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Winter Food

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.

Blog, Spring Food, Winter Food

Setsubun & Risshun 2021

Setsubun on February 2nd marks again the changing micro seasons. It is said to be the New Years Eve of old, welcoming in Risshun the beginning of Spring. Wait isn’t Setsubun normally on the 3rd ? Astrologically it moves this year for the first time in 124 years. In fact over the next few it will flit back and forth. Next year going back to the 3rd then back to the 2nd in 2025 then every four years there on.

This is midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Even though we are in the coldest days, in Japan you will start to see those signs that spring is near by. The days are just getting slightly longer and you can see the start of life emerging from the earth. Ume blossom is starting to bloom, giving those well needed splashes of colour to the brown landscape and maybe you might see  flashes of a little green bird known as Uguisu (bush warbler or the Japanese nightingale) another symbol of spring.
It is a good time to find comfort in the seasonal bounty of root vegetables, creating positive energy by cooking up stews and soups to warm the body.

Another thing I like to do is make warming comforting drinks, one of my favourite being a Houjicha soymilk latte. Houjicha or ( Hojicha ) is Japanese green tea that has been roasted rather than steamed. This alters the colour from green to brown and tastes earthy and nutty, it also makes this tea very low in caffeine. I like the Dark roast or Gold Houjicha both from Kyoto Obubu tea farms and would definitely recommend trying out their tea selection.

Why not make this on a cold afternoon, perfect for a snow day relaxing at home. Just use around one – two heaped tablespoons of Houjicha in a pan and simmer on a low heat with a cup of soy milk adding a little sweetener if you like ( rice malt syrup is especially nice ). Let the soymilk simmer slowly for around ten minutes do not boil.


Then transfer to a milk frother or blender. I like to sprinkle a little powdered Houjicha on top.

It is custom on Setsubun to make a long sushi roll known as Eho-Maki and eat it in silence facing the years lucky direction (this year being south-south east) and make your wish for the year ahead.


Maybe if we all wished for the same thing it may come true! I think we all want the world to heal so we can get back to normal. I’m definitely missing my travels to Japan like many of you.

The fat sushi roll must include 7 ingredients after the seven lucky gods (shichifukuji) This year I decided to use atsuage, violet cabbage, komatsuna, daikon tsukemono, baby corn, asparagus and carrot.     If you want to know more about Setsubun customs just search Setsubun for more information. Let’s welcome in the Spring.

 

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

Almond Tofu in Yuzu Batter

I have been making almond tofu for quite a while now since I first came across a similar recipe in “ the enlightened kitchen “ cookbook by Mari Fujii. I have seen this recipe many times in other cookbooks and I wondered what slight adjustment I could make to make this more my own. This fried tofu dish is crispy on the outside and soft inside. The almonds and with the introduction of Yuzu juice in the batter (which I have decided is what’s going to make this more my signature) gives the dish a lovely aroma.

You will need one block of drained firm tofu, white plain flour, yuzu juice, flaked almonds, oil for frying, salt and salt for serving.

I first saw this tip of getting excess liquid off tofu on “Dining with the Chef “ on NHK. Simply wrap your tofu in some paper towel and place on a plate and microwave for 2 mins. I use this method now every time.

Cut your tofu into large pieces depending on how big you want them you can cut the tofu into four or six.

Prepare a batter mixture with two heaped tablespoons of plain flour and a pinch of salt add to this one tablespoon of Yuzu juice. Then keep adding a small amount of water until you get a nice batter consistency.

Heat up some oil you can use sesame or your favourite oil for cooking, I often use coconut butter as it has no aroma. Do not use oil that has an over powering smell, and do not fry to many pieces at once. I normally do no more than two. Dip each piece of tofu in the batter and roll in some flakes of almonds and add to hot oil straight away. Turn the tofu on all sides until golden. Remove and place on some kitchen towel to soak up extra oil while you do the remaining pieces.

I recommend serving this dish simply with salt and maybe a wedge of lemon or lime. If you have Yuzu salt or matcha salt this is lovely.

You can serve it in the summer with salad or with vegetables. It can even be a nice snack to serve alongside a cup of sake.

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

Matcha Frangipane Puff Pastry Plait

This was roughly based on the French patisserie Gallette des Rois, which is eaten around the 6th of January for Epiphany. Eaten as part of the 12 days of Christmas but now also a pastry to eat through the New Year.

Easy to make with a few simple ingredients (especially if you use ready made pastry like I did ).

I used Ready made puff pastry but if you want to make your own especially a gluten free one then you will need to make this first.
You will need a rectangular piece of puff pastry 350mm x 230mm which is the size of a ready made puff pastry sheet, which you will need to cut in half.

Then in a bowl make your filling.

Add x1 and 1/2 cups of almond flour (meal /ground almonds) and one heaped teaspoon of good quality Matcha powder. Then add x1 tablespoon of kuzu root that’s been ground into a powder. Mix then add 1/2 a cup of maple syrup and 1/2 a teaspoon of almond essence, mix to form a dough.

Divide in half and lay out in the middle of each pastry sheet like this.

Slice diagonally on both sides, then from the bottom working up fold one slice over the other to form a plait. Tuck in the ends and brush the whole thing in plant based milk ( I used soy milk .) You can also sprinkle the top with flakes of almonds if you like.

Place each plait on a piece of parchment paper in a pre heated oven 200C and bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown.

Take your plaits out the oven and let them cool. You could dust with icing sugar if you like.
Slice and serve.

You can serve cold with some vegan cream.


They are also delicious warm for breakfast almost like an almond croissant. Just pop back in the oven and heat for a few minutes. Instead of making two large ones you could divide the pastry again and make four smaller individual ones. How will you eat yours?

Not just for January I think this is a delicious pastry you could serve any time of year and any time of day.

 

Blog, Winter Food

2021 the year of the Ox/cow and my Osechi for this new year

There are twelve animal signs of each year, this is called juni-shi . The cycle rotates every twelve years and as we head into 2021 we are in the second animal of the 12 animal symbols.  2021 is the year of the ox/cow (牛).


Is the cow / ox your birth animal ? If you were born in 1949,1961,1973,1985,1997,2009 and 2021 you are an ox. Attributes are hardworking and honest, they never look for praise or to be the center of attention. They often hide their talent, but they’ll gain recognition through their hard work. Rarely losing their temper, they think logically and make great leaders.

Men born in the Ox year are reliable and trustworthy. Women born in the Ox year are calm and gentle.

Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine is associated with Tenjin the Kami Shinto god of education. Many students go to the shrine to pray for success in their studies. This shrine is home to many ox statues. Cattle are considered the messengers of Tenjin. The statues are said to have healing properties when you touch their head or horns.

Kitano-Tenmangu shrine If you go to a temple on New Year’s Eve at midnight you will hear the temple bell rung 108 times which is a ritual known as Joya no Kane to ward off the 108 worldly sins.

The first shrine or temple  visit of the year is called Hatsumode and many people buy a Omikuji which gives you a fortune for the year.
This is mine which came with a amulet of an ox for the new year, I have been given the great blessing so I’m quite happy about that.
It says it’s time to start something new. So let’s do it !

There is an importance of the first things on New Year’s Day in Japan, as well as the first shrine visit, there is the first sunrise (hatsuhinode) or the first dream you have (hatsuyume), if you dream of a hawk or Mount Fuji it is considered lucky. Other things that might be done on New Year’s Day maybe the giving of cards known as Nengajo to friends or relatives. Children will receive money envelopes known as otoshidama.

I hope that even if you cannot be in Japan you can try to recreate a Japanese tradition at home. This could be in the form of eating traditional Japanese food like toshikoshi soba. Toshikoshi means end the old year and enter the new. A hot bowl of soba noodles eaten on New Year’s Eve symbolises good luck for the year ahead and cutting ties with the old year.

Also a special meal that I have spoken about many times in older posts called Osechi-Ryori

This is what I prepared for my New Years 2021 meal, packed in a ojubako a lacquer bento box.



Akabeko ( Beko meaning cow or bull )
I think this red cow from the Aizu region in Japan is very appropriate this year not only because it is the year of the cow but of what it represents. The paper mache covered wood shaped to look like a cow has the head and neck hung from strings so the head bobs up and down. It is one of Fukushima prefectures most famous crafts.
Over time people believed that the toy could ward off small pox and other illnesses. The body of the cow has a circle pattern which represents the mark of small pox. It was said children would grow up healthy if they had a Akabeko. Nowadays the Akabeko became a representation of good luck, happiness and strength. However  with this year 2021 being the year of the cow and all the things that happened in 2020, maybe having an Akabeko to ward off illness could help us all once again.

I wish everyone a happy healthy 2021. 明けましておめでとうございます

 

Blog, Winter Food

Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん With Yuzu

A few days to go before new year in Japan it’s time to start preparing what food to make for Osechi. The new year Osechi Ryori is considered the most important meal of the year, and lots of time and care is taken to prepare it. It starts a few days before with deciding what will be made and collecting any ingredients needed.
Here is a shopping list of things you might need to buy.

kombu and dried shiitake for making dashi stock

mirin and tamari to add flavour to broths and marinades

Brown rice vinegar for making tsukemono (pickles)

konnyaku for adding to simmered vegetables

soba noodles for New Year’s Eve plus aburaage

Mochi rice cakes for ozoni New Year’s Day soup along with white miso paste.

Kuri Kanroni ( sweet candied chestnuts for making Kuri Kinton

Kuro-mame black soybeans

Vegetables lotus root, carrot, daikon radish, mongetout, taro potato, Kabocha, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, Japanese sweet potato,gobo,green onion, komatsuna or mizuna.

Yuzu and Yuzu juice

Sake and amazake

I like to start by making any tsukemono Japanese pickles so they can stay in the fridge a few days to be ready on the day. This year I am making Su-Renkon. Lotus root (renkon) is an imported food over the new year, the holes symbolises an unobstructed view to the future.

You can use fresh or boiled vacuum sealed lotus root depending on what you can find.

It is popular to make Hana-renkon flower cut lotus root for decoration. Which is easy to do. Cut your piece of lotus root in half and cut down in between the holes and take out the slices like this.

When you have done this you can cut the lotus root into slices.

Use a cup of water and a piece of kombu and let it soak with the lotus root for 30 minutes in a pan.


In another pan add two tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon of mirin, a few slices of Yuzu rind and half a cup of brown rice vinegar and a little salt. Heat up the vinegar until the sugar dissolves then pour it into the pan with the kombu and renkon.
Start to heat the pan and then just as it starts to boil take out the kombu, then simmer down for about 15 minutes.

Pour your lotus root and liquid into a container, add a few slices of sliced red chilli pepper and a drizzle of fresh Yuzu juice over the lotus root. Let it cool then seal and refrigerate. Serve as part of your Osechi on New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Food

The Perfect Miso Soup

Miso

For centuries Japanese artisans have been fermenting grains and soybeans with koji to make what’s considered a super food. An essential ingredient in many dishes but who can forget the humblest of them all miso soup.

white miso with silken tofu, komatsuna, maitake and enoki mushrooms and chopped green onion.

Miso soup, rice and pickles are the main components of any ichiju-sansai or ichiju-Issai zen Buddhist meal or a kenchin-Jiru soup, a root vegetable and tofu soup with miso.

miso soup with shimeji mushrooms, mizuna,daikon, aburaage and Japanese sweet potato.

Miso is a source of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals from iron and B vitamins to calcium and protein. This ingredient is often used to restore health and prevent illness and many people in Japan have miso everyday. There are many different types of miso depending on what has been used to make it. The cooked grains or beans are mixed with koji aspergillus culture water and salt and left to naturally ferment at room temperature for up to two years. Gradually the enzymes supplied by the koji breaks down the beans or grains into fatty acids, amino acids and simple sugars.
When you go shopping for miso there is a wide variety to choose from some are white and sweet and some are dark and earthy, choose ones that are made naturally preferably organic and unpasteurised.

Miso soup with mushrooms,cabbage,tofu and watercress.

When making miso soup start with dashi, in Japan this is often made with fish flakes called bonito,but a simple kombu dashi will work fine for vegans. Just soak a piece of kombu over night in water and gently simmer for 10 mins then remove.

why not try adding some Yuzu rind to your kombu dashi for a touch of citrus flavour.

You can experiment with different ingredients from carrots, mushrooms,radish,seaweed and tofu along with different kinds of miso to find your favourite but here is some inspiration for you. Cook your veggies first before adding your miso. Never boil your miso as this will destroy the natural beneficial enzymes. The best thing is to take a little warm cooking liquid and ladle some into a bowl, add your miso and dissolve then put this into your pan.

I normally use 1/2 litre of kombu dashi with two tablespoons of miso but you might like it stronger or weaker depending on the miso your using. Who would of thought a simple miso soup could have so many possibilities. You could even experiment with combining different miso together.

Leeks, mushrooms and vegetables

In Japan on New Year’s Day there is a special soup called Ozoni which is eaten for breakfast as part of Osechi Ryori ( New Years food) with a Mochi rice cake. The kansai style uses sweet white miso why not try having this and follow the Japanese traditions even if you can’t be in Japan right now.

Ozoni

Blog, Winter Food

Kabu & Yuzu Tsukemono

I managed to get some Japanese turnips ( Kabu ) they are delicious raw in salads and cooked in soups.


I especially like to make pickles with them and around the winter solstice they are  nice with Yuzu. Pickles are a must to serve with any Japanese style meal and these ones are ready basically the next day though the longer you leave them the softer they get. These pickles remind me of the kind you can get in the pickle shops in Kyoto

I hope you will enjoy making these easy pickles at home.

You will need a zip lock type bag.

Around three Kabu washed and with the tops and bottoms sliced off. If you have leaves still on your Kabu keep those wash them and chop them to pickle also ( I didn’t have leaves with mine so I chopped up a few komatsuna leaves to add)

Half a chopped red chilli pepper

A tablespoon of sliced fresh Yuzu rind

Two tablespoons of fresh Yuzu juice

A tablespoon each of mirin and brown rice vinegar

Two teaspoons of salt ( I used freshly ground Himalayan pink salt )

One tablespoon of finely sliced kombu kelp that has been soaked in water which will make it easier to cut. I had been given a bag of sliced kombu and I used that.

Slice you Kabu into rounds and add everything into your ziplock bag. Then massage the Kabu so everything coats the Kabu well, close the bag and place in your fridge.


Every few hours I massaged the Kabu just on the outside of the bag. The next day it will be ready to eat but it’s even better after a few more days.

Blog, Winter Food

Vegan Honey Butter Miso Toast

You may think it strange but in Hokkaido where butter and miso are used together quite often and in Tokyo cafes where they have thickly cut toast with honey, I decided to combine the two to bring you this honey butter miso toast.

A combination of sweet and salty it would be perfect for breakfast or a delicious cosy afternoon snack.
I used a vegan orange blossom honey by a independent company called Plant-Based-Artisan, but if you can’t get this you could try maple syrup, agave or another vegan honey if you know one.

You will need an uncut white tin loaf, cut two slices around 1 -1 1/2 inches thick and score a cross hatch pattern on one side, half way through the bread slice.
You will need one 1 inch x 1 inch piece of vegan butter slightly warmed.
one teaspoon of vegan honey or similar and one teaspoon of miso paste of choice. I used Clearspring barley miso paste.  Mix your butter, honey and miso together.

Toast the uncut side of your bread under the grill then flip it over and spread over your honey miso butter thickly and put it back under the grill. The miso will start to bubble a bit like cheese on toast. When the miso butter in bubbling and your toast is done, take it out and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds. Eat while it’s still hot.
A comforting toast with the taste of Japan .

 

 

Blog, Winter Food

Matcha Scones with Yuzu Drizzle & Sweet Red Bean Jam

Move over mince pies there’s a new Christmas tea time  treat in town.
I decided to make matcha scones as I thought they would look pretty festive.


Filled with sweet azuki bean jam but you could make them look even more festive if you used say a strawberry or cranberry jam instead.
Heat your oven to 200 c fan oven
You will need:

350g of self raising flour sifted into a bowl

to this add 1tsp of baking powder, 3 tablespoons of caster sugar and 1 heaped tablespoon of sifted matcha powder . Mix together.

Chop into squares 85g of vegan butter and add this to your matcha flour and thoroughly rub the butter into the flour very well.

In a jug measure 175ml of soy milk and warm it slightly in the microwave for 30 seconds then to this add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1/2 teaspoon of Yuzu juice.
Add this to your flour mixture and mix in.

Tip out onto parchment paper flatten and fold the dough a few times and then leave in the fridge for 30 mins.
Add some plain flour to a surface and tip out your dough. Flatten and fold again a few times. Then put your dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Depending on what shape you want you scones either make your dough into a circle to make triangle scones or a rectangle to make rectangle scones. Cut your dough to make your scones and separate them from each other.

Brush each scone with soymilk

Bake in the oven for 10 mins

Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make some icing from icing sugar water and Yuzu juice and drizzle it over the scones.

Cut in half length ways and fill with red bean jam.

The easiest way to make red bean jam is to use a tin of precooked azuki beans. Drain the azuki beans and tip into a pan with water and sugar. Simmer down and mash the beans, then chill in the fridge to set.

Blog, Winter Food

Hachinohe Senbei-Jiru & Suiton

As we dive deeper into colder days the winter micro season on the 7th of December with Sora samuku fuyu to naru meaning “cold sets in winter begins” starts. This is a time to start thinking of cosy home cooked meals with seasonal ingredients to feed the soul and warm the body.
Have you heard of a dish called Senbei-Jiru? It’s a country-style rice cracker stew sometimes known as wafer soup, from the northern prefecture of Aomori in the city of Hachinohe.

This dish dating back to the Edo period uses something called Nambu-senbei crackers. They are made from wheat and salt and are formed  into thin round shapes before toasting.

They can be eaten on their own or as a snack or in this case they are dropped into a soup before serving. The soup varies but always has seasonal vegetables and mushrooms in either a soy sauce or miso broth. The wafers absorb the flavour and when In the soup take on a dumpling like texture. This is how the soup known as “Suiton” evolved from this to Senbei-Jiru, as the crackers can be stored dry for a long time.  Suiton is a soup commonly known as Hitsumi is an earthy vegetable soup with dumplings made from rice or wheat flour sometimes known as Hatto-Jiru or Dango-Jiru.

I decided to make one base miso vegetable soup and try it three ways.

The soup can be any seasonal vegetables with a kombu dashi, like potato, daikon,carrot and kabocha then mushrooms I used shiitake. The soup normally has some meat so I used strips of aburaage instead ( deep fried tofu ) I love this in broth as it soaks up all the lovely flavours. I then added some miso. I used a combination of organic Japanese brown rice miso and white miso paste by Clearspring.
For the Suiton you need dumplings 1/2 cup of all purpose flour mixed with 1/4 cup of water and a little salt. Mix into a dough and form into balls. Drop the balls into the cooked soup when they float to the top they are ready. Serve with some chopped green onions or chopped greens like komatsuna.

I was lucky enough to be sent some nambu-senbei from Japan so in my second dish I added these just before serving.

However like many of you who can’t get the authentic thing why not just try using wheat crackers the type you would use for cheese. I tried these ones.

The second part of the winter micro season starts on the 12th of December and is Kuma ana ni komoru meaning bears start hibernating in their dens.  Maybe that’s something we also do in away. We stay inside on cold dark days. It’s a time to cosy up under a blanket or in Japan something called a kotatsu which is a low level table draped with a thick blanket with a heater underneath. The perfect place to eat your nourishing soup which ever way you choose to prepare it.