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Nori

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

Tofu Fish & Chips

I have been making my version of tofu fish and chips or (tofish) as some people call it for a while now, so it’s been very tried and tested.

What makes my recipe so different? Well I will let you in on a secret but before I do if you see the little Ko-fi icon at the top of the page I would really appreciate your support if you like reading my blog and using my recipes. I have been sharing my recipes for free for years but now it’s becoming increasingly hard to fund myself buying new ingredients to recipe test. If you would like to support me it would mean so much. All it takes is to buy me a virtual coffee. You can choose how many 😉. Thank you.
Anyway now that’s out of the way this ingredient that makes my tofu fish so different is…… Aburaage! Yes those fluffy fried tofu sheets that make inari sushi.

Let’s make them

You will need a pack of aburaage like this

Cut the end off to make one long pocket.

Drain a pack of tofu, wrap it in kitchen towel and microwave for one minute, this helps get rid of the excess moisture quickly. Cut two pieces big enough to slot inside your aburaage pocket.


( you can skip this part but I brush the tofu with the liquid from a jar of capers ) it gives the tofu a nice flavour. Then cut four pieces of nori seed weed so that you have a piece on the two flat sides of your tofu.


Then push them into your pocket. I find the easiest way is to get it in a little and then pick up the aburaage and shake the tofu in ( much like putting a pillow into a pillowcase).



Once they are inside make up some batter with three tablespoons of plain white flour and add a pinch of salt. I like to add a tablespoon of Yuzu juice, you could also add lemon juice. Then add a little water to make a thick batter. Coat the tofu in the batter then you can also tuck in the open end as the batter will help it stick down.

Roll your battered tofu in bread crumbs and shallow fry in a neutral oil ( I used coconut butter) but you could also use sunflower oil. Fry on both sides until golden, then remove and drain on some kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil.


You can serve these Tofish in the traditional way with some chunky chips ( fries ) and mushy peas.

I actually used mashed edamame beans here mixed with guacamole and grated wasabi.  All you need is a squeeze of lemon and some condiments like tartar sauce, mayonnaise or tomato ketchup. As a finishing touch I sprinkled over some ao-nori seaweed.

Hope you will enjoy these as much as I do.

 

Blog, Spring Food

Chirashi sushi Scattered Sushi for Hinamatsuri

On March 3rd in Japan it is Hinamatsuri a special girls day festival held every year for parents to celebrate their daughters if they have them and pray for their health and happiness. It is the second in the five seasonal festivals this one also known as peach blossom festival or dolls day. The peach blossom are blooming at their peak now and ceremonial dolls are displayed in households.

There are many traditional foods that are eaten on this day for instance, hina-arare bite sized crackers, a fermented sake drink called shirozake, strawberry daifuku, Sakura Mochi, Temari sushi, kompeito small candy sweets, Dango and inari sushi to name a few. You can find out more about these in previous years posts. This year I have decided to make a special sushi known as Chirashi Sushi or Chirashizushi. This starts with sushi rice, lovingly preparing the sushi rice as normal washing it thoroughly  until the water runs clear and then cooking it in my rice cooker. When it was done I added ume plum vinegar to keep in with the theme of the blossoms at this time carefully mixing it in and fanning it cool. Then scattering over  some organic toasted sesame seeds to set the base for the rest of the toppings. Some of the ingredients were prepared in advance like sliced lotus root, cut into flower shapes and pickled in shiso vinegar for a week before hand. Chirashi Sushi  translates to scattered sushi. You will often find the one made for Hinamatsuri decorated with lotus root and slices of omelette, known as kinshitamago, I made a vegan omelette and this was my first topping. Then I scattered some kiriboshi (dried daikon) that had been soaking in warm water to reconstitute. It is tradition to add fish like salmon roe, crab meat and maybe shrimp but as I am making a vegan sushi I added, peas, sliced shiitake, snap peas, pickled daikon flowers and carrot flowers, preserved salted Sakura and shredded nori known as kizami nori.

This is the perfect meal to make and share at a party or gathering.
In Osaka Chirashi Sushi is known as Barazushi or Gomoku Sushi sometimes topped with unagi eel. In Tokyo it is known as Edomae taken from Edo and features an assortment of sashimi.

It is also traditional to make a clear clam soup known as ushio-jiru to go with a Hinamatsuri meal. As I wanted a vegan soup I made a similar clear soup known as Suimono. Starting with a cold water dashi the day before with kombu kelp, dried shiitake and Yuzu peel then the next day discarding  the kombu and slicing the shiitake adding  just mirin, tamari and a little salt to the broth. Pouring it over silken tofu (kinugoshi) and adding pretty fu flowers,with a few other ingredients bamboo shoot, shiitake, broccoli stem and mitsuba. The flavour is very delicate but full of umami.

To make the meal extra special some seasonal desserts, pink tofu dango topped with a rhubarb sauce, Sakura Mochi and a white peach sherbet jelly from the Japanese wagashi shop Minamoto Kitchoan.

Happy Hinamatsuri 🌸🌸🎎🌸🌸 I hope you can make a special meal or something to celebrate the beginning of spring even if you do not have a daughter.

Blog, Spring Food, Winter Food

Setsubun & Risshun 2021

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

 

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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Plum Rice Ball

Episode 3 of season 2 sees Master the owner of the diner Meishiya make plum rice balls for a customer. The series is so heart warming and shows how food has the ability to not only to connect people but to bring back memories. One such memory for me was one Marine day ( a public holiday held on third Monday in July in Japan where many people head off to the coast). We had started our train journey over to Enoshima island in Kanagawa Prefecture and there were lots of families on the train. On the opposite seat was a family the mother got out a neatly packed bento and untied the furoshiki around it. Opening the lid she started to take out onigiri those triangle shaped rice balls wrapped in nori sometimes with a filling, she handed them to her children. The onigiri filled the hands of the small children and I remember how happy there faces were to be eating such a breakfast on the way to the seaside. Onigiri ( rice balls ) are perfect for picnics or in the case of the Midnight diner an evening snack.
The pickled plums used in the series were the hard type called Ko ume, as I only had umeboshi I used those instead. Umeboshi are slightly squashy which are dried and salted plums. They are tart and tangy and I must admit to not liking them at first but now I love them. They have been used in Japan to aid digestion and are a good way to keep the rice fresh for a few hours.

Cook up some Japanese rice and chop up an umeboshi plum. When the rice is done fold in your umeboshi ( I also added some furikake with sesame and dried daikon greens to give it a little colour ).

Wet your hands and make a ball of rice then start to mould the rice by pressing the rice into a point, then rotate the ball pressing it into that onigiri shape.

Do not put in the fridge as they will go hard, the umeboshi will help to keep them fresh for a few hours, if you want just put a damp cloth over them. When your ready to eat them I find a strip of nori ( dried seaweed) makes them easier to hold.

I like to toast my nori in the oven to make it extra crispy. The crunch of the nori and the soft rice then the tang of the umeboshi, just takes me right back to Japan, and for me that is one of the  reasons I make Japanese food.

They are nice just simply served on their own with a sake or a miso soup.

 

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Soba Sushi Rolls

I decided to try to make sushi rolls but instead of using rice, I used soba noodles. I thought I would share with you how I made them.
First decide on your filling, I decided to use shiitake mushrooms using dried shiitake.


After soaking them in warm water, remove the shiitake but keep the water as this makes a great dashi for miso soup.

Slice the shiitake and this time I used a teriyaki sauce by clear spring, which I just sautéed in a little toasted sesame oil.

You can use anything you like for a filling tofu, veggies etc, like cucumber, avocado, carrot, asparagus etc.
Take one bundle of dried soba noodles and tie them at the top with string. Heat a pan of water until boiling and drop in your soba, cooking them until done. Drain the soba keeping on the string and wash them well in cold water.

Lay the noodles flat on a clean towel and dab them gently with kitchen towel to absorb any excess water off the noodles. Then sprinkle the noodles with sushi vinegar. I used the clear spring sushi seasoning.

Cut the string off the soba and section into two.

Take one sheet of nori and place this with the rough side up towards you on a sushi mat.

Lay one half of your noodles on the nori and spread them out, add your fillings and then cover with the remaining soba noodles.


Roll the soba just like you were making normal sushi. Cut the sushi with a sharp knife and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and make a dipping sauce. I made a citrus ponzu with Yuzu juice a little of the shiitake stock and tamari.
I think this a nice refreshing sushi and I want to try making them with somen next time.

 

 

Blog, Spring Food

Japanese Micro Season Part 24 大寒 Daikan Greater cold

January 20–24  冬華   Fuki no hana saku  Butterburs bud

January 25-29 水沢腹堅  Kiwamizu kōri tsumeru Ice thickens on streams

January 30- February 3 鶏始乳 Niwatori hajimete toya ni tusku hens start laying eggs

I actually want to talk a bit about what happens right at the end of this micro season on February 3rd. This day is regarded as particularly important as it is the transition from winter to spring. The day before the first day of spring on February 3rd is called Setsubun. On this day there are a few customs in Japan one of them is to eat an uncut makizushi called (eho-maki ) while you sit in silence facing the years lucky direction, 2020 being west south west and make a wish for the rest of the coming year. The eho-maki must have seven ingredients, these relate to the seven lucky gods Shichifukujin.

Another Setsubun custom is for the male person of the house to wear a demon mask called ( oni ) and then throw roasted soy beans at other family members and out of the door while shouting “ Oniwa soto Futuwa uchi ! ” meaning demons out luck in. This ritual is called Mamemaki or bean scattering and as well as doing it at home shrines and temples hold this ritual also and many people go to partake in the Oni oi-Shiki ceremony. Women may sometimes wear the otafuku mask which is Lady Luck.


As well as the roasted soybean scattering it is custom to eat as many soybeans as your age plus one for the year to come to insure a year of good health.
Why not try making a long sushi roll for yourself this year. Fillings can be anything you like . Try asparagus, cucumber, tofu, kanpyo, shiitake, carrot or a vegan style cutlet.
I always like to celebrate Setsubun to welcome in the new spring season, although spring still feels a very long way off at the moment but the small signs are there if care to take a look.

Blog, Summer Food

Vegan Crab Sushi Salad

I have been seeing people use artichoke or hearts of palm for a fake crab meat but I have decided to use jackfruit. It makes a great filling for sushi rolls or like I have done here an open sushi salad.

First you need to drain a tin of jackfruit make sure you use the young green kind in water and not the one in syrup.

Emty in a pan of boiling water and simmer until the pieces push apart between your thumb and finger when pressed. This normally takes about 20 mins. Then drain your jackfruit. This part is a little time consuming but it’s very worth the effort. Take each piece of jackfruit and squeeze between your thumb and finger,discarding any seeds that may pop out. The jackfruit breaks up into shreds. Place in a bowl until you have done them all. That was the hard part. Now mix in two tablespoons of brown rice vinegar,the juice of half a lime,some salt and pepper to taste,some chopped coriander and finely diced red chilli. I like to also add a tablespoon of aonori. Aonori as it’s known in japan is green laver,a type of edible seaweed. Rich in minerals it is used dried in many dishes like Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki . If you would like to make these non vegan dishes I have made them vegan for you so just search for them and the recipe is there.

Mix everything together. And chill in the fridge.Place some crispy toasted nori in a bowl I actually like to use the sea crispies by Clearspring but any nori will do. Then spoon on top some cooled sushi rice with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds,and then add your fake crabmeat add on some chopped chives if you wish to garnish.

A healthy vegan dish without costing the life of a sea creature . What could be better than that.

Blog, Spring Food

Teriyaki Shiitake Sushi Burgers

I decided to make these delicious sushi burgers I made them quite small so they were almost like sliders. The difference between these and my rice burgers is that you use seasoned sushi rice and do not cook the rice on top in a pan.

First make your sushi rice and season the rice ( I like to use the Clearspring brand sushi seasoning it makes things really easy.)

Then decide how big you want to make them and choose a small bowl and place clingfilm wrap inside. Then put some rice into the bowl and press down making burger buns.

Then make your teriyaki shiitake. Slice up some shiitake mushrooms and sauté in a little toasted sesame oil. Make your teriyaki sauce I used tamari,mirin and maple syrup. Add this to your mushrooms and reduce down.

After you have made all your tops and bottoms you can fill your sushi burgers. I first spread some vegan kewpie mayo on the bottom of the rice then added sliced cucumber then lettuce,red pickled cabbage,sliced avocado and a square of toasted nori, then I added the teriyaki shiitake mushrooms. Topping it with another burger rice bun a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and some dried kombu. I served these with soy sauce,pickled ginger and wasabi.

Perfect for a Hanami picnic or for entertaining guests.

Continue reading…

Blog, Spring Food

Onigirazu

An onigirazu is a combination of an onigiri and a sandwich basically a rice ball with filling wrapped in nori seaweed. They are great as you can add what ever filling you like and are perfect for the coming Hanami season so you can pack them in a bento for an out door picnic or just to take to work or college as a change from an ordinary sandwich.

This particular one is a variation on the Japanese  tonkatsu sando using a vegan textured soy protein cutlet.

First take your nori and add cooked rice and a pinch of salt then place on top shredded cabbage or lettuce, on top of this place your cooked cutlet .

I made a kewpie mayo mustard and a vegan tonkatsu style sauce ( just tomato ketchup and tamari. Spread this onto your cutlet and then add more rice. Fold over the edges and wrap in cling film. Leave to set for ten mins then cut with a sharp damp knife leaving the cling film off or on that’s up to you.

There you have a perfect tonkatsu onigirazu.

Blog, Summer Food

Macrobiotic Nourishment Bowl

This is a wonderful way to get a balanced meal. Called a macro bowl because you hit all the nutrients carbs,protein and fat with plenty of vitamins and minerals. There are many things you can add to your bowl if you just follow a simple guideline .

You need some kind of grain this could be brown rice,quinoa,millet,amaranth,buckwheat etc.

Then you need carbs think sweet potato but carbs can also cross over into your grains.

What about protein ha ha . Well we all know there no shortage of that ! Tofu or tempeh are my favourites, but again beans are a great source of protein so it’s good to add some beans in there as well like kidney,Lima,black beans etc.

Add some good fats with avocado,olives,nuts or hemp hearts.

Plenty of veggies and salads ( Go wild ) there are so many to choose from. Spinach,kale,sprouts,carrot,bell peppers,cucumber,watercress,broccoli the list goes on.

Why not add some probiotics in the form of sauerkraut or kimchi?

Dont forget sea veg also as it’s a wonderful source of iodine and good for the thyroid wakame,hijiki,kombu and nori.

Lastly it’s always nice to make a dressing maybe a simple miso dressing with miso paste mixed with mirin,brown rice syrup and little lemon.

I think it’s a good idea to have cooked brown rice ready in your fridge especially if your heading into a busy week . Just throw some rice in a bowl add some beans veggies and tofu and you have a meal in under 10 mins.

Hope you now have inspiration to make  some macro bowls for yourself.

Blog

Sushi Lunch

A sushi lunch to day.
Mini cucumber sushi rolls and Gunkan maki sushi .
Gunkan actually translates as warship .
This is super easy just seasoned sushi rice wrapped in nori with various toppings . Just make sure you cut your nori a little higher than your rice to hold your toppings.
My toppings included maitake mushrooms with bamboo shoots,avocado and pickled red cabbage, broccoli and asparagus,umeboshi,Sakura,hijiki and sushi ginger.

軍艦巻寿司

Blog

Miso Soup & My Bento

Oh my goodness I nearly got blown away this morning the wind is quite scary .
Warming up with a miso soup and my bento .
I made onigiri and I had some of those sweet potato okara balls from last nights dinner left over so put in a few of those along with a grilled shiitake and mochi cheese,salad and fruit.
ここの天気はとても風が強く、嵐があります??
私の弁当
みそ汁,
おにぎり,サツマイモとおからのボール,焼きシイタケと餅チーズ,サラダとフルーツ。

Blog

Furikake Onigiri

Furikake onigiri wrapped in nori with a @clearspringuk organic Umeboshi (salt pickled plum with shiso )
These plums have remarkable medicinal qualities. There acidity has an alkaline effect on the body and helps digestion. So many Japanese foods have healing qualities I’m having my onigiri with another a miso soup .
There is so much to be said about miso with its fermentation process promoting a healthy PH in the digestion. A good source of iron,calcium,potassium,protein and some B vitamins.
I have been aiming to have more miso in my diet since I returned from Japan .
This one has daikon leaf,bean sprouts and shimeji mushrooms .
Makes a delicious and satisfying lunch.
ふりかけおにぎりと梅干し
シメジと大根の味噌汁と豆の芽