Let’s make the caramel sauce for custard pudding. Coat the inner surface of the custard cups with unsalted butter. This will make it easy to remove the pudding from the cups.
Put the sugar and water in the pot. Heat the pot at medium heat. Let it sit until the surface becomes lightly-colored. Swirl the pot and even out the sugar liquid. Caramelize the sugar like shown in the video and remove the pot from the heat.
Quickly add the hot water in 2 to 3 steps with a long-handled ladle. Tilt the pot away from you to avoid hot caramel sauce splashing and burning your hand. Swirl the pot and even out the hot caramel.
Pour the caramel evenly into the custard cups.
Let’s make the egg mixture for pudding. Crack the two eggs into a bowl. Lightly beat the egg with a balloon whisk. Don’t let the tip of the whisk leave the bottom of the bowl to avoid creating too much foam.
Add the milk and sugar in a pot. Turn on the burner. Stir with a spatula until all the sugar is dissolved.
Add the milk to the beaten egg while whisking the mixture.
Sieve the egg mixture with a fine mesh strainer. Scrape off the bottom of the strainer with a spatula. Remove any foam on the surface with a spoon. Pour the egg mixture into an easy-to-pour container.
Let’s steam the egg mixture. Gently fill the custard cups with the egg mixture. Cover each cup with aluminum foil. The foil will prevent the surface from getting dry. It will also help steam the pudding evenly.
Heat water in a pan and gently place the cups in it. The kitchen towel will soften the heat at the bottom. There should be enough hot water to cover the bottom half of the cups. Put the lid on.
Keep the water temperature just below the boiling point and steam the pudding for 18 to 20 minutes. Do not bring the water to boil otherwise the smooth texture of the pudding will be lost. Put kitchen gloves on and remove the custard cups. When they become cool, store them in the fridge.
Let’s serve the custard pudding. Scrape the side of the cup with the tip of a knife. Tap the cup on a kitchen towel and make a space around the pudding. Serve the pudding on a plate.
The color of caramel quickly changes over the heat so timing is important when adding the hot water.
Before you start to prepare the batter, preheat the conventional oven to 160°C (320°F). Line the bottom of the cake pan and the side with the parchment paper.
Put the eggs in a large bowl and beat them with a hand mixer at low speed. Add the sugar at once and beat the mixture for about 30 seconds.
Dip the bowl in hot water and beat the egg at high speed for 1~2 minutes. Temperature around 70~80°C (160~175°F) is ideal for the hot water. In this way, the egg mixture won't get too hot. Put your finger in the mixture. If it feels warm enough, take the bowl away from the hot water.
Add the milk to the unsalted butter and warm it up in the hot water.
Continue to beat the egg at high speed for 3~3.5 minutes until it forms a rippling pattern on the surface. As you lift the mixer, the mixture falls back slowly and seamlessly and the trail does not go away immediately.This stage is called soft peak.
Swap the hand mixer with a balloon whisk and mix the egg evenly. Shift the pastry flour into the bowl. Gently mix the flour from the bottom with a rubber spatula. Try not to break the foam and scoop up the batter about 30 times.
When all the flour is mixed in, pour the pre-heated butter mixture evenly over the batter. Scoop up the batter and gently let it fall from the spatula. Repeat this process about 50 times to mix.
When the batter gets glossy and smooth, pour it into the cake pan at once. Drop the cake pan a few times to break any air bubbles in the batter.
Place it in the preheated oven and bake at 160°C (320°F) for about 23 minutes. Remove the sponge cake from the oven. Pierce the cake with a bamboo stick and check if the batter isn't on it.
Drop the cake pan a few times to prevent the sponge cake from shrinking. Cover the cake with wax paper, flip over and let it cool down on a cooling rack. When it becomes completely cool, lift and remove the cake pan. Flip over the sponge cake and remove the wax paper.
Let's prepare the soaking syrup. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and cool it down. Select 8 good-looking strawberries for topping and remove the stem ends. The rest of the strawberries will go between the cake slices. Remove the stem ends and slice them lengthwise into half inch slices.
Let's prepare the whipped cream. Add the sugar to the whipping cream. Dip the bowl in ice water and whip the cream with a balloon whisk. A hand mixer can easily over-whip the cream so we like to use the whisk. As shown in the video, whip the cream until in the 'soft peak stage'.
Let's frost the sponge cake with the whipped cream. Peel off the parchment paper and place the cake on a cake turntable. Before you divide the cake in half, draw a line along the side while rotating the turntable. Slice the cake horizontally along the line so that you'll get a clean cut. Place the upper cake slice on the rack with the cutting surface facing up.
Add the kirsch to the cold premade syrup. Brush the bottom cake slice with the soaking syrup. Repeat and let the other half soak the syrup.
Drop the whipped cream on the bottom cake slice. Spread the cream on the surface with a frosting spatula. Cover the cream layer with the sliced strawberries.
Drop the whipped cream on top and spread evenly. Add extra whipped cream to cover the strawberries completely.
Stack the upper cake slice on top with the syrup-soaked side facing down. Apply the syrup to the very top of the sponge cake.
Drop a generous amount of whipped cream on top. Spread evenly with the frosting spatula while rotating the turntable.
Grip the spatula vertically and cover the side evenly with the cream. Slide the spatula across the cake while scooping up the cream. Move the spatula diagonally towards your upper right, creating a decorative surface on the side. Finally, slide the spatula on top from the rim to the center, trimming the shape of the round cake.
Let's decorate the cake. Prepare the pastry bag with a star-shaped tip. Put the whipped cream in the bag. Give it a little squeeze to remove the air inside. As shown in the video, decorate the rim of the cake in a rippling pattern while rotating the turntable.
Squeeze out the cream for the strawberries to go on top later. Put the tip of the frosting spatula on the cake turntable, rotate and scrape off the excess cream.
Lift the cake with the spatula and serve it on a cake plate. Place the strawberries on top.
Sprinkle on powdered sugar to create the look of snow. Finally, place the Christmas ornaments on top and it is ready to serve!
Measuring the baking ingredients by weight is absolutely necessary so make sure to use a proper scale.
The measurements and whipping time for the batter are critical to make a sponge cake. If they are not accurate, the sponge cake will become flat.
Let the cake cool down in the cake pan as it will keep the sponge cake moist.
We recommend using the real whipping cream with no additives. It is rich-flavored and far more tastier than non-dairy alternatives.
The baking time depends on various factors for example the size of round pan and the type of oven you use. We recommend keeping your eyes on the cake while baking.
If the height of sponge cake is not enough, you might want to bake another sponge cake so that your Christmas cake will have 3 or 4 layers.
Let’s make the sushi vinegar. Combine the rice vinegar, salt and sugar. Stir to dissolve well.
Next, cut the shiso leaves in half lengthwise and remove the stalks. Stack the leaves and cut them into thin strips. Cut the beni shoga, thin strips of pickled ginger into fine pieces.
Place the fresh steamed rice into a bowl. Pour the sushi vinegar over the rice. With a rice paddle, toss to coat using a slashing motion to avoid crushing the grains.
When the vinegar is distributed evenly, slightly cool the rice with a fan. Flip the rice over and continue to cool the rice. This will help give the rice a glossy texture and remove the excess moisture.
Add the toasted white sesame seeds, shiso leaves and beni shoga. Combine all the ingredients evenly.
Place the shime saba, Japanese marinated mackerel on a baking sheet and sear the skin thoroughly with the kitchen torch. To make shime saba, fresh mackerel fillets are covered with salt and then, after removing the salt, the fillets are marinated in vinegar. Lightly cool the shime saba with a fan.
Cover a bento box with a plastic wrap and place in the shime saba with the skin side facing down.
Add a small amount of vinegar to a bowl of water and wet a rice paddle with it. Place the sushi rice onto the shime saba and distribute.
Add in the tororo kombu, thin long flakes of dried kombu seaweed softened in vinegar before shaving.
Cover with a plastic wrap. And thoroughly press the rice using a divider attached with the bento box.
Wet the paddle and place the rice into the bento box again. Distribute evenly. Cover and press it again. Let the sushi sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes, allowing the ingredients to firmly attach together.
Flip the bento box and remove the pressed sushi. Wet the blade of a knife thoroughly. Make a cut in the plastic wrap and then slice off the oshizushi. You should clean the blade each time you cut off a slice. If the blade is coated with rice, it will be difficult to make clean cuts.
Now, remove the plastic wrap. Arrange the oshizushi onto a plate. Finally, garnish with the autumn colored leaves.
Packaged shime saba is widely available in Japan and it is enjoyed as sashimi or sushi. Alternatively, you can use grilled mackerel seasoned with salt or smoked salmon.
Searing the skin of shime saba is optional but the nice and crispy outside will definitely stimulate your appetite.
If the shiso leaves are not available, you can use cucumber instead. Let salted cucumber slices sit for a while and tightly squeeze out the excess liquid before adding.
Let's prepare the ingredients. Cut the onion in half lengthwise and then slice into 1cm (0.4") slices across the grain. Slice the carrot into 4cm (1.6") slices and cut into 2mm (0.1") strips. Tear the shimeji mushrooms into small pieces. And slice the long green onion into 2cm (0.8") pieces.
Let's make the curry sauce for udon noodles. Add a small amount of vegetable oil to a pot and turn on the burner. Add in the white part of the long green onion sliced diagonally. Saute the onion to make it sweet and tender. When the onion is deliciously browned, remove and save it on a plate.
Add the vegetable oil again and reheat the pot. Add the onion, carrot and shimeji mushrooms. Lightly cook the ingredients. When the oil is distributed evenly, add in the beef slices. Continue to saute the ingredients.
When the redness in the meat has disappeared, reduce the heat to low. Then, add the curry powder. Stir-fry and bring out the aroma. The curry powder will easily burn so turn the heat off or maintain the lowest possible heat.
Now, pour the dashi stock into the pot. The curry has a strong flavor so you should use a relatively rich and savory broth to compensate. Add the sugar and usukuchi soy sauce. Combine the sauce. The usukuchi soy sauce helps to retain the presentable color of curry sauce but you can also use regular soy sauce.
Bring it to a boil on medium heat. Then, remove the foam. When the vegetables soften, reduce the heat to low. Thoroughly stir the diluted potato starch and add it to the broth a little at a time. If the heat is too strong, the starch will instantly clump up before it can be distributed.
Now, the sauce slightly thickens. Bring it to a boil on medium heat. Then, add the long green onion. Now, the curry sauce is ready.
Let's make the curry udon. Place the frozen udon noodles into a pot of boiling water. Loosen up the noodles. Then, boil for 30 seconds.
Remove the pot and quickly place the udon into a mesh strainer. Remove the excess water thoroughly and place the noodles into a bowl.
Pour the hot curry sauce over the udon along with the ingredients. Finally, top with the chopped spring onion leaves.
Usukuchi soy sauce is both saltier and lighter in color than regular soy sauce. It is often used in dishes that feature the colors of ingredients to help keep them from darkening.
Some people may have difficulties to find mirin so we intentionally made this recipe without using it. Hope more people can enjoy this delicious curry udon noodles!
First, let's make the choux batter. In a pot, combine the water, butter and a pinch of salt, and turn on the burner. Bring it to a boil on medium heat. When the butter is completely melted and it reaches a rolling boil, turn off the burner.
Add the sieved cake flour to the pot. Quickly stir the mixture. When the flour has absorbed the water evenly and the mixture begins to turn gooey, turn on the burner again. Continue to stir the mixture on medium heat until a thin film forms on the bottom of the pot.
Place the mixture into a bowl. Flatten it with a spatula and slightly cool to avoid cooking the egg. Then, gradually add the beaten egg in 4 to 5 steps. When the egg is completely absorbed, begin adding another portion.
Achieving the perfect consistency is essential to making presentable choux pastries. To prevent the batter from getting too thin, add the egg a little at a time when it reaches the final stage. Drop the batter from the spatula as shown to check the consistency. When the choux batter left hanging forms a “V” shape, it is the perfect consistency.
Next, dust the edge of a 5cm (2") diameter cup with any type of flour or starch. Then, as a rough guide, make 12 circles where the choux batter will be placed on the parchment paper.
Put the batter into a pastry bag. Hold the bag 1cm (0.5") above the circle and squeeze the batter into a round shape. Repeat the process, filling each of the markers.
Dampen your finger with water and press each peak of the batter, adjusting the shape. Finally, mist the batter with water thoroughly to help avoid drying.
Place the baking sheet into the oven preheated to 200 °C (390 °F) and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheet. Place the choux pastries onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Pastry Cream (net weight 500g/1.1 lb)
Let’s make the pastry cream. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise and scrape it with the back of a knife, extracting the seeds. Then, add the seeds and pod to the milk, mix and gradually heat it on low heat. When it begins to boil, turn off the burner.
Next, lightly beat 4 egg yolks in a bowl and add the sugar. Mix the egg yolk with a balloon whisk until it begins to lighten in color.
Combine the cake flour and corn starch, and sieve onto a sheet of paper. Add it to the egg yolk and combine the mixture. Add one third of the milk to the bowl, diluting the egg yolk. Make sure to add the milk film and vanilla seeds.
Then, using a mesh strainer, strain the egg yolk into the pot of the milk. Turn on the burner. Continue mixing the pastry cream until it thickens. When it begins to form bubbles, turn off the burner.
Place the pastry cream into a tray chilled with ice. Cover it with plastic wrap. Pastry cream spoils easily so cool it as soon as possible.
Add the sugar to a bowl of whipping cream. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Lightly mix the chilled pastry cream in a bowl to soften. Add the whipped cream and combine. We recommend adding two thirds of the whipped cream but you can adjust the amount to taste. Mix to combine.
Make a diagonal cut in each choux pastry. Put the pastry cream into a bag. Give it a little squeeze to remove the air inside. Open the pastry and squeeze a generous amount of the cream into it. You can also simplify the filling process by spooning the cream into the pastries.
Finally, sprinkle the powdered sugar over them.
We often add rum or brandy to the pastry cream. This will increase the flavor of the cream so try it out if you like.
Squeezing the batter with a pastry bag will help to make the choux the same size and shape.
Let's prepare the lotus root. Thoroughly rinse the lotus root and grate it along with the skin. The grated root should make approximately 50g (1.8 oz).
Slice about 100g (3.5 oz) of the lotus root. Then, coarsely chop the slices into small pieces.
Let's make the sauce. Combine the vinegar, sake, sugar and soy sauce. Stir to dissolve.
Let's combine the meatball ingredients. In a large bowl, season the ground pork with the salt and pepper. Add the soy sauce and sake. With your hand, squish the mixture to combine the ingredients. Then, loosely spread your fingers forming a rake shape to thoroughly mix the meat until the mixture becomes sticky. This will make it easier to combine other ingredients later.
Add the chopped ginger root, coarsely chopped long green onion, grated lotus root, and coarsely chopped lotus root. Add in the potato starch and sesame oil. Squeeze the mixture so all ingredients are well incorporated. Even if you use lean meat, adding the grated lotus root will give it a tender texture. The crispy chopped lotus root also adds a pleasant texture to the dish.
When the meat mixture is thoroughly combined, shape them into balls about the size of ping pong balls and place them onto a plate. You'll have about 12 meatballs in total. Now, remove your kitchen glove. Wet your hands with vegetable oil and roll each meatball between your palms to make a smooth surface.
Let's cook the meatballs. Heat the oil in a pot to 170 °C (340 °F) and reduce the heat to low. Gently place the meatballs into the pot. Then, bring to medium heat. Don’t touch the meatballs until the surface firms up. Occasionally shake the pot to keep the bottom of the meatballs from burning.
When the surface firms up, turn the meatballs over. Keep turning them to brown evenly for 5 to 6 minutes. They will turn to a delicious golden brown color. Remove the meatballs and place them onto a cooling rack.
Let's coat the meatballs with the sauce. Heat another pot on medium heat. Stir the sauce and pour it into the pot. Bring it to a boil and reduce the sauce. When the sauce begins to thicken, add the meatballs. Coat the meatballs with the sauce.
Place the meatballs onto a plate along with the sweet and sour sauce.
You can also top with shichimi chili pepper, sansho pepper or a generous amount of chopped seasonal kinome leaves to taste.
The meatballs are great for adding to bentos but be sure to cool them before packing.
Finally, the meatballs can be refrigerated or frozen so you can always keep them on standby.