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


Age no negi-shoga ae / thin deep-fried tofu with green onion and ginger

Originally introduced by a reader in a magazine as her grandmother's recipe. While I was more interested in Western-origin food back in college, this became one of the regular side dishes I kept in the fridge in my tiny apartment.


Sake no shoyu sotee, daikon oroshi zoe / salmon soy sauce saute, with grated daikon radish

Crispy saute lightly flavored with soy sauce and sake. Grated daikon and finely chopped green onion add mildly pungent spiciness while lemon gives a zesty, fruity note.


Dinner, April 25, 2012

We are vegetable rich these days. Off the top of my head, in the fridge there are carrots, daikon radish, gairan (gailan) Chinese broccoli, regular broccoli, cauliflower, celery, asparagus, gobo burdock root, hakusai napa cabbage, cabbage, renkon lotus root, green onions, kabocha pumpkin, cabbage raab, red Russian kale, tomyo (doumiao) pea sprouts, lettuce, red peppers, pasilla peppers, jalapeno peppers, cilantro and parsley; on the kitchen counter, potatoes, satsumaimo sweet potatoes, satoimo baby taro root, nagaimo Chinese yam, ginger and onions. We also have eringi mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and oyster mushrooms.
Too many choices? More than enough pieces to finish a menu puzzle, for sure.

There is also an open can of clams and prep-boiled usuage thin deep-fried tofu, both of which need to be eaten shortly. Moyashi bean sprouts go bad quickly, and they also have to go pretty soon. So these ingredients will determine dinner.


Mizuna to atsuage no nibitashi / mizuna and deep-fried tofu in light broth

A comforting low-key dish of basic ingredients in a mild flavored broth. This is something I crave for from time to time.


Dinner, April 23, 2012

I love shopping for vegetables, especially tender leafy ones. A few days ago I was on a veggie shopping high, and with that momentum I made a purchase error – a large fillet of previously frozen salmon. It was a good piece for previously frozen fish, but we ended up eating salmon every day since then. There are many ways to prepare salmon, but eating the same fish every day is tiresome. With the last uncooked portion, I made yet another saute as an easy solution.


Poronegi no guriru, nanbansu-zuke / grilled leek in spicy vinegar

A small pickle-like dish. Grilling intensifies the sweetness of leeks, and the mildly spicy vinegar marinade is a nice counterpoint. 


Cleaning shelled oysters

Cleaning with grated daikon radish or potato starch significantly improves the taste of oysters while eliminating the raw smell.


Iridaizu gohan / rice with toasted soybeans

The soft sweetness of soybeans becomes concentrated and infused with a smoky note through toasting. Soybeans also remain relatively crunchy after cooking, making a good contrast in texture with rice.


Ika, roshian reddo keeru to tofu no nampuraa itame / sauteed calamari, Russian red kale and tofu with nam pla

Day 2 for calamari and Russian red kale saute. Heating up leftover dishes in the microwave turns them into .... warm leftovers. Cook it again with additional ingredients to revive the taste.


Ika to roshian reddo keeru no nampuraa itame / sauteed calamari and Russian red kale with nam pla

A quick saute of calamari and Russian red kale. The stems of Russian red kale become sweeter when sauteed, just like the hard white part of cabbage leaves. Their sweetness is highlighted by the clear aromatic saltiness of nam pla.


Sakana to yasai, kinoko no hoiruyaki, miso-fumi / grilled fish, vegetables and mushrooms in foil, miso flavor

A very simple packet dish for oven or grill. The steam and aroma coming up from the packet when opened at the table is a moment to savor. Red miso's deep flavor is mellowed by mirin -- delicious on cool nights.


Rutabaga no gomazu-ae / rutabaga with sesame vinegar dressing

Quick steam roasting in a frying pan brings out the sweetness of rutabaga. Coarsely ground sesame seeds give light, toasty touch.


Gobo to tsumire no misoshiru / miso soup with burdock root and ground fishballs

Ground sardine is a very common ingredient for miso soup. I don't even see fresh sardines here, so here is an alternative. Coarsely ground fish is combined with egg white for a fluffy soft texture that crumbles in your mouth. Cooked with dashi made of dried sardine, this is a refined version of an everyday miso soup I had all the time in my hometown.


Biitsu no masukarupoone tofu-zoe / beets with mascarpone tofu dip

Softly fruity, creamy and slightly sour mascarpone with beets. Too much creamy texture for a Japanese dish? Thin with sake and combine it with tofu and miso, and you have a tasty tofu dip with all the good character of mascarpone.


Fuki no to no tempura / Japanese butterbur bud tempura

One of the most common ways to enjoy fuki no to. Leaving out the egg, a typical tempura batter ingredient, delivers the clean, straightforward taste of these early spring buds.


Nanohana no tamago-tsutsumi no osuimono / clear soup with egg-coated field mustard raab

Faintly bitter nanohana is the taste of early spring. If the buds are still tightly closed, add some yellow by coating them with egg.


Taimeshi modoki / fisherman's rice

Taimeshi gets its name from sea bream (tai), and often a whole fish is used for this rice dish. But where can I find sea bream? Luckily, any white-fleshed fish, ideally one with some oil content, makes equally tasty rice.


Daikon, ninjin, age no itameni / daikon radish, carrot and thin deep-fried tofu saute simmered in broth

Similar to kinpira saute, but a softer texture. A gentle dish for when feeling a bit tired. At the same time, red chili pepper perks you up.

1/4 of recipe :
54 calories per serving; 1.8 g protein; 2.2 g fat; 6.0 g carbohydrate; 402 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

1/3 of recipe:
72 calories per serving; 2.4 g protein; 2.8 g fat; 8.1 g carbohydrate; 6.0 net carbs; 537 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber


Kuchinashi gohan / ohan / steamed rice colored with dried gardenia fruit

This cheerful yellow rice pleases the eye. You can look forward to opening the cover and seeing how the color turned out. It’s lightly salted, yet the mochigome mixed in makes it sweetly aromatic.


Kuchinashi / shan zhi zi / zhi zi / dried gardenia fruit

Gardenia -- a small shrub with aromatic pure white blossoms against glossy dark green leaves -- is a relatively common garden plant and is also seen as a houseplant at supermarket florist sections.

What's available at Asian grocery stores and Chinese herbal medicine shops is its dried fruit, which looks like brown rose hips.