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


Hasumushi / steamed fish with grated lotus root, with light thickened sauce

A comforting steamed fish dish for winter. Enjoy the fresh taste of in-season fish that has been sealed beneath a blanket of grated lotus root. Savory thickened sauce keeps the dish warm, while pungent wasabi brightens the overall tone. Have a spoon ready!

Below is a simple example with petrale sole and dried shiitake mushroom mixed in renkon lotus root. 


1-2 fillets petrale sole (228g in photo)
Flour (to dust petrale sole; not in photo)
2 (5cm square) pieces kombu kelp

1 small section renkon lotus root (116g in photo)
Rice vinegar (to soak peeled renkon; not in photo)
1/2 egg white
1 hoshi-shiitake dried shiitake mushroom
2 tsp katakuriko potato starch
Pinch salt (0.1g; not in photo)

Wasabi (powder in photo)

For thickened sauce
150cc dashi (katsuo-kobu bonito-kelp dashi recommended)
1 tsp shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt
1/2 tsp usukuchi soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1-2 tsp katakuriko potato starch + equal amount of water

173 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 24.5g protein; 1.6g fat; 13.6g carbohydrate; 302mg sodium (when using shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 55mg cholesterol; 1.5g fiber


Rehydrate dried shiitake.
(In photo, dried shiitake was microwaved in some water for 1 minute and allowed to cool.)

Start boiling water in a steamer.


Peel renkon, and soak in cold water with some rice vinegar for several minutes.
Grate renkon.


Meanwhile, thinly slice rehydrated shiitake.
Chop mitsuba.
Mix wasabi powder with small amount of water.


Divide petrale sole into 2 fillets as necessary, and lightly dust one side (inside) with flour.

Make triangle shape by knotting, and place each on kombu kelp.


Whisk egg white. (Optional; this lightens texture of renkon mixture in final dish.)


Tilt container holding grated renkon, and discard liquid.

Do not squeeze grated renkon; rather, simply hold it, and discard liquid that has naturally pooled.
Add renkon to egg white, and gently mix.


Add salt and katakuriko potato starch, and gently mix.


Add shiitake, and mix.


Top each fish piece with renkon mixture.
Steam for 15 minutes on medium to medium low heat.


Meanwhile, put dashi, soy sauce, shoyukoji and mirin in a pot, and bring to boil.

Add katakuriko + water mixture, a small amount at a time, stir well, and add more as necessary to achieve desired thickness (somewhat looser than maple syrup). 
Keep warm until serving.


(After 15 minutes)
When fish and renkon mixture is done, plate in warm bowls.
Pour sauce, and top with wasabi and mitsuba.

Serve immediately.

  • Steaming ingredients in individual bowls for serving is probably more common.
  • Usually less fish is used per portion (50-70g each), especially when renkon mixture has more goodies.
  • Make sure to use very fresh fish. Otherwise, a fishy smell and taste comes though at the end. If very fresh fish is not available, try grilled fish. While in-season fresh fish is usually the choice for this dish, grilled (flavored) unagi eel and anago conger eel are also common, for example.
  • Using kelp underneath fish is optional. I use it to make transferring steamed items to bowls easier and to give extra umami to the fish.
  • Other ingredients to mix in renkon lotus root include yurine lily bulb, ginnan gingko nuts, carrot, mild-tasting fresh mushrooms and shrimp.
  • If shoyukoji is not available, soy sauce works. If soy sauce is used, sodium content above will increase by 27mg with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce and 103mg with regular soy sauce. When using soy sauce instead of shoyukoji, add a small amount (1/2 tsp) of sake or mirin as well, to make up for the sweetness of shoyukoji.
  • Typically, the color of thickened sauce is very light (gin-an silver sauce) due to use of salt and less soy sauce. Above, the sauce is made with soy sauce (and shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt) to make the dish sodium-savvy.
  • Actual sodium content per serving is less than the above, as some sauce is left in bowls.
  • One final note on sodium: Wasabi paste in a tube contains sodium, while wasabi powder is sodium free.


Horenso, moyashi, sumookusaamon no ohitashi / spinach, mung bean sprouts and smoked salmon marinated in light broth

Alderwood smoked salmon, a local specialty, works as a great addition to enhance the flavor, aroma and texture of ohitashi, a simple vegetable dish. Soaking the smoked salmon takes away some of the sodium, so this is a good way to enjoy smoked salmon if you miss it because of following a low-sodium diet. Make sure to use only a small amount of smoked salmon -- the main characters of this dish are vegetables, and overuse of smoked salmon could make it taste fishy. This recipe also works as a quick, reduced-sodium version of a past recipe featuring shiozake salted salmon, shungiku garland chrysanthemum and moyashi mung bean sprouts

Handful of spinach (60g in photo)
Handful of moyashi mung bean sprouts (60g in photo)
Tiny handful of alderwood smoked salmon (32g in photo)

For ohitashi marinade
150cc dashi (katsuo-kobu bonito-kelp dashi recommended)
1 tsp usukuchi soy sauce

27 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 4.3g protein; 0.9g fat; 1.7g carbohydrate; 102mg sodium; 4mg cholesterol; 1.2g fiber


Mix dashi and usukuchi soy sauce. Set aside.
Let cool at least to room temperature, if using hot dashi.
(It should taste weaker than usual ohitashi marinade, as smoked salmon adds saltiness at the end.)


Bring plenty of water to boil.
Place moyashi in a colander (optional), and blanch for 20-30 seconds.

Transfer to a zaru strainer or plate, spread in a single layer, and cool.


In the same pot, blanch spinach.
First put stem ends, then leaf ends.

When leaves brighten, immediately transfer to ice water to cool.

When cool, squeeze out excess water, and cut into 3-4cm.


Squeeze spinach once again, and add to dashi + soy sauce mixture while breaking apart spinach.

Add moyashi.
Add smoked salmon while roughly crumbling by hand. 
Gently mix, and let sit 10-15 minutes.

Turn once or twice for even flavoring while soaking.

  • If usukuchi soy sauce is not at hand, use regular soy sauce and a tiny pinch of salt.
  • Do not soak blanched moyashi in water to cool or stop cooking, as it makes moyashi soggy. Instead, remove from boiling water while sprouts still seem a bit stiff. Above, the metal colander lowers the water temperature, so blanching time is longer than when I use a bamboo colander/basket. If using a bamboo basket, 15 seconds should be enough.
  • Salt is commonly added to boiling water when blanching spinach or other leafy greens to obtain a bright green color. It is skipped above, as it adds some sodium to the final dish, and immediately removing spinach from boiling water as color brightens and quickly soaking it in ice water results in a bright color that is more than acceptable.
  • When serving, place goodies first, then pour a small amount of liquid to keep them moist. The liquid is not for consumption especially if you are on a low-sodium diet, and the above nutrition figures assume that you do not consume the excess liquid.
  • Leafy greens with distinctive aroma or taste, such as shungiku garland chrysanthemum and arugula, result in an especially tasty dish. If they are not available, mustard greens, daikon radish leaves, kabu turnip leaves, komatsuna or other leafy greens work just fine.
  • The above nutrition figures are for reference only, as usual. They are based on locally purchased smoked salmon (1.8% sodium content; silver salmon) and information at  Seattle Fish Company (king salmon).
  • If using shiozake salted salmon, first desalinate then grill before using it in main cooking, especially if you need to watch your sodium intake.


Kyabetsu to egoma no namuru / namul salad with cabbage and wild sesame leaves

The soft taste of cabbage is paired with the distinctive flavor of egoma wild sesame leaves. These two also complement each other in terms of aroma and color.


(Serves 3-4)

3 cabbage leaves (130g in photo)
3-5 egoma wild sesame leaves (5 small leaves; 2g in photo)
1 small clove garlic (only 1/8-1/4 tsp of grated garlic is needed)
1/2 tsp shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt
1/3 tsp sesame oil

Whole recipe: 39 calories; 2.1g protein; 0.3g fat; 8.6g carbohydrate; 143mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 2.4g fiber
1/4 of recipe: 10 calories; 0.5g protein; 0.1g fat; 2.2 carbohydrate; 36mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 0.8g fiber


Cut cabbage lengthwise into 4-5cm wide section, then cut crosswise into thin strips (5-10mm; cut thick white sections skinnier).
Grate garlic.


Dip cabbage in water and place it (without shaking off water) in a microwaveable container.
Cover, and microwave for 90 seconds,
Remove from microwave, mix, return and microwave (covered) for another 30 seconds.


Transfer cabbage (leave liquid behind) to a prep bowl, add sesame oil, and mix well.
Add shoyukoji and garlic, mix well, and let cool.


Slice egoma into 5mm wide strips, and add to cabbage.
Mix well. 

  • Cooling cabbage is done in order to retain the bright green of egoma leaves. If the color of egoma is not a concern, you can add egoma to cabbage while it is still hot.
  • If shoyukoji is not available, use soy sauce. Regular soy sauce would increase the sodium content above by 30-140mg for the whole recipe.
  • The flavoring here is on the weak end, as I mainly make this as part of bibimbap mixed rice served with sauce (photo at right: with carrot, moyashi bean sprouts, eringi & shiitake mushrooms, egg, chicken and egoma flowers).