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Maitake

Autumn Food, Blog

Live by the (Shun) 旬 The Philosophy of seasonal eating part 4 Autumn

When the cicadas can be heard no more, the leaves start to turn and the temperatures cool, we know Aki Kinu ( Autumn has arrived in Japan ! ) This is known as Kigo a word or phrase that is used in Japanese poetry to associate with Japanese seasons.

In Japan people are very much in touch with the changing of the seasons. Aki is the word for autumn/fall in Japan and after the hot humid heat of the Japanese summer, people look forward to the cooling breezes and clear blue skies that the new season brings.

During the heat of the summer people loose their appetites so when autumn comes people refer to it as   Shokuyoku no Aki ( Autumn the season of Appetites).

Autumn is the season of the rice harvest with  world sake day being held on October 1st at the start of sake production. 

There is an abundance of delicious produce to have at this time from, matsutake mushrooms, persimmons (kaki), chestnuts known as Kuri or marron when it is in a sweet or dessert, sweet potato and a variety of squash and pumpkins.



Even the Starbucks gets on board with seasonal flavours like sweet potato or chocolate marron flavour. This year japan will be finally getting a pumpkin spice latte after a long 15 year absence along with Starbucks Reserve serving up a warming autumn spice oat latte.

I decided to do my own version with powdered hojicha, spices and warm oat milk. I made some chocolate chip pumpkin spiced loaf cake  to go with it. It made the perfect tea time snack.

To make the pumpkin spice loaf cake :preheat your oven 180 degrees c

I used 1 cup of puréed pumpkin that I had steamed and scooped from the flesh. Combine that in a bowl  with 1/3 cup of coconut oil, 1 tea of brown rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon  of maple syrup. In another bowl add x2 cups of plain flour, 1/2 cup of coconut sugar and 1/2 a cup of caster sugar,1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda a pinch of salt and some pumpkin spice ( I will let you decide how much spice you want to put in, you can also add other spices like cinnamon or nutmeg ) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and give it a good mix. I then gradually started to add oat milk. You can use any plant based milk. Add a little at a time until you get a batter consistency. Throw in some chocolate chips or walnuts are also nice and give it one final mix but don’t mix too much.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter smoothing it out evenly. Bake for around 60 mins.
Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.
Japan sometimes refer to autumn also as Aki no Mikaku ( autumn the season of flavours ).

You may like to try making some simple rice dishes with mushrooms, chestnuts or sweet potato  that are popular at this time.

Another thing that people anticipate with the changing seasons is Momiji, this refers to the Japanese maple tree. As well as viewing the cherry blossoms in spring people in Japan are also excited about the turning of the maple leaves from green to bright vivid red and orange, this is known as kouyou or autumn colours.

There is a word in Japanese Fuubutsushi this refers to the little things that signal a change in the seasons, the feelings, scents, images and sounds that might evoke memories or anticipation of the coming season. I think when we become more aware of this it helps us to centre ourselves and celebrate the passing of time.

As well as viewing the beautiful leaves and partaking in eating delicious food. Japan has other sayings for autumn.

Dokusho no Aki ( Fall the season of reading ) with the nights drawing in people find it easier to sit and read.

Also Koraku no Aki ( Fall the season of athletics, or activities outdoors). I guess this is why on the second Monday in October Japan have a national holiday known as sports day. This year it was brought forward to coincide with the Olympics. 

Maybe it’s time to get out those winter blankets that you have put away over the summer, in Japan they have something called a kotatsu a table with a blanket and a heater underneath, doesn’t that sound cosy.

What ever way you choose to enjoy autumn I hope you are all stay safe and well. Why not take some inspiration from my autumn recipe food section and cook up something to celebrate the season with what ever seasonal produce you can find. Or go hunting for the changing leaves so you can admire them this is known as “Momiji -Gari” in Japan and is a very popular thing to do in Autumn. 

Blog, Summer Food

Marine Day Poke Bowl

Marine Day (海の日) (Umi no Hi) also known as Ocean Day or Sea Day it is a Japanese national holiday normally celebrated on the third Monday in July. The purpose of this day is to give thanks to the ocean and consider its importance. Many people on this day may take advantage of it being a public holiday and go to the coast. I myself did just that and have spoken about my trip in previous posts to Enoshima island that I made on this day on one of my visits to Japan.

This year the date has been moved to Thursday 22nd July to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics which makes it a long holiday with Sports day normally in October being moved to Friday the 23rd for the opening of the games.
How about making one of my recipes that do not contain fish and leave the marine wildlife where it belongs in the ocean. You could make my tofu fish and chips for instance or my crab cakes, tuna mayo donburi or takoyaki.
This year I made a special poke bowl.

I started first with the rice, making a vegan Kani Gohan (crab rice ).


I often use jackfruit as a crab substitute you could also check out my vegan crab sushi salad.
For one person:
First wash one rice cooker cup of rice and add it to your rice cooker with one cup of kombu dashi, one tablespoon of sake and one tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari. Let this soak for half an hour. While the rice is soaking drain a can of jackfruit and shred the jackfruit pieces taking out the seeds and set aside. I also had some maitake mushrooms or you could use shimeji. After soaking the rice add the jackfruit and mushrooms and cook with the specified rice cooker setting for your cooker.
While that’s cooking prepare your poke bowl toppings. A poke bowl is normally raw sashimi with other vegetables. This time for the sashimi I steamed sliced red bell pepper until tender then poured  over some soy sauce to marinade with a squeeze of lime. You could also use one of my favourite marinades from the wasabi company ( sudachi ponzu ) in the past I’ve also used marinated tomato or even watermelon for my sashimi substitute.
Then prepare any other toppings, you can use anything you like from tomato, avocado, edamame, sliced green onions to cucumber, sweetcorn, carrot, even some fruit thrown in like melon or mango.
Spoon your finished vegan Kani  Gohan into a bowl and add your toppings. Finish with vegan mayonnaise a sprinkle of furikake and sesame seeds. Finally pour over the marinade from the peppers.

I hope that even if you cannot visit the seaside today that you will start to think about the impact we have on our marine life and oceans. Happy Marine 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

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.

Blog

Moon viewing and celebrating autumn

As the shades of autumn are becoming even more apparent now with fields turning as golden as the evening light. It is an important time in Japan for the rice harvest. The first of October is known as world sake day “Nihonshu no Hi” and is the New Year’s Day of  Sake. It marks the first day of the sake making season as it is a time when the rice is gathered from the fields to start the production into sake.
The morning sky is laced with the fish scale cirrocumulus clouds and I can understand why the Japanese call them Uroko gumo (uroko meaning scale)

There is a bountiful harvest of foods the most popular in Japan at this time being sweet potato, chestnut, mushrooms, pumpkin and edamame. Mixing some of these with rice is one way to enjoy both at the same time, also using seasonings like soy sauce and mirin.

As the evenings darken we draw our attention to the moon. One such event in Japan is known as Tsukimi or Jugoya  which is a moon viewing festival that dates back over a thousand years.

This year it falls on October 1st to coincide with the sake new year. It is custom to drink sake at tsukimi and eat the foods of the season. Another food that is popular to eat is Dango. Round rice dumplings in the shape of the full moon. Piled into a pyramid shape they are made as offerings at this time.

People may decorate their houses with susuki ススキ (pampas grass) . Pampas grass symbolises the coming of autumn and was once used to thatch roofs and feed animals.

Near the well known Heian shrine in Kyoto tucked away is the Shinto shrine Okazaki, dedicated to childbirth and conceiving, the symbol of the shrine is a rabbit and you will find many statues and images of rabbits there.

Another symbol of Tuskimi is the rabbit, this is because unlike some people who see a face in the moon the Japanese see an image of a rabbit in the moon pounding Mochi with a huge mallet.

You can find more information on previous posts I have made  by searching Otsukimi or microseason posts 15 or why not take a look at my autumn recipe section there you will find takikomi gohan a mixed rice dish, or lots of ways to enjoy Kabocha.

With many festivities cancelled this year this is one that you can definitely enjoy either on your own or with family.
Happy moon viewing.

Autumn Food, Blog, Winter Food

Shiitake & Miso Risotto

I had lots of shiitake mushrooms that needed using up, so I decided to create this creamy comforting risotto.
Use one rice cooker measuring cup of Japanese sushi rice, wash well and leave to soak for a few hours then use your rice cooker measuring cup to measure out x4 cups of hot water ( around 500ml ) add this to a jug with half a vegetable stock cube and one tablespoon of sweet white miso and dissolve. Add your soaked rice to a rice cooker or pan and add half your stock, put your rice cooker on cook or cook your rice in a pan.
Slice what ever mushrooms you like a mix of shiitake, maitake and oyster is nice. Melt some vegan butter and sautéed until the mushrooms are cooked.
When the rice cooker clicks over add the sautéed mushrooms and the remaining stock and put it back on cook. Keep stirring a few times. When it’s done a second time stir in some soy cream and add salt and pepper to taste. Also nice with some chopped parsley and vegan Parmesan. I made my own by pulsing hemp hearts and nutritional yeast. Serve with some nice warm crusty or sourdough bread.

Autumn Food, Blog

Vegan Nikujaga ( meat & potatoes )

Niku Jaga, is a home style cooked dish made from beef and potatoes. Niku is meat in Japanese and Jaga is short for jagaimo which means potato. The meat and potatoes are stewed in a soy sauce broth with mirin and sugar with onion, carrot and green beans or snow peas. Konnyaku ( konjac ) noodles known as Shirataki  which means white waterfall and refers to how the noodles look are also added as part of this meal. They are thin translucent noodles made from the konjac yam and have almost zero calories made up of water and fiber. Don’t be put off by the smell when you open them just drain the liquid and wash the noodles well under cold water then blanch for a few minutes in boiling water this will get rid of the fishy smell. Drain and leave while you prepare the rest of the items you need.

You will need dashi not the kind made from bonito flakes but a vegan dashi made with a piece of kombu soaked in water over night. Around 2-3 cups.

For the meat substitute I have chosen gorgeous maitake mushrooms. They have a meaty texture and  give the soup the most amazing flavour .

Then you will need potato ( I used taro and normal potato ) peel and cut into large wedges use what is called the mentori technique by rounding off any sharp corners. This will stop the potatoes from bumping into each other and breaking up. Put the potatoes in some cold water to remove the starch while you peel and chop one large carrot into rolling wedges. Cut one small white onion into large wedges. Then heat some toasted sesame oil in a large pan and add your onions and maitake, if your maitake come in large clusters just break them up into smaller pieces. Sauté the onion and maitake until the onion is tender then place on top ( do not mix in ) your potato, carrot and Shirataki group them together so all the carrots together all the potato together etc and make sure they are flat Then mix into your dashi 4 tsps of mirin 4 tbsps tamari or soy sauce and 1 tbsp of sugar . Pour this over your vegetables until they are covered. Place a otoshibuta on top this can be in the form of a smaller lid that sits inside your pan or you can use foil with a hole. This will stop the vegetables moving while they simmer but help the flavour . Simmer until tender then leave to stand so the flavours really soak in. Heat to serve adding your snow peas or green beans. I can’t tell you how delicious this was and I can recommend having a chunk of nice rustic bread with it to soak up that lovely broth. Perfect for a cold day it’s hearty, comforting and filling and the maitake are rich in vitamin D which is great for the winter months .

Autumn Food, Blog

Tonyu & Miso Nabe

Tonyu means soy milk in Japanese and nabe is a kind of one pot dish.

This thick and creamy nabe is full of vegetables and tofu it is comforting and filling but also healthy.

Its so quick to make all you need to do is prepare what vegetables you want to use.

I used napa cabbage,kale,leek,broccoli,carrot,pumpkin,tofu and a selection of Japanese mushrooms.

Start by steaming the vegetables first that take the longest so the carrot and the pumpkin and leave things like the kale and broccoli until the last minute.

In a pan add two cups of kombu dashi (leave a piece of kombu submerged in water over night or simmer for 15 mins) and two cups of soy milk,add one tablespoon of mirin and bring to a gentle simmer. Add your miso about two tablespoons and gently stir in.

Pour your broth into a large pot and add your vegetables and tofu. Serve with rice. (If you have a donabe pot like this one you can cook them all together in the same pot, just add your broth and vegetables pop on the lid and simmer )

A perfect meal for a cold day but so easy to make.

Autumn Food, Blog

Houtou (Hōtō) ほうとう

It has been a typical autumn day today. The wind has nearly blown all the leaves off the cherry tree. The seasons go by so fast. No sooner am I enjoying the beautiful Sakura blossom than it quickly falls to make way for bright green summer leaves which then turn all to soon yellow and orange. Today they have nearly all dropped to reveal the dark naked branches.

I wanted to make a cosy autumn dish so I chose Hōtō . A comforting miso noodle soup originating from Yamanashi in Japan. This is normally made with large flat udon style noodles but without making some or having any in my store cupboard I decided to use a gluten-free alternative made by Clearspring, brown rice wide noodles. They worked a treat.

I first simmered a selection of winter vegetables daikon,carrot,parsnip,brussels sprouts,napa cabbage,kabocha,maitake and kale,with enough water to cover and a drop lid or otoshibuta. Add leafy greens at the end of simmering the vegetables.

When the vegetables are tender and you have added your greens mix one tablespoon each of Hatcho miso and white miso paste in a bowl with a little cooking liquid to dissolve,then add to your pot . The hatcho miso gives the soup a nice earthy rich flavour .

Soak your rice noodles for 10 mins in a bowl of hot water to soften and then add them to the gently simmering pot for a further 10 mins.

Or if you are using fresh udon add them directly to the pot.

Now cosy up on a dark autumn evening and enjoy.

Autumn Food, Blog

Takikomi Gohan

It’s starting to feel like a touch of autumn here in the UK. Berries on the trees are already ripe and the birds are loving it. Everything is starting to turn a gold hue and the mornings are a little cooler.

With that said I know Japan is still very hot but I wanted to make a traditional autumn dish called takikomi gohan as I had a lovely mixed punnet of Japanese mushrooms I wanted to use up. The rice dish is about the seasoning in the rice. You can use what ever you like in this dish traditionally it would be meat or fish but I am obviously making this vegan. If you use five ingredients in this dish it would be known as Gomoku Gohan. A similar dish called Maze Gohan does not have the vegetables cooked with the rice they are simply mixed in after the rice is cooked. This mixed rice recipe starts with making the dashi stock. I soaked two dried shiitake and some kombu in water over night. Then took out the mushrooms and sliced them to add to the rice ingredients. I washed one cup of Japanese rice and put this in my rice cooker. (when I say one cup it is the cup that comes with your rice cooker)To this I added 1 1/2 cups of dashi and 1/2 cup water. Then I added 11/2 tablespoons of Mirin and the same in tamari. Tamari is gluten free but you can add soy sauce if you wish. I also added about 1 inch of grated ginger. Also I like to use the small packets of mixed grains you can buy they have a mixture of brown,red,green and black rice,millet and Job’s tears. Add this if you have some .

I let the rice soak while I prepared my mushrooms. I used a mixture of shiitake,shimeji,enoki,maitake and eryngii. I also sliced thinly some carrot and aburaage. Gobo ( burdock root ) sliced thinly is also a traditional ingredient in this dish. Now place your ingredients on top of the rice but do not mix in. Now put your rice on cook.

When it is done mix the vegetables and rice together and serve. It makes a lovely dish just on its own or it can accompany any meal.

Cooking the rice and vegetables together gives the rice a lovely rich flavour. If you want something more delicate then remember to add vegetables that have been cooked separate to the rice and mix them after.

 

Blog, Summer Food

Mushroom Stroganoff

First sautée half a finely diced white onion in a little coconut butter then add your mushrooms I used a mix of oyster,maitake and chestnut. Then add one cup of vegetable stock,one tablespoon of Dijon mustard,a squeeze of lemon juice,a tablespoon of vegan Worcester sauce or tamari and salt and pepper. Simmer this down until the mushrooms and onion are tender. Then stir in 1/2 cup of soy cream .

This is such a quick dish to make but goes perfect with either rice or pasta.

Just add some chopped parsley to garnish and serve with maybe baby new potatoes or salad.

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Okayu Japanese Rice Porridge

This comforting healing dish is easy to digest,simple and filling. In Japan it is often made if you are recovering from an illness or not feeling well.

I have made two types of Okayu one for breakfast and one a little more savoury which you could have for dinner.

Both use a 1-5 ratio using one rice measuring cup of rice to five cups water or liquid.

There are lots of toppings you can use like Umeboshi,sweet potato,chopped green onion and nori.

I used my rice cooker to make these but you can just as easily use a pan if you don’t have a rice cooker.

Breakfast Okayu

Wash one rice measuring cup of rice and place this in your rice cooker or pan with five cups of water . Then add about one tablespoon of ginger juice . I use a Japanese ginger grater to finely grate the ginger and then squeeze out the juice. Let this sit to soak for about 30 mins.

Add a little salt and start to cook your rice it normally takes about 30mins.

I topped mine with grated ginger, rice malt syrup and some sesame seeds. I also added a splash of soy milk for extra creaminess.

Savoury Okayu

Wash the rice and then add 5 cups of hot water ( not boiling) to a jug with one tablespoon of white miso paste and dissolve. ( if you like instead of miso you can use vegetable stock ). Pour this onto the rice in your pan or rice cooker and let sit for 30 mins. After this time start to cook your rice.

While your rice is cooking prepare your toppings . I pan seared some maitake mushrooms  roasted some Hokkaido pumpkin and chopped some green onion.

When your rice is done spoon into a bowl and add your toppings and maybe a sprinkle of schichimi and sesame seeds.

There is also a special Okayu that people have in Japan on the 7th of January for health for the coming year ( see my winter post Nanakusa-Gayu ( seven herb soup).

Blog, Winter Food

Hayashi -rice

  • I brought back some dried maitake mushrooms from Japan and couldn’t wait to try them.
  • For this dish you could just as easily use fresh maitake .
  • Did you know that maitake is a good source of vitamin D ? Which makes it a good winter dish .
    Inspired by a meal I had at ain soph journey I made  this vegan hayashi-rice . Using a selection of  maitake and shimeji,enoki and eryngii mushrooms I sautéed them with onion .
  • Add a tablespoon of tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce each to a separate pan and warm through . To thicken the sauce I use  Kuzu powder. Just add a teaspoon to a little cold water to make a slurry before adding to your sauce .
  • Mix the sauce into your mushrooms .
  • Serve with rice and maybe a miso soup .

ビーガン
ハヤシライス
漬物
みそ汁