Broccoli Crunch Salad

broccoli crunch again2This is a variation on the vegetarian broccoli salad I first saw here. Using simpler ingredients is fine. The most difficult part for me (in Japan) is the almond butter, as I have to make it myself. However, with a good food processor it’s simple. I’ll post instructions soon, but in the meantime, it’s easy to find them online.

Ingredients
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 head broccoli
1 medium-sized apple
1/4 small red onion
1/3 cup candied nuts (Pecans, walnuts, or almonds: to candy nuts, first chop roughly, then put in a dry frying pan with a few spoonfuls of sugar. Heat and stir until sugar melts and coats nuts. Pour out onto aluminum foil and let cool completely.)

Instructions

Crush the garlic clove with the side of a knife. Chop well, then crush the pieces again. Repeat two or three times until garlic becomes a paste. Mix with the other dressing ingredients: salt, almond butter, lemon juice, honey, and olive oil, and set aside.

Cut broccoli into bite-size pieces. Blanch in boiling water for 60 seconds, then drain.

Cut apple into small bite-size pieces, and slice red onion thinly. Combine broccoli, apple, onion, and candied nuts.

When ready to serve, mix with the dressing. If the dressing is too thick, add a little water. (However, I always find that the water absorbed by the broccoli will thin out the dressing, so adding water makes it too thin.)

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Honey Cake

IMG_7464This is a simple honey cake, but it comes together quickly and has a nice flavor. It can also be made as muffins.

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
240mL (1 cup) milk
57g (1/4 cup) butter, melted
60mL (1/4 cup) honey

* AP Flour: in Japan, mix 1/2 cup “strong” flour (強力粉) + 1/2 cup “weak” flour (薄力粉).

Instructions

Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Sift or whisk the four dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Beat the egg into the milk and add the honey and melted butter. Stir to combine liquids, and then add to the dry ingredients.

Mix just until combined. Pour the batter into a 21cm (8 inch) cake pan, or into 12 muffin tins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (15 for muffins), until golden brown on top. Test with a toothpick; if it comes out clean, the cake is done. You can also brush the top with additional honey if desired, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

Ingredients in Japan: Sugar and sweeteners

This post is part of a series about the differences in ingredients between Japan and the U.S. When I first arrived in Japan, I had a lot of trouble at times because I wasn’t used to these differences, so hopefully this information is helpful! For the full list of posts in this series, see this page.

Sugar for cooking and sweetening is easy to find in Japan. There are a few main types that I normally see, which are pretty similar to what’s in the U.S., and a few more unusual options.

The biggest difference I see is with white sugar. There are two types – regular white sugar, and granulated. In the U.S., I only ever saw granulated white sugar. The “regular” sugar is cheaper, but it doesn’t flow or pour smoothly like granulated sugar; it forms loose clumps more like what you see with brown sugar. I’ve found that I have to “pack” it in the same way as brown sugar in order to measure properly.

As far as brown sugar, there is a product here called 三温党 (san’ontou) which is processed a little differently, but seems to have basically the same effect as light brown sugar. It has a more complex flavor than white sugar. It’s commonly available, and generally slightly more expensive than white sugar. I never saw any dark brown sugar here for a long time, but recently my store started carrying a sugar from Okinawa called 黒砂糖 (kurozatou), literally ‘black sugar’ which looks similar to dark brown sugar. I haven’t tried using it though. According to Wikipedia, it’s the same as muscovado.

Powdered sugar, on the other hand, is harder to find. Most stores have it, but it’s in very small bags (maybe 1/2 cup to 1 cup) and is rather expensive. Food import stores may have larger bags, but it is still expensive.

As far as liquid sweeteners, honey is easily found in grocery stores. In Japanese it’s called 蜂蜜 (hachimitsu). You can also often find maple syrup, but like powdered sugar, it’s very expensive and found in small containers. There’s another sweetener called kuromitsu (黒蜜) which is very dark brown and is similar to molasses, but thinner in consistency. By the way, if you’re hunting for these liquid sweeteners, I find they are often placed together with the jams and jellies.

Another product is called mizuame (水飴), which is clear and is similar to corn syrup, but it’s made from rice or potatoes. Both kuromitsu and mizuame are used in making sweets and candy. Other, more unusual sweeteners like agave syrup or special honeys can sometimes be found at food import stores. As always, it will be a small, expensive container.

Finally, there’s a type of sweetener you might encounter in cafes called “gum syrup”. The first time I was offered this in a cafe, I didn’t understand the word, even though it’s just the Japanese version of gum syrup (gamu shiroppu) or an abbreviation like gamushiro. Anyway, they’re just little cups of sugar syrup so you can easily mix the sweetener into cold drinks like iced tea/coffee. You can also buy bags of them in the grocery store (kind of like the mini cups of half-and-half they have in the U.S.).

I also noticed at the grocery store that there are some “zero-calorie” sweeteners available, both in liquid and powder form. However, I haven’t closely looked at the ingredients, nor have I tried them.