Tag

Shiitake

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.

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Moon viewing and celebrating autumn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

 

Autumn Food, Blog, Winter Food

Shiitake & Miso Risotto

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

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Kitsune Soba

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese Style Breakfast Iridofu

A Japanese style breakfast 

和風の朝食

Iri-dofu 炒り豆腐,ごはん, みそ汁

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blog, Winter Food

Japanese Year Of The Boar Osechi

Happy New year . It’s 2019 and the year of the boar ( inoshishi) the final animal in the zodiac cycle. The boar is honest and helpful,they are affectionate and kind to loved ones.

It is traditional in Japan to make a special meal for New Year called Osechi . I have covered this is previous posts and the symbolism behind it but thought it would be nice to just share a few of the recipes with you.

Below is my Osechi,which consisted of Onishime,kuro-mame,Kuri-Kinton,Namasu,shojin steak and simmered kabocha. Also served with Ozoni and some yatsuhashi I brought back from Kyoto on my last trip to Japan.  If you would like to make simmered kabocha you can find this in a previous recipe.

Kuromame are Japanese black beans cooked in sweet syrup and are traditionally eaten at this time.

Kuromame (黒豆) which literally translates to black bean are black soy beans cooked in a sweet syrup.

First wash your black soy beans you will need around 100g then soak them in water over night. The next day add them to a pot with water and add 80g of organic granulated sugar with a tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil then gently simmer for around three hours. Let them cool in there own juice and then refrigerate.

Eating kuromame also is considered good for your health for the new year.  

Onishime or simmered vegetables

Another traditional meal . First you will need to prepare a dashi stock, I leave a piece of kombu and a dried shiitake in water overnight then put this in a pan and simmer,then remove the kombu and discard,remove the shiitake to use in your meal. Then add mirin around 3 tablespoons to three cups of dashi and 3 tablespoons of tamari and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Prepare all your vegetables. shiitake,,bamboo shoots,taro,carrot,shiitake,daikon,freeze dried tofu ( Kouya Dofu ) and lotus root. The lotus root is very significant as it represents a happy future with out obstacles. Add the vegetables to your dashi except the snow peas and carrots ( I like to blanch these and add them at the end) . Cover with a drop lid ( or otoshibuta )

Simmer until your vegetables are tender. This dish is often served in a new year bento box called Jubako.

It is custom to make Ozoni for breakfast on New Year’s Day. This year I made it with a citrus twist and added Yuzu peel in my dashi when I made the miso broth. If you would like to know more about this dish see previous post Ozoni .

I will be updating my travel section this year with places that I visited on my last trip to Japan.  Places of interest, and restaurant reviews. If you are planning a trip to Japan why not take a look at my travel section for some ideas of things to do .

I also have lots of new ideas for dishes so why not subscribe so you never miss a post this year. Thankyou to you all for all your support both on my website and on Instagram. I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2019!

Autumn Food, Blog

Tonyu & Miso Nabe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Autumn Food, Blog

Tofu Baked With Kabocha & Miso And A Simple Oden

This was a perfect autumn Teishoku meal.

First cut a piece of firm tofu in half and wrap in a paper towel to soak up any moisture. In a bowl add two tablespoons of steamed and mashed kabocha then add a tablespoon of sweet white miso and mix together. Remove the towel from the tofu and place on some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Coat all sides with the pumpkin mash except the bottom. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until the coating is crispy. This will be crispy on the top but fluffy inside.

I served the tofu with sautéed purple sweet potato pieces and steamed kale in a sesame sauce. The sauce was white sesame paste,mirin and tamari.

With this I also made an oden style one pot soup. You can read more about this in one of my winter recipes just search Oden.

This one was made by soaking kombu and a shiitake to make a dashi,for a few hours. I then removed and discarded the kombu and sliced the shiitake. Added the shiitake back into the pot along with tamari,mirin,shimeji,aburaage,chunks of daikon and leaf shape carrots .I also added a few pieces of Yuzu rind I think this makes such a difference to the flavour. Yuzu is hard to come by in the UK. If we manage to ever get it it’s imported over from Japan and is very expensive. Normally sold at the Japan centre in London. If I’m lucky enough I buy one and take off the rind and slice the rind into pieces,I then freeze it to be dropped into stews when ever I choose. So because it’s frozen it’s well worth the investment. Everything is then simmered on a low heat until the daikon is tender,and everything and soaked up the lovely favours.

Serve with mixed grain rice and salad . There was also a warm amazake and roasted tiny satsuma orange. I had never thought of roasting an orange until I was watching a program about fire festivals in Japan at which they roast Mikan in the fires. I just popped mine in the oven with the skin still on and then peeled it after. The orange was small just enough for one mouthful but how sweet and warm the orange became . Give it a try.

Now the weather is getting colder why not make a Japanese oden to warm you up on an evening. Just simple ingredients but you will be surprised how flavoursome this dish is.

Autumn Food, Winter Food

Soy Milk Miso Ramen

This creamy ramen dish feels so decadent but is so quick and simple to make. First you will need dashi stock . Soak a piece of kombu and one dried shiitake in water over night then remove . Now prep your vegetables you can use what ever you like. I also pan seared some tofu and mushrooms . Now add some grated ginger to a pan with some toasted sesame oil and fry for a minute then add Kombu Dashi about 1 cup heat on a low heat. Now add 1 tablespoon each of mirin and soy sauce or tamari if gluten free and two heaped teaspoons of white miso paste and 1 cup of soy milk. Stir on a low heat to dissolve the miso.

Cook your ramen noodles these take just a few mins . Add these to a bowl and pour over your miso soy milk broth. I topped mine with pan seared tofu and maitake mushrooms, steamed komatsuna,baby corn,red onion and bean sprouts. Drizzle with some chilli oil for extra spice and add some toasted sesame seeds.

Perfect when you don’t have much time to cook but want a satisfying meal .

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Chawanmushi

Chawanmushi means steamed in a teacups,this is a savoury Japanese egg custard normally filled with ingredients like chicken,shrimp,mushrooms and ginkgo nuts.

I decided to make a vegan version using silken tofu and Japanese kabocha pumpkin.

First steam a quarter of a small kabocha pumpkin and leave it to cool slightly,then take off the skin ( it should easily fall off without much effort). In a food processor or blender add half a block of silken tofu and then add your steamed pumpkin. Process until smooth. Spoon the mixture into little teacups and add any filling you like ( I added a few ginkgo nuts,some leaf shaped carrot and shiitake mushrooms. Wrap the whole teacup in foil and steam in a steamer for around 15-20 mins.

The tofu will firm up and will give a nice custard texture. This makes a good starter to a meal.

 

Autumn Food, Blog

Takikomi Gohan

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blog, Spring Food

Gomoku Gohan

Gomoku gohan is Japanese mixed rice ( five ingredients mixed with a dashi stock ). Go means five and gomoku means five items with out including the rice or any toppings or seasoning. It can also be called takikomi gohan which is rice cooked with vegetables,meat or fish. This is known as takikomi in the Kansai region but in Kyoto/Osaka it can be known as Kayaku gohan.

You can put what ever ingredients you like into your rice which can make for a good fridge clear out day. Some items could be as follows, daikon radish,carrot,tofu,aburaage,burdock,meat or fish if you wish. Mine of course is vegan and so is the dashi used.

First start by making your dashi by simmering a kombu kelp and dried shiitake in water for about 20 mins, then add a dash of soy sauce or tamari, this dashi will be used to cook your rice in and will add flavour. I used spring inspired vegetables like Takenoko which is a traditional spring vegetable in japan and is bamboo shoot. Avoid the tinned variety and if you can not buy fresh then see if you can get the vacuum sealed precooked type. As well as bamboo shoots I added to my rice sliced shiitake,edamame,broccoli and sweetcorn.

Add your rice to your rice cooker or pot and then the required amount of dashi liquid. As I was mainly using vegetables that didn’t require much cooking I steamed my vegetables on the top of my cooking rice. However you can just add vegetables to the top of your rice and let it cook then after mix the vegetables in. When my rice was ready I mixed in my vegetables.

I served my vegetable rice with spring peashoots and Hiyayakko which was topped with pickled ginger and had Ume shiso seasoning .