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


Matsutake to kinua no takikomi gohan / steamed rice with quinoa and matsutake

Very rewarding for the cook in the kitchen! Matsutake's deep aroma fills the air as it cooks -- a fragrant reminder of the season.

1/3 of recipe:
145 calories; 3.9 g protein; 1.1 g fat; 29.1 g carbohydrate; 27.5 g net carbs; 62 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 115-124 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.6 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
217 calories; 5.8 g protein; 1.7 g fat; 43.6 g carbohydrate; 41.2 g net carbs; 93 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 172-186 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.4 g fiber


Konnyaku to daizu no pirikarani / mildly spicy braised konnyaku yam cake and soybeans

The humble pair of soybeans and konnyaku get together for a simple, refined dish. The two ingredients are simmered with minimal seasonings, cooled, cooked again, cooled again, and reheated. The repetition allows both soybeans and konnyaku to absorb full flavoring without being taken over, which is a basic and proven technique for many nimono simmered dishes. Adapted from Tataki Konnyaku to Daizu no Nimono by Takashi Tamura, the owner chef of Tsukiji Tamura in Tokyo.

1/2 of recipe:
138 calories; 10.5 g protein; 6.0 g fat; 9.6 g carbohydrate; 4.0 g net carbs; 86 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; approx. 203-220 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 5.6 g fiber


Kaki to shungiku no shiraae / persimmon and garland chrysanthemum in tofu dressing

A dish for autumn -- juicy, sweet and astringent persimmon paired with garland chrysanthemum, a cold season green with a distinctive taste and aroma. Mild, creamy tofu dressing softens the overall tone, binding the two different characters together. Try this with persimmon that is still crisp -- the contrasting textures add an intriguing twist to this little dish.  

1/3 of recipe:
48 calories; 1.8 g protein; 1.8 g fat; 6.9 g carbohydrate; 8.1 g net carbs; 53 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.2 g fiber 

1/2 of recipe:
72 calories; 2.8 g protein; 2.7 g fat; 10.4 g carbohydrate; 5.8 g net carbs; 79 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.8 g fiber


Kuro ingenmame-iri kinua gohan / steamed rice with quinoa and black beans

Mixing quinoa with rice results in a lighter texture than regular steamed rice while giving a great nutritional boost. Black beans are added below for a nice crunch.

1/3 of recipe:
163 calories; 4.9 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 32.5 g carbohydrate; 29.9 g net carbs; 0 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.7 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
245 calories; 7.3 g protein; 1.8 g fat; 48.8 g carbohydrate; 44.8 g net carbs; 0 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 4.0 g fiber


Satoimo to shungiku, age no tonyu misoshiru / soy milk miso soup with baby taro root, garland chrysanthemum and thin deep-fried tofu

The distinctive aroma and taste of garland chrysanthemum are the perfect counterpoints in this mild, somewhat creamy soup featuring baby taro root. Very nice and warming on cool days.

1/2 of recipe:
96 calories; 5.4 g protein; 3.3 g fat; 9.8 g carbohydrate; 7.8 g net carbs; 199 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium miso); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.0 g fiber


Papurika to hijiki no marine / marinated sweet pepper and hijiki seaweed

Juicy, cheerful sweet pepper is quickly microwaved and marinated with boiled hijiki. The combination of apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar is fruity and mild, making it a good match for non-Japanese meals, too. A great addition as an appetizer or as part of a salad or bento.

1/4 of recipe:
42 calories; 0.9 g protein; 2.2 g fat; 5.5 g carbohydrate; 5.2 g net carbs; 70 mg sodium (with shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.3 g fiber 


Sake to shimeji no takikomi gohan / steamed rice with salmon and shimeji mushrooms

As the weather cools and we enter the season of mushrooms and return of the salmon, takikomi gohan featuring seasonal ingredients really hits the spot.

1/3 of recipe:
235 calories; 9.1 g protein; 3.3 g fat; 39.8 g carbohydrate; 38.9 g net carbs; 88 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 140 mg with regular soy sauce); 15 mg cholesterol; 0.9 g fiber 

1/2 of recipe:
353 calories; 13.6 g protein; 4.9 g fat; 59.7 g carbohydrate; 58.4 g net carbs; 132 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 210 mg with regular soy sauce); 23 mg cholesterol; 1.3 g fiber


Shungiku to ringo no mizore-ae / garland chrysanthemum and apple with grated daikon radish and sweetened vinegar

The slightly bitter taste of shungiku garland chrysanthemum compliments sweet and juicy apple. Grated daikon with sweetened vinegar provides a refreshing blanket. The pleasant aftertaste really stands out when paired with dishes prepared with oil.

1/2 of recipe:
39 calories; 0.6 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 9.5 g carbohydrate; 8.0 g net carbs; 41 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber


Konnyaku no miso oden / boiled konnyaku yam cake with sweetened miso sauce

A quick and tasty konnyaku dish, which is also a popular "street food" at community and school festivals. Sweetened miso sauce makes chewy konnyaku a favorite with kids as well as adults. Grated ginger and chopped green onion are added below for a zesty punch, preventing this rather plain dish from becoming bland without using lots of sauce. 

1/2 of recipe:
16 calories; 0.5 g protein; 0.2 g fat; 4.3 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g net carbs; 96 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.7 g fiber


Tom cooks 17. Katsuo-kobu dashi & Tai-chan kukkii (bonito kelp stock & cookies for Tai)

Savory and chewy, and obviously mouthwatering for Tai, our dog.

The first time Tom made katsuo-kobu dashi earlier this year, that was all he did. He kindly prepared an essential stock for me, and I ended up making something with it.

The second time Tom made the dashi, it was to get a key ingredient for Tai's cookies. Dashi simply was a by-product of his operation.


Petoraaru karei to edamame no myoga-mushi-zushi / steamed sushi with petrale sole and edamame, wrapped in myoga ginger leaves

If you have access to fresh myoga leaves, try them as wrappers. A somewhat intense, refreshing aroma stimulates your senses as you unwrap packets at the table. Below is an example with steamed sushi.

1 packet:
114 calories; 6.0 g protein; 0.8 g fat; 19.3 g carbohydrate; 18.9 g net carbs; 59 mg sodium (with sushizu made with shiokoji & ponzujoyu made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 210 mg with store-bought sushizu & ponzujoyu); 10 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber


Okara to kinoko-iri kabocha no korokke / pumpkin croquettes with soybean pulp and mushrooms

Savory and sweet pumpkin croquettes. Sauteed enoki and eringi mushrooms are added for a slightly earthy, deep taste and aroma, which nicely disguises the low sodium content of the dish. The deep-fried version with crispy panko bread crumbs is quite satisfying even when eating only one or two pieces. The baked version tastes light and significantly cuts down the amount of oil and calories. The baked version involves a bit of a process to prepare panko, but it can be done ahead of time.

Deep-fried version (1/2 of recipe):
391 calories; 6.5 g protein; 26.4 g fat; 32.9 g carbohydrate;  25.0 g net carbs; 90 mg sodium (with shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 27 mg cholesterol; 7.9 g fiber

Baked version (1/2 of recipe):
202 calories; 6.5 g protein; 6.0 g fat; 32.9 g carbohydrate; 25.0 g net carbs; 90 mg sodium (with shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 27 mg cholesterol; 7.9 g fiber


Kyuri to kinshitamago no osuimono / clear soup with Japanese cucumber and julienned egg crepe

A pleasant soup with julienned cucumber and egg crepe that goes well with somewhat heavy, substantial dishes. Kinshitamago below is made by microwaving for easy preparation. Once the cucumber and egg crepe are cut, this soup can be made very fast. Sound good? For the best outcome, make sure to have other dishes nearly ready when you start making this soup so that it can be served hot with vivid green cucumber.

1/2 of recipe:
54 calories; 4.3 g protein; 2.7 g fat; 2.6 g carbohydrate; 2.2 g net carbs; 253 mg sodium; 107 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber


Karashi mayoneezu doresshingu / mustard mayonnaise dressing

An easy dressing for a small salad. Loosening mayonnaise with dashi while adding aromatic soy sauce is my favorite basic dressing for fresh greens, especially finely julienned cabbage that accompanies pan-fried or deep-fried dishes.

1/2 of recipe:
8 calories; 0.2 g protein; 0.7 g fat; 0.2g carbohydrate; 0.2 g net carbs; 34 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 49 mg with regular soy sauce); 2 mg cholesterol; 0 g fiber


Masuzushi / pressed salmon sushi wrapped with bamboo leaves

A specialty of Toyama, my hometown prefecture, this pressed sushi with masu salmon is wrapped in bamboo leaves and comes in a magewappa round wooden container. It has also been a favorite ekiben (lit. train station bento) of Toyama since 1912, and is a popular souvenir with tourists and business travelers. Masuzushi is traditionally made with sakura masu (Oncorhynchus masou) that come back to the main river running through the prefecture to the Sea of Japan, and more than a dozen long-established masuzushi specialty shops are found near the river off the city center even today. Each shop's masuzushi has slightly different characteristics, and many locals have their favorite shop. Salmon is first treated with salt and then sugar and vinegar, and finally assembled with sushi rice and bamboo leaves. Yet the sushi is not ready for consumption at this point, as it must be pressed for hours to achieve the delicate blend of taste, aroma and texture.

The recipe below is my most successful attempt so far to recreate the masuzushi from a shop I like in Toyama. I use a stainless flour sifter and pie mold bottom as a magewappa substitute, and dried bamboo leaves for chimaki zongzi as a substitute for fresh bamboo leaves.

Whole recipe: 
1,139 calories; 58.5 g protein; 10.4 g fat; 187.0 g carbohydrate; 185.5 g net carbs; 354 mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice; 674 mg with kosher salt for sushi rice); 99 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

1/4 of recipe:
285 calories; 14.6 g protein; 2.6 g fat; 46.7 g carbohydrate; 46.3 g net carbs; 88 mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice; 169 mg with kosher salt for sushi rice); 25 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber


Daikon no shiso-amazu-ae / daikon radish with sweetened perilla-infused vinegar

Very light and pleasant. This dish takes full advantage of the pretty color and refreshing taste and aroma of perilla-infused vinegar, making it a nice refresher between strong-flavored food. Allow enough time to draw out excess water from daikon slices and again for the slices to sufficiently take on the taste of dressing after mixing.

1/2 of recipe: 
24 calories; 0.6 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 5.4 g carbohydrate; 3.9 g net carbs; 59 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

1/3 of recipe: 
16 calories; 0.4 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 3.6 g carbohydrate; 2.6 g net carbs; 29 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber


Fubaagu no shisomaki / small gluten cake burgers wrapped with perilla leaves

Tasty small burgers made with fu gluten cakes, an important source of protein in temple vegan dishes for more than a century! Gobo burdock root and eringi king oyster mushroom add a nice depth to the taste and some crunchiness to the texture, helping to create a mild and light yet quite substantial dish. Make extra or save some for bento lunch the next day. 

1/2 of recipe:
181 calories; 11.6 g protein; 5.9 g fat; 19.6g carbohydrate; 16.5 g net carbs; 204 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 321 mg with regular soy sauce); 107 mg cholesterol; 3.1 g fiber

1/3 of recipe:
121 calories; 7.3 g protein; 3.9 g fat; 15.7 g carbohydrate; 13.6 g net carbs; 136 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 214 mg with regular soy sauce); 71 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber


Hakusai no biitsu-amazu-zuke / napa cabbage marinated in beet sweetened vinegar

Ruby red pickles! Since the sweetened vinegar in which beet slices are marinated is too pretty to throw away after beets are gone ... the thick white section of hakusai napa cabbage is quickly microwaved and marinated in the red vinegar. How simple could it be to add another little color to your table!


Kuzukiri to daikon, kani no sarada / kudzu arrowroot starch noodle, daikon radish and crabmeat salad, with citrus-flavored soy sauce dressing

Cold, clear kudzu noodles have a pleasant slippery and chewy texture. The soft spiciness of fresh julienned daikon radish adds a refreshing punch, while local Dungeness crab works as an accent in the dish. Versatile citrus-flavored soy sauce dressing ties everything together.

1/2 of recipe:
100 calories; 5.6 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 15.8 g carbohydrate; 15.5 g net carbs; 198 mg sodium (with ponzujoyu made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 20 mg cholesterol; 0.5 g fiber


Ebi to okura, myoga no kakiage / mixed tempura with shrimp, okra and myoga ginger buds

A summery marriage of salty sweet shrimp, green okra and refreshing myoga ginger buds! Squeeze lemon over for a light, zesty finish. As deep-frying softens the sharp tang of myoga, this can be a good introductory dish for those who have hesitated to try the spicy little vegetable.

1/2 of recipe:
170 calories; 8.2 g protein; 10.5 g fat; 9.3 g carbohydrate; 7.8 g net carbs; 59 mg sodium; 62 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber


Soramame-dofu / fava bean tofu

A smooth and creamy pudding-like side dish featuring fava beans. This is a seasonal variation of gomadofu, a popular item included in temple meals or set courses at restaurants. While solid molds are more common, using plastic film wrap results in a casual look at the end. The wasabi topping instantly makes this a great companion for a drink, too.

1/3 of recipe:
77 calories; 4.4 g protein; 1.8 g fat; 11.2 g carbohydrate; 10.1 g net carbs; 67 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 119 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber


Shoga gohan / steamed rice with ginger

What I usually say about dishes using ginger for cold seasons -- ginger warms up your body --  is still true in hot seasons. Overly chilling your body to beat the heat would numb its function. Ginger also has a refreshing taste and aroma, making steamed rice taste light, even served hot. Shoga gohan goes really well with dishes cooked with oil -- either grilled or deep-fried -- or even steamed dishes served with oil-based sauce.

1/3 of recipe:
187 calories; 3.1 g protein; 0.5 g fat; 39.7 g carbohydrate; 39.3 g net carbs; 67 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
281 calories; 4.7 g protein; 0.7 g fat; 59.6 g carbohydrate; 59.0 g net carbs; 101 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.6 g fiber


Mijingiri / finely chopping (onion & carrot)

Mijingiri refers to finely chopping vegetables crosswise. A very common technique for onion and other vegetables when making chaahan fried rice or sofrito for sauces and stews of different cuisines.

Tamanegi no mijingiri / finely chopping onion

Some shallow cuts sideways ensure the same small size of onion pieces at the end. 


Shisozu / perilla-infused vinegar

This bright red purple vinegar also takes on the refreshing aroma of akajiso purple perilla leaves. It imparts a soft pink color and soft shiso aroma when used as a replacement for regular vinegar.

Sodium content: 18 mg per 1 tablespoon


Takoyaki / fried octopus dumplings (calamari version)

Served with an aromatic, sweet and salty sauce that blends with the savory and still creamy batter inside, these little dumplings are everyone's favorite. Takoyaki used to be something from neighborhood mom & pop shops, which often had small eat-in areas but largely sold takoyaki as a takeout item. At my local takoyaki shop, a couple of coins were enough to buy a small tray with several takoyaki, which was affordable with my pocket money -- basically change I collected from buying stationery or books -- as a child. Buying a large tray with 12 takoyaki required some help from parents or relatives, and I always dreamed about getting a large tray with 12 takoyaki and eating them all myself. When this dream came true I was so happy, but also uncomfortably full and feeling guilty about not sharing them with my sister.

The recipe below features calamari as a more widely available substitute for octopus.

Whole recipe (about 24 takoyaki balls):
902 calories; 44.8 g protein; 19.0 g fat; 117.2 g carbohydrate; 112.6 g net carbs; 862 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 734 mg cholesterol; 4.6 g fiber

1/2 of recipe (about 12 takoyaki balls):
451 calories; 22.4 g protein; 9.5 g fat; 58.6g carbohydrate; 56.3 g net carbs; 431 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 367 mg cholesterol; 2.3 g fiber


Lunch, June 25, 2015

A bento can be the solution to making a lunch date with a busy friend. Forget about driving around to find a parking spot, hoping to get a table or waiting for food to arrive to fill your hungry stomach!


Somen no tonyu tsuketsuyu / soy milk dipping sauce for thin wheat noodles

This mild and rich soy milk-based dipping sauce is quite filling. Pair it with somen or hiyamugi noodles or thin udon noodles accompanied by goodies for a more substantial meal. Among condiments, ginger goes especially well with this dipping sauce, so grate more than usual.

1/2 of recipe:
184 calories; 9.3 g protein; 12.8 g fat; 9.8 g carbohydrate; 7.6 g net carbs; 191 mg sodium (with shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce);  0 mg cholesterol; 2.2 g fiber 

When served with 100 g (dry) somen noodles with 1/2-egg kinshitamago (julienned egg crepe), a small bunch of blanched mizuna, fresh kaiware daikon radish sprouts, 3 grilled spot shrimp and condiments (small knob ginger, 2 purple shiso leaves, 1/2 green onion) per serving:
641 calories; 30.8 g protein; 18.6 g fat; 83.8 g carbohydrate; 78.2 g net carbs; 442 mg sodium; 175 mg cholesterol; 5.6 g fiber 


Fuki to ebi no itamemono / stir-fried Japanese butterbur and shrimp

A light fuki dish with shrimp that tastes gently salty and sweet. A recent hit among dishes I made for bento.

1/2 of recipe:
64 calories; 7.8 g protein; 2.1 g fat; 1.9 g carbohydrate; 1.1 g net carbs; 140 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 179 mg with regular soy sauce); 62 mg cholesterol; 0.8 g fiber


Fuki no ha to jako no mazegohan / steamed rice with Japanese butterbur leaves and dried young sardines

A distinctive rice dish on the bitter end of the spectrum for adults (and kids who have acquired the taste). The bitterness in this rice dish offers another dimension to the meal while masking the lower sodium content that you might otherwise notice.

1/2 of recipe with 150 g steamed rice:
288 calories; 5.0 g protein; 2.6 g fat; 57.7 g carbohydrate; 57.1 g net carbs; 84 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 163 mg with regular soy sauce); 11 mg cholesterol; 0.6 g fiber


Tomato no amazu oroshi-ae / tomato with grated daikon radish and sweetened vinegar

Refreshing and pleasant for both eye and palette. Select a ripe tomato for the best results. Great when paired with a grilled or fried dish.

1/2 of recipe:
23 calories; 0.5 g protein; 0 g fat; 5.2 g carbohydrate; 4.2 g net carbs; 33 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber 


Nori to nanohana no osuimono / clear soup with nori seaweed and field mustard flowers

A very quick, light soup to accompany other dishes. Nanohana field mustard flowers make a pretty contrast to the black purple backdrop of nori seaweed, which also deepens the aroma of the soup.

1/2 of recipe:
12 calories; 1.7 g protein; 0.3 g fat; 1.5 g carbohydrate; 0.8 g net carbs; 212 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber


Petoraaru karei no kinome-miso-yaki / grilled petrale sole with kinome sansho miso

Sweet and salty miso paste with pungent kinome sansho leaves is one of the seasonal choices for topping grilled dishes in early summer. Below, it is paired with petrale sole, a local fish with a delicate texture and mellow taste that goes really well with the spicy citrus tang of sansho.

1/2 of recipe:
109 calories; 19.4 g protein; 2.0 g fat; 1.8 g carbohydrate; 1.4 g net carbs; 197 mg sodium; 47 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber 


Nasu no hibari-ae / sauteed eggplant with mashed fava beans

Easy, pretty, tasty and filling. This simple Japanese dish knows no border and goes well with any cuisine!

1/2 of recipe:
95 calories; 5.3 g protein; 3.6 g fat; 10.9 g carbohydrate; 8.0 g net carbs; 92 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 2.9 g fiber


Kankoku mitsuba no shiraae / cham namul with tofu dressing

Inspired by a banchan side dish at our favorite Korean restaurant, this recipe transforms a bitter-tasting Korean leafy green into a different kind of shiraae. Among the numerous similarities in ingredients and dishes between Korea and Japan, it is always fascinating to find different approaches and techniques. Below, the tofu dressing is saltier than the one for typical Japanese shiraae. Use of sesame oil in this dish is very Korean. 

1/2 of recipe:
65 calories; 4.6 g protein; 4.2 g fat; 2.6 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g net carbs; 126 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber 



Breakfast, May 21, 2015

Last week, Tom got off one of his three medications. His heart is pretty much functioning normally again (!) except for one condition that seems to stay with him.
The doctor complimented him on his diet, which made me happy.

  • Steamed rice with toasted sesame seeds (130 g in photo; 218 kcal; 1 mg sodium)
  • Kakitama oroshi no misoshiru / egg- flower and grated daikon radish miso soup, with seri water dropwort (51 kcal; 255 mg sodium)
  • Iridofu / scrambled tofu with bracken, burdock root, carrot, yu choy sum, king oyster mushroom and egg (137 kcal; 131 mg sodium)
  • Fuki to age no gomani / Japanese butterbur and thin deep-fried tofu in sesame-flavored broth (88 kcal; 102 mg sodium)

Total calories & sodium content: 494 kcal; 489 mg sodium  (For Tom: 594 kcal; 541 mg sodium)


Aoyose / chlorophyll extracted from green leaves

Aoyose [lit. blue/green put together] is a vegetable-based colorant commonly used at restaurants in Japan. From the following simple process -- much like an elementary school science class project -- you can obtain a smooth, dark green paste like an artist's paint that gives a vibrant note to a number of dishes. Just don't be shocked how little aoyose you actually get.


Ichigo no shootokeeki / layered sponge cake with strawberries

A Japanese-style "strawberry shortcake" comes as either a double or triple layer of airy, delicate and somewhat moist sponge cake, with whole or sliced strawberries packed inside and more on top. The sponge and cream are equally soft and almost melt together in your mouth, yet you can still clearly sense the mellow aroma of sugar and fresh eggs of the sponge, the fresh silkiness of the cream and the sweet, subtly sour taste of strawberries. This is the most common Western-type cake in Japan, as it has been one of the preferred choices for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas for many years.

Whole cake: 
2,605 calories; 32.0 g protein; 185.5 g fat; 192.8 g carbohydrate; 187.3 g net carbs; 285 mg sodium; 1,002 mg cholesterol; 5.5 g fiber

1/8 slice: 
521 calories; 6.4 g protein; 37.1 g fat; 38.6 g carbohydrate; 37.5 g net carbs; 57 mg sodium; 200 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber


Suponji keeki / sponge cake (genoise)

Indispensable for a number of Western-style cakes, including layered cake with fruits and fresh cream, framboise or raspberry mousse cake, baked chocolate or chocolate mousse cakes, Mont Blanc, baked & unbaked cheesecakes, matcha green tea cake, etc. Key ingredients are as simple as flour, eggs and sugar. Below I replace some all-purpose flour with potato starch, and add some maple syrup, butter and milk to increase the cake's soft and delicate texture and moist finish.

Whole cake (18 cm mold): 
1135 calories; 27.2 g protein; 43.2 g fat; 154.6 g carbohydrate; 152.4 g net carbs; 231 mg sodium; 713 mg cholesterol; 2.2 g fiber


Hotate to meshida no bataajoyu itame / stir-fried scallops and Western lady fern in butter and soy sauce

The softly mellow taste of scallops and faint bitterness of lady fern heads complement each other really well as the no-fail combination of butter and soy sauce works again here for a pair of ingredients from the sea and the land.

1/2 of recipe:
116 calories; 12.8 g protein; 2.7 g fat; 8.4 g carbohydrate; 5.7 g net carbs; 192 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 304 mg with regular soy sauce); 27 mg cholesterol; 2.7 g fiber


Fuki no gomani / Japanese butterbur in sesame-flavored broth

Fuki's mild bitterness is softened by tahini sesame paste, making the juicy stalks a delightful companion for your meal and drinks. Delicious hot or at room temperature. Adjust the amount of tahini to make the dish lighter or richer.

1/2 of recipe:
59 calories; 2.2 g protein; 2.4 g fat; 5.9 g carbohydrate; 4.8 g net carbs; 112 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; about 200 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber


Ebi-iri tanuki donburi / shrimp and tempura pearls over steamed rice

At our house, we call this "fake tendon." Tempura pearls perform the wonderful trick of transforming this sober combination into a rich, filling dish. Add the pearls right before the egg to enjoy some crunch in the final dish as below, or add them at the same time as shrimp for mellower results.

1/2 of recipe above when served with 150 g steamed rice:
379 calories; 15.1 g protein; 4.6 g fat; 65.0 g carbohydrate;
63.6 g net carbs; 301 mg sodium (with homemade tempura pearls and 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 497 mg with regular soy sauce); 157 mg cholesterol; 1.4 g fiber


Ninjin to enoki no pirikara itameni / braised spicy carrot and enoki mushrooms

This kinpira-style spicy side dish with the clear taste of soy sauce and a sweet underlying note is an everyday favorite. Cooked enoki become a bit creamy, providing a nice contrast to the texture of carrot spears. Quick and easy, this is a great small addition at your table or in the lunch box.

1/2 of recipe:
52 calories; 1.3 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 8.7 g carbohydrate; 6.3 g net carbs; 98 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 177 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.4 g fiber


Tenkasu / agetama / tempura pearls

Little balls of tempura batter are an essential ingredient for many people when making wheat-based snacks such as okonomiyaki savory pancakes, takoyaki octopus balls and monjayaki half-cooked savory pancakes. They are also added to make other dishes rich and flavorful, in a similar way as cheese or butter is added in western cooking. While tempura "pearls" are inexpensive and widely available at grocery stores in Japan, it takes some effort to find them at a store outside Japan. But yes, they are easy to make. Using leftover batter after making tempura is one way. Below is a recipe to make tenkasu or agetama only. It makes enough to freeze for use over several months.

1 tbsp (4-5 g): 
12 calories; 0.2 g protein; 0.4 g fat; 1.8 g carbohydrate; 1.7 g net carbs; 2 mg sodium (with shrimp flakes;5-7 mg with sakura ebi); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber


Ebi fureeku / shrimp flakes

I much prefer head-on shrimp over headless shrimp for taste and texture. They take a bit more time to devein and whatnot, but then you have shells and heads that make superb stock for any cuisine. They also add a stronger shrimp aroma and flavor when sauteed before the main ingredients. And when you end up having too many shells and heads, you can turn them into shrimp flakes, which are a great substitute for sakura ebi and other dried shrimp in a number of dishes.


Karifurawaa to asupara no kuzuni / cauliflower and asparagus in thickened broth

A gentle side dish for spring. Both vegetables are subtly sweet and cooked to be soft, yet the cauliflower crumbles in your mouth while the asparagus remains intact and juicy. Perhaps this dish is not so exciting, but it is well appreciated as a "bridge" between other dishes. One of my favorites.

1/2 of recipe:
53 calories; 3.5 g protein; 0.3 g fat; 9.2 g carbohydrate; 6.4 g net carbs; 146 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 242 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.8 g fiber


Kinoko no sotee sarada / salad with sauteed mushrooms and citrus soy sauce

One of my typical baby leaf salads comes with sauteed mushrooms. Sauteed mushrooms work as a dressing, so cook them on lower heat to get the moisture out for mellower texture. Olive oil goes so well with citrus soy sauce, adding another fruity layer to the overall taste. See notes if you are out of ponzujoyu.

1/2 of recipe:
88 calories; 1.7 g protein; 6.1 g fat; 9.7 g carbohydrate; 125 mg sodium (when made with homemade ponzujoyu using 50% reduced sodium soy sauce; 350+ mg when made with store-bought ponzujoyu); 7 mg cholesterol; 5.6 g fiber


Kamatama udon / hot wheat noodles with egg and soy sauce

The udon-version equivalent of tamago-kake gohan! The dish is as simple as its rice counterpart but with more variety, because of the endless possibilities of toppings. This one is kama-age udon, where udon noodles are not chilled (and reheated) after boiling. The method naturally leaves the surface of udon slightly rough, which lets noodles mingle with sauce better for a richer taste. Toppings for kamatama udon (kama-age udon with egg) can be as minimal as chopped green onion or as elaborate as including mentaiko spicy salted pollack roe, nori seaweed, cheese, and so on. Below is our favorite, a simple combination of green onion, chives, toasted white sesame seeds and agetama tempura pearls.   

1/2 of recipe:
451 calories; 12.2 g protein; 8.7 g fat; 73.6 g carbohydrate; 70.7 g net carbs; 798 mg sodium (with nama shoyu fresh soy sauce; 701 mg with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 857 mg with regular soy sauce); 210 mg cholesterol; 2.9 g fiber


Satsumaimo no tonyu kokonattsu purin / sweet potato and soy milk coconut pudding

This is for people who like a little dessert after meals. It is very mild and will not steal the spotlight from the main meal or overwhelm your mouth with clingy sweetness. Also great as an afternoon snack. A small amount of kuromitsu, a molasses-like syrup made with kurozato muscovado, provides the deep aroma and taste of this creamy dessert.

1/3 of recipe:
149 calories; 1.7 g protein; 5.6 g fat; 22.0 g carbohydrate; 21.0 g net carbs; 11 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber