Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Instant fried rice: Instant delight!

You can find these fried rice mix at Marukai in Santa Monica.

Ever wonder what the secret behind Japanese fried rice is? How modest yet present flavors meet to sing in perfect harmony, creating a fried rice that's so addictive? Katsuobushi (bonito flavored stock) is part of the equation, but why spend time trying to figure out the secret recipe when you can walk into any Japanese supermarket and buy instant fried rice mix! And these powdered mix packets taste like the real thing: The roasted garlic mix is mild yet smoky, while the shrimp and crab flavored ones taste a little fishy (in the best possible way!) and just like the sea.

With packets like these, you can create some outstanding and unforgettable *chahan dishes while saving on cooking time! Add an egg, some chopped onions, carrots and celery (we love adding mushrooms too!), and your chahan will be ready in less than 10 minutes.

No one has to know your famous, well-loved fried rice is coming from a packet either. This will be our little secret!

* chahan means fried rice in Japanese

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tofu with pork and kimchi sauce

Meaty and spicy sauce poured over silken tofu makes this protein anything but boring! This quick tofu with pork and kimchi shows how a simple block of tofu can be transformed into something spectacular.

Serves 4 people


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 blocks of tofu
  • 150 grams of pork, finely sliced and cut bite size
  • 150 grams of kimchi, chopped bite size
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp, finely chopped ginger
  • 1clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp  sake
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white miso
  • 1 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp potato starch mixed with 1tbsp cold water


  1. Wrap tofu in paper towel and leave for 10 minutes to remove excess water. Cut into bite size cubes and set aside.
  2. In a large pan over high heat, add vegetable oil, garlic and ginger. Fry for 2 minutes. 
  3. Add pork and cook for 2 minutes, until cooked through. Add kimchi and cook for another minute.
  4. Add chicken broth, sake, soy and miso paste, and stir well. Turn down the heat to a simmer.
  5. Add tofu cubes and stir well.
  6. Add potato starch mix and stir well until the sauce thickens (add more if you prefer thicker).
  7. Turn the heat off, add sesame oil and scallions and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with warm white rice.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Morimoto's tips on good sushi

Who better than Iron chef Masaharu Morimoto to teach us about sushi! As one of the celebrity chefs invited recently to teach at the Culinary Institute in New York, chef Morimoto took the students on a step-by-step journey from gutting, deboning and slicing an entire tuna all the way to the finishing touches of what makes first-rate sushi. 

Photo by Laura Togut

1: The brighter the color, the fattier the tuna is likely to be.
2: Slice tuna filets in one long, clean stroke with a long knife.

3: Sushi is supposed to be finger food, so use your hands.
4: Dip sushi fish-side-down into soy sauce so the rice doesn't sog up.
5: Eat your nigiri whole.

Maki (Rolls):
6: Dried sheets of nori have a shiny and dull side. Work dull-side-down for stability.
7: Shape the rice delicately. Don't press down hard.
8: If working from larger cuts of tuna, little scaps and end bits are perfect for maki.
9: Use a bamboo rolling mat after shaping by hand for best results. Don't use the map to shape the roll initially.
Photo by Laura Togut

10: If using fresh wasabi, slice it for less heat and grate it for more heat.
11: The fattier the tuna, the more wasabi it can take. And DON'T mix your wasabi with your soy sauce!
Photo by Laura Togut

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Butter and soy: Japan's favorite mix

A very simple yet delicious pasta with soy, butter and mushrooms.

And not only is it a Japanese favorite, it's also one of chef Jean-George Vongerichten's favorite flavor combinations. Complementing each other to a tee, butter and soy can be used in many different ways, and with many different ingredients, such as this pasta with mushrooms recipe. Pan fried daikon with soy and butter is also terrific or mixing worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and freshly ground pepper with this combo to make a delicious steak sauce. Lots can be achieve with these two simple ingredients; share your own recipe and we'll post it on our blog!

Butter and soy spaghetti:

1 lb dry spaghetti
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms
1/4 lb beech mushrooms (bunashimeji) or other Japanese mushrooms
1 tbsp sake
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp neutral oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
a handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pasta water
fresh ground black pepper
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to the boil.
In a large pan over high heat, add oil, 1 tbsp butter and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes and add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add half of the parsley and mix well. Turn heat off and wait until the pasta is cooked. While the pasta is boiling, reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain your pasta and add to the pan of cooked mushrooms.
Turn the heat to low and add the remaining chopped parsley. Mix well and add soy sauce, butter and sake. Mix well again, making sure all the pasta is coated with all the ingredients. Add a good amount of fresh ground black pepper and a little bit of the pasta water to make the sauce more unctuous.
Serve with fresh parmesan.
Recipe taken from

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This weekend - Bamboo recommends you try these rolls

Some yummy combinations Chef Toshi's come up with! We've got classics and new creations straight from Bamboo's kitchen, using only fresh ingredients.

To see the whole sushi and roll selection, click here.

Baked Crab Roll

Made with avocado, asparagus, masago and crab. Quickly baked and brushed with soy and butter. Decadence without the guilt. We like!

Dragon Roll

Classic goodness! Ours is made with shrimp tempura, cucumber, freshwater eel, avocado and brushed with sweet soy for added umami.

Salmon Skin

Delicious AND great for the skin! Baked salmon skin, cucumber, yamagobo, onion and katsuo bushi meet in this truly unique creation.

Shrimp tempura

Another classic we all love, and this one is perfectly executed! Shrimp tempura, cucumber, masago with a little sweet soy.


Is there anything better than deep fried soft shell crab? This roll is crunchy, warm, moist and incredibly flavorful! Deep fried soft shell crab, cucumber and masago. No bells or whistles needed when you have an ingredient as special as soft shell crab!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What is Umami?


It's one of the five basic tastes. We all understand sweet, sour, salty and bitter very well since they were explained to us and have been part of our vocabulary for as long as we know. Umami on the other hand didn't really come into the picture until recently (even though the taste was identified in 1908 in Tokyo by professor Kikunae Ikeda, who one day noticed that the taste of kombu dashi, kelp broth, was different than any other basic flavors). It wasn't until 1985 that it became recognized as the fifth basic taste. Nowadays, the term is widely used in anything from TV commercials, articles and cooking shows. 

The quick way to explain umami is that it has a meaty, savory, long lasting taste. The reason why it's so difficult to describe is because there is no translation for the word (the literal translation is close to 'pleasant savory taste.') Umami's role is to enhance and round the flavor of a dish (think of MSG). Umami stimulates the mouth and throat, creating a mouth watering feeling. On its own, umami doesn't taste that great, but mixed with other flavors and ingredients, it amplifies the taste intensity.

Understanding Glutamate (the basis of umami)
taken from

The amino acid glutamate could well be called "nature's flavor enhancer" because it conveys the umami taste in foods. Glutamate is also well known among food and nutrition professionals as one of the most common "building blocks" of protein. As such, it's no surprise that most foods contain some amount of glutamate. Protein foods, such as meat, fish, cheese, milk and some vegetables are especially good sources of glutamate. Not coincidentally, these foods also have a lot of umami taste. In some foods, the amount of glutamate they contain—and their flavor—increases as they age or ripen. For example, according to research, aged ham and aged cheese have much more glutamate than their "younger" counterparts. A tomato is also a good example. As it ripens from green to red, its glutamate content increases dramatically. The superior flavor of the ripe tomato can be attributed, in part, to its higher glutamate level.

Foods containing lots of umami (glutamate):
soy sauce, mushrooms, cheeses, cured meats, fish (sardines, oysters, shrimp paste), seaweed,
ripe tomatoes, soybeans, truffle, green tea.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quick and healthy spinach and eggdrop soup recipe

Bamboo Izakaya's quick and healthy recipe of the week!

Similar to miso soup but made with a clear broth, spinach, tofu and egg drop soup is easy to make and great for those looking to shed a few pounds, without having to give up on good flavors! 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 bag of pre-washed spinach (about 4 handfuls)
  • 1/2 box of silken tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
  • scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 8 cups bonito broth (I use powdered bonito and use about 1/2 tsp per cup)
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  •  salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring the broth to boil. Meanwhile, chop the spinach into strips
  2. (chiffonade style, by stacking the leaves and rolling them into a tube, then
  3. chopping them into strips). When the water is boiling, add the mirin and soy,
  4. stir well. Break the eggs in a small bowl and lightly whisk. Turn the heat down
  5. so the broth is simmering, slowly add the eggs and gently whisk while stirring.
  6. Add spinach, scallions and tofu. Cook for another 5 minutes, season with salt
  7. and pepper, and serve.