February 21, 2013

Weekend Outings: Hana Japanese Market

Hana Japanese Market

Our local supermarket leaves a bit to be desired. Aptly named the 'Soviet Safeway', it is hard to count on basics let alone interesting & rare ingredients that inspire. Cue in Hana Japanese Market a store managed by a helpful gentleman bearing a remarkable likeness to his cartoon representation. This tiny space is filled with a diverse range of Japanese ingredients. Fresh Japanese produce is delivered from LA & local farms on Thursdays. Our recent excursion to Hana inspired the following.

Steamed Flounder 
with Soy Braised Kabocha Squash

Steamed Flounder

Do you ever use a bamboo steamer to cook? Its a great way to bring forward the subtle, natural flavors of seafood & vegetables. When steaming fish, a white flaky fish seems to work best. This flounder was superb. We have a nonstick 9 inch Calphalon pan that fits perfectly under the bamboo steamer. Use any pot or pan that will allow for at least one inch of water underneath to steam, being careful to not submerge the bamboo in the water below. We line the steamer with banana leaves, but I suspect cabbage would work just as well. 

2 fillets of white flaky fish
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced 
1 clove garlic, minced
maldon salt (optional)

1. Arrange the fish fillets on the banana leaves.  

2. In a small mixing bowl, combine soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, pressed ginger & garlic. Brush fish with sauce.

3. Bring about 1 inch of water in the pan below to a boil (feel free to play with the flavor of the water -- think balsamic or rice vinegar, garlic or ginger) & steam the fish for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness. If you are using stacked steamers, you will need to rotate them half way through the cooking process to ensure even cooking.

4. Garnish with maldon salt. 

Soy Braised Kabocha Squash
{original recipe found here}

Simply put, this was finger licking good. Kabocha Squash is so delicate it feels like it is melting in your mouth. This savory side dish really lets the kabocha shine, but as with pumpkin its uses are plentiful. This paired really well with the fish & makes for an easy, knock-out side dish for a dinner party.

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 inch piece ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic
3 scallions, diced
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock (+ more, as needed)
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp honey or sugar
1/2 kabocha squash, sliced into 1/4 inch wedges

1. heat oil over medium-high heat. add ginger, garlic, scallions and saute until garlic browns a bit & mixture becomes fragrant. add stock, soy sauce, mirin & honey. 

2. scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. add squash into liquids & dial back heat to a simmer. cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until squash softens. rotate 1/2 way through cooking so all pieces can glaze at the bottom of the pan.

3. if you have any leftover braising liquid (we had a good 1/2-3/4 cup leftover liquids), save it! be on the look out for an up-coming post featuring a soba noodle salad using these braising liquids!

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