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Winter Food

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

Kuwa Matcha Buckwheat Biscotti


Kuwacha is mulberry leaf tea. It has been traditionally drunk in Japan for many years for its health benefits being rich in calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. The most interesting compound in kuwacha is DNJ which has shown to inhibit intestinal glucose absorption and accelerate hepatic glucose metabolism, hence it maybe helpful for people with diabetes.

Kuwa (桑) is Japanese for mulberry and Matcha (抹茶) is Japanese for powdered tea. Clearspring Organic have a brand new tea added to their extensive range of products “Kuwa Matcha”. In fact their Kuwa matcha is the first naturally caffeine-free matcha in the U.K. Just like traditional Matcha, Kuwa Matcha is a vibrant green, finely ground powder which has been widely enjoyed in Japan for centuries. It is made using the finest organic and sustainably grown mulberry leaves from Kagoshima Japan. Kagoshima has volcanic soil and a humid climate making it ideal growing conditions for the mulberry plants. Once harvested the leaves are steamed, dried and ground into a fine powder which is just as versatile and delicious as traditional Matcha. The powder is not only delicious for a caffeine-free hot drink or lattes but is perfect for smoothies.


So with that in mind I decided to bake with it much like you would do if you were using regular matcha.
I decided to take my matcha biscotti recipe one step further and used buckwheat flour as a naturally gluten-free alternative. Buckwheat is not related to wheat despite its name and has been grown for centuries as a nutritious staple food. Originally from Central Asia it is actually related to rhubarb and sorrel, has high levels of fibre and is a good source of protein. You may be familiar with soba noodles a thin noodle enjoyed in Japan made from buckwheat. The seed of the plant has a triangular inner groat and a dark outer hull, after the hull is removed it gets processed into flour. This flour has a mildly sweet, nutty and earthy taste similar to wholewheat flour. I thought using the Kuwa matcha which has tasting notes smooth savoury sweet hay- with honeyed notes, would be great to use in baking as the Japanese suggestion of food pairing with drinking the kuwacha is cookies.

Recipe for Kuwa Matcha Buckwheat Biscotti

Preheat your oven to 180 fan assisted and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In one bowl add:

1 and 1/2 cup of organic buckwheat flour (I used Doves Farm)

2 tablespoons of already sifted Kuwa matcha

2 teaspoons of baking powder

A handful of sliced blanched almonds

In another bowl add:

2 tablespoons of apple purée (check out Clearspring fruit purées)

1/2 cup of unrefined sugar

1/4 cup of melted coconut butter

1 teaspoon of almond essence

1-2 tablespoons of water (added later if needed)

Add the wet mixture to the dry to form a dough use your hands to work the dough together adding a little water if needed but don’t make your dough wet.

Form into a log and flatten to an oval about one inch thick.

Bake in the oven until golden then take out and leave to cool completely  ( if you don’t it will crumble when you cut it)

Cut into slices using a sharp knife and turn onto their sides and bake again for a further ten mins in a cooler oven about 150. Take them out and flip them again for a further ten minutes.

Take out the oven and leave to cool completely before storing .

Enjoy with a delicious Kuwa matcha latte.

You can also make this recipe with regular matcha and Clearspring do a great Premium grade matcha green tea powder which is perfect for culinary use from baking and smoothies to ice cream it is made from organic tea leaves grown in the hills of Uji.

I also have a promo code you can use against anything on the Clearspring website to get a one time 15% off on your purchase use tokyopony15 at the check out. You can find the link to the Clearspring website at the bottom or side of the page depending on your browser. 

 

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

Tofu Taco Crumble introducing “Shizenno Megumi Tofu”

Meet Shunzo Horikawa managing director of Shizenno Megumi Tofu.

Shunzo arrived in the U.K. in April 2022 from the parent company Hikari Miso (you may been using this lovely organic miso already) which they had been making since 1936. Born in Kawasaki his first job out of university was working for House Foods America one of the largest Tofu manufacturers in the world and in 2019 joined Hikari Miso Co Ltd. Dragonfly Foods Tofu original brand since 1984 was bought by Hikari Miso in 2015 and decided to upscale production capacity by shipping massive equipment made in Japan and set up a new purpose built facility for making tofu in Devon in 2017.

Shunzo started to travel back and forth from Japan to Devon to help with supporting the production of tofu. In 2022 Shunzo moved to Devon with his family to start a new challenge with the Dragonfly team. “Shizenno Megumi” means natures best, the brand was started to follow the traditional style of tofu making in Japan. Working as a parent company with Dragonfly Foods in Devon they are BRC A+ soil association approved. Using Nigari as a coagulant the tofu requires intensive control to coagulate the rich soymilk. Nigari naturally promotes umami and sweetness, Nigari derived from the Japanese word for “bitter” is a product created through harvesting sea salt and letting the water evaporate. Nigari contains a high concentration of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium and chlorines. The delicate soft tofu is hand crafted in Devon using Japanese techniques by a small group of passionate members bringing traditionally made Japanese style tofu to the U.K.

I was so humbled when I was approached by Shunzo who asked me to try out their range of Shizenno Megumi tofu. The range is firm, super firm and soft tofu. So what can we use each tofu for you might wonder. The soft tofu is wonderful cut into cubes and used in miso soup, Shunzo even recommends using it in smoothies and desserts. The super firm is good for dishes like a grilled sandwich or anything that might require the tofu to keep its shape in frying or sautéing.
I have decided to use the firm tofu to bring you a versatile recipe for a kind of taco style vegan mince that can be used in so many ways.
Let’s get started using Shizenno Megumi tofu !

Tofu Taco Mince

You will need:

x1 pack of Shizenno Megumi firm tofu (open the pack drain the water and wrap in a cloth or kitchen towel top with a weight and leave for an hour to drain) I use my heavy cast iron Japanese teapot lol.

You will also need:
1 cup of walnuts pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs.

Spices: x1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika, x1 teaspoon of mixed herbs, x1 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.

x1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

x1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil

x2 tablespoons of tamari or soysauce

x2 tablespoons of tomato purée

x1 tablespoon of miso paste

A dash of chilli oil and vegan Worcestershire sauce

Method:

Unwrap the tofu, place into a bowl and mash it with a fork.
Add the pulsed walnuts and the rest of the ingredients and give it all a good mix.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the mixture.
Place in a preheated moderate oven and bake for 30 minutes, then take the baking sheet out of the oven and give the tofu mixture a good mix round and spread it back out again. Place the tray back in the oven for 10 minutes and repeat again until all the mixture is dried out. Now your tofu taco mixture is ready to use.

How to use:

The tofu mixture can be used in a multitude of ways but keeping things Japanese here are three ways you can use it.

The first is soboro don そぼろ丼.
This meal is classed as Japanese comfort food. Normally beef Mince and scrambled eggs on top of fluffy rice. This is another perfect way to use the soft tofu, as you can use this to make the scrambled eggs part, to make it a vegan meal. Like before drain and wrap the soft tofu but do not weight it. Leave it to stand for 30 minutes to drain then add to a bowl and mash it with a fork, add x1 teaspoon of turmeric, x1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast and x1 teaspoon of ground kala namak black salt (this will give it a slight egg flavour). Give it all a mix and lightly scramble it in a frying pan. Just add a flavourless oil like coconut oil to the pan then wipe clean so the egg mixture is not sitting in oil. Cook some Japanese rice. You will have made enough tofu taco mince for many meals, I like to section mine out into sealable containers and freeze it as needed. Spoon some rice into a bowl and top one half of the rice with warmed through tofu taco mince and the other  half scrambled tofu. It is customary to add green vegetables like peas or beans in the middle.

Second meal idea is of course taco rice

(takoraisu) タコライス.

Taco rice is a Japanese fusion meal from Okinawa, normally consisting of taco ground beef on a bed of rice with lettuce, tomato and cheese. It owes its existence to the military presence in Okinawa in the 1960’s. Nowadays it’s a firm Japanese favourite. I have already got a few different recipes for taco rice on here so you could also check those recipes. This one was just lettuce rice and the taco mince on top. I made a delicious salsa for this one using roasted tomatillos, blistered pardon peppers and sliced myoga ginger.

Tomatillos, padron pepper and myoga salsa:

I had just recently acquired some tomatillos that come wrapped in a papery inedible husk which you must remove first.

Wash them and slice into halves or quarters depending on the size. Toss lightly in olive oil and a little sprinkle of salt and roast in the oven.

While that’s being done toss some padron peppers in a little olive oil and blister them on high heat in a pan.

When they are done leave to cool. Slice one small red onion and one bulb of myoga ginger and add to a bowl.  Myoga ginger can be found in some Asian super markets I have seen it in Ichiba in London and I buy mine from a Japanese store called Natural Natural in London. Myoga ginger doesn’t taste like ginger and is an edible flower bud. Add to this the juice of half a lime and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Give it a mix and let it rest. When your tomatillos are ready leave to cool and chop finely your padron peppers then add both into the bowl with the onion and myoga. Finally add some chopped coriander and give it all a final stir.

Assemble your taco rice and add your salsa on top.

The final way I recommend using your tofu taco mince is with a creamy and flavourful Tantanmen ramen 坦々麺.

You will need 1 cup of shiitake dashi (leave a a dried shiitake in water over night)

First you will need to make goma dare this is the base of your sauce.

Add to a bowl x1 tablespoon of Neri goma (white sesame paste) if you have not got this you can use tahini. To this x1 tablespoon of white miso paste. Then add x1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, x1 teaspoon of brown rice vinegar, x1 teaspoon of chilli oil and x1 teaspoon of mirin.
Give it all a good whisk and put aside.


You will also need a packet of vegan ramen and toppings.

My toppings were vegan tofu taco mince, steamed bean sprouts, chingensai (pakchoy), Hokusai (Chinese cabbage), sweet corn, pea shoots, sliced pickles, lotus root, padron peppers and chilli threads. Choose what toppings you like and prepare these in advance.
When you’re ready start to cook your ramen. Add to a pan 1 and a 1/2 cups of soy milk 1 cup of shiitake dashi and 1/2 a cup of water. Add your goma dare mixture and start to heat it gently stirring to combine.

When your ramen is ready drain and divide into two bowls and pour over your sesame soy milk. Drizzle with extra chilli oil for heat. Add your toppings and you’re done.

Just on a final note you can add extra things accordingly to your tofu taco mince depending on what you’re making. You could add extra tomato purée or tomato passata to make a bolognaise sauce for pasta or maybe  sautéed onions chopped mushrooms or peppers.

And now a treat for you Shunzo has very kindly given me an exclusive discount code for you to use on their website to purchase their delicious tofu. Just head over to www.dragonflyfoods.com click shop choose your items and put them in your cart, check out and input the promo code TOKYOPONY20 under coupon code on the delivery and payment section. This will take 20% off your bill. This offer will run until the 11th of August 2023.
Have fun in the kitchen.

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

Summer Citrus Scones


Scones are the quintessential British tea time treat. Known as a cream tea the scones are served with whipped cream, jam and tea. These All Vegan summery scones have a Japanese twist using Yuzu juice and Yuzu lemonade, to make them light and soft. Serve with Yuzu jam and green tea for an extra Japanese/ English fusion on a British favourite. With only five ingredients no Dairy or eggs are used, you will be surprised how amazing they taste and how easy they are to make.
You will need:

400g of self raising flour plus extra for dusting

A pinch of salt

25g of unrefined caster sugar plus extra to sprinkle on top of the scones.

Two tablespoons of yuzu juice

125ml of Yuzu lemonade

125ml of soy cream

Whipped cream and jam to serve

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Sift the self-raising flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt.

Pour in the Yuzu lemonade, Yuzu juice and soy cream and give it a good mix to form into a sticky dough.

Dust the top with flour and turn out onto a work surface and dust again and give it a knead so it’s less sticky and comes together.
Make the dough approximately 1 inch in thickness and start to cut out your scones with a 2 1/4 inch cutter.

Place each scone on your baking sheet. Keep cutting and gathering the dough until it’s all used up.

Using a pastry brush lightly dust the tops with Yuzu juice and sprinkle on some extra sugar. Bake in the oven until risen and golden around 15 minutes.
Leave to cool and slice in half adding whipped cream and jam.

I used Oatly creamy oat fraiche as it’s nice and thick and you don’t have to whip it.

Why not try Yuzu jam from the Wasabi Company ( link at the side or bottom of the page depending on your browser.

 

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

Tangy Soy Milk Cheese & Dillon Organic Bread


I was interested in trying the range of breads by “Dillon Organic”, their range of breads focus on using seeds and husks like flax seeds, sunflower seeds and psyllium husks to make a delicious healthy vegan and gluten free bread that is also low carb, keto, high fibre and high in omega 3. They are also yeast free and and have no additives or thickeners. The breads are super filling and keep you full for longer and are perfect with a topping like avocado or nut butters. I decided to take my original soy cheese recipe and make it extra tangy for a delicious soft cheese topping for the bread.

You will need:
200ml of good quality soy milk

x4 tablespoons of brown rice vinegar ( I used the one by ClearSpring)


A tablespoon each of Shio Koji , White Miso, Nutritional Yeast, Melted coconut butter. And a teaspoon of onion powder.

You will also need a sieve and a piece of kitchen towel.
Method :

Pour your soy milk into a pan and add your brown rice vinegar, start to gently simmer the milk until it starts to separate and thicken. Do not let it boil but keep it gently simmering.
Lay a piece of kitchen towel in a sieve and pour the soy milk into it, you can do this over a bowl or into the sink. All the solids with stay in the kitchen towel.

Fold the corners over and add a weight ( I like to use my cast iron tea pot from Kyoto. Leave to drain for around 30 minutes.

Then tip the soy milk solids out into a bowl and add all of the other ingredients and give it a mix. Add to a bowl and leave over night in the fridge.



I’m happy to give you this exclusive opportunity to buy some of the Dillon Organic breads with a 20% discount off your purchase. You could choose from Beetroot Flax, Chia flax, Original, Olive or Gluten Free seeded. Just use my discount code Justine20 at the check out by visiting www.dillionorganic.co.uk why not buy all five and pick your favourite! Mine is the Chia flax what will yours be?

 

 

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

Making Edamame Tofu & Using Meditation While Cooking

You may of heard of the Shojin ryouri, Zen Buddhist temple cuisine and goma dofu. A classic side dish a little like pan a-cotta that looks like tofu, made with ground sesame and kuzu flour, served at the beginning or end of a meal.


The very act of preparing this dish exemplifies a virtue of  Zen Buddhist practices. Making the pudding from scratch requires, patience, time and attention to the task at hand. As with many forms of Zen practices like ikebana flower arranging, Shodo the art of calligraphy, Chado tea preparation and Kodo incense preparation, the aim is to rise above the self to be completely at one with what one is doing. Eating and preparing temple cuisine is a mental attitude maintaining a calm open mind, treasuring each ingredient and gratitude of the meal. The act of grinding the sesame in a suribachi into a paste to make goma dofu has a very meditative effect and I believe that making my recipe for edamame dofu has a similar focus. Instead of grinding sesame seeds you will be shelling edamame.
I first started making Japanese food as a way to focus my thoughts from anxiety and depression, while I’m cooking I try to focus on not things I cannot do, places I cannot go or things I cannot have but enjoy my time in the moment. Focusing my energy into my food to help me have a healthy, mind body and spirt.

Edamame Dofu えだまめ豆腐
You will need 120g of edamame out of their pods. If you have fresh edamame cook them first and pop them out of their pods dropping them into cold water to stop any extra cooking. In my recipe here I used 120g of frozen edamame boiled for around 4 minutes then dropped into a cold bowl of water. (Save a few whole ones for later).

Now here comes the part that takes a little time. Each edamame comes with a thin membrane you will need to slide this off.

Do this until you have finished all the edamame. Use this time to really focus on the task and try to clear your mind of all other thoughts.

Put your edamame into a blender something like the ones used for smoothies works best.
Add to this 2 cups of dashi, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar and blend well until as smooth as possible.

Then tip out the liquid through a strainer retaining both. Add your edamame pulp back to the blender and blend again as fine as possible, finishing off by adding back the liquid again to combine.

Add to a pan 40g of kuzu root (if it comes in chunks grind it into a fine powder first. Then add a little of your liquid to make a paste then add the rest of the liquid to the pan.

Give it all a good mix and turn on the heat. Heat the edamame and kuzu liquid stirring continuously until it thickens to the consistency of thick custard.

You will then need a container to pour your edamame dofu into and another dish for it to sit in filled with ice water. I like to use my Nagashikan, a stainless steel container made in Niigata with a removable inner tray. It’s one of my favourite kitchen gadgets that I often use to make jellies and yokan with.

You can purchase these from Global Kitchen a great place for all Japanese kitchen utensils and more. If you don’t have one you can use a plastic container.

Pour out your edamame dofu into your container and chill in an ice bath.

When cool it should already be set. Cover with some plastic wrap and chill further in the fridge for a few hours. When ready take your set edamame dofu and cut it into squares.

Serve with a sweet soy sauce.

Mix soy sauce with a little sugar and heat in a pan until the sauce has dissolved, leave to cool to pour over your edamame dofu. You could decorate it with a few edamame that you saved from earlier.

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Vegan Tamago Sando & Crust Rusks

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

season 1 episode 9

“Passage”

Part 1 Tamago Sando たまごサンド

A year has passed since Kiyo & Sumire arrived to the Maiko House and Sumire prepares to be officiated as a Maiko which is is called MISEDASHI (見世出). The first time Sumire wears the black formal kimono and tortoiseshell hair ornament.

Kiyo prepares her most important meal yet, tiny bite sized sandwiches that Sumire had requested Kiyo to make for her when she became a Maiko. The tiny sandwiches can be eaten in one bite so as not to disturb the maiko makeup. As Sumire eats the sandwiches you can tell that she has been waiting for the time she could finally have them.

Maiko Vegan Tamago Sando たまごサンド:

A rich, creamy sandwich normally made with egg, kewpie mayonnaise and fluffy soft shokupan bread.
Both the bread and filling are not vegan. However I do have a recipe on my recipe pages for vegan shokupan if you would like to try it although you can just use regular white fluffy thick sliced bread if you prefer.


The filling is simple to make with just tofu, vegan kewpie mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, turmeric, nutritional yeast and kala namak (fine black salt).

You will need:

150g of medium firm tofu

150g of silken tofu

Drain the tofu and wrap in a paper towel to absorb moisture for about 1 hour. Be careful with the delicate silken tofu. Then add both to a bowl.
Add to the bowl
1/2 a teaspoon of kala namak salt, this is what will give you your egg flavour. If you buy the kind that comes in large crystals you will need to grind it down into a powder other than that you can buy it already in powder form.

Add also 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 tablespoons of vegan kewpie mayonnaise (this used to be difficult to get outside of Japan but now places like natural natural in London sell it. If you are somewhere else try requesting it from your local Asian grocery store or just use ordinary vegan mayonnaise adding 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of brown rice vinegar.

Mash up the ingredients with a fork leaving a few white chunks so it looks more like an egg texture.

Chill in the fridge for a few hours if possible.
You will notice the mixture has now turned a nice yellow.

Next take your bread slices. First you will need to cut off all the crusts, put these to one side in a zip lock bag or container to keep them fresh. (You will be using these for a tea time treat later)

Using vegan butter or margarine and spread the slices on one side.Then add your egg mixture closing the sandwich with another slice of buttered bread ( you know how to make a sandwich right ! )

Cut the sandwich into small bite sized squares. Perfect for an afternoon teatime.


Kiyo by now has obviously found her purpose in life, when speaking to Tsurukoma one of the characters she has a conversation with her about how she has found her passion in cooking. Tsurukoma realises that being a maiko is not her passion and tells Mother Azusa that she has decided to leave. Kiyo and the rest of the girls make her nabekko dumplings in red bean soup to say farewell. You may recall right back in episode 1 Kiyo’s grandmother makes this as a good luck meal before Kiyo and Sumire leave on their journey from Aomori to Kyoto. You can find my recipe for nabekko dumplings on my first The Makanai blog post.

Part 2: Crust Rusks パンの耳ラスク

We see Kiyo deep frying in hot oil the crusts that she had cut off from the bread to make the tamago sando and then rolling them in sugar.

That evening Sumire makes her official Maiko debut. On her return Kiyo is waiting with a treat of crispy hot sugar coated crust rusks.

Remember the crusts you put aside? Now is the time to use them. Normally the crust rusks are coated in butter and baked, so I decided to sauté them in some melted vegan butter until nice and coated

then lay them out on a baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven  until dry and crispy.

Then remove and roll them in sugar. Eat them while warm.

Until I made these I wondered what all the fuss was about making baked left over crusts as a treat for someone on such a special day but oh my goodness are they delicious! It wasn’t what I expected at all. Of course they are not the healthiest snack but a real treat indeed.

Some spots to look out for from the series when your next in Kyoto.

I briefly mentioned this in episode 8 talking about the Sanjo-Ohashi bridge  (三条大橋which we often see Kiyo walking merrily over to and from buying provisions. The bridge is famous for giboshi (擬宝珠) its onion shaped posts and rails made of wood spanning the Kamo river.
It is unclear when this bridge was first built, but there are records of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Chief Advisor to the Emperor) orders for it to be repaired in 1590. The current concrete bridge, which includes two lanes for driving and a walking path on either side, was built in 1950. As mentioned in my last post it has one of my favourite Starbucks at the end of the bridge with views over the river. Perfect for relaxing with a coffee.

The Kamo-Gawa river (鴨川) is a popular destination and is perfect for a leisurely stroll.

In episode 7 we see the girls on a day out crossing the Kojin Tobiishi  stepping stones ( 荒神飛石) this is where Kamo River begins.

The stones lie just north of the Kamo Ohashi bridge, near where the Kawaramachi and Imadegawa roads meet, close to Demachiyanagi train station. It is line of giant turtles which stretch across the waters. A fun place to hop along the river playing on the stones.


Tatsumi  Daimyojin Shrine (
辰巳大明神) is a quaint little shrine that sits in the Shirakawa District, on the corner of one of Kyoto’s backstreets., close to the river with the same name. It is said that in the past, the area was haunted by a tanuki who used to prank the passersby, making them fall in the river. To make him stop, the people decided to build this shrine, and the tanuki stopped behaving badly. This local shrine is often frequented by neighborhood geisha and is a perfect photo back drop.

In the same place is Tatsumi Bridge(祇園巽橋which stretches over the Shirakawa canal, that connects to the Kamo river, and runs through the Gion district.

You can also wonder down the Shirakawa-Sui 白川筋 which Kikuno, Tsurukoma, Kotono, and Sumire walked down.This is Kyoto at its most picturesque lined with willow and Sakura trees and dining establishments


In episode 2 Kiyo, Sumire and the Maiko left for Yasaka shrine (
八坂神社) also once known as the Gion Shrine. They went pray to improve their Maiko skills. The legacy of Yasaka Shrine goes back one of the most over 1350 years ago, the shrine is located between the popular Gion and Higashiyama districts. Yasaka Shrine is well known for its summer festival, the Gion Matsuri, which is celebrated every July.

In episode 6 Mother Azusa, Sumire, Tsurukoma, Kotono and Kikuno went to the Minami-za theatre  (南座) to watch the Kabuki annual beginning performance. The current Minami-za theatre was built in 1929.

Despite the considerable decline in the number of geisha in Gion in the last century, the area is still famous for the preservation of forms of traditional architecture and entertainment. Part of this district has been declared a national historical preservation district. The City of Kyoto has undertaken a number of restorative projects to enhance the beauty and historical authenticity of Kyoto’s Gion Hanamachi a district where geisha live and work.

 

I hope my Makanai series has given you some inspiration to make some Japanese style vegan home cooked food for yourself and encouraged you to watch the series if you haven’t already done so. I also have two Kyoto walking tours recommending vegan cafes to visit along the way on my travel pages.

If you would like to support me and the site you can do so my clicking the Ko-fi button. Arigatō.

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Vegan Tonjiru & Yudofu

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

Season 1 episode 8

“Carnival”

Part 1 “Yudofu” 湯豆腐

In this episode we see lots of different Japanese cuisine being eaten by the characters from deep fried oysters and spaghetti to udon.
In one of the scenes we see Yoshino and Koji eating Yudofu at Nanzenji Yachiyo. Many places in the series can be visited if you are travelling to Kyoto. Or if you have already been it’s fun to pick out places that you might recognise. I will go into this further in my final blog that goes with the series.
Yudofu is a speciality of Nanzenji serving up seasonal appetisers of hot water tofu, sesame tofu, soup, rice and pickles. Thanks to centuries of preparation by Buddhist monks in Kyoto, the dish is emblematic of Zen cuisine, which focuses on cooking natural foods with simple techniques. At Japanese restaurants, the hot simmered tofu is served in the centre of the table where diners can serve themselves.

In a previous blog I used momen (firm) tofu but this time I decided to use silken tofu known as kinugoshi which seams more popular to be used in Kyoto for Yudofu.
Kinugoshi Tofu (絹ごし豆腐) has a smooth texture like silk so it’s named kinugoshi (in Japanese, kinu 絹 literally means silk).

Yudofu is  a simple nabe (鍋) hotpot, using a handful of classic Japanese ingredients. It’s healthy, light and packed with nutritious umami flavour. Japanese hot pot is usually cooked in a clay pot called donabe (土鍋), however if you do not have one at home, you can make it in a regular pot.
All you need to do is simmer tofu in water konbu (昆布, kelp) and then eat it with a tsuyu dipping sauce and various condiments known as yakumi 薬味. I talk about yakumi in another blog post, but basically they are used to bring out the umami of a particular dish, some of the most common are chopped green onion, schichimi pepper, shiso, oroshi daikon (grated daikon), sesame seeds and grated ginger. Yudofu is about one of the simplest forms of Japanese cuisine you can make, it is sometimes referred to as boiled tofu, although it is actually cooked at just below boiling to avoid the bubbles breaking apart the fragile silken tofu pieces.

To make Yudofu you will need a piece of dried konbu kelp left to soak in water for a few hours. One – two cartons of silken tofu drained and left on kitchen towel to absorb liquid. Also if you would like to add some greens like watercress or mizuna that’s nice also.
You will also need your Yakumi any of the ones listed above.
Also you will need a dipping sauce. I find the tsuyu already made up by Clearspring is so easy to use just dilute and you’re ready to go. Why not add a citrus variation by making a ponzu by adding some Yuzu juice or sudachi juice. If you want to make your own simply add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoons of mirin to a bowl and dilute with some kombu dashi, adding a little citrus juice is definitely recommended.
Put your dashi with the kombu in a donabe or pot turn on the heat and when you see bubbles take out the kombu. Now gently add your silken tofu in one whole block. I find the silken tofu when heated firms up a little and is easier to cut. This is easier than cutting it into square and trying to pick it up and putting them individually in the pot. Let the silken tofu simmer gently with the lid on for the tofu to warm through. Don’t let it boil as this will break apart the tofu. Cut trough the tofu whilst still in the pot into squares. Add any greens to wilt in the hot water I think watercress works well or mizuna.  With a slotted spoon or ladle transfer to your serving dish. Serve with your sauce poured over and Experiment with flavours by adding condiments of choice.

Part 2 “Vegan Tonjiru”

We see Kiyo coming back from buying groceries walking over the Sanjo-Ohashi bridge (you can see Starbucks in the background).

This is one of my favourite Starbucks to visit for a morning coffee as it has views over the Kamo River.
Kiyo returns to the house to make tonjiru a classic comforting dish which translates to pork (ton) soup (jiru). The soup is full of seasonal root vegetables. She makes it while the characters are practicing for “Obake” a seasonal annual performing carnival event involving geiko and maiko houses.
Again we see a crossover of meals to the series Midnight Diner. Tonjiru is one of only four items actually on the menu there. You can find my step by step recipe for vegan tonjiru on the Midnight Diner recipe collection using other vegetables like burdock and lotus root and adding aburaage instead of pork. The tonjiru in the Makanai has simpler ingredients, so I have made it again using fu (wheat gluten) instead of the pork this time.

For the vegetables I wanted to make it as near to the original one Kiyo made so I used onion, carrot, daikon, green onion, taro ( satoimo), konnyaku and miso.

photo minus the daikon as I forgot to put it in the photo.

In the episode we see Kiyo using a spoon to cut the konnyaku, she then rubs in salt before simmering in hot water to remove the smell.
She says in the episode “you can’t have tonjiru without konnyaku, it has a very unique texture, it’s healthy and can change a lot depending on how you cook it”.



Vegan Tonjiru:

First you will need a kombu dashi by soaking a piece of kombu in water over night. Peel the satoimo (taro root) and soak in water to remove the starch. Cut the daikon and carrot into wedges, slice an onion and green onion and set aside. Soak some wheat gluten in warm water to reconstitute. Drain a pack of konnyaku and rinse in water I cut this in half to use the other half in something else. You can keep it in the fridge in a jar with water changing the water every day for up to a week. Cut pieces of konnyaku using a spoon and rub the pieces with salt, drop the pieces into boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes drain and rinse in cold water before adding to a pan. Squeeze out the liquid from the fu and add to the pan with drained satoimo  along with all the root vegetables except the green onion. Sauté in some toasted sesame oil.

Add 500ml of water to the vegetables and the same in kombu dashi. Gently mix and simmer with the lid on until the vegetables are tender adding more dashi if needed.
Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of miso. You can use what ever miso you like but earthy ones like brown rice or barley work well. To add the miso either ladle some of the broth and mix in to the ladle before adding it to the vegetables or use a misokoshi . I have recommended this before for adding miso to broth which you can buy from www.hatsukoi.co.uk.

Finally add your chopped green onion and spoon in to a bowl to serve.

 

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House Kitsune Udon

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

season 1 episode 7

“Illness”

When Sumire falls sick Kiyo decides to make her rice porridge. However when mother Azusa asks what she is doing she explains that in Kyoto they serve udon when someone isn’t feeling well. Udon is a soul food in Japan. It is easily digested and simple to make. The perfect comfort food when someone is sick. Mother Azusa goes on to say that Kyoto’s udon is not dark like the ones served in Kanto. Kiyo looks puzzled.
Udon noodles are served with a broth which has soy sauce (shoyu) as one of the ingredients. You are probably familiar by now with soy sauce as a cooking ingredient adding umami, with its salty, sour flavour to soups, stir fries and nimono (simmered dishes). Soy sauce is made by fermenting soaked and steamed soybeans then mixing with roasted ground wheat and aspergillus oryzae a culturing mold. Then salt brine is added and is left for several months until it is then pasteurised and filtered. Usukuchi Shoyu (薄口醤油is a lighter coloured soy sauce which has additional salt which is used in the Kansai region. The lighter colour does not darken the final dish quite as much, so when Kiyo is told the Udon are not dark, this is what they are referring to.

Kiyo sets off over the Sanjo-Ohashi bridge to find the perfect ingredients to make the udon extra special for Sumire. She goes first to a shop keeper on Demachi-Masugata shopping street.

The shop keeper asks if Kiyo would like Kitsuneきつね or Tanukiたぬき for her udon. Kitsune you may have already come across. The name Kitsune means fox, it is believed that the favourite food of the Shinto messenger fox god is deep fried tofu, another theory is that the aburaage 油揚げ fried tofu is the same colour as a fox . The exact origin of kitsune udon is unknown but it is thought it may have originated in Osaka in the Edo period. Tanuki is the name for a raccoon dog. Tanuki udon is udon noodles with a topping of tenkasu 天かす also called agedama (揚げ玉) tempura batter crumbs). The Japanese word for without main toppings is Tanenuki タネ抜き so as the udon has no other toppings other than tempura crumbs the word was changed to Tanuki for this topping this has nothing really to do with the raccoon dog. It is widely thought that Tanuki udon originated in the Kanto region again in the Edo period (1603-1868)

“I’d like some Oage-san please”. Oage-san is a term of endearment used for aburaage, thin deep fried tofu that has already been seasoned with a sweet savoury flavour using sugar soy sauce and mirin. You can do this yourself by pouring boiling water over the fried aburaage blotting it with kitchen towel and then simmering in 1/2 cup of water 1 tablespoon of soy sauce 1 tablespoon of mirin and 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer for 15-20 minutes with a drop lid on top called a otoshibuta, if you don’t have one place a cut piece of parchment paper on top, then remove and squeeze out the liquid. Put to one side. However for my recipe later on you can do this included in the recipe.

“You had better make it delicious” said the shop keeper “ I’ll do my best” said Kiyo.
Kiyo then sets off to buy items to make her dashi, first she goes to Tanaka dried bonito shop. As bonito is made from dried smoked fermented fish fillets, being vegan we will not be using this for our dashi.

She then finds her way under the recommendation of the bonito shop owner to the Okada-ya Konbu seaweed shop. Kiyo says to the shop owner that it was her first time buying natural kelp and had planned to use powdered dashi from the supermarket. The shop keeps comments “that’s like eating a luxury kaiseki feast with broken disposable chopsticks”. Kiyo goes for the recommendation of the shop keeper and picks up some rausu kelp the shop keeper says this is natural and very flavourful. Rausu is known as the “queen of kombu” a high quality kelp rich in minerals and other nutrients, it has outstanding umami and will enhance the flavour of a dish. Even though Kiyo is making a humble meal she is still making it extra special with the ingredients she is choosing to use.
We are then back in the kitchen of the maiko house. We see Kiyo simmering her kombu to make her dashi, she chops diagonal slices of naga negi long green onion and slices up strips of the aburaage and adds the strips to the dashi she has made. Kiyo boils up some udon and adds them to a bowl adds the broth green onion and aburaage, finishing off with some grated ginger.

Kiyo serves the udon to Sumire “This udon I could eat forever”

Again there is a cross over of meals from The Makanai to Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories and you can see this in season 2 episode 7. The show has a nostalgic feel and for anyone who loves food in Japan it’s a must to watch. You can find lots more information and vegan  recipes I have created to go with the series on my midnight diner pages.

I wanted to make this kitsune udon as near to the way that Kiyo made it minus the bonito flakes. I picked out the best ingredients I could find at the time or I already had. As I didn’t have any of the usukuchi lighter coloured soy sauce I decided to purchase an organic one made at the Shichifuku brewery in Aichi prefecture.

They are masters of brewing this particular soy sauce and rely on traditional principles of giving the soy sauce time to mature in wooden barrels under strict temperature controls. Thus producing a lighter soy sauce that is sweeter in flavour. I bought Udon noodles by Clearspring which are organic and are vegan and made by an artisan family producer in Japan. The kombu I had was also from Clearspring  and is a sustainable harvested kombu from Hokkaido. I managed to get some naga negi from natural natural an amazing Japanese super market in London and also picked up some frozen aburaage.

Kitsune Udon きつねうどん

You will need:

x1 piece of dried kombu kelp

x1 piece per person of aburaage fried tofu defrosted if frozen

naga negi or similar green onion

per serving:

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

x1 teaspoon sugar

grated ginger (using a Japanese grater  like an oroshigane or kyocera if possible)

Udon noodles of choice

Method:

First make your dashi using a piece of kombu kelp. Soak the kombu in a pan with a litre of fresh cold water for at least three hours. Then turn on the heat to a simmer as soon, as the water starts to produce bubbles around the kelp remove the kelp and put your dashi to one side. Do not boil the kelp in the water as this will make the kelp slimy.

Prepare your aburaage from defrosted. Place your aburaage in a colander and pour over boiling water to remove the excess oil then blot with kitchen towel. Slice your aburaage into strips like Kiyo did with hers.

Slice your green onion diagonally.

Per person you will need 3 cups of dashi add this to a pan with soy sauce, mirin and sugar. ( This is why I decided not to pre season my aburaage as it will be cooking in this liquid). Bring your dashi to a gentle simmer and drop in your sliced aburaage.
Cook your udon as the package instructions direct. Drain and divide into your bowls. Pour over your hot dashi broth with aburaage and add your green onions and grated ginger.

A perfect hearty noodle dish full of rich flavour you can serve at any time but especially when you’re in need of some series comfort food.

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House “Vegan White Stew”

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

season 1 episode 6

“One-sided”

Part one : Amazake

Sumire is now officially an apprentice Maiko for this she gets her hair done in the traditional maiko style. To keep this style from becoming messed up when they sleep maiko have to sleep on a special wooden pillow. Kiyo knowing that Sumire will not get much sleep on her first night makes her a comforting drink of amazake waiting for her in the kitchen. Even though Kiyo  has to get up early to prepare food the next day this was truly a selfless act of friendship and simple act of kindness.
Amazake or sweet sake is a fermented rice drink made from koji (kome koji). The koji mold or Aspergillus Oryzae is used in the making of miso, soy sauce, sake and mirin. The mold causes the rice enzymes to break down and ferment into unrefined sugars. The sugar makes a sweet drink or can be used in desserts, smoothies or dressing. Amazake was was actually consumed in the Edo Period in the summer to battle against the hot Japanese summers and reduce fatigue. You can find a recipe to make your own in my recipe pages. Also I recommend the amazake from Clearspring which you can just add to a pan with water or plant based milk and a little ginger to make a comforting drink.

Part two: White Stew ホワイトシチュー

Kiyo is in the kitchen preparing a meal and talking to Momoko. Momoko asks Kiyo if she gets board making meals for the girls in the maiko house. Kiyo explains that she doesn’t because every time she goes to collect ingredients according to what is in season she can decide what she is going to make. She also explains that every time she goes to the market there is always some different, even the same vegetables tastes can change depending if they are early or late in season. This is why she greets the vegetables with “ Hello there and thanks” “ nice to see you again”.

There are words used in Japan like Kisetsukan basically meaning attention to the seasons or Fubutsushi the little things that signal the changing seasons. This could be from the cherry blossoms in spring or seasonal foods appearing at the market. Hashiri is a word meaning that eagerly awaited produce that is coming soon into season, where shun refers to the produce in peak seasons. Why not read more about this on my four seasonal posts called “Live by the shun the philosophy of seasonal eating”.

Kiyo puts all her love, attention and enthusiasm into making her meals even though they might be thought of as mundane or ordinary dishes. In this episode we see her preparing a meal called “white stew” sometimes called “cream stew”. A family, home cooked (yōshoku) 洋食  dish meaning Japanese with a western influence. In Japan it is pronounced “Howaito Schichu” appearing in Japanese school lunch menus in 1947 when the government wanted to introduce nutritious meals to children. I even remember having something similar myself at my own primary school for lunch. The stew is made with carrot, potatoes, onions and chicken in a Béchamel sauce . Made using milk, Japanese families often use cream stew roux (a bit like curry cubes) to make this a quick and easy meal, but as neither are vegan I wanted to share my vegan recipe with you all omitting the chicken for tofu and using plant based milk and cream. This may not look like the most appetising dish, but I make this often as it’s so delicious, creamy and comforting. Cream stew has also appeared in another favourite Japanese drama of mine “Midnight Diner” season 2 episode 6 titled “Cream Stew” for which I have done a series of vegan recipes that go with the series.

White Stew

You will need:

A handful of small button mushrooms kept whole.

Three medium potatoes with skin on cut into chunks

One onion cut into slices

Two carrots peeled and cut into wedges

Broccoli florets

One block of medium firm Tofu cut into cubes

Two cups of vegetable stock keeping more for later if needed.

Method:

Add the onion to a large pan and sauté in a little melted vegan butter then add your carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and tofu.


Then add your vegetable stock, the stock should just cover the vegetables. Put a lid on the pan bring to a boil then simmer on a low heat for ten minutes.


While that’s simmering make your sauce mix.

Three tablespoons of vegan butter

One cup of soy milk

Three tablespoons of plain flour

One 250ml carton of vegan cream

1/4 teaspoon each of ground white pepper and nutmeg

Pinch of salt

Warm up one cup of soy milk either on the stove or in the microwave.
Add to a pan three tablespoons of vegan butter heat until melted and then turn down the heat to low. Sprinkle the flour into the butter stirring constantly. Start adding the warm soy milk gradually whisking as you do.

Check your vegetables at this point your potatoes should be nearly cooked but should not fall apart. Turn off the heat.
With a ladle spoon some of the vegetable stock into your flour roux and start to whisk.


Gradually keep doing this until your sauce can be poured into your vegetables. Add the sauce to your vegetables. Then add one carton of plant based cream to your pan with the vegetables and roux and gently stir it in. Add your white pepper nutmeg and salt. Do not omit these as it gives the stew its distinctive flavour. If you feel at this point your sauce is too thick add a little extra stock.

Turn back on the heat and simmer for a further five minutes. At this point just before serving blanch your broccoli in boiling water. When ready to serve drain the broccoli and add to the dishes after serving keeping the lovely bright green colour visible.


You can serve this on its own in a bowl like Kiyo did for Momoko with maybe some crusty bread. Or along side rice.

This meal can be enjoyed all year round, Kiyo suggests turning any left overs into something called “Doria” a Japanese take on a gratin, but made with rice. It is believed that Doria was invented by French chef Saly Weil at the New Grand Hotel in Yokohama back in 1930. It is a rice gratin dish in again in the Yoshoku style. I also have another Doria recipe on my recipe pages for curry Doria.
Add to a gratin dish some butter and smooth it around all the sides. To this add a layer of already cooked rice. Then spoon over your white stew. Finally finish with a layer of vegan cheese and some panko bread crumbs sprinkled on top. Place in the oven until warmed through and your cheese has melted and breadcrumbs crispy and golden.

I suggest serving this with a nice salad.  I hope you will give this recipe a try it has definitely become one of my favourite meals perfect for a family or giving you left overs to use or freeze for later. Enjoy.

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. Vegan Tempura

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

season 1 episode 5

“Choice”

Do you believe in destiny? Many of our choices in life take us on different paths. For me, when I started following a vegan lifestyle over twelve years ago now, I became interested in cooking. This then lead me to start to try and create vegan (plant based) recipes for Japanese food which wouldn’t normally be vegan. This incorporated my love for Japan, animals and food.
Even though Kiyo was told she would never be a maiko she found that rather than it being a set back, it lead her into a new life’s path. She discovers new pleasures in every day life, from shopping for seasonal produce at the markets to deciding what she will make for food for the maiko house.
In episode five which it titled “Choice”, we see lots of characters reflecting on the choices they need to make or have made. A lot of them are over love interests.

At the beginning of the episode we see Kiyo making tempura, all the girls are discussing love interests while they eat. Tsuru asks Kiyo if she has any love interests and for a moment Kiyo shocks everyone with her reply , “You know what? I’m actually in love…. with my frying pan Tetsuko”. Kiyo is also asked how she makes her tempura batter so crispy she explains she keeps the batter in the fridge. Keeping the batter extra cold is indeed key to making the perfect tempura batter.

The perfect tempura vegan batter:

You will need a selection of vegetables for your Tempura you could choose sliced kabocha, sliced Japanese sweet potato, lotus root, shiitake, bamboo shoots, shiso leaves, and maybe asparagus.  Prepare your vegetables and put them to one side, keeping potatoes in water to remove the starch, lotus root is also best kept in water once sliced.

I like to slightly steam or microwave root vegetables so they do not take as long to cook, just 1-2 minutes in the microwave. So just before you’re about to cook your tempura drain the sweet potatoes and lotus root pat them dry with kitchen towel and slightly cook them with kabocha squash if using.

Make your batter:

Add to a bowl 1 1/4 cup of plain flour, 1 tablespoon of potato starch, 1/4 teaspoons of salt and 1/8 teaspoons of baking powder and mix.

You will then need to add to your dry ingredients 200ml of ice cold carbonated spring water. Stir in the water to make a lumpy batter but do not over mix. Chill in the fridge while you heat up your oil.
You will need to heat four cups of cooking oil suitable for a high heat like rapeseed, vegetable or sunflower oil, in a deep pan. Heat the oil and test it by putting a chopstick in the oil if you see little bubbles gather around the chop stick it’s ready.

Put a wire rack to one side of the pan and your vegetables and batter to the other side. Remove your batter from the fridge give it one final mix and then start to dip the vegetables into the batter and then drop them into the oil. Do not over crowd your pan just cook a few at a time for 1 minute until golden and crispy and transfer to your wire rack.

Finish with the shiso leaves if you have them. Dip the underside of the leaves in potato startch before  dipping one side only in the batter. Drop them for a few seconds in the oil until the batter is crispy then remove.


Now your Tempura is ready to serve. You can serve them just simply with a dipping sauce known as Tsuyu .

You can make this with 1/2 cup of dashi (kombu and a dried shiitake left over night in 1 litre of water then discarded.) Add to 1/2 cup of dashi, 3 tablespoons of tamari and 2 tablespoons of mirin. I also love the concentrated noodle broth by clear spring just use four parts water to one tsuyu which makes it super easy and quick to use.
You can also add your tempura on top of rice this is known as “Tendon” Tempura rice bowl.
I definitely recommend making more tempura than you need and freezing the rest. Just defrost on a wire rack when needed and place in the oven to crisp and warm back up (do not microwave as it will go soggy).

Tempura is also delicious with soba noodles. A popular dish is “Tenzaru” cold soba noodles served in a sieve or basket  with tempura and a dipping sauce “Mentsyu” or for short “Tsuyu” served in something called a“Choko cup” with condiments like grated daikon and ginger and chopped green onions, maybe even a little wasabi. Just dip the soba and tempura into the dipping sauce.

Another variation could be Tempura soba in a hot broth. Just use the clear spring concentrate for ease or make tsuyu and add more dashi and tamari to taste. You can also add maybe some steamed greens and chopped green onion. Be sure to add your tempura at the last minute.

This whole episode seamed to be about fried food tempura then croquettes and finally karaage (fried chicken) please see my vegan recipe made from wheat gluten on another recipe page.

Kiyo makes karaage as a surprise for Sumire but it turned out to be a celebration meal as Sumire is told she will be officially a maiko earlier than expected. As they both sit in the kitchen it is then that Sumire asks Kiyo that when she is officially a maiko she would like the tiny sandwiches eaten by maiko that do not ruin their makeup. She explained she had always dreamed of having them. It was decided that Sumire will have a maiko name “ Momohana” taken from sister Momoko and combined with hana. Momo means peach in Japanese and hana means flowers so Sumire’s new name is peach blossom.

Photo taken in Kyoto

 

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. Matcha Pancakes & Nasu no Nimono

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

season 1 episode 4 “Wish” 

Part 1:

Apprentice Maiko get two days off every month, it’s Kiyo and Sumire’s day off together. They first decide to visit a monument in a sports shrine. This Shinto shrine is called Shiramine Jingu, and the monument is known as the monument of Kemari, which is said to bring luck in sports by spinning the ball which is inside the monument. The shrine is home to to the god Seidai Myojin who is known to be the god of sports. Kemari is an athletic game which was popular in Japan during the Heian and Kamakura period and resembles a cross between a game of food ball and hacky sack. Nowadays Kemari is played as a seasonal event and the players play in a traditional costume called Kariginu which was worn as everyday clothing by nobles during the Heian period. Kiyo and Sumire frantically spin the wheel and wish for their friend Kento to win in his sports tournament.
What is your perfect afternoon out? For Kiyo and Sumire it was visiting a local cafe for a stack of fluffy matcha soufflé pancakes and a latte which had cute latte art.

Every time I visit Tokyo the first thing I do is visit one of the Ain Soph  cafes for such a pancake. Their menu is 100% vegan and all their food is made from scratch. Each cafe has their own unique menu, Ain soph Ginza has a ground floor vegan patisserie, on the second to fourth floor is their restaurant. Access 1 min walk from Tokyo Metro Higashi-Ginza Station exit 3 by the Kabukiza theatre.

Ain Soph Journey in Shinjuku Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Sanchome station exit C5 is the birthplace of their so called “Heavenly Pancake” and indeed they are.
There is also another location in Ikebukuro 10 minutes from the station.
Ain Soph in Kyoto have been open a few years now serving up again their “Heavenly Pancakes” in the best Kyoto style using organic matcha.

Which ever one you visit along with their delicious menu I recommend you try their pancakes.
Also in Kyoto I visit for breakfast another cafe serving up fluffy pancakes, called “Choice” in Northern Higashiyama at Sanjo Keihan station.

Serving up vegan and with the exception of their pasta dishes gluten free food, Choice was opened by a doctor who is keenly aware of the impact of healthy food on health and happiness. Why not start your day with some delicious healthy pancakes if you’re visiting Kyoto.


I decided to give making these fluffy pancakes a try and after lots of trials this was my favourite.

I like to call them matcha muffin pancakes as the texture is quite like a soft muffin. Perfect for a breakfast treat.

Mix into a bowl 175gram of sifted self raising flour, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, sift matcha to make one tablespoon and add this to the flour. Then add 200ml of plant based milk, 1 tablespoon of melted coconut butter/oil and one tablespoon of maple syrup. Mix until combined but do not over mix a lumpy mixture is perfect.

Leave for the chia seeds to swell and make the batter thicker for about 5 mins. While that’s happening heat a nonstick frying pan on high heat and wipe over with coconut oil using a paper towel. Wipe the inside of two pancake rings with coconut oil and leave them to warm on the frying pan. If you do not have pancake rings you can make the matcha muffin pancakes without. Now turn the heat down to very low and spoon your mixture into the pancake rings if using.

If you are not using pancake ring the batter should be thick enough to add layers on top of each other. Just add a spoonful of pancake mixture to the pan and keep adding on top to get that thick pancake look.
Cook the pancakes on a very low heat for ten minutes, then flip over.

Cook on the other side for a further ten minutes, then if using a pancake ring ease the edges with a knife and lift the pancake ring off.

Transfer to a plate adding vegan cream, fruit and extra maple syrup to pour over. Finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Part 2:

In the same episode we see Kiyo returning to the market looking for seasonal vegetables. She is drawn to the plump eggplants known as nasu in Japan. When I visit Japan I also take great pleasure in visiting markets and farmers markets. Tokyo has a wonderful one held over Saturday and Sunday every week in front of the United Nations University in Aoyama. Selling a wide variety of local and organic products from 10am-4pm.

If you’re visiting Kyoto no visit would be complete without a visit to the so called “Kyoto’s Kitchen” which is Nishiki Market. A narrow five blocks long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops, which is 400 years old.

There is so much to see and taste, the lively market has all things food related from fresh pickles, to knives, cookware to yuba and is a treasure trove of culinary delights.

Kiyo decides to take the nasu back to the Maiko House, we see her scoring thin cut into the nasu before she sautés them and then simmers them in a dashi broth. This method is called “Kakushibocho” and is a technique used so that the eggplant will absorb the flavours of the broth better.

Placing a few in a bowl she hands them over to “Mother” to try. Both Mother and Sumire’s father who comes to visit and try’s them find them nostalgic. Often the case with home cooked meals.
This simple dish has a few variations from Agebitashi which is eggplant which is deep fried then soaked in dashi to the dish more like the one Kiyo makes in the episode “Nasu no Nimono” (Simmered eggplant).

You will need: serves 4

Make a dashi stock by soaking a piece of kombu in 2 cups of water over night.
Discard the kombu, add to this four tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce and four tablespoons of mirin.

x4 eggplants ( trim off the stems and slice in half lengthwise, make fine diagonal slices into the eggplant being careful not to cut all the way through.

Add the eggplant to a frying pan and sauté both sides in a little vegetable oil until the skins wilt.

While you’re doing that bring your broth to a simmer then add your eggplant. Simmer gently for around 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the broth in the fridge preferably over night. To serve cut your eggplant into bit sized pieces and add to a serving bowl with a little of the broth topping with some slices of peeled ginger or grated daikon radish to garnish.

 

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

Vegan Dorayaki

Vegan Dorayaki

ビーガンどら焼き

JAPANESE RED BEAN PANCAKE 

Before I became vegan I did try a dorayaki in Kyoto but after becoming vegan over 12 years ago now I’ve been trying to replicate it. I’ve been trying for many years but getting the pancake to have that golden honey flavour and castella cake consistency was pretty tricky to make vegan using no eggs.

So what is a dorayaki and what’s the origin behind this iconic treat loved by children and adults alike ? Dora (どら) means “gong” and yaki (焼き) means fry.

Dorayaki is a Japanese cake usually made with two slightly raised round pancake like castella patties with azuki bean paste filling in the middle. Other fillings such as fresh cream, custard cream or chocolate cream can be used as an alternative.

The original dorayaki consisted of only one layer with the edges folded over so they were square and the bean paste could be seen on one side.

Legend has it that the first dorayaki were made when Mushashibo Benkei (a Japanese warrior monk) became injured, and received treatment at a farmers house. Benkei forgot his gong (dora) upon leaving the farmer’s home where he was hiding, and the farmer subsequently used the gong to fry pancakes. Others stories say that Benkei after receiving treatment by the farmer showed his gratitude by making dorayaki on his gong.

It is said that the current method of using two pieces of castella to sandwich the bean paste was the idea of the Japanese cake shop in Ueno  Tokyo called ‘Usagi-ya’ which was founded in 1914, and this method became popular around Japan.

Like I mentioned I have not before managed to recreate the likeness of a dorayaki because of the use of eggs and honey.

However when I saw a vegan scrambled egg alternative and a liquid egg alternative new on the market I set about experimenting.

You may not have where you are what I finally used but maybe you could find something similar.

I settled for using the vegan egg alternative by OGGS. Even though it says for scrambled eggs it makes the pancake nice and fluffy and more like a cake.

I also used vegan honea by plant based artisan.

If you use the vegan egg alternative you will have enough left to make my pan pudding recipe inspired by “The Makanai”.

For the sweet red bean paste known as anko there are two types. Tsubuan (chunky paste) and Koshian (fine paste). You can use which ever you like.

Recipe for Vegan Dorayaki

All you need to make x4 dorayaki is:

150ml of OGGS scrambled egg alternative

100ml of water

100gm of caster sugar

1 tablespoons of vegan honey (or alternative like maple syrup or agave)

Add the above ingredients to a bowl and give it all a good whisk.

Add to a separate bowl:

160gm of sifted plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Give it a mix.

You will also need some neutral oil (I like to use Tiana coconut butter), kitchen towel, a nonstick frying pan and something to pour your batter into the pan with (I used a 1/3 measuring cup). You will also need some anko for your filling.

Method:

Add the vegan egg mixture to the flour and give it all a good mix. Your batter should be thick but runny enough to fall off a spoon with ease for a nice batter consistency.

Heat up your frying pan and add a little oil then wipe it off with kitchen towel ( you do not want an oily pan)

Then give your mixture another whisk then scoop up your batter with the measuring cup and pour the batter a few inches up from the pan. I found each time I used just under 1/3 of a cup of batter for each dorayaki. Pour until you get a nice round shape with the batter. Leave a few minutes until little bubbles start to appear then flip over the pancake and cook for a further  minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Repeat the process again adding a little oil and wiping it off before you pour each batter.

Continue until all your batter has been used.

Then add bean paste to one pancake adding more filling to the middle so you get the domed shape. Then place another on top.

Press round the edges to seal. I find they taste better left until they are completely cold. You can wrap them when they are cool in clingfilm and eat them the next day or they are good to freeze and then defrost.

Hope you can try making them and enjoy with a Japanese tea. Or why not take them for a treat during hanami season.

Do you know the Japanese anime and manga character Doraemon a character from the 1970s, created by Fujiko F. Fujio ? A robotic cat that travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a preteen boy named Nobita.

Dorayaki are also known as the favourite food of the cat robot. Doraemon is addicted to dorayaki and falls for any trap involving them. You may of even grown up watching it on tv and dorayaki may give you a feeling of nostalgia eating them.

I also recommend a 2015 film “Sweet Bean” by director Naomi Kawase’s. This exquisite film is based on a novel by Durian Sukegawa.

The film is about Sentari who runs a shop where he makes and sells dorayaki pancakes filled with sweet bean paste. He advertises for an assistant, Tokue, a 76-year-old woman responds. After tasting the sweet bean paste that Tokue makes, Sentari is astonished. A lovely heartwarming film.

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House A Japanese Style Breakfast & Caramel Bread Pudding

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

舞妓さんちのまかないさん

A series on Netflix about Food & Friendship set in a Maiko house in Kyoto.

Photo Credit: The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House, 2023. Netflix

From acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda

Adapted from the manga series “Kiyo in Kyoto”by Aiko Koyama,

season 1 episode 3

“Taboo”

Part one: A Traditional Japanese Breakfast.

Have you ever visited Japan and been served a Japanese breakfast maybe in a “traditional Japanese inn with tatami floors and an onsen communal bath”?

A Japanese traditional breakfast normally consist of rice, miso soup, tsukemono (pickles), a main meal like grilled salmon and some side dishes like tamagoyaki ( Japanese rolled omelette) and gomaae.

Waking up early before anyone else, Kiyo sets to work on making one such meal for the girls breakfast in the Maiko house. She puts on her apron and ties back her hair in preparation. She greets the dashi stock that she made the night before as she opens the lid on the pot “ Hello there and good morning”. 

First she starts to slice okra to make a simple side dish with sesame “Okra Gomaae”.

This side can also be made with green beans or spinach. Kiyo doesn’t cook the okra where as if I was using green beans or spinach I would blanch them first.

Goma 胡麻 means sesame and Ae 和え means to dress. To make this you can toast and grind your sesame seeds but for ease in the morning I like to use Surigoma which are already toasted and ground . Slice your okra with diagonal cuts like Kiyo did and place to one side. Add to a bowl two tablespoons of surigoma and to that add one tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari and one tablespoon of sugar, mix well into a paste, then add your okra to combine and your done. You might wonder about the raw okra but believe me this side dish is lovely and crunchy with out the slime of cooked okra.


Next Kiyo makes a simple miso soup with silken tofu and cherry tomatoes using a special sieve to dilute the miso with out clumps called a Misokoshi. I love mine and they are available to buy from www.hatsukoi.co.uk 

Kiyo opens her rice cooker and fluffs up the rice, then starts on grilling the salmon.

Obviously we want to make a vegan version of this so this takes a little preparation starting the night before with marinating some tofu.

To make your marinade:

Add to a jug or bowl, x1 tablespoon of shredded nori (kizami nori), x2 tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, x2 tablespoons of tamari, x2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoons of liquid smoke, x1 tablespoon of beetroot juice, x1 tablespoon of coconut palm sugar, a one inch piece of peeled and grated fresh ginger and a 1/4 teaspoon of chilli flakes. Leave this to soak for a few hours and then pour the liquid out through a sieve. Pour the liquid into a dish for your tofu to sit in.

Prepare the tofu:

You need to get the water first out of a block of firm tofu. You can do this by pressing it or you can steam it for five minutes or microwave for one minute wrapped in a paper towel. Let the tofu cool, then cut the piece of tofu in half and slice the top of each piece at an angle making a wedge shape. Make diagonal slices in the tofu be careful not to cut all the way down.

Place into the marinade turning it over a few times and then leave over night cut side down.

In the morning remove the tofu and place a piece of cut nori to fit  the uncut side of the tofu then lightly dust in starch and fry on all sides in a pan with hot oil. Remove and put to one side.


You will notice kiyos breakfast consist of two other sides as well as quick pickles.

Another popular side dish is hijiki no nimono simmered hijiki seaweed salad.

First soak two tablespoons of dried hijiki seaweed in hot water for 30 minutes.

You will also need to remove the oil residue from a piece of aburaage, to do this put your aburaage in a sieve and pour hot water over it then blot with kitchen towel, after that slice into thin strips and put in a pan. Drain a can of precooked soy beans or if you can’t get soy beans something similar (I used cannellini). Put half the beans in the pan with the aburaage. Julienne or grate one carrot and add this to the pan. Drain the hijiki and add this to the pan. Give everything a quick stir fry in a little sesame oil, then add to the pan, x1 teaspoon of dashi powder, x2 tablespoons of mirin, x2 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce and 100ml of water. Simmer for about five minutes until all the water has gone. Place to one side.


I also made a vegan tamagoyaki using a vegan omelette mix called “Nomelette” which you can purchase from www.sunandseed.com. I made up the desired amount instructed to make one omelette and added a piece of nori before rolling it then cut it into slices.

Finally no Japanese meal can be without tsukemono or quick pickles called asazuke made with salt or vinegar and they are super easy to make. Just add chunks of carrot, cucumber and daikon to a zip lock bag. Then if you want to make salt pickles known as shiozuke just add a few teaspoons of salt and rub the salt into the vegetables. I like to use Japanese salt from Okinawa but I understand this is not easily come by. Do this at the start of making you meal in the morning and then they will be ready to serve when everything else is done.

Kiyo served her Japanese breakfast with onigiri rice balls so I decided to do the same with my breakfast.

I had just recently received this beautiful solid ash wooden serving box containing mino ware plates and dishes that fit inside. It is called a Hibino Modern Shokado Bento Box. I love how this can be used from using the dishes and plates that come with the box or adding your own. The lid can be also used as a tray. If your interested in this it is from www.musubikiln.com

I thought this would be the perfect way to serve this very special breakfast.

A further note in this episode:

Kiyo goes grocery shopping at the local market, she buys silken tofu and is delighted to find daikon radish grown in Aomori. The store owner points out that the leaves attached are edible. If your lucky enough to ever find this you can lightly blanch the leaves or stir fry them  or why not try my furikake recipe found in my “Live by the Shun” blog for summer.


Part 2 Caramel Bread Pudding also known as  (Pan Pudding)

パンプディング, pan means bread in Japanese. 

Tsurukoma one of the girls in the Maiko house is upset to find her caramel pudding missing from the fridge. It was just an ordinary caramel pudding from the convenience store, but Maiko are not allowed to enter when their hair is done so she would have to wait all week for another.

It’s early morning and Kiyo is washing rice, Tsurukoma comes down before anyone else is awake requesting bread for breakfast, but there is only one slice. What can be done with it ? As Tsurukoma was so upset over her missing caramel pudding, Kiyo sets out to make her a caramel bread pudding.

The bread pudding is made with shokupan パン Japanese milk bread. Even if it is available for you to purchase it is very rarely vegan as it’s made with milk and butter.

If you follow my shokupan bread recipe you can make your own.

The next problem with  making the bread pudding are the eggs used. So I decided to give the new liquid egg vegan substitute a try called “scrambled oggs”

To make vegan Caramel Bread Pudding:

Preheat your oven to 165 dregrees C

You will need a gratin dish greased on all sides with vegan butter.

You will need one slice of shokupan around 3/4 inch thick cut into six  pieces. Add this to your gratin dish leaving space in between.

In a bowl add  100ml of vegan egg mixture to that add two tablespoons of sugar, 3/4 of a cup of soymilk, 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a pinch of salt. Whisk up the mixture and pour half over the bread and let it soak in then add the rest. I actually sprinkled a little nutmeg on the top of mine but that was just personal taste. Put your gratin dish in the oven and bake until golden brown around 30-40 minutes ( keep and eye on it.)  

During the episode Kiyo receives a parcel from her grandmother it’s a heavy cast iron pan called Tetsuko. Tetsu meaning iron in Japanese. She uses this to make the caramel sauce. I had recently bought some oat syrup by Clearspring when I tried it I thought how much it tasted like caramel so I decided instead of making a caramel sauce to warm up a tablespoon of the oat syrup and swirl that onto of the bread pudding when I removed it from the oven.

This pudding is just as delicious as one made with diary and eggs, it melts in the mouth and feels luxurious and comforting at the same time. Crispy on the outside and soft inside. Like Tsurukoma did in this episode just take a spoon and dive straight in.

More recipes to come in my next The Makanai blog.

If you haven’t already watched it yet

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House is available for streaming on Netflix.