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

Sesame Cookies


These cookies were a big hit, soft and chewy on the inside but a nice crisp outer. They make the perfect ice cream cookie sandwich, and have a lovely caramel flavour. Some of you on my Instagram account wanted to know the recipe so here you are.

This will make about 10 large cookies.

Preheat the oven to 150 ( moderate oven )

Mix in one bowl

1/2 cup of gluten-free oat flour

1/2 cup of chick pea flour (gram flour)

1/2 cup of coconut sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of White roasted ground sesame (suri goma shiro)

すりごま

If you are in Japan you maybe able to get this ground almond and sesame blend which is also a nice alternative.

Mix in a separate bowl

1/4 cup of maple syrup

1/3 cup of melted coconut butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of sesame paste or tahini

1 tablespoon of water

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and form a dough

Make balls from the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When you have used all the dough flatten them out with you hands and then if you like make a pattern with a fork.

Sprinkle with some toasted sesames and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Take out the oven and leave to harden and cool.


Enjoy!

 

 

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Japanese Micro Season 19 小満 Shōman (Lesser ripening)

小満 Shōman (Lesser ripening)
May 21–25 蚕起食桑 Kaiko okite kuwa o hamu Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves

May 26–30 紅花栄 Benibana sakau Safflowers bloom

May 31–June 5 麦秋至 Mugi no toki itaru Wheat ripens and is harvested

The summer heat is starting to be felt now as temperatures rise in Japan. There is a vibrant spurt of growth in the fields.
Safflowers blooms are picked to make natural  textile dyes ranging from yellow to red in colour.

Towards the end of this micro season the wheat is harvested. People often forget that wheat is important in Japanese cooking because rice takes the forefront. However we must remember that noodles are made from wheat so we would have no ramen, somen, or udon without it. Also we have the barley to make barley miso or barley tea known as mugi cha, I particularly like this one by Sabo it is an organic roasted  barley that is loose instead of in a teabag form.


Of course beer is very popular in the hot summers of Japan with Asahi, Ebisu, Kirin, and Sapporo beer springing to mind. Do you have a favourite Japanese beer brand ?
As the temperatures start to rise cold noodles are enjoyed why not make Hiyashi Chuka a dish of cold ramen with various toppings and a dressing. It’s nice to choose refreshing vegetables for your ramen like cucumber and tomato, bell peppers and sweetcorn maybe. Then a dressing made with soy sauce and vinegar. I have a recipe on my pages with a lovely refreshing dressing. You could also make Tsukemen or dipping ramen. Ramen is dipped into a hot soup. Somen noodles are very much a favourite of summer in Japan

The noodles are very fine and are normally served chilled with ice and condiments for dipping and serving. Again I have a recipe on my pages for somen dishes.
I hope that over the summer you can try making a chilled noodle dish for yourself.

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Yoshoku Caponata

A few years ago I had Caponata in a vegan cafe in Tokyo. Caponata is actually a Sicilian dish and is basically an eggplant hotpot stew. I decided to to make this recipe with a Japanese fusion. When you do this it is called a Yoshoku meaning western Japanese food. I set out to make this sweet and sour Sicilian classic using some Japanese ingredients.

The first thing is salted eggplant, I sliced 1/2 an eggplant in to thick rounds and then divided them into quarters. I then rubbed in Shio koji which is a fermented condiment in Japan made from salted rice malt.


I left the eggplant for ten minutes then added it to a pan with some olive oil and started to sauté. Then I added a stick of celery chopped finely and half a chopped onion. Then I added a tablespoon of mirin, Japanese brown rice vinegar and sugar along with a tablespoon of Yuzu juice. The Yuzu juice will give the sauce a nice citrus taste, I then added one tin of chopped tomatoes. Capers are normally added to this recipe so instead I added a teaspoon of sansho berries. Sansho is a Japanese pepper the green berries come precooked in a jar. They have a citrus fragrance the green berries are a quintessential spring Kyoto being used in the autumn ground into powdered spice.

I then added a tablespoon each of pitted black and green olives and turned down the heat of the pan put on the lid and let in gently simmer for 30 mins.

This dish is very versatile can be eaten over rice Caponata donburi, or cold on a crusty sourdough. How about using it as a topping for jacket potato or pasta, even as an inari filling.

Here I have served it with rice and a salad. Finishing off with a sprinkle of pine nuts some lemon rind and basil.


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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Plum Rice Ball

Episode 3 of season 2 sees Master the owner of the diner Meishiya make plum rice balls for a customer. The series is so heart warming and shows how food has the ability to not only to connect people but to bring back memories. One such memory for me was one Marine day ( a public holiday held on third Monday in July in Japan where many people head off to the coast). We had started our train journey over to Enoshima island in Kanagawa Prefecture and there were lots of families on the train. On the opposite seat was a family the mother got out a neatly packed bento and untied the furoshiki around it. Opening the lid she started to take out onigiri those triangle shaped rice balls wrapped in nori sometimes with a filling, she handed them to her children. The onigiri filled the hands of the small children and I remember how happy there faces were to be eating such a breakfast on the way to the seaside. Onigiri ( rice balls ) are perfect for picnics or in the case of the Midnight diner an evening snack.
The pickled plums used in the series were the hard type called Ko ume, as I only had umeboshi I used those instead. Umeboshi are slightly squashy which are dried and salted plums. They are tart and tangy and I must admit to not liking them at first but now I love them. They have been used in Japan to aid digestion and are a good way to keep the rice fresh for a few hours.

Cook up some Japanese rice and chop up an umeboshi plum. When the rice is done fold in your umeboshi ( I also added some furikake with sesame and dried daikon greens to give it a little colour ).

Wet your hands and make a ball of rice then start to mould the rice by pressing the rice into a point, then rotate the ball pressing it into that onigiri shape.

Do not put in the fridge as they will go hard, the umeboshi will help to keep them fresh for a few hours, if you want just put a damp cloth over them. When your ready to eat them I find a strip of nori ( dried seaweed) makes them easier to hold.

I like to toast my nori in the oven to make it extra crispy. The crunch of the nori and the soft rice then the tang of the umeboshi, just takes me right back to Japan, and for me that is one of the  reasons I make Japanese food.

They are nice just simply served on their own with a sake or a miso soup.

 

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

Kiriboshi Don ( rice bowl with daikon )

Daikon means big root, and boy do they grow big in Japan. I love going to the Japanese markets and seeing all the fresh produce there grown by local farmers.

Daikon has to be one of my favourite vegetables, although not originally native to Japan it is now Japan’s most widely cultivated vegetable. In season mainly from autumn to spring you can pretty much pick them up all year round in Japan. Daikon is good for the digestion and is such a versatile ingredients in cooking. I often manage to get mooli which is the most similar but they are never quite the same as the ones in Japan. Daikon has a light peppery flavour and when cooked in broth soaks up lots of flavour, I particularly like them in winter hot pot dishes. It can be eaten raw, simmered, fried, pickled and dried. Dried is known as kiriboshi daikon 切り干し大根 and this is what I will be using in this recipe. Kiriboshi translates to cut 切りand dry 干しin Japanese. It is basically daikon 大根 that has been shredded and traditionally left out to dry in the sun. Preserving daikon in this way has been popular since the Edo period ( 1603-1868). The daikon becomes sweeter when dried, packed with umami flavour. Drying  also concentrates the fibre and mineral content making it a good source of calcium and iron.

This is normally how you will buy kiriboshi daikon. You may see the words Singiri ぜんざい written in Japanese on the packet this means julienne in English, vegetable cut into strips . This is what I will be using for the simple but tasty rice kiriboshi don ( rice bowl ).

First take a handful of the dried daikon and wash it in a sieve under running water. Then place in a bowl and add warm water, leave to rehydrate for around 15 mins. To make this dish I used Arame seaweed. This is a species of kelp and looks a little similar to Hijiki. It comes dried so you need to do the same to this as the kiriboshi wash and leave to rehydrate. Unlike the daikon when it is rehydrated you will need to simmer the Arame in boiling water for about 20 mins.
Now your daikon is rehydrated you will notice the liquid that it is in has turned yellow. Drain off the liquid but retain it in a jug squeezing any excess liquid out the daikon also into the jug placing your daikon in a bowl.When you have your Arame simmered and drained add this to your daikon in a bowl. Add to your bowl with the daikon and Arame, a tablespoon of mirin and a tablespoon of tamari. Leave while you prepare your rice. Take a rice cooker cup of sushi rice and wash it until the water runs clear. Add this to your rice cooker and add two cups of your daikon liquid, top up with extra water if needed. Then add the juice of fresh grated ginger I used about an inch piece and a small piece of kombu again only a few inches. Let this soak for around 20 mins and then remove the kombu. Put your rice cooker on cook and prepare your kiriboshi and Arame by sautéing in toasted sesame oil, I added some extra chopped negi ( green onion ) for a little colour.
When your rice is done spoon into a bowl and add your sautéed kiriboshi on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and if you have any  ground black sesame salt. The rice has taken on the delicious flavour of the sweet daikon and ginger, it makes for a nutritious and filling meal that’s full of umami.

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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Season 2 Episode 8 Curry Ramen

I have been loving watching Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories, about a diner in the night life district of Shinjuku Tokyo called Meshiya, open from midnight to 7am. The owner the customers call Master, maybe asked to make food that the customer has a special relationship with. It may remind them of someone, a feeling or home. I’m sure any of us that have been to Japan can relate to this. Myself included, this was why I started making Japanese food in the first place. There is something comforting about a bowl of ramen but when asked to make this particular one, Master and the others in the diner find it quite unusual. Ramen+curry+cheese. It’s actually a girl Hinano who asks for the cheese on top. I decided I wanted to try to recreate this Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories recipe for myself.

The master used shio ramen or salt ramen but I used the packet that came with my vegan ramen which was umami rich.

The master also used meat in his curry, if I’d of had maitake mushrooms I think I would of used them in this meal but I didn’t have them so I just made the traditional curry from potato, carrot and onion.
I first roughly peeled and chopped half an onion, a carrot and a potato this was enough for two portions of curry. Then peel and grate finely one apple.

Sauté them in some oil, if you have maitake then add it here also. Then add kombu dashi enough to cover the vegetables. Kombu dashi can be made by soaking a piece of kombu kelp over night in water or you can simmer the kombu for ten minutes in water if you have not soaked it over night.
Then add a tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce, a tablespoon of tomato ketchup, a tablespoon of mirin and a dashi of vegan Worcestershire sauce. Let this simmer until the vegetables are tender but not falling apart, add a little more dashi when simmering if needed. Then get some of the broth with a ladle and put it in a bowl add to this half a block of curry roux cubes and dissolve, then add this to your curry, stirring as it thicken. I also added a tablespoon of S&B Japanese curry spice. You can add this also if you have it.

Make your ramen noodles as instructed. Using the broth that your ramen has been cooked in with the sachet of seasoning  add to a bowl some ramen broth and the cooked ramen noodles. Then add your curry. Top with vegan cheese, I used daiya mozzarella and I added a sprinkle of parsley for colour. I must say I have never added cheese before but the three together made the most delicious meal. I hope you try it out.

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Oaty Kinako & Sesame Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Back in 20016 I posted a recipe for Oaty Pecan cookies.  This is another cookie recipe inspired by that one with instead of nuts I added kinako and white sesame paste to give the cookies flavour.

In one bowl add

1/2 cup of almond flour

1/3 cup of Kinako ( soy bean flour )

1 cup of oats ( I use raw sprouted gluten-free oats )

1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

a pinch of salt

1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar

In another bowl add

1 flax egg ( one tablespoon of flax meal with x3 tablespoon of water mixed and allow to set in the fridge )

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/4 cup of coconut oil / melted coconut butter

1 tablespoon of sesame paste or light tahini

( you will also need 1/2 bar of chocolate ) I used a raw Ombar and chopped it into chunks.

When you flax meal is set add this to your wet ingredients and mix then add this to your dry to form a dough. Add your chopped chocolate chunks. It takes a little time to work everything together.
take spoonfuls of dough and roll into a ball and place them on parchment paper on a baking sheet then flatten them out. Depending on how big you want your cookies I made 8 in total .

Place in a moderate oven around 150c for 15 – 20 mins.
Remove and allow to cool.

They are lovely and crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

The sesame and kinako gives the cookies a lovely nutty flavour.

 

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Japanese Micro Season 18 立夏 Rikka (Beginning of summer)

立夏 Rikka (Beginning of summer)
May 5–9 蛙始鳴 Kawazu hajimete naku Frogs start singing

May 10–14 蚯蚓出 Mimizu izuru Worms surface

May 15–20 竹笋生 Takenoko shōzu Bamboo shoots sprout

The 5th of May is Children’s day or Boys Day in Japan and is part of the golden week celebrations. Hinamatsuri on March 3rd is set aside for girls day. Children’s day / boys day is celebrates the happiness of children. At this time you may say koi shaped streamers or wind socks flying in the breeze. These are known as koinobori.  Normally a large black koi represents the father of the family a red one for the mother and a blue one for the son of the family. Other colours could be green or orange for additional children. This year I had planned to be in Japan at this time but because of the events happening beyond my control I had to cancel. This is a decoration in my home with a koi streamer cloth on the tea table and koi wind sock hanging from the cherry blossom.

Hopefully I will get the chance to see them for real next year, as I had never visited Japan in May before.

Families May also display the military helmet known as Kabuto which symbolises strength.

On this day a wagashi ( Japanese sweet ) is eaten known as Kashiwa Mochi . A Mochi rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf, again a symbol of strength. You can find out more about this and a recipe on my kashiwa Mochi or children’s day previous posts.

Takenoko or bamboo child are the first shoots of the new bamboo growth and sum up the perfect spring Japanese dish. Takenoko Gohan is a simple recipe you could make using bamboo shoots and rice. You can find this in the spring recipe section of this website.

Blog, Summer Food

Somen & Bean Sprout Salad


In Japan there is a bean sprout salad with the name Moyashi Namuru, taken from the Korean name Namul, Moyashi means bean sprouts in Japanese. It makes an excellent side dish, however I decided to take this dish one step further by adding somen noodles to it. Somen are very fine noodles more often eaten chilled in the summertime. They take very little cooking just a few minutes in boiling water then once cooked are drained and rinsed in cold running water, to remove any excess starch. These somen noodles work perfectly with the bean sprouts and dressing to make this light but filling meal. You can even add more to the dish if you like maybe some finely sliced cucumber or if you can get it Myoga ginger.

First lightly steam a few handfuls of bean sprouts and set aside.
You will need to cook and drain one bundle of somen noodles and  rinse them well. You can keep them for a few moments in cold water while you get everything prepared ready.

To make a simple refreshing dressing add to a bowl:

x1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of Yuzu juice, x1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil and 1/2 tablespoon of mirin.

If you want to add anything else then slice that finely and set aside. I just used some chopped chives as I didn’t want to complicate the flavours to much.

The last thing is to add the bean sprouts to the noodles and gently toss them in and then add your dressing and chives, you could also use chopped green onion . I like to use chopsticks to mix everything together by lifting and dropping the noodles. Finish with a scatter of sesame seeds and chill in the fridge.

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

Vegan Curry Doria

Curry Doria was first created by the head chef Saly Weil at the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama back in 1930. It is a rice gratin dish in a Yoshoku style meaning a fusion of western and Japanese. There are many variations but all are made with some kind of meat so I decided to make a vegan version.
This makes one gratin enough for two people with sides.
First wash a cup ( sushi rice cup ) of sushi rice and cook with two cups of water. While that’s cooking make the curry meat topping.
In a pan sauté  finely chopped x1 shallot, 1/2 stick celery, x1 carrot and x2 mushrooms in a little coconut oil. I had some lovely shiitake stock left from making some teriyaki shiitake so I used that but you can use kombu dashi or veg stock you will need to add about 1 cup to the pan. Then I added 1/2 cup of soy mince the kind that comes dry and you add water to.

Add 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce and x1 tablespoon of tomato purée. Finally for the Japanese  curry flavour I used S&B curry spice. You should be able to get this from an Asian grocery shop . If you cannot  just use normal curry powder or another Japanese curry.

Mix this together and leave to simmer until the veg is done and stock reduced.
Grease a dish with some vegan margarine or butter. When your rice is cooked add this to the bottom of your dish, then add your curry soy mince on top. Then add a good layer of vegan cheese and place in the oven until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and serve with salad or vegetables.

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Soba Sushi Rolls

I decided to try to make sushi rolls but instead of using rice, I used soba noodles. I thought I would share with you how I made them.
First decide on your filling, I decided to use shiitake mushrooms using dried shiitake.


After soaking them in warm water, remove the shiitake but keep the water as this makes a great dashi for miso soup.

Slice the shiitake and this time I used a teriyaki sauce by clear spring, which I just sautéed in a little toasted sesame oil.

You can use anything you like for a filling tofu, veggies etc, like cucumber, avocado, carrot, asparagus etc.
Take one bundle of dried soba noodles and tie them at the top with string. Heat a pan of water until boiling and drop in your soba, cooking them until done. Drain the soba keeping on the string and wash them well in cold water.

Lay the noodles flat on a clean towel and dab them gently with kitchen towel to absorb any excess water off the noodles. Then sprinkle the noodles with sushi vinegar. I used the clear spring sushi seasoning.

Cut the string off the soba and section into two.

Take one sheet of nori and place this with the rough side up towards you on a sushi mat.

Lay one half of your noodles on the nori and spread them out, add your fillings and then cover with the remaining soba noodles.


Roll the soba just like you were making normal sushi. Cut the sushi with a sharp knife and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and make a dipping sauce. I made a citrus ponzu with Yuzu juice a little of the shiitake stock and tamari.
I think this a nice refreshing sushi and I want to try making them with somen next time.

 

 

Blog

Japanese Micro Season 17 穀雨 Kokuu (Grain rains)

April 20–24 葭始生 Ashi hajimete shōzu First reeds sprout

April 25–29 霜止出苗 Shimo yamite nae izuru Last frost, rice seedlings grow

April 30–May 4 牡丹華 Botan hana saku Peonies bloom

As for many of us this year we may have been spending more time going for walks to get our exercise. This is something I have been doing as a way to not only get exercise but to release tension and stress for many many years. Over the last few weeks I have really  noticed changes almost everyday in the surrounding countryside. Everything at this time of year is such a vivid green, with all that new energy bursting out into the world. Lambs are in the fields and the sky has been the most beautiful blue.


This is a time in Japan that the farmers start to get ready to plant the rice paddy fields.
Part of this micro season is also part of golden week in Japan. A collection of four national holidays starting  on April 29th with Showa Day. Showa day used to be the celebration of Emperor Showa’s birthday who passed away in 1989. The next holiday is Constitution day or Memorial Day on this day in 1947 the new post war constitution was put into effect. The last holiday in this micro season over golden week is Greenery Day . A day dedicated to the environment and nature. Golden week is normally a very busy time in Japan and would of been the time I intended to visit some of the beautiful parks and nature this year in Japan whilst on my trip there. However due to the problems with travel at the moment I have had to put my plans on hold. Hopefully next year I will be able to witness the beauty of the wisteria and azalea for my self. Wisteria at the Ashikaga flower park and Kameido Tenjin in Tokyo and the azalea at the Nezu-Jinja Shrine Tokyo and Nagaoka-Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto. Like many even in Japan they will not be able to see these either this year, I expect Golden Week will not be as busy a holiday and I worry about what the effects are going to be on not only Japan’s  economy but everyone’s.
I normally try to celebrate Greenery day with at least a walk in nature, I will probably visit my local nature reserve.

I also like to celebrate by making food with a green theme. Maybe you could try my recipe  for greenery day matcha rice, or any of my other matcha recipes to give it a green theme.

 

 

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

Tofu Shepherds Pie With a creamy Miso Mashed Potato

This is a vegan version of a classic comforting recipe for Shepherds pie. That comforting meal which is  great for a Sunday lunch with vegetables or in the week as left overs with  salad .  The main ingredients are normally some form of minced meat with potato on top. I decided I was going to use tofu mince rather than my normal soy mince this time.

Take one block of firm tofu unpack it and drain off the water. Then put it in the freezer in either a ziplock bag or container. I normally do this the morning of the day before. Then defrost over night.

Peel and chop enough potatoes to use as your topping ( this will depend on the  size of dish your using and size of potatoes you have) when they are done mash the potatoes with vegetable margarine a splash of soy milk and a tablespoon of sweet white miso. Mash this all together and set aside.

Take the defrosted tofu and press out the water, then crumble it into a bowl with your hands like breadcrumbs. To this add two tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce, one tablespoon of tomato purée and two teaspoons of dark miso which has been dissolved in a little warm water. I like to use a rustic earthy miso like Hatcho miso.

Chop up any veggies you want to use . I used leek and sautéed them in coconut oil with some already steamed carrot and boiled peas but chopped mushrooms, sweetcorn, onion or zucchini work well. Add your tofu mince and sauté altogether.

At this point if you want to add some vegan gravy to your mince you can.
To an oven proof dish tip out your mince and then add your mashed potato on top. Smooth the mash over and then make little flicks with a fork ( these little peaks will crisp in the oven ) I also like to sprinkle the mash with sesame seeds.

Bake in a moderate oven until the mashed potato browns. To serve I like to add a few chopped chives.


This works  just as well  with salad and left overs the next day as it does for a Sunday lunch with vegetables, in fact my perfect comfort food would be this and baked beans.