and indulge in it all by my lonesome.

One of my favorite dishes growing up was hamburg steak (similar to salisbury steak), however, due to the high caloric value, we rarely ate it at home.   My mother would make this tofu chicken burger as a healthy alternative to hamburg steak.  A great way to decrease consumption of meat is to mix meat 50/50 with a vegetarian option such as tofu or some type of legume or vegetable.  By adding tofu to this chicken burger, it cuts down on the amount of meat and also results in a unique texture.   You can serve it with a side salad or steamed vegetables and some rice to make it a complete meal.

Ingredients

  • 600 g of lean ground chicken
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Large clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 Container of firm tofu
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for sauteeing

Instructions

1.  Put tofu on a cutting board, and sandwich with another board and put a heavy plate or book on top to squeeze the excess water from the tofu.  Leave for about 15-20 minutes.

2.  While draining the tofu, sautee half of the onion until translucent and slightly browned.  Once the browned onion has cooled, put it in a large mixing bowl with the raw diced onion.

3.  Crumble up the tofu and put it in the bowl with the onion.  Add the breadcrumb, egg, grated garlic, and raw ground chicken.  Mix well and form into patties.

4.  Add 2 Tblsp of oil to a heated non-stick frying pan.  Brown one side of the patties.  Cover the pan with a lid and lower the heat to low to fully cook the patties.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until the patties are cooked through.

5.  Remove the lid and flip the burgers.  Let the other side of the tofu chicken burger brown and transfer the patties to a plate.

6.  You can serve the tofu chicken burgers with ponzu sauce, soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce or ketchup.  I prefer ponzu or tonkatsu sauce!

Enjoy!

xx