Home Made Vanilla Extract

home made vanilla extract

Home-made extract is really easy to make. Just add vodka to vanilla beans and wait. You can find vanilla beans online. It also makes a really cool, personalized gift.

Bottle of Medium Grade Vodka (best not to use your finest Scandinavian vodka for this one)
Handful of Vanilla Beans

1. Use a small pairing knife to spilt the beans down the center while leaving the ends attached (so it does not spilt in half).
2. Put beans in a large glass container with a lid ( the one in the picture is from a Ikea and works great for this).
3. Store in a cool dark place for about 6 – 8 weeks.
5. Optional: Home-made extract makes a great gift. You can buy smaller amber glass jars (as shown) from Amazon or McMaster Carr.

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Braised Pork Belly, Grated Daikon & Scallions

This recipe will be sure to please any pork loving friends. Daikon and pork are a classic combination. You can adjust the amount of sugar up or down to suit your own preferences. Grate your daikon just before serving as it tends to get a little too pungent when left in the refrigerator too long. Most bigger Asain grocery stores will probably have fresh pork belly. It can be hard to find elsewhere, since almost all pork belly is used to make bacon. Itadakimasu!

Recipe for Braised Pork Belly with Grated Daikon and Scallions

2 pounds of skinless pork belly
grated daikon ..as needed
grated ginger … as needed
finely cut green onions
braising liquid:
1 2/3 cups dashi
3/4 cup sake
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup mirin
1/3 cup soy sauce

1. Remove skin (if necessary) and cut pork belly into 2 1/2 inch strips.

2. Heat heavy duty skillet with a small amount of oil until it begins to smoke. Quickly brown pork on each side in a frying pan.

3. Gently boil pork in about 6 cups water for about 1 hour.

4. Braise in sake and dashi for about 15-20 minutes.

5. Add soy sauce, sugar and mirin and gently simmer for another 30 minutes. Drain, separate and save both the broth and pork belly in the refrigerator until needed.

6. Heat skillet with and small amount of corking oil and re-heat pork belly. Turn up the heat add 1/3 – 1/2 cup of broth, grated ginger and reduce and until thickened. Plate with grated daikon, pork belly, sauce and finely cut green onions.

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Pots de Creme

Pots de Creme

Pots de Creme is a french dessert custard not unlike creme brulee, but you won’t need any fancy creme brulee torches for this one. And like creme brulee, there’s an wide range for styles, interpretations and recipes. Here is a recipe for a delicious chocolate flavored pots de creme. The recipe will make about 5-6 ramekins. Once chilled, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup organic heavy cream
1 cup organic 2% milk
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Gently melt chocolate chips in a double boiler type thing. Note: No need to buy a fancy double boiler. A metal boil over a saucepan of water works great. That’s what I use.
2. Heat milk and cream together in sauce pan to a gentle simmer.
3. Lightly beat eggs, egg yolks, 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl.
4. ‘Dry’ caramelize 3 tablespoons sugar in a medium sauce pan until golden color. By ‘dry’ I mean don’t add water, just heat sugar over medium heat until it begins to caramelize. Stir as needed to keep the sugar from burning.
5. One the sugar is fully caramelized, slowly add the milk/cream and stir over medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
6. Add hot milk/cream while stirring to the blended eggs and sugar and then strain. Note: don’t forget to strain your custard or it will not be silky and smooth.
7. Bake covered with foil or lid in a water bath at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-25 minutes. To check, wiggle the pan. The center should just barely move, if so, then it is done. Remove from oven and allow to cool then refrigerate until well chilled.
8. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

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Spicy Bean Sprouts

You want easy and fast cooking. Well, this is it. Forget 3o minutes – this dish takes about 30 seconds. This side-dish is easy, delicious and it will keep several days in the refrigerator. Put it in your lunch box the next day instead of the chips.


1 lb fresh bean sprouts
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Japanese chili oil (rayu)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Place bean sprouts in boling water for about 30 seconds. Remove and cool in cold water bath.
2. Completely drain bean sprouts of as much water as possible.
3. Add mixture of soy sauce and chilli oil. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
4. Chill and serve.

If you’d like to add a little acidity, a splash of rice vinegar might be a nice touch.

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Most Popular in 2011

I don’t spend a lot of time going of statistics on this website, but I thought it would be interesting to see what were the most popular posts in 2011.  So here they are:

1. Green Tea Creme Brulee
2. Sansho Pepper
3. Panna Cottta with Baked Strawberry Sauce
4. Quick Pickled Cucumbers
5. Cutting Cucumbers for Sushi
6. Karashi Mustard
7. Soy Marinated Spare Ribs
8. Lemon Tart with Fresh Raspberries
9.  Easy Thin Roll with Cucumber and Avocado
10. Shichimi Pepper

A reminder of how hard it is to predict what will be popular out there.  I would have never guessed the green tea creme brulee recipe would be the most popular one on this blog so far.  I really need to update that picture! It was one of the first posts I ever did.



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Christmas Gravlax


It’s the time of year again when I usually make bunch of gravlax for the holidays.  This can kind of seem intimidating, but it’s a piece of cake. You just need to find some good, sushi grade salmon.  I usually buy the tail end of the salmon with the skin on. It’s thinner so it will cure faster. I also think it tastes better.

1/2 fresh salmon, tail part with skin on (ask for sushi grade salmon)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons  kosher salt  (kosher salt only)
1 teaspoon of cracked white peppercorns
2-3 sprigs of fresh dill, coarsely chopped

1. Rinse the salmon in ice water and pat it dry with a paper towel.
2. Combine sugar, kosher salt and white peppercorns.
3.  Rub the salt/sugar mix over both sides of the salmon.
4. Place the salmon in a shallow container and add the dill.
5. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator about 24-36 hours. Turn once during this time.
6. Take it out of the refrigerator and scrape the sugar/salt mix off. Use a really sharp knife and thinly slice the gravlax and serve.

Gravlax is traditionally served with a mustard sauce and crackers. I make the mustard sauce with rice vinegar, honey mustard, dijon mustard, canola oil and chopped dill. You really don’t need a recipe; combine all the ingredients until it tastes right.


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Hijiki Salad with Bacon, Carrots and Soy Beans

Even folks who turn their nose up at the thought of seaweed will probably like hijiki. It’s a dried, twiggy marine algae that’s delicious and healthy.

The fist thing you have to do is soak the dried hijiki in cold water for about 20 -30 minutes. Rinse it out and drain the excess water.  At this point you’ll likely  simmer the hijiki with some vegetables in dashi, soy sauce, sake and mirin. Here is my recipe for hijiki with bacon, carrots and soy beans.

Can of Organic Soy Beans
2 oz of dried hijiki
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 2/3 cup of dashi
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Drain and rinse can of soy beans.

2. Mix dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce together in a bowl.

3. Cook bacon in a large frying pan. Remove and cut into small slices.

4. Add hijiki to frying pan and saute over medium high heat for several minutes.

5. Add carrots, bacon, soy beans and dashi mixture from #1 to frying pan. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has been fully absorbed/reduced (about 20-25 minutes) . At this point you many need to add a little more soy sauce depending how salty your bacon is.  After tasting for the correct level of salt, remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.  You can eat hijiki warm or cold.

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Smoked Duck with Udon


It’s been a long time since I published anything.  Last year was pretty crazy and I hope to be more active with this site in the coming months.

Here’s a simple, yet delicious idea for smoked duck with udon noodle in a traditional Japanese soup broth.

Happy 4th of July!

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