29 Nov 2015

Finland Food: Rice porridge

It's the first advent Sunday, so for me it means the start of the Christmas time. Shops have long been selling Christmas stuff, but somehow I try to avoid it during November. Rice porridge is a traditional Christmas dish in Finland. In my family we eat it around noon on Christmas Eve when the old capital of Finland, Turku, announces "Christmas peace". It's an old tradition: if a crime was made during it, the offender was given a harsher punishment.

I love rice porridge and usually eat it also on other times than just Christmas. But what makes a rice porridge a Christmas porridge, is the almond. A blanched almond is hidden in the porridge and whoever gets it, is granted to make a wish while biting the almond. I remember that somehow it was usually my father who got it (maybe he just ate the porridge more than the rest of us...) If you get the almond, don't tell anyone what you wished for as then your wish won't become true ;)

If you have some left-over porridge, you can make rice pudding from it by adding some sugar and whipped cream once it's cooled.

Riisipuuro - Rice porridge (serves 3-4)

300 ml water
130 g (~1.5 dl) "porridge rice" (puuroriisi) (or risotto rice or Japanese rice)
700 ml milk (preferably full-fat, semi-skimmed is acceptable, though it will stick more)
0.5-1 tsp salt
1 blanched almond, optional

to serve:
cinnamon and sugar
(or butter, if you like it my way)

(Optional: Warm up the milk). Bring the water to boil, add the rice and let cook on medium high heat until water is absorbed to the rice. Add the milk (if you warmed it up, the porridge will cook quicker). Stir the porridge constantly until it starts to bubble (be careful: it sticks very easily to the bottom of the pot. Teflon-coated would be best.) Lower the heat to low medium and continue stirring. I've noticed that the sticking happens mostly within the first few minutes, when the boiling starts. Once the situation is "stabilized" you don't have to stir all the time (but probably you need to "burn" a couple batches before you learn when you can stop the constant stirring).

Simmer for about 40 minutes stirring first quite often or until the milk has absorbed to the rice and the grains are soft. Add salt (and don't forget the almond!) when the porridge is done.

If the porridge sticks to the bottom, the best thing to do is to NOT scrape it as then the burned brown parts will dot the beautiful white porridge. You can either change the pot leaving the burned bottom out or then just carefully stir "on top" of the burned part.

Or, if you have a double boiler, you could skip almost the whole stirring part: after the porridge starts to boil, move it to the double boiler. It takes extra time but on the other hand you'll have to stir it only occasionally. You could also use a rice cooker, but it will probably need some experimenting. I used okayu -setting when I had a rice cooker and it was the easiest way I've experimented to make rice porridge.

Peaceful and nostalgic advent time for everyone 🌟

11 Nov 2015

おにぎり ・ Onigiri

Onigiri are rice balls (or triangles) either with a filling or then the rice itself has been flavoured with something. They are very often eaten as a snack in Japan, quite similar to sandwiches here in Finland. My favorite onigiri is ”tsuna mayo”, ie. with a tuna mayonnaise filling. Even better if it’s wafuu tsuna mayo (seasoned in Japanese way, with shoyu and wasabi) onigiri which is sold only at a certain konbini chain (does someone remember which one it is? Not "sebun ireben" I think but some other...).

They are a perfect take-away lunch. Depending on the filling, they keep in room-temperature until lunch (actually I wouldn't refrigerate them, as the rice will start to harden), are handy to carry around and can be eaten without any utensils. And did I mention, they are so delicious (onigiri is about the rice most of all and you know me, I'm a rice addict...). At first it might seem intimidating shaping them, but it's quite easy, if you've prepared the rice correctly.

Some advice for easier shaping (and eating) (for the English recipe scroll below)
-My recommendation is to use tuna in brine (not in oil) as the seeping oil will make the rice to break apart more easily 
-use wet hands to handle the cooked rice to avoid it sticking to your hands
-use the cling-film+cup -method (described below)
-use Japanese rice ("sushi" rice) and cook it the way Japanese do it

Neuvoja muotoiluun (ja syömiseen) (suomenkielinen resepti löytyy postauksen lopusta)
-käytä mieluummin tonnikalaa, joka on säilötty veteen (tai purista öljy hyvin pois, sillä riisipallo hajoaa helposti viimeistään syödessä, jos öljyä on imeytynyt riisiin)
-käytä kostutettuja käsiä (ja välineitä) riisin käsittelyyn, niin se ei tartu
-käytä tuorekelmu+kuppi-metodia (ks. alla)
-käytä japanilaista riisiä ("sushi" riisi tms) ja keitä se japanilaiseen tapaan


Onigiri (makes 4 medium-sized onigiri)

(adapted from Just Hungry)

-Freshly cooked, hot Japanese rice made from 180 ml uncooked rice (see instructions to cook perfect rice here)
80 g tuna (preferably in brine, drained weight)
2-3 tsp mayonnaise, preferrably Japanese e.g. Kewpie
optional: a dash of Japanese soy sauce, a tiny knob of wasabi, or to taste
To wrap: nori sheet, I usually cut it in 10 cm wide strips, but you could wrap a whole nori sheet per one rice ball (= konbini style)

You can make it with your bare hands, but I prefer using either a small cup (for round onigiri) or my onigiri case (for triangular ones) and the plastic wrap method.

Drain the tuna (very carefully esp. if using tuna in oil). Combine it with mayonnaise (and soy sauce and wasabi, if using). Line a cup with a piece of plastic wrap, so that it comes well over the edges. Sprinkle some water on it and then some salt (very little). Spread the salt on the surface of the plastic wrap with wet hands, so as to dissolve it. (It will give taste to the rice, as it’s cooked without any salt). Divide the cooked rice roughly in 4 parts (to make 4 onigiri), usually I just draw lines with a spatula on the rice. Put some rice on the mold (about 2/3 of the planned portion/onigiri). Make a shallow hole in the middle by pressing with a finger (about halfway, not to the bottom). Fill the hole with the tuna-mayo filling. Add on top of it enough rice to cover the filling. Press the rice LIGHTLY. Gather the edges of the plastic wrap and by lightly twisting and squeezing, remove the extra air, Shape the rice into a round or triangular shape by squeezing LIGHTLY. (If you squeeze too hard, the resulting onigiri will be hard, too. And if you don't squeeze enough, the rice won't cling together properly and it will be difficult to eat it. You will discover the optimal force only by making them...).

If you're not eating it straight away, leave the rice ball into the plastic wrap. When you're about eat it, take away the plastic wrap and wrap the onigiri in nori seaweed just before eating it (that way nori will not get soft: I love it crispy!)


4 keskikokoista onigiria

Vastakeitettyä, kuumaa japanilaista riisiä (180 ml kypsentämätöntä riisiä) (ks. ohjeet täydellisen riisin keittämiseen)
80 g tonnikalaa (mielellään vedessä), valutettu paino
2-3 rkl majoneesia, mieluiten japanilaista (esim. Kewpie tai muuta miedon makuista)
maun mukaan: tilkka japanilaista soijakastiketta, pieni nokare wasabia

Käärimiseen: nori-leväarkki, leikattuna 10 cm levyisiksi paloiksi tai voit myös kääriä onigirin kokonaiseen arkkiin "kombini"-tyyliin

muut tarvikkeet: tuorekelmua ja pieni kuppi tai kolmiomainen muotti

Valuta tonnikala (huolellisesti, etenkin jos käytät öljyyn säilöttyä). Sekoita tonnikala ja majoneesi (sekä soijakastike ja wasabi). Vuoraa kuppi tai muotti kelmulla niin, että sen reunat tulevat reilusti muotin reunojen yli. Kostuta kelmun pinta. Ripottele siihen vähän suolaa ja hiero se tasaisesti kelmun pintaan kostein sormin (suolaus antaa riisille makua, sillä riisiin ei kypsennysvaiheessa laiteta suolaa).

Jaa keitetty riisi neljään osaan (yleensä jaan riisin melko karkeasti: piirrän lastalla ristikkäiset viivat riisin pintaan. Laita kelmulla vuorattuun muottiin/kuppiin noin 2/3 yhteen onigiriin tarkoitetusta riisistä. Paina keskelle kuoppa noin puoleenväliin asti ja täytä se tonnikalalla. Peitä tonnikala riisillä ja paina riisiä KEVYESTI (jos käytät liikaa voimaa, onigiristä tulee kivikova). Kerää kelmun nurkat ja kierrä se kevyesti umpeen, jotta ylimääräinen ilma poistuisi sisältä. Muotoile riisi haluttuun muotoon KEVYESTI puristamalla (mutta kuitenkin riittävää voimaa käyttäen, jotta onigiri pystyy kasassa).

Jos et syö onigiria heti, jätä se tuorekelmuun. Juuri ennen syömistä poista kelmu ja kääri onigiri leväarkkiin (jotta se olisi rapeaa vielä syömishetkellä).

Mukailtu lähteestä: Just Hungry

5 Nov 2015

Finland Food: Piimähyytelö - Buttermilk Pudding

Despite my (seasonal) complaints about hospital canteens, sometimes the canteen at Meilahti Hospital takes me by surprise - in a positive way :D This time it introduced me to a completely new dessert. I've never before even heard about buttermilk pudding (piimähyytelö). I saw it printed on the weekly menu and started wondering how it would taste. Some days later I could finally taste it and it was really good actually! Though I had to change lanes as it was nearly finished on two lanes and the new batch they brought from the kitchen hadn't had enough time to set so it wasn't  really a pudding but more like a watery custard... Luckily there was a lane where the pudding had had time to set, so I went to queue there.

It was served with raspberry compote, which was so yummy too :) As it's a hospital canteen, all ingredients are listed (and the calory contents too), so I memorized them (quark, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon juice and gelatine). After some googling I found a recipe which didn't have any quark, but what I liked about it, was the whipping part :D I've previously done some puddings which are whipped after adding the gelatine and letting it set a while, and liked the results. 

And on the next day I sadly discovered it wasn't exactly similar to the canteen's: It tasted more strongly of buttermilk, and the consistency was different (because of the whisking, I'd guess). So I went to the canteen to kindly ask for the recipe. But they said they can't give it!!! (Of course I understand some restaurant recipes are secret, but those of canteens...). Couldn't believe it... Maybe I'll enroll their buttermilk pudding in those food magazine "ask a restaurant for a recipe" series :D And how come they didn't want their 15 seconds' fame via my blog (lol). But anyway they were kind enough to give me the ingredients list (which I had already memorized the previous day, (essence of) vanilla sugar and lemon juice being vice versa). And this is what I created from it:

Buttermilk Pudding

for 2

100 g low-fat quark (maitorahka)
100 ml buttermilk (you can play a little with the relations: next time I'll try 70 g quark and 130 ml buttermilk)
20 g sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
scant 1 tsp powdered gelatine
0,5-1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water

to serve with:
berries / compote

Put 1 Tbsp cold water and the lemon juice to a small pot. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix quark, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla. Heat the gelatine gently, stirring until dissolved. Add it to the buttermilk mixture while whisking(*). Pour into individual cups or serving dish and refrigerate for a minimum of 1-2 hours. Serve with berries or compote.

Inspired by Ravioli Meilahti.

A fluffier version with buttermilk only

200 ml fat-free buttermilk
1-2 Tbsp sugar
scant 1 tsp gelatine
0,5-1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Proceed as above until *. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to let it thicken slightly. Whisk with an electric mixer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture starts to get fluffy. Before it sets completely, move it to individual serving cups and let set for about 1 hour in the fridge. Serve with berries or compote.

 Adapted from http://ruoka.fi/reseptit/puolukka-piimahyytelo
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