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Tokyo Pony Recipe card 2 Setsubun 節分

The second in the series of Tokyo Pony monthly recipe cards following the seasons and traditions of Japanese vegan food.

RECIPE CARD NUMBER 2

February Setsubun 節分 “The Begining Of Spring”

My second recipe card marks a very significant time of year, the transition from winter to spring with the first of the 24 micro seasons Risshun. The day before the beginning of spring is celebrated with Setsubun on the 3rd of February the name literally means ‘seasonal division’,
It is custom to eat a “Eho-Maki” 恵方巻, “lucky direction sushi roll” on this day.

In my next recipe card I talk about the customs of Setsubun and how to make your own lucky direction roll using sheets of special roasted nori I have imported in from Japan just for you.
This premium quality nori is harvested from the very first young plants in the Ariake sea Kyushu Fukuoka prefecture. Because the nori is harvested this way the nori has delicious flavour and softness. It is then roasted to a perfect texture that melts in the mouth. This particular nori was chosen for the chairman’s award top ten nori in Japan. In each pack you will receive 10 large sheets of roasted nori so you can perfect your sushi making technique. Not all sushi nori is the same.

Thank you so much for your orders !

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog, Winter Food

Koshögatsu Little New Year 小正月

You may have thought all the New year celebrations were over in japan but there is one more that you may not of heard about.

Until 1873 the Japanese calendar was closely linked to the moon and before japan adopted the Gregorian calendar Koshogatsu 小正月 or “Little New Year” was always celebrated with the first full moon of the New Year.

Koshogatsu is celebrated on the 15th of  January and was historically a day to pray for a bountiful harvest. As the moon still plays an important role in Japanese culture it is still traditional to celebrate it. At this time people may pray for personal fortune and happiness.
Over the New year families  may decorate their homes with shimekazari “purifying rice straw” or kagamimochi. It is believed that the Shinto Kami Toshigami visits over new year and these decorations are placed in honour.

On the morning of Koshogatsu it is custom to eat azukigayu 小豆粥 a rice porridge with azuki beans it is also known as mochi gayu or full moon porridge.

Traditionally azuki gayu was used in temples and shrines as a divination ritual called Kayu ura (粥占) or Mi kayu ura (神粥占) This was done by placing bamboo in the porridge over night. In the morning the more rice that had stuck to the bamboo the better the harvest that year would be.

Today many families still eat azuki gayu on the 15th of January and some temples and shrines still perform the divination ritual, keeping alive old customs passed down for generations.

It is also today that you will take down your New Years decorations and in some cases they may be burned on special bonfires at temples and shrines in japan.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy year ahead .

Blog, Winter Food

Shiroan 白あん Zenzai

Kagami Biraki  鏡開き

Breaking the new year mochi rice cake 鏡餅

Celebrated on January the 11th as odd numbers are considered auspicious in Japan. There maybe slight differences according to region’s in japan.

Kagami mochi is placed in the home as an offering to the deity of the New Year to bring good luck. It is said the mochi contains Toshigami 年神 (Great-Year God”) is a Kami of the Shinto religion in Japan, a spirit that visits during this time to bring good blessings. Eating the mochi signifies a prayer for health and good fortune for the year ahead. This is a store bought ornament that contains the Mochi inside.

Traditionally the Kirimochi  which is rectangular can be grilled and eaten with a red bean soup called zenzai ぜんざい 善哉 or Oshiruko お汁粉 which is more of a watery version.

Normally I make zenzai with sweet red beans however you can enjoy making zenzai with shiroan.
Shiroan is white bean paste, often used in Japanese wagashi. I made this white bean paste from  Lima ( butter beans ) and because I used non refined sugar which had more of a golden colour the bean paste is not as pale as the Japanese variety. There are two different types of red bean paste smooth koshian and chunky tsubuan but with white bean bean paste this is only made smooth.
This Shiroan is super simple to make and can be used for wagashi filling as well as a delicious zenzai with either Mochi or Shiratama Dango.

I used two cartons of organic already cooked  butter beans in water. Each carton was 380g  yielding 230g of beans when drained.
Tip your drained beans into a saucepan then add 250g of unrefined natural caster sugar and add enough water to cover the beans. Simmer with the lid on until the water has almost gone drain the rest of the water. Then transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Tip this out into a bowl and put in the fridge over night to set.
To make Shiroan zenzai add one heaped tablespoon of white bean paste to a pan with a cup of water and simmer until the bean paste has dissolved. If you like your soup a little thicker you can add some kuzu root powered. Just crush one teaspoon in a bowl with a little cold water and mix into your hot soup to thicken if you wish.
Serve piping hot with toasted Mochi .

Blog, Winter Food

Year of the Tiger Tora 虎 2022


明けましておめでとうございます!

Happy New Year to you all ! This year is the year of the Tiger. 

Years of the Tiger include 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938.….

The zodiac sign Tiger is a symbol of strength, exorcising evils, and braveness.

People born in a year of the Tiger are brave, competitive, and confident. They are very charming and well-liked.

Tigers usually enjoy good health. Colds coughs, and fever, are rarely experienced by Tigers. Let’s hope that’s a good omen for 2022

The Tiger ranks third among the animals of the 12 zodiac animals

in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle.

Tigers in temples

I have talked about Kurama-dera (鞍馬寺), before In a previous post “Yama no Hi “.

On visiting the main hall you see some very unusual guardians . Tigers protecting the main temple .

Why unusual? Usually, two koma-inu, or sacred dogs, protect the entrance of temples. However Tigers are considered to be messengers of the Buddhist divinity Bishamonten, one of the Four Heavenly Kings and the protector of northern Kyoto. According to legend, Bishamonten came to Kurama with a tiger in the Hour of the Tiger, on the Day of the Tiger, within the Month of the Tiger according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Called “the tigers of A-Un”, the concept of A-Un is one that encapsulates all of life from its beginning to its end. 

The two tigers sit facing each other, one with an open mouth representing the beginning and the other with a closed mouth representing the end. These two tigers are a metaphor of the universe.

New year Osechi-ryōri (御節料理, お節料理 or おせち) are traditional Japanese New Year foods.

I make Osechi Ryori 御節料理 or お節料理 every year for New Year’s Day ( Ganjitsu 元日). Even though I am not in Japan I feel making it can bring Japan closer to me with  with my food. And hopefully closer for you also.

New year is a very important time and food has a lot of special meaning. I have done a few posts on new year foods over the years on my website why not check them out.

Osechi Ryori are traditional foods normally packed in a tiered bento box known as ojubuko 重箱 enjoyed at New Year’s Day in Japan.

These boxes can contain small appetizers to go with drinks,  grilled and vinegared dishes, and simmered dishes. All dishes are eaten  at room temperature,  like a bento box. If the dish contains countable food like Inari for instance then serve in auspicious numbers 3, 5, 7, or 9 pieces. To make your box look pleasing to the eye Coordinate your colours. I also like to use small bowls and dishes These small bowls are called Kobachi 小鉢 and it’s nice to use ones with bright colours and pretty patterns. Try looking at Musubikiln which have a lovely selection of such bowls to purchase on their website.

I have made a vegan selection of traditional dishes.

Nishime 煮しめ (圧力鍋)

one-pot colorful stew of root vegetables, shiitake and koyadofu, simmered in dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce, sake, and mirin. These simmered dishes are called nimono (煮物).

Carrot – Welcome spring by shaping carrot into plum or cherry blossom shapes.

Lotus root – The holes of lotus root presents a clear and unobstructed future

Taro – Taro symbolizes fertility or descendants’ cut into hexagon that resembles a turtle shape represents longevity

Sekihan (Red Bean glutinous Rice) 赤飯 traditional rice dish served on happy occasions which I stuffed some into inari いなり寿司. The other  Inari was  komatsuna Yuzu citrus vinegared rice.

Namasu (なます) or also known as Kohaku Namasu (red and white)(紅白なます) Red and white are considered celebratory colours in Japan. Julienned daikon and carrot pickled in a sweet vinegar with a hint of citrus.

Kuromame (Sweet Black Soybeans) 黒豆 served on New Year’s Day as a part of Osechi Ryori (traditional New Year’s meal). Eating kuromame is considered good for your health for the new year.

This year I was lucky to be given by a friend in Japan some very special  Hanamame which are from Gunma .

Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん Lotus root has been considered an auspicious food for the Japanese New Year because lotus root with its many holes is a symbol of an unobstructed view of the future.

Kuri Kinton (Candied Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes) 栗きんとんchestnut gold mash. This dish symbolises fortune and wealth for a prosperous year ahead. Japanese sweet potatoes with chestnuts in syrup called kuri kanroni (栗甘露煮.)

aburaage rolls with daikon and carrot 油揚げロールズ tied with kanpyo. Black sesame Gomadofu, Ginnan, simmered Kabocha and Yuzu tofu mousse served in a Yuzu fruit.

ピーチビーガンゼリー Peach vegan jelly


Start  the New Year’s Day with a traditional Japanese breakfast.

This breakfast soup, said to be the most auspicious new year food is part of Osechi Ryori. (Good luck food) Depending on the region in Japan the broth can either be clear or with miso .

Ozoni お雑煮 Enjoyed on the morning of New Year’s Day in Japan.

(Japanese New Year Mochi Soup – Kansai Style) This style of soup from Kyoto region is made with Saikyo Miso (white miso from kyoto) and a round toasted Mochi. It is even more auspicious to add 5 ingredients I added daikon,carrot, komatsuna and Silken tofu with the mochi as the 5th ingredient.


関東風书雜煮 Kanto style Ozoni

(more popular in Tokyo and eastern Japan ). This is a clear kombu dashi, with mirin and tamari known as Osumashi.

I like to add a dried shiitake when soaking the kombu to add to the umami. The flavours are very delicate which is typical of Shojin Ryori . Ozoni means mixed boil which relates to the mixed ingredients you can use. This soup was believed to bring good luck to samurai warriors and was served on New Year’s Day. Mochi is served to represent long life because it stretches. This time it is traditional to use a rectangular or square mochi for Kansai style.

As we head into a new year I wish all of you a healthy and happy one. And for those of you who are missing Japan because you cannot travel let’s make Japanese food together to help us feel closer to the place we love and miss so much.

Blog

Tokyo Pony Recipe card 1


I’m so excited to introduce to you the first in a monthly series of Tokyo Pony Recipe Cards following the seasons and traditions of Japanese VEGAN food.

RECIPE CARD NUMBER 1

January Nanakusa Gayu 七草粥 

This recipe card marks the first of the five main festivals in japan. Each recipe card comes with an authentic Japanese ingredient to help you make each recipe.

This month  it is for making Nanakusa Gayu 

You will receive one recipe card with a pack containing two sachets of the very special organically grown Japanese herbs from the Kodama Ikiiki Farm in the country side of Fukuyama,so you can make this Japanese comforting meal yourself. These herbs are super hard to get out side of Japan.

On the 7th of January in japan (jinjitsu) marks the end of the Oshougatsu (Japanese New Years) . This day is known as nanakusa no sekku (七草の節句), or the Festival of the Seven Weeds . It is custom to make a seven herb rice porridge Nanakusa Gayu 七草粥 to help heal the stomach after the New Year festivities.

I hope you will enjoy collecting these recipe cards and making Japanese seasonal foods along with me. In time you will build up a collection of your very own to refer to like a cookery book. I will be introducing ingredients to you each month from growers and producers in Japan.

You can purchase these by clicking the shop link in the menu or links on my Instagram account profile.

Every month I will be launching them with a new recipe and ingredient, so as not to miss out I will be showcasing the recipe card to the blog each month, so please subscribe to the blog to be notified.

U.K. and Europe only due to posting 

Thank you so much for your orders !

Blog, Winter Food

Touji ( Toji ) (冬至) Two recipes to celebrate the winter solstice


This is the time of the  shortest day the Winter Solstice, known in the Japanese micro season as Touji ( Toji ) (
冬至).

Japanese people celebrate the solstice as they welcome the return of longer days, they pray for good health and eat auspicious food. You can read more on my winter solstice micro seasonal post or Toji how to celebrate the winter Solstice.

Yuzu is a winter citrus fruit having a rich source of vitamin C which is good for the immunity. It is known for its cleansing properties and its fragrance lowers tension and helps fatigue. This is why it is also popular to visit an onsen and bathe with Yuzu fruit called Yuzuyu. The essential oils from the fruit help soothe the skin and mind.
In Japan it is also said that the strong smell of Yuzu will drive away evil spirits. Yuzu is used in everything from  skin care products to delicious broths for a hot pot. It also makes wonderful  desserts so this year I decided I wanted to make a seasonal Yuzu wagashi (Japanese sweet).

To make these you will need to add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric with 3 teaspoons of vegan honey or maple syrup give it a mix. 

1 cup of almond meal (flour) (ground almonds) what ever you like to call them

Add the almond flour to a food processor to that add 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and give it a mix. Then add your sweetener and 1 tablespoon of Yuzu juice, which you can buy in bottles. Give this a mix in your food processor it will look a bit like bread crumbs but when pressed will stick together to form a dough.

Press your dough together into a ball then roll into a log to cut five equal pieces. Set aside


To make your filling you will need red bean paste called anko either smooth (koshian) or chunky (Tusbuan) it doesn’t matter which. You will need a ball sized piece  just a bit smaller than your almond dough was. Take around two tablespoons of mixed nuts and fruit (cashews,almonds,walnuts,Brazil’s, pistachio raisins and cranberries) that kind of thing and roughly chop. Mix these in to your anko with 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, the oil adds a lovely rich flavour so try not to miss it out.

Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten it out. Then take a smaller piece of anko roll that into a ball and place in the centre of your dough. Fold the dough around the anko and smooth back into a ball. Do the same with the other dough pieces.


When your done prick the dough with a tooth pick to make it look more like Yuzu skin. Add a leaf to decorate and your done. This special wagashi can be enjoyed on the winter solstice or Christmas with a Japanese green tea.

Yuzu fruit is not common in the U.K. but I was lucky enough to get some from the wasabi company. I decided I wanted to use one to make Yuzu infused vegan honey ( just add sliced skin to vegan honey which you can then add to hot drinks as an immunity booster or help soothe a sore throat ).


The other I used to make Yuzu kosho. Tubes of this condiment can be found in most Japanese kitchens. The green variety is made from the unripe Yuzu fruits, green chilli peppers and salt. The red with ripe Yuzu red chilli peppers and salt. Served primarily instead of wasabi with soba noodles, tofu or as a seasoning it can be added to soy sauce for a dip for sushi.

As I only had one Yuzu this only makes a small amount of paste

1 fresh Yuzu seeds and white pith removed and put aside then cut the skin into pieces.

3 red chilli peppers seeds removed and cut into pieces.

1-2 teaspoons of salt ( I used a very special salt from Okinawa )

Add these to a suribachi Japanese mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one you can use a food processor which is obviously quicker and less effort but I wanted to do it a more traditional way.


Squeeze the juice through your hands from the Yuzu fruit you cut out. You really don’t get much.

Then just grind it all down to make a paste. It takes a while but the salt helps to break it down.

Add to a jar. Use a little of this hot fragrant paste in maybe a bowl of rice or add it to ramen or make a flavoursome miso broth, like I did here. Just simple cabbage tofu rolls in hot sweet white miso with a half a teaspoon of Yuzu kosho.


This delicious condiment can make grilled veggies taste amazing or make a citrus dressing to pour over tofu.


However you celebrate the winter solstice I feel the sunny yellow colour of the Yuzu reminds us that springs warmth will return once again.

Blog, Winter Food

Christmas food in Japan & Vegan KFC


Christmas in Japan seams to arrive over night. No sooner has the last pumpkin lantern been put away than you wake up the next day and Christmas has arrived. In every store the Christmas music is playing and everywhere is decked in the most beautiful Christmas lights.

Christmas in Japan is not a religious holiday but more a time for couples to enjoy a romantic walk and take pictures together under  twinkling lights.

Other things enjoyed are German style Christmas markets  or having a romantic meal in a restaurant.
The gift giving is again more about couples than family which is saved in Japan for new year.
Think Christmas food and to many “vegan” it might be a nut roast with lots of veggies and Christmas pudding but in Japan there are two very prominent foods.
The first is Christmas Cake or “Kurisumasu Keki” They are not the rich fruit cake and marzipan style cakes we know in the U.K. but are made of a light sponge with a cream filling. They are round and topped with the fruit of the season in Japan Strawberries! The red and white symbolises the flag of Japan and this colour combination known as Kouhaku are the colours of good fortune in Japan where as in the U.K. those colours are not lucky.  There is even an emoji for it on your smart phone. 🍰

The next is the biggest Christmas meal with 3.6 million families sharing a KFC Christmas Bucket. After World War II the Japanese economy started to take off and there was a huge interest in western style food. Over seas food chains started to open like Baskin Robins and Mister Donut with the first KFC opening in Nagoya in 1970, by 1981 there were over 300 stores . After a very successful launch of a marketing campaign in 1974 “Kentucky for Christmas” the popularity of having KFC for a Christmas meal began. It is now so popular you either have to order six weeks in advance or wait in long queues for hours to get it. You will often find a life sized Colonel Sanders waiting for you dressed up like Santa who has a striking resemblance to the man him self.


Maybe the reason KFC is so popular is because it is not unlike karaage another fried chicken meal coated in panko breadcrumbs which is also a favourite food of Japan and is also a meal you can share with family or friends.  The meal pulls in 6.9 million yen in Japan but many chicken lives are lost. So being vegan I decided this year I was going to make my own KFT Christmas bucket “Kentucky Fried Tofu

You can easily find a seasoning recipe on the internet but i didn’t  want the expense of buying lots of spices so I went for a Cajun spice in my local supermarket.
You will need to freeze two 300g blocks of firm tofu and then defrost it then freeze and defrost again. After this time take it out of its packaging and press out the liquid under a weight soaking up any remaining with a paper towel. Break up the tofu into large chunk pieces.
You will then need two cup of vegetable stock . Place your broken pieces of tofu in a dish and pour over the stock and let it marinade. While your tofu is marinading add to a bowl 1 1/2 cups of soy milk  and 2 tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, this makes the soy milk thicker (set this aside). In another bowl add 1 1/2 cups of plain flour and three tablespoons of your Cajun spice. I also added a few teaspoons of mixed herbs and some ground black pepper. Now you will need a cup of some kind of corn flakes. I decided to use gluten free Mesa Sunrise which has a combination of corn and quinoa flakes along with buckwheat amaranth and flaxseed. However you can just use run of the mill cornflakes. Crush up the cornflakes and mix them into the  Cajun flour.
Take your marinated tofu and squeeze out the liquid then take each piece and submerge it in the soy milk then roll it in the Cajun spice flour. Coat each piece then palace on a plate.
Heat up some cooking oil ( I used sunflower ) around two -three cups in a pan. Add some kitchen towel to a plate and fry your tofu in hot oil until golden brown for around 5 mins . Fry a few at a time and place on your plate.
I decided to equal out the fried food with a delicious healthy salad . I also recommend the vegan mayonnaise by the wasabi company which comes in three flavour Yuzu, wasabi and miso  ( perfect for dipping).

As this year again draws to a close it is another year of uncertainty and we still don’t know if travelling to Japan will resume next year. With that in mind for many of us we are missing Japan more and more. I find making food connected to Japan helps me feel closer some how. Why not give making some Japanese food a try or start planning making an Osechi for new year. You can find lots of inspiration on my web pages. Just search “New Year” .
Merry Christmas “ メリークリスマス

Blog, Winter Food

Yaki Imo Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes 焼き芋


When winter arrives the melancholy music from the yaki-imo  truck rings through the streets and people hear the  long drawn-out song “yaki-imo, ishi-yaki-imo” ~ from their speakers. “Hot fresh sweet potato, sweet potato, sweet potato! Freshly baked and tastes great!”

The sound of yaki-imo trucks brings a nostalgic feeling for  japan, this feeling is known as Natsukashii evoking a memory which brings emotions of yearning, impermanence and wistfulness. Yaki-imo are traditionally sold out of special trucks that drive around the town think like a winter version of an ice cream van.

With no added salt or butter it’s hard to believe that it’s just a humble slowly baked satsumaimo さつまいも . They have a red toned purple skin with a pale cream interior that becomes a yellow colour after cooking. They are creamy Soft, sweet, light and fluffy when cooked and taste more like a dessert due to being baked at a low temperature which allows the enzyme amylase to break down more starches into sugars resulting in a sweet tasting potato. The added bonus is they are incredibly nutritious, healthy and satisfying. Being high in dietary fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals vitamins C, vitamin A  and vitamin B6.

I had recently bought some from a Japanese grocery store and stored them in a cool dark place for a few weeks to ripen.

Gently Wash the sweet potato skin and pat dry.

For a softer skin wrap In foil then place on a baking tray and put the tray into the cold oven. Leaving the foil will result in a more crispier skin

Bake sweet potatoes at (150C) for for 90 minutes push a tooth pick in to check.

Turn off the oven, then leave the sweet potatoes inside with the door closed for one hour.

Remove from the oven and and savour the flavour of winter street food in japan the ultimate comfort food which takes me back.

Autumn Food, Blog

Kabocha yokan 羊羹


Yokan羊羹 is a Japanese wagashi ( sweet ) and are typically eaten with tea. Yokan is a type of jelly confectionery normally made with red bean paste. The jelly is made with agar not gelatine so is a perfect tea time treat for the vegan diet. You may sometimes see yokan with seasonal fillings like persimmon, sweet potato or chestnuts.

This is a different kind of yokan instead of using bean paste I used Kabocha. Sometimes this is called Kabocha kan. It’s a delicious treat for an autumn tea time. Kabocha is a sweet pumpkin and works so well with desserts as well as savoury dishes.

All you need is to cut a Kabocha in half and scoop out the seeds. Steam the Kabocha until the skin is falling away from the flesh. Let the Kabocha cool and weigh the flesh you will need 300g

Cream the Kabocha with two tablespoons of maple syrup.
Add a cup of cold water to a pan and sprinkle in two teaspoons of agar agar powder. Give it a mix and bring the water to a steady simmer until the agar agar powder has dissolved. Take the water off the heat and mix in the Kabocha. The Kabocha will dissolve into the water as you keep stirring.
You can then pour the mixture into a container or if you have one you can use a Nagashikan. This is a stainless steel container with a removable inner tray. It’s one of my favourite kitchen gadgets.

To make the yokan even more seasonal I dropped in some whole roast  chestnuts. You could also use the candied kind that are preserved in syrup called Kuri no kanroni.

Let your container cool a little then put it in the fridge to set. If using a Nagashikan this will slice it for you into six individual pieces, however if your not ease the yokan out of your container by going round the edge with a knife.
Slice to reveal the hidden chestnut inside, and serve with some sweet bean paste and your favourite tea.


You can also make this into a dessert by pouring the mixture into individual bowl instead of a container.

Autumn Food, Blog

Kibi Dango


Do you know the Japanese confectionery

Kibi dango (黍団子, きびだんご, “millet dumpling”) ?

Well if you have ever visited Asakusa in Tokyo and walked through the great Kaminarion Gate  and up Nakamise Dori leading up to the famous Sensoji Temple, its likely you have visited or walked past the Kibi dango stall.



Kibi Dango are small Japanese dumpling made from the meal or flour of the kibi (millet) grain. Originating from Kibi Province the former name of Okayama Prefecture.

The treat was used by folktale-hero Momotarō (the Peach Boy) to recruit his army to defeat demons  in the commonly known version of the tale. In another story they were first offered at Kibitsu Shrine in honour of the ogre slaying deity Kibitsuhiko some believe to be the true identity of the character Momotaro.

What you will notice is they are smaller than the dango you maybe used to . Four  come on a stick and you buy them in groups of five covered in golden nutty aromatic kinako soybean flour.

They are so easy to make.

Here’s how I make them.

As I said before they are made with millet flour, however I add Shiratama flour to mine otherwise I find them a little gritty in texture.
This is enough for one Kibi Dango stall serving.

1/3 cup of millet flour

1 teaspoon of potato starch

1- 1 and 1/2  tablespoons of Shiratama flour depending

Topping:

kinako soybean flour mixed with coconut palm sugar or brown sugar and a pinch of salt

Add the millet flour and potato starch to a bowl and mix then add four tablespoons of boiling water and mix then gradually add your Shiratama flour add one tablespoon and keep mixing into a dough if it’s too wet add a little more. Work into two long sausage shapes and cut 20 equal size pieces then roll into balls. Add four balls to x5 bamboo Dango skewers.

Place them in a sieve.


Boil a big pan of boiling water. Do not cook them until you are ready to eat them as they need to be served warm.
Lower the sieve into the boiling water and when the skewers float they are ready.


Lift the sieve let them drain a few seconds and then add them to your bowl with kinako sugar.


Twist them in the kinako and eat straight away.
A delicious street food  snack that is a taste of Japan. Why not have them with a warm amazake on a chilly day like they serve in Autumn.

Just on another note you can get a really good view of Nakamise Dori by visiting the asakusa culture tourist information centre, opposite and going to their roof top viewing deck .

Autumn Food, Blog

Soy Yogurt Shiokoji Soft Cheese & Crispy Black Sesame Mushrooms


The momiji are really turning in my garden now,  autumn has truly arrived ! Aki Kinu !

I wanted to make a meal using the flavours of the harvest season. To me mushrooms are a key ingredient at this time of year. Being high in vitamin D they are also the perfect thing for the body once we start to get less sunlight.
I adapted this recipe after being inspired by Riverfords organic vegetable box. I wanted to make it more Japanese so this is what I came up with.

First make your soft cheese. I have made soft cheese before with soy milk and there is a recipe on my pages for this but this is even easier. I used 1/2 a 400g pot of natural organic soy yogurt add to this a teaspoon of shiokoji. Shiokoji is a natural seasoning made with salt water and rice koji. If you want to make more cheese use the whole pot and double the Shiokoji.

Give it a mix and spoon your yogurt into a  piece of cheese cloth. Tie at the top and leave in a sieve over a bowl in the fridge to drain for around three days. You now have your cheese.

You can also use it with crackers and chutney it’s really delicious.

Next make a marinade for your mushrooms. I added one tablespoon of ground black sesame powder (surigoma kuro すりごま) to a bowl. To this add a tablespoon each of tamari, toasted sesame oil and  maple syrup give it a stir to combine and then add your mushrooms. I used a mix of shimeji, eryngii and maitake you can use what ever mushrooms you like. Give it all a good mix coating your mushrooms in the black sesame and leave for half an hour.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the paper over with a little sesame oil then spread out your mushrooms. Bake in a moderate oven until they are crispy. Remove and sprinkle with chipotle flakes.
Toast some ciabatta or any crusty bread then spread with your soft soy yogurt cheese, top with mushrooms and finish with a dollop of  wasabi mayonnaise and a squeeze of sudachi ( both optional ). You can purchase these from The Wasabi Company see the links on my pages.

I had mine with a fresh salad, Kabocha pottage and for dessert persimmon kuzu mousse.


To make the mousse just use persimmon purée and a kuzu slurry (a tablespoon of kuzu root mixed with a little water) heat in a pan until it thickens and then spoon into a pot and cool in the fridge. Finish with some slices of persimmon.

Persimmon or kaki as they are known in Japan remind me of autumn there. You will see them growing everywhere  and at the farmers markets. A real taste of Japan. No wonder the Japanese call this time of year Shokuyoku no Aki (autumn the season of appetite ).

Autumn Food, Blog

Sesame millet cookies


There is nothing better than coming home after a nice autumn walk and enjoying tea and homemade cookies.

When I made these cookies I was delighted that they stayed crunchy the next day without going soggy. And they are also gluten free !

1 cup of bobs mill or other brand millet flour

1 tablespoon of potato starch (or cornstarch)

1/4 tea Baking power 1/4 tea baking soda

Pinch of salt

55grms of vegan butter

1/4 cup granulated and 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3 tablespoons of sesame paste or tahini

1 tablespoon of chickpea water (known as Aquafaba )

Cream together butter sesame paste sugar vanilla and chip pea water and beat until smooth and fluffy

In a separate bowl add flour baking powder and baking soda and salt .

Add wet to dry and mix to combine

Use your hands to work into a dough ball and put in the freezer for 20 mins .

Preheat oven around 180 degree’s c

Get a tablespoon of dough and work into a ball place each ball on a baking sheet which you gave lined with parchment paper and flatten the ball with a fork keep doing this until you have no dough left.


I made quite large cookies but you can make smaller ones if you wish. Keep in mind they do spread out a lot when baking.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds

Bake for about 12-20 mins until golden

Leave to cool a little and then transfer to completely cool on a wire rack . These cookies stay crisp for days in an airtight container.

Enjoy autumn teatime.

Autumn Food, Blog

Live by the (Shun) 旬 The Philosophy of seasonal eating part 4 Autumn

When the cicadas can be heard no more, the leaves start to turn and the temperatures cool, we know Aki Kinu ( Autumn has arrived in Japan ! ) This is known as Kigo a word or phrase that is used in Japanese poetry to associate with Japanese seasons.

In Japan people are very much in touch with the changing of the seasons. Aki is the word for autumn/fall in Japan and after the hot humid heat of the Japanese summer, people look forward to the cooling breezes and clear blue skies that the new season brings.

During the heat of the summer people loose their appetites so when autumn comes people refer to it as   Shokuyoku no Aki ( Autumn the season of Appetites).

Autumn is the season of the rice harvest with  world sake day being held on October 1st at the start of sake production. 

There is an abundance of delicious produce to have at this time from, matsutake mushrooms, persimmons (kaki), chestnuts known as Kuri or marron when it is in a sweet or dessert, sweet potato and a variety of squash and pumpkins.



Even the Starbucks gets on board with seasonal flavours like sweet potato or chocolate marron flavour. This year japan will be finally getting a pumpkin spice latte after a long 15 year absence along with Starbucks Reserve serving up a warming autumn spice oat latte.

I decided to do my own version with powdered hojicha, spices and warm oat milk. I made some chocolate chip pumpkin spiced loaf cake  to go with it. It made the perfect tea time snack.

To make the pumpkin spice loaf cake :preheat your oven 180 degrees c

I used 1 cup of puréed pumpkin that I had steamed and scooped from the flesh. Combine that in a bowl  with 1/3 cup of coconut oil, 1 tea of brown rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon  of maple syrup. In another bowl add x2 cups of plain flour, 1/2 cup of coconut sugar and 1/2 a cup of caster sugar,1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda a pinch of salt and some pumpkin spice ( I will let you decide how much spice you want to put in, you can also add other spices like cinnamon or nutmeg ) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and give it a good mix. I then gradually started to add oat milk. You can use any plant based milk. Add a little at a time until you get a batter consistency. Throw in some chocolate chips or walnuts are also nice and give it one final mix but don’t mix too much.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter smoothing it out evenly. Bake for around 60 mins.
Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.
Japan sometimes refer to autumn also as Aki no Mikaku ( autumn the season of flavours ).

You may like to try making some simple rice dishes with mushrooms, chestnuts or sweet potato  that are popular at this time.

Another thing that people anticipate with the changing seasons is Momiji, this refers to the Japanese maple tree. As well as viewing the cherry blossoms in spring people in Japan are also excited about the turning of the maple leaves from green to bright vivid red and orange, this is known as kouyou or autumn colours.

There is a word in Japanese Fuubutsushi this refers to the little things that signal a change in the seasons, the feelings, scents, images and sounds that might evoke memories or anticipation of the coming season. I think when we become more aware of this it helps us to centre ourselves and celebrate the passing of time.

As well as viewing the beautiful leaves and partaking in eating delicious food. Japan has other sayings for autumn.

Dokusho no Aki ( Fall the season of reading ) with the nights drawing in people find it easier to sit and read.

Also Koraku no Aki ( Fall the season of athletics, or activities outdoors). I guess this is why on the second Monday in October Japan have a national holiday known as sports day. This year it was brought forward to coincide with the Olympics. 

Maybe it’s time to get out those winter blankets that you have put away over the summer, in Japan they have something called a kotatsu a table with a blanket and a heater underneath, doesn’t that sound cosy.

What ever way you choose to enjoy autumn I hope you are all stay safe and well. Why not take some inspiration from my autumn recipe food section and cook up something to celebrate the season with what ever seasonal produce you can find. Or go hunting for the changing leaves so you can admire them this is known as “Momiji -Gari” in Japan and is a very popular thing to do in Autumn.