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


Kurimanju / chestnut cakes

A humble autumn confectionery with candied chestnut and white bean paste. Tastes great with bitter or strong unsweetened tea.


Mushiyasai no karashi-gomazu-dare / steamed vegetables with mustard sesame vinegar sauce

This spicy and nutty sauce is great with any vegetable. Tom likes to use it in a number of ways, including as a condiment for sausages and as a replacement for Western mustard on sandwiches.

1/4 of recipe  (sauce only): 
18 calories; 0.7 g protein; 1.4 g fat; 0.9 g carbohydrate; 0.7 g net carbs; 41 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 80 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.2 g fiber


Shiroan / sweetened white bean paste

This silky bean paste goes into a number of Japanese sweets. Making it involves a series of time-consuming yet simple tasks, but the results are very satisfying.


Kuri no kanroni / candied chestnuts

Japanese-style marron glacé. The autumn harvest is first colored by kuchinashi gardenia fruit, then sweetened with sugar and mirin for glossy finish. As I mainly make this in order to prepare kuri kinton--mashed satsumaimo sweet potato with candied kuri chestnuts, for financial luck (yellow for gold) in the osechi New Year's meal--it is a reminder that the end of the year is slowly drawing near. It is, in other words, the first of many preparations for the New Year's Day meal. To make perfect kuri no kanroni, you need to take off lots of the edible portion, as even a small piece of inner skin on the surface will cause discoloration. I make only a few "perfect" kuri no kanroni, leaving the majority of chestnuts in a relatively natural state with lots of blemishes. But they are all equally and unbeatably tasty.


Sakana to konsai no amazuan / fish and root vegetables with sweet and sour sauce

This is basically a fish version of sweet and sour subuta pork, without onion. As fish requires minimum prep flavoring, both calories and sodium are lower than the pork version, yet it is very filling and quite yummy.

1/2 of recipe:
250 calories; 21.9 g protein; 10.0 g fat; 16.2 g carbohydrate; 13.6 g net carbs; 372 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium soy sauce; 525 mg with regular soy sauce); 64 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fiber


Kiriboshi-daikon to saishin no misoshiru / miso soup with dried julienned daikon radish and yu choy sum

Kiriboshi-daikon is another ingredient packed with umami. It instantly adds a soft and deep taste to miso soup. Niboshi dashi--stock made with young dried sardines—provides the punch to counter kiriboshi-daikon's sweet note. Below I used iriko (tiny niboshi), as I was out of regular niboshi.

1/2 of recipe:
37 calories; 2.2 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 6.3 g carbohydrate; 3.8 g net carbs; 235 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium miso; 351 mg with regular miso); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber


Nama yatsuhashi / cinnamon-flavored steamed rice cakes with sweet azuki beans

I first encountered nama yatsuhashi during a school trip to Kyoto, where this special treat was waiting for us at every ryokan inn and souvenir shop. Back then the cinnamon aroma was very exotic for junior high school students from a small town, and at first we were a bit surprised by this Kyoto confectionery. But as our trip continued, soon everyone was keen for more (free) nama yatsuhashi. Cinnamon-flavored soft rice cake wrappers taste so good in combination with the sweet azuki beans inside. This is one of a very few Japanese sweets Tom likes.


Negi to shoga no ae-men / oyster sauce flavored Chinese noodles with green onions and ginger

So simple and tasty! The combination of green onions and ginger is pungent and fresh, and provides a great contrast to the deep taste of oyster sauce. The sauce can be made with oyster sauce and water only; in the recipe below, I used chicken stock and a few other ingredients to control the sodium and give extra umami. One of my favorite lunch noodles.

Whole recipe:
303 calories; 11.5 g protein; 6.0 g fat; 50.9 g carbohydrate; 47.8 g net carbs; 556 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.1 g fiber


Hakusai to satsumaage no nibitashi / napa cabbage and deep-fried fishcakes in light broth

An easy desalination prep step not only reduces sodium content, it also improves the flavor of satsumaage, making it taste milder and more refined. Soy sauce flavored satsumaage is a great match with hakusai and its naturally mellow taste.

1/2 of recipe:
88 calories; 5.5 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 12.4 g carbohydrate; 11.6 g net carbs; 192 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 344-381 mg with regular soy sauce); 8 mg cholesterol; 0.8 g fiber


Nerimono no shionuki / desalinating fishcakes

Desalinating fishcakes? What???
I did not know you can desalinate fishcakes until I read Karushio Reshipi [Lightly Salted Recipes], an eye-opening cookbook by the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center.
Fishcakes generally contain a high amount of sodium, and I had simply thought that we should limit consumption or avoid them all together.

A simple process of boiling fishcakes for 1-2 minutes and letting them sit in the same water for some time can eliminate most of their sodium.


Harusame to chingensai no itameni / saute-simmered mung bean vermicelli and baby bok choy

This is a reduced-sodium version of harusame to komatsuna no itameni (saute-simmered mung bean vermicelli and komatsuna) with a different vegetable. While I cut back on both oyster sauce and tobanjan chili bean paste, I added taka no tsume red chili pepper, Shaoxing wine and a small amount of shiokoji salted rice malt to achieve the right spiciness, saltiness and umami. It’s as tasty as the original recipe!

1/3 of recipe:
95 calories; 1.7 g protein; 1.7 g fat; 17.9 g carbohydrate; 15.4 g net carbs; 329 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber


Kani to horenso no tomato kuriimu pasuta / pasta with crab and spinach tomato cream sauce

Vodka and lemon zest and juice really perk up this quick tomato cream sauce! Adapted from Pike Place Market Cookbook, it tastes especially good with flat pasta.

1/2 of recipe:
481 calories; 24.0 g protein; 14.0 g fat; 61.2 g carbohydrate; 56.8 g net carbs; 361 mg sodium (approx. 100 mg less if pasta is boiled without salt); 61 mg cholesterol; 4.6 g fiber