Arros de Favas – Fava Bean Rice and Douro, Portugal

” he tried the chicken soup, which smelled divine. He tasted it and with surprised shining eyes looked up at me, … ‘It’s good!’ It was delicious, made from chicken liver and giblets; … on the table a dish overflowing with rice and broad beans. … He took another larger forkful. … Then he cried: ‘Excellent! … What a bean! So delicious!’ … Faced by the golden chicken roasted on the spit and by the lettuce … drizzled with a little mountain olive oil…, he finally roared: ‘It’s utterly divine!’ ”

 José Maria de Eça de Queirós, The City and the Mountains

When I travel, I often read books and/or watch films of which stories are set in the destination in order to prepare for the trip and to boost my mood for the upcoming adventure. As for the Portugal trip in 2018, I had rewatched Night Train to Lisbon, and read The Sin of Father Amaro and  The City and the Mountains by Eça de Queirós.

view down to the River Douro from “Casa de Tormes”

After three days in Porto, I got off a train at Ermida by the River Douro, en route to Peso da Régua, and took a taxi up to Fundação Eça De Queiroz. The foundation opens the estate, which inspired Eça de Queirósas to write The City and the Mountains, to the public as a museum.

Actually, Eça de Queiroz didn’t live in the estate, Quinta de Vila Nova, i.e. Quinta de Tormes in the novel. The exhibits in Casa de Tormes, such as the library with full of books, writing desk etc. which had belonged to Eça de Queiroz, were shipped from his last resident in Paris after his death.

source: Fundação Eça De Queiroz

There is a restaurant in the premises, which is a must if you visit the museum.  Restaurante de Tormes serves ‘the first meal’ Eça de Queirósas or Jacinto, the main character of the novel, had when he arrived at the estate for the first time.

Of course, I ordered ‘the first meal’ menu – how could I have not? 🙂
It was a wonderful surprise that broa de milho was accompanied. Broa de milho, which I had sought in vain in Porto, is typical bread from northern Portugal made with cornmeal, wheat and/or rye flour.

broa de milho
chicken soup

The arros de favas was literally excellent and delicious!

arroz de favas com frango alourado (and vinho verde)

Having another appointment, I called the taxi back; then, a 10-minute drive took me to a small boutique winery.

Quinta de Covela

One of the significant elements that make Quinta de Covela wines unique is its terroir: It is located in the southern edge of the Vinho Verde wine region, just close to the beginning of the Douro wine region, Baixo Corgo. The ‘Douro Verde’, as they call it, region has mix of continental climate and maritime influence; cold in winter, hot and dry in summer, and unlike in the typical Vinho Verde DOC, much less rainy.

The wine which impressed and attracted me most was their Avesso. Avesso is a white Portuguese native wine grape variety primarily planted in Minho, northern Portugal; however, you would not say it Vinho Verde when you sip their COVELA Edição Nacional Avesso.

Tasting Notes:
Colour: Silver with hints of straw.
Nose: Intense, yet delicate and complex. Citric fruit (grapefruit), floral,
herbal, tree fruit and dried fruit (sweet almonds). Marked minerality and elegance.
Palate: Dry, fresh acidity, excellent mouthfeel, elegant and long finish
that makes the mouth water. (Source: Qinta de Covela)

Tasting Notes:
Bright, citric color. Intensely fresh with subtle mineral character. Notes of zesty, citric fruits and meadow flowers. Dry and elegant. Nicely-balanced acidity and fruity, yet with a strength typical of the sun-soaked “Douro Verde” region. (source: Portugal Vineyards)

the arros de favas recipe isn’t from the book

Ingredients

(for 2 servings)

600 g water
¾ tsp fine sea salt
170 g fava bean, without pods

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp garlic, minced
50 g onion, finely chopped
150 g risotto rice (I used Carnaroli.)
2 tbsp dry white wine
90 g chouriço* or salami, sliced
salt and pepper

(optional)
fresh coriander or Italian parsley to garnish

NOTE: * not Spanish chorizo but chouriço with less paprika and spice

Quinta de Covela also produces wine for Quinta de Tormes

 Method

  1. Bring a pot of the water to the boil. Add the salt and put in the fava beans and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Take the beans out of the water (retain the liquid to cook the rice) and immediately put into cold water to stop them cooking. Drain and peel the beans. Set aside.
  2. In a pan, place the olive oil with the garlic and slowly heat on medium low. Put in the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and stir constantly until the oil gets onto every grain, but don’t let the rice turn brown. Add the wine and stir until absorbed.
  3. Pour in the 200 cc fava bean water, put in the chouriço/salami, and bring it to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer stirring occasionally. When the rice appears almost dry, add 100 cc of the liquid and repeat the process until the stock gets thick and creamy, and the grains become tender, with a little bite but no chalkiness. If the stock is running very low, add extra water.
  4. Stir in the beans and mix well. Taste the rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute to heat through.
  5. Garnish with the coriander or Italian parsley.

 

Kurumi Inari – Walnut Inarizushi / Inari Sushi

my aprons purchased on Etsy

Yes, I keep calm and carry on baking 🙂

my baking: Florantan

 

Today, however, I am posing an Inarizushi recipe  – one of my favourite rice dishes.

Inarizushi is seasoned rice wrapped in abura-age (thin deep-fried tofu) pouch simmered in sweet soy sauce. ‘The rice filling can be as it is, or mixed with other ingredients such as sesame, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and others. Although Isarizushi is a type of sushi, you will probably not find it at high-class sushi restaurants. It is normally sold at small local stores or specialized take-out stores. One of the charms of inari-zushi is that it can be easily eaten with one hand.’ (source: MATCHA)

The rice filling normally comes with some ingredients, but this one is very simple – just walnuts!

 

 

 Ingredients

(for 12 inarizushi)

[for dashi stock]
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu (dried kelp)
10 g katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
500 ml water

300 g Japanese short grain rice (or 2 rice cooker cups – 1 cup = 180 ml )
340 ml water, ideally soft water
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu 

12 square abura-age (or 6 rectangle, cut into half to make 12 )

4 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp usukuchi shoyu (Japanese light soy sauce)

60 ml rice vinegar
2  tbsp caster sugar
¼ tsp sea salt

60 g walnut (less bitter ones preferable. I used Howard variety), lightly roasted

optional: mitsuba, boiled (to garnish)

 

 

Method

  1. Soak the dashi kombu in the water for overnight.
  2. Put the rice in a large bowl with some water and wash gently in a circular motion for about 10 seconds, then discard the water. Repeat 3-4 times and drain with a sieve or strainer. Soak the rice in the 340 ml water for 60 min (30 min in summer). Then cook in rice cooker with another dried kelp. If you don’t have a cooker, click here and follow 6 in Method.
  3. Meanwhile, roll the abura-age with a rolling pin to flatten and to make them open easily. Cut one side of each and open carefully to make a pouch (no need for rectangle ones). Put the abura-age in boiling water for a minute and drain well and pat dry.
  4. To make dashi stock, put the kombu and water (Method 1) along with the katsuobushi in a pot and slowly bring just below boiling point. Turn off the heat and remove kombu, but leave katsuobushi for 5 minutes and strain.
  5. In a large pot, pour in the dashi stock, 4 tbsp sugar and soy sauce, and bring to the boil. Put in the abura-age and place a drop lid or cover with foil on top of the liquid and abura-age. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes or until the liquid has almost gone (but not all), and gets absorbed into the abura-age. Let them cool in the liquid.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl while hot and slowly pour the mixed vinegar evenly onto the rice by dripping it onto a spatula. Quickly mix using a cut and fold motion. Scatter in the walnuts and fold the rice over from the bottom 3 to 4 times.
  7. Squeeze (but not to much) the abura-age but reserve the liquid. Moisten hands with the liquid and make 12 small cylindrical rice balls so as to fit in the abura-age pouch. Open the pouch and stuff the rice ball in.

    cylindrical rice balls

If you are not sure how to make, watch the below as a reference:

 

For white ones, turn abura-age pouch inside out

 

This post made me hungry – almost midnight though!! 

 

Wagashi of the Month: June 2019

 

I attended a wagashi workshop the other day, and made three pieces of wagashi: two nerikiri and one kinton. Now we are in the midst of rainy season where hydrangeas bloom beautifully and delight the eye. Here in Japan, Ajisai, or hydrangea, is considered to be a symbolic flower of June and the rainy season, so the three wagashi were hydrangea-themed.

 

 

Mine didn’t look sophisticated like the below – Wagashi of the Month: June – but tasted rather good!

 

Ajisai Kinton made of mashed beans

 

I had always wanted to try to make wagashi, and one of my blogger friends, Mutsumi-san’s posts on Sakura Junction) encouraged me. Hoping to join her workshop in London someday….

 

Sakura – cherry blossom theamed nerikiri (source: Sakura Junction)

 

Today, attended a Shinto summer purification ritual, which I mentioned on Kyoto Trip 2014

 

 

and after that, enjoyed minazuki.

 

Kyoto Trip 2014 – Day 2

Itinerary – 2nd day (30th June 2014):

Central Kyoto – Shugakuin Imperial Villa – Kamigamo Shrine – Tenyu – Kamesuehiro – JR Kyoto Station – Tokyo

Unlike the rainy first day in Kyoto, the following day was bright and clear. Lucky enough to have such a lovely day as I was suppose to visit Shugakuin Imperial Villa with breathtaking beauty and great masterpieces of Japanese gardening.

The Shugakuin Imerial Villa (Shugakuin Rikyu), built in the mid 17th century for retired Emperor Gomizuno, is a set of gardens and outbuildings (mostly tea-houses) in the hills of the eastern suburbs of Kyoto. It consists of the Upper, Middle and Lower Villa areas, each featuring gardens and buildings of the traditional imperial style.

 

Fusuma sliding doors of Jugetsu-kan, the Lower Villa building where Gomizuno would rest before going on to the Upper Villa.
Cedar wood sliding doors depicting the Gion Festival, Kyoto’s most well known festival in July (Middle Villa)
Regarded as one of the ‘three most treasured shelves’ in Japan (Middle Villa)
on the way to the Upper Villa
Upper Villa

shugakuin 3

shugakuin 2

The Shugakuin Imperial Villa is only accessible through guided tours, which require advanced booking because it is one of the Imperial properties and under supervision of the Imperial Household Agency (Click for the application).

For more information:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3936.html
http://www.japanvisitor.com/japanese-culture/shugakuin-villa

Kamigamo Jinja (Shito shrine)

After Shugakuin Rikyu, caught a taxi and hurried to Kamigamo Shrine (Kamigamo Jinja), one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for Nagoshi no Harae, an ancient Japanese summer purification rite which many shrines conduct on the 30th of June. In this religious ceremony, of which origin goes back to the Nara period (AD 710 -794), people atone for their sins in the first half of the year and then pray for their health for the remainder of the year by walking through a tall chinowa wreath (a large sacred ring made of loosely twisted miscanthus reeds called chigaya).

Shinto priests

Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach the shrine in time for the rite – well, I knew I couldn’t make it after the Shugakuin Rikyu guided tour, but anyway, I followed the worshipers: walked through the chinowa wreath three times  in a 8 shaped like form (1. counterclockwise, 2. clockwise and then 3. counterclockwise) praying ‘Purification Prayer’ to purify myself from misdeeds (tsumi), impurities (kegare), and misfortune, and wished for good health for my family and for myself.

Chinowa

Below are Nagoshi no Harae – Summer Purification – rituals:

evening ritual

The 30th of June is the day of Oharae or Oharai (Grand Purification), purifying sins and bad lucks not only for an individual but also for the public and the country. This Shinto ritual is held twice a year: on the 30th of June and the 30th of December (Toshikoshi no Harae). On the day of Oharae in June, people in Kyoto eat Minazuki (as for Minazuki, read my Wagashi of the Month).

Minazuki

It is said that the triangular shape and Azuki bean, especially its red colour, guard people against evil spirits and protect against misfortune and illness. Minazuki is also believed to expel any negative actions of the first half of the year like the ritual. That is the reason why they eat Minazuki at the halfway mark in the year, praying for a good second half.

Nowadays, you can buy the confectionery anywhere in Japan, but I wanted to try authentic one, so I tried Kamesuehiro (est. 1804),  one of the most famous traditional confectioneries in Kyoto. Unlike others (very exclusive! – ‘Ichigen-san, okotowari’ which means ‘New customer/first-time customer/chance customer, no admittance’ is common among long established restaurants, tea-houses, confectioneries etc. in Kyoto), Kamesuehiro is exceptionally customer-friendly. I recommend, however, you should make an appointment and place an order in advance as people do with other long established confectioneries, esp. when you purchase a seasonal speciality like Minazuki.

Minazuki
Minazuki from Kamesuehiro

Also bought a small box of Kyo no Yosuga with higashi (dried sweets) and hannamagashi (half-raw sweets). Kyo no Yosuga is ideal for gifts (Click for more info).

Kyo no Yosuga: the sweets represent seasonal feature of Minazuki, or June: e.g. blue one with a green leaf — hydrangea; pink (dianthus) etc.

Hang on, what about lunch? The foodie is highly organised when it comes to food 😀
I had already ordered a bento lunch box to takeaway as well as Minazuki. I can’t afford to stay and dine at Tawaraya Ryokan, one of the best ryokan inns in Kyoto, but I can afford a box from the tempra restaurant Tawaraya runs! So I made a phone call to Tenyu (Reviews on Tripadvisor and photos of their dishes and obento boxes).  Tenyu offers a bento box of the month as the photo shows below: for June, Ayu Gohan bento box – fishing season of ayu, or sweetfish starts in June and the fish is one of the most popular ingredients of Kyo Ryori, or Kyoto Cuisine.

 

Fully enjoyed Minazuki, June in archaic word, in Kyoto, and the bento on a Shinkansen bullet train back to Tokyo :-9

 

 

 

 

Wagashi of the Month: June

 

Now we are in the midst of rainy season (that’s why the photos need more light!) – hydrangeas bloom beautifully and delight the eye. Ajisai, or hydrangea, is considered to be a symbolic flower of June and the rainy season here in Japan, so I chose Ajisai shaped confections for this month.

 

Ajisai Kinton made of mashed beans

 

Rokugatsu, June in Japanese and literally means ’the sixth month’, has another name in archaic word: Minazuki. There is a confection called Minazuki and sold during this time of year.

 

hydrangea petal shaped sugar candies

 

Minazuki is a layer of white Uirou, steamed rice jelly made from rice flour, with Azuki red beans on top. The white triangle shaped Uirou represents a piece of ice, and the beans, crushed ice.

 

Minazuki
Minazuki

 

Minazuki is originally from Kyoto. In ancient times, only the nobles in the Imperial Court could afford ice in summer: on the 1st of June by the old calendar, they enjoyed pieces of triangle shaped ice brought down from icehouses, where ice was stored from winter to summer, in the mountains of Kitayama, Kyoto. The commoners in Kyoto, on the other hand, ate Minazuki as substitute for the cold solid. 

 

 

In Kyoto, there is a custom to eat Minazuki on the 30th of June, which shall be mentioned later this month.

 

 

 

Onigiri – Rice Balls

My lunch today: Onigiri (Mame-gohan and Takenoko-gohan), Tamagoyaki and Tsukemono & Umeboshi

Rice balls (green peas rice and bamboo shoot rice), rolled omelette w/ Nori seaweed and preserved vegetables (cucumber and aubergine) & pickled plum

 

Onigiri on bamboo sheath, once used to wrap onigiri

 

 

 

Wagashi of the Month: April

Oops, May is almost there…. I was going to post this while cherry blossoms were in bloom but missed the right timing, so this is a bit out of season….

 

sakura

 

Sakuramochi is a wagashi confectionery consisting of sweet pink-coloured rice cake with a red bean paste (anko) centre, and wrapped in a salted cherry blossom (sakura) leaf. Different regions of Japan have different styles of sakuramochi. Kanto-style uses shiratama-ko ( rice flour) to make the rice cake while Kansai-style uses domyoji-ko (glutinous rice flour). The former is called Chomyoji-mochi, and the latter is Domyoji-mochi.                 (Wikipedia)

 

chomyoji mochi
Chomyoji Sakuramochi

 

domyoji mochi
Domyoji Sakuramochi

 

sakura

 

 

sakuramochi assortment

 

Kaki Meshi – Oyster Rice

Before the oyster season ends, I made Kaki Meshi, oyster rice – kaki is not the fruit (柿)but oyster(牡蠣)in this case/dish! Winter is oyster season here, and people say, ‘Do not eat oysters after cherry blossom (beginning of April)’ to avoid food poisoning.

I’m fond of Takikomi Gohan, a Japanese rice dish seasoned with dashi, or cooking stock, and soy sauce along with vegetables, fish etc., so I was going to post a recipe of Kuri Gohan, chestnut rice in the autumn, but alas, missed the season…. Phew, I barely made it this time!!

 

kaki meshi

 

 Ingredients

(for 3-4 servings)

[for dashi stock]
5 cm x 5 cm dashi kombu (dried kelp)
400 ml water (ideally soft water)

300 g Japanese short grain rice
(to soak: at least 400 ml water, ideally soft water)

200 g oysters, shucked
(to wash: 3 tbsp cornstarch, saltwater — 1 liter water + 1 tbsp salt)

2 tbsp + ½ tsp usukuchi soy sauce
2  tbsp sake
½ tsp mirin
a pinch of salt

handful mitsuba, 3 tbsp chopped stems, leaves to garnish
(If not available, sprinkle with 1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion)

 

kaki meshi
Kaki-meshi, Miso Soup (with Daikon/Japanese radish) & Horenso no Ohitashi (boiled spinach salad)

 

Method

  1. Soak the dashi kombu in the water for overnight.
  2. Put the rice in a large bowl with some water and wash gently in a circular motion for about 10 seconds, then discard the water. Repeat 3-4 times and drain with a sieve or strainer. Soak the rice in the 400 ml water for 60 min (30 min in summer).
  3. To wash the oysters, dissolve the salt in the water and set aside. Put the oyster in a bowl and add the cornstarch with some saltwater, then wash gently. Rinse well with the rest of saltwater. Dry with kitchen paper.
  4. Pour the dashi stock along with kombu in a pan and spoon in soy sauce, sake, mirin and salt. Set the pan on medium heat and remove the kombu just before it starts boiling.
  5. Add the oysters in the stock and simmer over lower heat for 2 min. Remove from the heat and take out the oyster to set aside. Cool the stock down.
  6. Drain the rice well with a sieve or strainer. Put the rice in a heavy-bottom pot and pour in the dashi stock and juice/stock from the oysters (do not squeeze!) , and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Once water is boiling (judge from the noise and do not open the lid), cook for 2 min, then slightly reduce the heat and cook for another 3 min. Turn the heat to low and cook for 5 min. Uncover and check if the water is completely absorbed (take a quick peek). If not, cover again and continue cooking until absorbed (check every 1 min and do not overcook!). Turn off the heat and let it steam with the lid on for 5 min. Add the oysters and chopped mitsuba in and leave it covered for another 5 min. Fluff the rice with a rice paddle when it’s done.
  7. Ladle the rice with oysters into bowls and garnish with mitsuba leaves.

I made it subtle and light taste as I’m from western Japan (If interested, read the article on East vs. West in Japan). If you prefer it richer, taste the dashi stock (Method 4) add another ½ tsp usukuchi soy sauce and ½ tsp mirin as necessary.

 

 

kaki meshi

 

Preparing for the New Year – Mochitsuki/Rice Cake Pounding

Traditionally, mochi was made from whole rice, in a labor-intensive process. The traditional mochi-pounding ceremony in Japan is Mochitsuki:

  1. Polished glutinous rice is soaked overnight and cooked.
  2. The cooked rice is pounded with wooden mallets (kine) in a traditional mortar (usu). Two people will alternate the work, one pounding and the other turning and wetting the mochi. They must keep a steady rhythm or they may accidentally injure one another with the heavy kine.
  3. The sticky mass is then formed into various shapes (usually a sphere or cube).