Ke-ki delight with Chef Yamashita @Bosch

[Event invite]

You know I love baking. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to share baked goods with loved ones and it always brings a smile to my face when the aroma of those delicious products fill the kitchen. What is more delightful is the chance to meet a renowned chef and to brush shoulders with him.

Last Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to attend the launch of famed pâtissier Chef Yamashita’s third recipe book – “Tanoshii Ke–Ki” – at Bosch Experience Centre and learn how to bake a Yuzu Chiffon Cake from the great baking master himself.

chefyamashita[Credit: Bosch]

Chef Yamashita is such an affable chef and also a funny one. He put all of us at ease as he spoke in Japanese the steps to making the Yuzu Chiffon Cake. Of course, we were able to understand his instructions as he had a translator working alongside him.

A few pointers to note as he showed us the steps:

:: Sift the flour once or twice to aerate it.
:: When preparing the egg yolk batter, you need to add the olive oil really gradually, just like how you make home-made mayonnaise. Do not rush this step to prevent splitting.
:: When the batter is ready, pour it a portion at a time, using a bench scraper if you have. This is to prevent air bubbles to be introduced.

Don’t know what I’m talking about since you don’t have the recipe? No worries! Chef Yamashita has kindly agreed to share it with you!

In Bosch Experience Centre where this event was held, we could see for ourselves how machines can help to make life easier for us. Say, the MaxxiMUM kitchen machine, for example, it could beat the egg whites on all sides of the bowl and its SensorControl could automatically detect the ideal stiffness of the egg whites. Cool eh? And the oven? It’s even smarter with all the different kinds of settings that are available including steaming! You can take a trip down to experience all these cool kitchen gadgets when you are free.

I tell you, the Yuzu Chiffon is simply tantalising. Soft and not overly sweet and more importantly, you could really taste the yuzu. You have to try baking it!

 We were also treated to his lovely Sakura roll cake and Castella cake, a popular Japanese honey spongecake which was originally introduced by the Portuguese merchants to Nagasaki area in the 16th century.

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Flipping through Chef Yamashita’s third book, I realised they are easy to bake Japanese-inspired French confections. They range from his signature sponge, chiffon and mousse cakes to egg-free treats so that everyone can recreate these easy-to-follow cake recipes in their own homes. I’m really excited and tempted to bake all of them!

For a start, why don’t you try your hands on this Yuzu Chiffon Cake?

Ingredients:
120g pastry flour
3g baking powder

Egg yolk batter
4 egg yolks
40g castor sugar
45g olive oil
30g milk
85g honey yuzu tea syrup

Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

Chantilly cream (optional)
400g whipping cream
20g castor sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together pastry flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add olive oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Add honey yuzu tea and mix again. Set aside.
  4. Prepare meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.
  9. Prepare Chantilly cream. Using an electric mixer, whisk whipping cream and sugar at high speed util medium soft peaks form.
  10. Decorate cake with Chantilly carea,, fresh fruit, chocolate balls, dollops of honey yuzu tea syrup and biscuits crumbs if desired.
  11. Refriegerate for 30 minutes before serving. Consume within a day.

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Chef Yamashita Masataka trained at the Tsuji Culinary Institute, a well-known and respected culinary institute in Osaka, Japan. He gained experience working at various patisseries around Japan for a decade before starting his own patisserie in Nara, which quickly became one of the top patisseries there. Eight years later, yearning for new challenges and a change of scenery, che Yamashita moved to Singapore where he took charge of the kitchen at Patisserie Glace, turning it into a haven for delightful cakes and pastries. Chef Yamashita soon saw an opportunity to revive his patisserie from Japan and re-established Flor Patisserie at Duxton Hill, Sigapore. Today, chef Yamashita runs his own highly successful Japanese artisan patisserie at Tanjong Pagar Plaza, aptly named Chef Yamashita.  He is also appointed as brand ambassador for Bosch Home Appliances.

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Foodie Friday | Teriyaki Chicken Don

I cook often and sometimes in a bid to get the meals out quickly, I stick to the ones that I often cook. It gets boring after a while and I think it’s time to inject some life into my cooking.

9789814398510Recently, I’m into Donburi, a rice meal topped with any ingredient. Still sounds dull right? Thankfully, I received some inspiration from a cooking book by Aki Watanabe called Donburi which includes a lot of delicious-looking rice meals waiting for me to try. I whipped up a few and love the end result so I thought I should share one of the recipes found in the book, a widely popular meal – Teriyaki Chicken Don. I’m sure many have tried cooking this but I absolutely adore the homemade teriyaki sauce listed in the book, so I thought I should share. I hope she doesn’t mind. This is an adapted version. I have omitted the salt and pepper since I am offering to the little one and soy sauce is tasteful enough for her!

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What you would need (yields 2): 
Boneless chicken leg 300g (I got mine from the market, deboned)
Canola oil for pan-frying
Steamed rice
Nori & wasabi sprouts for ganishing
Mixed chilli powder for seasoning

Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce 40ml
Caster sugar 15g
Sake 10ml
Mirin 4 tbsp

1. Heat all ingredients for teriyaki sauce in a pan. Simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Set aside.

2. Remove yellow fat from chicken meat.

3. Heat oil in a pan. Pan-fry chicken over medium heat until both sides have browned.

4. Cover with a lid and cook chicken over low heat. When chicken is cooked through, remove from the pan.

5. Clean the pan with kitchen towels and pour in teriyaki sauce. Place chicken in the sauce and heat until the meat is glazed and the sauce thickens.

6. Slice chicken into strips and place on rice. Pour the sauce over.

7. Garnish with wasabi sprouts and nori or toasted sesame seeds.

8. Serve with mixed chilli powder.

Using the recipes found in the book, I’ve also cooked the Tofu and Mushroom Don, adjusting the flavour of the seasoning to suit my daughter. And she loved it!

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This is another meal that is inspired by one of the recipes. Not a don but ramen.

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The book has inspired me to cook better rice meals. Perhaps you can take a look for yourself? 😉

Linking up with

Japanese Strawberry cake (again!)

This is a continuation from the previous post.

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After looking through various sources, I adapted Ochikeron’s recipe and baked an 8″ strawberry cake for a birthday girl. The recipe would have been great for a 6″ cake but since an 8″ is being called for, I have to bake sponge base twice which is not too much of a problem since the recipe is rather straight forward.  I would see if I could double the portion the next time I bake an 8″ strawberry cake.

For now…

Cake base (I made twice for 8″ cake)
2 eggs ( I used 55g egg) @ room temperature
60g caster sugar
60g top flour, sifted
20g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

Syrup
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
20ml very hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream
300ml non-dairy whipping cream (I used Phoon Huat’s; this amount is more than enough and I have left over)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries (depending on how you decorate the cake)
– for the sandwich layer, slice off the tops and cut into 0.5cm thickness
– for decorations on top, all up to you!

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Beat eggs and sugar over a bain-marie (hot water bath) until the mixture warms up. I used my finger to test. A little warmth is good enough. This is to dissolve the sugar and by adding heat to the egg mixture, more air can be incorporated easily when the mixture is whipped. Remove the mixture from the bain-marie and continue beating the egg mixture till it triples in volume and turns very pale (almost white). I use my standmixer which saves a lot of time and effort!

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2. Towards the last 2 to 3 minutes, beat on the lowest speed. By reducing the speed of the mixer, a stable egg mixture with fine foam is obtained and less volume is lost when the flour is folded in. When the egg mixture has reached the “ribbon stage”, sift in the flour a little at a time in 3 stages. Cut through the mixture with a wire whisk after each addition.

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3. Sprinkle the cooled melted butter over the batter and fold in using a spatula. Take care not to over-mix the batter.

4. Pour the batter from a height of 30cm into a lined tin. Towards the end, pour the remaining batter to one side of the tin.

5. Lift the tin and drop it gently onto the table top twice to eliminate air bubbles.

IMG_91956. Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes. While it bakes, make the simple syrup solution. Dissolve 1/2 tbsp sugar in 20ml of very hot water. Then add the vanilla extract. Stir to mix well and set aside.

7. When the cake is done, turn it onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool with the pan covering it. Wrap using clingwrap when it is completely cooled if you do not intend to frost the cake on the same day (the cake keeps for 2 to 3 days, refrigerated). Otherwise, proceed to slice the cake in half, horizontally.

8. To make the cream, whip the cream and vanilla extract (preferably in a metal bowl) sitting over an ice bath. In the video, she whips till soft peaks form. For me, I whip till stiff peaks are formed. But don’t overwhip! Use instantly or keep it chilled in the fridge, covered, at all times.

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9.Now, brush sugar syrup onto the first layer of the cake (sliced side). This keeps the sponge cake nice and moist.

10. Spread a layer of cream and then top with the cut strawberries. Add another layer of cream over the strawberries.

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11. Brush the remaining layer of cake (sliced side) with sugar syrup, then place it on top of the strawberries and cream. Proceed to frost and decorate the entire cake.

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My initial design was this but I find it a tad too plain for an 8″ cake. Then I redesigned and decided that each slice should have a strawberry and since I’m supposed to pipe some birthday message on it, I used two pieces of dark chocolate and pipe the wordings on them. Royal icing will smudge on the cream so I would have to resort to this method. Not the most beautiful but well, this shows that the cake is home-baked! 😉

12. Keep the cake chilled until time of serving. The colder the cake, the easier it is to cut (and the yummier it is to eat!).

IMG_9224Packed and delivered!

Source: The Little Teochew & Okashi by Keiko Ishida
The video, again.

Japanese-style Strawberry cake | Keiko’s vs Ochikeron’s

I’ve been searching for recipes for light and fluffy sponge cake the past week. Fact is, the sponge cakes I have baked recently were rather firm to the touch and when you sink your teeth into a slice, you feel that you have one lump of stuff in your mouth. I also realised that many, like my mom, prefer their cakes to be light and thus my quest for suitable recipes began.

I had baked the Japanese-style Strawberry Cake using La Fuji Mama’s recipe before and I thought it was good enough. This time round, I used Keiko Ishida’s recipe and I though the result is the same as the previous one. Alas, my mom, my most valued critic, told me that the sponge is not soft enough. Can you imagine my frustration???

IMG_9181Decided on this design after reading this.

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Nearly forgot to take the pic of the interior – the last piece.

The following video is a close representation of Keiko’s genoise sponge recipe. The sponge is soft but I would have wanted it to be softer. I’m not sure if it is supposed to turn out like the above though.
You can find a similar recipe here.

So, I went to do some research again. On my tabs, there is this recipe that I’m supposed to try and I decided to use hers.

And so, I used an 8″ springform pan to bake the cake. It yields one with a height of 1.5cm tall. This won’t do if I want to make a proper cake. So I made another round of batter. The sponge cake turns out soft and fluffy and I think mom would approve of it!

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The recipe can be found here.

Overall, I prefer Ochikeron’s recipe which works wonderfully well for a 6″ cake. It is straightforward and fuss-free. I did use a standmixer to make the egg mixture which is much faster than using a handmixer (my arms hurt!). Her sponge cake is softer and overall, a light and well-aerated sponge cake results.

Disclaimer: I think you have to try the recipes for yourself and determine if my analysis is right. : )

Will post the adapted recipe next!

Food education the Japanese way

I’m no nutritionist but I do know a little about food education, a result of growing up with a mother who cooks meals 95% of the time. It helps greatly that she dragged us along to the wet market and taught us how to spot the freshest meat and vegetables. amongst other things (like haggling with the stallholders, for example). Obviously, we were also involved in the cooking and baking process since young.  But I must qualify that we weren’t very enthusiastic then (even dreaded it) but whatever we were taught stays with us. Incredible!

So, it’s no surprise that I would start Faith early on eating well and recognising the various foods in their original state. I’m not a fan of store-bought food because they do contain preservatives and therefore not good for the little one. However, for convenience’s sake, they can be a good substitute.

I continue to be intrigued by how the Japanese and the French cultivate good eating habits in their children since young. In my humble opinion, teaching good eating habits is as tough as inculcating values in a being and it has to start from young for once he/she has a good foundation, the person will grow up distinguishing right from wrong and will (hopefully) make wise decisions along the way.

Some points on the Japanese way of eating (for own knowledge and reference):
Source: Parenting without borders

– What a baby eats is important but the attitude toward feeding a child is equally important. Eating in Japan is a communal matter and babies should NEVER eat alone. Even when the baby is too young to eat solids, he is always kept with the parents at mealtimes so that when he gets older, he eats together with them. This is a cardinal rule. To make babies feel even more like a part of the family, parents give them the same foods as everyone else. So, one can hardly see children’s menu in Japanese restaurants. From the time babies start eating, they’re eating the same things as adults, just more lightly seasoned or modified for the baby’s age.

– Presentation is important because when food is appealingly prepared and laid out, with an ideal mix of colours and textures, the baby will be more likely to eat it. I’m not sure about you but when I see those beautiful Bento boxes such as the following, I couldn’t help but be attracted to them and eat the contents.

{Source}

– In Japan, the thinking is to introduce young kids to a wide variety of tastes and textures, teach them to appreciate food, teach them never to waste and get them used to structured mealtimes and mealtime behaviour. The Japanese ate three proper meals each day and though overall portions were small, each meal was balanced and filling.

[Source]

– Snacks are not liberally given so kids do look forward to treats because they were rare and presented as a special privilege.

– It is considered a moral good to teach kids to eat properly and it is also an adult’s job to teach children the concept of gratitude for every bit of food on their plates. All children are taught to think of the animal who provided the meat, the farmer who grew the produce, the person who make and serve the food. Children are encouraged to eat everything they are served, to try everything they are given.

– A good parent helps her children to learn to eat anything, and she believes they can and will become good eaters, through high expectations, patience, beautifully crafted meals and lots of exposure to new foods.

– What make Japanese raise healthy eaters is the consistent support they get from others. Food education is woven throughout school life and kids grow their own tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers in first grade (they have a standardised national curriculum so most kids experience the same kind of food education. By fiftth and sixth grade, children are learning cooking basics at school and lunch is an actual class in the curriculum. I like that! It’s a class to teach children where food comes from, how to enjoy a meal and how to serve others.


Pictures above are from an account of an elementary school principal who visited a Japanese school.

Glazed Salmon Noodles

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To make the glazed salmon, cook it over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown on both sides in a pan. Remove from pan. Add soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook over a high heat until the sauce thickens and reduces slightly. Thereafter add the salmon back to the pan and cook until the salmon is glazed and cooked to your liking. Remove from the heat. ~ Basic Japanese Cooking.

Monday’s not so blue

Finally, the day has arrived – presentation on Singapore Education System at BC. For months, a few good men from our org have been planning and communicating with one another on this. The mix of undergrads and grad students was a good one since most of us have been in HQ before and could lend different perspectives when we prepared for the presentation slides.

Yesterday, it was at BC and a few weeks later, Harvard.

KJ was our representative and though only a few turned up, we were glad that at least some were interested in our ed system.

Okay. Actually the highlight was not the presentation. Celebrating KJ’s belated birthday at FuGaKyu Japanese Cuisine was. Okay, to be precise, it was the food that got our full attention that evening. The sashimi, tempura …were delish! Pity that the ramen was a disappointment. Ippudo’s still the best!

The dinner was most enjoyable because of one joker in our midst. That one, is very powerful! =)

Chicken Gohan (rice)

One of the surest thing that Ken and I would do while travelling is to visit bookstores. Bookstores are to the Queks what museums are to history buffs. As usual, Ken could most commonly be found at the Fantasy section while I at the Cookbook section.

So that day in D.C., we were tired from walking down National Mall where our last stop was the Natural History Museum. It was still early and we need to bum somewhere. Barnes and Nobles came to mind.

Browsing through the cookbooks, I found a Japanese one and the following recipe which is easy. All I need is 1 tbsp of sake and soy sauce each and 1 tsp of grated ginger juice and sugar for the chicken bites marinade. The rest is up to my improvisation…because I couldn’t remember the rest of the ingredients/steps. =p

Then I remember Oyako-Don and decided to throw in eggs (with mirin) and onions. It’s a simple meal, the way I like it.

shichimi-spiced pork ramen

I’m thankful, no doubt, that the hubs is a very easy-going person and does not demand a meal with a few dishes thrown in. Most of the time, I prefer to do a one-dish meal which has the carbo, proteins and fibre incorporated. At times, when I feel like it, I would prepare a few dishes but that’s rather seldom. A one-dish meal is good and prevents one from eating more than required. =p

I inherited a mini cookbook from Jac which has recipes of one-dish meals. One of them is shichimi-spiced beef ramen and it is really easy. I don’t normally deal with shichimi but since Jac also gave me her bottle of that spice powder, I thought why not prepare the dish. Well, I did a variation of it. Instead of beef, I used pork and I have run out of ramen noodles and used linguine instead. Works fine!

So, what you need to do is to rub the meat with oil and then season with shichimi togarashi and salt and then set aside to marinate for 5 minutes (whoah! so fast!). After that you can fry the meat for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Set aside and then keep warm. Next is the cooking of the noodles. For the stock, I used miso paste and add about 2 tbsp to the boiling water. Before assembling the meal, cut the meat into slices and then place on top of the noodle that is in the soup. Garnish with spring onion and seaweed.

Tonkatsu with fruit and nut quinoa salad

I suddenly had a craving for Tonkatsu, actually more because I have run out of ideas to cook and also wanted a fuss-free meal. The thought of cooking Tonkatsu came when I saw the box of Panko on the shelf while doing my grocery.

Commonly, Tonkatsu is served with cabbage and tomato wedges. I thought it would not be substantial for the hubs and since I’ve just purchased a box of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), decided to accompany the meat with a fruit and nut quinoa salad. The latter is also a dish that I have missed out on preparing for one of FFWD’s dishes. I didn’t know what quinoa was then and couldn’t find it in the supermarket that I frequent. Today, I chanced upon it!

Quinoa was a staple of the ancient Incas, who called it “the mother grain”. It remains an important staple in South American cuisine, as it contains more protein than most other grains. Its delicate flavour makes it a great alternative to rice or couscous as a side dish, and can be added to vegetables and meat as a main dish.

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A Dorayaki Morning

The news about the recent calamity that has hit Japan is just too saddening. It’s a wonderful country with the most gracious people on earth. One can’t help but pray for them. Just watching the videos and reading the reports about them are terrifying enough, let alone being the victims.

So, this morning, I prepared Dorayaki (Japanese cake). Let’s continue to pray for them.

INGREDIENTS: For 6

Pancakes:
Eggs: 2
Sugar: 100 g
Honey: 1+1/2 tablespoons
Extra-virgin oil: 1 tablespoon
Mirin/sweet sake: 1 tablespoon
Sodium bicarbonate: 1/3 teaspoon
Flour: 150 g
Water: 40~60 cc/ml

-Extra-virgin oil for cooking
– sweetened red bean

Use a hand whisker and beat the eggs and add the sugar. Mix until the mixture whitens or turns pale yellow. Add the honey and mix until it has completely blended in. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and mix. Add bicarbonate sodium and mix. Add mirin and mix. Add half of flour and mix well. Add other half and mix well.

Add water and mix. The amount of water might vary with the kind of flour.

Heat a frypan over a medium fire first and then remove from fire. Lower the heat. Once the frypan has cooled down bring over to the heat again. Wipe it with a kitchen paper soaked with olive oil. Wipe off excess oil if necessary.

Pour pancake mixture. Bear in mind that the size of the panckes must be the same. The amount, whatever it is must be the same. Choose your ladle/spoon well beforehand!

Cover with lid. When bubbles have appeared across the surface turn the pancake over (about 2-3 min).

Sandwich the sweetened red bean between two pancakes and serve hot.

Beef on Rice (Gyudon)

This is a really fast and fuss-free dish and it can be made within minutes. I mean, of course, you have to cook your rice before that. I told the hubs to cook the gohan (rice) before I came back from a class. And before you know it, it’s ready for lunch!

I adapted it from Harumi’s recipe.

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Beef and vegetable rolls (Gyuniku no Yasai Maki)

I first ate this dish in a Japanese restaurant in Singapore. For this dish, the beef is used as a wrap and basically we can use green beans, asparagus, carrots or Enochi mushrooms. I thought this is a good way to have the hubs eat his greens!

I had fun with this dish, wrapping the vegetables and cooking them. The aroma from the marinate was so encouraging as you cooked the dish. Yum! Yum! The hubs was happy with the dish and ate his greens. =)

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Gyoza

The Harumi way.

 

Normally, when we order Gyoza or Chinese dumplings, they are wrapped with the contents inside the wonton (pastry) skin. Harumi showed another method, one that is simpler – no wrapping! I’m happy!

I don’t intend to follow her recipe religiously simply because Ken has a slight allergy to prawns and thus I had to lessen the amount. I’m also not so sure if he likes Chinese chives since getting him to eat his greens is really good enough, let alone those non common ones.

Basically, the ingredients that you need are uncooked shrimps (half minced and half cut into 1/2-inch pieces), ground pork, salt, pinch of sugar and pepper, freshly chopped ginger, liquid chicken stock, cornstarch, chinese chives (finely chopped), wonton skins, oil and the sauce for dipping (namely, rice vinegar and soy sauce).

Remember, serve immediately with the dipping sauce! Enjoy!

Japanese Somen Noodle Salad

After weeks of Chinese food, I think it’s time to start experimenting with other cuisine. Next up is Japanese, a cuisine that is not entirely foreign but then again, it’s not totally familiar too. I will attempt the easier ones first before moving on to more complicated stuff.

First, it’s the Somen Noodle Salad, a dish that is absolutely easy to prepare and healthy too except for the mayo. But then again, the amount of mayo that you want to put is determined by you. If you want healthier dish, use them sparingly! I have used ham instead of canned tuna since we could have ham for breakfast tomorrow and thus worth buying them. Try slicing the cucumber and onion as thinly as possible (I actually love doing that!) and this requires knife skills! And if you don’t have somen noodle, just replace by using spaghetti.

 

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