Japan #2 – Kanazawa | 金沢
Kanazawa is one of the few castle towns still remaining in Japan. The name Kanazawa, which literally means
‘marsh of gold’, is said to derive from the legend of the peasant Imohori Togoro (Togoro Potato-digger), who was digging for potatoes when flakes of gold washed up. More than 98% of gold leaf utilized in Japan’s crafts is produced in Kanazawa. Kanazawa is also known for its Kaga silk (Kaga yūzen) made with a complicated silk print technique, with an intentional rough look (wabi-sabi), Kutani ware (Kutani yaki), a bright-colored glaze porcelain, Kanazawa shikki, high quality lacquer-ware, traditionally decorated with gold dust, and many other beautiful crafts.
Kenrokuen Garden is considered to be one of Japan’s top three gardens. Originally built as the outer garden of the Kanazawa Castle, it was opened to the public over 135 years ago. Its 25-acre landscape includes serene trees, bountiful blooms, green tapestry, graceful ponds, fountains, cascading waterfalls, streams, bridges, and tea houses.
The samurai district is known as Nagamachi Samurai House Row. Siting at the foot of Kanazawa Castle, Nagamachi showcased the history of the samurai-era with beautifully restored residences which allow entree to the mythical world of the Japanese samurai. We visited the Terashima Samurai House, circa 1770, which offered a closer look at how a middle-class warrior lived.
The wooden houses, stone paved streets, and preserved tea houses still retain an aura of history and mystery in Higashichaya Machi with stunning Edo (current Tokyo) architecture. The life of geishas, can be mainly explored in the Higashichaya Machi district, which samurais, merchants and lords frequented.
Kanazawa has so much to offer that it’s at the top of the Japanese people’s “Places to Visit” list! (Excellent viedo on Kanazawa → here )
Kanazawa is known for Kaga-ryori, a distinct regional cuisine called kaiseki-ryori, which is famed for fresh seafood, rice and vegetables grown in the Kaga Plain. Other locally known dishes include, wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) and the featured recipe of this post, hantonrice, a must have dish while in Kanazawa.
Omurice and hatonrice are also Japanese yōshoku like karē rice, doria, korokke, hanbāgu steak, and more (watch a 5 min video on yōshoku → here). Omurice (omu for omelet) is said to have originated around the turn of the 20th century at a western-style restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district called Renga-tei. As for hantonrice, in the 1960’s, the president of German Bakery in Kanazawa opened a restaurant called German Bakery Grill. He wanted to introduce an original Kanazawa cuisine, a new item for the menu. He and his chef came up with hantonrice. As for its name, han stands for Hungary, and ton means tuna in Hungarian (and in French, thon). Such a dish does not exist in Hungarian cuisine. Why Hungary? Originally, hantonrice‘s omurice was topped with battered, deep-fried tuna. It is assumed that it may have been named to sound like the Hungarian dish called rantott tonhal, which also is deep-fried, battered tuna. Now, it is more common to be topped with seafood and vegetables of choice, even bite-size, battered, deep fried pork, as in tonkatsu.
All types of fashion evolve in Japan and food is no exception. Lately, thicker, fluffier, even runny / toro-toro-omuretsu is preferred over crepe thin omelet (must watch this 51 second video → here).
This recipe is actually four Japanese yōshoku in one. Chicken-rice + omurice + deep-fried battered seafood & vegetables = hantonrice!
Hantonrice | ハントンライス • Omurice | オムライス
Chicken-rice | チキンライス
• 500 g/ 17.7 oz cooked Japanese rice (yield from 235 gr/ 8.3 oz rice, cooked with 270 ml/ 9 oz water)
• 150 g/ 5.3 oz boneless, skinless chicken thigh(s), cut into 13mm/ 1/2″ cubes and sprinkled with salt & pepper
• 1 tsp vegetable oil
• 1 Tbsp butter
• 130 g/ 4.5 oz / 1 small onion, diced small
• 1 small clove garlic, minced
• 1 small bay-leaf
• 1 tsp tomato paste
• 4 Tbsp tomato ketchup
• salt & ground black pepper
• 60 g/ 3 Tbsp green peas, parboiled with salt and immediately dipped in cool water
Omelet for Omurice | オムライス の オムレツ
• 4 large eggs
• 4 Tbsp cream
Hantonrice Topping | ハントンライス トッピング
These are all optional. Use seafood, vegetables of choice. Used in this recipe are:
• 2 pieces scallop, washed and pad dried
• 2 pieces jumbo shrimp, skinned, de-veined, washed and pad dried
• 2 half-slices, peeled butternut squash
• 6 pieces green string beans, parboiled with salt and immediately dipped in cool water
• 1 egg, beaten in a wide bowl
• 2 rounded Tbsp flour in a small plate
• 3 rounded Tbsp breadcrumbs/ panko in a small plate (I used Italian flavored breadcrumbs)
• vegetable oil for deep frying
• slices of boiled floral-carrots for decoration
• tartar sauce of choice. Used in this recipe: 2 Tbsp mayonnaise, ½ tsp lemon juice, a pinch each of dill weed & mint.
• tomato ketchup
♦ To save cooking time, measure, cut, parboil and prepare all ingredient before starting the main cooking.
Chicken-rice | チキンライス
◊ Add 1 tsp vegetable oil and 1 Tbsp butter to a medium-sized, non-stick pot, and heat on medium heat. As soon as oil is heated, add onion, garlic, bay-leaf. Sautè until onion is translucent. Add chicken and stir-fry until heat has gone completely through the chicken. Put the lid on and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Pay attention so it will not scorch.
◊ Push the contents of the pot to one end. Add tomato paste and ketchup on cleared side. Stir them until they boil. Mix the tomato mix to the other ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste and stir constantly to avoid any scorching.
◊ Add the cooked rice and mix well. Turn off the heat. Add the green peas and mix them all together. At this point, chicken-rice is done.
◊ To prepare for the next step, dish out half of the rice mixture into a 14cm/ 5.5″ diameter bowl and press in place to mold. Put a dinner plate over the bowl with rice and invert, and leave the bowl on, to keep it warm.
Omelet | オムレツ
◊ Beat 2 eggs with 2 Tbsp of cream and a-shake-or-two of salt.
◊ Heat ¼ tsp oil in a fry-pan on medium-heat. Pour in the egg mixture and rotate the pan to spread evenly. Gently stir up the curds a few times, and stop stirring just before there isn’t enough liquid left to spread out across the pan. Lower heat to medium-low and turn off as soon as there is no more runny curd. Use lower heat if necessary to avoid browning omelet.
◊ Now, remove the bowl that is over the rice and very gently slide the omelet over the chicken rice. Repeat this one more time for two servings.
Hantonrice Topping | ハントンライス トッピング
♦ If you are planning to make hantonrice, make its topping before you make the omelet.
◊ Prepare a dinner plate, lined with a paper-towel.
◊ In a 15~18cm / 6~7″ diameter saucepan, pour vegetable oil up to 2.5 cm/ 1″ deep and heat on high-heat. As soon as oil ripples, lower heat to medium.
◊ One or two at a time, coat the vegetables and seafood of choice with flour. Then dip into beaten egg, and roll in the breadcrumbs. Shake off excess breadcrumbs and carefully slide into the heated oil. Seafood cooks quickly and vegetables are already parboiled. Therefore, only ± 1 minute of frying time is enough -or- as soon as golden, take out of the oil and place on the plate lined with a paper-towel.
◊ Garnish the omurice with the fried seafood and vegetables. Decorate with greens (or carrots in this case), serve with tartar sauce and ketchup on the side.
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?