So, I’m ready to tell you about the rest of my Tokyo trip. I would have posted sooner, but I’m still acclimating to “regular life” and my body isn’t a fan of the change, believe me. Well, sorry to my body but I’m in charge here, so I have the final say in what we do and where we go and how we feel. That’s why I have a shiny new prescription for antibiotics and anti-nausea medicine and I’m ready to kick this week’s ass. Theoretically. Anyway, Tokyo! These photos are from the morning we woke up ungodly early to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market. You have the option of waking up at 3am to be in line by 4am in order to watch the tuna auctions at the market, which is A Big Deal and seemingly very special. I, however, do not have that kind of willpower and the idea of waking up at 3am for anything short of catching a flight did not appeal to me, so Kramer and I woke up at the still early but a bit more manageable hour of 5am in order to be at the market by 6. Once we arrived and figured out which direction we were headed, we wandered around for a bit, trying to figure out where the actual market was and where we were and weren’t allowed to visit. We stopped for a cup of coffee and thick piece of delicious Japanese milk bread smothered in butter and jam, then headed out. The outer markets were amazing. You could really buy anything there, from kitchen supplies to cookbooks to specially made knives to dried squid snacks. We wandered back and forth throughout the stalls, grabbing a tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet) for fuel as we perused. I did pick up a pair of beautifully painted chopsticks that I’m sure you’ll see on the blog at some point, but for the most part I was just in awe at how much could be squeezed into such a small space. Sadly, I’ve heard that the market is being moved to make way for the 2020 Summer Olympics, so the fate of some of these small vendors is unknown. I heard that the move in taking place in March, so my best of luck to all of these people, especially the ones who have spent their entire lives working at the market. I hope that the move goes smoothly and that people aren’t pushed out for the wrong reasons.
Our Tsukiji Fish Market breakfast in Tokyo.
Our last stop at the market was a place that I’ll probably never know the name of, but as you can see above, it’s worth mentioning. That bowl of delicious sashimi, prawn, salmon roe and uni cost only about $10, and it came with a bowl of miso soup complete with crab legs swimming in it. No matter that it was 7am – Kramer and I washed everything down with a cold beer and couldn’t believe our good luck. I know a lot of people stand in line for hours to eat at one specific sushi restaurant, but I’ve got to say, this bowl was insanely good and I can’t imagine standing in line for hours at the wee hours of the morning for anything better. Kramer and I needed to do a little walking after our feast. We made our way over to the Harajuku neighborhood, which is super cute and adorable, which tons of shopping, fashionable looking people, and most importantly, good coffee. We grabbed a couple of Americanos (just like us, haw haw haw) and a doughnut from The Roastery, then sat and rested our tired, old bones in their adorable shop for a little while. Onward and upward, we did a little more shopping, I grabbed a sweater with a sad bear on it, you know, the usual. We finally found ourselves in a park at the end of the day, where we purchased beers from the park’s vendor (Japan really has its shit together) and sat to watch some fountains before heading home to take a quick nap before the greatest show of our lives at Robot Restaurant. There really are no words to describe Robot Restaurant, but Kramer and I, full of beer and yakitori from making our way through Shinjuku, sat down in their basement studio and had our faces blasted off with complete and total awesomeness. I posted a short video on Instagram, but even that is just a sampling of what you can expect from this place. You may have seen Anthony Bourdain talk about how much fun it is on his show, and I can only echo those sentiments. Go to Tokyo and go to Robot Restaurant. It will make you a better person.
Fighting robots and burlesque dancers aside, this cheesy bread is also pretty good. Has a less enthusiastic sentence ever been written? Obviously nothing can live up to Tokyo in one dish, but I have to say, layers of pillowy soft bread with gooey cheese, garlic, butter and scallions sandwiched in between can do a pretty good job of it. I saw Kelly’s pepperoni pull-apart bread a while back, so I whipped this up based on that recipe and I have to say, it was pretty damn good. I will admit that I did make this last month for a Superbowl party, but life happens, guys! I was busy. At least I am finally sharing it with you now. The recipe may seem a little complicated, but it’s mostly about waiting – waiting for the dough to rise once, rolling it out, shaping it, letting it rise again, then baking. The end product is to die for, and perfect for a fancy brunch or even a casual picnic, as long as you make the bread the day before. My favorite way to eat this is alongside a few runny eggs, or even as a buffer in between bites of spicy hot wings. The choice is yours, but really, take a look at those heavenly folds and bubbles of cheese and tell me that this bread isn’t calling to you.
The Tsukiji Fish Market around 6am.
Chicken and rice, with plenty of ginger and maybe an egg, is a typical breakfast for the people who work at the market.
So, now to make some cheesy pull-apart bread.
Your dough will look a little dry before you add the liquid – it’s okay.
Now let the sucker proof until doubled in size, 60-90 minutes.
When ready, roll your dough out, brush it with butter, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, then sprinkle with cheese and scallions.
Slice the dough width wise into 6 equal strips, then stack them on top of each other.
Then stack the bread in your greased loaf pan and let it proof for another 45 minutes or so before baking.
Let cool slightly before removing from the pan and enjoying warm.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast (usually 1 packet)
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- First, make your dough. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In a microwave safe bowl, or in a small saucepan (depending on your preference), melt together the butter and milk over low heat or in short 30-second spurts in the microwave, until fully combined and melted. Stir in the water and let the mixture set until it reaches 130 degrees F.
- Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients, and use a wooden spoon to mix them together gently until just combined. Use your dough hook to knead the dough on low speed until the liquid and flour mixture are well combined, about 3 minutes, then add in the eggs, one at a time, kneading on medium-high speed in between each egg so that each one is mixed in well before adding in the next. Obviously you are free to do this by hand, too, it will just take a little extra elbow grease!
- Once the eggs are incorporated, stop the mixer and add in your remaining 1 cup of flour. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, or by hand, until it is smooth, about 2-3 minutes. The dough should be soft and smooth, but still a little sticky (see photos above).
- Lightly flour a work surface, turn the dough out onto it, and knead 5 or 6 times until the dough comes together into a smooth ball. I like to turn the dough over in my hands a few times and pinch the bottom like a balloon to get it smooth.
- Grease a large bowl with vegetable or olive oil (or butter). Place the dough in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap or a towel with a rubber band, and allow the dough to proof in a warm area for 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size (mine took 90 minutes because it's winter and my apartment is pretty cold).
- Generously butter a standard sized loaf pan (8½ x 4½). When the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and gently punch it down on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle, measuring about 20 inches by 11 inches.
- Brush the dough with 5 tablespoons of melted butter, then sprinkle with your garlic powder and red pepper flakes, followed by your grated cheese and your scallions. This obviously does not have to be perfect (again, see the photos above).
- Cut the rectangle width-wise into 6 equal strips (see the photos above), then stack the strips on top of one another and cut them again into 6 equal sized squares (some of the filling will fall out, which is fine). Gently stack the squares into your buttered loaf pan (there will be space on either side) and cover again with plastic wrap or a towel and let it proof again for 45 minutes or so, until it has doubled in size.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes, until golden but not browned. Remove from the oven, let cool for 20 minutes or so, then run a butter knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan and serve! This is great warm or at room temperature, and will keep well, covered, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.