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Live and learn... (Cooking) ^^;

February 25th, 2009 (09:04 pm)

Decided to make some yaki-onigiri today for a snack. I've been craving it for the past couple of days but have never made it before, so... ^^;

The recipe. Pretty basic. While we do have those onigiri presses, I have no idea how to use them, so I just made them by hand. However, what I didn't know about was to leave off basting the onigiri with soy sauce until after grilling on each side. ^^;; As it was, the rice ended up majorly sticking to the poor grill. (Definitely not looking forward to cleaning that sucker...) Ah well. They turned out reasonably well, so I guess it's just one of those things that you learn through experience. :P (Either that or try using a non-stick pan instead of grill maybe...?)

Otherwise, does anyone have a good chai recipe? I suddenly had a craving for chai today (what's with all these cravings lately??) and decided to try making my own chai mix, but it's still not quite right. >.>

Chai Recipe (with my own changes)
Originally from here

1 Tbsp fennel or anise seed
6 green cardamom pods
12 cloves
1.5 - 2 cinnamon sticks (orig 1)
scant 1/2 tsp black pepper corns (orig 1/4 tsp)
2 bay leaves
1 star anise (orig not incl.)

Crush all of the above in a mortar. (I didn't bother grinding it in the spice mill as it plugs up my tea strainers if it's ground too finely.)

Per cup
~3/4 tsp of above mix
1 tsp robust tea (Assam would be good)
1/2 tsp minced ginger jarred (orig. 1/4" ginger root, sliced thin)
splash of vanilla extract optional (orig. not incl.)
sugar and whitener to taste

All in all, the recipe's not bad (though still not quite where I want it). I wonder what I'm missing or if maybe it's a quantity issue...

And in keeping with all these munchies I've been having lately, I'm starting to eye this recipe. I'm not a fan of nuked cooking, so I might adjust and either bake or boil the sweet potato. *sigh* Why can't I just like commercial cookies and whatnot?


Posted by: wombat1138 (wombat1138)
Posted at: February 26th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)

I've got two oldish chai recipes here, though they already include the tea and are intended to be diluted with hot water (for the dry mix) or any temperature water/milk (for the liquid concentrate).

The liquid concentrate was originally based on the recipe here, but I've stripped it down in several ways: in my linked post, I'd already vastly reduced the water ratio, which also reduces the amount of cold liquid concentrate needed to reconstitute in a cup of (otherwise) hot water; since then, I've also simplified the process by starting all of the spices and tea in the water at the same time and letting it simmer for a single extended session before straining (instead of the multistep heat/cool/steep/reheat procedure), and by entirely leaving the sugar out of the concentrate (which widens the options for amount/type of sweetener per cup later on).

Since you seem to be a non-dairy person, I guess that rules out one other approach I've seen, which is to simmer spices in milk (or cream, or condensed milk etc.), strain, and store in the fridge for adding to tea. (I'm not convinced how long the spiced milk/cream would keep, compared to a water-based spice/tea syrup.)

The predominant spices in commercial chai mixes in the US are usually cinnamon and ginger, iirc; dunno if it's the same in Canada, but it may be helpful to check the ingredients list in an existing chai mix you like, if there is one. I've been using loose pu-erh tea, mostly because it happened to be the cheapest bulk tea when I went looking that day, but it does have an earthy flavor that works pretty well here. Lapsang souchong might be good in some cases, but right now the stuff I have is so overly smoky that the only thing I can really use it for is making tea eggs.

(Coincidentally, wrt the last past of my original post, I managed to make okonomiyaki for dinner tonight. Kind of. Well, it mostly held together when I flipped it over, and it tasted like food esp. with lots of sauce.)

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: February 26th, 2009 09:28 am (UTC)

Cheers for the recipes! ^_^ One of the main things I'm looking for is definitely the dry spice blend concept rather than going with a concentrate. I have enough problems remembering how long the veggies and such have been in the fridge, so keeping track of liquid concentrates... >.>

*laughs* Pu erh and Lapsang Souchong are both very distinctive teas, so I guess they'd be an either they work or they don't for something like chai. ^^; I'm not sure what it is I'm missing. My favourite chai tea is actually Murchies Autumn Chai but it only comes bagged, so I've been trying to create something I like which is similar. ^^;

(Yum! Okonomiyaki! ^o^ I don't know about miso as a seasoning though... ^^; Over here, we usually use a seafood mix for protein as well as the occasional slice of bacon and fried egg on top. I haven't done a full "mixed modern" okonomiyaki (with noodles) for some time though. Hmm... I'll have to see if we have proper noodles for either yaki-soba or yaki-udon and maybe do that for dinner sometime this week... Now there's a plan. ^o^ )

Posted by: wombat1138 (wombat1138)
Posted at: February 26th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)

Last night's okonomiyaki was a way of recycling some leftover pork/muchroom stirfry :)

Murchie's website describes their Autumn Chai as predominantly cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom-- I wonder if they're using green cardamom or black cardamom? the latter is a different but closely related species, and has a slightly smokier taste. Have you already tried reverse-engineering it by ripping open a teabag for any obvious signs of spice identity/ratio/fineness?

And is their mix (or your recipe) intended to have hot water poured over it to steep in a pot/cup, or does it get heated up on the stove? Prolonged simmering really drags out more flavor from the spices that's difficult to extract otherwise, but it does also run the risk of extracting bitter tannins from the tea (though some people consider that not a bug, but a feature).

I'm also terrible about forgetting about fridge orphans-- semi-recently, I finally hauled a small jug of apple cider out from the back of a shelf, where it had fermented past fizziness all the way into vinegar sometime last year (or possibly even the year before)-- but so far I haven't had any problems with my liquid chai concentrates going bad. Eventually, a sediment of fine solids settles on the bottom, but it's never shown any sides of molding or otherwise fermenting, even within an extended span of several months.

Occasionally I've seen suggestions of storing single-serving portions of concentrated liquids (juice syrups, jellied soup stock) by freezing them in ice-cube trays, but so far I've only tried that with cranberry juice and it hasn't worked very well-- even with a lidded ice-cube tray, the liquid is vulnerable to spilling before it's frozen (and freezing the lid on from the inside), and may still interchange off-odors/flavors with the rest of the freezer. And in the case of chai, the ice cube would really crash the temperature of the cup of hot water it's put into.

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: February 27th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC)

Recycling leftovers is always an interesting challenge. ^^;

I haven't actually tried dissecting a tea bag, so I'm not sure if the bits would be identifiable or not. I was under the impression it wouldn't be (I think their bagged teas are CTC teas...?). Will have to see if we have any hanging around. ^^; The spice mix I've made is indeed meant to be steeped with the tea (in the cup in my case) rather than on the stove. I guess that's the big advantage of the liquid concentrates since it's meant to truly get the flavours out of the spices. Hrmm...

Good to know that it'll last that long in the fridge. ^_^ I'll probably pass on the freezing method though. ^^;


Posted by: Kakurenbo (akinarei)
Posted at: February 26th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)

Commercial cookies are boring.

I think I'm going to try the onigiri recipe. I'll skip the chai though, much as I love sweet things, chai's just too sweet for me.

Ironic, right?

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: February 26th, 2009 09:09 am (UTC)

Boring and often overly sweet IMO.

*laughs* I'll admit I do take my chai fairly sweet, but I've had it as a spiced tea with much less sugar as well. Irony of ironies is developing a taste for Japanese-style coffees which are akin to chai only with strong coffee (and without the spices) instead. Once upon a century (as in the past one) I was a coffee purist who only drank her coffee black. Oh how far I've fallen... :P

Posted by: Kakurenbo (akinarei)
Posted at: February 26th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)

Far indeed. I drink my coffee with hot chocolate.

I've heard that Japanese coffees are similar to chai. My friend who went to Japan had a bad experience with it and swore off coffee completely, poor darling.

I don't know why, but Chai is to sweet even for me and I can't understand why. One of the spices, maybe?

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: February 27th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)

*laughs* I call that 'mocha'. :P

^^;; Coffee in Japan is an experience. I remember taking Maxwell House singles one year in an attempt to survive (this was when canned coffee was only of the super sweet style). At least there's a lot more variety available now, and more options on where to go, too. :P

Could be. *boggled*

Posted by: Kakurenbo (akinarei)
Posted at: February 27th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)

Mocha, eh? Guess that's what it is. Super sweet coffee and probably chalk full of dairy. *sigh* Being lactose intolerant really stinks when you love dairy. But you know how Starbucks has the canned and bottled products that you can find just about everywhere? I can't drink those at all, too sweet.

Which spice, though. Hrmm... this might take some research. Well, now that I don't have to worry about a test for a bit, that shouldn't be too hard.

Posted by: Shadow (kagedreams)
Posted at: February 28th, 2009 06:37 am (UTC)

I've long since given up on having much dairy in my diet. Beyond mini yogurt cups and the occasional dessert I might make, I live off of rice milk these days instead. ^^; As it is, I've never bothered much with Starbucks (drinks or shops) actually. I didn't mind their sandwiches when I was living in Japan (I could have something deli-ish! O_O; ), but the drinks never appealed because they seemed over-done. I've never been a fan of 'frou-frou'...... which is ironic. My favourite coffee drink was one topped with choco whip cream. ^^;

Posted by: Kakurenbo (akinarei)
Posted at: February 28th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)

I think it's funny for me, because I usually won't drink coffee unless I make it. But I love their caramel frappachino's.

Chocolate whip cream sounds good for any coffee. You're making me crave it!

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