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


Yakitori-fu chikin / yakitori barbecue style grilled chicken

Yakitori grilled over charcoal from a smoky kitchen is superb – the smoke, not so nice. Here is a leisurely cooking option in a regular oven so you can enjoy yakitori style grilled chicken without fumigating yourself.


Kani to shungiku no sunomono / crab and garland chrysanthemum in sweetened rice vinegar dressing

Crab and shungiku garland chrysanthemum are a good match. Here is a mild yet refreshing side dish that brings out the flavor of both crab and chrysanthemum.


Rice vinegar with kombu kelp

Kombu magic!

For a long time, I didn't especially like simple sunomono dishes in rice vinegar-based dressing. I did not appreciate that edgy, sharp sourness on my tongue and the almost piercing aroma in my nostrils, even if only for a moment – and both of these really stand out when vinegar is not heated with other dressing ingredients such as sugar and soy sauce.


Kinome young sansho leaves

Leaves of sansho Zanthoxylum piperitum

Place a leaf on your palm and hit it with your other hand, and a spicy and fruity aroma wafts up.  Yes, fruity. Despite the common name -- Japanese pepper tree -- this shrub is not a pepper tree at all but belongs to the citrus family. The shrub is also sometimes called Japanese prickly ash, and outside culinary circle it receives lots of praise for its open branches, yellow autumn color, and bumpy bark when older. The branches are traditionally used to make surikogi pestles.


Onigiri / rice balls

Also called omusubi, onigiri is a portable meal like sandwiches, and there is an endless variety of fillings, sizes, shapes, and wrapper choices (nori or other types of seaweed, cooked/pickled leafy vegetables), as well as coverage of wrappers. Here is an example with soramage gohan [steamed rice with fava beans], umeboshi pickled plum and nori seaweed.


Kani kuriimu korokke / crab cream croquettes

The creamy filling melts in your mouth. Simple, creamy croquettes to take full advantage of the crab's flavor. Adding mashed potato makes it a bit more substantial.


Tom cooks 7: Ika no nitsuke (calamari in reduced soy sauce broth)

The other day, I was telling my friend how good Tom's chige (jjigae Korean stew) was becoming.
Tom joined our conversation, saying “I need more repertoire.”

What was that?
What does he mean by “more repertoire”?
There are over 200 Japanese recipes here, and I even wrote at least a couple of dozen recipes for non-Japanese Asian dishes. Some even make special mention that they are “Tom-ready.”


Yasai chuka yakisoba / Chinese stir-fried noodles with vegetables

Slice any vegetables you find in your fridge or on your kitchen counter and throw them in! The flavors of multiple vegetables blend together and give mild depth to this common dish. Dried shiitake mushrooms add an extra earthy note.


Asupara no shiraae / asparagus with tofu sesame dressing

Juicy asparagus dressed in slightly salty tofu dressing with ground sesame seeds. Another great little side dish that allows you to enjoy asparagus in season.


Reviving deep-frying oil with umeboshi pickled plum

When the same oil is used repeatedly for deep-frying, it gets darker and  thicker (higher viscosity) and starts to smell, especially when used to deep-fry seafood or meat. Adding some new oil to used oil every time you deep-fry is one way to slow down the deterioration process. Another effective method is to deep-fry umeboshi pickled plums.


Soramame to kani no tamagoyaki / omelet with fava beans and crab

Slightly bitter fava beans give the omelet color and texture. Peeling off fava bean skins takes a bit of time, but with crab meat, this omelet is worth the effort.


Sansai gohan / rice with mountain vegetables

A kayaku gohan (rice with assorted ingredients) featuring warabi bracken. The various textures and tastes of ingredients come together in mellow sweet rice and aromatic soy sauce.


Kakitama oroshi no misoshiru / egg flower and grated daikon radish miso soup

Grated daikon radish makes egg miso soup super soothing yet substantial. It’s great when your stomach feels tired or when wanting something mild that warms up your body.


Shungiku to shimeji no ohitashi / garland chrysanthemum and shimeji mushrooms in light broth

Shimeji becomes more flavorful from cooking in ohitashi marinade rather than simply blanching, giving it just enough flavor to stand up to the tanginess of shungiku garland chrysanthemum.


Lunch on a hike, June 6, 2012

  • Onigiri rice balls with umeboshi pickled plum, wrapped with nori seaweed
  • Onigiri rice balls with scrambled egg and umeboshi pickled plum, wrapped with nori seaweed
  • Water

Onigiri rice balls are our choice for food on the go. They are filling, won't crumble, and your hands stay clean.

Piiman no nikumaki teriyaki / sweet-pepper beef roll with teriyaki sauce

A treat for Tom -- colorful and juicy peppers rolled up in a thin slice of beef. The easy-to-eat form and strong teriyaki flavor make this dish common for bento or picnics.


Fuki to atsuage no nimono / Japanese butterbur and deep-fried tofu in light broth

Here is a dish that makes me wonder how atsuage can taste so soft and good... It absorbs the flavors of both broth and accompanying ingredients (fuki, in this case) over time, and releases them in your mouth as you bite in.


Inarizushi / sushi in tofu packets

Sushi rice bagged in usuage deep-fried tofu packets. By combining somewhat sweet sushi rice with usuage cooked in salty sweet broth, this tasty dish becomes truly satisfying. It is one of the typical rice dishes parents prepare for kids’ school events – at least when I was young. Great for picnics, parties and potlucks.


Horenso no namuru / spinach namul salad (garlic flavor)

Garlicky magic? A large handful of spinach will quickly disappear into your stomach.

1/2 of recipe (with 200 g spinach):
43 calories; 2.8 g protein; 2.2 g fat; 4.3g carbohydrate; 1.1 g net carbs; 54 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 93 mg sodium with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 3.2 g fiber