Tag

Mirin

Summer Food

Vegan Unadon (Eel Rice) 鰻丼

Doyo-no-Ushi-no-Hi 土用の丑の日 falls this year in Japan on the 28th of July. This is a day when it is tradition to eat unagi (freshwater eel) starting in the Edo period. Apparently this is said to help give relief from the fatigue of intense summer heat and humidity  during the Japanese summer. Unaju is one of the most traditional popular ways to eat it. Grilled eel served with a sweet sticky soy sauce glaze and sansho pepper placed on top of steamed rice  and served in a lacquerware box called Jubako.

Also called Unadon when placed in a bowl of rice short for unagi donburi.

The over consumption of eel has made it endangered but illegal fishing still goes on. So why not make a vegan version instead. Over the years I’ve made vegan versions using eggplant and tempeh, this year I made a vegan eel using tofu and taro potato.

First make your sauce add to a pan two tablespoons of mirin, one tablespoon of sugar and one table of sake and heat gently to dissolve the sugar then add two tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce. Simmer on a low heat to reduce and set aside.

You will need to use firm tofu for this. Drain a pack of tofu from its liquid wrap in a paper towel or muslin cloth and microwave for one minute, this will help to dry out the tofu without pressing. Mash the tofu then tip it into the middle of a cotton cloth so you can use to it to squeeze out the liquid, a nut milking bag is especially good for this.

Squeeze out as much liquid as possible then tip the tofu into a bowl and set aside.

I used three peeled and grated taro potato as a binder. It has a sticky texture when grated. I used a Japanese Kyocera ceramic grater to grate it fine, they are also perfect for grating ginger and daikon so definitely well worth adding to your Japanese kitchen utensils.


Add this to your tofu along with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of kombu dashi powder or grated kombu. I used a Japanese Oroshigane wasabi stainless steel grater to do this. If you do not have either grater try to use a fine grater setting. Mix to combine. Finally add a tablespoon of Japanese potato starch and mix together.


Then cut two pieces of nori and place shiny side down. Spread the tofu taro mixture over the nori, I pushed a chopstick into the middle to make it look more authentic but you don’t have to do this. Add a shallow layer of oil to a frying pan and cook tofu side down until golden.

If you like make your nori crispy by flipping it over.
Place your warm cooked vegan eel on to steamed rice and drizzle over your sweet soy sauce glaze . Finally finish with a sprinkle of sansho pepper.  Serve if you like with miso soup and simple pickles.

 

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

Simple Meals Inspired By Shinya Shokudo

“When people finish their day and hurry home, my day starts. My diner is open from midnight to seven in the morning. They call it “Midnight Diner”.Tonjiru is all I have on my menu. But I make whatever customers request as long as I have the ingredients for it. That’s my policy. Do I even have customers? More than you would expect.”

If you follow my Instagram you will know I’m a real big fan of Midnight Diner & Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories. Last year I did some recipes inspired by the Netflix series. Although numbered series 1+2 in fact these are the last in the series as they started back in 2009 with MBS called just Midnight Diner. There are three seasons in this plus two films before Netflix took them over. If you don’t know Midnight Diner or “Shinya Shokudo” is a tv series about ordinary people who eat at a diner based around the Golden Gai district in Shinjuku.


The small restaurant opens from 12 midnight until 7am. The only thing on the menu is tonjiru but customers may ask the chef known as “master” for what they want and as long as he has the ingredients he will make it for them. It shows the relationship of the characters with the food they order. The dishes are normally simple Japanese home cooked style meals which may envoke a memory for the customer. This  is a lovely heart warming series and if you love Japan as much as I do it doesn’t matter that most of the food cooked isn’t vegan. This is why I decided to take the first three seasons and choose some of the simple meals you can make plant based.

Season 1 Episode 3 Ochazuke

Three women Miki, Rumi and Kana often frequent the diner and always order Ochazuke with different toppings.
Ochazuke is one of the most simple traditional Japanese meals often eaten to settle your stomach or a quick snack with left over rice.
A one-bowl meal  of steamed rice with green tea poured over (sometimes dashi broth) and an assortment of toppings. Ocha refers to green tea, and zuke means “submerged”. You can use various kinds of green tea such as Genmaicha, Sencha or  Hojicha. Spoon some fresh warm rice into a bowl and add your toppings. I added chopped red shiso leaves, umeboshi plum shredded nori (kizami), a sprinkle of daikon furikake and toasted brown rice. Finishing off with a garnish of a few mizuna leaves . Brew your tea and pour over the rice. Eat straight away so the rice doesn’t go soggy.

Season 1 Episode 4 Potato Salad

I do already have a potato salad recipe on my recipe pages in fact it was probably one of my very first. The Japanese version is a little different to the normal potato salad you might be used to. It’s a kind of mashed potato salad rather than potato chunks. Creamy Japanese mayonnaise is used plus vegetables like carrot and cucumber. In the midnight diner episode “Master” recommends you boil the potato with skin on and peel when they are done this apparently keeps in the flavour. He then mashes the potato with a fork adds slices of cucumber julienned carrot and diced ham (you can use vegan ham if you like). Mix the carrot and cucumber in while the potato is still warm this will help to soften them. Add kewpie mayonnaise ( there is a vegan version it just depends if you can get it where you are) or you could either make my recipe for kewpie which is on the other potato salad recipe or just use vegan mayonnaise.

Season 1 Episode 5 Butter Rice ( An arrogant food critic comes to the midnight diner to find something as simple as butter rice to win his heart and resurrect memories )

I must admit I had never tried this and if you haven’t either I seriously urge you to do so. Use good quality Japanese rice when it’s freshly cooked spoon it into a bowl and top with vegan butter. I use the one by Naturli. When the butter has melted a little adds dash of soy sauce or tamari and that’s it. Simple but so so delicious!

Season 2 Episode 5 Tuna Mayo Rice Bowl or Tuna Salad

This is another donburi (rice bowl) meal. In some of my previous recipes like crab cakes and sushi salad I have used jackfruit. It doesn’t taste of fish but gives you that shredded crabmeat tinned tuna type texture. For this tuna salad I did the same. Just simmer a tin of drained jackfruit in water for about 20 minutes then drain and pull the pieces apart and place in a bowl. Add to this mayonnaise a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1/2 a finely diced white onion and a teaspoon of sweet white miso. Mix all together and top on to freshly made rice. I also added a little sliced pickled myoga ginger on top for colour and extra flavour. You could add some diced green onion if you like. This works just as well as a sandwich filling or on a warm jack potato.

Season 2 Episode 7 Hakusaizuke (pickled napa cabbage) or Asazuke

I always make sure I have some kind of tsukemono (Japanese pickles) with my meals . This one is so easy using just salt and no vinegar. I thought it would taste salty but it didn’t it was super sweet. Slice a napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage ) in half length ways and then do the same again so you get four slices. Wash and leave to dry. Add your slices to a bowl and add salt. Rub the salt into the cabbage. You can also add some shredded kombu kelp slices of red chilli pepper and some lemon zest if you fancy. Place a plate over the bowl so it sits just inside, then pile on more plates for a weight or what ever you want to use. Leave in a cool dark place. Then next day give them a massage and cover again. After three days they should be ready. Slice and serve. The rest will keep a few days in a container in the fridge.

Season 3 Episode 5 Harusame Salad

Harusame are dried Hokkaido potato starch noodles which were originally made from mung beans.

Harusame kanji characters are 春spring and 雨 rain. I thought being the rainy season at the moment in japan it was a nice one to make . This simple recipe has a few ingredients julienned cucumbers and carrots (which are first salted left for ten minutes after rubbing in the salt then rinsed ) wakame seaweed that’s been soaked in warm water then sliced and vegan ham with a awase-zu dressing. In midnight diner master adds shredded omelette so for colour I just added some sliced yellow bell pepper. It’s a perfect salad for summer. The noodles take only a few minutes to cook (see packets or cooking instructions) drain and rinse in cold water to remove the starch. Add to a bowl with your other ingredients then pour over your Awase-zu Kyoto style dressing 3 tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of mirin, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of Yuzu juice if you like. I like to add the Yuzu it gives the dressing a lovely citrus flavour that’s great for a summer salad.  You can also use this as a vinaigrette if you just add some olive oil instead of sesame oil with salt and pepper.


I hope this will inspire you to make some of these simple home cooked style meals for yourself, you may also like my post on Natsukashii & Ofukuro no aji ( a taste of home ). If you haven’t already watched Midnight Diner & Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories I can definitely recommend it.

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

Vegan Karaage 唐揚げ

When I did my children’s day post I mentioned that karaage ( fried chicken) was one of the dishes most favoured by children. It is a very popular dish loved by both children and adults from an izakaya snack, bento meal or a quick convenience food pick up. Traditionally karaage is a classic fried chicken dish where the chicken comes in bite sized pieces, coated in flour and deep fried. However it can also be fish or vegetables. There is a similar dish called Tatsutaage where the chicken is marinated in soy sauce and mirin then coated in potato starch and fried. Nowadays there seams to be a blend of the two to simply be still called karaage marinated or not. With this in mind I decided to make my own vegan version. I have often seen dried soy protein chunks used for this, but in my recipe I went for fu. Fu is a dried wheat gluten often used in Shojin Ryori temple style cuisine as a meat alternative. Fu soaks up cooking liquid really well so is great to use with a marinade or in soups. I used a particular kind called kuruma fu, kuruma is the name for car or wheel in Japanese and these fu are so called because of their shape, but you could use any fu you can find.
First you need to rehydrate the fu, by soaking it for around 15 minutes in hot water until they have expanded. While that is happening make your marinade.
Mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari,1 tablespoon sake,1 tablespoon mirin, 1 teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger and  1/2 teaspoons of sugar.

When your fu is rehydrated squeeze out the water and slice into chunks. Combine the chunks with the marinade by massaging it in with your hands. Leave this for around 30 minutes.
Prepare your coating, 1/4 cup of potato starch with a little salt and pepper.
I like to use Japanese potato starch because of its light and fluffy texture and it makes the karaage nice and crispy. However you can use cornstarch if you can’t get potato starch but I would recommend you trying to get the potato starch, normally you will find it in an Asian grocery store.

Heat up some neutral oil and prepare a plate with some kitchen towel to place your cooked fu on when it’s done. Toss the fu in the potato starch and fry until golden brown turning to cook evenly.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon and some vegan mayonnaise for dipping izakaya style or part of a bento or Teishoku set meal.


 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Burdock Root (Gobo) Kinpira きんぴら

Burdock root or Goboごぼうas it’s known in Japan is a woody looking stick often seen with soil still on it. It is a root from the chrysanthemum family and is cultivated in Japan as a vegetable, being planted and harvest twice a year. It is rich in fibre and is often used in Japanese home cooked meals. One of the most popular in Kinpiraきんぴらmeaning sauté and simmer. Kinpira makes a perfect side dish or an addition to a bento meal. It is made by shredding the gobo and sautéing in sesame oil with other root vegetables often carrot or maybe adding lotus root. It is then simmered in a sweet soy sauce.

The seasoning is made with 1 tablespoon each of sugar, sake and mirin add to this 2 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce. Set this aside.

Use one root of  Gobo, if it still comes with soil on it clean it gently under running water with a bristle brush. Gobo discolours quickly and the best thing to do is to just scrape the outer layer of the root lightly with a knife . I always do this under running water. Have a bowl of vinegar  water to hand and using a potato peeler peel off long strips of the root and put them straight in the vinegar water. Keep doing this until you have the amount you want and leave to soak for 15 minutes.

While it’s soaking peel strips of carrot the same and peel and slice lotus root if using.
Then take you peeled strips of gobo and carrot and cut them into long thin slices and put them in a pan.

Sauté the gobo, carrot and lotus root with sesame oil. Then add your seasoning cook until all the liquid has almost gone.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve if you like with chilli threads known as Ito Togarashi. These can be bought in the U.K. from Souschef. Link at the bottom or side of your page ( depending on your browser)

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 .

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

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.

Autumn Food, Blog, Winter Food

Japanese Thanksgiving & Kondate-Zukushi Meal

Niinamesai 新嘗祭 is a Shinto celebration held on the 23rd of November, nowadays it has been rebranded as Labour Thanksgiving Day. It is a very important day in Shinto religion as it is the annual day to give thanks for the newly harvested rice. This is known as the celebration of first taste.In Buddhist temples it is known as The Autumn Festival and is normally a ceremony of the gratitude for everything nature provides. It is also a time to pray for a prosperous and fruitful New Year.

I decided to make a temple style meal to celebrate doing something a little different. These days due to modern cultivation methods, vegetables are grown all year round and no one seams to know a vegetables true season. In temple cuisine it is believed to be important to follow the flow of nature and eat foods provided by the season. This makes sense as each season provides us with the nourishment we need, consider summer vegetables tomatoes, cucumber and melon all have a cooling effect on the body. Autumn and winter root vegetables give us warmth and nourishment to warm the body with soups and nabes.

I had just received a box of kabu from an organic Japanese vegetable farm. Robin & Ikuko run Nama Yasai farm in East Sussex.

Kabu かふis a type of Japanese turnip, it has an effective digestive aid and is rich in vitamin C, iron and fibre. The leaves are nutrient rich in vitamin A and Calcium.
As the whole part of the vegetable is good in so many dishes from soups and simmered dishes to salad and pickles, I decided to prepare a meal using two Japanese principles. The first is called Ichi Motsu Zen Shoku, which is the use of using a vegetable in it’s entirety. The second approach is called Kondate-Zukushi a culinary practice of making an entire meal from one single ingredient (in this case kabu).

This is my Teishoku meal

Kabu & Soymilk Soup

Chopped Kabu, simmered in vegetable stock until tender adding some greens at the last minute, then add a dash of soymilk and white miso before blending.

Gohan & Kabu greens

cooked Japanese rice with chopped Kabu greens mixed in after cooking.

Simmered whole Kabu with Yuzu miso

Miso roasted Kabu with sautéed greens and baked tofu

Finally what no Japanese meal should be without Tsukemono or pickles. This pickle is known as Asazuke or quick pickle.

Slice a medium Kabu and place in a ziplock bag, add to this some chopped greens, some sliced kombu kelp, 1/3 chopped red chilli a teaspoon of Yuzu zest and a teaspoon of Yuzu juice, a table spoon each of brown rice vinegar and mirin and a tablespoon of salt. Press the air out of the bag and seal it then massage the Kabu so all the flavours are immersed. Then leave in the fridge at least four hours or overnight.

I hope this can inspire you to make your own meal around the Kondate-Zukushi principle.

 

 

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.