M and I had such a fun evening last night, I decided I want to share. And this is also a chance for me to showcase one of my favorite foodie blogs – Just Hungry! ( I love Maki, the blogger, who also has a site called Just Bento; people who know me may be aware that I have a slight obsession with all things Bento!)
Both of Maki’s blogs are great sources of recipes, both Japanese and otherwise. Yesterday morning I decided to make a whole meal from some of her recipes, which evolved into a picnic dinner! With the spring sunshine finally arriving in the Northwest, I thought a picnic would be perfect, and these dishes are very picnic-friendly.
I started with Maki’s popular kinpira recipes – basically taking firm veggies, chopped into thin sticks, and stir-frying them briefly with a little oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and maybe some hot pepper flakes for some heat. I had a ton of carrots in my fridge, and also 3 crowns of broccoli (and I frugally only used the stems of the broccoli, and saved the florets), so I knew this would be a perfect to make.
Next I made fried tofu, which is a very simple process :
Take a block of firm tofu and cut into 1 inch cubes. It is necessary to get as much moisture out of the tofu as possible, so arrange the tofu on a surface with some paper towels, cover with more paper towels, and then weigh them down to press out the moisture (I used a cutting board and just let it sit for a minute or two). Meanwhile, preheat a pan – I use cast iron – with a little 1-2 tbsp of oil (I used peanut), and then place the tofu in the pan over medium heat. Don’t move the tofu once they’re in the pan! You want each side to get nice and browned, so give each side 1-2 minutes per side. Use tongs to rotate the cubes. A little patience will yield beautifully golden cubes of tofu that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I also sprinkled a pinch of garlic salt on them during cooking for a little more flavor. Yum!
While the tofu was cooking, I put the water on for my soba noodles; Maki has a great article on soba right here. They are definitely picnic-friendly since they are intended to be eaten cold – no worries about keeping things hot outside!
So with delicious Japanese cuisine in tow, a blanket and a soccer ball, we headed to the park just a block from our place and had a lovely evening. OH, and to make the meal complete, I picked up this adorable little bottle of sake from the grocery store!
It was unfiltered sake (see the milky white color?), and very tasty for being the cheapest bottle on the shelf, haha ^_^
After eating we had some fun kicking M’s soccer ball around and enjoyed the sunshine that decided to stick around. M also played around with his new camera – it can take slow-motion video, and I filmed him doing a slo-mo bicycle kick which was pretty sweet ^_^ But I doubt he’d want me to post that here, haha.
Hopefully we’ll have lots more opportunities for picnics this summer, and certainly more times to cook up yummy Japanese foods!