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Article about me in Neo Magazine

This month I have a feature in Neo Magazine . A magazine in the UK for all things Japanese . You can buy it in the UK at WH Smith’s or a digital copy can be purchased on line from www. pocket mags.com . I was interviewed by Emily Lovell and she asked me questions about how I developed my passion for Japanese food and recommendations for places to eat vegan food in Japan .

I hope you will find the article interesting. Thanks again to the editor Gemma and Emily for the feature.

 

Blog

Vegan Leather Bag

 


My New Vegan @gastonluga rucksack is perfect for me when I take it on my travels to Japan . I need something that’s easy to carry but I can put all the things in that I collect while I’m wondering around super markets picking up food for new vegan recipe creations or walking round craft or flea markets where you never know what you might find as your next souvenir or gift. Plus I still have room for essentials like my travel mug and fan in the summer.


I have teamed up with Gaston Luga  in Stockholm to offer you a unique offer code so you can purchase your very own vegan leather bag. All you have to do is simply visit
www.gastonluga.com or use the link at the bottom of the page
and after you have decided which of the lovely bags to choose from just type in tokyopony15 to give you 15% discount on your purchase.
Where will your next travel adventure be ?

 

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Yuzu & Black Pepper Tofu With A Crispy Coating

This is a really simple way to jazz up some pieces of tofu. In a bowl add two tablespoons of rice flour then add two tablespoons of Yuzu juice. Then add some fresh cracked black pepper and stir. Add enough water to make a thick consistency.

Take your pieces of chosen tofu that have had the water pressed out and dip the tofu in the mixture. In another bowl add some nutritional yeast flakes and roll your tofu in them after you have dipped your tofu in the Yuzu mixture. Bake in a moderate oven until golden.

Blog, Spring Food

Pickled Myoga Ginger & Jackfruit Avocado

On my last trip to Japan I was lucky enough to find some fresh Myoga ginger. It’s not something I have ever seen back home so I bought some. I decided to pickle it by slicing it and blanching in boiling water then adding it to a jar with brown rice vinegar and a few pieces of Yuzu peel. Five month later I decided to open the jar and use some.

Myoga is from the ginger family but the part eaten is actually the edible flower bud  and shoots of the plant and not the root. First you will need to prepare your jackfruit. I used tinned jackfruit and after simmering it in boiling water and draining it  I pulled apart the jackfruit into shreds discarding any seeds . You only need to use around a quarter of the tinned jackfruit so you can use the rest for something else like in a curry or with a bbq sauce for instance. Add your jackfruit to a bowl about two tablespoons full then to this add half a sliced bud of pickled Myoga and a half teaspoon of the pickling vinegar it was in, a tablespoon of vegan kewpie mayonnaise, some sliced cucumber and a half teaspoon of wasabi powder. Give it all a good mix. Half an avocado and take out the stone. Add the jackfruit filling on top of the avocado. This makes a really nice refreshing starter to a meal. If you live in the UK you may not be able to get myoga ginger. You could maybe substitute with pickled red onion and use a vegan mayonnaise.

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food, Winter Food

Japanese Style Breakfast Iridofu

A Japanese style breakfast 

和風の朝食

Iri-dofu 炒り豆腐,ごはん, みそ汁

Iri  means stir fry and Dofu is tofu . It’s more like a scramble than a fry with minimal oil. Also the tofu pieces are kept a little larger. It’s a delicious healthy meal full of protein and a great meal for breakfast.

Soak two-three dried shiitake over night ( this will also become stock to use in the cooking process ) 

Blanch a block of tofu for a few mins in boiling water then drain and pat dry with a clean towel. Break up your tofu into different size pieces.

Squeeze out the water in your shiitake and slice. Slice thinly carrot and snow peas . Add a little toasted sesame oil to a pan and add your veg and tofu . In a pan add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari,the same in mirin and two tablespoons of mushroom stock and warm through add 1 tsp of sugar and dissolve . Pour this over your tofu and veg and sauté

Serve with miso soup and rice with pickles for a traditional style vegan Japanese breakfast . 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Sakura Season Dango

One of the best memories I have in my life is visiting Japan at Sakura season.

If  you have never been lucky enough to witness it,seeing the blossom and the way people in Japan celebrate Hanami is just breathtaking.

I think I miss Japan the most at this time of year.  I always like to celebrate Japanese customs and traditions it helps me feel close to Japan  when I cannot be there.

How about making some tofu dango and sit with these and a bento under the blossoms and if like me you cannot be there just dream you are.

To make these three colour dango which signify purification,health and luck you will need shiratama flour and a carton of silken tofu, I used Clearspring organic tofu.  First drain you tofu and section into three equal pieces and divide into three bowls. Next add colouring to two bowls I used matcha for green and natural beetroot juice for pink. Cream the tofu in each bowl then to each one start to add your shiratama flour. Keep adding until it is a stiff dough ( people say to think of what an ear lope feels like and this is what dango should feel like when you press it ) Heat up a pan of boiling water and drop in your dango balls when they float to the top they are done,scoop them out and drop into iced water. Pat them dry and slide them onto skewers. These are delicious dipped into kinako (soy bean flour ) I actually had green kinako which symbolises the spring green bush warbler bird (uguisu).

Enjoy with a Sakura tea.

Happy Hanami

Blog, Spring Food

Spring Equinox Botamochi

Happy spring equinox !

幸せな春分

The bi-annual days of the vernal equinox (spring equinox) are  upon us. In Japan it is a Buddhist festival known as higan. In the spring it is known as haru no higan .

To celebrate I made Botamochi but this year instead of the traditional confectionery made of sweet mochi rice pounded and shaped with a red bean centre . I made them with pounded millet. I noticed that when I made my awa-zenzai (see my awa-zenzai post ) that the millet served its self well to making Ohagi. 

I rolled them in kinako and ground black sesame. 

It is traditional to take these with flowers and incense to the graves of ancestors at this time.

In the spring the sweets are called Botamochi named after the tree peony botan . In the fall the same sweets are called ohagi named after the clover bush hagi.

See some of my other  posts of Ohagi or botamochi for the recipe. 

I also made the more traditional sweet . Which you can get tye recipe for by searching Ohagi or Botamochi.  If you want to make around 6 sweets just half my recipe.

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Amazake blondies

What’s a blondie? Basically it’s a brownie but with out using cacao powder and is normally made with brown sugar,eggs and flour with a vanilla flavour and either white or dark chocolate chips.
I set out to make a blondie using clearspring brown rice amazake.

They turned out so good that they didn’t last long. Feel free to substitute dark chocolate for white I’m definitely going to be trying it out myself next time.
First in a food processor add
One can of drained cooked chickpeas,
1/2 cup of soy milk or any other you prefer
1/2 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar
Half a jar of clear spring brown rice amazake which equates to 190g if you are using your own amazake.
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence / extract
Blend all this until smooth
In a bowl add
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
3/4 cup of almond flour
1/2 cup + x2 tablespoons of gluten-free oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Himalayan pink salt about 1/2 teaspoon
And some chopped chocolate buttons or chocolate chips (I will leave how many up to you.)
Stir to mix
Add the batter ingredients to the dry and mix in gently to combine.
Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and spoon in your mixture. Place in a moderate oven for around 30 mins until the top is golden. Leave to cool completely and then cut into squares.

Oh and just so you know this works just as well warm with ice cream and chocolate sauce as it’s brown counterparts.

 

Blog, Spring Food

Sakura Mochi

Sakura Mochi a traditional spring wagashi made  for Hinamatsuri and also to celebrate spring and the coming Sakura season.

There are three colours associated with the girls day festival .  White is for purification, green for health and pink for luck. I made Sakura Mochi in the three colours. Sakura Mochi is Mochi  rice cake with a sweet red bean paste filling and wrapped in a salted pickled Sakura leaf and topped with a salted Sakura flower. They are a nice combination of sweet and salty. Perfect with a green tea.

The recipe is basically the same as my ohagi recipe. If you live outside of japan you may not be able to get the leaves and blossom so easily although you maybe able to order them online from www.souschef.co.uk

I used matcha to colour the rice green and beetroot juice for the pink.

Why not try making Sakura Mochi to celebrate spring.

Blog, Spring Food

Spring Vegetables Shira-ae

Shira-ae is a traditional recipe from the Shojin ryori Zen Buddhist cuisine. The tofu is mashed into a paste with different vegetables and sesame . Which I guess is a slightly different way of having tofu rather than cutting it into squares etc. The tofu turns creamy and makes a wonderful starter or dish in your Teishoku ( set meal ) . See more inspiration for a Japanese style set meal by just searching Teishoku.

I also think this would make a great filling for wraps or sandwiches or even on a jacket potato . However this time I am staying traditional.

As we are hopefully turning our way into spring now I decided to use spring vegetables for this dish but you can use other things like green beans,shimeji mushrooms,spinach,Konnyaku and even sometimes in the autumn persimmon.

First prepare your tofu by draining and pressing out any liquid . I cut half the block of tofu and saved the other for another dish. Put your tofu in a bowl . You will need to toast and grind 1/2 a tablespoon of white sesame seeds or you can buy them already ground. Add this to your bowl with 1 teaspoon of white sesame paste or tahini if you can’t get Japanese sesame paste,1/2 teaspoon of sugar,1 teaspoon of white miso paste and a pinch of salt. Mash all this up together creaming the tofu. The process of doing this and also grinding your own sesame seeds in a suribachi has a meditative quality. Put this to one side. Now blanch your vegetables in boiling water for a few minutes. I chose asparagus,broccoli,finely chopped carrot and curly kale. In Japan in the spring this dish is often made with nanohana or edible rape seed flowers. It is not something we find available in the UK in markets or stores. Now plunge your blanched vegetables in cold water to prevent them from cooking further and to keep their colour. Chop them up and mix them into your tofu. I garnished mine with a few sesame seeds and rocket leaves on a bed of rocket and spinach.

I hope you will try this simple Shojin ryori cuisine at home.

 

Blog

Happy Valentines Day

I used my ginkgo cookie recipe, replaced the turmeric and added cacao powder to make these chocolate heart cookies and half dipped them in chocolate and scattered them with freeze dried raspberries. 

I then served them with my tofu mousse mixed with strawberries.

Will you be giving a valentine treat to someone today ? In Japan it’s just the men that get the gifts off the women and it’s not just loved ones that are given gifts it’s co workers, school and college friends teachers you name it ! It can be quite a big task giving gifts to all your male friends . I like to watch a programme on NHK called Home Sweet Tokyo

One of the programmes was where the little girl of the family was making bags of chocolates to take to all her male friends at school but she also included a bag for herself (I like that idea ) so even if your not buying a gift for anyone this valentines why not buy a gift for yourself today you deserve a bit of self love 💖 💕.

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food, Winter Food

Green Burger & Citrus Coleslaw

This green burger is great to make with what ever greens you have in the fridge. To start with you will need one cup of cooked beans I used 1/2 tin of broad beans but you could use edamame or peas if you like . Then I gathered together some greens cabbage,kale,broccoli and spinach just a handful of each . Chop them up quite fine and steam them until tender. I also threw in the half a tin of broad beans to soften. Add this to a food processor with some herbs and spices. I used some fresh chopped mint and basil along with a dash of paprika. Give this a process but not to much then add two-three tablespoons of vegetable soup. I actually used the winter greens soup from Tideford organics for this but you can use homemade or tinned soup. Give it another process and empty into a bowl . Then add a teaspoon of matcha powder and a tablespoon each of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and mix in. Then start to add some flour a little at a time I used oat flour but chick pea ( gram flour ) will work well too. When it becomes more of a dough make two balls and flatten them out . Don’t make your burgers to thin. Mine made two burgers. Add some oil to a pan and cook them on both sides until golden.

Serve with fries and salad.

An excellent accompaniment to my green burger is my citrus coleslaw.

First grate half a bulb of fennel and one carrot into a bowl. Slice thinly some red cabbage and add this to your bowl. Then make your dressing in a separate bowl  or in a jar add the juice of 1/2 a blood orange ( normal orange will do ) and one tablespoon of Yuzu juice ( you can buy the juice in bottles at Asian supermarkets). To this add one teaspoon of white miso paste and a teaspoon each of mirin and tamari. I like to use a jar as you can put the lid on and give this a mix by giving it a good shake. Pour your dressing over the shredded vegetables then add one to two tablespoons depending on how creamy you like your coleslaw of vegan kewpie Japanese mayonnaise or any mayonnaise you wish. Give this a mix. Finally I like to add a few raisins and flakes of almonds (optional)

 

Blog, Winter Food

Awa-Zenzai あわぜんざい

Most of you are familiar with Zenzai but do you know awa-zenzai ?

あわぜんざい. Warm sweet  azuki beans with slow cooked glutinous millet grains. This is known as mochikibi. There is a place in Asakusa Tokyo called Umezono 梅園 which was established in 1854. This long serving confectionary shop cooks up awa zenzai in the winter.

This dish is perfect for cold winter days as it’s sweet and comforting and super filling.

Use around a cup of millet and wash well through a sieve then add to a pan with water. I start with just covering the millet with water and bringing it to a boil,then turn down the heat to your lowest setting pop on a lid and let it simmer. You may need to keep adding water so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom . Keep checking and add water when needed until it’s cooked. It will resemble porridge consistency.

Warm your sweet beans ( you can either make them yourself or I buy the ones already done in a can for quickness)

Serve together warm with a sweet chestnut if you like and green tea.

You can use any remaining cooked millet to make Ohagi ( Botamochi )

See previous Ohagi post ( just pound the millet like you would the glutinous rice.) I will do a new post for making millet Ohagi around the spring equinox when it is traditionally eaten.