June 28, 2011

another Belgian summer s day and bbq chicken

this morning, around 8.15 am, at work.

my colleague calls me to the window and points to the sky.

wow! so glad i had my camera with me. what an amazing cloud formation.

we d had a real humid and hot day yesterday, but today the forecast was grim, and it certainly looked like we were going to have a crasher of a summer s storm...

but no... by early afternoon, the sun had burned away the clouds, and the humidity had risen again, it felt tropical. in Belgium! i could almost imagine myself back in Japan, where summers are hot and humid, and airconditioning is really necessary if one doesn t want to melt (not good for climate change, i know, but still).

so by the time i was on my way home in the evening, the temperature had soared to 34°C! (i really had to take a picture of the thermometer in my car to prove this)

and even tho the weathermen were still adamant that a tropical storm, well, a lot of rain and thunder and lightning, was on its way, i was totally determined to have Sam light our new little bbq because i wanted chicken. just some marinated chicken with some salad and some bread, nothing more. not too much to ask, right?

so i bought some chicken thighs, all the while thinking what marinade i might use, and i had to think of one of my friends suggestion on FB : yuzu juice, garlic and olive oil.

as i d bought that 'yuzu tea' last weekend, i wanted to use that too. don t ask me why, it just seemed right.

MARINADE FOR CHICKEN (or fish or veal or pork...)

6 tablespoons of yuzu juice
1 tablespoon of yuzu tea
4 cloves of garlic, grated
1 thumbsize piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
a good pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper
2 tablespoons groundnut oil

mix together and rub into meat.
marinate for at least half an hour, if possible, longer.

throw onto the bbq and grill until caramelized.


as i mentioned, nothing more than a salad and some bread went with this.

Sam said it was the best darn bbq-ed chicken he had had in a long long time. (he would do, seeing as he was in charge of the grilling!)

but...YAY! (seeing as i made the marinade!)

and then...

it rained! it thundered, it lightninged (i know this isn t proper English, sorry, i like to make up words)! it was great!

ps. that friend i mentioned, she s Ms. Monday Michiru... and her songs make me happy too.

June 26, 2011

yuzu tea

yesterday we went for another little shopping spree in Chinatown. as ever, i always feel at home there. the scents, the shop windows, the people... all hodgepodge and one big soup of different cultures. i just love it.

and there s always something new to be discovered.

like this little pot.

now, what is it? it says: Citron Tea and underneath Yuja Tea. now 'yuja' sounds Korean to me, and the ingredients list mentions Korean citron, honey and fructose...
but on the side it also says 'yuzu cha' written in Japanese, besides té citrico in Spanish, and Лимонный Чай (limoni chai) in Russian (fun, isn t it?)

but then i opened it:

hmmm, looks like marmelade to me.

but the scent, that perfume! yuzu, yuzu, yuzu! my favorite citrus fruit. just a little of this fruit goes a long way. a little sliver of its peel in a chawan mushi (a Japanese egg custard like soup) just lifts the flavor like nothing else will.

i use yuzu juice in a martini, and i know someone who marinates chicken in it along with some garlic and olive oil (still have to try that, but it sounds scrumptious especially for a bbq).

anyways, i digress. so this pot of yuzu scented honey thing which looks more like something to spread on buttered toast, is tea?

ok, so i poured some boiling water on it, and well, it s a better version of just plain lemon and honey. but the instructions say mix 20 gr (about 2-3 teaspoons) in hot water. how much water? no idea! so it was too sweet the first time, but i found a balance and i think that s the key; add as little or as much as your sweet tooth allows.

so i found that just adding 2 heaped teaspoons in a teapot of about 400ml hot water, along with a few slivers of fresh ginger makes for a refreshing 'tea'.

sipping this now while my oven is working overtime. i m baking some 'krazy kake' cupcakes for my best friends son s birthday. the little devil didn t want anything else but... hehehe

will have to go back to Chinatown soon, all those little treasures still to be discovered!

oh, and i did try a little bit of the yuzu honey on toast, but that was really too sweet. just so you know ;-)

June 21, 2011

'what s in the fridge?' salads


i often read about sunday roasts, the whole shebang, and relaxed lunches stretching well into lazy afternoons.

but at our house, because the weeks are often so hectic, sundays are more about doing, well, not too much, and often, it s about using up leftovers from the previous week when dinnertime comes around.

often, it will be pasta, maybe a carbonara, or garlic, chilli and tomato, nothing too complicated.

last sunday, we had had a little too much of the carbs, and were craving veggies but we weren t quite sure of what we had left in the fridge:

hmm, two half pots of pickled herring filets, some gherkins, capers...
oh, and i had some new potatoes, bell peppers, radishes...

how about a potato and herring salad with radishes then? and a grilled bell pepper with mozarella salad?

Sam made our usual homemade mayonnaise, and the dishes made for a great closure to an 'early-summer-clean'. (i know; YIKES! or should that be; YAY!)



4 filets of pickled herring filets, cut into 2 cm pieces
a bunch of radishes, finely sliced
4 or 5 medium sized potatoes, cooked, cooled and sliced
capers, to taste
gherkins, to taste, chopped
mayonnaise, to taste
pepper and salt
any kind of soft herbs like chervil, chives, mint, dill, pimpernel etc. to taste


combine all ingredients, adjust seasoning and serve with crusty bread and a chilled rosé wine. ;-)

the bell pepper salad is pretty easy to make: just grill the peppers until the skins are blackened, leave to cool a bit, and remove the skin but don t wash the peppers so as not to lose the smoky flavor. then cut into strips and combine with slices or chunks of bufala (yes... it s a she!) mozzarella, olive oil, sherry vinegar and some salt and pepper. add some chopped thyme and basil if you like.

well, dessert was just some strawberries in cranberry/pomegranate syrup with lemony ricotta.


(and my leftovers are used up to boot! our contribution to being more conscious about what we buy... and eat...)

June 17, 2011

simple Wa-fu style oven-grilled salmon with chives

Wa-fu, Japanese Style. it fascinates me because i love Japanese food but i was never taught how to cook it correctly. sure, i lived in Japan and was brought up, as i ve mentioned in earlier posts, by my grandparents. however, our house was so tiny, and the kitchen barely big enough to hold one person (me having inherited my Belgian ancestors genes - me... big, meant that it was nigh on impossible to share cooking duties with my grandmother). well, you might think that an excuse, but cooking did always fascinate me, and i was always trying to make something up and thinking up new combinations for a simple cookie recipe.

i m guessing that i was also more into western style cookery due to the fact that i did go to an international school and home economics was often about making western style recipes with the odd exception of perhaps something Chinese.

it wasn t for lack of interest but i only came to realize how simple and yet complex Japanese cooking can be these past 15 years or so. it was so easy to just visit my aunt, who s an amazing cook, and eat her food instead of making it myself. and preparing the food, following the seasons, making use of those familiar and, at the same time, strange ingredients was, to be honest, a lot of bother.

i should ve known better. i should ve learnt.

so i try out recipes now. i know what things should taste and look like, which is an advantage, it s just about getting to grips with techniques.

however, there is one recipe that always, always works. because it s simple and only uses 3 ingredients: salmon, soy-sauce, and chives. lots and lots of chives.



1 salmon-steak per person
soy-sauce (i used the all-round Kikkoman brand)
1 small handful of chives per person, finely chopped


1. pre-heat the oven to maximum (+/- 250°C)
2. line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and put in the oven to heat up
2. marinate the salmon steak(s) in the soy-sauce for between 1-2 hours.
3. place the steaks on the baking sheet and place in the highest section of the oven to cook for about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the steaks
4. naturally, if you have an overhead grill/salamander, this will work well too
5. serve with the chopped chives, with some plainly cooked rice and a simple sweet-pickled cucumber salad on the side.

for the cucumber salad: finely slice a cucumber, sprinkle on some salt and leave to remove excess liquid for about half an hour. drain the liquid from the cucumber and mix with 2 tablespoons of rice-vinegar, 1 tablespoon of mirin (Japanese sweet cooking sake), 1 tablespoon of lightly ground roasted sesame-seeds, 1 teaspoon of shoyu and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil.

incredibly simple yet amazingly flavorful...

i cannot escape the fact that i will have to learn more now. about Japanese cooking i mean. yes, and someday real Thai cooking, and real Chinese cooking... oh, don t remind me, i know i m repeating myself. thank heavens for all those fellow international food bloggers!