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


Shiso no mi no shiozuke (aojiso) / salted green perilla fruits

Salted perilla fruits are a flavorful condiment. They are great to eat with steamed rice, onigiri rice balls, hiyayakko tofu, pickle-type vegetable salads, etc. The following is the two-step preparation process that preserves the green color.


Yakidofu to tomyo, enoki no chuka-nibitashi / broiled tofu, sugar pea shoots and enoki mushrooms in Chinese broth

Sugar pea shoots, a common Chinese stir-fry ingredient, are a great companion with simmered tofu in this everyday Japanese dish with a Chinese twist.

1/2 of recipe:
98 calories; 8.2 g protein; 4.9 g fat; 5.5 g carbohydrate; 3.2 g net carbs; 233 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 309-327 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.3 g fiber


Daigaku-imo / candied Japanese sweet potato

My introduction to daigaku-imo was school lunch at elementary school. Although the name daigaku-imo literally means "university potato," this candied sweet potato is popular with students of all ages, and is also a popular deli item with both youngsters and grownups. The sweet and slightly salty coating makes you come back for more of this snack-like dish. Traditionally, satsumaimo sweet potato is first deep-fried and dipped in the candy coating prepared separately. What follows is a simplified method of sauteing satsumaimo with a somewhat large amount of oil in a frying pan and adding the candy coating ingredients to the same pan.

1/2 of recipe:
234 calories; 1.7g protein; 4.3g fat; 47.0g carbohydrate; 82mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 158-176mg with regular soy sauce); 0mg cholesterol; 3.0g fiber


Yakiimo / roasted Japanese sweet potato

A much-beloved snack in fall and early winter. When I was a child, a vendor pushing a cart filled with blackened rocks and reddish-purple sweet potatoes would come around the neighborhood, chanting, "Roasted sweet potatoes! Rock-roasted sweet potatoes!" in a slow, time-honored cadence. If you started to get ready (asking parents to pitch in some cash) when you first heard the chant, the vendor would be near your house by the time you dashed out the front door. The man at the cart would dig through the rocks and find some big, beautiful sweet potatoes, wrap them in newspaper and hand them to his young customer. The warmth and the mellow smell were so rewarding, and needless to say the sweet taste was a big hit after running back to the house. Later the cart became a small truck and the chant was replaced with a recorded voice on a loudspeaker, but the melody was still the same. I wonder if those vendors are still coming around the neighborhood. Yakiimo is also a favorite when family or friends gather to clean up the yard and burn fallen leaves, providing a perfect place to roast these fall treats.


Hanaho to kobashira no kakiage / mixed tempura with perilla flower spikes and bay scallops

Shiso flower spikes are pretty and tasty! Paired with mildly sweet bay scallops for a delicious duo.

1/2 of recipe:
603 calories; 12.0 g protein; 50.4 g fat; 19.8 g carbohydrate; 18.9 g net carbs; 228 mg sodium (when using tentsuyu made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 375-411 mg with tentsuyu with regular soy sauce); 35 mg cholesterol; 0.9 g fiber


Kobashira-iri omuraisu / tomato rice with bay scallops in egg crepe

Omuraisu, or "omelet rice," has been my favorite food since childhood. It was symbolic of Westernized food and found at a modern restaurant on the top floor of a department store in a large city where my family went on weekend outings. In college, I frequently went to eat omuraisu for lunch at a cafe near campus. The combination of ketchup-flavored chicken pilaf and fluffy crepe-like omelet tasted heavenly. I also enjoyed omuraisu at more upscale restaurants later, but my preference has always been for the simple kind, meaning no demiglace or cream sauce. At restaurants, it is often more of an omelet using multiple eggs per portion. Since one egg per day is my preference, our omuraisu is wrapped with egg crepe. Fresh ripe tomatoes for the rice and the addition of dashi and rice vinegar to the ketchup topping sauce—added to reduce the amount of sodium-loaded ketchup--bring a nice, refined touch.

1/2 of recipe:
445 calories; 19.5 g protein; 11.4 g fat; 63.0 g carbohydrate; 59.4 g net carbs; 340 mg sodium; 234 mg cholesterol; 3.6 g fiber


Shishito sweet pepper & Fushimi togarashi sweet pepper

Shishito (right)
Fushimi togarashi (left)

(Japanese varieties of Capsicum annum)


The size of your pinky or index finger, shishito (abbreviation of shishitogarashi) is one of those inexpensive vegetables that always seems to be available in Japan, especially during warm seasons. Shishito has thin, relatively soft walls, and tastes mild yet slightly bitter. While it is often classified as a sweet pepper, it is not as sweet or juicy as you might imagine from those large, thick-walled peppers in American grocery stores. For me, it is closer to a Anaheim pepper. From a local vegetable shop in Tokyo, I once had a shishito that was very spicy like a serrano pepper, and I've heard that occasional encounters with hot shishito were common in the past.


Shishito to shantoreru no shiokoji kinpira / kinpira saute of shishito peppers and chanterelle mushrooms with salted rice malt

A quick, spicy saute. Shiokoji salted rice malt brings out the soft bitterness of shishito peppers and a bit fruity, woodsy scent of chanterelle mushrooms.

1/2 of recipe:
32 calories; 0.2 g protein; 2.0 g fat; 1.9 g carbohydrate; 1.1 g net carbs; 30 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.8 g fiber


Kyuri to nagaimo no shoga-amazu-ae / Japanese cucumber and Chinese yam in ginger-flavored sweetened vinegar

A small, refreshing, pickle-like dish. Ginger gives a spicy punch to the sweetened vinegar dressing.

1/2 of recipe:
25 calories; 0.8 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 4.8 g carbohydrate; 4.2 g net carbs; 21 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.6 g fiber


Toriniku no gomadare-yaki / grilled chicken with sesame sauce

Tender, juicy chicken breast with toasty sesame sauce. The chicken is first marinated in sake, then steamed with sauce on top, and finally broiled for a toasty result.
Adapted from "Seikaro Kokusai Byoin no Aijo Kenko Reshipi," a healthy recipe cookbook by St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo.

Whole recipe:
382 calories; 33.7 g protein; 23.3 g fat; 5.0 g carbohydrate; 4.0 g net carbs; 291 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 489-519 mg with regular soy sauce); 126 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber


Gobo no surinagashi, tonyu-jitate / soy milk miso soup with pureed burdock root

A gobo potage soup! The aromatic, earthy flavor of gobo is softened by soy milk and nagaimo. A small amount of yogurt provides just enough hidden complexity, making this simple soup very satisfying.

1/2 of recipe:
110 calories; 6.1 g protein; 2.4 g fat; 16.4 g carbohydrate; 13.8 g net carbs; 305 mg sodium (with 50% reduced sodium soy sauce; 315 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fiber


Ebi to ika no diabura-fu / camarones y calamar a la diabla / prawns and calamari in spicy chili pepper sauce

Prawns and calamari in spicy, smoky chili pepper sauce with a hint of chocolate flavor. While chipotle in adobo sauce can pretty much take care of the flavor, let's try different dried chili peppers to find your favorite spiciness and taste. This diabla sauce tastes young and edgy immediately after it is prepared, but it becomes amazingly deep and aromatic if you let it sit for hours, ideally overnight. Great with rice and tortillas.


Mekishikan raisu / arroz a la mexicana / Mexican rice (with medium-grain Asian rice)

A spice-free, mild version. I like to serve this when white rice is called for with Mexican food, or with rich, spicy dishes.


Tofu-iri okonomiyaki / savory pancake with tofu

Tofu gives a fluffy texture without having to add nagaimo Chinese yam to the okonomiyaki batter. This is a basic vegetable okonomiyaki with cabbage and green onions. Add your favorite seafood or meat to make this recipe your own.

One pancake:
369 calories; 18.6 g protein; 14.6 g fat; 36.3 g carbohydrate; 33.3 g net carbs; 604 mg sodium; 229 mg cholesterol; 3.0 g fiber