Category

Summer Food

Summer Food

Eggplant Agebitashi 茄子の揚げ浸し

Agebitashi means fried then soaked and that is basically what we are doing with this classic Japanese seasonal Summer vegetable dish. This recipe uses eggplant or nasu as it’s known in Japan but you could use a variety of colourful vegetables from green beans, okra, Shiitake mushrooms and zucchini to vibrant red, green and yellow bell peppers.

First you will need a kombu dashi, you can either just leave a piece of kombu over night in some water or place a piece of kombu in some water and let it simmer not boil for ten minutes. I recommend doing the latter for this as you are making a warm broth anyway to pour over the eggplant. If you do just remove the kombu before adding the rest of your broth ingredients.
It doesn’t matter what kind of eggplant you have but the long Asian variety are nice for colour and are not too fat, like the English variety.

The eggplant absorbs the flavours of the broth due to the special technique of cuts you make into the skin. This is called kakushibocho it also makes the eggplant more decorative.
First slice your eggplant in half long ways and then place each half cut side down on a cutting board. Start to make diagonal cuts across the skin of the the eggplant but do not go all the way through, make these cuts quite close together, you can even do them in a crisscrossed pattern if you wish.
Heat up some oil in a pan and fry your eggplant if they are to big you can cut them in half . You can use any neutral oil or sesame for extra flavour. Fry your eggplant for a few minutes and then transfer to a deep dish that will hold your broth. You can do the same with any other vegetables you want to use.
You will need about one cup of kombu dashi in a pan then  to that add three tablespoons each of mirin, tamari or soy sauce and sushi vinegar. Turn on the heat and add one tablespoon of sugar, heat the broth to dissolve the sugar, then pour over your vegetables or just eggplant on its own what ever you have fried.

This dish is better when left for at least a few hours to absorb the flavours or in the fridge over night. If I’m wanting this as an evening meal just make in the morning and leave in the fridge all day until you want to serve it. It’s nice warm or cold .

Transfer your vegetables to a dish and pour over some broth, to serve add some refreshing grated daikon and chopped green onion.

This meal is also nice with cold noodles with the broth poured over and the vegetables on top.

Summer Food

Warabi Mochi わらび餅

I first tried warabi Mochi when I visited Osaka castle. There was a food stall in the grounds selling matcha warabi mochi and it was displayed in a mountain with so much matcha I could smell it well away from the stall. ( if you have ever visited Uji you will know what I’m talking about).


When I managed to find some Mochi-Ko warabi Mochi powder in a store in London ( natural natural ) I knew I had to get it and try making it. It turned out just how I remembered it being in Japan ! This chewy jelly like Japanese dessert is a firm summer favourite, popular in the Kansai region and in Okinawa. It took me straight back to summer time in Japan. It’s funny how food, smells and sounds can take you back to a memory. I decided to make it the traditional way using kinako soybean flour and a kuromitsu (sugar syrup) to pour over.
Warabi Mochi is made from bracken starch. The Mochi-Ko I bought was a mixture of this and potato starch. All you need is the Mochi-ko, kinako, sugar, water and some kind of sugar syrup to drizzle over. I made mine from okinawan sugar and water but you could use molasses or brown sugar with water heated to thicken.

First gather your ingredients

3/4 cup of Mochi-Ko

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

250ml of water

and kinako soybean flour

You will need molasses or dark brown sugar to make a kuromitsu for pouring ( I suggest making this first so you can chill it in the fridge. Just add sugar and water to a pan heat until it thickens  and chill.

Dust a baking sheet with kinako , I also find that it’s a good idea to grind the warabi-ko into a finer powder.
Add the warabi-ko to a pan and add the sugar and water and give it a stir to combine. Turn up the heat and keep stirring until it starts to turn thicker and then turn down the heat a little. Keep stirring quite vigorously almost beating it until the mixture becomes more translucent. Keep doing this for at least five minutes then turn it out onto your kinako flour and dust more flour on the top. Place this in the fridge for ten minutes but do not leave it in there.

Take your Mochi out of the fridge and cut into squares

You can serve it straight away or you can keep it for up to two days in a sealed container at room temperature. When you want to serve you can chill it for ten minutes if you wish.
Serve with kuromitsu.

 

Summer Food

Minazuki Wagashi ( the Japanese sweet to eat in June)

I have talked a little about minazuki in a previous post but I thought you might like to try making this Japanese wagashi for yourself. It’s really easy to make with a few ingredients. This wagashi is traditionally eaten on June 30th to ward of evil, ill health and bad luck for the second part of the year. The colour of minazuki is said to resemble ice to cool you from the hot summer heat.
This makes x4 triangle pieces.

You will need a square container around 4×4 inches and something to steam the wagashi in (I used a bamboo steamer)
You will also need:

15g of kuzu root ( if it is not in a powder and more in chunks crush into a powder)

15g of  glutinous rice flour ( the kind for making dango )

30g of sifted plain white flour

30g of unrefined caster sugar

100ml of water

x1 can of sweet red beans

Combine the kuzu powder and dango flour then add a little of the water to make a paste, then add the rest and mix together. Then add in your flour and sugar and mix to combine.
Fill your container with water and tip it out ( this will just stop your wagashi from sticking ) then fill your container with your mixture, keeping a few tablespoons for later.

Place your container in a steamer and steamer over simmering water for about 20 minutes.

After this time take out your container from the steamer and add around 3/4 of the can of your sweet red beans to the top, spreading them out. Add the few spoonfuls of remains mixture you saved over the beans and pop back in the steamer for a further 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool in the fridge. I then cut the wagashi while it was still in the container into x4 triangles and eased out the first piece, once you have one out the others are easily removed. I wouldn’t recommend tipping it upside down as you may spoil the look of your minazuki.
There you have it. They are nice enjoyed with a matcha tea you could even dust the top with matcha or kinako if you like.

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!

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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

Vegan Banana Bread with Yuzu & Kinako

Everyone is making Banana bread at the moment it’s having a revival during these trying times. Maybe it’s because banana bread is that comforting moist treat that’s good toasted warm for breakfast or is nice with that cup of tea in the afternoon. I had some Bananas in my organic veg box delivery and bananas are not something I eat many of so they went soft and spotty sitting in my fruit bowl, which is perfect for making banana bread. However flour is also in short supply and the only flour I could get was sprouted spelt flour, then I remembered how I had previously used kinako ( roasted soybean flour ) in some of my other baking  recipes and thought why don’t I mix the two and try it making a banana bread. It turned out much more tasty than any banana bread I had ever made before! In these times when your normal ingredients are scarce you might find that using an alternative can either be a disaster or a success, but that is how new recipes are created, it can be very much trial and error. Many times I have experimented with ingredients so that I can bring to you the recipes on this website. Many at the time were not commonly used.
So I give you my friends a banana bread with a Japanese twist.

Heat up your oven to 180c and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Make 2 flax eggs ( x2 tablespoon of flax meal mixed with x6 tablespoon of water and set aside to set.

Then to a bowl add
x1 cup of spelt flour and x1 cup of kinako ( you can use oat flour but I really liked how the spelt and the kinako together gave it a lovely nutty flavour. I used sprouted spelt flour by Rude Health.

Addto the flour x1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.

Then in a food processor add 10 soft medjool pitted dates and to that 1/2 a cup of soy milk and 1-2 tablespoons of Yuzu juice. You can buy bottles of 100% Yuzu juice from Asian supermarkets online.


Give this all a good process until smooth, then while the food processor is still moving break up and drop in x3 over ripe bananas and your flax eggs. Make sure it’s all well blended and then fold in the mixture into your flour mix. If you have any candied Yuzu peel you can chop this up and fold into the mixture also.


Tip the mixture into a loaf pan and add sliced banana to the top.

Then use some ground sesame to sprinkle on the top. I actually had a packet of a combination of ground sesame and almond from Japan and I used that.


Bake in the oven for 1 hour and remove to cool. After about 30 mins you can lift out the banana bread with the parchment paper and place on a wire rack to cool more.
I had this the next day with a coffee for breakfast.
I really hope you can enjoy making this banana bread for yourself.