All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Fuki no gomani / Japanese butterbur in sesame-flavored broth

Fuki's mild bitterness is softened by tahini sesame paste, making the juicy stalks a delightful companion for your meal and drinks. Delicious hot or at room temperature. Adjust the amount of tahini to make the dish lighter or richer.

59 calories (1/2 of recipe); 2.2g protein; 2.4g fat; 5.9g carbohydrate; 112mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 280-320mg with regular soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 1.1g fiber


Ebi-iri tanuki donburi / shrimp and tempura pearls over steamed rice

At our house, we call this "fake tendon." Tempura pearls perform the wonderful trick of transforming this sober combination into a rich, filling dish. Add the pearls right before the egg to enjoy some crunch in the final dish as below, or add them at the same time as shrimp for mellower results.

1/2 of recipe above when served with 150g steamed rice:
379 calories; 15.1g protein; 4.6g fat; 65g carbohydrate; 301mg sodium (with homemade tempura pearls and 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 497mg with regular soy sauce); 157mg cholesterol; 1.4g fiber


Ninjin to enoki no pirikara itameni / braised spicy carrot and enoki mushrooms

This kinpira-style spicy side dish with the clear taste of soy sauce and a sweet underlying note is an everyday favorite. Cooked enoki become a bit creamy, providing a nice contrast to the texture of carrot spears. Quick and easy, this is a great small addition at your table or in the lunch box.

52 calories (1/2 of recipe); 1.3g protein; 1.2g fat; 8.7g carbohydrate; 98mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 177mg with regular soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 2.4g fiber


Tenkasu / agetama / tempura pearls

Little balls of tempura batter are an essential ingredient for many people when making wheat-based snacks such as okonomiyaki savory pancakes, takoyaki octopus balls and monjayaki half-cooked savory pancakes. They are also added to make other dishes rich and flavorful, in a similar way as cheese or butter is added in western cooking. While tempura "pearls" are inexpensive and widely available at grocery stores in Japan, it takes some effort to find them at a store outside Japan. But yes, they are easy to make. Using leftover batter after making tempura is one way. Below is a recipe to make tenkasu or agetama only. It makes enough to freeze for use over several months.

1 tbsp (4-5g): 12 calories; 0.2g protein; 0.4g fat; 1.8g carbohydrate; 2mg sodium (with shrimp flakes;5-7mg with sakura ebi); 0mg cholesterol; 0.1g fiber


Ebi fureeku / shrimp flakes

I much prefer head-on shrimp over headless shrimp for taste and texture. They take a bit more time to devein and whatnot, but then you have shells and heads that make superb stock for any cuisine. They also add a stronger shrimp aroma and flavor when sauteed before the main ingredients. And when you end up having too many shells and heads, you can turn them into shrimp flakes, which are a great substitute for sakura ebi and other dried shrimp in a number of dishes.


Karifurawaa to asupara no kuzuni / cauliflower and asparagus in thickened broth

A gentle side dish for spring. Both vegetables are subtly sweet and cooked to be soft, yet the cauliflower crumbles in your mouth while the asparagus remains intact and juicy. Perhaps this dish is not so exciting, but it is well appreciated as a "bridge" between other dishes. One of my favorites.

53 calories (1/2 of recipe); 3.5g protein; 0.3g fat; 9.2g carbohydrate; 146mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 242mg with regular soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 2.8g fiber