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Mirin

Summer Food

Hiyajiru ( cold summer soup ) & Kohaku-Kan ( Brown Sugar kanten jelly )

Even though there is still ranging heat in Japan I am beginning to see a shift in the seasons here in the UK. The nights are getting shorter and the weather cooler. The swallows are getting ready to migrate and the fields are being harvested. With that said I wanted to make one final summer Japanese dish before I start to think about heading over to making autumn meals.
This is something I have tried making in the past but it didn’t turn out to my liking but when I saw an NHK programme dining with the chef I knew I could try to make a vegan version.

Hiyajiru is a Japanese cold summer soup with rice. Traditionally with flaked mackerel and miso. Instead of the mackerel I decided to use flakes of jackfruit with aonori seaweed mixed in.

First you need to make a dashi, soak a small piece of kombu kelp for a few hours in 150ml of cold water, after bring the water to a simmer over a medium heat for ten minutes ( do not boil) then remove the kombu.

Add to the water, 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce or tamari and mirin then chill in the fridge.

Make some Japanese rice in advance and tip out into a bowl and allow to cool. I used 1 rice cooker cup – 2 rice cooker cups of water.

Emty the contents out of a tin of jackfruit rinse and drain, you will only need to use half a tin so transfer the other half to a container to use in something else ( you could try one of my other recipes like vegan crab sushi). To the other half of the drained jackfruit add a teaspoon of aonori.

Finely grate a 1 inch piece of peeled ginger.
Slice in half a bulb of myoga ginger and finely slice.                            Slice into rounds a two inch piece of Japanese cucumber, or similar.  Half a lemon length ways and remove the skin and any seeds and dice into small cubes.
Chop half a green onion.

You will also need miso around one tablespoon, about a heaped teaspoon of vegan butter and a tablespoon of ground sesame.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the grated ginger and green onion and sauté, then add the jackfruit and miso keep stirring as it burns easily, add the ground sesame and stir in. Sauté for a few minutes then transfer to a dish, add your cubes of lemon and put in the fridge to cool.

Make a ball with your rice ( to fit in the middle of your bowl ) press the rice so it doesn’t fall apart. Pour around the rice your chilled dashi and then add around your rice slices of cucumber and myoga ginger. Finally top the rice with your jackfruit miso mixture, and maybe some sliced shiso leaves. Then add any remaining dashi over the rice. Eat by taking a little rice, mixture and dashi in each spoonful.


Hiyajiru is the signature dish from Miyazaki in southern Japan and  has been selected as one of the top 100 countryside recipes making it the perfect summer meal as temperatures rise.

For dessert why not make Kohaku-kan brown sugar jelly.

Kohaku-kan mean amber relating to the colour of the jelly.

For the jelly we use Kanten which is made from seaweed and traditionally you would use raw cane sugar but I am using coconut palm sugar. This dessert is so easy and quick to make.

Depending on how many people you are making it for just double the recipe. This makes two servings if you decide to put the jelly with other things like sweet red beans and fruit.

For the jelly
125ml cold water

1.5 gram of powdered kanten

30 grams of coconut palm sugar
Plus a small container to pour the jelly into around 3×3 inch

You will also need to make kuromitsu which is a brown sugar syrup, simply made with brown sugar and a little water heated in a pan until it thickens and if you wish some sweet azuki beans to add over your jelly plus any fruit of choice. I added a few pomegranate seeds.

Add kanten to a pan with the cold water and stir to dissolve. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil then turn the heat to a simmer until the liquid looks clearer, then add your sugar and mix in. Turn up the heat and wait until your mixture starts to bubble then turn off the heat.

To a large bowl add some iced water then fit a small bowl inside. Pour your sugar jelly Into the empty bowl this will help to cool it down. Keep stirring this will stop the sugar sinking, when it starts to set at the edges pour into your mould. Allow to cool at room temperature then set in the fridge for a few hours.

Loosen the edges and tip out onto a plate and cut into squares.

Serve in a glass dish or bowl, with sweet azuki beans and pour over kuromitsu.

There you have it Hiyajiru cold summer soup and Kohaku-kan sugar jelly dessert

Let’s say goodbye to the summer and welcome in the new season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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 .

Blog

Kitsune Soba

I’m really missing Japan . So much so that my heart aches for the place. I do not feel like I fit it to my life in the UK but I always feel I belong when I’m in Japan. It’s like feeling seriously home sick for a place that isn’t your home. I’m hoping this will help. Kitsune soba.

So simple but the secret behind the perfect kitsune soba starts with the  broth. Full of umami flavour,start with kombu kelp,and dried shiitake. Soak over night and then simmer for 10 mins and then discard the kombu . Take out the shiitake and squeeze the water out into the kombu water and put aside. When you heat your dashi add tamari and mirin. Kitsune soba or udon is named kitsune meaning fox after the deep fried fox fur colour of the tofu, others say that the foxes favourite food is aburaage . You may know the shrines inari and inari sushi comes to mind. Foxes are the spirt guardians or ( okami ) of these shrines and you may often see shops selling fried tofu near the shrines.

You can use soba noodles or udon just cook the soba noodles and rinse and put into the hot dashi broth when ready to serve. Also served with chopped green onions and the shiitake which has been sautéed in toasted sesame oil. Just add aburaage and some grated daikon if you like. For extra comfort food I made a yaki onigiri.

( as an extra umami flavour I like to add a slice of Yuzu peel when I’m heating up my broth ) I just sliced the peel off a Yuzu fruit and froze it and anytime I want to add Yuzu peel to a broth I just drop a slice  in. These kind of meals really take me back in spirit . 

Blog

Japanese Micro Seasons Part 14 処暑 Shosho (Manageable heat)

処暑 Shosho (Manageable heat)
August 23–27 綿柎開 Wata no hana shibe hiraku Cotton flowers bloom

August 28–September 1 天地始粛 Tenchi hajimete samushi Heat starts to die down

September 2–7 禾乃登 Kokumono sunawachi minoru Rice ripens

I think we can see our own micro seasons no matter if we live in Japan or not. Today a cool wind is blowing and I am starting to think about the new vegetables that will be coming into season soon. For now I am using late summer ingredients to make a soup curry with kuruma fu and lovely brown rice. Kuruma means wheel in Japanese. I also made dango. This is one you could think about making later in September for the moon viewing festival Otsukimi ( search for this for more information )

Why not start to think about your own seasons where you live. Notice the changes in nature. I think when we feel more connected to the earth we can start to use this in our cooking. Making everything more mindful from the choosing of ingredients to the preparation down to the eating of a meal.

This is the reason I like to make Japanese vegan food. It helps me feel more connected to a country I love deeply.

I used S&B curry spice with water and thickened the soup with kuzu. The kuruma fu were first soaked in a mix of water mirin and tamari then after squeezing out the liquid I dipped them in okara you could also use potato starch. Then I shallow fried them to make them lovely and crispy on the outside. The kind of remind me of an English Yorkshire pudding in texture and flavour. The vegetables I used were some lovely zucchini and potatoes  a work colleagues mother had grown on her allotment some summer kabocha which is lighter in flavour and some lovely crisp  biodynamic salad leaves that were locally grown. I had got some organic ridge cucumber in my vegetable box delivery this week so I pickled them  in ume vinegar.

 

 

 

Autumn Food, Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Kyuri Itame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese Style Breakfast Iridofu

A Japanese style breakfast 

和風の朝食

Iri-dofu 炒り豆腐,ごはん, みそ汁

Iri  means stir fry and Dofu is tofu . It’s more like a scramble than a fry with minimal oil. Also the tofu pieces are kept a little larger. It’s a delicious healthy meal full of protein and a great meal for breakfast.

Soak two-three dried shiitake over night ( this will also become stock to use in the cooking process ) 

Blanch a block of tofu for a few mins in boiling water then drain and pat dry with a clean towel. Break up your tofu into different size pieces.

Squeeze out the water in your shiitake and slice. Slice thinly carrot and snow peas . Add a little toasted sesame oil to a pan and add your veg and tofu . In a pan add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari,the same in mirin and two tablespoons of mushroom stock and warm through add 1 tsp of sugar and dissolve . Pour this over your tofu and veg and sauté

Serve with miso soup and rice with pickles for a traditional style vegan Japanese breakfast . 

 

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

Chard & Tofu Rolls With Roast Vegetables

This colourful dish is created using rainbow chard but you could just as easily use cabbage. First roast some vegetables i used fennel,carrot,beetroot and tofu. Add these to some foil with some bay leaves and make a parcel and roast until tender. Steam some leaves and they them out flat. Fill with your roasted vegetables and tofu and roll them up and secure with a tooth pick . Make a broth of tamari,kombu dashi and mirin and warm in a pan. Arrange your filled chard in a bowl and pour over your broth. Why not decorate with some steamed carrot that has been cut into leaf shapes.

Perfect served with rice and a soup on a cold day.

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Simmered Kabocha (Kabocha no Nimono)

This meal was so flavourful and it made me feel like autumn had truly arrived . Using Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) this is a typical simple seasonal dish in Japan.

Make some kombu dashi by soaking a piece of kombu in water over night. Then the  next day discard the kombu.

First cut a large wedge ( around a quarter of a large pumpkin ) and take out the seeds,place on a plate in the microwave for a few minutes to soften (this will make it easier to cut and also cut down your cooking time). Take out your pumpkin from the microwave and cut into equal wedges and lie skin side down in a pan. Add enough kombu dashi to cover along with 1 teaspoon of sugar,1 teaspoon of mirin and 1 teaspoon of tamari or soy sauce. Give the pan a swirl and cover with a low drop lid or otoshibuta if you have one. Simmer the pumpkin until tender. Place a few pieces of pumpkin in a dish and ladle over your sweet dashi broth.

I served this with Nasu Dengaku. I cut a whole eggplant in half length ways and then scored a deep grid pattern into the flesh. Get a pan with hot oil and pan sear on both sides. I mixed two miso pastes together a sweet white miso and a more rustic brown rice miso with a little mirin. Then I added this to the top of the eggplant and placed it in the oven. It turned out so delicious. The flesh was so tender but the miso was slightly crispy .

It made for a perfect Teishoku meal with miso soup,yaki onigiri and a persimmon tofu mousse for dessert.