Rakeru

Kuku Omurice and Chicken steak.

I decided to spend last Friday taking advantage of all the sales at Aeon Mall, mainly to buy presents for my family. After a bit of shopping I decided to hit the food court, but after being stalked by a group of my curious 9th grade boys; I abandoned the food court idea and decided to go to the restaurant area. After much debate with Luciables who helped me narrow it down to steak or omurice.

I decided on the omurice restaurant Rakeru. The restaurant had a country French motif. Or at least with Japan’s fascination with Disney what Belle’s restaurant would look like if she ever opened one.

Starting from the top clockwise is the bread, fresh baked and amazing with french butter. At first glance I was expecting the bread to be hearty with a thick chewy crust, but as soon as I picked it up the opposite was true. The bread was super fluffy and soft like the stuff dreams are made out of. I don’t have much to say about the french butter other than, I guess french butter has no salt.

Next is the green salad. This was probably the weakest part of the meal. It was as if the restaurant just used bagged salad bought a few stores down at the super market and they merely showered it with the crappy dressing that was on sale that week.

The potato is next. After getting my meal a few things became very apparent about the potato; first I might be a spoiled American expecting, salt, pepper, butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits and the like, for my potato. Second this is just how it’s served in France…unlikely. Third the Japanese have no idea how to properly serve a baked potato. I was given just a plain hot potato, I was seriously confused for a few minutes and even considered the fact that I may be on some strange Japanese TV show messing with foreigners in restaurants. As I looked at the other patrons plates I noticed they were just eating the potato plain. There’s nothing more to be said about the potato other than give me condiments bitches.

Chicken steak. I was actually more excited about the chicken steak than I was about the omurice. Let’s get the bad news over with first. I don’t know what it is about Japan and liking dark meat and the fatty parts of meat, but I’d have to say there was more fat and tendon in the chicken steak, than actual chicken. During and after I had to wipe my mouth repeatedly because it was just covered in oil. I’m sure at one point my lips were so greasy it probably looked as though my lip gloss was poppin’ and I was expecting women in the restaurant to ask me which brand of lip gloss I use to get my lips looking that way. To which my answer would be, just order the chicken steak. Now the good news It was perfectly cooked and just had a hint of seasoning to bring the chicken flavor out. The gravy on the chicken was also delicious.

Omurice. I was expecting the traditional omurice with chicken rice and ketchup inside, but this restaurant threw me a curve ball. This omurice was stuffed with an amazing chicken fried rice. It was as though they took all the good parts of the chicken steak and fried that with rice. The gravy was also amazing it complimented the flavors of rice stuffing in the omelet.

I’d have to say overall I was pleased with the food. I will surely go again, but I will not order the chicken steak or salad. I will stick to omurice only of which there is a huge variety.

Healthy Italian

The temperature is dropping and fall is in full swing here and Japan. I wish the weather would stay like this forever. This three-day weekend marked the anniversary of the founding of this prefecture, Gunma, so I decided to try my hand at something I’ve never made before.

First let’s talk about the pesto that tops the whole wheat pasta. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve set foot on my native soil in America and it’s probably been much longer since I’ve had pesto. I think I got the flavors right, but I wasn’t sure if the consistency should be a bit thinner. The pesto was quite easy and fun to make. I ripped fresh basil leaves off the stalk (die die die) and packed it in the food processor (die die die) leaving just enough room for 3 cloves of garlic and a handful of pine nuts. I pulsed it for a bit (die die die die) then I slowly added extra virgin olive oil a few tablespoons at a time and I continued to blend until the mixture became smooth.

Next the chicken breast tenders. I marinated them in extra virgin olive oil and Italian seasoning while I made the soup. When the soup was completed I broiled the chicken tenders about 5mins on each side.

Now the veggie soup. This was my first attempt at the soup and I made A LOT. Which I divided into 6 portions and stored in my freezer. I started with about 7 cups of low sodium chicken broth, 2 red potatoes cut into 1″ cubes, 1 medium carrot cut into thin quarter moons, half a medium yellow onion diced, and 1 cup of sliced celery. I brought the ingredients to a boil then reduced the heat to medium and covered until the potatoes began to get tender.

Then I added 2 cups of sliced zucchini, 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley, 4 cloves of chopped garlic, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, and 1 limo pepper for a little heat. I brought the soup back up to a boil then reduced to a simmer until the zucchini was tender. I seasoned with only a bit of black pepper, there was enough heat from the limo pepper, and a pinch of salt.

total time including prep: 1hour

Guilt Free Chicken Tenders

It’s Tuesday evening here in Japan, and I wanted some comfort food. Something I really loved as a kid were chicken tenders mmmm….deep fried goodness, which is the exact reason I cannot eat them. In a stroke of genius I found a way to bake chicken tenders and still have that satisfying crunch (I love to crush things) without the extra fat from deep frying. The secret is in the coating.

First I took about 6oz of chicken breast tenders and marinated it in soy milk, poultry seasoning, lemon pepper, paprika, and 1 large egg white. As for the crunchy coating I took about a cup of bran flakes and crushed them into a coarse powder in a food processor (die die die die die die).

*you can see my chopped broccoli ready to go in the steamer basket in the upper right hand corner*

Next I took about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and spread it onto a sheet of tin foil with a paper towel. After dredging each tender in the bran flakes I placed them on the sheet and broiled (I only have a broiler here) them for about 6mins on each side.

Now you can’t have chicken tenders without dipping sauce. I made a super easy and relatively guilt free honey mustard dipping sauce. It calls for 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of mustard, simply mix together, and enjoy!

Luciable’s Chicken Katsu with Egg

Usually, on a gloomy day like today, I’d go to the closest restaurant serving hot soon dubu and have a feast to make myself feel a bit better. Oddly enough, though, I couldn’t wait to get home to make myself a nice, home-cooked meal.

The process of cooking makes me really happy, actually. It’s methodical, you can do whatever the hell you want, and you get to eat the results of your labor. Maybe I just like knowing I can take care of myself, in this small but very important way.

Tonight, I made stir-fried bok choy and pan-fried luciable-style chicken katsu with a fried egg on top. I was able to cook everything and wash the dishes in the time it took the rice to cook. Keep in mind, I’m an eater, not a photographer. >.<

Chicken katsu = what every chicken nugget aspires to be.

The night before, I beat the chicken to a pulp and marinated it in soy sauce, mirin, sesame seed oil (smelled really good!), oyster sauce, white pepper (couldn’t taste), freshly ground pepper (couldn’t taste), paprika (couldn’t taste), garlic powder (MMMM!!) and corn starch (to make it sticky so the bread crumbs would stick on later). (Traditionally, I think you can just flour the chicken, dip it in egg, and then press it in panko crumbs to achieve a crispy katsu crust, but I felt like throwing all the seasonings in my pantry together, so that’s what I did.) When I got home today, all I had to do was panko crumb and pan-fry it.

Panko crumbing was probably the best part of the process. If the crumbs aren’t sticking, all you have to do is mash the meat harder and pretend it’s the face of whoever annoys you. Before you know it, your chicken breast will be perfectly coated in panko goodness. Then, all you have to do is put it in the pan.

The frying part of any recipe seems to be the part where I always screw up. I can boil the shit out of spaghetti and stew the hell out of a tomato, but for some reason the only thing I can fry well is an egg. Oh well. I do love my food crispy, so it’s all good. To check whether or not the chicken’s done, make a fist and poke the fleshy part of your hand between your thumb and curled index finger. If the chicken is as firm as that part of your hand feels, it means the chicken’s done! I always let it rest for a bit on the plate, too, so that the residual heat can finish everything off, just in case.

Why does my fist look like a manly cinnamon roll without the frosting?

And then your meal is done! As much fun as cooking is, eating food is so much better. Although, this post by Marginal Revolution says sandwiches taste better when someone else makes them. Does it only apply to sandwiches, I wonder?

At any rate, what I made tonight put a light finish on my not-so-fun day. I fried up a second katsu egg combo as well, so I can have it in a katsu egg tomato cheese tonkatsu sauce sandwich for lunch tomorrow.

May all of your nights be filled with katsu happiness!