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

2016-06-16

Kaburamushi / steamed fish with grated Japanese turnip

Another super-light steamed fish dish topped with a fluffy white blanket of turnip and aromatic gin-an dashi sauce. This is generally regarded as a cold season dish in Japan, yet erratic weather and different growing seasons here offer good excuses to serve this on chilly days -- it warms you up from inside.



119 calories (1/2 of recipe); 15.4g protein; 1.4g fat; 9.9g carbohydrate; 8.3g net carbs; 177mg sodium; 31mg cholesterol; 1.7g fiber

2016-06-11

Saba no oshizushi / pressed sushi with grilled mackerel

A specialty sushi from the eastern part of Toyama Prefecture. This sushi appeared at gatherings of relatives at the house of my grandmother on my mother's side in Urayama (Unazuki). We would all get together for mid-summer obon to welcome ancestors as well as to attend spring and fall ennichi festivals at the local shrine. In my mind's eye, I can see my grandmother and aunties working in the large, earthen floor kitchen, chattering away and laughing against the sounds of running water, chopping vegetables and steaming pots, with indulgent smells filling the air. There, they used several huge wooden molds to make hundreds of sushi to feed dozens of people during their stay at the house and to take home. My mom, the youngest of her siblings, claims that gently breaking up grilled mackerel was her role in the sushi making, but she is not in my picture ...

I have a clear visual recollection of me holding a piece of sushi with vivid green sansho leaves. After my grandmother's health deteriorated and we began buying this type of sushi from shops, sansho was always missing, and needless to say there were differences in taste and texture. It was still home style, but certainly not what my family was familiar with.

Because of the big operation I used to see at grandmother's kitchen, I had long thought making this sushi would be too much work. But when I finally made a satisfactory one, it was surprisingly easy -- why couldn't I make this before?

As with masuzushi pressed salmon sushi, making this -- especially mackerel prep and pressing after assembly -- takes a bit of time. It tastes better the next day, too, so plan ahead.


Whole recipe: 1,212 calories; 32.9g protein; 28.9g fat; 187.9g carbohydrate; 185.4g net carbs; 443mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice); 69mg cholesterol; 2.5g fiber

1/9 cut: 135 calories; 3.7g protein; 3.2g fat; 20.9g carbohydrate; 20.6g net carbs; 49mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice); 69mg cholesterol; 2.5g fiber

2016-06-09

Fuki to ebi no ohitashi / Japanese butterbur and shrimp marinated in light broth

Colorful coon shrimp (small spot shrimp), a local specialty, paired with fuki Japanese butterbur from our garden. Cooked coon shrimp we bought the other day happened to be inexcusably salty. After wondering if we should just throw them away, I decided to do an experiment, marinating them in lightly seasoned dashi to get rid of excess sodium while flavoring at the same time, a technique that works like magic with smoked salmon. And yes, the rescue effort was a delicious success.



32 calories (1/2 of recipe); 4.8g protein; 0.1g fat; 2.0g carbohydrate; 1.5g net carbs; 145mg sodium; 38mg cholesterol; 0.5g fiber

2016-06-07

Karukan / steamed yam cake

A regional specialty with 300 years of history from Kagoshima in southern Japan. Traditionally made with yamaimo or jinenjo Japanese yam (Dioscorea japonica), regular rice flour, sugar and water, this simple snow-white cake has a nostalgic sweet taste. Karukan has a supple texture like mochi rice cakes but much lighter and spongy like steamed buns, which seems to make your hand automatically reach for one more piece, and another, and ...
The recipe below features more commonly found nagaimo Chinese yam and an egg white for additional fluffy texture. Plain, white cake without topping is the basic style, yet there are a number of flavor and color variations today.


Whole recipe (approx. 360g), without kumquat confiture:
676 calories; 12.2g protein; 1.2g fat; 152.5g carbohydrate; 150.9g net carbs; 70mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.6g fiber

1 piece (approx. 40g; 1/9 of recipe), without kumquat confiture:
75 calories; 1.4g protein; 0.1g fat; 16.9g carbohydrate; 16.8g net carbs; 8mg sodium;0 mg cholesterol; 0.2g fiber

2016-06-05

Asazuke hakusai kimuchi / quick napa cabbage kimchi

Sodium-savvy kimchi that we can eat without hesitation. This is a quick version inspired by non-fermented salad-like baechu geotjeori. Quick, but not exactly so ... the process takes some patience, as you need to let hakusai enjoy the sun (or the chill in the fridge) to intensify its natural sweetness and then spiced it up in red seasoning mix. The seasoning mix does contain sodium from fish sauce, shiokoji salted rice malt and shrimp flakes, but total sodium content is one-third to one-quarter of regular store-bought kimchi.



Kimchi (whole recipe; approx. 320g [260-270g solids])
237 calories; 7.2g protein; 6.7g fat; 33.7g carbohydrate; 27.4g net carbs; 612mg sodium (approx. 340mg with solids only); 1mg cholesterol; 6.3g fiber

Yangnyeom seasoning mix only (whole recipe; approx. 100g)
175 calories; 4.3g protein; 6.4g fat; 19.1g carbohydrate; 17.6g net carbs; 596mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.5g fiber

2016-06-03

Kabocha pumpkin

Right: Akagawa kuri kabocha (Cucurbita maxima Duchesne "Red Kuri")
Left: Kurokawa kuri kabocha (Cucurbita maxima Duchesne)

Most kabocha grown and distributed today in Japan are improved varieties of kuri kabocha [lit. chestnut pumpkin] or seiyo kabocha [lit. Western pumpkin, Cucurbita maxima Duchesne], which were introduced to Japan in the late 19th century. The less commonly distributed nihon kabocha [lit. Japanese pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata Duchesne] arrived in Japan on a Portuguese ship via Cambodia and has deep grooves on its skin, as seen with the representative kiku kabocha [lit. chrysanthemum pumpkin] variety. Cambodia is said to be where the vegetable's Japanese name "kabocha" comes from. As a side note, kiku/nihon kabocha's true origin is Mexico, whereas kuri kabocha's roots are in Peru -- just two more examples of vegetables crisscrossing the globe.

2016-05-28

Kinkan namasu / daikon radish and kumquat pickled in sweetened vinegar

This contrasting combination of sweet, faintly bitter kumquat and spicy daikon radish makes a juicy, refreshing side dish that goes well with any dish of any cuisine! Just one thing to remember: It tastes bland immediately after putting everything together, so prepare it several hours ahead of time or a day in advance.



23 calories (1/3 of recipe); 0.4g protein; 0.1g fat; 7.7g carbohydrate; 3.7g net carbs; 58mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.3g fiber

17 calories (1/4 of recipe); 0.3g protein; 0.1g fat; 5.8g carbohydrate; 2.8g net carbs; 44mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.0g fiber