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


Dinner, November 28, 2018

When I happened to come across information on an exhibition of lacquerware made in Joboji, Iwate Prefecture, it was clear that dinner that day would feature their bowls. Joboji urushi ware was one of the first lacquer tableware I bought for myself back in Tokyo more than 20 years ago.

  • Gohan / steamed rice
  • Gobo to shimeji, menuke no misoshiru / miso soup with burdock root, shimeji mushrooms and grilled rockfish
  • Koyadofu no ageyaki to ebi no horenso-an-kake / fried freeze-dried tofu and shrimp with light dashi sauce with spinach
  • Hijiki no itameni / braised hijiki seaweed
  • Tomato no amazu oroshi-ae / tomato with grated daikon radish and sweetened vinegar


Dinner, November 11, 2018

Last month, I took the opportunity of an unexpected opening in my work schedule to visit my parents. My parents are in their late 70s and early 80s and have some health issues, and I wanted to see how they are managing their everyday routines. Recently, conversations over the phone often have some blank spots or do not really make sense, requiring some effort and imagination to figure out the real story. Seeing them in person was the fastest way to understand the situation.


Kurumafu no katsudon / gluten cake cutlet rice bowl

While normal katsudon features pork cutlets as the main ingredient, this features cutlets made with gluten cakes. As gluten cake cutlets soak up the broth, they become very juicy and take on the texture of fatty meat, but without the actual fat of pork. This dish is filling even when served with a smaller portion of steamed rice, yet it does not overwhelm your stomach and leaves plenty of room to comfortably enjoy other dishes.

It is quick to prepare, if all ingredients are ready, so have other accompanying dishes or soup almost ready before starting to make katsudon, to ensure the optimal serving temperature.

1/2 of recipe (without steamed rice):
302 calories; 13.7 g protein; 17.0 g fat; 20.6 g carbohydrate; 15.1 g net carbs; 450 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 211 mg cholesterol; 5.5 g fiber; 413 mg potassium

1/2 of recipe (served with 110 g steamed rice [made with 1/3 180-cc cup dry rice]):
386 calories; 15.0 g protein; 17.1 g fat; 39.1 g carbohydrate; 33.4 g net carbs; 450 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 211 mg cholesterol; 5.7 g fiber; 428 mg potassium

1/2 of recipe (served with 170 g steamed rice [made with 1/2 180-cc cup dry rice]):
428 calories; 15.5 g protein; 17.2 g fat; 48.1 g carbohydrate; 42.4 g net carbs; 450 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 211 mg cholesterol; 5.7 g fiber; 435 mg potassium


Shishito to eringi, myoga no miso-itame / stir-fried shishito peppers, king oyster mushroom and Japanese ginger buds with miso sauce

Crispy shishito and myoga stand out in this small side dish, which offers the punch of red miso against the soft and chewy texture of eringi mushroom. To ensure crispiness of shishito and myoga, cook eringi on relatively high heat to prevent it from letting out moisture and making everything soggy.

1/2 of recipe:
36 calories; 2.0 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 5.7 g carbohydrate; 3.1 g net carbs; 81 mg sodium (with shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fiber; 252 mg potassium


Kuzushi-dofu no yakumi sarada / tofu salad with condiments

An easy tofu salad featuring the standard toppings for hiyayakko chilled tofu. This is a very quick dish, except for the time to let out the excess moisture from tofu. If you cannot wait, place large chunks of tofu between your palms and gently press.

I used to make this with tonburi, the boiled seeds of hokigi [Bassia scoparia or Kochia scoparia], in Japan. Since it is not available where we live, I use chia seeds below, but they are optional.

1/2 of recipe:
72 calories; 4.9 g protein; 4.2 g fat; 3.6 g carbohydrate; 2.1 g net carbs; 91 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber; 171 mg potassium


Kurumafu no katsu / gluten cake cutlets

Tasty, filling yet light cutlets made with gluten cakes. Compared to more commonly known tonkatsu pork cutlets, this dish is much lower in calories and gentler on your stomach. Gluten cakes are first flavored with dashi stock, shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt and vinegar to get a meaty taste, followed by usual preparation of cutlets, but in a leaner way (below). No shoyukoji available? Balsamic vinegar does a great job in that case.

1/2 of recipe (katsu only; sauce & vegetables not included):
222 calories; 7.9 g protein; 13.0 g fat; 17.3 g carbohydrate; 11.8 g net carbs; 67 mg sodium (with shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 53 mg cholesterol; 5.5 g fiber; 288 mg potassium

1/2 of recipe (katsu & sauce; vegetables not included):
228 calories; 7.9 g protein; 13.1 g fat; 18.7 g carbohydrate; 13.2 g net carbs; 163 mg sodium (with shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 53 mg cholesterol; 5.5 g fiber; 298 mg potassium


Dokudami / fish mint / fishwort

Houttuynia cordata
In the US, a tricolor variegated form called chameleon plant is commonly available for ornamental use (often marketed as a ground cover). When we say dokudami, it usually refers to the original form with green leaves, which are sometimes edged with dark red.

The Japanese name dokudami comes from an old expression that means to control/suppress poison, reflecting the plant's long history of remedy use despite the fact it is largely regarded as a weed that grows in shady sites with moist soil. As its alias juuyaku [lit. ten medicines] suggests, the plant is regarded as a useful home remedy for many purposes, including detoxification and cleansing wounds of infection as well as treating acne, eczema, burns, insect bites, bee stings, and so on. While the entire plant is considered effective, leaves, stems and flowers are often dried to make a tea or more concentrated decoction for routine consumption. The tea works as a diuretic.