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

Tofu Fish & Chips

I have been making my version of tofu fish and chips or (tofish) as some people call it for a while now, so it’s been very tried and tested.

What makes my recipe so different? Well I will let you in on a secret but before I do if you see the little Ko-fi icon at the top of the page I would really appreciate your support if you like reading my blog and using my recipes. I have been sharing my recipes for free for years but now it’s becoming increasingly hard to fund myself buying new ingredients to recipe test. If you would like to support me it would mean so much. All it takes is to buy me a virtual coffee. You can choose how many 😉. Thank you.
Anyway now that’s out of the way this ingredient that makes my tofu fish so different is…… Aburaage! Yes those fluffy fried tofu sheets that make inari sushi.

Let’s make them

You will need a pack of aburaage like this

Cut the end off to make one long pocket.

Drain a pack of tofu, wrap it in kitchen towel and microwave for one minute, this helps get rid of the excess moisture quickly. Cut two pieces big enough to slot inside your aburaage pocket.

( you can skip this part but I brush the tofu with the liquid from a jar of capers ) it gives the tofu a nice flavour. Then cut four pieces of nori seed weed so that you have a piece on the two flat sides of your tofu.

Then push them into your pocket. I find the easiest way is to get it in a little and then pick up the aburaage and shake the tofu in ( much like putting a pillow into a pillowcase).

Once they are inside make up some batter with three tablespoons of plain white flour and add a pinch of salt. I like to add a tablespoon of Yuzu juice, you could also add lemon juice. Then add a little water to make a thick batter. Coat the tofu in the batter then you can also tuck in the open end as the batter will help it stick down.

Roll your battered tofu in bread crumbs and shallow fry in a neutral oil ( I used coconut butter) but you could also use sunflower oil. Fry on both sides until golden, then remove and drain on some kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil.

You can serve these Tofish in the traditional way with some chunky chips ( fries ) and mushy peas.

I actually used mashed edamame beans here mixed with guacamole and grated wasabi.  All you need is a squeeze of lemon and some condiments like tartar sauce, mayonnaise or tomato ketchup. As a finishing touch I sprinkled over some ao-nori seaweed.

Hope you will enjoy these as much as I do.


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

Mister Donut Pon de Ring

Mister Donut is a large donut chain with stores all over Asia. Originating actually in the USA they first came to Japan in 1971 opening a store in Osaka. Now you see them every where. Mister Donut is now known in the USA as Dunkin-Donuts.
I first came across Mister Donut in Japan when I was catching the Safege suspended monorail at Ofuna to Enoshima. I had heard that they did one vegan donut called Fuka Fuka Yaki and is intended for customers with allergies. On entering the counter is filled with all kinds of flavours but the vegan one you have to ask for as it’s stored in the freezer you say “Atatamete kudasai” at the counter (can you warm it please).

I have tried making these donuts at home  a few times but this is by far the easiest way (it may not be the traditional method but it’s the simplest and with just a few ingredients!)
It’s Easter weekend and I thought I would make the Mister Donut signature pon de ring  which consists of 8 small donut balls in a ring shape.

These are just dipped in vegan chocolate to look like the traditional pon de ring but you could dip them in pink icing maybe for Sakura season.

You will need:

96g of Dango flour (glutinous rice flour)

96g of pancake mix

200g of silken tofu

(vegan chocolate or icing of choice)



Combine all your ingredients to make a dough. Make a ball and flatten it out and cut into 8 pieces like this.

Then take each piece and do the same again

Roll each triangle into balls and put them side by side in a ring shape slightly touching on pieces of square cut parchment paper.

When you have made all 8, add some neutral oil to a pan enough to half submerge your donuts. I used Tiana coconut butter that has no smell or you could use something like vegetable oil. Heat up the oil and a few at a time lower the parchment in to the oil using a spatula.

Fry until golden then remove the parchment and flip them over to cook on the other side.

Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack, while you cook the rest.
If your dipping them in chocolate break up the chocolate into a bowl and melt by placing the bowl just inside a pan of simmering water to melt. Then take each pon de ring and half dip in chocolate and replace back on to the wire rack, you can sprinkle with a little coconut if you like.

I placed mine in the freezer for five minutes just to set the chocolate.

Like all fresh donuts they are best eaten on the day you make them.

There are some delicious vegan donuts available in Japan now what’s your favourite? I think one of mine has to be Good Town Doughnuts In Tokyo, not all their donuts are vegan but they have a few options.

Also there is The Little Bakery Tokyo next door which do the most delicious vegan cinnamon rolls.

I just can’t wait until we can travel again until then I hope you try making these pon de ring for a little nostalgia of Japan. Happy Easter!





Wasabi Japonica, a perennial aquatic brassica pant native to Japan. Found in shallow remote mountain streams loaded with nutrients and minerals. Wasabi actually translates as “Mountain Hollyhock”, known for its pungent spice and best know for using with sushi and sashimi due to its antibacterial properties.
The wasabi rhizome which is often mistaken for a root is the swollen stem that builds height ( 12-16 inches) and the heart shaped leaves grow from the crown, much like a palm tree.

The plant takes up to two years to reach maturity up in that time you can also eat the leaves and tiny white flower clusters that it produces.

It is the rhizome that is known for producing the wasabi paste, when grated finely with a special Japanese grater known as Oroshigane the cellular level is broken down.

The grated rhizome pastes unique flavour quickly fades and must be eaten fresh within 20 minutes of grating so it’s best to only grate a little as needed. Grated wasabi however can be frozen. I suggest using an ice cube storage tray covered with cling film, or you can wrap each ball of wasabi individually and defrost when needed. Fresh rhizome can be kept in a jar of water in the fridge for up to 14 days if the water is changed daily. Fresh grated wasabi is the real deal and is a stark contrast from the powdered variety that uses horseradish, mustard and additives.

There is a place in Dorset U.K. that recreates the conditions and uses the ancient Japanese cultivation techniques to grow their own wasabi. The Wasabi Company sell not only fresh rhizomes and wasabi kits, but when in season the leaves and flowers along with wasabi plants to nurture at home.

They also sell and extensive range of Japanese products to make your own cuisine at home more authentic.

I was lucky to get some wasabi flowers this year as they have just come into season (March-April) the pretty white flowers not only make a nice garnish or you can use in salad. What I recommend is packing some in a jar and adding some brown rice vinegar to make your own pickled wasabi flowers and the best bit is the process also makes wasabi flavour vinegar in the process !

I also tried some fresh rhizome and even though I do not eat fish I decided to use the grated wasabi to add flavour to a multitude of dishes.

Wasabi edamame mash : you could also do this with peas. Simply boil mash and add a little wasabi paste. A Japanese touch with tofu fish and chips.

Wasabi potato salad: steam or boil two small peeled potatoes, when done mash them and add some sliced cucumber that has been salted for ten minutes then washed along with some sliced red onion (simply either use kewpie Mayo with a little wasabi paste mixed in and add to mashed potato or follow my potato salad recipe and make your own vegan kewpie. Perfect for adding to salads.

Wasabi guacamole: mashed avocado with some wasabi paste mixed in. Makes the perfect dip with a kick.

Wasabi mayonnaise: mix wasabi paste into mayonnaise. Why not hollow out pieces of cucumber and add this inside to make little cucumber cups. It’s a lovely balance of refreshing cucumber, creamy vegan mayonnaise and spicy wasabi .

Wasabi vinaigrette’s & dressings : add wasabi to your favourite salad dressings.
Try 1: Yuzu juice, olive oil, vegan honey or maple syrup and grated wasabi. 2: Brown rice vinegar, mirin, miso, sesame oil and grated wasabi. Experiment with different oils and vinegars.

If you want to buy some wasabi or check out the other Japanese ingredients the Wasabi Company have to offer just click the link at the side or bottom of the page depending on your browser. I can definitely recommend the Yuzu jam and the sudachi kombu ponzu.

When in season they even sell fresh fruit like Yuzu and sudachi perfect for adding that professional touch to your Japanese meals. They have an extensive range of soy sauce, miso,vinegars, noodles, rice, tea, sake and more. Just check the ingredients as not all items are vegan and may contain bonito or fish stock.

Blog, Spring Food

Live by the (Shun) 旬 The philosophy of Seasonal eating part 2 Spring Equinox

When you see Sansai 山菜 on a menu in Japan it is a sign that Spring has arrived! When people think of Spring in Japan of course the beautiful Sakura is the first thing that comes to mind, but delve a little deeper and there is something emerging from the soil towards the warm spring sunshine up in the mountainous regions. A variety of edible wild green shoots start to push through the soil these are nature’s bounty known as “Sansai”. People can forage for these edible treasures to use in Japanese cuisine. Often seen in Shojin Ryori Buddhist temple food. Nowadays you can see cultivated varieties  also in the supermarkets of Japan. Although thought to be many varieties these are the most commonly used ones.

(thank you to my friend Masami Instagram (veggylife_m  in  Japan for the images) udo, nanohana  and warabi 

Kokomo (こごみ 屈) Ostrich Fern can also be (Kogomi or zenmai ) known as fiddleheads 

Fuki no tō (ふきのとう 蕗の薹)

Yomogi (よもぎ 蓬)

Nanohana (なのはな 菜の花)

Wasabina (わさびな 山葵菜)

Take no ko (bamboo shoots)  (たけのこ 竹の子

Yama udo (やまうど 山うど)

Shungiku (しゅんぎく 春菊)

Field Horsetail 土筆 

Warabi (bracken shoots ) (蕨)

Below are some lovely young wasabi leaves and flowers in season at the moment, you can buy them from the Wasabi Company the link is either down the side or at the bottom of the page depending on your browser. They are delicious in salads or pickled in vinegar.

I have often been intrigued by these vegetables not only because of the shape of them but every spring there is an explosion of people in Japan cooking them and sharing their creations on Instagram.
I did manage to get some precooked packages of sansai vegetables and also some lovely other ones fresh from the Japanese vegetables growers I use Nama Yasai Farm.

Shungiku ( edible chrysanthemum leaves )

So using a mixture of fresh and packaged sansai I wanted to create three  meals you can make easily using what ever you can find. Even if you cannot get mountain vegetables you can use other vegetables for instance : Udo is also referred to as Japanese mountain asparagus so I will be using asparagus instead.
You may also be able to find the parboiled sealed packet variety of bamboo shoots ( I do not recommend the tinned variety as they have other ingredients added).

Nanohana is related to the broccoli family and is the young shoots of the rapeseed plant so I suggest using tender stem broccoli instead. The boiled packet of mountain vegetables I got from the Japan centre has bracken, bamboo shoots kikurage, enoki and nameko mushrooms and carrots.
The first meal is a simple rice bowl with these vegetables mixed in known as Sansai maze Gohan. If your using the packaged vegetables they are precooked and ready to use just drain and rinse under running water.

All you need to do is cook up some rice I recommend adding a little mirin and soy sauce to the liquid you cook your rice in . You could also use kombu dashi . Just soak a piece of  kombu in water over night. Rinse your rice as normal and put in your cooker or pot. Add kombu dashi and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and mirin to each cup of rice used. This will add a nice flavour to your rice. Once the rice is cooked mix in your vegetables Maze Gohan means mixed rice . If you are using other vegetables steam them before mixing in except leaf vegetables which can be just mixed straight into the hot rice. I added some extra shimeji mushrooms and strips of aburaage ( fried tofu ).

The rice also can be used to make onigiri. This is an omusubi (meaning gently pressed not squeezed).

The next is a country style meal originating from Tsugaru region Aomori prefecture. A nutrious soup with miso or just a soy sauce broth with mountain vegetables and other vegetables added like carrot, gobo and daikon. Also to give the soup extra sustenance deep fried tofu (aburaage ) or freeze dried tofu (Koya-dofu) is added.  This soup is called Kenoshiru. The vegetables are normally cut into chunks and as well as tofu sometimes beans like fava or lima are added. Just use a kombu dashi again for your broth. I sautéed in sesame oil then simmered  any uncooked vegetables in dashi  first then add tofu and any precooked veggies. Finally add your miso or soy sauce and any greens which ever you prefer.

Served up with some warm crusty homemade fresh bread spread with shio-koji tofu (see post for recipe) and some tsukemono, there are pickled wasabi flowers in there.

The final meal you could try is Ankake Mountain Vegetables. Ankake basically is a thick starchy sauce, this dish uses the mountain vegetables with dashi, soy sauce and potato starch from Hokkaido.

This is nice served either with rice or udon noodles a typical dish from Iwate prefecture or Kyoto style with some tofu. Cook up any uncooked veggies first maybe add daikon and carrot other mushrooms like shiitake or shimeji to a pan and sauté with a little sesame oil then add in dashi around 2 cups simmer until your uncooked vegetables are almost ready then add your precooked veggies, and  any leaves like shungiku or mustard greens and aburaage strips (fried tofu cut into strips ) finally to your dashi add tamari or soy sauce and mirin a tablespoon of each also a little ginger juice is nice too. Now turn off the heat.  Mix a few teaspoons of potato starch into a bowl with some water to form a slurry this is called katakuriko and gradually add this to your pan. Now turn the heat back on and carry on simmering and stirring until the sauce becomes thicker. Add a final dash of sesame oil for extra flavour.

I added a sprinkle of mizuna flowers for extra colour. Served with rice, tsukemono, Japanese potato salad and a Botamochi for dessert.

As we now look forward to longer days and the chill of winter turns into warmer weather with the Spring Equinox or Shunbun we could make a popular wagashi made at this time in Japan called Botamochi, in the Spring named after the tree peony Botan, in the autumn the same wagashi is called Ohagi named after the clover bush hagi.

The equinox is a Buddhist festival in Japan known as Higan or in the spring Haru no Higan, at this time the wagashi maybe taken along with flowers or incense to ancestral graves as offerings. The wagashi is eaten to call to the ancestors for protection of the rice fields. The confection is made from pounded sweet Mochi rice with a red bean filling. They are often rolled in kinako ( soy bean flour ) or ground black sesame, some are reversed so the red bean paste is on the outside. If you would like to make these for yourself please check out my previous posts for Ohagi and Botamochi.

As the wheel of the year is turning once more seasonal bounty ingredients in Japan include sansai ( list above), asparagus, spring cabbage, new potatoes, broads beans, broccoli, shiitake and wasabi.

I hope no matter where you are in the world you can think about your own Shun ingredients see also my first post on this (Live by the Shun the philosophy of seasonal eating part 1 Winter ) and make some seasonal foods for yourself.
Happy Spring Equinox!









Kiriboshi Daikon Kakiage

Kiriboshi Daikon is daikon radish that has been shredded into strips and dried. If you would like to know more about this you can read my recipe post Kiriboshi Donburi.
Kakiage is made with strips of vegetables in batter. I decided to use kiriboshi daikon and add other vegetables to make Kakiage a Japanese style fritter.

I was lucky to be sent some organic kiriboshi with added dried carrot from my friend in Gunma Japan. This kiriboshi was so sweet and delicious and you could really taste the difference to shop bought kiriboshi I have bought before.

She had recently visited a cafe and farm called Peaceful  Table in Saitama Prefecture.

The owner there grows pesticide free vegetables on his farm and serves them up in the cafe. They also hold edible education focusing on agricultural experiences for parents and children. If you live in that area go check them out you can find out more on or follow them on Instagram peaceful_table_jp. So in my recipe I used the dried daikon and carrot but you can just use normal kiriboshi and add fresh carrot.

First take a handful of kiriboshi daikon and soak in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes. If you would like to add some hijiki seaweed to your fritter this also comes dried and you will need to add a tablespoon to a separate bowl and do the same soaking for 15 minutes. After this time drain the daikon and put in a bowl with some paper towel to soak up excess water.

Drain the hijiki if using rinse with running water and simmer for 15 mins in a pan of water to cook. After this time drain the hijiki.
You will need to cut some other vegetables in to thin julienne strips like carrot, onion and maybe gobo (burdock root ) it is also nice to add some green vegetables for colour I added some leek,celery,mitsuba and Shungiku (Japanese chrysanthemum greens). Also add your cooked and drained hijiki.

Add to this two tablespoons of plain white flour and give it a mix making sure all the vegetables are covered.

Then start to add a little water a few tablespoons at a time mixing it in until all the vegetables are covered in a batter mixture. Scoop up heaped spoonfuls of the mixture and put them on a flat spatula, flatten out the mixture and lower it in to hot oil. Make sure you use a neutral oil like sunflower or vegetable.

Cook until crispy on both sides, then lift them out and place on some kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil. These fritters are delicious on top of rice or on top of noodles like soba or udon.

You can also make a tasty Tentsuyu tempura sauce to pour over a Kakiage donburi (rice bowl ).
Use equal amounts of 3 tablespoons each of tamari or soy sauce, mirin, and kombu dashi mixed with a little sugar I like to add 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup as it can mix easily into the other liquids. You can also add a little ginger juice or Yuzu juice for a different flavour. This meal is also nice with some Japanese  seven spice powder sprinkled on top known as Shichimi Togarashi.



Spring Vegan Butter Cookies with Ume & Salted Sakura

It’s White Day at the weekend in Japan 14th of March, it’s the day when the girls get gifts back from all the guys they sent gifts to on Valentines Day. Plus in the’s Mother’s Day which is earlier than other countries. In Japan they are saying that the Sakura could also be something else that’s early this year, so I wanted to make a new revised Sakura cookie to celebrate all things Spring.

First in Spring comes the ume blossom and I had just recently purchased some Ume Su from Clearspring. It’s lovely to add to sushi rice or make pickles and dressings but I wondered what it would be like added to baked goods, so I decided  to try it out. Using a few other ingredients like rice malt syrup also from Clearspring and the salted preserved Sakura flowers the taste is what sums up spring time for me in Japan. If your in the U.K. Sakura flowers are sold under tea at the Japan Centre. Or you could try your local Asian store or online.

First prepare your Sakura flowers. You will need to soak off the salt that preserves the flowers so pick out ten flowers and add them to a bowl. Pour over warm water and let them soak for ten minutes. Then get some kitchen towel remove the flowers and lay them out on a sheet of the towel and then place another sheet on top, gently press and leave to dry out a little while you do the rest.

To make these cookies you will need to add 1 cup of sifted plain flour to a bowl with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I used  Doves farm organic plain white flour.

In another bowl you will need to add 1/2 cup around 64gram of vegan butter. I used vegan block by Naturli at room temperature to this add 1/2 cup of caster sugar, I used Billingtons natural unrefined golden caster sugar. Start to cream the sugar and vegan butter together then to this add one tablespoon of Ume Su and one teaspoon of rice malt syrup then start to whip it all up until it’s fluffy.

Add your butter mixture to your flour and start to mix it in. This might take a little time and effort but it will come together. When it starts to clump together more you can use your hand to work it into a dough.

When you have a dough ball wrap it in cling film or in a zip lock bag and put it in the freezer for ten minutes ( At this point I turn on the oven to around 150 fan assisted and do the small amount of washing up.) Then take two sheets of parchment paper and lay one on a baking sheet and the other on a flat surface. Take out your dough ball from the freezer and roll it out on the parchment. You can then use a cookie cutter to cut out what ever shape cookie you would like. I chose hearts for White Day. Use a spatula to lift the cookies onto your baking sheet. Keep cutting and rolling the dough until you have used all the dough. Mine made ten large cookies. Press a single Sakura flower into each cookie and sprinkle with some more sugar.

Bake in the oven on 150 for around 15 mins then turning up the oven to 200 for a final 5-10 minutes. Just keep an eye on them as they do not want to go too brown. Remove from the oven sprinkle with a little more sugar if you want and leave to cool.

These cookies are buttery salty and sweet all in one and the rice malt gives them also a lovely caramel flavour.
Enjoy with a tea or pack them in a bento for a hanami picnic.


Shungiku 春菊

I talked about the Japanese culinary practice of making a meal from a single seasonal ingredient back in November.
It is known as Kondate-Zukushi and you can read how I made a meal using kabu (Japanese turnip ) on the thanksgiving post I made.
This time I’m using a Japanese spring vegetable called Shungiku 春菊. Shungiku are chrysanthemum leaves, contrary to the name they are not actually the leaves from the chrysanthemum flowers.

It is a different variety from the daisy family also known as crown daisy, or spring chrysanthemum. The leaves have a fragrant bitter sweet taste and are full of calcium, iron, carotene and vitamins. You can cook it lightly or eat it raw. Indispensable for Japanese spring hot pots ( nabemono), or appreciated in a warm salad. If cooking it is important to add it at the last minute so as not to over cook it. I have found that simply blanching the leaves for a few seconds and rinsing in cold water straight after is all it needs.
I bought some from the organic Japanese vegetable growers nama yasai who are based in East Sussex and decided to create a whole meal so you can see how versatile this lovely leafy greens are.


In this Teishoku 定食 set meal we have
Top row
miso soup with silken tofu and shungiku 春菊みそ汁

Caprese style salad with home made tofu cheese and shungiku. 塩麹豆腐チーズ, トマトと春菊カプレーゼサラダ
Shungiku ohitashi vegetables in a ginger soy sauce broth. 春菊お浸し

Second row
A refreshing blood orange and shungiku salad with a citrus dressing ブラッドオレンジと春菊サラダと柚子ドレッシング

Shungiku gohan 春菊ご飯
Bottom row
Shungiku no itame (stir fried greens with shimeji and radish ) 春菊, しめじと大根の炒め物
Shungiku shiraae ( chrysanthemum greens with mashed sesame tofu ) 春菊白和え

Shungiku gomaae ( chrysanthemum greens with sesame dressing ) 春菊胡麻和え

Have you thought of just taking one seasonal vegetable to make a variety of meals ? Often when things come in to season farmers will have an abundance of one ingredient all at the same time.

You can find the recipe for Gomaae and Shiraae both on the recipe pages just substitute the main ingredients for the chrysanthemum greens. As for the rice just chop the leaves and stir into freshly cooked rice. If you would like the recipe for the shio koji tofu again you can search for the recipe.

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Shio Koji Tofu

Shio-Koji 塩糀 translates to salt mold it is a really versatile natural seasoning used in Japanese cooking to enhance the umami of food.

It is made by fermenting cooked grains traditionally rice with water, salt and aspergillus oryzae the mold also used to make miso, soy sauce and sake. Shio-Koji can be used instead of adding salt, it makes wonderful tsukemono (pickles) and can be used in soups and marinades. Shio-Koji is known as an all purpose seasoning, a  good probiotic due to its fermentation and it can help to strengthen the immune system it is also high in B vitamins and essential amino acids. Shio-Koji looks a bit like porridge with a sweet slightly fermented smell.
It’s easy to make yourself you will need.
300g of rice koji like the one below.

90g salt, 450ml of water and an airtight container.
Just mix together in your container and place in a warm area to ferment for around 10 days, stirring once a day for the first 3 days. Leave the lid slightly ajar. This will keep in the fridge when ready for 6-10 months.

Other than that you can buy it already made like the one shown below.

Today I’m going to use Shio-Koji to make Shio-Koji tofu, it’s really simple to make and turns out a bit like a soft cheese.

Just cut a block of medium tofu in half ( you can use more but I like to make around this amount every time.) Put the tofu in a pan of simmering water and simmer for around 10 mins. Remove for the pan. You now need to get rid of the water, you can try pressing it but I find that wrapping it in a clean cloth or kitchen towel and leaving it for a few hours works ok. When your tofu has dried out put your tofu on a plate and coat all  sides with shio-koji rubbing it gently in. Put your tofu in a zip lock bag squeezing out the air and seal it. I also then put the zip lock bag in a Tupperware type container. Place this in the fridge rubbing in the shio-koji every now and again. Leave for  7 -10 days then remove from the bag and gently wipe away most of the shio-koji. You can now use this on bread or crackers with a nice chutney.

It goes well in a salad as a substitute for feta or as a sandwich filling.

Why not try it in a caprese style salad with a drizzle of olive oil herbs, tomato and fresh ground black pepper. Perfect for summer picnics.

Blog, Spring Food

Chirashi sushi Scattered Sushi for Hinamatsuri

On March 3rd in Japan it is Hinamatsuri a special girls day festival held every year for parents to celebrate their daughters if they have them and pray for their health and happiness. It is the second in the five seasonal festivals this one also known as peach blossom festival or dolls day. The peach blossom are blooming at their peak now and ceremonial dolls are displayed in households.

There are many traditional foods that are eaten on this day for instance, hina-arare bite sized crackers, a fermented sake drink called shirozake, strawberry daifuku, Sakura Mochi, Temari sushi, kompeito small candy sweets, Dango and inari sushi to name a few. You can find out more about these in previous years posts. This year I have decided to make a special sushi known as Chirashi Sushi or Chirashizushi. This starts with sushi rice, lovingly preparing the sushi rice as normal washing it thoroughly  until the water runs clear and then cooking it in my rice cooker. When it was done I added ume plum vinegar to keep in with the theme of the blossoms at this time carefully mixing it in and fanning it cool. Then scattering over  some organic toasted sesame seeds to set the base for the rest of the toppings. Some of the ingredients were prepared in advance like sliced lotus root, cut into flower shapes and pickled in shiso vinegar for a week before hand. Chirashi Sushi  translates to scattered sushi. You will often find the one made for Hinamatsuri decorated with lotus root and slices of omelette, known as kinshitamago, I made a vegan omelette and this was my first topping. Then I scattered some kiriboshi (dried daikon) that had been soaking in warm water to reconstitute. It is tradition to add fish like salmon roe, crab meat and maybe shrimp but as I am making a vegan sushi I added, peas, sliced shiitake, snap peas, pickled daikon flowers and carrot flowers, preserved salted Sakura and shredded nori known as kizami nori.

This is the perfect meal to make and share at a party or gathering.
In Osaka Chirashi Sushi is known as Barazushi or Gomoku Sushi sometimes topped with unagi eel. In Tokyo it is known as Edomae taken from Edo and features an assortment of sashimi.

It is also traditional to make a clear clam soup known as ushio-jiru to go with a Hinamatsuri meal. As I wanted a vegan soup I made a similar clear soup known as Suimono. Starting with a cold water dashi the day before with kombu kelp, dried shiitake and Yuzu peel then the next day discarding  the kombu and slicing the shiitake adding  just mirin, tamari and a little salt to the broth. Pouring it over silken tofu (kinugoshi) and adding pretty fu flowers,with a few other ingredients bamboo shoot, shiitake, broccoli stem and mitsuba. The flavour is very delicate but full of umami.

To make the meal extra special some seasonal desserts, pink tofu dango topped with a rhubarb sauce, Sakura Mochi and a white peach sherbet jelly from the Japanese wagashi shop Minamoto Kitchoan.

Happy Hinamatsuri 🌸🌸🎎🌸🌸 I hope you can make a special meal or something to celebrate the beginning of spring even if you do not have a daughter.


Yakumi not just a condiment

Yakumi are small amounts of condiments that are seasoning to to bring out the umami of a particular dish. They are said to bring out the five tastes, amai (sweet), nigai (bitter), suppai (sour), karai (spicy) and shio (salty). Think of the paring together of wasabi and sushi. Some dishes have yakumi on the side where as others are incorporated into the meal it’s self, like sauces and dashi.

Some common yakumi are green onion,ginger,wasabi, shiso, oroshi daikon, Myoga, and sesame seeds. There are also citrus like sudachi and Yuzu. Spices can be also yakumi like sansho and schichimi seven spice pepper. Getting the idea?
Noodle dishes eaten cold often have yakumi on the side with a dipping sauce oroshi (grated daikon), chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

One of my favourites that incorporates this is Hiyayakko or chilled silken tofu, often with a citrus soy sauce called ponzu that your pour over. Yuzu juice which is added to make ponzu is said to be good for the immunity.

Yakumi is written in Japanese like this 薬味 which translates to medicine flavour, this is where it gets interesting, the condiments used are not just to add colour or enhance flavour but they carry medicinal properties as well. Wasabi helps with digestion, and is also antibacterial so this is why it is added to raw fish like sashimi and sushi. Ginger is also good for the digestion and so is shiso. Shiso has natural antiseptic qualities and you will often see it used as dividers for food in bento boxes to help keep the food fresh.When you grate daikon it has the same effect with digestive enzymes Oroshi daikon is high in vitamins, fibre,calcium and iron it is also an anti inflammatory. Another one good for inflammation is green onion, often seen in miso soup or served with a dipping sauce.
Why not make some of the recipes on this website incorporating yakumi . Today I decided to make Yudofu basically translates to hot water tofu.

Often a meal served in Buddhist temples. You would think something so simple as just tofu in hot water would have no flavour but this is where the yakumi really come into their own. Tofu is cooked with simply water and kombu kelp in a pot. When you serve the tofu just pour over some ponzu and eat with some of the condiments. Itadakimasu!

Blog, Winter Food

Himokawa Udon ひもかわうどん

You may have heard of Udon but do you know Himokawa udon ひもかわうどん? A over 100 year old traditional wide noodle made in Kiryu, Gunma  Prefecture, simply from local water salt and flour. So what makes this udon so different  from the udon you might know ? Well it’s the width, the size varies by shop but some can be up to 10cm wide ! They have a pleasantly chewy texture and are a perfect filling meal. There is a established restaurant of over 120 years in Kiryu called Fujiya Honten and himokawa is their specialty. The 6th generation Tokyo trained chef Mr Masayaki Fujikake serves up their noodles made from local flour. Apparently they have been doing this for over 70 years. The noodles made here are around 4cm wide but very long at around 60cm. In the restaurant you can choose how you would like your noodles either in a hot broth (kakeudon) as a tsukemen type dipping noodle, perfect for cold winter days or with a tsuyu dipping sauce and various condiments. They also sell them packaged to go and enjoy at home and I was so lucky to be sent some to try by my friend in Japan.

My friend showed me a kitsune style udon dish she had at the restaurant so I decided to make that. As there is enough noodles in the pack for two people I split the noodles into two meals.

To make the kitsune style I made a cold water kombu shiitake dashi by leaving kombu and shiitake in water over night, I also like to add a few pieces of Yuzu rind.
Then I made a simple broth using the dashi and just added mirin and tamari. I sliced up some aburaage ( the reason this is called kitsune udon, you can read more about this by just searching kitsune udon) and simmered this in the broth to soak up the flavour. I also decided to steam some Japanese negi. I cooked half the himokawa udon in hot water for around 6 mins and then drained them and placed them in cold water so as the noodles wouldn’t get too soggy.

To serve I just simply added the noodles to the broth and dropped in some steamed negi and to garnish I added some really tasty shungiku (Japanese chrysanthemum greens) and Kintsai ( celery leaf stems similar to mitsuba) I didn’t cook these as they would easily steam in the hot dashi broth.
The noodles were slightly chewy and were really flavourful. I felt like I was transported straight back to Japan with this meal and felt so grateful to have been sent these special noodles.

One of the other meals Fujiya Honton have on their menu is a tsukemen style curry soup himokawa. Tsukemen is where you have a soup on the side and you dip the noodles into the soup rather than having them in the soup already. As I still had the other half of the noodles left I decided to make this as well.

A piping hot curry soup that I added a few extra vegetables to like daikon, negi and carrot. I also added some side condiments of oroshi daikon (grated daikon), toasted golden sesame seeds and chopped green onion.

Thank you to my friend Masami for sending me this delicious  taste of Japan .

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

Valentines Day Chocolate Tofu Dango inspired by Yanaka

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.
Todays Valentine chocolate was inspired by a cafe in Yanaka Ginza called Kenshindo.

It’s the cutest little place to enjoy a tea and seasonal dessert even with a loved one, friend or simply watch the old town ambience go by on your own as you look out on to this rustic unspoilt area of Tokyo. I love visiting Yanaka when I’m in Tokyo it has such a nostalgic slower paced atmosphere, something for everyone with temples, local grocery shops, street food, crafts and cafes. Amidst  the skyscrapers and lively metropolis of Tokyo you will find many  locals shops and Yanaka  has a unique shitamachi character. Shitamachi refers to an age where Tokyo was still called Edo and now means a downtown neighbourhood that still has that slower pace atmosphere and warmth, of a bygone era. It’s also near Ueno and Nezu shrine, so a great day out.

Yanaka also has a reputation for cats, no one really knows why the cats where attracted to here, some think it was because of the large amount of trees and temples in the area. The locals love the cats and they are even included in the local district flag.

There are seven statues called the seven lucky cats hidden around the area, they were installed in 2008 and it’s a great game to try to find them all as you wonder around all the artisan shops.

Sadly being unable to travel at the moment I decided to recreate the chocolate covered dango made at kenshindo 

Here is how I made them.

I decided to make tofu dango so you will need roughly about 1/2 bag of dango flour and 1/2 a block of silken tofu.

Blend together to form a dough

Then roll into a log shape and pull pieces off and roll into balls.

Then drop them into boiling water

When they float to the surface they are done ( I always leave them a little longer to cook through )

Remove them and drop into cold water. Then remove them to dry out a little.

Melt about one and a half bars of vegan chocolate of choice in a Bain-Marie. Basically a bowl over hot water.

When your chocolate is melted drop a few dango at a time into your melted chocolate to cover and then thread onto a skewer.

Place onto some parchment paper and sprinkle with some candy sprinkles.

Put them in the freezer for ten minutes to harden the chocolate and they are ready.

These are a lovely combination of the crack of chocolate and squishy Mochi as you bite. I’m going to enjoy a little bit of Yanaka tea time at home.

Happy Valentine’s  Day.

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

Kabu Gyoza

I decided to make gyoza for lunar new year, but instead of using the normal gyoza wrappers I used slices of turnip.
You will need a medium sized peeled turnip or daikon radish thinly sliced into rounds.
Make your filling, I used soy mince the kind you reconstitute in hot water. I used around a cup of this in a bowl with a little hot water, do not add to much water or it will make it too wet.
Then add to a frying pan some thinly chopped veggies. I used a mix of hakusai  (Chinese cabbage), carrot and green onion, you could also add some diced shiitake. Just as a note I found slicing the carrot thinly into strips with a potato peeler then chopping it helps not to make the carrot to thick or it won’t cook properly. When the veggies are sautéed add this to your soy mince in the bowl.
Add a splash of tamari and mirin and a teaspoon of ginger juice. Then add a teaspoon of kuzu to a bowl and mix in a little water to make a slurry and add this to your mixture, this will help to thicken it. Add some salt and pepper and put everything back in your frying pan and sauté it all for a little while to thicken it and cook your filling.

Put your slices of Kabu or daikon into a steamer and steam until they are translucent.
Wipe some oil onto the surface of a frying pan with some kitchen towl.

Start to fill your Kabu wrappers, with your filling by putting the filling to one side and folding the other side over to make a half moon shape.

Keeping adding them to your frying pan until they are all done.

Fry on both sides until the Kabu is browned. If you want cook the filling a little more you can place them in the oven.

Now make a dipping sauce.

Add equal amounts of tamari (soy sauce), sesame oil and brown rice vinegar and a little ginger. Give it all a mix.

To serve you can sprinkle the gyoza with sesame seeds and a sprinkle of togarashi ( chilli spice ). You can also add some chilli threads and chopped green onion.