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


Breakfast, April 23, 2013

A power breakfast.

Tom needs coffee to wake up in the morning.
I don't. My brain is up and running pretty much the moment I open my eyes in the morning.
But I need food to keep it going, especially before a big job.


Sakura no iimushi / steamed sweet rice and fish with salted cherry leaves

A reminder of the season. A gentle taste combination of sweet rice and white fish steamed with  aromatic salted cherry leaves.  Slightly salty gin-an sauce brings everything together, including the pungent wasabi on top.


Shimeji to ingen no kuroae / shimeji mushrooms and green beans in black sesame tofu dressing

Black is another hue for the table. In this dish, the soft texture of shimeji mushrooms contrasts well with crispy green beans, while yellow viola flowers from the garden perk up the small blackish mound.


Chingensai no karashi oisutaasoosu-ae / baby bok choy in Japanese mustard oyster sauce dressing

The deep, sweet note of oyster sauce is countered by pungent karashi mustard to highlight juicy chingensai.

20 calories (1/2 of recipe); 1.5 g protein; 0.2 g fat; 3.5 g carbohydrate; 2.3 g net carbs; 461 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 613 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.2 g fiber


Takenoko bamboo shoots

Young shoots of Phyllostachys heterocycla f. pubescens
(? unable to identify)

Takenoko is perhaps more commonly seen as a prep-boiled ingredient in vacuum packs and open containers at Japanese groceries and stores that carry lots of Japanese food. But if you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh bamboo shoots still in their skins, it is highly recommended to give them a try. The differences in taste, texture and aroma are so significant that, like me, you will look forward to fresh bamboo shoot season every year. As with other sansai mountain vegetables, bamboo shoots start to taste bitter as time passes after harvest, and they are usually boiled to eliminate this tart taste before main cooking (see takenoko no mizuni for the prep). For super fresh bamboo shoots (harvested in the last one or two hours), grilling in their skins is often recommended to experience peak flavor and aroma. I have not been so fortunate as to enjoy them that way, but I can imagine how wonderful and sweet they taste. Fresh bamboo shoots harvested in early morning are said to be the least tart, and they are prized for this quality in Japan.


Yurine to kaibashira no tamagotoji / lily bulbs and dried scallops with eggs in broth

A mild yet very aromatic and flavorful dish thanks to dried scallops. The texture of starchy lily bulbs offers a nice contrast with soft eggs.


Age to kinsai no gohan / steamed rice with thin deep-fried tofu and Chinese celery

Thin deep-fried tofu makes everything deep, warm and soft. Kinsai gives a contrasting fresh note, resulting in a gentle savory rice with a clear punch.


Asupara no yakibitashi / grilled asparagus marinated in light broth

The concentrated sweetness of asparagus is highlighted in this light, salty ohitashi marinade. A refreshing small dish for a spring table.


Chiri in oiru / nam prik pao / Thai red chili paste

An oily paste similar to the XO sauce found in Chinese dishes, nam prik pao perks up any dish. It is spicy yet somehow sweet and mild all at the same time. The complexity largely comes from shami dried shrimp and kapi fermented shrimp paste. Nam prik pao also contains tamarind paste, which accounts for its subtle sweet-sour fruitiness.



Tom cooks 11. Sakana to yasai, kinoko no hoiruyaki, miso-fumi (grilled fish, vegetables and mushrooms in foil, miso flavor)

Tom doesn't really measure ingredients. That’s fine, as long as his eyeballing method is close to what it should be.
But a big chunk of red miso in a small prep bowl was obviously too much when only 2 tsp was needed.
“You said 2 tbsp!” Tom said.

Nope. Look at the recipe again, it says 2 tsp. I think I should ask him to prepare a red miso soup one day … then he would have a better sense of balance between the amount and the taste.
I was glad that I came down to the kitchen to check on him.


Toriniku to piinattsu no togarashi-itame / gong bao ji ding / kung pao chicken

A popular Chinese dish originally from Sichuan. Here is a colorful, sauteed version for home kitchens. Make sure to marinate chicken long enough for maximum flavor, and toast peanuts well prior to use for a nice crunch.

Kani-dashi no tofu no misoshiru / crab-shell stock miso soup with tofu

Crab shells make a flavorful broth. A simple combination of soft tofu and green onion tastes so good with it.


Tsuruna to enoki no karashijoyu-ae / New Zealand spinach and enoki mushrooms in Japanese mustard soy sauce dressing

One of Tom's favorite tsuruna dishes. The nostril-clearing punch of karashi mustard goes really well with the clingy texture and taste of New Zealand spinach.


Tamago sando / egg salad sandwiches

One of the common sandwiches I grew up with.  The filling: hard-boiled eggs separated into yolks and egg whites; yolks are mashed and mixed with mayonnaise; egg whites are finely chopped and mixed in with yolks. For maximum flavor, the amount of mayonnaise used is quite high. Shiokoji tamago hard-boiled eggs marinated in salted rice malt eliminate the mayo and still give a rich taste.