Category

Spring Food

Blog, Spring Food

Japanese Micro Season Part 11 大寒 Daikan Greater cold

January 20–24  冬華   Fuki no hana saku  Butterburs bud

January 25-29 水沢腹堅  Kiwamizu kōri tsumeru Ice thickens on streams

January 30- February 3 鶏始乳 Niwatori hajimete toya ni tusku hens start laying eggs

I actually want to talk a bit about what happens right at the end of this micro season on February 3rd. This day is regarded as particularly important as it is the transition from winter to spring. The day before the first day of spring on February 3rd is called Setsubun. On this day there are a few customs in Japan one of them is to eat an uncut makizushi called (eho-maki ) while you sit in silence facing the years lucky direction, 2020 being west south west and make a wish for the rest of the coming year. The eho-maki must have seven ingredients, these relate to the seven lucky gods Shichifukujin.

Another Setsubun custom is for the male person of the house to wear a demon mask called ( oni ) and then throw roasted soy beans at other family members and out of the door while shouting “ Oniwa soto Futuwa uchi ! ” meaning demons out luck in. This ritual is called Mamemaki or bean scattering and as well as doing it at home shrines and temples hold this ritual also and many people go to partake in the Oni oi-Shiki ceremony. Women may sometimes wear the otafuku mask which is Lady Luck.


As well as the roasted soybean scattering it is custom to eat as many soybeans as your age plus one for the year to come to insure a year of good health.
Why not try making a long sushi roll for yourself this year. Fillings can be anything you like . Try asparagus, cucumber, tofu, kanpyo, shiitake, carrot or a vegan style cutlet.
I always like to celebrate Setsubun to welcome in the new spring season, although spring still feels a very long way off at the moment but the small signs are there if care to take a look.

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Winter Food

Miso Curry Soy Milk Ramen

Miso Curry Soy Milk Ramen 味噌カレー豆乳ラーメン

I have made this meal once before and shared it on my Instagram feed. If you think this combination sounds strange bare with me it’s well worth making it for yourself.

The distinctive soup which has become Aomori city’s local dish is a blend of miso based soup and milk with curry powder and it always has a butter topping along with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and wakame seaweed. Normally made with cows milk but I made it vegan by using soy milk and vegan ramen noodles .

The taste is sweet and spicy and has a creamy texture. The ramen is a hot comforting meal on a cold day, I guess that’s why it’s so popular in the colder regions of Japan in winter time.

Even though this dish is a speciality of Aomori it is originally from Sapporo. Mr. Kiyoshi Satoh, who moved from Sapporo to Aomori wanted to promote Sapporo-style ramen outside Hokkaido and made this curry miso ramen as his signature dish.

Why not try a steamy hot yellow bowl of this miso curry milk ramen for yourself and be surprised with how delicious it is. Don’t omit that butter topping, you can buy vegan butter, my favourite in the UK is the organic vegan butter block by Naturli. I also recommend a good quality soy milk like Bonsoy. As for the curry powder you can buy vegan curry powder in Japan or you can use S&B curry spice powder but this will not thicken your soup so you may need to use a little kuzu powder. There is a new vegan store just opened in Tokyo in Asakusa and they sell a good range of vegan curry powders. As for vegan ramen I used Samurai ramen or you could use ramen by Ohsawa  which I always buy in Japan, also available on Amazon.

When I’m in Tokyo my favourite vegan ramen place to eat is Ts Tan Tan well worth a visit to either their ramen shops in Tokyo station and Ueno  or restaurant at Jiyugaoka, they even have a noodle bar at Narita airport at T2. They do not have curry ramen maybe they should, but non the less they have really good vegan ramen to try when your in Tokyo.

To make this miso curry milk ramen gather your ingredients serves 2 people.

White miso paste x1 heaped tablespoon

Soy milk 500-800ml

Curry powder x3 tablespoons

Ramen noodles x1 pack of samurai ramen this has two servings ( do not use the sauce inside the packet )

Vegan butter a small square each when serving

Bamboo shoots I bought the vacuumed sealed type which has x1 whole bamboo shoot, slice this into quarters. The remaining will keep in water in an air tight container for a few days in the fridge ( why not search bamboo shoots for ideas on how to use the rest of it up ) take the 1/4 piece and slice it. If you cannot get a whole piece of bamboo shoot you can use tinned. I got mine from the Japan centre in London, they also sell them through out Japan.

Wakame seaweed I used dried seaweed and just added it to hot water in a bowl to rehydrate you will only need a small piece. Slice into pieces

Bean sprouts x1 1/2 bag

You can also add sweetcorn which goes well with the butter.

If using S&B curry powder

Kuzu powder if your using just curry spice powder like S&B, use x1 tablespoon of curry powder and x1-2 teaspoons of crushed kuzu root in a little water around x1 teaspoon to make a slurry before adding to your warm milk.

You will need two pans one with boiling water for your ramen to cook and to lightly steam your bamboo shoot and bean sprouts and one to make your soup.

First add your milk to a pan and heat slowly do not boil, when it’s warm add miso and dissolve, then add your curry powder and mix in well. The curry powder will thicken the milk, however if your using S&B then add the powder mix and then add your kuzu slurry and mix well to thicken. You may need to turn the heat up slightly with the kuzu but as soon as it thickens turn it all on to a low simmer. Then steam your bamboo and bean sprouts for a few minutes, take the steamer off if using the same pan you can can just use the boiling water to now cook your noodles. Keep the lid on your steamed veg to keep warm. When the noodles are done, they only take a few minutes add some miso curry soy milk to your bowls then drain your noodles and add these to your soup. Top with bean sprouts, sweetcorn if you like and bamboo shoots. Don’t forget that butter.

You can also add some sautéed sliced king mushrooms. This ramen normally has slices of pork on top so I think the mushrooms make a good substitute for this. You can sprinkle with an extra dash of curry powder and a drizzle of chilli oil to finish if you wish. 

I hope you will be pleasantly surprised like I was with how well all the flavours blend together and make a delicious ramen.

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Kyuri Itame

Cucumber is an ingredient that everyone uses in their salad making. It’s cooling in the summer and has a high water content so is hydrating. In Japan they even serve it at summer festivals resting on ice they are chilled on a stick . However in Japan they also cook cucumber and this was something I was intrigued to try out. We cook zucchini which is similar so let’s try cucumber.

This dish is so easy but so flavourful that after I made it I thought I really wanted to share it with you. Just simply serve on rice maybe with a miso soup and you have a wonderful meal.

I like to use a peeler and peel the skin into stripes it makes the dish more appealing but you don’t have to do that . I used ridge cucumber but you can use any cucumber you like. Depending on how many people your making this for I used half a large cucumber per person.

Cut the cumber at an angle into thick slices and then half the slices.

Put your slices into a pan. Mix together equal parts of  mirin,tamari or soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, a little salt and sesame paste . I use Japanese sesame paste if you can’t get it then use tahini. If you live in the UK you can buy it mail order from sous chef the link to their website is either at the bottom or at the side of the page depending on your browser.

Mix together adding a little water. I used one tablespoon of each for each half a cucumber also add a teaspoon of grated peeled ginger.

You could also add a little miso as an alternative to the sesame paste for a different flavour .

Heat your pan and pour in the mixture and sprinkle in some sesame seeds. I also added some radish for colour. Stir fry until browned slightly and the sauce has thickened. Spoon out onto warm freshly cooked rice.

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

Hojicha Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are made with hojicha a Japanese tea. The green tea is roasted so it has a slightly earthy aroma so goes well with spices in this cookie recipe.

Put on your oven to warm ( moderate temperature)

Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking sheet you may need two if your baking sheets are small.

First use one heaped teaspoon of hojicha tea and steep in one cup of hot water for a few minutes and then drain off the tea leaves so you are left with the liquid. You will need 1/3 of a cup to start and then you will need to add the rest as needed .

In a bowl add 2 cups of chickpea flour ( if you cannot use chickpea flour for health reasons then try soybean flour or buckwheat however this may give the cookies a different flavour )

Then to the flour add 2 teaspoons of baking powder,and two teaspoons of cinnamon and a little Himalayan pink salt .

In another bowl add 1 cup of coconut palm sugar,1/2 cup of coconut oil and the 1/3 cup of hojicha tea.

Mix the wet mixture into the dry half way through mixing add 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips .

Carry on mixing and start to add gradually the remaining tea until you get a nice dough but not too wet. Form into a ball and place in the freezer for about 5 mins so it’s easy to work with.

Take your dough out of the freezer and scoop heaped tablespoons of the dough and roll into balls . Place the balls on your baking sheet give them some space between and flatten each one with the palm of your hand ( don’t flatten to thin as you want a nice fudge type cookie ).

Do this until all your dough has been used up and place in the oven for 15-20 min.

Leave your cookies to cool. They last well in an airtight container for up to a week or you can freeze some of them.

They are a soft type cookie and are not all that crunchy but are also perfect for making ice cream cookie sandwiches.

If you want why not try chai tea or rooibos tea as an alternative to the hojicha. You could add nuts like pecan instead of chocolate chips.

Enjoy maybe with a nice coffee as a snack .

 

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

Yuzu Citrus Granola Energy Balls

I love whipping up a batch of these energy balls for a healthy snack I can grab on the go or just sit and chill with one with a tea.

I like to add Japanese Yuzu citrus to these it gives them a refreshing flavour. I finished them off by rolling them in granola for extra crunch but you could just as easily roll them in chopped nuts or coconut or rolled in matcha or kinako giving them even more of a Japanese taste .

You will need a food processor add to this 100g of ground almond flour + two more tablespoons , to this add a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and a cup of raw cacao powder, give it a pulse to blend then add two tablespoons of Yuzu citrus and set your blender working and start to drop in pitted medjool  dates . I normally get organic ones in a 200g box. The dates are your sweetener. Keep blending until all your dates are in . Your dough should press together . If it’s too dry add a little more Yuzu juice to wet add a little more almond flour. Pick up heaped tablespoons of the mixture and roll them in your hands into a ball . Then roll them in your chosen topping. Store in the fridge for up to a week in a sealed container. Enjoy !

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.