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Yuzu

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Yuzu koshō 柚子胡椒

Winter solstice Touji ( Toji ) (冬至)
Friday the 22nd is the time of the  shortest day the Winter Solstice known in the Japanese micro season as Touji (Toji) (冬至). If you have been following my Japanese micro seasonal blog posts you will know by now that Japanese people like to mark the changing of the seasons. Japanese people celebrate the solstice as they welcome the return of longer days, they pray for good health and eat auspicious food. You can find more about this and other recipes on previous winter solstice posts.
I always like to make food with yuzu at this time of year . This year my recipe is how to make Easy Yuzu koshō (柚子胡椒) using fresh yuzu.
Yuzu koshō (柚子胡椒, also known as yuzu goshō) is a type of Japanese seasoning. It is a paste made from chilli peppers, yuzu peel and salt.
Originally yuzu koshō was made by families in Kyushu southern Japan. It grew in popularity after being offered as a souvenir in the hot spring town of Yufuin Onsen.
First used in nabemono (hot pot) but now also found as a condiment for tempura, sashimi and yakitori adding to soy sauce for dipping.

It is also delicious mixed with mayonnaise or yogurt for a salad dressing or with miso as a miso dip or marinade.
Making your own from fresh yuzu has a completely different taste from store bought it has a delicious citrus flavour with a hit of chilli and it’s so simple to make why not give it a try.
You will need for each yuzu fruit three green or red chilli depending on which one you want to make and two teaspoons of flaky salt. I recommend using Japanese salt if you can get it. I think three yuzu makes a good quantity of yuzu koshō which will keep in your fridge to use for months.
First half your yuzu and squeeze out the juice. Yuzu doesn’t produce much juice so you can see why fresh juice is so expensive to buy.
Then remove all the seeds (there are a lot of seeds) and slice into to more manageable pieces. Take a spoon and scrap away all the white pith and slice into smaller pieces.
Add this to a blender along with two teaspoons of salt per yuzu fruit. Slice in half and remove the seeds from the chilli chop into smaller pieces and add to the blender. Add the squeezed juice from the yuzu.

Blend until all the yuzu and chilli are made into a paste.
Spoon into a sterilised jar adding a piece of parchment paper to the top before closing the lid.
Keep in the fridge. A little goes a long way. Add just 1/2 a  teaspoon to broth for a nabemono or spice up an udon or ramen.
Why not even add it to your soba at the end of the year. If you don’t know about the tradition of eating soba noodles on New Years Eve known as “Toshikoshi Soba” why not read more on my blog post on how to celebrate the new year the Japanese way in my New Year posts.
Happy Winter Solstice.
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Matcha & Yuzu Boule De Neige

Boule De Neige

Matcha & Yuzu snow ball cookies

 抹茶と柚子の

雪の玉クッキー

As the end of the year approaches and the evenings grow dark earlier, we prepare for the winter solstice known as tōji (冬至 ) in Japan .
I decided to give this French crumbly confectionery a make over after being inspired by the ones I saw in Muji Japan. Made with almonds and rolled in powdered sugar boule de neige means “snow ball”.
My very simple vegan recipe has a Japanese winter seasonal twist by using matcha tea powder and yuzu candied fruit peel coated in sugar (a wagashi from K. Minamoto .)
These small snow ball cookies make the perfect little tea time treat. Crispy crumbly cookie with a hint of matcha and almonds and subtle yuzu flavour. They also make a perfect home made gift.
I wanted to use Yuzu in this cookie for the winter solstice as Yuzu is often a symbol of this time. Please check out my previous posts on the winter solstice with more yuzu recipes .
To make Matcha & Yuzu Boule De Neige you will need:
90 grams of plain flour
40 grams of ground almonds
25 grams of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of sifted matcha powder
6 tablespoons of melted odourless oil I used Tiana coconut butter
10 grams each of finely chopped blanched almonds and candied yuzu peel
Powdered sugar (icing sugar ) for decorating
Place all dry ingredients in a bowl except the icing sugar for decorating. Mix and then start to add the oil a little at a time mixing as you go. Finish by forming the mixture with your hands into a dough.
Either roll out flat or into a log so you can cut relatively equal pieces and roll each into a ball.
Place each ball on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper .
Bake for 15 mins in a preheated moderate oven.
Allow to cool completely then roll each ball in the powdered sugar.
Enjoy with your favourite tea or coffee.
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.

 

Blog, Winter Food

Year of the Tiger Tora 虎 2022


明けましておめでとうございます!

Happy New Year to you all ! This year is the year of the Tiger. 

Years of the Tiger include 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938.….

The zodiac sign Tiger is a symbol of strength, exorcising evils, and braveness.

People born in a year of the Tiger are brave, competitive, and confident. They are very charming and well-liked.

Tigers usually enjoy good health. Colds coughs, and fever, are rarely experienced by Tigers. Let’s hope that’s a good omen for 2022

The Tiger ranks third among the animals of the 12 zodiac animals

in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle.

Tigers in temples

I have talked about Kurama-dera (鞍馬寺), before In a previous post “Yama no Hi “.

On visiting the main hall you see some very unusual guardians . Tigers protecting the main temple .

Why unusual? Usually, two koma-inu, or sacred dogs, protect the entrance of temples. However Tigers are considered to be messengers of the Buddhist divinity Bishamonten, one of the Four Heavenly Kings and the protector of northern Kyoto. According to legend, Bishamonten came to Kurama with a tiger in the Hour of the Tiger, on the Day of the Tiger, within the Month of the Tiger according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Called “the tigers of A-Un”, the concept of A-Un is one that encapsulates all of life from its beginning to its end. 

The two tigers sit facing each other, one with an open mouth representing the beginning and the other with a closed mouth representing the end. These two tigers are a metaphor of the universe.

New year Osechi-ryōri (御節料理, お節料理 or おせち) are traditional Japanese New Year foods.

I make Osechi Ryori 御節料理 or お節料理 every year for New Year’s Day ( Ganjitsu 元日). Even though I am not in Japan I feel making it can bring Japan closer to me with  with my food. And hopefully closer for you also.

New year is a very important time and food has a lot of special meaning. I have done a few posts on new year foods over the years on my website why not check them out.

Osechi Ryori are traditional foods normally packed in a tiered bento box known as ojubuko 重箱 enjoyed at New Year’s Day in Japan.

These boxes can contain small appetizers to go with drinks,  grilled and vinegared dishes, and simmered dishes. All dishes are eaten  at room temperature,  like a bento box. If the dish contains countable food like Inari for instance then serve in auspicious numbers 3, 5, 7, or 9 pieces. To make your box look pleasing to the eye Coordinate your colours. I also like to use small bowls and dishes These small bowls are called Kobachi 小鉢 and it’s nice to use ones with bright colours and pretty patterns. Try looking at Musubikiln which have a lovely selection of such bowls to purchase on their website.

I have made a vegan selection of traditional dishes.

Nishime 煮しめ (圧力鍋)

one-pot colorful stew of root vegetables, shiitake and koyadofu, simmered in dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce, sake, and mirin. These simmered dishes are called nimono (煮物).

Carrot – Welcome spring by shaping carrot into plum or cherry blossom shapes.

Lotus root – The holes of lotus root presents a clear and unobstructed future

Taro – Taro symbolizes fertility or descendants’ cut into hexagon that resembles a turtle shape represents longevity

Sekihan (Red Bean glutinous Rice) 赤飯 traditional rice dish served on happy occasions which I stuffed some into inari いなり寿司. The other  Inari was  komatsuna Yuzu citrus vinegared rice.

Namasu (なます) or also known as Kohaku Namasu (red and white)(紅白なます) Red and white are considered celebratory colours in Japan. Julienned daikon and carrot pickled in a sweet vinegar with a hint of citrus.

Kuromame (Sweet Black Soybeans) 黒豆 served on New Year’s Day as a part of Osechi Ryori (traditional New Year’s meal). Eating kuromame is considered good for your health for the new year.

This year I was lucky to be given by a friend in Japan some very special  Hanamame which are from Gunma .

Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん Lotus root has been considered an auspicious food for the Japanese New Year because lotus root with its many holes is a symbol of an unobstructed view of the future.

Kuri Kinton (Candied Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes) 栗きんとんchestnut gold mash. This dish symbolises fortune and wealth for a prosperous year ahead. Japanese sweet potatoes with chestnuts in syrup called kuri kanroni (栗甘露煮.)

aburaage rolls with daikon and carrot 油揚げロールズ tied with kanpyo. Black sesame Gomadofu, Ginnan, simmered Kabocha and Yuzu tofu mousse served in a Yuzu fruit.

ピーチビーガンゼリー Peach vegan jelly


Start  the New Year’s Day with a traditional Japanese breakfast.

This breakfast soup, said to be the most auspicious new year food is part of Osechi Ryori. (Good luck food) Depending on the region in Japan the broth can either be clear or with miso .

Ozoni お雑煮 Enjoyed on the morning of New Year’s Day in Japan.

(Japanese New Year Mochi Soup – Kansai Style) This style of soup from Kyoto region is made with Saikyo Miso (white miso from kyoto) and a round toasted Mochi. It is even more auspicious to add 5 ingredients I added daikon,carrot, komatsuna and Silken tofu with the mochi as the 5th ingredient.


関東風书雜煮 Kanto style Ozoni

(more popular in Tokyo and eastern Japan ). This is a clear kombu dashi, with mirin and tamari known as Osumashi.

I like to add a dried shiitake when soaking the kombu to add to the umami. The flavours are very delicate which is typical of Shojin Ryori . Ozoni means mixed boil which relates to the mixed ingredients you can use. This soup was believed to bring good luck to samurai warriors and was served on New Year’s Day. Mochi is served to represent long life because it stretches. This time it is traditional to use a rectangular or square mochi for Kansai style.

As we head into a new year I wish all of you a healthy and happy one. And for those of you who are missing Japan because you cannot travel let’s make Japanese food together to help us feel closer to the place we love and miss so much.

Blog, Winter Food

Touji ( Toji ) (冬至) Two recipes to celebrate the winter solstice


This is the time of the  shortest day the Winter Solstice, known in the Japanese micro season as Touji ( Toji ) (
冬至).

Japanese people celebrate the solstice as they welcome the return of longer days, they pray for good health and eat auspicious food. You can read more on my winter solstice micro seasonal post or Toji how to celebrate the winter Solstice.

Yuzu is a winter citrus fruit having a rich source of vitamin C which is good for the immunity. It is known for its cleansing properties and its fragrance lowers tension and helps fatigue. This is why it is also popular to visit an onsen and bathe with Yuzu fruit called Yuzuyu. The essential oils from the fruit help soothe the skin and mind.
In Japan it is also said that the strong smell of Yuzu will drive away evil spirits. Yuzu is used in everything from  skin care products to delicious broths for a hot pot. It also makes wonderful  desserts so this year I decided I wanted to make a seasonal Yuzu wagashi (Japanese sweet).

To make these you will need to add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric with 3 teaspoons of vegan honey or maple syrup give it a mix. 

1 cup of almond meal (flour) (ground almonds) what ever you like to call them

Add the almond flour to a food processor to that add 2 tablespoons of icing sugar and give it a mix. Then add your sweetener and 1 tablespoon of Yuzu juice, which you can buy in bottles. Give this a mix in your food processor it will look a bit like bread crumbs but when pressed will stick together to form a dough.

Press your dough together into a ball then roll into a log to cut five equal pieces. Set aside


To make your filling you will need red bean paste called anko either smooth (koshian) or chunky (Tusbuan) it doesn’t matter which. You will need a ball sized piece  just a bit smaller than your almond dough was. Take around two tablespoons of mixed nuts and fruit (cashews,almonds,walnuts,Brazil’s, pistachio raisins and cranberries) that kind of thing and roughly chop. Mix these in to your anko with 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, the oil adds a lovely rich flavour so try not to miss it out.

Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten it out. Then take a smaller piece of anko roll that into a ball and place in the centre of your dough. Fold the dough around the anko and smooth back into a ball. Do the same with the other dough pieces.


When your done prick the dough with a tooth pick to make it look more like Yuzu skin. Add a leaf to decorate and your done. This special wagashi can be enjoyed on the winter solstice or Christmas with a Japanese green tea.

Yuzu fruit is not common in the U.K. but I was lucky enough to get some from the wasabi company. I decided I wanted to use one to make Yuzu infused vegan honey ( just add sliced skin to vegan honey which you can then add to hot drinks as an immunity booster or help soothe a sore throat ).


The other I used to make Yuzu kosho. Tubes of this condiment can be found in most Japanese kitchens. The green variety is made from the unripe Yuzu fruits, green chilli peppers and salt. The red with ripe Yuzu red chilli peppers and salt. Served primarily instead of wasabi with soba noodles, tofu or as a seasoning it can be added to soy sauce for a dip for sushi.

As I only had one Yuzu this only makes a small amount of paste

1 fresh Yuzu seeds and white pith removed and put aside then cut the skin into pieces.

3 red chilli peppers seeds removed and cut into pieces.

1-2 teaspoons of salt ( I used a very special salt from Okinawa )

Add these to a suribachi Japanese mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one you can use a food processor which is obviously quicker and less effort but I wanted to do it a more traditional way.


Squeeze the juice through your hands from the Yuzu fruit you cut out. You really don’t get much.

Then just grind it all down to make a paste. It takes a while but the salt helps to break it down.

Add to a jar. Use a little of this hot fragrant paste in maybe a bowl of rice or add it to ramen or make a flavoursome miso broth, like I did here. Just simple cabbage tofu rolls in hot sweet white miso with a half a teaspoon of Yuzu kosho.


This delicious condiment can make grilled veggies taste amazing or make a citrus dressing to pour over tofu.


However you celebrate the winter solstice I feel the sunny yellow colour of the Yuzu reminds us that springs warmth will return once again.

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.


 

 

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

Simple Meals Inspired By Shinya Shokudo

“When people finish their day and hurry home, my day starts. My diner is open from midnight to seven in the morning. They call it “Midnight Diner”.Tonjiru is all I have on my menu. But I make whatever customers request as long as I have the ingredients for it. That’s my policy. Do I even have customers? More than you would expect.”

If you follow my Instagram you will know I’m a real big fan of Midnight Diner & Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories. Last year I did some recipes inspired by the Netflix series. Although numbered series 1+2 in fact these are the last in the series as they started back in 2009 with MBS called just Midnight Diner. There are three seasons in this plus two films before Netflix took them over. If you don’t know Midnight Diner or “Shinya Shokudo” is a tv series about ordinary people who eat at a diner based around the Golden Gai district in Shinjuku.


The small restaurant opens from 12 midnight until 7am. The only thing on the menu is tonjiru but customers may ask the chef known as “master” for what they want and as long as he has the ingredients he will make it for them. It shows the relationship of the characters with the food they order. The dishes are normally simple Japanese home cooked style meals which may envoke a memory for the customer. This  is a lovely heart warming series and if you love Japan as much as I do it doesn’t matter that most of the food cooked isn’t vegan. This is why I decided to take the first three seasons and choose some of the simple meals you can make plant based.

Season 1 Episode 3 Ochazuke

Three women Miki, Rumi and Kana often frequent the diner and always order Ochazuke with different toppings.
Ochazuke is one of the most simple traditional Japanese meals often eaten to settle your stomach or a quick snack with left over rice.
A one-bowl meal  of steamed rice with green tea poured over (sometimes dashi broth) and an assortment of toppings. Ocha refers to green tea, and zuke means “submerged”. You can use various kinds of green tea such as Genmaicha, Sencha or  Hojicha. Spoon some fresh warm rice into a bowl and add your toppings. I added chopped red shiso leaves, umeboshi plum shredded nori (kizami), a sprinkle of daikon furikake and toasted brown rice. Finishing off with a garnish of a few mizuna leaves . Brew your tea and pour over the rice. Eat straight away so the rice doesn’t go soggy.

Season 1 Episode 4 Potato Salad

I do already have a potato salad recipe on my recipe pages in fact it was probably one of my very first. The Japanese version is a little different to the normal potato salad you might be used to. It’s a kind of mashed potato salad rather than potato chunks. Creamy Japanese mayonnaise is used plus vegetables like carrot and cucumber. In the midnight diner episode “Master” recommends you boil the potato with skin on and peel when they are done this apparently keeps in the flavour. He then mashes the potato with a fork adds slices of cucumber julienned carrot and diced ham (you can use vegan ham if you like). Mix the carrot and cucumber in while the potato is still warm this will help to soften them. Add kewpie mayonnaise ( there is a vegan version it just depends if you can get it where you are) or you could either make my recipe for kewpie which is on the other potato salad recipe or just use vegan mayonnaise.

Season 1 Episode 5 Butter Rice ( An arrogant food critic comes to the midnight diner to find something as simple as butter rice to win his heart and resurrect memories )

I must admit I had never tried this and if you haven’t either I seriously urge you to do so. Use good quality Japanese rice when it’s freshly cooked spoon it into a bowl and top with vegan butter. I use the one by Naturli. When the butter has melted a little adds dash of soy sauce or tamari and that’s it. Simple but so so delicious!

Season 2 Episode 5 Tuna Mayo Rice Bowl or Tuna Salad

This is another donburi (rice bowl) meal. In some of my previous recipes like crab cakes and sushi salad I have used jackfruit. It doesn’t taste of fish but gives you that shredded crabmeat tinned tuna type texture. For this tuna salad I did the same. Just simmer a tin of drained jackfruit in water for about 20 minutes then drain and pull the pieces apart and place in a bowl. Add to this mayonnaise a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1/2 a finely diced white onion and a teaspoon of sweet white miso. Mix all together and top on to freshly made rice. I also added a little sliced pickled myoga ginger on top for colour and extra flavour. You could add some diced green onion if you like. This works just as well as a sandwich filling or on a warm jack potato.

Season 2 Episode 7 Hakusaizuke (pickled napa cabbage) or Asazuke

I always make sure I have some kind of tsukemono (Japanese pickles) with my meals . This one is so easy using just salt and no vinegar. I thought it would taste salty but it didn’t it was super sweet. Slice a napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage ) in half length ways and then do the same again so you get four slices. Wash and leave to dry. Add your slices to a bowl and add salt. Rub the salt into the cabbage. You can also add some shredded kombu kelp slices of red chilli pepper and some lemon zest if you fancy. Place a plate over the bowl so it sits just inside, then pile on more plates for a weight or what ever you want to use. Leave in a cool dark place. Then next day give them a massage and cover again. After three days they should be ready. Slice and serve. The rest will keep a few days in a container in the fridge.

Season 3 Episode 5 Harusame Salad

Harusame are dried Hokkaido potato starch noodles which were originally made from mung beans.

Harusame kanji characters are 春spring and 雨 rain. I thought being the rainy season at the moment in japan it was a nice one to make . This simple recipe has a few ingredients julienned cucumbers and carrots (which are first salted left for ten minutes after rubbing in the salt then rinsed ) wakame seaweed that’s been soaked in warm water then sliced and vegan ham with a awase-zu dressing. In midnight diner master adds shredded omelette so for colour I just added some sliced yellow bell pepper. It’s a perfect salad for summer. The noodles take only a few minutes to cook (see packets or cooking instructions) drain and rinse in cold water to remove the starch. Add to a bowl with your other ingredients then pour over your Awase-zu Kyoto style dressing 3 tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of mirin, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of Yuzu juice if you like. I like to add the Yuzu it gives the dressing a lovely citrus flavour that’s great for a summer salad.  You can also use this as a vinaigrette if you just add some olive oil instead of sesame oil with salt and pepper.


I hope this will inspire you to make some of these simple home cooked style meals for yourself, you may also like my post on Natsukashii & Ofukuro no aji ( a taste of home ). If you haven’t already watched Midnight Diner & Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories I can definitely recommend it.

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.

 

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

Almond Tofu in Yuzu Batter

I have been making almond tofu for quite a while now since I first came across a similar recipe in “ the enlightened kitchen “ cookbook by Mari Fujii. I have seen this recipe many times in other cookbooks and I wondered what slight adjustment I could make to make this more my own. This fried tofu dish is crispy on the outside and soft inside. The almonds and with the introduction of Yuzu juice in the batter (which I have decided is what’s going to make this more my signature) gives the dish a lovely aroma.

You will need one block of drained firm tofu, white plain flour, yuzu juice, flaked almonds, oil for frying, salt and salt for serving.

I first saw this tip of getting excess liquid off tofu on “Dining with the Chef “ on NHK. Simply wrap your tofu in some paper towel and place on a plate and microwave for 2 mins. I use this method now every time.

Cut your tofu into large pieces depending on how big you want them you can cut the tofu into four or six.

Prepare a batter mixture with two heaped tablespoons of plain flour and a pinch of salt add to this one tablespoon of Yuzu juice. Then keep adding a small amount of water until you get a nice batter consistency.

Heat up some oil you can use sesame or your favourite oil for cooking, I often use coconut butter as it has no aroma. Do not use oil that has an over powering smell, and do not fry to many pieces at once. I normally do no more than two. Dip each piece of tofu in the batter and roll in some flakes of almonds and add to hot oil straight away. Turn the tofu on all sides until golden. Remove and place on some kitchen towel to soak up extra oil while you do the remaining pieces.

I recommend serving this dish simply with salt and maybe a wedge of lemon or lime. If you have Yuzu salt or matcha salt this is lovely.

You can serve it in the summer with salad or with vegetables. It can even be a nice snack to serve alongside a cup of sake.

Blog, Winter Food

Pickled Lotus Root (Su Renkon) 酢れんこん With Yuzu

A few days to go before new year in Japan it’s time to start preparing what food to make for Osechi. The new year Osechi Ryori is considered the most important meal of the year, and lots of time and care is taken to prepare it. It starts a few days before with deciding what will be made and collecting any ingredients needed.
Here is a shopping list of things you might need to buy.

kombu and dried shiitake for making dashi stock

mirin and tamari to add flavour to broths and marinades

Brown rice vinegar for making tsukemono (pickles)

konnyaku for adding to simmered vegetables

soba noodles for New Year’s Eve plus aburaage

Mochi rice cakes for ozoni New Year’s Day soup along with white miso paste.

Kuri Kanroni ( sweet candied chestnuts for making Kuri Kinton

Kuro-mame black soybeans

Vegetables lotus root, carrot, daikon radish, mongetout, taro potato, Kabocha, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, Japanese sweet potato,gobo,green onion, komatsuna or mizuna.

Yuzu and Yuzu juice

Sake and amazake

I like to start by making any tsukemono Japanese pickles so they can stay in the fridge a few days to be ready on the day. This year I am making Su-Renkon. Lotus root (renkon) is an imported food over the new year, the holes symbolises an unobstructed view to the future.

You can use fresh or boiled vacuum sealed lotus root depending on what you can find.

It is popular to make Hana-renkon flower cut lotus root for decoration. Which is easy to do. Cut your piece of lotus root in half and cut down in between the holes and take out the slices like this.

When you have done this you can cut the lotus root into slices.

Use a cup of water and a piece of kombu and let it soak with the lotus root for 30 minutes in a pan.


In another pan add two tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon of mirin, a few slices of Yuzu rind and half a cup of brown rice vinegar and a little salt. Heat up the vinegar until the sugar dissolves then pour it into the pan with the kombu and renkon.
Start to heat the pan and then just as it starts to boil take out the kombu, then simmer down for about 15 minutes.

Pour your lotus root and liquid into a container, add a few slices of sliced red chilli pepper and a drizzle of fresh Yuzu juice over the lotus root. Let it cool then seal and refrigerate. Serve as part of your Osechi on New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog, Winter Food

Kabu & Yuzu Tsukemono

I managed to get some Japanese turnips ( Kabu ) they are delicious raw in salads and cooked in soups.


I especially like to make pickles with them and around the winter solstice they are  nice with Yuzu. Pickles are a must to serve with any Japanese style meal and these ones are ready basically the next day though the longer you leave them the softer they get. These pickles remind me of the kind you can get in the pickle shops in Kyoto

I hope you will enjoy making these easy pickles at home.

You will need a zip lock type bag.

Around three Kabu washed and with the tops and bottoms sliced off. If you have leaves still on your Kabu keep those wash them and chop them to pickle also ( I didn’t have leaves with mine so I chopped up a few komatsuna leaves to add)

Half a chopped red chilli pepper

A tablespoon of sliced fresh Yuzu rind

Two tablespoons of fresh Yuzu juice

A tablespoon each of mirin and brown rice vinegar

Two teaspoons of salt ( I used freshly ground Himalayan pink salt )

One tablespoon of finely sliced kombu kelp that has been soaked in water which will make it easier to cut. I had been given a bag of sliced kombu and I used that.

Slice you Kabu into rounds and add everything into your ziplock bag. Then massage the Kabu so everything coats the Kabu well, close the bag and place in your fridge.


Every few hours I massaged the Kabu just on the outside of the bag. The next day it will be ready to eat but it’s even better after a few more days.

Blog

Toji 冬至 ( How to celebrate the winter solstice )

If you have been following my Japanese micro seasonal blog posts you will know by now that Japanese people like to mark the changing of the seasons. The winter solstice or Toji as it’s known in Japan is another one of those celebrations. I love the winter solstice in the fact that we know after the darkest day of the year the light and warmth will start to return.
People in Japan love to visit onsen and it is a winter solstice custom to either visit an onsen or take a hot bath with Yuzu citrus fruit on this day.


This bath is called Yuzu-yu, Yuzu grow on small thorny trees and have the taste between a grapefruit and mandarin, the smell of the fruit relaxes the mind and relieves stress. It is also said to ward of cold and viruses and as the Yuzu signifies good luck it is said to protect you from evil spirits. The juice also has a softening effect on the skin.
Yuzu juice is also really tasty and I like to slice the rind and freeze it to drop in a dashi broth or use in refreshing drinks in the summer. I often buy the juice in bottles already done to use in desserts. You can find many recipes on my pages that include Yuzu.
Why not try recreating an onsen at home for a real act of Japanese self care.

There are foods in Japan that are said to be auspicious Kabocha and red azuki beans are some of the Japanese good luck foods. Why not have a winter zenzai breakfast on the day of the solstice. A sweet azuki bean soup with simmered pieces of Kabocha and a toasted Mochi.


There is also something in Japan called “unmori” this is something that has an auspicious nasel sound of “n” which means fortune so it’s considered lucky to eat udon, daikon, ninjin (carrot) and renkon (lotus root). I made a lucky miso hot pot with these seasonal vegetables. Eating seasonal foods nourishes the body and gives us the vitamins we need.

I hope you can celebrate the solstice and welcome back the light returning.