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


Kyuri to kani to shoga-amazu-ae / Japanese cucumber and crab in ginger-flavored sweetened vinegar

Wonderfully light and pleasant on a hot day. This is a different take on an old standby, cucumber sunomono (rice vinegar dressing dish), and takes advantage of softly salty and sweet Dungeness crab in season. It's very easy to make -- just remember to let it sit for a while after mixing everything, as this has a quick pickling effect on cucumber and prevents the dish from tasting bland.


1 kyuri Japanese cucumber (155g in photo)
Small handful Dungeness crabmeat (50g in photo)
Generous pinch salt (not in photo)

For shoga-amazu ginger-flavored sweetened vinegar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 knob ginger

46 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 5.1g protein; 0.4g fat; 5.8g carbohydrate; 113mg sodium; 15mg cholesterol; 0.9g fiber


Thinly slice cucumber, and place in a prep bowl.
Sprinkle generous pinch salt, gently mix, and let sit for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, prepare shoga-amazu.
Grate ginger.
Add sugar to rice vinegar, and mix to dissolve.
Add lemon juice.
Juice in ginger, and mix. Set aside.


Squeeze out excess water from cucumber, and place in another (or rinsed) bowl.

Put crabmeat, and pour shoga-amazu.
Gently mix, and let sit for 10+ minutes. 

  • Fresh kyuri cucumber has sharp spines on the surface. Carefully rub them off while washing cucumber. Fresh cucumber is normally rolled with a generous amount of salt against the cutting board to remove spines, but this is skipped above, as it would leave some sodium on cucumber.
  • This is great with spot shrimp early in the season (photo at right).
  • The above sodium figure is based on the assumption that 40% of salt sprinkled is absorbed by cucumber. Above, I used 0.5g salt, thus 0.2g (0.1g salt or approx. 40mg sodium per serving) goes into the cucumber.


Caldo de camarones / Mexican shrimp soup

A shrimp soup I enjoyed repeatedly whenever available during a road trip in Mexico years ago. Soupy but very aromatic and satisfying, thanks to the rich broth and numerous dried chili peppers that go into it.


For shrimp stock
(Yields 800-1,000cc stock)

100g shrimp shells, heads (or crab shells)
1 tsp olive oil (not in photo)
50cc white wine
1,200cc water
4-5cm celery (20g in photo)
1/2 medium onion (38g in photo)
1/2 carrot (20g in photo)
1 bay leaf

For caldo de camarones

(Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 small side soups)

1,000cc shrimp stock (from above, not in photo)
10 shrimp (278g in shell in photo)
1 hayatouri chayote (282g in photo)
2 medium carrots (174g in photo)
6 guajillo chili peppers (43g in photo)
1 morita chili pepper (2g in photo)
2 camaron seco dried shrimp (6g in photo)
1-2 cloves garlic
1 large or 2 small tomatoes (108g in photo)
1 tbsp epazote (dried)
2-2 & 1/2 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt
1/2 tsp olive oil (not in photo)

For garnish
1/2 medium onion (100g in photo)
Handful cilantro
1-2 lime

257 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 23.8g protein; 1.8g fat; 30.8g carbohydrate; 552mg sodium; 141mg cholesterol; 7.0g fiber


Prepare shrimp stock.
In a pot, heat olive oil, and saute shrimp shells and heads (and crab shells) until toasty. If shrimp heads are included, crush them with a spatula.


Put white wine, and reduce.


Put water, and bring to boil.


Cut carrot, onion and celery into smaller pieces as necessary, and add them to pot.  

Add bay leaf, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Strain stock.
If less than 1,000cc, add water to obtain 1,000cc.
Set aside.


Meanwhile, get ready for main cooking.
Remove eyes from camaron seco.

Wipe dried chili peppers with a hard-wrung cloth. Heat a medium pot, and put tomatoes, garlic, guajillo and morita peppers, and camaron seco, and toast on medium low heat.
When dried chili peppers become a bit puffy, remove before they burn. 
Remove tops and seeds of chili peppers, and put peppers back in pot (optional). 


Pour shrimp stock, bring to boil, add epazote, place a drop cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

(After 20 minutes)


Put solids and some liquid in food processor, and puree.
(Keep the remaining liquid/broth for later.)


In the meantime, shell and clean shrimp with potato starch, rinse, and drain well.
Dice carrot and chayote. 


In another pot, heat olive oil, and saute carrot.

When carrot is coated with oil, add chayote, and continue cooking. 


Strain pureed chili mixture, and pour remaining broth through strainer to get most of mixture.

Cover, and simmer until carrot and chayote reach desirable softness.


Meanwhile, chop onion and cilantro (for garnish), and cook tortillas.


Put shrimp, and cook for a few minutes.
Add shiokoji.


Serve in individual bowls, put lots of chopped onion and cilantro, squeeze lime, and enjoy with tortillas.

  • The sodium content of the shrimp stock above is 0.1% per 800cc (315mg).
  • If you are watching your sodium intake, do not add salt to tortillas even if the masa package says to -- as far as I can tell, salt in tortilla dough does not make much difference in taste.  
  • Guajillo chili peppers are very mild, but the small guy, morita, can be quite spicy as well as smoky. If unsure, try without morita or substitute chipotle peppers (smoky but not very spicy) and see how you like the taste.
  • The above recipe is a bit too European for me -- perhaps because of white wine or bay leaf, or not enough Mexican herbs...? More trials to follow.


Zukkiini no guriru, howajao doresshingu-gake / grilled zucchini, with Sichuan peppercorn-infused oil and soy sauce dressing

Toasted huajiao Sichuan peppercorns add a nice tang to the sweet note of grilled zucchini. A great starter or a side dish.

(Serves 2-4)

2 zucchini (432g in photo)

For dressing
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp huajiao Sichuan peppercorns
1 tsp soy sauce

1/4-1/2 lime or small lemon

(1/2 of recipe above) 64 calories; 3.0g protein; 3.2g fat; 7.7g carbohydrate; 79mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce, 155mg with regular soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 2.7g fiber
(1/4 of recipe above) 32 calories; 1.5g protein; 1.6g fat; 3.9g carbohydrate; 40mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce, 78mg with regular soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 1.4g fiber


Cut each zucchini into 3-4 sections, then cut lengthwise into 4-6.


Grill zucchini.


Meanwhile, put olive oil and huajiao in a small frying pan, and toast huajiao on low to medium low heat until fragrant.

Pour huajiao-infused olive oil in soy sauce.


When zucchini is done, plate.
Mix huajiao-infused olive oil and soy sauce well, and pour over zucchini.
Squeeze lime, and immediately serve hot.

  • Dressing can be prepared ahead of time.
  • If time allows, dry cut zucchini for 1+ hours before grilling. Drying helps concentrate the flavor of zucchini and also shortens cooking time.