Happy Setsubun

Happy Setsubun ?

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring,celebrated in Japan on February the 3rd.
It is custom to day to eat an uncut Makizushi called ( Eho-Maki ) facing the lucky direction for the year. This year is north north west.
This fat sushi roll must be eaten in silence while you make your wish for the year ahead.
The eho-maki must have seven ingredients to symbolise the seven lucky gods ( shichifukujin ) I chose tofu,romaine lettuce,yellow pepper,cucumber,butternut squash,Maitake and stem broccoli .
For this picture I was dying to cut it (which I did last year) but you are not supposed to cut the roll as this is supposed to cut off your luck,so hopefully my luck is better this year! So sorry about how untidy the ends look .
I hope everyone has a lucky year.


Nabe (Hot Pot)

To night I made a nabe ( hot pot ) I was so cold at work to day it felt like it got right into my bones so needed a hot broth to warm me up .
I used a shiitake kombu broth with a little mirin tamari and a little ginger and yuzu juice .
The vegetables I used were carrot,napa cabbage,burdock root,daikon radish,shiitake mushroom,aburaage,
yaki fu,bean sprouts and some lovely tofu. I’ve been using some great organic tofu just recently by @tofooco available at Tesco . I topped it with a little chicory . It felt like I was having a lovely Japanese style dish

Blog, Spring Food

Vegan Takoyaki

Tofu takoyaki balls with so-su sauce,vegan mayo and ao-nori.


To celebrate Kodomonohi (children’s day) in Japan I decided to make a vegan takoyaki.
Takoyaki are normally fried octopus balls topped with so-su ( which is like a thick Worcestershire sauce) Mayo and ao-nori and some times bonito flakes . No fishyness here though ?? .
I made them with tofu and okara (which is soy pulp made into a flour)

chopped shallot,green onion,celery and cooked artichoke from a tin mix them into the a block of tofu that had already been mashed add a squeeze of lemon juice and mix in .  Then add a type of old bay seasoning . I can’t get this in the UK so I made a mixture by adding a pinch of each of celery salt,black pepper,smoked paprika,mustard powder,nutmeg,cinnamon,clove,
ginger,cardamom,allspice and bay.

Next start to add your okara ( soy pulp flour) until it starts to form a dough that you can shape.

then roll the mixture into balls and then roll the balls in chickpea flour. I started them off cooking in the oven and just finished them by pan frying in a little coconut oil .
The so-su was made with a tablespoon of vegan organic Worcestershire sauce,a dash of each of tomato puree,mirin,Dijon and onion powder . If you need to thicken just make a slurry out of kuzu and water or potato starch.
Topped off with vegan Mayo and ao-nori.

Blog, Winter Food


This is a traditional Zen Buddhist shojin Ryori cuisine which originates from the Kencho-ji Temple in Kamakura .  Jiru means soup and Kenchin is derived from the temple name.

This soup is full of umami flavour using kombu,shiitake mushroom,toasted sesame oil and tamari ( or soy sauce )

The soup consists of root vegetables in a shiitake kombu stock ( you can also add miso if you wish .) This soup also has tofu it is said that you tear the tofu into the soup instead of cutting the tofu as it is supposed to be divided equally between the residents of the temple regardless of status.  This dish contains no onion,devout Buddhists believe that onion is not good for your peace of mind so not good for meditation.

First make you stock

I normally leave a piece of konbu to soak over night in water the konbu comes with a white powder on its surface do not wash this off as this adds to the flavour just simply wipe with a cloth.  ( for this recipe I used 3 cups of  konbu stock and 1 cup of shiitake stock .

After you have soaked your konbu place the water and konbu in a pan and turn on the heat remove the konbu just before the water starts to boil.  Make shiitake stock by soaking a few dried shiitake in one cup of water for around 20 mins ( place a small bowl over to submerge the shittake to stop them from floating.  After 20 mins take out the shiitake and slice them and add the stock to the konbu soaked water .

Now you need to prepare your vegetables

You can use a variety for vegetables Burdock root,daikon radish,carrot,lotus root,taro komatsuna  or any leafy green vegetable,you can also add konnyaku (konjac) but I just used tofu in this recipe . I didn’t use burdock root as I couldn’t find any and I didn’t use taro .

chop your vegetables and add about a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil to a deep pan sauté your root vegetables for a few minutes then add your stock  but do not add your leafy greens until the soup is nearly ready to serve.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender then add 1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce and one tablespoon of mirin .

take a block of drained tofu and crumble it into the soup in large pieces  and finally add your chopped leafy greens .

Now your soup is ready






Blog, Winter Food

Oden (winter stew)

In the winter in Japan you can often walk in to stores and find lots of things simmering in piping hot stock for you to choose and have a hot meal . This is called Oden . I made my own oden winter stew.

It is traditional to use a donabe pot but if you don’t have one you can use what ever you have .

First make your broth to simmer your vegetables in I used water that had been soaked over night with a piece of kombu kelp about 1 litre add to this some mirin and tamari ( or soy sauce) about one tablespoon .

In your donabe set out your veggies I used sliced daikon ,tofu,bamboo shoots,lotus root,tofu sausage,shiitake mushroom and aburaage parcels filled with cabbage bean sprouts and vegetables. These pouches are called kinchaku or fukuro.

If you do not have a donabe you can use another pot or even a steamer and arrange them after.  If you decide to use a steamer steam your vegetables and make a separate broth to add your vegetables to after . I prefer to cook the vegetables in the broth as they soak up the flavour.

Pour in your stock and simmer your pot on low with the lid on if it looks like the water is running low add a little more stock.

When your vegetables are tender take a little stock and in a bowl add a little miso . Dissolve the miso and then pour this over your vegetables to finish.

I would of liked to of added a few other things that I didn’t have but I’m glad with how it turned out.

Served with rice it was a delicious filling meal for a cold winter evening


Autumn Food, Blog


vegan okonomiyaki.
This is a Japanese dish okono means ‘how you like it’ and Yaki means grill.
Recipes vary but the batter in made with egg. This one has no egg and is completely vegan.
The batter was : half a block of tofu, 2/3 cup of plant based milk,2 table spoons of nutritional yeast,1/4 teaspoon of turmeric,1 and 1/2 table spoon of potato starch salt and pepper and I added a tablespoon of white miso. Blend all this together in a food processor . Then I mixed in some sliced nappa cabbage, chopped green onion and some bean sprouts .
Spoon the mixture on to some parchment paper that’s been cut to fit your frying pan ( skillet) and spread it out .  I find it easier to cook on one side 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.
After it’s been cooked on both sides I covered the okonomiyaki with a special sauce of a mix of one tablespoon each of organic Worcestershire sauce,ketchup,tamari, mirin and maple syrup. I then added vegan mayo more chopped onion and aonori .

Autumn Food, Blog

Mitarashi tofu dango

Tsukimi is the start of Autumn with the festival of viewing the harvest moon on the 15th of September.
Pampas grass is displayed and dango balls to mimic the full moon are eaten.
In Japanese folklore it is said the rabbit lives on the moon making Mochi and there is a story and even a children’s song.
Bunny Bunny what are you looking for as you hop?
The moon on the 15th night I’m viewing as I hop.

How to make #dango for Japanese moon viewing festival .
月見 だんご
Moon viewing dumplings are traditionally eaten on this festival and they are so yummy and easy to make. These ones are made with silken tofu .
1. Mix mochi rice flour with silken tofu . (I don’t really measure ) just keep adding until a dough forms .
2. Make your dough into little moon balls .
3. Boil them until they float .
4. Pat them dry with a paper towel

You can then eat them as they are and roll them in kinako powder or sesame powder.
Or you can grill them.  I love this because they are all warm and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside .

Place  them under a heated grill turning as they brown

To make your sauce use  2 tablespoons of tamari mixed with two tablespoons of syrup ( you can use rice syrup or maple syrup ) then put this in a small pan and heat .

make a slurry of 1 teaspoon kuzu powder and 1/4 teaspoon water and mix into your heated sauce to thicken it.

Take your dango from off the grill and either push on to skewers and spread with your hot sauce and maybe alternate with some anko  red bean paste and kinako Or you could have them like little individual sweets topped with a brush of sauce and a squeeze of anko and a dusting of kinako .

maybe serve with a warm kinako latte and look up at the moon .

Autumn Food, Blog



A favourite dish in Japan
‘Omurice’ basically a rice omelette.
The rice is often mixed with chicken or ham and seasoned with ketchup then wrapped in an omelette.
I decided to make a vegetable rice omelette.

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

Then make your omelette batter by using the recipe for Okonomiyaki see this post .

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, Summer Food

Hiyayakko ( chilled tofu )

A summer time appetiser in Japan is Hiyayakko.  Chilled tofu with various toppings . Hiya means cold and yakko means something cut into cubes.

Using silken tofu which has been drained of its liquid you can then cut it into pieces like I have and put various toppings on each or just have one larger piece .

Toppings you can use are chopped green onion ( spring onion) grated ginger and grated daikon ( it’s a good idea to get your self a Japanese ginger grater for these ) cucumber,pickled ginger, tomato,umeboshi,chives,sesame seeds,sweet corn, kimchi and hijiki .

Place your tofu in a shallow dish and pour around a little of your ponzu ( citrus sauce ) I use a tablespoon of tamari with a teaspoon each of mirin and yuzu juice .

Add your toppings and chill in the fridge .

Blog, Summer Food

Soboro Don

Soboro Don (Or three colour minced bowl ) ビーガン三色そぼろ丼

Don ( 丼 ) meaning a rice bowl dish or Doburi  this can be any meal that consists of rice in a bowl with a topping .

This Japanese dish is normally made with ground minced chicken and Egg on rice
I made  this dish vegan by using @clearspring organic soya mince marinated in ginger juice with tamari and mirin. I used a tofu scramble for the egg and topped it on Japanese rice. This dish often has another colour like peas or onion and you often find it as a popular bento . I decided to use some runner beans .
First thing is to wash and cook your Japanese rice then leave on warm in a rice cooker or pan with the lid on.

Next is to make all your separate things so you can put them all together .

Using Clearspring mince just use about half a cup full and cover with hot water and leave for ten mins to soak . Using a ginger grater extract about teaspoon of fresh ginger juice and add this to your mince, then add a teaspoon of tamari and a teaspoon of mirin. Add a little oil to a pan and sautéed this until slightly browned ( set aside )

To make your tofu just simply mash half a block of firm tofu with a quarter teaspoon of turmeric ( set  aside)

next steam some green beans .

Warm through your mince and tofu ( you can do this in the microwave if you wish ) take a bowl and half fill with rice then add your tofu,mince and green beans.  Finally add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and some chopped green onion and maybe some hijiki to garnish .

This dish can just as well be eaten cold in a bento for lunch .


Blog, Summer Food

Simple matcha tofu cake

Have you ever thought of using silken tofu to make a cake batter ?

this cake is so simple to make with just a few ingredients.

You will need one carton of silken tofu ( I use organic Clearspring )

oat flour ( I use bobs Red Mill gluten free )

1 -2 tablespoons sweetener ( maple syrup or rice syrup )

1 tablespoon sifted matcha

1 teaspoon baking powder ( I use Doves Farm )

sweet Japanese black beans ( if you cannot get these or want to add something else like walnuts or cranberries then feel free )

Add to a food processor all the ingredients except the flour and process then start to add your flour gradually until you get a nice thick cake batter . At this point drop in your filling if any and fold in with a spatula or spoon .

emty the contents into a silicone cake tin (  I use a bread tin ) bake in a moderate oven until set and golden . Silicone is best as it doesn’t need oil or paper and doesn’t stick .

Allow  to cool before turning out and cutting into slices .