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Tofu

Blog, Spring Food

Mother’s Day in Japan Haha no Hi 母の日


How do Japanese people celebrate Mother’s Day ?

Mother’s Day was once combined with the celebration of the Empress’ Kojun birthday who was the mother of Akihito (Japan’s emperor at the time). Her birthday was celebrated on the 6th March 1931. It wasn’t until 1949 that the Japanese decided to align the holiday to be on the same date as other countries being on the second Sunday of May, which means this year, it will fall on Sunday 8th May. Unlike the U.K. which has their Mother’s Day back in March.

In Japan, mother’s day is called ‘Haha no hi’; the word ‘haha’ is the informal term for your own mother – much like we use the word ‘mum’! The formal term for mother in Japanese is ‘Okaasan’.

Japanese children use this day to show their love and appreciation, and to give presents to their mothers. It has now become one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants and shops.

The most common gift on Japanese Mother’s Day are carnations especially the red or pink variety. In Japan it is a symbol of a mother’s purity, sweetness and endurance.

Throughout Japan, businesses and well-known department stores decorate their window displays with carnations although the carnations is not native to Japan, their symbolism has become a popular choice for Mother’s Day.

Other gifts given on Mother’s Day could be carefully drawn kanji calligraphy, personalised arts and crafts, clothing or Lacquerware jewellery boxes.

This Fukunishi Sobe Chrysanthemum Aizu Lacquer Two Tiers Jubako Bento Box from musubikiln, could easily be used to store treasured items .

Mothers are celebrated for their home cooking in Japan. The memory and uniqueness of one’s own mother’s food is encapsulated in the term ‘ofukuro-no-aji’ or ‘that unforgettable taste of one’s own mother’s cooking.’ I have talked about this in another of my blog posts, “Natsukashii & Ofukuro no aji” A taste of home. 

On Mother’s Day children often rise early to greet their mothers with flowers and breakfast. Mother’s Day in Japan is symbolically associated with eggs, so whipping up an egg-based Japanese dish is a way  to celebrate! Some egg dishes include Oyakodon A chicken and egg rice dish which literally translates as ‘parent-and-child-donburi’. Chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard) Tamagoyaki (Japanese egg omelet or Omurice ( omelette over rice)

However if your vegan you could easily make something similar by substituting the eggs for tofu. There are now quite a few egg replacements on the market but I still like to use tofu and I think  it also makes it a little more authentic for a Japanese meal. 

How about making a tofu scramble to surprise your mother for a special breakfast. 

or my omurice recipe for a delicious lunch you could even make a special afternoon tea with vegan egg shokupan sandwiches. 

A special meal could be something like chirashi sushi a scattered vegetable sushi that you could make pretty by using flower shaped vegetable cutters and adding vegan scrambled eggs. 

If you are in the U.K. you could surprise your mother with a Japanese Mother’s Day for an extra special gift. If you are celebrating this day on the same day as japan why not include some carnations in your gift or make a Japanese themed meal.

Greet her in the morning with

Ohayōgozaimasu Happī haha no hi

Good morning happy Mother’s Day.

Haha itsumo arigatou – Mum, thank you for everything.

How to make tofu vegan omurice オムライス

A classic Japanese comforting home cooked dish, popular among children and adults-alike.

Add to cooked rice some sautéed chopped vegetables of choice like bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, sweetcorn etc then place back in your rice cooker on warm.

Then make your omelette batter.

Half a block of silken tofu, 2/3 cup of plant based milk,2 table spoons of nutritional yeast,1/2 teaspoon of turmeric,1 tablespoon of potato starch, salt and pepper and a teaspoon of ground Kala namak also known as Himalayan black salt this will give your omelette a slightly eggy flavour. Blend all this together in a food processor .

Spoon the mixture on to some parchment paper that’s been cut to fit your frying pan ( skillet) and spread it out. This is my non stick no oil tried and tested way to make my tofu omelette.  I find it easier to cook on one side, adding a lid over it while it cooks, then to turn it top the mixture with another sheet of parchment paper slide it from the skillet and on to a plate and then flip it over back onto your skillet.

Spoon your vegetable rice onto a plate and top with your omelette .

In Japan you often see this dish topped with tomato ketchup.

Alternatively you can leave the omelette in the pan and spoon the rice onto half the omelette then fold over the rice with the other half and slide off the parchment paper onto a plate .

 

Blog, Winter Food

Comforting Winter Stew Donburi With Tofu & Miso


Everything goes better with rice right ?
Well this Lima bean and tofu sausage Nabe definitely does, but equally comforting spooned on top of mashed potato or served with warm crusty bread. However you decide to have this delicious winter stew it’s sure to warm and nourish you.
Start with some tofu sausages I used some organic ones made by Taifun. I brushed them lightly with toasted sesame oil then rolled them in some sage, thyme and rosemary and set them under the grill to cook.

When they are done slice them into chunks and set aside.
In your donabe pot or other cooking pot, sauté  half a diced onion, one diced carrot and  one of each diced red and green bell pepper in a little sesame oil or olive oil. Add your sausages and then add two tins of chopped tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato purée  one tin or carton of Lima beans (butter beans), two cups of vegetable stock and a dash of red wine if you have it and a dash of tamari or soy sauce. Then add a dash of cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of fennel, mustard and coriander seeds and some salt and pepper. Put the lid on your pot and let it simmer until every thing is tender.  While it’s cooking cook your rice if your having it with rice.
When your stew is done mix in a heaped teaspoon of brown rice miso  this will give it lots of depth of flavours, add some chopped fresh parsley and a squeeze of citrus.


I managed to get some fragrant bergamot lemons which just add a lovely freshness to the sauce.
Spoon over warm rice or dunk right in there with that crusty bread.

Perfect for a cold day to warm you up.

Blog, Winter Food

Christmas food in Japan & Vegan KFC


Christmas in Japan seams to arrive over night. No sooner has the last pumpkin lantern been put away than you wake up the next day and Christmas has arrived. In every store the Christmas music is playing and everywhere is decked in the most beautiful Christmas lights.

Christmas in Japan is not a religious holiday but more a time for couples to enjoy a romantic walk and take pictures together under  twinkling lights.

Other things enjoyed are German style Christmas markets  or having a romantic meal in a restaurant.
The gift giving is again more about couples than family which is saved in Japan for new year.
Think Christmas food and to many “vegan” it might be a nut roast with lots of veggies and Christmas pudding but in Japan there are two very prominent foods.
The first is Christmas Cake or “Kurisumasu Keki” They are not the rich fruit cake and marzipan style cakes we know in the U.K. but are made of a light sponge with a cream filling. They are round and topped with the fruit of the season in Japan Strawberries! The red and white symbolises the flag of Japan and this colour combination known as Kouhaku are the colours of good fortune in Japan where as in the U.K. those colours are not lucky.  There is even an emoji for it on your smart phone. 🍰

The next is the biggest Christmas meal with 3.6 million families sharing a KFC Christmas Bucket. After World War II the Japanese economy started to take off and there was a huge interest in western style food. Over seas food chains started to open like Baskin Robins and Mister Donut with the first KFC opening in Nagoya in 1970, by 1981 there were over 300 stores . After a very successful launch of a marketing campaign in 1974 “Kentucky for Christmas” the popularity of having KFC for a Christmas meal began. It is now so popular you either have to order six weeks in advance or wait in long queues for hours to get it. You will often find a life sized Colonel Sanders waiting for you dressed up like Santa who has a striking resemblance to the man him self.


Maybe the reason KFC is so popular is because it is not unlike karaage another fried chicken meal coated in panko breadcrumbs which is also a favourite food of Japan and is also a meal you can share with family or friends.  The meal pulls in 6.9 million yen in Japan but many chicken lives are lost. So being vegan I decided this year I was going to make my own KFT Christmas bucket “Kentucky Fried Tofu

You can easily find a seasoning recipe on the internet but i didn’t  want the expense of buying lots of spices so I went for a Cajun spice in my local supermarket.
You will need to freeze two 300g blocks of firm tofu and then defrost it then freeze and defrost again. After this time take it out of its packaging and press out the liquid under a weight soaking up any remaining with a paper towel. Break up the tofu into large chunk pieces.
You will then need two cup of vegetable stock . Place your broken pieces of tofu in a dish and pour over the stock and let it marinade. While your tofu is marinading add to a bowl 1 1/2 cups of soy milk  and 2 tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, this makes the soy milk thicker (set this aside). In another bowl add 1 1/2 cups of plain flour and three tablespoons of your Cajun spice. I also added a few teaspoons of mixed herbs and some ground black pepper. Now you will need a cup of some kind of corn flakes. I decided to use gluten free Mesa Sunrise which has a combination of corn and quinoa flakes along with buckwheat amaranth and flaxseed. However you can just use run of the mill cornflakes. Crush up the cornflakes and mix them into the  Cajun flour.
Take your marinated tofu and squeeze out the liquid then take each piece and submerge it in the soy milk then roll it in the Cajun spice flour. Coat each piece then palace on a plate.
Heat up some cooking oil ( I used sunflower ) around two -three cups in a pan. Add some kitchen towel to a plate and fry your tofu in hot oil until golden brown for around 5 mins . Fry a few at a time and place on your plate.
I decided to equal out the fried food with a delicious healthy salad . I also recommend the vegan mayonnaise by the wasabi company which comes in three flavour Yuzu, wasabi and miso  ( perfect for dipping).

As this year again draws to a close it is another year of uncertainty and we still don’t know if travelling to Japan will resume next year. With that in mind for many of us we are missing Japan more and more. I find making food connected to Japan helps me feel closer some how. Why not give making some Japanese food a try or start planning making an Osechi for new year. You can find lots of inspiration on my web pages. Just search “New Year” .
Merry Christmas “ メリークリスマス

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

Kabocha Aburaage Crispy Fried Pockets

I started making these after using aburaage pockets to make my Tofish recipe. These Kabocha stuffed pockets are dipped in a Yuzu batter then rolled in a senbei crumb. Senbei are Japanese rice crackers, you don’t have to use senbei you can use Panko or just normal bread crumbs if you can’t get Japanese senbei.

First you will need your stuffing. You can use Kabocha Japanese pumpkin or butternut squash or similar. Cut your pumpkin in half I normally just use half a pumpkin to make two portions. Scoop out the seeds then steam your pumpkin and when it’s tender scoop out the flesh from the skin. Let it cool and mash it.
You will need one large  slice of deep fried tofu (aburaage) Cut in half.

Stuff the pockets with the pumpkin then seal the ends by just pinching together, the pumpkin will help it stick but the batter and senbei will also help to seal it.
If your using senbei for your crispy crumb coating put around three in a airtight sealed bag and smash them with a rolling pin until they are crumbs then tip them out onto a shallow bowl or plate.
Next make a batter with two heaped tablespoons of plain all purpose flour. Add a tablespoon of Yuzu juice ( lemon as an alternative) then keep adding a small amount of water until you get a thick batter smooth batter.

Heat up some neutral oil in a non stick pan ( I use Tiana coconut butter) you could use Sunflower oil or rapeseed oil maybe. Add enough to make a shallow layer in the pan, you don’t need to deep fry them only shallow fry. By all means if you do have a deep fat fryer you can drop them in that.
Dip the aburaage in the batter then coat the whole pocket in senbei crumbs.


Drop gently into your oil and cook on both sides until golden.

Remove from the oil and place on a piece of paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

I like to slice mine crossways into triangles.

These are delicious served hot or cold with a dip like vegan mayonnaise, and are perfect for bento.
They go really well with a nice salad for a main meal.


 

 

Blog

Greenery Day Green Curry

Greenery Day (midori no hi) みどりの日 also known as Arbor Day on the 4th of May is part of a string of holidays and celebrations over a week long period in Japan called Golden Week. It is a day when people like to celebrate nature and the environment.  They might visit a local park or flower garden maybe to view the wisteria or azalea that are flowering at this time. In fact the old name for May is Satsuki meaning azalea. Last year I had planned to be in Japan at this time to see them both, I cannot believe another year has gone by. When we can all safely travel again we definitely won’t be taking it for granted any more! Other festivities could be planting trees and seeds, it is also the time when the first tea leaves are harvested. I have a few posts on here about Greenery Day with some more recipes you can check out.

This year I made a green curry using some lovely Hourensou spinach

(this is an Asian spinach which has much bigger leaves ) just use what ever spinach you can easily get where you are.

You will need: 3/4 of canned coconut meat from a can of coconut milk  ( don’t shake the tin just use the harder meat at the top) the lighter milk can be used for another recipe.
Spinach enough to yield around one cup when cooked down.
1 teaspoon maple syrup or sweetener of choice.
2 teaspoons of hot curry powder
a pinch of salt and a drizzle of tamari

Cook down the spinach in water, then drain off most of the water leaving a little at the bottom of the pan ( keep the drained water in a jug just in case you need to add more later).

Then add the coconut meat, it will melt in the warm water, give it a stir then add the rest of the ingredients. Transfer to a blender or use a hand held blender like I did and blend until smooth adding a little spinach water or milk from the coconut if needed, depending on how thick you want your curry.
Return to the heat in a pan ( if you want to thicken the curry you can add 1-2 teaspoons of kuzu root to a bowl and add a teaspoon of the coconut milk or cold water to make a slurry then add this to your curry when heating).
Now you can serve up your curry however you like. With rice and maybe some roasted peppers and marinated tofu and shiitake.

I added 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons tamari and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil to a bowl. I gave it a mix and poured it over tofu chunks and sliced shiitake. I marinated it for half an hour then popped it in the oven to roast. Other toppings were coriander, sliced cucumber and tomato, sliced red chilli and some blanched snow peas.

 

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.

 

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

Mister Donut Pon de Ring

Mister Donut is a large donut chain with stores all over Asia. Originating actually in the USA they first came to Japan in 1971 opening a store in Osaka. Now you see them every where. Mister Donut is now known in the USA as Dunkin-Donuts.
I first came across Mister Donut in Japan when I was catching the Safege suspended monorail at Ofuna to Enoshima. I had heard that they did one vegan donut called Fuka Fuka Yaki and is intended for customers with allergies. On entering the counter is filled with all kinds of flavours but the vegan one you have to ask for as it’s stored in the freezer you say “Atatamete kudasai” at the counter (can you warm it please).

I have tried making these donuts at home  a few times but this is by far the easiest way (it may not be the traditional method but it’s the simplest and with just a few ingredients!)
It’s Easter weekend and I thought I would make the Mister Donut signature pon de ring  which consists of 8 small donut balls in a ring shape.

These are just dipped in vegan chocolate to look like the traditional pon de ring but you could dip them in pink icing maybe for Sakura season.

You will need:

96g of Dango flour (glutinous rice flour)

96g of pancake mix

200g of silken tofu

(vegan chocolate or icing of choice)

 

Method:

Combine all your ingredients to make a dough. Make a ball and flatten it out and cut into 8 pieces like this.

Then take each piece and do the same again

Roll each triangle into balls and put them side by side in a ring shape slightly touching on pieces of square cut parchment paper.

When you have made all 8, add some neutral oil to a pan enough to half submerge your donuts. I used Tiana coconut butter that has no smell or you could use something like vegetable oil. Heat up the oil and a few at a time lower the parchment in to the oil using a spatula.

Fry until golden then remove the parchment and flip them over to cook on the other side.

Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack, while you cook the rest.
If your dipping them in chocolate break up the chocolate into a bowl and melt by placing the bowl just inside a pan of simmering water to melt. Then take each pon de ring and half dip in chocolate and replace back on to the wire rack, you can sprinkle with a little coconut if you like.


I placed mine in the freezer for five minutes just to set the chocolate.

Like all fresh donuts they are best eaten on the day you make them.



There are some delicious vegan donuts available in Japan now what’s your favourite? I think one of mine has to be Good Town Doughnuts In Tokyo, not all their donuts are vegan but they have a few options.

This place has now closed down. However I have just heard they have now moved inside next door to the little bakery Tokyo as of June 2021.

Also there is The Little Bakery Tokyo next door which do the most delicious vegan cinnamon rolls.

I just can’t wait until we can travel again until then I hope you try making these pon de ring for a little nostalgia of Japan. Happy Easter!

 

 

Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

Shio Koji Tofu

Shio-Koji 塩糀 translates to salt mold it is a really versatile natural seasoning used in Japanese cooking to enhance the umami of food.

It is made by fermenting cooked grains traditionally rice with water, salt and aspergillus oryzae the mold also used to make miso, soy sauce and sake. Shio-Koji can be used instead of adding salt, it makes wonderful tsukemono (pickles) and can be used in soups and marinades. Shio-Koji is known as an all purpose seasoning, a  good probiotic due to its fermentation and it can help to strengthen the immune system it is also high in B vitamins and essential amino acids. Shio-Koji looks a bit like porridge with a sweet slightly fermented smell.
It’s easy to make yourself you will need.
300g of rice koji like the one below.

90g salt, 450ml of water and an airtight container.
Just mix together in your container and place in a warm area to ferment for around 10 days, stirring once a day for the first 3 days. Leave the lid slightly ajar. This will keep in the fridge when ready for 6-10 months.

Other than that you can buy it already made like the one shown below.

Today I’m going to use Shio-Koji to make Shio-Koji tofu, it’s really simple to make and turns out a bit like a soft cheese.

Just cut a block of medium tofu in half ( you can use more but I like to make around this amount every time.) Put the tofu in a pan of simmering water and simmer for around 10 mins. Remove for the pan. You now need to get rid of the water, you can try pressing it but I find that wrapping it in a clean cloth or kitchen towel and leaving it for a few hours works ok. When your tofu has dried out put your tofu on a plate and coat all  sides with shio-koji rubbing it gently in. Put your tofu in a zip lock bag squeezing out the air and seal it. I also then put the zip lock bag in a Tupperware type container. Place this in the fridge rubbing in the shio-koji every now and again. Leave for  7 -10 days then remove from the bag and gently wipe away most of the shio-koji. You can now use this on bread or crackers with a nice chutney.


It goes well in a salad as a substitute for feta or as a sandwich filling.

Why not try it in a caprese style salad with a drizzle of olive oil herbs, tomato and fresh ground black pepper. Perfect for summer picnics.

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

Yakumi not just a condiment

Yakumi are small amounts of condiments that are seasoning to to bring out the umami of a particular dish. They are said to bring out the five tastes, amai (sweet), nigai (bitter), suppai (sour), karai (spicy) and shio (salty). Think of the paring together of wasabi and sushi. Some dishes have yakumi on the side where as others are incorporated into the meal it’s self, like sauces and dashi.

Some common yakumi are green onion,ginger,wasabi, shiso, oroshi daikon, Myoga, and sesame seeds. There are also citrus like sudachi and Yuzu. Spices can be also yakumi like sansho and schichimi seven spice pepper. Getting the idea?
Noodle dishes eaten cold often have yakumi on the side with a dipping sauce oroshi (grated daikon), chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

One of my favourites that incorporates this is Hiyayakko or chilled silken tofu, often with a citrus soy sauce called ponzu that your pour over. Yuzu juice which is added to make ponzu is said to be good for the immunity.


Yakumi is written in Japanese like this 薬味 which translates to medicine flavour, this is where it gets interesting, the condiments used are not just to add colour or enhance flavour but they carry medicinal properties as well. Wasabi helps with digestion, and is also antibacterial so this is why it is added to raw fish like sashimi and sushi. Ginger is also good for the digestion and so is shiso. Shiso has natural antiseptic qualities and you will often see it used as dividers for food in bento boxes to help keep the food fresh.When you grate daikon it has the same effect with digestive enzymes Oroshi daikon is high in vitamins, fibre,calcium and iron it is also an anti inflammatory. Another one good for inflammation is green onion, often seen in miso soup or served with a dipping sauce.
Why not make some of the recipes on this website incorporating yakumi . Today I decided to make Yudofu basically translates to hot water tofu.


Often a meal served in Buddhist temples. You would think something so simple as just tofu in hot water would have no flavour but this is where the yakumi really come into their own. Tofu is cooked with simply water and kombu kelp in a pot. When you serve the tofu just pour over some ponzu and eat with some of the condiments. Itadakimasu!

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

Valentines Day Chocolate Tofu Dango inspired by Yanaka

Will you be giving a valentine treat to someone today ? In Japan it’s just the men that get the gifts off the women and it’s not just loved ones that are given gifts it’s co workers, school and college friends teachers you name it ! It can be quite a big task giving gifts to all your male friends.
Todays Valentine chocolate was inspired by a cafe in Yanaka Ginza called Kenshindo.

It’s the cutest little place to enjoy a tea and seasonal dessert even with a loved one, friend or simply watch the old town ambience go by on your own as you look out on to this rustic unspoilt area of Tokyo. I love visiting Yanaka when I’m in Tokyo it has such a nostalgic slower paced atmosphere, something for everyone with temples, local grocery shops, street food, crafts and cafes. Amidst  the skyscrapers and lively metropolis of Tokyo you will find many  locals shops and Yanaka  has a unique shitamachi character. Shitamachi refers to an age where Tokyo was still called Edo and now means a downtown neighbourhood that still has that slower pace atmosphere and warmth, of a bygone era. It’s also near Ueno and Nezu shrine, so a great day out.


Yanaka also has a reputation for cats, no one really knows why the cats where attracted to here, some think it was because of the large amount of trees and temples in the area. The locals love the cats and they are even included in the local district flag.

There are seven statues called the seven lucky cats hidden around the area, they were installed in 2008 and it’s a great game to try to find them all as you wonder around all the artisan shops.

Sadly being unable to travel at the moment I decided to recreate the chocolate covered dango made at kenshindo 

Here is how I made them.

I decided to make tofu dango so you will need roughly about 1/2 bag of dango flour and 1/2 a block of silken tofu.


Blend together to form a dough

Then roll into a log shape and pull pieces off and roll into balls.

Then drop them into boiling water

When they float to the surface they are done ( I always leave them a little longer to cook through )

Remove them and drop into cold water. Then remove them to dry out a little.

Melt about one and a half bars of vegan chocolate of choice in a Bain-Marie. Basically a bowl over hot water.

When your chocolate is melted drop a few dango at a time into your melted chocolate to cover and then thread onto a skewer.

Place onto some parchment paper and sprinkle with some candy sprinkles.

Put them in the freezer for ten minutes to harden the chocolate and they are ready.

These are a lovely combination of the crack of chocolate and squishy Mochi as you bite. I’m going to enjoy a little bit of Yanaka tea time at home.

Happy Valentine’s  Day.

Winter Food

The Perfect Miso Soup

Miso

For centuries Japanese artisans have been fermenting grains and soybeans with koji to make what’s considered a super food. An essential ingredient in many dishes but who can forget the humblest of them all miso soup.

white miso with silken tofu, komatsuna, maitake and enoki mushrooms and chopped green onion.

Miso soup, rice and pickles are the main components of any ichiju-sansai or ichiju-Issai zen Buddhist meal or a kenchin-Jiru soup, a root vegetable and tofu soup with miso.

miso soup with shimeji mushrooms, mizuna,daikon, aburaage and Japanese sweet potato.

Miso is a source of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals from iron and B vitamins to calcium and protein. This ingredient is often used to restore health and prevent illness and many people in Japan have miso everyday. There are many different types of miso depending on what has been used to make it. The cooked grains or beans are mixed with koji aspergillus culture water and salt and left to naturally ferment at room temperature for up to two years. Gradually the enzymes supplied by the koji breaks down the beans or grains into fatty acids, amino acids and simple sugars.
When you go shopping for miso there is a wide variety to choose from some are white and sweet and some are dark and earthy, choose ones that are made naturally preferably organic and unpasteurised.

Miso soup with mushrooms,cabbage,tofu and watercress.

When making miso soup start with dashi, in Japan this is often made with fish flakes called bonito,but a simple kombu dashi will work fine for vegans. Just soak a piece of kombu over night in water and gently simmer for 10 mins then remove.

why not try adding some Yuzu rind to your kombu dashi for a touch of citrus flavour.

You can experiment with different ingredients from carrots, mushrooms,radish,seaweed and tofu along with different kinds of miso to find your favourite but here is some inspiration for you. Cook your veggies first before adding your miso. Never boil your miso as this will destroy the natural beneficial enzymes. The best thing is to take a little warm cooking liquid and ladle some into a bowl, add your miso and dissolve then put this into your pan.

I normally use 1/2 litre of kombu dashi with two tablespoons of miso but you might like it stronger or weaker depending on the miso your using. Who would of thought a simple miso soup could have so many possibilities. You could even experiment with combining different miso together.

Leeks, mushrooms and vegetables

In Japan on New Year’s Day there is a special soup called Ozoni which is eaten for breakfast as part of Osechi Ryori ( New Years food) with a Mochi rice cake. The kansai style uses sweet white miso why not try having this and follow the Japanese traditions even if you can’t be in Japan right now.

Ozoni