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


Asari no misoshiru / miso soup with clams

A very easy miso soup full of aroma and flavor. Plan ahead, as clam prep takes a bit of time.

1/2 of recipe:
33 calories; 5.1 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 1.8 g carbohydrate; 1.7 g net carbs; 274 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium miso; 297 mg with regular miso); 10 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber


Sakana no sotee, karashi enoki soosu / sauteed fish with mustard enoki mushroom sauce

Enoki's fruity sourness goes well with mustard and white wine. The sauce is creamy, thanks to enoki, and has a clear soy sauce flavor, which also is a great match with mustard. For mustard lovers, this is a wonderful take on mushroom sauce.

1/2 of recipe:
154 calories; 18.6 g protein; 5.0 g fat; 6.7 g carbohydrate; 4.9 g net carbs; 275 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 389 mg with regular soy sauce); 59 mg cholesterol; 1.8 g fiber


Tomato to asupara, tamago no itamemono, XO-jan soosu gake / fried tomato, asparagus and egg with XO sauce

This is one of the asparagus dishes that comes to mind when I see the vegetable start to appear at grocery stores in spring. An easy Chinese-style dish that pleases both your eye and palate.

1/2 of recipe:
122 calories; 5.7 g protein; 8.2 g fat; 7.9 g carbohydrate; 6.2 g net carbs; 153 mg sodium; 107 mg cholesterol; 1.7 g fiber


Nagaimo no mentai poteto sarada / Chinese yam salad with spicy salted pollock roe

Rich mayonnaise turns mashed nagaimo wonderfully creamy while mentaiko adds a soft spiciness.

1/2 of recipe:
130 calories; 4.2 g protein; 5.3 g fat; 16.4 g carbohydrate; 15.0 g net carbs; 79 mg sodium; 36 mg cholesterol; 1.4 g fiber


Shiokoji kinoko / assorted steamed mushrooms with salted rice malt

A handy mushroom topping for a number of dishes, ranging from simple hiyayakko tofu to sautéed fish. This can also be added to vegetable or meat stir-fry as a quick taste and aroma booster. Use several different kinds of mushrooms for the best outcome.

1/6 of recipe (sauteed fish excluded):
27 calories; 1.1 g protein; 2.2 g fat; 2.0 g carbohydrate; 0.7 g net carbs; 37 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 44 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.3 g fiber


Sakana no oisutaasoosu-ni, howajao-iri / simmered fish in oyster sauce-flavored broth with Sichuan peppers

A light nitsuke simmered dish with a Chinese twist. Sichuan peppercorns impart a gentle, tingling sensation. As fish by itself is a bit lonesome, a couple of vegetables and mushrooms are added to complement each other. 

1/2 of recipe:
114 calories; 17.1 g protein; 0.7 g fat; 10.5 g carbohydrate; 7.3 g net carbs; 196 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 235 mg with regular soy sauce); 46 mg cholesterol; 3.2 g fiber


Fu wheat gluten cakes

Chikuwafu 竹輪麩: Common yakifu variation; chikuwa lit. means "bamboo ring"
The soft, boiled or steamed form (namafu 生麩) and dry, baked form (yakifu 焼き麩) are common types of fu wheat gluten cakes in Japan. There is also a deep-fried form (agefu 揚げ麩). Many fu products are counted as local specialties, and over 100 types of fu (of different forms, production methods, etc.) are said to be found nationwide in Japan. The baked form is the one I have been familiar with since childhood. At my parents' home, small white fu pieces mostly appear in miso soup, tiny colorful ones in osumashi clear soup, and large donut shape fu in simmered dishes. I never had namafu until I grew up, and I am still not familiar with it.


Abekawamochi / rice cakes with sweetened roasted soybean flour

Also called kinakomochi, abekawamochi are heavenly soft rice cakes coated with a mixture of kinako soybean flour and sugar. Traditionally, mochi are baked then soaked in hot water to soften before coating with kinako. The abekawamochi I know from my childhood was always made with hot, freshly made rice cakes. Nowadays, individually packed square or round hard rice cakes are available for everyday use; here is a quick way to make a yummy and very filling snack.

1 abekawamochi (1/4 of recipe): 
135 calories; 2.8 g protein; 0.9 g fat; 28.0 g carbohydrate; 27.3 g net carbs; 1 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber


Takenoko gohan / steamed rice with bamboo shoots

A reminder of spring. One of my favorite rice dishes when takenoko is in season.

1/3 of recipe:
210 calories; 4.9 g protein; 1.7 g fat; 40.9 g carbohydrate; 39.8 g net carbs; 95.3 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 146 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
315 calories; 7.4 g protein; 2.6 g fat; 61.4 g carbohydrate; 59.8 g net carbs; 143 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 219 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.6 g fiber


Shiitake mushroom

Lentinula edodes

The mushroom most commonly eaten in Japan, and perhaps in China and Korea as well. Shiitake is available both dried and fresh. Dried shiitake -- hoshishiitake -- is full of umami and makes an aromatic broth, while rehydrated hoshishiitake itself has an intense earthy aroma and flavor. Fresh shiitake is much gentler in terms of both flavor and aroma. Unlike common Western mushrooms such as button or crimini mushrooms, fresh shiitake is always cooked for consumption. It is very versatile and can be steamed, simmered, sautéed, deep-fried or grilled. The round, dark-brown umbrella by itself may not be very charming, but cuts are often made to make it look like a flower or star. In ceremonial dishes, six sides of the umbrella are cut off to create a turtle-shell form (the turtle symbolizes longevity). So shiitake appears on all sorts of occasions, from simple everyday meals to special ceremonies.


Konsai no sakekasu misoshiru / miso soup with root vegetables and sake lees

Hearty, satisfying and warming – and all you have to do is add sakekasu to your everyday miso soup. Aromatic and flavorful, sakekasu also lets you use even less miso than my recent low-sodium recipe for miso soup with yogurt.

1/2 of recipe:
50 calories; 2.3 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 9.0 g carbohydrate; 6.4 g net carbs; 189 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium miso; 234 mg with regular miso); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fiber


Ebi to harusame no itamemono / stir-fried prawns and mung bean vermicelli

A tasty and filling stir fry for a hungry stomach. The flavor is light yet satisfying, making this a great companion for plain rice or drinks. The amount below is a bit too much for two, so there is plenty left over for a perfect bento item the next day.

1/3 of recipe:
193 calories; 11.1 g protein; 17.3 g fat; 18.7 g carbohydrate; 17.8 g net carbs; 280 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 331 mg with regular soy sauce); 131 mg cholesterol; 0.9 g fiber


Wakatakejiru, tara iri / clear soup with wakame seaweed and bamboo shoot, with grilled cod

Bamboo shoot and wakame seaweed are a traditional pair. Fresh cod in season is grilled for its toasty aroma and added to make an outstanding trio.

1/2 of recipe:
51 calories; 9.9 g protein; 0.3 g fat; 2.4 g carbohydrate; 1.1 g net carbs; 270 mg sodium; 26 mg cholesterol; 1.3 g fiber


Moyashi to ninjin no mentaiko-itame / stir-fried bean sprouts and carrot with spicy salted pollock roe

A quick stir fry with mentaiko makes a great small addition to a meal or bento

1/2 of recipe:
37 calories; 3.4 g protein; 1.5 g fat; 3.1 g carbohydrate; 2.0 g net carbs; 153 mg sodium (with desalinated mentaiko; 294 mg without desalination); 31 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber


Mentaiko no shionuki / desalinating spicy salted pollock roe

As with other salted food, mentaiko contains a high amount of sodium. Simply soaking it in water or even in salted water makes it bland. The secret is to add some red chili pepper in order to retain some spiciness while eliminating excessive sodium.