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Rice

Blog, Spring Food

Live by the (Shun) 旬 The philosophy of Seasonal eating part 2 Spring Equinox

When you see Sansai 山菜 on a menu in Japan it is a sign that Spring has arrived! When people think of Spring in Japan of course the beautiful Sakura is the first thing that comes to mind, but delve a little deeper and there is something emerging from the soil towards the warm spring sunshine up in the mountainous regions. A variety of edible wild green shoots start to push through the soil these are nature’s bounty known as “Sansai”. People can forage for these edible treasures to use in Japanese cuisine. Often seen in Shojin Ryori Buddhist temple food. Nowadays you can see cultivated varieties  also in the supermarkets of Japan. Although thought to be many varieties these are the most commonly used ones.

(thank you to my friend Masami Instagram (veggylife_m  in  Japan for the images) udo, nanohana  and warabi 

Kokomo (こごみ 屈) Ostrich Fern can also be (Kogomi or zenmai ) known as fiddleheads 

Fuki no tō (ふきのとう 蕗の薹)

Yomogi (よもぎ 蓬)

Nanohana (なのはな 菜の花)

Wasabina (わさびな 山葵菜)

Take no ko (bamboo shoots)  (たけのこ 竹の子

Yama udo (やまうど 山うど)

Shungiku (しゅんぎく 春菊)

Field Horsetail 土筆 

Warabi (bracken shoots ) (蕨)

Below are some lovely young wasabi leaves and flowers in season at the moment, you can buy them from the Wasabi Company the link is either down the side or at the bottom of the page depending on your browser. They are delicious in salads or pickled in vinegar.

I have often been intrigued by these vegetables not only because of the shape of them but every spring there is an explosion of people in Japan cooking them and sharing their creations on Instagram.
I did manage to get some precooked packages of sansai vegetables and also some lovely other ones fresh from the Japanese vegetables growers I use Nama Yasai Farm.

Shungiku ( edible chrysanthemum leaves )

So using a mixture of fresh and packaged sansai I wanted to create three  meals you can make easily using what ever you can find. Even if you cannot get mountain vegetables you can use other vegetables for instance : Udo is also referred to as Japanese mountain asparagus so I will be using asparagus instead.
You may also be able to find the parboiled sealed packet variety of bamboo shoots ( I do not recommend the tinned variety as they have other ingredients added).

Nanohana is related to the broccoli family and is the young shoots of the rapeseed plant so I suggest using tender stem broccoli instead. The boiled packet of mountain vegetables I got from the Japan centre has bracken, bamboo shoots kikurage, enoki and nameko mushrooms and carrots.
The first meal is a simple rice bowl with these vegetables mixed in known as Sansai maze Gohan. If your using the packaged vegetables they are precooked and ready to use just drain and rinse under running water.


All you need to do is cook up some rice I recommend adding a little mirin and soy sauce to the liquid you cook your rice in . You could also use kombu dashi . Just soak a piece of  kombu in water over night. Rinse your rice as normal and put in your cooker or pot. Add kombu dashi and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and mirin to each cup of rice used. This will add a nice flavour to your rice. Once the rice is cooked mix in your vegetables Maze Gohan means mixed rice . If you are using other vegetables steam them before mixing in except leaf vegetables which can be just mixed straight into the hot rice. I added some extra shimeji mushrooms and strips of aburaage ( fried tofu ).

The rice also can be used to make onigiri. This is an omusubi (meaning gently pressed not squeezed).


The next is a country style meal originating from Tsugaru region Aomori prefecture. A nutrious soup with miso or just a soy sauce broth with mountain vegetables and other vegetables added like carrot, gobo and daikon. Also to give the soup extra sustenance deep fried tofu (aburaage ) or freeze dried tofu (Koya-dofu) is added.  This soup is called Kenoshiru. The vegetables are normally cut into chunks and as well as tofu sometimes beans like fava or lima are added. Just use a kombu dashi again for your broth. I sautéed in sesame oil then simmered  any uncooked vegetables in dashi  first then add tofu and any precooked veggies. Finally add your miso or soy sauce and any greens which ever you prefer.

Served up with some warm crusty homemade fresh bread spread with shio-koji tofu (see post for recipe) and some tsukemono, there are pickled wasabi flowers in there.

The final meal you could try is Ankake Mountain Vegetables. Ankake basically is a thick starchy sauce, this dish uses the mountain vegetables with dashi, soy sauce and potato starch from Hokkaido.

This is nice served either with rice or udon noodles a typical dish from Iwate prefecture or Kyoto style with some tofu. Cook up any uncooked veggies first maybe add daikon and carrot other mushrooms like shiitake or shimeji to a pan and sauté with a little sesame oil then add in dashi around 2 cups simmer until your uncooked vegetables are almost ready then add your precooked veggies, and  any leaves like shungiku or mustard greens and aburaage strips (fried tofu cut into strips ) finally to your dashi add tamari or soy sauce and mirin a tablespoon of each also a little ginger juice is nice too. Now turn off the heat.  Mix a few teaspoons of potato starch into a bowl with some water to form a slurry this is called katakuriko and gradually add this to your pan. Now turn the heat back on and carry on simmering and stirring until the sauce becomes thicker. Add a final dash of sesame oil for extra flavour.

I added a sprinkle of mizuna flowers for extra colour. Served with rice, tsukemono, Japanese potato salad and a Botamochi for dessert.

As we now look forward to longer days and the chill of winter turns into warmer weather with the Spring Equinox or Shunbun we could make a popular wagashi made at this time in Japan called Botamochi, in the Spring named after the tree peony Botan, in the autumn the same wagashi is called Ohagi named after the clover bush hagi.

The equinox is a Buddhist festival in Japan known as Higan or in the spring Haru no Higan, at this time the wagashi maybe taken along with flowers or incense to ancestral graves as offerings. The wagashi is eaten to call to the ancestors for protection of the rice fields. The confection is made from pounded sweet Mochi rice with a red bean filling. They are often rolled in kinako ( soy bean flour ) or ground black sesame, some are reversed so the red bean paste is on the outside. If you would like to make these for yourself please check out my previous posts for Ohagi and Botamochi.

As the wheel of the year is turning once more seasonal bounty ingredients in Japan include sansai ( list above), asparagus, spring cabbage, new potatoes, broads beans, broccoli, shiitake and wasabi.

I hope no matter where you are in the world you can think about your own Shun ingredients see also my first post on this (Live by the Shun the philosophy of seasonal eating part 1 Winter ) and make some seasonal foods for yourself.
Happy Spring Equinox!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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, 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.

 

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Fukuyama Uzumi-Gohan うずみご飯

A traditional dish from Fukuyama is Uzumi cuisine.

Fukuyama is near the centre of Seto inland sea which has developed as a main port for the eastern area of Hiroshima prefecture, this dish began in the Edo period 1603-1868. It was created at this time due to frugal politics who’s government forbid luxury items. Uzumi means to bury, people used to hide luxury food items like rare mushrooms or fish under rice.
Now this dish is considered good fortune and people in Fukuyama even have an Uzumi festival to celebrate food from the mountains and sea.
I thought what a nice idea this was to have almost a surprise of food buried under rice . Also now people do not have to hide their food in fear of frugality and it made me feel lucky to have such choice in the foods we now consume. Why not try this meal for yourself using seasonal ingredients. Think of it as a reverse donburi instead of the rice being underneath it’s now on top.

I made two Uzumi the first was soboro style. Soboro is normally minced chicken  and egg ( you can see another post for this on my recipe pages. I made my vegan version and put the rice on top.


The second was a mixture of autumn Japanese mushrooms shimeji, shiitake, maitake and enoki. Sautéed in a teriyaki sauce then placed in the bottom of a bowl and topped with rice. It’s as simple as that .


You could make all kinds of your own variations. What joy to be given an Uzumi rice bowl, digging out delicious seasonal foods, not knowing what lies beneath the rice.

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

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.

 

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

Vegan Curry Doria

Curry Doria was first created by the head chef Saly Weil at the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama back in 1930. It is a rice gratin dish in a Yoshoku style meaning a fusion of western and Japanese. There are many variations but all are made with some kind of meat so I decided to make a vegan version.
This makes one gratin enough for two people with sides.
First wash a cup ( sushi rice cup ) of sushi rice and cook with two cups of water. While that’s cooking make the curry meat topping.
In a pan sauté  finely chopped x1 shallot, 1/2 stick celery, x1 carrot and x2 mushrooms in a little coconut oil. I had some lovely shiitake stock left from making some teriyaki shiitake so I used that but you can use kombu dashi or veg stock you will need to add about 1 cup to the pan. Then I added 1/2 cup of soy mince the kind that comes dry and you add water to.

Add 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce and x1 tablespoon of tomato purée. Finally for the Japanese  curry flavour I used S&B curry spice. You should be able to get this from an Asian grocery shop . If you cannot  just use normal curry powder or another Japanese curry.

Mix this together and leave to simmer until the veg is done and stock reduced.
Grease a dish with some vegan margarine or butter. When your rice is cooked add this to the bottom of your dish, then add your curry soy mince on top. Then add a good layer of vegan cheese and place in the oven until the cheese has melted. Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and serve with salad or vegetables.

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

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories Vegan Chicken Fried Rice

I have just finished watching series one of “Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories “ . A Japanese TV series about a man his customers call “Master”. He opens his diner at midnight and cooks people comfort food on request. It has a new recipe theme every episode with typical Japanese home style food. The characters are some new and some that follow through into each episode. I love the Golden Gai type setting which really gets me reminiscing of evenings in Tokyo. I have now started watching Season 2 . The first meal Master was asked to cook was Chicken Fried Rice. I thought to myself it might be nice to try to make a few vegan versions of the meals so today I made this meal. It’s an easy one pan meal that’s quick to make with just a few basic ingredients.
The ingredients used is for one person as a main meal or two people as a side dish.

Drain a can of jackfruit and separate in half put the other half in a container for another meal ( why not try my fake crab sushi ). You can then simmer the jackfruit in hot water to make it easier to pull apart if your not able to shred it. This time I used a new brand of jackfruit that I had never tried which didn’t need any further cooking before I used it. It was by Plant pioneers available at Sainsbury’s but you can use any brand you can get as long as it’s  in water and not syrup.

Defrost a handful of frozen peas in a bowl of hot water.
Then prepare your rice. I used one cup of Japanese rice washed and rinsed with two cups of water. When I say cups it refers to the cups you get with your rice cooker. This equals around 3/4 US cup or 180ml.

Set your rice cooker to cook or cook in a pan.
While your rice is cooking chop 1/4 white onion and around 3-4 regular mushrooms and add them to a frying pan with a little coconut oil or any oil of choice. Drain your frozen peas and add those and then add your jackfruit ( chicken substitute ). Sauté these until the onion and mushroom are tender, then if your rice is cooked add your rice. Stir this through and finally add a tablespoon of tomato purée. It is normally tomato ketchup that is used so it’s up to you if you use purée or ketchup. Sauté altogether and it’s done.

I’m looking forward to seeing what other meals Master cooks up for his customers next and maybe I might try making another vegan version. I was really surprised how this simple meal could be so tasty, try making it for yourself and transport your mind to a midnight diner in Tokyo.

Blog

Oroshi-Soba And Hanami Meal

This year many of us will not be able to have hanami parties outside with friends and will be celebrating at home . Just as the Sakura blooms and falls let’s hope that the world situation will pass in time . I decided to make a spring meal although the weather turned today from warm to windy and quite chilly, however I’m lucky enough to have a cherry tree in my garden and do not have to go outside for hanami and the warmth of the last few days had started to open the blooms.
My meal consisted of vinegared cucumber and vegan crab salad, Temari sushi with vegan sashimi, Oroshi soba and sake sakura kanten jelly.

I prepared the cucumber by salting first, after I had washed the salt off after about 15 mins I  then added this to a bowl with jackfruit, lime juice, brown rice vinegar, chopped red chilli and sesame seeds. You can also see the vegan crab meat recipe on my recipe for Vegan crab sushi salad. Having vinegared cucumber always reminds me of a child when I would go round to my grandmothers house for Sunday tea. It would take her all afternoon to prepare a massive Sunday spread for the family. My mother would help my grandmother while my father and grandfather would go for a drink at the local pub. I would play outside in my grand parents garden often sneaking in to their greenhouse to pick a ripe tomato directly off the vine (nothing better).

I also made bite sized sushi balls known as Temari sushi. With seasoned sushi rice and mock tuna sashimi. You can find Temari sushi recipes on my recipe page plus how to make the vegan tuna on my recipe for tekka don ( tuna rice bowl ).

Oroshi Soba is a chilled minimalist dish, ideal for summer. It consists of chilled soba noodles in a dashi broth. Oroshi refers to the grated daikon. By adding this and a few simple ingredients like chopped green onion it makes a refreshing filling meal.

This was the last of my daikon I had brought back from London a few weeks ago when I went to see the kimono exhibition at the V&A.

Now we are all confined to our homes and getting ingredients is becoming increasingly harder, so for me not only was this meal special because of the daikon but the soba noodles had been sent to me from Japan . I’m already running low on Japanese food supplies as I was expecting to be in Japan in a few weeks but now that’s not the case and on line ordering is mostly sold out. Each meal is going to be precious as I use up the last of my ingredients. When all this is over I’m going to seriously stock up ! Probably taking empty suitcases to bring back food from Japan. I’m also really going to appreciate all the more my next trip to Japan and I think any of us will appreciate our travels and holidays a lot more from now on. For me even something so simple as going to the supermarket which was something I actually enjoyed is now full of anxiety.
It was with great joy I managed to add a veg box into my basket in my online delivery which had been out of stock all week. So many things we take for granted.
With the last of the sake in the fridge I added it to a pan with a little fruit tea ( you could use fruit juice ) and made a jelly with kanten flakes. Adding a salted Sakura into the jelly mould .

As I sit safe at home, I give thanks to all the hospital staff, doctors, nurses and people in the community, police, delivery drivers, super market workers and online shops, that are helping us all get through these trying times. Thank you to you all . I wish you all now more than ever health and safety, we can get through this in time. It’s going to be hard but we must remain strong. Now is the time to maybe start up a new hobby or rekindle an old one. Cherish loved ones and turn to simpler times. Hopefully as we go through the year things will get easier and more back to normal, but let’s not forget this and how we may often take things for granted. Like the Sakura life is fleeting.

Blog, Spring Food

Micro Season Part 4 春分 Shunbun (Spring equinox)

春分 Shunbun (Spring equinox)
March 21-25 雀始巣 Suzume hajimete sukū Sparrows start to nest 

March 26-30 櫻始開 Sakura hajimete saku First cherry blossom

March 31-April 4 雷乃発声 Kaminari sunawachi koe o hassu distant thunder.

Nature waits for no one, the seasons keep on turning no matter what else is going on in the world. I have been watching a pair of robins in my garden for the last few weeks hastily gathering to make a nest. The buds on my Sakura tree are about to burst open into bloom but the world at the moment is in so much distress.
Even though the micro season date for cherry blossom blooming is the 26th they have already started in Tokyo. Cherry blossom season in Tokyo is governed by one tree in the Yasukuni shrine. It is called the Metropolitan Index tree. Last week saw the first flower bud open.


Soon all the Sakura will be open in Japan .

Depending on where in Japan they are it can be now or a bit later in May for places like Hokkaido.
Many people’s trips and celebrations will be cancelled this year including my own trip which was supposed to be in May. The wisteria and the Sakura will flower and drop anyway and so it goes on.
I remember my trip to Japan in cherry blossom season, I think it was one of the most memorable times of my life. I was so over come with how beautiful the trees were and when the warm breeze blew the petals off the trees they would flutter to the ground like snow.

The spring Equinox in Japan is known as Higan or in the spring Haru no Higan. It is a Buddhist festival, and a traditional confection is made for the equinox, in the spring it is called Botamochi and in the autumn it is called ohagi. Botamochi is named after the tree peony Botan. In the autumn ohagi is named after the clover bush hagi.

I always make this wagashi every year this year I made Botamochi in the three spring colours and displayed them like a dango. They are made with pounded sweet Mochi rice with a red bean filling . If you would like to make them yourself you can find the recipe in the Spring recipe section.

I hope if your plans for hanami celebrations or your trips to Japan are cancelled that maybe you can like me make some Japanese food to help you feel closer to Japan.

When things are finally balanced again in the world I will see Japan again.