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


Amazake-iri sobako pankeeki / buckwheat pancakes with amazake

More filling than they look, these small pancakes are sugar free and take advantage of buckwheat and amazake for health benefits. The soft sweetness of amazake made from brown sweet rice makes this pancake a natural with syrup and fruit or as a plain pancake to accompany savory dishes.


100cc amazake no moto made with brown sweet rice
50cc milk or soy milk
2 eggs
60g sobako buckwheat flour
50g flour
2/3 tbsp unsalted butter (half for cooking, half for serving with pancakes)
2-3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4-1/3 zakuro pomegranate (optional)

445 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 13.8g protein; 10.4g fat; 72.7g carbohydrate; 84mg sodium (with milk; 74mg with soy milk); 224mg cholesterol; 2.3g fiber


In a pan for double boiling, heat 800-1,000cc water.


Cut pomegranate, and remove arils (juice sacs) while immersing in water.
Drain well.


In a large mixing bowl, break eggs.

Place bowl in hot water, and beat at high speed.
When eggs are warm enough (warmer than your body temperature), remove from hot water, and continue beating until they make relatively clear peaks, 7-8 minutes.


Meanwhile, put amazake no moto + milk container in hot water.


When eggs make clear peaks, adjust speed to low, and continue beating for another minute.


Gently swirl warm amazake no moto + milk in eggs. (If you forgot to heat up amazake no moto + milk, microwave for 20-30 seconds.)

Mix well at low speed.


Mix buckwheat flour and flour well, and sift into egg mixture from some height in order to incorporate air.

Hold whisk horizontally, and fold.
Move whisk along bowl from the far end, moving along the bottom and toward you. Bring whisk out of batter, letting batter drop through. Turn bowl 30 degrees or so counterclockwise, and fold again.
Repeat until flour mixture and batter blend together (some unevenness is OK).


In the meantime, place maple syrup container in hot water, and warm.


Heat a griddle.
When hot (smokes slightly), melt butter.

When butter coats entire surface, place griddle on moistened (hard wrung) towel to cool down.
Wipe off excess butter with paper towel (save paper towel for later). 


Ladle batter, and cook on low to very low heat until bubbles appear on surface.

Flip, and cook for 1-2 minutes.


Put butter (go over with paper towel that has absorbed butter), and repeat.


Top with butter and pomegranate, pour warm maple syrup, and enjoy.

  • Genmai mochigome (brown sweet rice) is used to make the amazake no moto above, which is incubated 10-12 hours for a higher level of sweetness.
  • As a fruit topping, berries or sliced bananas are good choices.
  • Depending on materials, some pans should not be heated until they smoke. Above, I use a cast iron griddle.
  • Normally, for pancake recipes using baking powder, ingredients are simply mixed. Regular baking powder contains 363-488mg sodium per teaspoon. There is low-sodium baking powder (4mg/teaspoon), but it may not be widely available.
  • Butter: 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter contains 2mg sodium, whereas 1 tablespoon of salted butter contains 80-90mg sodium.


Koyadofu to saishin no nibitashi / freeze-dried tofu and yu choy sum simmered in broth

Koyadofu makes everyday vegetable side dishes a bit more filling by offering chewiness while releasing a flavorful broth in your mouth. Sakura ebi adds a toasty note and vibrant color.


2 koyadofu freeze-dried tofu
Handful saishin yu choy sum (92g in photo)
1 tbsp sakura ebi dried shrimp

For broth
200cc dashi
1 tsp sake
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt

120 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 11.1g protein; 5.5g fat; 5.0g carbohydrate; 234mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 334mg with regular soy sauce); 11mg cholesterol; 1.8g fiber


Soak koyadofu in warm water (50C/120F or higher) for 10+ minutes to rehydrate.


Cut yu choy sum into 3-4cm.


When koyadofu is fully rehydrated (soft), squeeze while keeping it immersed, changing the water until it becomes clear (koyadofu releases an opaque substance that makes the water murky when squeezed the first few times).

Squeeze one last time, and cut into small pieces. 


In a pot, put all ingredients for broth (except shiokoji) and bring to boil.


Put koyadofu and sakura ebi, cover, and simmer on medium low heat for 6-7 minutes.


Add yu choy sum, cover, and simmer for 1 minute.
Remove cover, immerse yu choy sum (especially stem parts) in broth, and cook another 1 minute.


Put solid ingredients in bowls.
Add shiokoji to remaining broth, and heat through.
Pour broth over goodies. 

  • When squeezing rehydrated koyadofu, watch out for the warm/hot water it has absorbed. Koyadofu's surface may be cool enough, but it might hold relatively hot water inside. First adding cold water to the soaking bowl or squeezing under running water may be a good idea.
  • If yu choy sum is not available, any leafy greens, especially mild-tasting ones, work fine. If only strong-tasting or tough greens (kale, etc.) are available, sauteing them first with canola or sesame oil helps.
  • Nibitashi is a general term for a vegetable side dish simmered in broth. The "ni" in nibitashi is from niru [simmer] and "bitashi" is from hitasu [soak].
  • When preparing in advance, reduce the amount of seasonings, especially salty ones, as the flavor goes into ingredients during the cooling (and reheating) process.
  • Shiokoji is added at the very end to provide the effect of more clearly enhancing the saltiness of broth, while at the same time solid ingredients do not have time to fully absorb shiokoji's sodium.
  • If shiokoji is not at hand, use a tiny pinch of salt.
  • The above sodium calculations are rough intake figures and do not include sodium content of broth left in bowl. 


Fuki no to-iri iritamago / scrambled egg with Japanese butterbur buds

An easy way to enjoy the bitterness of early spring. While plain-tasting oil is the usual choice for iritamago scrambled eggs, below it is cooked with toasted sesame oil for extra aroma. Oil and eggs soften the bitterness in general, yet fuki no to butterbur buds can be overwhelmingly bitter, depending on climate, time from harvest, etc. If unsure, first try only half of the specified amount, or soak them in water for at least one hour (or blanch if in a hurry; see Notes). Iritamago can be served as is. The photo below shows my favorite way -- a topping for plain steamed rice.


2 fuki no to Japanese butterbur buds
2 eggs
1/2 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt
1/2 tsp sesame oil

92 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 6.6g protein; 6.3g fat; 1.5g carbohydrate; 116mg sodium; 214mg cholesterol; 0.6g fiber


Lightly beat egg, add shiokoji, and mix well.


Heat sesame oil in frying pan.


Chop fuki no to. Remove any discolored (dark) parts.


Saute fuki no to on medium heat.
When fuki no to is coated with oil and cooked through, pour egg mixture, and mix.

Ready to serve.

  • The surface of fuki no to quickly darkens when exposed to air. For this reason, make sure to be ready to saute immediately after chopping them up (thus, sesame oil is heated first above).
  • If shiokoji is not at hand, a tiny pinch of salt and 1 tbsp sake and mirin (equal parts) would work. If you like something sweeter, add more mirin or a pinch of sugar. 
  • To quickly reduce the bitterness of fuki no to, blanch (in briskly boiling water, after removing discolored parts), transfer to ice water, and soak as long as time allows. Squeeze out excess water before chopping them up for main cooking.