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


Lunch, September 16

Unexpected events make your life more interesting. Who would think Tom would be sent to the ER and then admitted to the Critical Care Unit for cardiac problems?

  • Haigamai gohan, kurogoma / steamed rice with germ, with toasted sesame seeds
  • Sake no sotee, karifurawaa to hakusai no kuriimu soosu / sauteed salmon with cauliflower and napa cabbage cream sauce
  • Guriin sarada, karashi yooguruto mayoneezu doresshingu / green salad with Japanese mustard yogurt mayonnaise dressing
  • Ika-iri unohana / saute-simmered soybean pulp with calamari
  • Mugicha / barley tea

Tom came home after a 5-day stay at the hospital, and upon his return, we officially started a 2000-mg-sodium-per-day diet as part of his treatment. We actually did this 2000-mg-sodium-per-day diet for a couple of days before his admittance to the hospital, but it did not mean much because Tom basically could not eat at all then. 2000 mg sodium translates into approx. 5g salt (sodium chloride), which is equivalent to 1 and 3/4 tsp of the kosher salt we use. A low-sodium diet sounds like a bit of a challenge for Japanese food in general, but with some tweaks, it can be done.

One of the first things I did was to get 50% reduced sodium soy sauce. I also checked sodium content of miso paste and other seasonings we often use as well as my "pinch" of salt. My pinch of salt weighs under 0.1 g (40 mg sodium), compared to the 0.2 g mentioned in a number of cookbooks.

Tom needs good protein to regain his strength. A beautiful salmon fillet our friend brought us the day before was sauteed and paired with cauliflower and hakusai napa cabbage sauce. The idea comes from a common Chinese dish with seafood and a vegetable in cream sauce. To increase the vegetable volume for this lunch and make the cream sauce milder, I used cauliflower and the white sections of napa cabbage as part of the sauce. Ginger and chicken stock are used, so it is very Chinese. Yet the way the dish is presented -- fish over sauce -- made Tom think it is not Chinese. As expected, this turned out great.

For the small green salad on the side, I made a dressing by mixing mayonnaise, yogurt, karashi, dashi, a tiny amount of soy sauce and black pepper. One of my typical quick dressings from the old days. Adding yogurt is my current favorite way to make it. Loosening it with dashi or sake softens the flavor of mayonnaise and yogurt without compromising their rich or refreshing taste. A thin, partial coating of dressing lets the taste of vegetables come through while ensuring you don't get too many calories from the dressing. Karashi is to counter the mild flavor of cauliflower and napa cabbage for the salmon dish sauce. Cauliflower, napa cabbage and karashi all belong to the brassica family, and naturally go well together.

Okara or unohana usually tastes good when somewhat strongly flavored. To limit the amount of sodium from soy sauce, I cut the soy sauce amount by 1/3 and added a small amount of rice vinegar. The dish is clearly not soy saucy, but neither is it bland or lacking saltiness. Rice vinegar does the trick by giving complex depth. When only a small amount is used, its sourness does not surface. The flavor from calamari is a big plus, too.

My notes on ingredient lists for recipes still under development now have more details such as weight and sodium content. One of these days when we are satisfied with the food we are experimenting with, I will post low-sodium food recipes here.


jeni said...

I hope things are going better! That sounds like a scary situation. I really like your blog and am looking forward to more recipe posts in the future :) Best of luck!

neco said...

Hi jeni,
Thank you for the message. It was a totally unexpected trip to the hospital. Tom is doing great and has already made lots of progress. Yes, more recipes are coming!