Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

I love fried chicken. When I was in Japan this summer, we had some amazing fried chicken in Hamamatsu. I’d had Japanese Fried Chicken (Karaage) before but nothing has been like what I had in Hamamatsu, and probably will never be. I’ve also tried a few recipes I’ve found online and I think I found one that may be my go to until I figure out exactly how to recreate that Superior Rating chicken from our trip to Japan.

Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Chicken:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thigh

Marinade:

  • 3 tsp of grated ginger
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, grated
  • 3 TBS sake
  • 5 TBS low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar

Coating:

  • 1.5 Cups potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Oil:

  • Safflower oil or peanut oil or any other high smoke point oil

Cut the chicken thigh into roughly 1″ strips.

In a baking dish, combine the marinade ingredients. Add chicken.

Let the chicken marinade for 24-48 hours (or more!).

Heat your oil in a pot that is fairly tall. Having a pot with a larger base also helps. You’ll want at least 2 inches of oil and at least 3 inches of wall above the oil. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature of your oil.

Line a cookie sheet with paper towels and cooling rack. You’ll want another cooling rack over a cookie sheet (or countertop) separately as well.

While your oil is heating up, mix your dry ingredients in a bowl for the coating. Take your marinaded chicken and coat each piece with the coating and place on your rack over cookie sheet (or countertop).

Once all your chicken is coated, start frying! How many pieces you can fry at a time depends on how wide your pot is in diameter and how large your chicken pieces are. I have a fairly wide diameter pot and smaller chicken pieces so I put in 6-9 pieces without the oil dropping below 300 degrees. Let the pieces fry about 3-4 minutes. Place on your rack with paper towels to cool.

Once you’ve fried up all your chicken pieces, let the oil reheat to 375 degrees. Refry all your pieces for about 1 minute, until golden brown and extra crispy (don’t try for crispiness until they’ve cooled a touch).

Serve with cucumber or lettuce and rice. If you’d prefer, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over chicken pieces (I don’t find the need).

Enjoy!

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Life Metaphors in Doing Yardwork

I just spent about 30 minutes pulling weeds from the backyard this morning. Here are some insights I came across while doing that in the silence of the day:

  1. Having good tools makes the job so much easier.
  2. Weeds in your yard actually means that things can grow there so once you’ve pulled the weeds, plant something in its place that gives you joy!
  3. If another life form is really benefitting from that plant at that moment, you can get to it later. (There were bees pulling pollen from flowers attached to weeds.)
  4. Even with good tools, it takes time to get all the weeds from your yard. Be patient.
  5. Sometimes you think you’re centered in on the root of the weed but you’ve actually a few inches off. Go back and get that root once you can see it better.
  6. Sometimes you think there’s just one plant but it turns out, there are 2 or 3.
  7. The nastier weeds hide inside a patch of smaller weeds.
  8. The weeds that are also vines can’t be left for later if you can’t find the root. Start cutting the vines down in search of the roots.
  9. Once you pull a weed, you can put it in a discard pile to throw out when you’re done. You can also have more than one discard pile.
  10. Sometimes, weeds can just go into a compost so they can nourish the yard later.

Some of these are just gardening facts but many, I saw life metaphors in as I worked. Okay, back to my Spring Break reset!

Love you, mean it!
~C

Quick Chicken Tortilla Soup

I haven’t been feeling good lately, it’s taken 2 weeks to get over this cold! Today, I wanted some chicken tortilla soup from Grins but I wasn’t about to drive to San Marcos for some. This is my attempt to make something equivalent and I think it works! Let me know your thoughts if you give this recipe a try.

Chicken Tortilla Soup, Grins Style

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 48 oz chicken broth
  • 12.5 oz canned chicken (or shredded rotisserie chicken)
  • 28 oz canned tomatoes and diced green chilies
  • 15.5 oz canned golden hominy
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 TBS taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • tortilla chip strips
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • sliced avocado

Bring chicken broth and chicken to boil, stir.

Add in canned tomatoes and diced green chilies, stir.

Add in all spices and seasonings, stir.

Add golden hominy, stir.

When thoroughly heated and combined (about 30 minutes), serve with tortilla strips, shredded mozzarella cheese, and avocados. Enjoy!

 

Erin’s Chicken Caldo

About 2 years ago, I ask the hive minds on Facebook what I should make for dinner. I got a ton of responses but I had to make meals for the week for not only me but also my parents, who don’t eat beef or pork. My friend Erin suggested making caldo or Mexican soup. My parents and I enjoyed it a lot so I decided to make it again today. I made enough to feed an army so I’ll probably freeze a bunch of it for the next time I need soup!

Erin's Chicken Caldo

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • Olive Oil
  • Medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Any cut of chicken (I use thighs)
  • Carrots
  • Small head of cabbage
  • Yellow squash & Zucchini
  • Chicken broth
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Canned Kernel Corn
  • Rotel
  • Package of yellow rice with saffron

With the exception of the garlic (which is also a flexible amount), all the amounts of  ingredients are dependent on how large your stew pot is.

Start by chopping everything into bite sized pieces in order listed above. Try to make each vegetable piece even in size.

I started by sautéing 1 medium onion in olive oil with a bit of salt. 

Then, I cut up the chicken thighs into 1″ pieces and minced the garlic. You can see the garlic at the top right of the cutting board. This is a family pack of chicken thighs. The chicken went into the pot to start browning. Then, I cut up the carrots into bite-sized pieces. I also cut the head of cabbage into fairly small pieces but nothing like the other veggies, since the leaves would separate.

I added the carrots and cabbage to the chicken to let them sweat a bit. I also added a bit more salt here. Try to add in small amounts of salt in layers. 

I also added about 2 tablespoons of garlic powder to the pot.

Next, the chicken broth went into the pot. I probably added too much for this pot size with all the ingredients. I had to let a bunch boil off when it was all said and done.

I chopped up 2 yellow squash and 2 zucchini into sauté-sized slices and into the pot it went. 

Once it cooked a bit, I added a can of Rotes and a can of whole kernel corn. 

 

Here’s the final bowl of soup with a spoonful of the yellow rice cooked to package instructions.

If you want to be really authentic, add a squeeze of lime and a slice of avocado on top.

Enjoy!

That’s a Tasty Meatball!

The internet is full of interesting looking recipes these days. Some are easy, some are difficult. Some seem easy but are really difficult. This one that I found through FB was quite simple. Of course, there were a few tweaks I made to the recipe. Here you go, pictures of the process and all!

Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 lb ground beef (lower the fat, the better)
  • 2 TBS. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. Pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 or 3 mozzarella cheese sticks
  • 8 oz. mozarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. You’ll need a pan you can put into the oven at this temperature.

Combine the sausage and beef.

Add the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and parmesan cheese to the meat mixture and mix well.

 

Slice mozzarella sticks into 1/2″ pieces.

 

Oil your pan. Take a small handful of the meat mixture, pat flat in your hand and place a mozzarella stick piece in the middle. Create your meatball, push around a bit in the oil to make sure it won’t stick.

 

Once you’ve filled your pan, place in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until your meatballs are browned. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for another 5 or so minutes, until your cheese is bubbling.

 

Enjoy!

3 Nights in Hamamatsu, Part 1

Once we arrived in Hamamatsu, we got our suitcases, checked into our hotel and wandered the area of the hotel a bit. We were told that karaage (fried chicken), gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and unagi (eel) were specialities of the area so we set out for some gyoza. The front desk suggested we visit a restaurant near the train stop we came into so we headed that way. We learned that larger cities in Japan have a great series of underground passageways to help keep pedestrians safe from crossing busy intersections. In Hamamatsu, this was very useful. In Tokyo, it was still way too easy to get lost underground so we often stayed street level (that is an option still).

Menu picture:

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What we got:

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After we ate:

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It was really yummy! 4 people easily shared that plate of 25 or so gyoza.

Our hotel had a great view of the train station area, too. After I took this picture, I thought about taking one with all the lights in the room off but I really like the way it turned out and kept it as is.

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The next morning, we had a visit with the Deputy Mayor of Hamamatsu. It was a good will type meeting and Keith Bearden was very eloquent with his remarks on our behalf. I was reminded at how passionate he is about music education and was proud to be represented by him and his words. There was a nice gift exchange, accompanied by lots of bowing (of course) as well. This was apparently highly appreciated by the City of Hamamatsu as well because our meeting made the paper!

The Deputy Mayor:

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Keith Bearden speaking wonderfully on our behalf:

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The gift exchange:

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With the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Osada:

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The newspaper article:

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Hamamatsu is known for headquartering several musical instrument companies.  We had a great tour of the Yamaha factory. Unfortunately, they don’t allow any photos inside so I don’t have any to share. It was a great tour, though! The Hamamatsu Musical Instrument Museum is also there. It was so amazing, it will probably get its own post.

Suzuki Motor Co. has their headquarters there and Honda Motor Co. was founded in Hamamatsu. It would have been cool to go see one of those factories (especially since I talked so much about car manufacturers with my student Xavier) but our days were so full, it wouldn’t have been possible to squeeze in another tour somewhere. Maybe next time I’m in Japan without a pre-set schedule, I’ll make a point to go, probably to Honda.

After the City visit, we went to Kaisei Junior High for our first band visit. I’ll write a post on that visit soon. If you’d like to see all the pictures of this day, please view them in my Flickr account:

Hamamatsu, Japan
City of Hamamatsu visit

More adventures, band, band and more bands, to come!
~C

From Tokyo to Hamamatsu, via Dango-zaka, Oshino Hakkai and a view of Mount Fuji

From the Japan Air Self-Defense facilities, we were on the road again, first by motor coach then by Shinkansen or bullet train. Bullet trains have been used in Japan since the 1960s. We are WAY behind on this technology and ability to travel with speed.

We had lunch at Dango-zaka rest area and it was like a Buc-ees! They had food, souvenirs, lovely restrooms and gas. What else can you ask for? The dining there was a food court situation and as I looked through the picture menus (my reading of Japanese is minimal) but I found a picture of  zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles with a chilled broth) that struck a nostalgia nerve and I knew that was going to be my lunch. I was proud of my ability to order in Japanese and it be understood as well. This was only our first full day in Japan and I was very nervous about how rusty my Japanese speaking skills were.

Also, as I was waiting to put in my order, one of the folks on the trip was having communication issues on how to order his meal at the next restaurant over. They apparently order via a touch screen machine off to the side. You know how Americans tend to speak louder when there’s a language barrier? Apparently, it’s not just Americans! I was able to help translate what my fellow traveler was to do for this lovely couple (I can’t remember who it was, though) and they were able to order their meal. Proud moment there – my Japanese wasn’t as extremely rusty as I had thought!!

So, here’s my yummy lunch from the rest stop:

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The broth is at the bottom left and you dump as much of the green onions, radish and wasabi into it as you’d like, then dip the noodles in before eat

ing. You dip your tempura in that broth as well. It obviously wasn’t homemade but it was certainly yummy!

Once we were done with eating and shopping (the first of many shopping stops) and taking pictures, we headed back on the bus to head to Oshino Hakkai and have a great view of Mount Fuji. There are 8 ponds there that are all fed from the water than comes off Fuji Yama and that water is COLD! The scenery is absolutely spectacular, even when she (Mount Fuji is thought to be a woman with many moods) isn’t wanting to cooperate and has covered herself over with clouds. Or maybe she was not sure what she was in for wit

h the load of crazy Texas band directors coming her way!

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As we approached the area, we spotted a theme park with several large roller coasters. Six Flags over Mount Fuji anyone?

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Of course, there was more shopping, lots of food and great scenery. Our hosts, Ken & Yuriko Murakami and Tomomi Kubo were also delightful in taking photos with as many of us! Many went ahead with hand signs of their respective universities but I choose the typical Japanese peace sign. I have too many university hand signs to deal with!

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Once the shopping was done and pictures were taken, we were back on the road again to Mishima Station, where we’d take our first Shinkansen ride (bullet train)  to Hamamatsu. These bullet trains are SO fast! I got a video of one passing as we waited for ours. There is a chunk of it that is in slo-motion (I love the features of my iPhone!!) but understand that the train passed by in about 10 seconds. Crazy fast!! Often times, people commute via Shinkansen and on the way home, they need to eat dinner. So, you get a bento box and a beer and have a party on the train! Cliff and I had our own little bento box party. Here’s my bento box, complete with the actual wasabi root that you have to grind yourself. SO much more tasty!

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So that was our full first day in Japan. Next part of our journey are the several days we spent in Hamamatsu.

If you’d like to see all the pictures of this day, please view them in my Flickr account:

More adventures, food and shopping (always shopping) to come!
~C