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


Masuzushi / pressed salmon sushi wrapped with bamboo leaves

A specialty of Toyama, my hometown prefecture, this pressed sushi with masu salmon is wrapped in bamboo leaves and comes in a magewappa round wooden container. It has also been a favorite ekiben (lit. train station bento) of Toyama since 1912, and is a popular souvenir with tourists and business travelers. Masuzushi is traditionally made with sakura masu (Oncorhynchus masou) that come back to the main river running through the prefecture to the Sea of Japan, and more than a dozen long-established masuzushi specialty shops are found near the river off the city center even today. Each shop's masuzushi has slightly different characteristics, and many locals have their favorite shop. Salmon is first treated with salt and then sugar and vinegar, and finally assembled with sushi rice and bamboo leaves. Yet the sushi is not ready for consumption at this point, as it must be pressed for hours to achieve the delicate blend of taste, aroma and texture.

The recipe below is my most successful attempt so far to recreate the masuzushi from a shop I like in Toyama. I use a stainless flour sifter and pie mold bottom as a magewappa substitute, and dried bamboo leaves for chimaki zongzi as a substitute for fresh bamboo leaves.

Whole recipe: 1,139 calories; 58.5g protein; 10.4g fat; 187.0g carbohydrate; 354mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice for sushi rice; 674mg with kosher salt for sushi rice); 99mg cholesterol; 1.5g fiber

1/4 of recipe: 285 calories; 14.6g protein; 2.6g fat; 46.7g carbohydrate; 88mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice for sushi rice; 169mg with kosher salt for sushi rice); 25mg cholesterol; 0.4g fiber


Daikon no shiso-amazu-ae / daikon radish with sweetened perilla-infused vinegar

Very light and pleasant. This dish takes full advantage of the pretty color and refreshing taste and aroma of perilla-infused vinegar, making it a nice refresher between strong-flavored food. Allow enough time to draw out excess water from daikon slices and again for the slices to sufficiently take on the taste of dressing after mixing.

1/2 of recipe: 24 calories; 0.6g protein; 0.1g fat; 5.4g carbohydrate; 59mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.5g fiber
1/3 of recipe: 16 calories; 0.4g protein; 0.1g fat; 3.6g carbohydrate; 29mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.0g fiber


Fubaagu no shisomaki / small gluten cake burgers wrapped with perilla leaves

Tasty small burgers made with fu gluten cakes, an important source of protein in temple vegan dishes for more than a century! Gobo burdock root and eringi king oyster mushroom add a nice depth to the taste and some crunchiness to the texture, helping to create a mild and light yet quite substantial dish. Make extra or save some for bento lunch the next day. 

181 calories (1/2 of recipe); 11.6g protein; 5.9g fat; 19.6g carbohydrate; 204mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 321mg with regular soy sauce); 107mg cholesterol; 3.1g fiber

121 calories (1/3 of recipe); 7.3g protein; 3.9g fat; 15.7g carbohydrate; 136mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 214mg with regular soy sauce); 71mg cholesterol; 2.1g fiber


Hakusai no biitsu-amazu-zuke / napa cabbage marinated in beet sweetened vinegar

Ruby red pickles! Since the sweetened vinegar in which beet slices are marinated is too pretty to throw away after beets are gone ... the thick white section of hakusai napa cabbage is quickly microwaved and marinated in the red vinegar. How simple could it be to add another little color to your table!


Kuzukiri to daikon, kani no sarada / kudzu arrowroot starch noodle, daikon radish and crabmeat salad, with citrus-flavored soy sauce dressing

Cold, clear kudzu noodles have a pleasant slippery and chewy texture. The soft spiciness of fresh julienned daikon radish adds a refreshing punch, while local Dungeness crab works as an accent in the dish. Versatile citrus-flavored soy sauce dressing ties everything together.

100 calories (1/2 of recipe); 5.6g protein; 1.2g fat; 15.8g carbohydrate; 198mg sodium (with ponzujoyu made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 20mg cholesterol; 0.5g fiber


Ebi to okura, myoga no kakiage / mixed tempura with shrimp, okra and myoga ginger buds

A summery marriage of salty sweet shrimp, green okra and refreshing myoga ginger buds! Squeeze lemon over for a light, zesty finish. As deep-frying softens the sharp tang of myoga, this can be a good introductory dish for those who have hesitated to try the spicy little vegetable.

170 calories (1/2 of recipe); 8.2g protein; 10.5g fat; 9.3g carbohydrate; 59mg sodium; 62mg cholesterol; 1.5g fiber


Soramame-dofu / fava bean tofu

A smooth and creamy pudding-like side dish featuring fava beans. This is a seasonal variation of gomadofu, a popular item included in temple meals or set courses at restaurants. While solid molds are more common, using plastic film wrap results in a casual look at the end. The wasabi topping instantly makes this a great companion for a drink, too.

77 calories (1/3 of recipe); 4.4g protein; 1.8g fat; 11.2g carbohydrate; 67mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 119mg with regular soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 1.1g fiber