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Oh Yeah, What We Ate

The weekend is drawing near and I still haven’t blogged about our last weekend.  There were some events worth sharing, mainly about what we ate.  

Since our weekday menus are generally pre-determined (vegetable and soy based nabe with kimchi on the side) we tend to let loose gastronomically on the weekends.  

Last Friday morning before I work, I put a piece of chicken breast and a piece of pork lean shoulder into a marinade of shio koji, garlic and ginger.  What’s shio koji, you ask.  It is my new favorite marinade ingredient.  I learned about shio koji from an article on koji in Cook’s Science available here. It told all about how someone took koji (already popular for the fermentation of sake and miso) and adapted it for use in the layman’ kitchen.  As someone who is always interested in fermentation science and how it might benefit my stomach, I was interested to try.  Apparently shio koji is a little difficult to find in regular supermarkets in the USA, but I was pleased to find many varieties easily available at our local corner grocery store.  The secret of shio koji was out a long time ago in Japan.  

On the website they described a recipe for using shio koji to make fried chicken, but I didn’t really want to deep fry anything.  Instead I settled for a 10 hour marinade, and then pan fried the meats in a stainless steel skillet, and then finished them in the oven.  Just for fun, I did a side by side comparison with another version – this time only a 30 minute marinade and using grain mustard instead of garlic ginger.  

One thing you have to be careful about is that the shio koji has a little bit of sugar in it, so when cooking on the skillet the sugar will brown and eventually blacken, so I did a two step cooking method using the oven.  I was surprised how quick the shio koji marinade made the searing, and the surface of the meats browned really quickly – even the 30 minute marinade cooked right up.  

The end result was a side by side comparison with a bottle of red wine and a green salad.  We had fun comparing the two marinades, and I think we agreed that the longer marinade was better.  The shio koji imparts a kind of mysterious fruitiness to the aroma of the meats – another layer of flavor that went well with our wine and green salad.  

So I’ll be eager to drag out the BBQ soon when the weather warms up and try more marinade variations based on shio koji.  The experiments will continue!

Saturday night we ate gyoza and a kind of bok choi stir fry, alongside shio koji pickled carrots and cucumbers, so we were on a serious garlic kick.  Luckily we both had Sunday off to let the odor get through our systems.

Sunday morning I woke up with a soreness in my right ankle.  I hadn’t done anything that would have caused it, except for maybe too much exercise on the exercise bike lately, so I made an effort to keep the weight off of it and I hobbled around the house resting it.  

We had originally planned to take a train in to Kobe to mail off a package and then do some shopping for bread and meat, and so we changed the plan to drive to Kobe instead.  I was able to rest my ankle most of the time, with only a little hobbling between stores.  

This time we went to a bakery in Ashiya that makes some great rolls that we often can enjoy during our dinners at Anonyme.  The bakery is called Biobrot, and the baker studied in Germany so there is a big influence of dark breads, nuts and rye in the mix.  We went kind of nuts buying all sorts of different kinds of breads, and the service was excellent.  The staff recommended several kinds to try since we were focused on dark breads, and the shop was filling up quickly.  We bought a ton of stuff and took it home.  While we were in the neighborhood we also stopped at the butcher down the road.     The service there is a little snooty but the meat selection is top notch.  We had been there before and liked what we had.  This time we got a selection of meats, three kinds of salads, and some smoked roasted beef to make the most luxurious lunch sandwiches I’ve ever taken to work.

Despite my bum ankle the day was a success, and I spent the rest of the day with Kuniko at home, sipping Prosecco, and resting up.  

My ankle still isn’t fully recovered, so I’m abstaining from the exercise bike until things get better.  Until then, lots of stretches, rubs, and walking gingerly.  It ain’t easy getting old!

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