Posts Tagged ‘scallops’

Part 5: Osaka

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Japan
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When I got back from my travels, I promised myself that I would try and complete the whole Japan food experience before the end of the summer so I could continue blogging about other things once everyone got back to work and our holidays were long forgotten.  However, It’s taking a bit longer than I had planned…

Looking back through my photos and trying to piece together a food journey through Japan is easier said than done considering the extensive travelling we embarked upon taking us from one point of the country to the other.

We left our westernmost point, Hiroshima, and made our way back to Tokyo via Osaka.  

Osaka is described in tourist guides as “the belly of Japan.”  

Walking around Dotonbori, a very popular tourist area in Osaka, you quickly realise that this sentiment is not exaggerated.  Tripadvisor’s #1 thing to do in Osaka is to visit Dotonbori! 

“Osaka is known for its food, and Dotonbori is the main destination for food travel.”

A plethora of restaurants, stalls and bars that line the streets of Dotonbori.  I was clearly going to be a very happy man.

During the day, even under the intense summer sun, street vendors line the streets selling food items such as barbeque scallops, gyoza, roast chestnuts and the ubiquitous takoyaki (Octopus balls).

Takoyaki – described as Octopus Balls; think of these are the savoury version of a cake pop.  And can be found everywhere!  Cooked in what appear to be cake-pop pans over gas burners.  Whether at a restaurant or on the street, this is definitely worth a watch. These Takoyaki chefs half-fill  the ‘cake-pop’ pans with a very liquidy batter.  They then place an octopus piece into each and sprinkle with plenty of spring onions and red ginger, then pour over more batter.

Once the batter begins to set they go at it with metal chopsticks and make sure each ball is cooked all the way through, perfectly spherical and evenly browned.  Then all that’s left is for you to decide how many pieces you want – these are either smothered in Takoyaki sauce, drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise or sprinkled with nori pieces depending on the establishment.

We went to a few different stalls trying different takoyaki in boxes of 6 – some people happily walking away with boxes of 24 balls!


Scallops cooked over charcoal – Another absolute delight were the scallops cooked on a grill.  The man who ran the stall, would cook the scallops in a small wrought iron frying pan and as people ordered he would place the shell on the grill and place the scallop on the shell with a knob of butter and blowtorch it until the butter was frothy.  Sadly, he wouldn’t serve you the scallop in the shell but in a polystyrene tray. Admittedly, the shell would be so hot that there is no way you’d be able to hold it anyway!  Shell or no shell – lip smackingly delicious!

Gyoza – were also prevalent throughout Dotonbori.  We stumbled upon a chef who was making 100’s of these and placing them into crates ready for the lunchtime trade.  I can imagine he would have to undertake the same routine later on in the afternoon to have enough gyoza for the night time trade.

Crescent shaped, pork filled, fried and steamed dumplings – Oishi!

Gyoza are tasty and moreish – regardless of how full up you were from the takoyaki and scallop – there is always room for a gyoza… or three!

The streets around Dotonbori, resonate with the multitudes of people getting to and from work, popping out during their lunch break to grab a quick bite to eat or even take a box of 24 takoyaki back to the office.  However, at night time, Dotonbori takes on a whole new persona.

With its attractions like the Glico running man at the ‘pick-up bridge’ and giant food signs, loud music and even more people; many rushing to dinner reservations – the vibe is electric!

That evening we dined at Gyumabe M a specialist in Matsusaka Beef, IMO better than the very over-rated Kobe Beef! (Kobe is very near Osaka).

In the centre of our table was a hot plate heated by gas burners underneath.  The beef selection we chose was presented to us on a beautiful platter and the waiter identified a piece of fat that had been taken from one of the steaks.  We were subsequently shown how to render the fat on the hotplate and use this to stop the beef from sticking, instead of using oil or butter.  So tongs in hand, we went about cooking our beef to our liking – rare for me!

Once we had finished our meal, the manager, chef and waiters, with props in hand, posed with us for a few photos… this was a super fun place to come.

IMG_1631Great place, great food, great personalities!

The following morning, we descended for breakfast and in the exuberance of Dotonbori I piled my plate high with Japanese and Western items for breakfast.  Finishing with a corn dog!

Kore wa, amerikandoggudesu

  • In the past, no matter what time we went to bed at and no matter how much toasting to the new year had gone on, someone (Gran and Mum) had to wake up early and get started on preparing and cooking a New Year’s lunch for a family of 7+.  On most occasions, the same food as that on Christmas Day was painstakingly prepared and elaborately presented throughout a lavish meal where no one – not even the dog – could could eat any more.


Buttons ready to pop and the brussel sprouts working their magic, everyone then descended onto the sofa to sleep off the meal as well as the previous night’s excesses.

Then in the evening, even though still full to bursting, a cheese board or sandwich were necessary to stave off the hunger pangs that would then attack during the night.  Or the best one: “I could really do with something sweet,” as you slice into the banoffee pie for the third time!

“Buttons ready to pop and the brussel sprouts working their magic”

However, this year we came up with an alternative idea. Primarily to try to eat with some modicum of sense but also to accommodate a very necessary lie-in. We decided upon starting the day with a New Years Brunch and then having a Roast Dinner for supper.

New Year’s Brunch

  • Ricotta Hotcakes with Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries
  • Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagels
  • Cooked Breakfast (scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and toast)

2013-01-01 12.52.10

Whereas everyone else had juices to wash their breakfast down with I hit the jackpot with my choice of breakfast beverage, CHAMPAGNE!  So as not to encourage the idea that I may appear to be an absolute dipsomaniac please let me explain:  On New Year’s Eve I had put a bottle of champagne (not cava) into the freezer to chill whilst I got on preparing the food for the evening party and forgot about it.  5 hours later when I went to pour out some glasses of bubbly to toast the New Year with the champers was solid!  Thankfully M&S had given us a complimentary bottle for spending so much on food that my actions were not totally disastrous.

New Year’s Supper

  • Scallops and King Prawns San Jacques
  • Roast beef with horseradish gravy, roast potatoes, green veg and Yorkshire Pudding.
  • Warmed Brownies and Ice-Cream (for the kids!)

This was a much more appreciative way of preparing food.  The brunch consisting of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, ricotta hotcakes with summer fruits and champagne was on the right side of decadence to herald in the new year.  The fry-up very necessary at filling us all up until dinner time.

“breakfast with champagne was on the right side of decadence”

New Year’s dinner was delicate and flavoursome, gutsy and well-balanced.  The beef was prepared with a horseradish gravy and cooked rare, potatoes par boiled and then roasted in goose fat served with steamed vegetables.  Below you can find the recipe for my simple Scallops and King Prawn San Jacques.

Scallops and King Prawn San Jacques20130102-231101.jpg

1st: Prepare the bechamel (white) sauce:

  • Bring 300mls of milk to the boil with bay leaves, a couple of rasps of fresh nutmeg, peppercorns and salt.  You can also add a couple of cooking cloves but I tend to leave them out.  Remove it from the heat and leave to infuse for 15mins.  
  • To make it easier to work with I then strain the milk into a measuring jug for easy pouring.
  • Melt a wodge of butter in a saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of flour.  Cook gently, stirring, for 1 minute.  This is now called a roux.
  • On a low heat, add the milk infusion a bit at a time whisking it into the roux before pouring in the next bit.  Continue like this until all the milk is absorbed.
  • If you want to make this a cheese sauce add your cheese at this stage.  Stir it gently until all the cheese has melted.  Take care as this has the tendency to catch on the bottom of the pan if your hob is too fierce or you discontinue stirring.

2nd: In a shallow saucepan, fry the king prawns until pink.  Decant them into an oven dish.

3rd: In the same saucepan, quick fry the scallops for around 30secs a side.  Add these to the prawns in the oven dish.  Cover over with the bechamel sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese &/or breadcrumbs.  Place under the grill until it begins to colour.

If preparing individual portions, try to use the actual scallop shells instead of an oven dish to serve the scallops and prawns.


Happy New Year!