Food: Home Cookin' and japan04 May 2012 01:59 pm

I always feel like a bum when I duplicate content from my other blog, Eating Okinawa, but it seems like a lot of people who read this one do not read that one…so here you go.

I thought this was an interesting post to share because it gave some insight into the cooking challenges I had in Japan when I really wanted to eat something from “home”. It was by no means the most challenging thing to do in my life there, but sometimes after a day of complicated communication errors, long work days and crappy weather, I did not really feel like menu planning or hunting for the ingredients for whatever I was craving. This was a favorite recipe that I found super easy to make and modify for the Japanese supermarket. Because I did not have access to the American bases and their magical supermarkets, I sometimes felt like the ingredients I had access to were a bit limited, so I was happy to make spaetzle, a sort of poor woman’s dumplings when I craved perogies from back home. Really they are just a type of soft, fresh egg noodle.

It’s a pretty versatile recipe; I often would eat it with braised red cabbage when cabbage was in season or with a mushroom cream gravy or pasta sauce. They are great just fried up in brown butter, too. I totally recommend it if you are tired to death of pasta, rice and bread – who can say no to dumplings?

Spaetzle

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (or yogurt, or buttermilk, or sour cream or even whole milk!)
  • 2 tablespoons of water, if needed
  • Sometimes I would add a few spices. Cumin, paprika, and cayenne all add a spicy kick. I even added some Ethiopian berbere we were lucky enough to have on hand one night. Add to taste.

Set a pot of water to boil on the stove, 4-6 cups should do. In a medium sized bowl, whisk eggs together with the ricotta (or yogurt or whatever you have on hand) until smooth. Add the flour and salt and any spices or seasonings, if desired. The mixture should become a thin and gluey batter. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water. It should not be sticking to a spoon too much and should come off the spoon on its own (see photo below).

When the water is boiling, take out a regular teaspoon. Dip the spoon into the batter, filling it about halfway. Push the dipped spoon off into the boiling water in one smooth motion. It will make a sort of flat dumpling shape. When the spaetzle float, they are done.

Scoop them off as they cook, then add sauce or vegetables or whatever you desire. Grated cheese and fried onions, beef stew…even sweet style with grated apples, honey, cinnamon and a bit of butter…yum!

I only had soft cream cheese on this day, but the recipe still came out great. This is the brand I used, Megmilk Snow. It’s a lot lighter than the “American style” cream cheese you will find in Japanese supermarkets, and is more like ricotta.

There is also a sweetened version, so I had to be careful when I bought it. I learned to look for the crackers, not the tiramisu, on the label!

Mixing my eggs and flour

This is too thick!

I added a tablespoon of water, and it thinned out. It should “flow” off the spoon.

The floating ones are done!

Pushing the batter off the spoon.

Pushing the batter off the spoon.

A close up! There is no “right” way to do it, just get reasonable sized clumps of batter together when you push. The hot water will do the rest.

After I boiled them, I fried them with some butter until they were a bit crispy. This is not necessary, but it does make them more delicious in my opinion.

I also made a simple enoki mushroom cream sauce. I sauteed the enoki in butter…

Added some whipped cream and seasonings and poured it over the pan fried spaetzle. SO GOOD! SO EASY! SO CHEAP! A taste of home!

 

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