Ueno Market

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Japanese Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and other grilled treats

Hopping off the JR train line at Ueno Station is recommended for any visitor to Tokyo, Japan. Ueno offers a concentration of world class museums and ancient Buddhist temples, many of which are accessible along the walking paths of beautiful Ueno Park. Today we explored an open air market in Ueno Park, and we were not disappointed!

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Japanese kindergarteners, looking spiffy in their school uniforms, were visiting Ueno Park on a field trip. So adorable! So well behaved! They melted my heart with their shy smiles.

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Aren’t these grilled fish interesting? At 600 yen (approximately $5.30) they were a fair price, especially considering that Ueno Park hosts many tourists.

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Non-food wares were expensive, but still fun to peruse. Aren’t these bonsai trees beautiful?

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Dango, a traditional sweet treat made from crushed rice, was delicious. At only 100 yen (approximately $0.89) for five bites, this was a very economical snack. It reminds me a bit of the Korean Garaetteok we made here at Crowded Earth Kitchen a while ago, with the addition of a delicious soy-based glaze.

Next time, we’ll feature photos from the fantastic Tokyo National Museum, also located in Ueno. Our world is small… have big fun!

 

 

Sushi Tokyo Ten

(Shown above: Shrimp with Salmon Roe, Akami and Toro Tunas, and Rock Lobster) 

Just outside of the busiest train station in the world sits Sushi Tokyo Ten. Simply entering the restaurant is a sensory experience, as a single step over the curtained threshold removes a diner from the chaos of Shinjuku Station and offers a calm and quiet, warmly lit enclave.

Sushi Tokyo Ten is a culinary adventure, perhaps especially for folks who think they know sushi. The reigning principle here is omakase, which translates as “I will leave it to you.” Over the course of two hours, skilled chefs prepare 20 different small plates for each dinner guest. Each plate is prettier than the last! At the end of the experience, diners leave sated and relaxed.

If you find yourself in Tokyo, I recommend spending an evening at Sushi Tokyo Ten.

Cookbook Freebie Contest

Crowded Earth Kitchen Loves Freebies!

cookbook-cover-imageThe Global Recipe Project Cookbook

Contest Ends November 30th – THREE winners will be drawn!

Three ways to enter:
1) Reblog this post!
2) Tweet a link to this post, and include @CrowdedEarthKit
3) Share elsewhere and post a link in the comments
———
Available on Amazon, 100% of the profits from The Global Recipe Project Cookbook will benefit not-for-profit organizations which feed people as a central part of their mission. Cooks and food bloggers from around the world have contributed to this amazing book. Over 170 recipes from 65 countries are included. Pick up a copy today, and support a worthy cause!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACheck out a few sample recipes from this cookbook:
Belgian Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Chadian Chicken and Okra
Dutch Windmill Cookies
French Soupe à l’oignon
German Beef Rouladen
Swiss Fondue
8″ x 10″ (20.32 x 25.4 cm) 
Black & White Bleed on Cream paper
136 pages
CEK Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0998191607
ISBN-10: 0998191604
BISAC: Cooking / Regional & Ethnic / General

Tokyo Train Station Bears

1029180200Hello again, fellow foodies and travelers. We’ve been busy exploring Korea and Japan! Throughout our most recent travels, we’ve logged many hours on trains. This means we’ve also logged many hours in train stations, which can be pretty cool places to explore! One evening, we channeled our inner five year-old and enjoyed a snack of these delightful, chocolate filled bears.

1029180203A bit like bite-sized, filled pancakes, these little bears are also available in caramel and custard flavors. A 14-count bag of these charming treats cost 580 Yen, or approximately $5.15. If the long line at the counter was any indication, we weren’t the only train travelers enchanted with these roly poly little pandas.

1029180202Stay tuned for more fun from Japan and Korea over the next few weeks here at Crowded Earth Kitchen.

 

Snacking Tokyo-Style: Plum Onigiri

riceAre you looking for an easy way to jazz up your weekday lunch?

All over Tokyo, food courts and convenience stores sell triangles of sticky rice filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies. Called onigiri, these snacks fit easily in the palm of your hand, are quite filling, and are very affordable – many cost the equivalent of $1 or less. Our whole family enjoyed sampling onigiri filled with pickles, plums, smoked salmon, and even hard boiled eggs. Our favorite were the plum-filled snacks, which we are creating today.

rice mold

Onigiri mold

You can Continue reading

Best Lobster Roll in Salem!

dotty-ray-s-lunchFirst things first. A few hours after arriving in Salem, we ventured into a cute little restaurant right off of the touristy Essex Street pedestrian mall. We were able to escape the bright sun while still enjoying the open air, grabbed a quick bite to eat (grilled cheese with fries) and listened to some really excellent live music.

However…

If we weren’t jet lagged, we might have realized before we asked for a table that restaurants in touristy areas also have touristy prices! We passed on the $25 lobster roll. Seriously – who charges $25 for a lobster roll when you can practically see the ocean from the restaurant kitchen? I digress.

Time to contact my good friends GOOGLE and UBER!

A quick web search for the best local lobster roll and where do Salem locals eat pointed us squarely in one direction – Dotty and Ray’s Restaurant. Located about a mile from The Hawthorne Hotel, Dotty and Ray’s is across the river from the touristy town center in residential Salem, where locals live and eat. Google says it’s a 16 minute walk. Uber says it’s a $4 ride. Take your pick, but GO!

For $12.95 you’ll get a lobster roll that’s so generously portioned and delicious, I dare you not to go back the very next day for more (we did!). Look! Look and imagine how delicious this is!
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Casual, delicious, regional home cooking with great service and very reasonable prices -what more does a hungry tourist need? It was fun to watch the staff visiting with other diners in a familiar way; Dotty and Ray’s is clearly the place to catch up on local news over lunch. Even as outsiders, we were welcomed and enjoyed a bit of conversation with our server. It felt a bit clandestine to be the only tourists in a beloved local establishment, as if we’d discovered something too magical to share.

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Scallop Roll

(Magical… Salem… see what I did there?)

Their scallop roll was amazingly sweet and also generously portioned. We substituted the fries for mashed potatoes, which were buttery and wonderful. If you’re in the Salem area, don’t miss out on lunch at the tucked away gem that is Dotty and Rays.

Stay Tuned for Salem!

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’re busy unpacking after a festive trip to Salem, Massachusetts. Everyone knows that Salem was the infamous site of the 1692 Witch Trials (those witch hunting Puritans were a kooky bunch!). Fast forward 325 years, and modern Salem offers visitors myriad ways to learn a bit of New England history, breathe in a bit of salty sea air, and be happily well fed.

Very happily well fed!

Over the next few days, Crowded Earth Kitchen will feature a few culinary gems from the Northeast. Stay tuned!

Happy traveling, and happy eating! Blessed be!

Bookworm Bundle

cookbook-cover-imagesoufflebakeryValentine’s Day is approaching, and we have the perfect token of affection for the food lovers in your life! From now until February 14th, Crowded Earth Kitchen is pleased to offer our Bookworm Bundle for only $19.99 – that’s a savings of over 30%!

Each Bookworm Bundle contains the following items:

  • One copy of The Global Recipe Project cookbook, featuring delicious recipes and photographs from around the world!
  • One author-signed copy of How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, Carly Ellen Kramer’s highly reviewed food fiction novel!
  • One high gloss European Bakery notecard (with envelope) for writing your affections to your Valentine!

Simply click on the PayPal link below to place your order. Bookworm Bundles will ship within 24 hours of purchase.

BOOKWORM BUNDLE!

French Chocolate Éclairs

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If you know of a gooey, chocolaty baked confection more fabulous than a French Chocolate Éclair, do let me know because I can’t think of one! They’re so decadent, they must be difficult to make, right? Au contraire! If you can stir a few ingredients together and squeeze a plastic bag (more on that later), you can make this heavenly dessert.

Fun variation: Instead of the French vanilla cream filling used below, consider filling these decadent treats with English Lemon Curd. Either option is delicious! Let’s get started!

Ingredients (Makes 30 mini Éclairs)

For the éclair shells:

1/2 cup real butter

1 cup water

1 cup flour Continue reading

Simple Beef Bourguignon

WIN_20160815_185525“Simple” and “Beef Bourguignon” are not words we see paired too often, but perhaps we should! French food does not need to be mysterious, and this spin on classic French beef stew is really a snap to prepare. Also, it’s versatile. Feel free to add or subtract vegetables as your taste buds desire. Suggestions are given in the recipe below. Bon Appétit!

WIN_20160815_150511Ingredients (Serves 6)

2 pounds good quality beef stew meat

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup real butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (750 ml) bottle burgundy or cabernet sauvignon wine

2 cups French Braised Onions (optional)

2 cups roasted root vegetables (optional)

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives (optional)

Directions

Step 1) In a large plastic bag, toss together beef stew meat, flour, salt, and pepper. Shake the bag until the meat is evenly coated with the flour mixture.

Step 2) Combine half of the butter and half of the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Melt butter and oil together over medium heat. Add half of the meat from step 1 to the skillet, and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally with a metal spatula.

Step 3) Transfer browned beef to a slow cooker (such as a Crock Pot). Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other half of the butter, oil, and beef.

Step 4) Add 1/4 cup of red wine to the skillet and continue cooking over medium heat while scraping vigorously with a metal spatula to deglaze the pan. Pour the contents of the pan into the slow cooker over the beef.

Step 5) After all of the beef has been browned and transferred to the slow cooker, pour the remainder of the bottle of red wine over the beef. Cook the beef on “low” for 8 – 10 hours (preferable) or on “high” for 4 – 5 hours, until most of the wine has been absorbed and the beef is very tender.

Step 6) Approximately 30 minutes before serving, gently stir any combination of French Braised Onions, roasted vegetables, and Kalamata olives into the slow cooker with the beef, to heat through. Serve with potatoes, sautéed yellow squash, and/or French bread.

 

 

French Braised Onions

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I’ll be honest, friends. While I adore most vegetables, onions have never ranked really high on the list. I don’t “dislike” them, they just aren’t a favorite. Or rather, they weren’t a favorite until I made these amazing French Braised Onions. It all started a few days ago, when I pulled these lovely little onions from my backyard garden. Aren’t they cute?

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Alas, they are also a bit slow to clean and peel! It seemed a waste to just chop them up and toss them in a recipe as if they were big, store bought onions. I wanted to showcase these little cuties. The recipe below is incredibly simple, you just need to be patient with the slow cooking required. The end result is worth the wait… onions infused with broth and wine, sweet and savory, with a silky texture. French Braised Onions are delightful as an accompaniment to meaty dishes such as beef bourguignon, or can be served as an appetizer on thin slices of baguette.

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Onions before braising

Ingredients (Makes about 3 cups)

30 – 40 small white onions (1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter)

2 tablespoons real butter

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1/2 cup chicken stock

3/4 cup dry red wine

Directions

Step 1) Melt butter in a 9 inch skillet. Sprinkle rosemary evenly over melted butter.

Step 2) Lightly trim the bottoms and tops of the onions, removing only about 1/4 inch from each end. Arrange onions, top sides up, in the buttered skillet.

Step 3) Pour the chicken stock and wine over the onions.

Step 4) Bring the skillet just barely to a boil over medium heat, then immediately reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

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Onions after 90 minutes of total braising time

Step 5) After 15 minutes, cover the skillet and continue cooking over low heat for an hour or longer as needed, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Gently shake the skillet every few minutes, to prevent sticking and evenly distribute the liquid. Don’t rush this! It really should take at least an hour for most of the liquid to absorb. If the liquid is disappearing quickly, reduce the heat.

Step 6) When almost all of the liquid has been (slowly!) absorbed, your French Braised Onions are ready to enjoy!

Signature Recipe: Japanese Shoyu Ramen

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The results of Crowded Earth Kitchen’s ramen poll are in! Today we’re making Crowded Earth Kitchen’s version of Shoyu Ramen, the most popular type of ramen which is flavored with soy sauce. The recipe below is pretty simple to make, and offers great flavor without a long list of hard-to-find ingredients. We’re also using pork tenderloin instead of pork belly, because pork tenderloin is more affordable and more readily available in much of the US. If you’ve enjoyed ramen with pork belly, I think you’ll find the taste of this recipe very comparable.

Two tips: First, don’t skimp on the pork stock or the chicken stock. If you have time to make your own, that’s what I recommend. If not, look for good quality stock from a butcher or specialty grocery store. Ramen “is” the broth… if the broth is just OK, your finished product will be just OK. If your broth is delicious, your ramen bowls will be delicious! Second, if you have time, it’s worth preparing your pork tenderloin the day before you enjoy your ramen bowls.

Let’s get started!

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Dried shiitakes, ginger, onion, and garlic

Ingredients (Serves 6)

16 ounces dried wheat flour ramen noodles

1 cup thinly sliced greens (I used baby bok choy)

1 cup sliced bamboo shoots

3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved

(Optional) 1 sheet nori (seaweed), cut into six pieces

For the meat:

1 pound pork tenderloin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon white wine (I used Umeshu)

For the broth:

3 quarts pork stock

1 quart chicken stock

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional

1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, sliced thin

Directions

WIN_20160701_164234Step 1) Prepare your pork tenderloin. In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar, and white wine to make a paste. Rub this paste all over your pork tenderloin. Let your pork tenderloin rest in a baking pan, covered, in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight (overnight is best). Then, roast your pork tenderloin, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Check your pork tenderloin with a meat thermometer – the internal temperature should be 145 degrees. Allow your pork tenderloin to rest for 10 minutes. Slice thin and refrigerate.

WIN_20160701_154316Step 2) Prepare your broth. In a large pot, combine pork stock, chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, onion, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until volume is reduced by half. This will take approximately an hour, depending upon how gently or vigorously your pot simmers. I prefer a slow simmer. Allow broth to cool, then ladle or pour through a sieve into a second pot. This will strain out all of the flavor additives (mushrooms, onion pieces, garlic and ginger), leaving you with a clear, flavor-packed ramen broth! At this point, you can freeze your broth for future use, refrigerate your broth to use tomorrow, or return your broth to a gentle boil and proceed with Step 3!

Step 3) Prepare your noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook your noodles according to package directions. DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR NOODLES. When in doubt, it’s better to undercook the noodles a bit, as they will continue to cook in Step 4. Mushy noodles make terrible ramen. Seriously… don’t overcook the noodles!

Step 4) Assemble and enjoy! Here’s the fun part. First, transfer a serving of cooked noodles to a large single-serving bowl (your biggest cereal bowls will work). Second, arrange a few slices of pork tenderloin, a hard boiled egg half, a few bamboo shoots, and a few sliced greens around the edges of the bowl. Don’t mix up the toppings like you would for American-style soup… each ramen topping should occupy its own place along the edge of the bowl. Third, carefully ladle hot broth over the top of everything, to warm the ingredients. The broth should just barely cover the top the noodles… don’t drown your ramen bowl in broth. Fourth, place a small square of nori on the top of your bowl and serve immediately!

When you make this ramen, I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know if you are now as ramen obsessed as we are here at Crowded Earth Kitchen!

Tokyo Food Tour! Dumplings!

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Steamed Pork Dumplings

Nothing pairs more deliciously with a bowl of authentic ramen than a side of dumplings. While snacking our way through Tokyo, we sampled an endless variety of dumplings. Feast your eyes on the photos below, and answer our quick poll at the end! We’ll use your feedback to create an amazing dumpling recipe just for Crowded Earth Kitchen viewers.  🙂

Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with Spicy Sesame Chili Sauce

Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings with Spicy Sesame Chili Sauce

Giant Pan-Fried Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Giant Pan-Fried Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

Steamed Pork Shumai with Peas

Steamed Pork Shumai with Peas

These are just a few of the wonderful dumplings we enjoyed. Pick a favorite, and we’ll recreate them for you!

Tokyo Food Tour! Ramen!

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Shoyu Ramen with Dumplings and Rice

Ah, ramen. There are approximately 80,000 ramen restaurants in Japan. Try to wrap your head around that for a moment… that’s three times the number of McDonald’s restaurants in the entire world. Volumes of cookbooks have been written about ramen, the quintessential Japanese comfort food. Revered chefs from David Chang to Ivan Orkin have perfected their own signature bowls. You haven’t tried a bowl of real ramen yet?

Well, you simply must.

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ll be happy to share a simple and delicious ramen recipe. We need you, our readers, to point us in the right direction! Would you prefer a ramen flavored with soy sauce (Shoyu Ramen) or a broth that’s even saltier (Shio Ramen)? Does a fermented broth (Miso Ramen) sound lovely? Or, would you prefer to go all in with a fatty but delicious pork stock (Tonkotsu Ramen)? They’re all delicious, it’s just a matter of personal taste.

Ramen 1

Many ramen shops have a vending machine such as the one shown here. Customers place their orders and make their payment at the machine, then give a ticket (like a receipt) to the server and wait for their food to arrive.

Vote here, and we’ll create something just for you!