Steamy Kitchen Recipes | RSS Feed Steamy Kitchen Food Blog: fast recipes, simple recipes, with fresh ingredients to create delicious meals. Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:53:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 All About Japanese Sake Sun, 07 Jun 2009 17:50:49 +0000 To launch my sake section – I’m giving away a $50 gift certificate to Sur La Table – see end of post! ~jaden Contest Over! == As much is I love everything Asian, I really didn’t get into exploring world of fine Japanese sake (SAH-keh) until just recently. A little over a year ago, I had a chance to sneak ...

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To launch my sake section – I’m giving away a $50 gift certificate to Sur La Table – see end of post! ~jaden

Contest Over!


As much is I love everything Asian, I really didn’t get into exploring world of fine Japanese sake (SAH-keh) until just recently. A little over a year ago, I had a chance to sneak into a meeting with a sake sales representative, Morgan Hartman. Morgan was giving a artisan sake tasting to a local restaurant’s staff, and I kind of tagged along, curious to experience what artisan sake was all about.

The next hour just blew my mind. We sampled eight or nine different brands of sake, the exact number I really can’t remember. While the other is utilized their spit bucket, I couldn’t fathom the thought of wasting a single (hiccup) drop.

Sidenote: You know when wine pros do wine tastings, they don’t really swallow the wine….they take a sip of wine, gurgle around in their mouths, make funny faces and then spit it out. Because if you DON’T swallow and you’re tasting like 10 different wines, by the time you get to number 6, you are so flat-out drunk that everything tastes like pencil lead, cat piss and leather. Honestly, I’m probably not a super-taster nor will I ever be a wine geek, because I just cannot understand which pie-hole they pull out these obscure flavors and aromas from. And really. The only time I really would enjoy tasting leather would be if I was on the back of Fonzie’s motorcycle, holding on tight and trying to reach and kiss the back of his neck. Okay, sorry for the rambling sidenote.

Anyways, the tasting blew my mind. Nine artisan sake from different regions of Japan, each brewed using handcrafted methods and premium ingredients. No chemicals, no sulfites and some utilizing no machinery. Yes, some of the sake were expensive, but the majority of them were surprisingly affordable, about the same as an everyday bottle of wine.

So, these next two weeks, I’ll be posting a lot about Japanese sake – the good stuff that you drink chilled like wine. Not the cheap sake is served hot and goes down burning like a lighter fluid. In fact, after my sake tasting experience, I can’t even drink the hot sake at all. Did you know that the cheap, lesser quality sake is served hot to mask it’s inferior flavors? You’re so distracted by the heat that you can’t even taste a thing. I know that some people love hot sake (I even did a Twitter poll), but I’d like to show you around the world of chilled, artisan sake.

I’ve been studying my ass off the past 2 weeks (I’ve really been loving my late-night “MARKET RESEARCH” sake tasting sessions) and my teacher is none other than that company that Morgan works for, a small company called Vine Connections, based in California, who represents over 20 of Japan’s finest premium sake breweries. These artisan, ancient (the youngest is 86 years old!), and traditional family brewers produce some of the best sake that you’ll ever try. So I’ll be learning from Morgan, Lisa, Ed and Jeffrey, who will be sponsoring a sake section on Steamy Kitchen. They are a great partner, because they represent over 20 different artisan sake brewers, and we’ll be able to give you the basics of premium sake, how to order sake and read the labels, full tasting notes, teach you how to pair sake with food and how to hold your own artisan sake tasting with your friends.


So, what the heck is “premium” sake?

Sake, often called the “Drink of the Gods” by the Japanese, is a beverage produced from sake varietal rices, pure water, koji spores, and specially selected yeasts. Premium sake is brewed like beer, but drinks like fine wine.

Like beer, the starch must be converted to sugar, which then turns into alcohol. Like wine, each brand has its own distinct tasting notes – some sake is woodsy and earthy (pairing well with meats and other full-flavor dishes) and some have flavors of lychees and lemon zest (pairing well with steamed seafood)


What makes a sake a PREMIUM sake? Well, premium Japanese sake is to regular sake what Single Malt Scotch or Agave Tequila is to their cheaper counterpart. Premium Japanese sake brewers are family artisan craftsmen and all their sake are made by hand with little, if any, automation. No cheap rice, no mass-production and certainly no chemical additives.

And one of the great things about premium sake is that it’s gluten-free, sulfite free, and kosher. Premium sake becoming popular, too…enjoying a 20% annual growth rate in the U.S. for the past 5 years. The newest drink that is made with premium sake is sparkling Japanese sake infused with all-natural Asian flavors. It’s served chilled and it’s fantastically fancy served in a champagne glass.


It all begins with the rice.

You know how a grain of rice is pretty darn small? Well imagine polishing (or milling) the rice so much that only the heart of the rice remains. That center heart of the rice grain produces the most clean, pure, fragrant and complex tasting sake!

So, what’s all the other unwainted stuff that you’re polishing off?

  • protein
  • minerals
  • fats
  • amino acids
  • starch
  • other “stuff” (like unwanted rice cling-ons)

While all this stuff we’re polishing off is actually good for you (in terms of EATING rice) it’s bad for the fermentation and taste of sake. So, the more you mill the rice, the cleaner, elegant and refine the sake is. Cheap sake uses the cheap rice and the entire grain. Super-premium sake is made with Yamada Nishiki Rice (a rice variety ESPECIALLY made for sake) that are polished to just 40% of its original size! See the last rice photo, how the rice grain is very white and less than half the size of the table rice?

japanese-sake-rice grades


All these fancy Japanese words! What do they mean?

Think about wine. Instead of merlot, pinot noir or chardonnay, the common words used to differentiate premium sake are:

Junmai (JOON-mai): Junmai is pure rice Sake. Nothing is used in its production except rice, water, yeast, and koji (that magical mold that converts the starch in the rice into fermentable sugars). Junmai is brewed WITHOUT any addition of distilled alcohol. Now why would you add distilled alcohol to sake? Because cheaper, faster. Instead of allowing the rice starch ferment naturally – lower grades of Japanese sake will include added distilled alcohol. Junmai is premium sake with no added distilled alcohol. Generally a bit heavier and fuller in flavor than other types of Sake, with slightly higher acidity. Goes well with a wide range of food. Must have rice grains polished to at least 70%, meaning the outer 30% of each rice grain has been polished away.

Gingo (GEEN-joe): Super premium sake and special practices must be followed to make it, including higher milling rates, the use of special rice and yeast, longer fermentation periods, and many other labor-intensive brewing processes.

Daiginjo (die-GEEN-joe): Even a more painstaking brewing process than Ginjo, which results in Sake that is even lighter and more fragrant and fruity than a typical Ginjo. Must use rice milled to at least 50%. Often, Daiginjo goes as far as using rice milled to 35% (65% of the kernel polished away!).

So you can combine “Junmai” with “Ginjo” and “Daiginjo” == or use the words independently.

japanese-sake-junmai-labels-2862 Junmai (no distilled alcohol added, milled to 70% of grain- i.e. 30% polished away)

japanese-sake-junmai-labels-2865 Junmai Ginjo (no distilled alcohol added, milled to at least 60% of grain)

japanese-sake-junmai-labels-2863 Junmai Daiginjo (the very very best, no distilled alcohol added, milled to at least 50% of grain)


Japanese Sake Grades

Percentages from Sake World

Coming Soon!

Here are other sections that we’ll be covering:

Japanese Sake Grades (this post)

How is Sake Made?

Artisan vs. Mass Produced Chart

Food and Sake Pairing

How to Read the Labels

How to Serve Sake

How to Have Sake Tasting at Home

What’s a fun, modern way to enjoy sake? Sparkling Sake: sake2me

Tasting Notes: Living Jewel

Tasting Notes: Divine Droplets Sake

Tasting Notes: Wandering Poet Sake

Tasting Notes: Snow Maiden Sake


$50 Sur La Table Gift Card


My friends at Sur La Table gave me a $50 gift certificate. Originally, I was going to take that gift certificate and give it away to you guys…but the trouble was…I WENT to my local store to pick up the gift certificate.

How could I resist NOT buying a few new goodies for the kitchen?

So I used it.


But never fear, due to my own shortcomings in the willpower department, I am buying a $50 gift certificate to give away.

So – how to enter? Easy. Just comment and tell me ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE ABOUT JAPANESE SAKE. If you’re a smart-ass and don’t have any questions, just pretend you do and copy someone else’s. You have until Tuesday, June 16th 12pm EST.


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How to make sushi temaki handrolls Sun, 20 May 2007 21:14:41 +0000 My Sushi for One dinner Last week I taught a hand-on sushi class with 20 students in the studio kitchen. We had such a fun time making Temaki hand rolls, large inside out rolls and small Maki “cigar” rolls. Of course we had leftover ingredients, so the next evening I had a little Sushi for One party. In the photo ...

The post How to make sushi temaki handrolls appeared first on Steamy Kitchen Recipes.

Make Sushi Handrolls

My Sushi for One dinner

Last week I taught a hand-on sushi class with 20 students in the studio kitchen. We had such a fun time making Temaki hand rolls, large inside out rolls and small Maki “cigar” rolls. Of course we had leftover ingredients, so the next evening I had a little Sushi for One party. In the photo above, I made myself a Spicy Crawfish-Mango Handroll. Do you want one? I”ll make you one too!

Other ingredients above included: Unagi (sea eel), Grilled Salmon, Crawfish Tails (found a package of frozen tails at my grocer), Mango, Cucumber, Red Bell Peppers, Green & Yellow Beans and Carrots, Soy Sauce, Wasabi, Nori Sheets and Seasoned Rice.

Ok, so lets talk about How to Host your Own Sushi Party at Home (Temaki Party) because its so easy and fun. If you love sushi but hate restaurant prices – you must try this! Basically, its a make-your-own-handroll party where all the ingredients are laid out on the table and each guest makes their own delicious creation. This is my favorite way to host a party when I have picky eaters. If it don’t taste good, sho’ ain’t my fault…NOBODY TOLD YOU TO MIX NUTELLA WITH CRAB.

I don’t live near a Japanese supermarket, so most of the ingredients I either got at the generic Asian market or regular supermarket. So some of the ingredients I have listed below might not be the traditional Japanese stuff. Unless you are buying your sushi grade fish from a respected fishmonger or Japanese market, I wouldn’t recommend raw fish at your home sushi party. If you are lucky enough to get good sushi-grade fish, I am so envious of you.

To learn how to roll a hand roll – scroll down to the bottom. There is a link to a step-by-step photo slideshow.

Vegetables and Fruit

Cut Vegetables: Cut all of your vegetables up in uniform size. They should be in skinny, long 1/3″ wide 4″ long strips. Avocado should be cut at last minute or tossed with lemon juice to prevent browning. Find English or Japanese cucumbers. The regular cukes are too watery and have too many seeds. Take the cucumber, cut in half, and use a spoon to scrape out the innards – seeds and part of the flesh. You want to be left with the skin and maybe 1/4″ of the flesh. Cut in strips.

Veggie Strips

Blanch Vegetables: Any hard or chewy vegetables, like carrots, green beans should to be blanched briefly first. Why? Because when you bite into a handroll, you want a nice, easy clean bite. If you had a raw carrot stuck in there, you’d bite and wrestle with the roll making a mess. Plus, it makes the carrot and green bean tasty and sweeter – blanch in instant dashi stock for even better taste. You don’t have to do this, but I like it this way. Vegetables that are crispy yet soft enough, like the red pepper can go raw. TIP- If you are making miso soup, make your dashi stock first, blanch vegetables, fish them out and then use the dashi to go ahead and make your miso. Gives extra flavor and nutrition to your miso soup.

Grill Vegetables: I love portabella mushrooms. Scoop out the gills and throw them on the grill or frying pan to cook. After cooking, cut into strips. Asparagus can be steamed, blanched, grilled or roasted….just briefly though, you want the asparagus cook a bit, still crisp. If you cook too long, the asparagus turn soggy, chewy and stringy.

Here are some ideas: carrot, red onions, roasted bell peppers, arugula, zucchini, grilled portabella, green beans, mango, enoki mushrooms, green onions, lettuce leaves, cucumber (Japanese or English), shiso leaves, sprouts, tofu (grilled), blanched spinach (squeeze water out), tomatoes (flesh only, scoop out seeds, slice in strips), shredded fried egg, grilled eggplant



Cut: If you have sushi grade fish, cut them into long 1/2″ – 1″ wide, 4″ long strips OR little tiny cubes. Basically, if your pieces are too wide or big, it will be very difficult to roll the sushi. Think roll-friendly shapes.

Broil: This is Unagi (grilled eel) – its sweet, savory and one of my favorite things to put in a sushi roll. Its found in the frozen section of my asian market. Unagi comes frozen in a whole fillet form, cooked already. Defrost by running cold water over package. Unwrap and broil on high, skin side up for 3-5 minutes. You really need to watch this, because it’s sweet and burns so quickly.


Grill: Seafood like shrimp, soft shell crab, fish, scallops, chicken (brush with some teriyaki sauce, cut into strips). You may want to run a knife through the shrimp and lg scallops after grilling.

Bake: Use Rasa Malaysia’s recipe for Creamy Spicy Scallops – use small bay scallops instead. I also added chopped shrimp to the recipe. It was SO GOOOOOOODD.

Mix: Chopped shrimp/scallops with a little mayo & Sriracha hot sauce to make a spicy concoction. Not too much mayo – you don’t want it to be wet. Or you could mix sushi grade tuna with chopped scallions, soy & wasabi.

Other Ingredients

– I LOVE smoked whitefish. Just make sure you take all the bones out first. Shred with your fingers and then re-check for bones. You don’t want a guest choking over a very small, transparent, flexible bone. – Store-bought seafood spread – in my grocer’s seafood dept, they have a variety of fresh made spreads, one of them includes chopped salad shrimps + imitation crab.

– Kayln’s Mango Salsawith Red Bell Pepper The salsa would make a killer handroll with grilled salmon!

– Teczcape’s Chicken Katsu without the curry sauce. Just fry the chicken katsu and cut into strips. – I was able to get Masago (orange roe) frozen at the Asian grocer. But I also had caviar from the supermarket too. Oh, I have to share – at BJ’s, my local warehouse, I found a jar of Whitefish Caviar for less than $10!!!! It was not the gucci gucci good stuff, but it was not bad. In the sushi roll, it was really good!!! You wouldn’t want to waste the expensive stuff inside a sushi roll anyways. I just wanted the briney pop-in-your-mouth feeling. How cool is it to pretend like a pooh -pooh rich person scooping a big giant spoonful straight into your mouth?!


– Also found frozen crawfish tails at the market (Publix $9.99 for 1 lb). Mix with some Japanese mayo, masago and Sriracha.

– How to make sushi rice from Beyond Salmon. General rule for a Sushi Party – 1 cup of raw rice per person is plenty. You never want to run out of rice in the middle of a sushi party! You can make separate batches of rice, just keep your cooked sushi rice covered with damp towel. You don’t want to serve hot rice – which would make the seaweed soggy, room temp is fine. 1 cup raw rice makes about 2 cups cooked rice, enough for about 4-5 hand rolls per person. (If you have hungry guests, make an extra batch of rice just in case) *Note – if you are using a rice cooker, estimate 1.5 rice cooker cups of raw rice per person. The cups that come with rice cookers are much smaller.

– Spam! Fried Spam slices. I know. I promise this will be the last post this month that mentions Spam. But just to prove that I’m not the only crazy one – Wandering Chopsticks also ate Spam Sushi.

– Ahn’s Sesame Miso Tofu Instead of tofu squares, cut the tofu into long blocks, grill then slice into thinner rectangular pieces

– Make Miso Soup 10-Minute Miso Soup – its super easy and only takes 10 minutes max.

– Serve some Edemame, boiled soybeans. Boil them in dashi stock instead of salted water. Much better tasting!

How to Roll a Temaki Sushi Handroll

Easiest to give you a photo tutorial:

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Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 4.23.00 PM

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