Category

Winter Food

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!

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Vegan Chicken Fried Rice

I have just finished watching series one of “Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories “ . A Japanese TV series about a man his customers call “Master”. He opens his diner at midnight and cooks people comfort food on request. It has a new recipe theme every episode with typical Japanese home style food. The characters are some new and some that follow through into each episode. I love the Golden Gai type setting which really gets me reminiscing of evenings in Tokyo. I have now started watching Season 2 . The first meal Master was asked to cook was Chicken Fried Rice. I thought to myself it might be nice to try to make a few vegan versions of the meals so today I made this meal. It’s an easy one pan meal that’s quick to make with just a few basic ingredients.
The ingredients used is for one person as a main meal or two people as a side dish.

Drain a can of jackfruit and separate in half put the other half in a container for another meal ( why not try my fake crab sushi ). You can then simmer the jackfruit in hot water to make it easier to pull apart if your not able to shred it. This time I used a new brand of jackfruit that I had never tried which didn’t need any further cooking before I used it. It was by Plant pioneers available at Sainsbury’s but you can use any brand you can get as long as it’s  in water and not syrup.

Defrost a handful of frozen peas in a bowl of hot water.
Then prepare your rice. I used one cup of Japanese rice washed and rinsed with two cups of water. When I say cups it refers to the cups you get with your rice cooker. This equals around 3/4 US cup or 180ml.

Set your rice cooker to cook or cook in a pan.
While your rice is cooking chop 1/4 white onion and around 3-4 regular mushrooms and add them to a frying pan with a little coconut oil or any oil of choice. Drain your frozen peas and add those and then add your jackfruit ( chicken substitute ). Sauté these until the onion and mushroom are tender, then if your rice is cooked add your rice. Stir this through and finally add a tablespoon of tomato purée. It is normally tomato ketchup that is used so it’s up to you if you use purée or ketchup. Sauté altogether and it’s done.

I’m looking forward to seeing what other meals Master cooks up for his customers next and maybe I might try making another vegan version. I was really surprised how this simple meal could be so tasty, try making it for yourself and transport your mind to a midnight diner in Tokyo.

Blog, Winter Food

Kuzu-yu 葛湯

Kuzu or Kudzu starch is a Japanese powdered root and I often use to thicken my curry sauces. It is highly valued in the macrobiotic diet for having many health benefits from helping stomach illnesses, regulating blood sugar and high blood pressure to comforting cold and flu symptoms. This is why it makes a wonderful drink to have in the winter months, especially if you are sick. I chose to make this as it is also believed to help with migraine and ease neck and shoulder pain, which I had been suffering from, also it is helpful in regulating estrogen levels.
The kuzu tea  or as it’s known kuzu-yu is a hot sweet syrupy drink so would be helpful in easing tired muscles and aiding with sore throats.
(yu) means hot water in Japanese .

It is easy to make with just a few ingredients

x1 tablespoon of kuzu root powder, x1 cup of COLD water, x1 teaspoon of  grated ginger, x1 teaspoon of Yuzu juice or lemon and sweetener of choice to taste.

Add the kuzu to a pan and crush into a fine powder , at this point if you would like to make the drink with matcha powder rather than ginger you can add this here and mix into the root. Take your cup of cold water and add a little to the root and mix to a paste then add the rest. Heat on a gentle heat stirring all the time until it thickens.
Pour into your favourite mug or tea cup and sip to enjoy.

If you are making the matcha version it is sometimes served as a hot dessert in Japan with small rice cracker toppings called arare.

Another popular alternative is to use apple juice instead of water and make a syrupy apple drink, maybe adding ginger and cinnamon and a few cubes of fresh apple to finish.

I think this is a perfect winter beverage to warm your body.

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.

Blog, Winter Food

Kuromame Daifuku Mochi

I went to a new year mochi pounding this January which was then made into Mochi with sweet red bean paste and was served to the spectators.


Mochi is often eaten as a symbol of long life in Japan and the breaking and eating of the Kagami Mochi ( known as Kagami Biraki ) see other posts for more information on this, is a ritual celebrating the transition to a new stage in life.
The 13th of January this year in Japan is coming of age day Seijin Shiki 成人式. It is held on the second Monday in January and is the day when people in Japan that turned 20 the previous year are now welcomed into society as an adult. It may be common to see people in elaborate costumes visiting shrines to pray for health and success.

Inspired by seeing the Mochi pounding I decided to try making my own Mochi which is the symbol of longevity as it’s so stretchy  and make kuromame Daifuku. Daifuku translates to great luck and the sweet black soy beans are a symbol of good health and are eaten as part of new year food (osechi).

Daifuku is a Japanese wagashi ( sweet ) consisting of a small round glutinous rice cake stuffed with sweet filling, most commonly anko sweetened red bean paste made from azuki beans.

These are the ingredients I used which I bought easily from the Japan centre Asian food super market in London, they also sell on line.

 

Top row: Tokyo Potato starch powder 150g, Hashimoto Tsubuan chunky red bean paste 350g ( both originating from Hokkaidō ).
Bottom row : Hakubai sweet Mochi rice 2.27 Kg  ( this is a big bag but is perfect for making ohagi / Botamochi for spring / autumn equinox for which I have recipes. Finally Shiga Shoten Tambaguro kuromame simmered black soy beans 150g

First wash and soak over night one rice cooker cup of sweet Mochi rice. In the morning cook the rice in your rice cooker or pan with two rice cooker cups of water. A rice cooker cup is what comes with a rice cooker if you do not have one 1 rice cooker cup equates to 3/4 of a normal measuring cup or 180ml .
After your rice is cooked keep the lid on and steam for a further ten minutes. Transfer the cooked rice into a bowl or Suribachi ( grinding bowl) and start pounding your rice with something like a rolling pin or something like a surikogi which is the mortar part of a pestle and mortar. Keep wetting the end as it will start to get very sticky indeed !
When its all smooth and stretchy dust a work surface or board with potato starch and tip the Mochi out. Dust your hand with potato starch as this will stop your hands sticking to the mochi  then knead the mochi in the potato starch and pull off pieces about the size of a heaped tablespoon. Flatten it out and add your sweet black soy beans and a ball of anko in the middle.

Fold the mochi with the circle of soy beans over the anko to make a ball. Shape and it’s done.


This was the first time I have ever made these and the more you do the better at it you become. I was really pleased how they turned out. Serve with a matcha tea to celebrate a long and healthy life

( no matter if your celebrating coming of age day, life is a celebration  ! )

Blog, Winter Food

Japanese Micro Season Part 10 (Lesser cold) 小寒 Shōkan

(Lesser cold) 小寒 Shōkan

January 5–9  芹乃栄 Seri sunawachi sakau  ( Parsley flourishes )

January 10–14  水泉動 Shimizu atataka o fukumu  ( Springs thaw )

January 15–19 雉始 Kiji hajimete naku ( Pheasants start to call )

Nanakusa-Gayu

nana (): seven

kusa (): lit. grass (herb)

(o)kayu (): rice porridge

On the 7th of January in japan (jinjitsu) marks the end of the Oshougatsu (Japanese New Years) . This day is known as nanakusa no sekku (七草の節句), or the Festival of the Seven Weeds . It is custom to make a seven herb rice porridge Nanakusa Gayu 七草粥 to help heal the stomach after the New Year festivities. It is quite common in japan if you have an unwell stomach to eat Okayu rice porridge. The 7th of January is one of the 5 seasonal festivals the porridge is said to prevent illness for the coming year.

The herbs used in japan are waterdrop wort,shepherds purse,cudweed,chickweed,nipplewort,turnip and daikon radish.

As I live in the UK I have had to substitute the Japanese herbs for ones I could find.

I used watercress,rocket,mizuna,chive,basil and parsley a mixture of these with daikon radish.

You can a make this with  kombu dashi ( just soak kombu in water over night ) and Japanese rice with a 1-5 ratio one Japanese rice cooker cup rice to five water. Simmer for around 30 mins adding more dashi if needed, then mix in your herbs and steam for 10 minutes. You could finish by garnishing with some sautéed daikon radish chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

You can cook your rice in dashi or vegetable broth and make  a pesto with the herbs. Just blend a mix of the herbs with olive oil and sesame paste. Then add a spoon of pesto on top with maybe some sautéed daikon and some extra blanched herbs.

It is also nice to add a toasted Mochi rice cake if you like.

If you have left over porridge how about stirring in some creamy white miso for a delicious lunch.

However you cook it it’s a lovely filling meal.

Here’s to good health in 2020 !

Blog, Winter Food

My Osechi Ryori for 2020

Happy New Year Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu 明けましておめでとうございます!

Did you make toshikoshi soba last night to bring in the new year and cut ties with the old ?  2020 is not only the start of a new decade but its the year that Japan will be hosting the summer Olympics and I will be visiting Japan again myself at the end of April ! I’m so excited to be back.

I make Osechi Ryori 御節料理 or お節料理 every year for New Year’s Day ( Ganjitsu 元日). Even though I am not in Japan I can bring Japan closer with my food.

New year is a very important time and food has a lot of special meaning. I have made a few posts on Osechi over the years  and this year also my last blog post is on other new year symbolism in Japan.

Osechi Ryori are traditional foods normally packed in a tiered bento box known as ojubuko 重箱 enjoyed at New Year’s Day in Japan. I have made a vegan selection of these dishes. There are other popular dishes but they are not vegan.

Ozoni 関西風お雑煮( Kansai – style ) new year soup This style of soup from Kyoto region is made with miso and toasted Mochi. I added daikon,carrot, komatsuna and Yuzu peel.

Candied chestnut and sweet potato ( Kuri Kinton )  栗きんとん .This golden mash symbolises wealth and fortune.

Kinpira Renkon (Japanese Lotus Root Stir Fry) きんぴら蓮根

Sweet black soy beans (Kuro-mame) 黒豆 Symbolises good health.

Daikon & carrot salad (Namasu ) 紅白なます.These are colours of celebration. I served it inside a Yuzu skin.

Nishime 煮しめ simmered vegetables is a must for a New Years meal and the lotus root is a symbol of an unobstructed view to the future. I used carrot, taro potato, Kouya dofu, lotus root, kabocha,shiitake,konnyaku and snow peas all simmered in a kombu shiitake stock with tamari, mirin and Yuzu. 

I also made some inari sushi いなり寿司 ( because I like them ) and Furofuki daikon 風呂吹き大根  simmered daikon with miso and a tofu, kabocha and Yuzu mousse topped with sweet red beans.

Mitarashi dango みたらし団子 chewy soft warm dumplings with a with a sweet soy sauce glaze.

Amazake 甘酒 is also popular at new year along with sake. Many Shinto shrines sell or provide amazake on New Year’s Eve. There is also a herb sake called O-toso drunk at new year. Drinking O-toso is said to ward off infectious diseases like colds for the year.

Dried persimmon hoshigaki (干し柿).These ones are pretty special they are stuffed with sweet white bean paste and are a wagashi called Suikanshuku (粋甘粛) . It is traditional to eat dried persimmon over the new year as the wrinkled skin is said to be associated with longevity. The Japanese word for persimmon (not dried is kaki ) which means luck. 


What ever your plans for 2020 I hope it brings health, happiness and everything you could possibly wish for. The new year and new decade is full of possibilities.