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


Petoraaru karei no kankoku-fu pirikara-ni / braised petrale sole in mildly spicy sauce, Korean style

An easy and tasty fish dish with a Korean twist. Tastes good with plain rice or drinks.


2 fillets petrale sole (258g in photo)
Flour (to dust sole; not in photo)
1/2 tbsp sesame oil (to saute sole; not in photo)
1 garlic
1 small knob ginger
1 tbsp Korean red chili flakes

For broth
1/2 tbsp miso
1 tbsp shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
100cc water

3 egoma wild perilla leaves (for garnish)

When using shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce:
226 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 26.4g protein; 5.1g fat; 12.0g carbohydrate; 340mg sodium; 62mg cholesterol; 0.5g fiber


Mix all ingredients for broth. 


Skin and thinly slice ginger.
Peel off skin of garlic, and smash.
Julienne one egoma leaf (save two for plating).


Cut sole lengthwise.
Dust the side that would be inside when each strip is folded into a triangle (skin side would be outside).

Then fold each strip into a triangle (knot), and dust both sides.


Heat oil in a pot, and saute sole on medium heat. 
When one side is cooked (at least one-third from the bottom turns opaque), flip.
Put ginger and garlic in open space in pot, and cook.


When sole is basically cooked, pour broth mixture, add Korean red chili flakes, bring to boil, and reduce heat to medium low.

Cook until broth becomes somewhat thick, about 10 minutes. 

Pour broth over fish from time to time, and flip sole once or twice for even flavoring.


Put one egoma leaf in each bowl or plate, plate sole, ad pour some sauce (1 tbsp or so each).
Top with julienned egoma leaf.

  • Fish can simply be simmered, if using very fresh fish that stays intact in broth. I sauteed the fish first mainly to hold the triangle shape.
    Folding into a triangle works great with long, thin fillets like petrale sole and dover sole, but it is optional.
  • If shoyukoji is not at hand, use soy sauce.
  • Korean red chili flakes are very mild -- even the 1 tbsp above adds only gentle spiciness to the food.
  • Place this fish directly on top of steamed rice (or on top of egoma or nori seaweed over steamed rice) for a yummy donburi.
  • If egoma is not available, try nira garlic chives, green onion, shiso perilla leaves, seri water dropwort, mizuna, mibuna, arugula, cilantro, cress, kaiware daikon radish sprouts ... anything with a distinctive taste or spicy note works great.
  • Leftover sauce is wonderful with other dishes or makes a great base for sauce for bibimbap Korean mixed rice or ssambap  Korean rice wrap. Approximately 2 tbsp sauce contains roughly 140mg sodium.
  • The above sodium figure is when you eat both fish and sauce served in the bowl. The sodium content of fish is slightly above 100mg per serving, so try to leave the sauce if you’re watching your sodium intake.


Nasu no dengaku / eggplant with sweet miso sauce

Creamy eggplant highlighted with sweet & salty miso sauce. While deep-frying is an orthodox method for this dish, the eggplant below is sauteed (with a somewhat large amount of oil) for easier preparation.

For dengaku miso

(Makes about 3 tbsp dengaku miso; enough for 6 servings)

1 tbsp Saikyo miso
1 tbsp aka miso [red miso]
1 tbsp sake
1 tbsp mirin
1/2 tsp tahini or white nerigoma sesame paste
2 tbsp dashi

Whole recipe above: 159 calories; 4.8g protein; 3.4g fat; 21.8g carbohydrate; 1,016mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 1.8g fiber
1/2 tbsp, for one cut of eggplant in nasu no dengaku recipe below: 27 calories; 0.8g protein; 0.6g fat; 3.6g carbohydrate; 169mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 0.3g fiber

For nasu no degaku

6-8cm American eggplant (middle section; 250g in photo)
1 tbsp dengaku miso (not in photo)
1 tbsp oil (not in photo)
1/2 tsp keshi no mi white poppy seeds (for garnish; not in photo)

114 calories (1/2 of recipe above); 2.2g protein; 7.1g fat; 10.2g carbohydrate; 170mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol; 3.3g fiber


In a stove-top resistant container or small pan, put all ingredients for dengaku miso, except dashi, and mix well.

Heat on low and stir until glossy, several minutes.
Remove from heat, and set aside.


Cut eggplant crosswise in half.
Make cuts inside along skin and crisscross cuts on both surfaces.
These cuts make eggplant easy to eat when dividing it with chopsticks.

Remove outer skin in stripe pattern (optional).


In a frying pan, heat oil, and saute both sides of eggplant on medium to medium high heat.

Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until soft.


Meanwhile, add dashi to dengaku miso, mix well, and heat.

Simmer for a few minutes to thicken somewhat (to consistency of mayonnaise or ketchup).
Keep warm.


When eggplant is done, plate, top each cut with 1/2 tbsp dengaku miso.
Sprinkle poppy seeds.
Serve hot.

  • Dengaku miso is a sweetened miso topping for cooked tofu, konnyaku and vegetables (satoimo baby taro root and eggplant are common choices). Any miso of your choice works fine. Above, I used Saikyo miso for a sweet note and red miso for its sharp taste, which goes well with eggplant and also tastes great anytime during the summer.  Tahini is for additional complexity. At restaurants, a small amount of egg yolk is often added to dengaku miso.
  • When using skinny eggplant, it is usually cut in half lengthwise and cooked.
  • Dengaku dishes are sometimes grilled after being topped with sweet miso for an extra toasty note.
  • Loosening dengaku miso with dashi makes it easier to spread.
  • Other than white poppy seeds (available at Indian grocery stores in the US), kinome young sansho leaves are a common garnish. When neither is available, some people use white sesame seeds. Or you can forget about garnish altogether. 
  • Peeled eggplant surfaces quickly absorb oil, so sauteing on relatively high heat prevents eggplant from becoming oily.
  • The expression "dengaku" itself refers to a traditional performing art that dates back to the 10th-11th century. When used in the context of food, it means vegetables or tofu topped with sweet miso. According to Tofu Hyakuchin [100 tofu dishes], a book published in 1782, the dish was named after a dengaku performer who appeared in Taiheiki, a 14th century literary work. Tofu was cut into thick sticks, grilled on skewers and served with sweet miso on top. People associated its look with the knickerbockers costume of the performer. Today, dengaku on skewers is still considered more authentic, but skewers are not essential as long as it comes with sweet miso on top. 


Petoraaru karei no shioyaki, kinomezu-gake / grilled petrale sole with young sansho leaf dressing

The fresh citrus note of young sansho leaves brings out the sweet taste of petrale sole in season. A very pleasant, light dish.


2 fillets petrale sole (235g in photo)
Generous pinch salt (0.6g max, to sprinkle on fish; not in photo)

For kinomezu sweetened rice vinegar with young sansho leaves
5-8 kinome young sansho leaves (6 leaves in photo)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp usukuchi shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt
1/4 tsp sake
1/4 tsp mirin 

116 calories per serving (1/2 of recipe above; tomatoes in photo excluded); 22.3g protein; 1.4g fat; 1.5g carbohydrate; 250mg sodium; 57mg cholesterol; 0g fiber


Sprinkle salt on sole, and let sit for 20-30 minutes.


Meanwhile, prepare kinomezu dressing.
Microwave sake and mirin for 5-10 seconds to get rid of alcohol.
Let cool.

Remove sansho leaves from stems, and chop.

Place sansho leaves in suribachi mortar, and grind.
Put rice vinegar, usukuchi shoyukoji, sake and mirin, and mix well.
Set aside.


When ready to cook sole, wipe off moisture that appears on surface of fish.

Line a frying pan with parchment paper, and heat.
Place sole, with the side intended to be served facing up placed down in pan, and cook on medium heat.
Wipe off moisture that comes out of fish. 
When fish has generally turned opaque, flip, and cook other side.

Again wipe off moisture that comes out of fish, to create a crispy surface.


When fish is done, plate, and pour kinomezu dressing.

  • Kinomezu in the above recipe would taste a bit weak. But do not add more soy sauce or salt -- when served with the fish, the dish will have enough salty taste.
  • If usukuchi shoyukoji is not available, use usukuchi soy sauce. When usukuchi soy sauce is used, use less than 1/2 tsp, as its saltiness is much clearer. If usukuchi soy sauce is used, regular shoyukoji or regular soy sauce works fine; these (especially regular soy sauce) would add a deeper brown tint to the dressing, so you might want to replace some with shiokoji or salt to retain the green tone of sansho leaves.
  • Shioyaki indicates grilled items where only salt is used as a seasoning. The salt I sprinkled is mainly to remove excess water from the fish (to improve its flavor). For shioyaki dishes, more salt is often used, or additional salt is sprinkled immediately before grilling. As part of being more sodium savvy, the recipe above skips the final salting and relies on the fish itself and dressing. No matter how much salt you use, fresh fish is the key. No oil is involved, so deterioration easily comes through.
  • Shioyaki typically is prepared by grilling or roasting without oil. However, the above method of using a frying pan lined with parchment paper simplifies “grilling” of skinned fillets, which tend to crumble when flipped.
  • Nutrition figures for petrale sole are from FishWatch US Seafood Facts site by NOAA.
  • For the sodium intake calculation, 93% of salt sprinkled on sole is assumed to be absorbed by the fish.


Shincha gohan / steamed rice with first-flush green tea leaves

In late spring through early summer, you see the expression "shincha" here and there in Japan. This is the first flush of sencha -- a type of everyday green tea that most Japanese would probably think of when they hear the word "ocha." While not a premium tea like gyokuro, which is steeped at much lower temperature to bring out its mellow, velvety note and texture, shincha is still highly prized for a somewhat light, young and clean "green" taste and aroma. It is available only for a limited time each year, and to take advantage of this seasonal tea, it is often used as an ingredient in food. This is just one of many examples.


180cc* rice
Approx. 190-200cc water (not in photo)
1/2 tbsp shincha green tea leaves
1/2 tbsp sakura ebi dried shrimp
1 3-4cm piece kombu kelp
1/2 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt

*1 rice cooker cup = 180cc

276 calories per serving (1/2 of recipe above); 5.5g protein; 0.8g fat; 58.8g carbohydrate; 55mg sodium; 5mg cholesterol; 1.1g fiber


Rinse rice, drain, and let sit for 30 minutes.


Put shiokoji and water to 1 cup mark, and mix well.
Put kombu, and cook.


Meanwhile, toast sakura ebi (without oil) on low heat in a small frying pan until somewhat crispy.

Set aside.
Briefly toast tea leaves (without oil) on low heat until aromatic.

Wrap in cloth or paper towel, and crush.
Set aside.


When rice is done, remove kombu, and wait 10 minutes.


Gently turn and fluff.

Mix in sakura ebi and tea leaves, gently turn, and wait 5-10 minutes.

  • Adding sakura ebi is optional.
  • If shiokoji is not available, use salt. 1/2 tsp salt per 180cc rice would make the rice taste quite salty: try 1/4-1/3 tsp salt as a start. Watch out for sodium content if using salt – 1/4 tsp kosher salt contains 280mg sodium.
  • If using tea leaves that have already been used to make tea, toast tea leaves until dry and crispy on low heat (shown in photos at right), and then crush. Tea leaves that have been steeped only once (to brew only the first cup) work best. The taste and aroma have pretty much gone into the tea you made, but when more leaves are used, you can get some sense of the flavor and bouquet.
  •  If shincha is not available, any sencha works fine. In that case, the dish is called ryokucha gohan [steamed rice with green tea] or ocha no mazegohan [steamed rice mixed with green tea leaves] or something along those lines.