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

2016-12-21

Tom cooks 19. Tenshinhan (crab omlette over rice) & miso soup

Tom officially has a new addition to his crab repertoire.

This was the second time Tom made tenshinhan (crabmeat egg foo young with steamed rice). Mastering a couple of Asian dishes that involve multiple tasks as well as preparing a few dishes simultaneously on a number of occasions have given him the confidence to try more recipes. 

When Tom made tenshinhan the first time, it naturally took longer and some processes were confusing. The second time, his focus was to finish up crabmeat in the fridge, and he basically forgot about preliminary prep such as rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms or using dried julienned daikon radish (substitute for takenoko bamboo shoots). But once these problems were solved (by me), his cooking seemed to go well --  at least I did not hear him screaming in the kitchen.

2016-11-29

Horenso no shami-ae / spinach with dried shrimp dressing

A light spinach side dish with a Chinese twist. Make sure to soak shami -- little salted dried shrimp -- long enough in water to get maximum flavor for the dressing.



1/2 of recipe: 25 calories; 2.4 g protein; 0.9 g fat; 2.4 g carbohydrate; 0.4 g net carbs; 75 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 8 mg cholesterol; 2.0 g fiber

2016-11-27

Shimeji to shantoreru no momiji-oroshi-ae / grilled shimeji and chanterelle mushrooms dressed with citrus-flavored soy sauce, grated turnip and carrot

A dish featuring the colors of autumn and mushrooms in season. Fresh and sweet kabu turnip and carrot are grated to create an orange blanket for the mushrooms, which are grilled to intensify their taste and aroma. This mild dish is a great companion with something heavy or strong-flavored dishes.



1/2 of recipe: 22 calories; 1.9 g protein; 0.2 g fat; 4.9 g carbohydrate; 2.4 g net carbs; 43 mg sodium (with homemade ponzujoyu using 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 77 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.2 g fiber

2016-11-25

Shinjo no shiso-hasami-yaki / fried fishcake in perilla leaves

Shinjo or fluffy fishcakes sandwiched by perilla leaves are fried for a crispy outer crust and creamy inside texture.  Both shiso perilla and egoma perilla leaves work great.



1/2 of recipe:  137 calories; 10.0 g protein; 4.3 g fat; 12.1 g carbohydrate; 11.1 g net carbs; 232 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber

2016-11-02

Hakkuruberii no taruto / huckleberry tart

Here is another delicious tart packed with little huckleberries! Paired with the ubiquitous crème d'amonde or almond cream, it's a foolproof recipe featuring an easy okara soybean pulp & almond flour crust. The tart tastes somewhat fluffy on Day 1, and becomes subtly moist on Day 2 forward.



Whole tart:
1,072 calories; 20.6 g protein; 82.1 g fat; 68.7 g carbohydrate; 52.3 g net carbs; 78 mg sodium; 260 mg cholesterol; 10.9 g fiber

1/8 slice:
134 calories; 2.6 g protein; 10.3 g fat; 8.6 g carbohydrate; 6.5 g net carbs; 10 mg sodium; 32.5 mg cholesterol; 1.4 g fiber

2016-10-31

Hakkuruberii no makaron taruto / huckleberry macaron tart

A light tart filled with in-season huckleberries and topped with macaron -- meringue with almond flour. The macaron is crunchy on the surface on Day 1, and turns to the texture of sponge cake from the next day.



Whole tart:
850 calories; 24.2 g protein; 52.2 g fat; 79.8 g carbohydrate; 61.6 g net carbs; 121 mg sodium; 19 mg cholesterol; 12.7 g fiber

1/8 slice:
106 calories; 3.0 g protein; 6.5 g fat; 10.0 g carbohydrate; 7.7 g net carbs; 15 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 1.6 g fiber

2016-10-18

Kabugohan / steamed rice with Japanese turnip

This is a simple steamed rice, but it reminds me of the warming and soothing rice porridge you would eat when not feeling well -- meaning, it offers that much tenderness. Kabu turnip is grated, and the pooled juice is used as part of cooking liquid in order to make the most of the vegetable's sweet taste. Very pleasant.



1/3 of recipe: 199 calories; 3.8 g protein; 0.5 g fat; 42.1 g carbohydrate; 40.7 g net carbs; 75 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.4 g fiber

1/2 of recipe: 298 calories; 5.7 g protein; 0.8 g fat; 63.2 g carbohydrate; 61.1 g net carbs; 113 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber

2016-10-14

Dinner, October 8, 2016

Our town recently held its 15th annual Crab (and Seafood) Festival, and we decided to have our own crab dinner with leftovers from temakizushi hand-rolled sushi from the day before.

  • Kani-dashi no mukago gohan / steamed rice with mountain yam bulbs, cooked with crab shell broth
  • Kani shinjo no osuimono / clear soup with fish & crab dumplings, with Japanese turnip stems and chrysanthemum-cut carrot
  • Kani to yurine, ninjin no happa no kakiage, hanaho no tenpura / mixed tempura of crabmeat, lily bulb and carrot leaf, and green perilla flower spike tempura
  • Kani to kyuri, kikka no shoga amazu-ae / crabmeat, cucumber and chrysanthemum in ginger-flavored sweetened vinegar
  • Kanimiso-iri gomadofu / sesame tofu with crab "butter" (innards)
  • Yaki-shimeji no momiji-oroshi-ae / grilled shimeji mushrooms dressed with grated carrot & Japanese turnip and citrus soy sauce

A whole or half crab served with kanizu vinegar comes to mind when I hear "crab feast," but we had already shelled the crab the day before and used one-third in sushi. We had a bit more than a handful of crabmeat, lots of crab shell, and kanimiso crab butter, plus several other ingredients from the garden waiting their turn at our table.

2016-10-12

Karifurawaa no sujoyu-itame / stir-fried cauliflower in vinegar soy sauce

A versatile stir-fried cauliflower dish that can be cooked and served in a number of ways. Steam briefly for a crunchy mood changer, or steam longer for comforting tenderness. Keep the heat level relatively low to maintain the white appearance, or raise heat somewhat to enjoy the toasty note of soy sauce. Serve hot as a side dish, or serve cold as an instant pickle ...



1/2 of recipe: 45 calories; 3.2 g protein; 1.1 g fat; 6.1 g carbohydrate; 3.2 g net carbs; 86 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 165-180 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.9 g fiber

2016-10-10

Shishito to eringi no amiyaki / grilled shishito peppers and king oyster mushrooms

From the prep stage, the crackling sound and earthy aroma of mushrooms and green peppers on the grill become part of your meal. Grilled ingredients in season are often eaten with soy sauce based dipping sauce, or with salt and a squeeze of citrus such as yuzu, sudachi and kabosu. The grilled eringi and shishito below are served with grated ginger and soy sauce mixed with dashi. This is a very straightforward way to cook with little involved ...



1/2 of recipe: 20 calories; 2.2 g protein; 0.3 g fat; 5.3 g carbohydrate; 2.4 g net carbs; 41 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 101 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.9 g fiber

2016-10-07

Horenso to shungiku, kikka no ohitashi / spinach, garland chrysanthemum and chrysanthemum flowers in light broth

Kikuzuki, or chrysanthemum month, is another name for September in the old calendar in Japan -- today's October. So here is an ordinary ohitashi featuring the iconic flower of  the season.



1/2 of recipe: 17 calories; 1.7 g protein; 0.3 g fat; 2.8 g carbohydrate; 0.7 g net carbs; 83 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber

2016-10-05

Tofu to zukkiini, ingen no yuzukosho-itame / stir-fried tofu, zucchini and green beans with yuzu citron green pepper paste

This plain-looking tofu and vegetable dish welcomes you with the zesty punch of picante yuzukosho. A quick and easy side dish for your everyday table and bento.



1/2 of recipe: 73 calories; 5.4 g protein; 3.9 g fat; 3.2 g carbohydrate; 2.1 g net carbs; 49 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 77 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber

2016-09-09

Hijiki no itameni / braised hijiki seaweed

A nice side dish to keep in the fridge for everyday meals and bento. The strong flavor makes it a great companion for steamed rice. Our favorite!




Whole recipe (382 g):
186 calories; 8.9 g protein; 9.1 g fat; 9.6 g carbohydrate; 8.4 g net carbs; 859 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 11.2 g fiber

1 serving (45 g; photo above):
25.5 calories; 1.2 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 2.7 g carbohydrate; 1.2 g net carbs; 118 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 fiber

2016-09-07

Tomato to nira no nattojiru / miso soup with fermented soybeans, tomato and garlic chives

A comforting natto soup with a summer twist. Enoki mushrooms deepen the taste while deep-fried tofu makes the soup impressively filling.



1/2 of recipe:
126 calories; 10.1 g protein; 6.2 g fat; 8.0 g carbohydrate; 4.7 g net carbs; 233 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.3 g fiber

2016-08-28

Tomorokoshi gohan / steamed rice with corn

Sweet kernels of corn instantly make ordinary rice a summer dish. Julienned green shiso perilla leaves offer a nice counter punch, preventing the rice from becoming too mellow.



1/3 of recipe:
209 calories; 4.0 g protein; 0.9 g fat; 43.5 g carbohydrate; 42.5 g net carbs; 79.3 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
313 calories; 6.0 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 65.3 g carbohydrate; 63.8 g net carbs; 101 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

2016-08-26

Hiyajiru / steamed barley rice with cold sesame-miso soup with cucumber and grilled fish

Literally called "cold soup," this soupy rice dish is a quick meal for hot days in southern Japan's Miyazaki Prefecture. When I first learned about this dish, the description sounded reminiscent of neko manma [lit. cat rice], where you pour miso soup over steamed rice and shovel it in, and at first I was doubtful: Would this actually taste good? Well, there was nothing to do but to try to figure that out. The mixture of miso and sesame paste is first toasted for a deep rich taste, while cucumber, shiso leaves and ginger contribute to a refreshing aftertaste. When the soup is prepared in the cool of the morning, the rest is quite easy and fast. While cucumber is available all year around nowadays, in oriental medicine it is known for cooling down your body -- a very appropriate vegetable for the dog days of summer.
This is another great choice when having little appetite on hot days!



1/2 of recipe, served with 120 g steamed barley rice:
370 calories; 26.8 g protein; 8.8 g fat; 45.2 g carbohydrate; 40.9 g net carbs; 452 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 4.3 g fiber

1/2 of recipe, soup only:
209 calories; 24.0 g protein; 8.3 g fat; 9.6 g carbohydrate; 7.0 g net carbs; 452 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fiber

2016-08-23

Breakfast, August 17, 2016

Summer is finally here, and local corn has started to look appetizing. Weeks of chilly days up until mid August have already turned the giant leaves of the maples partially yellow around our house. Before we lose the warm weather, we had a breakfast featuring a couple of summer vegetables.

  • Tomorokoshi gohan / steamed rice with corn, topped with julienned shiso perilla leaves (209 kcal; 79 mg sodium)
  • Mini tomato to nira-iri nattojiru / miso soup with fermented soybeans, cherry tomatoes and garlic chives (80 kcal; 231 mg sodium)
  • Zukkiini to tofu no yuzukosho-itame / stir-fried zucchini and tofu, yuzu citron pepper flavor (78 kcal; 60 mg sodium)
  • Horenso no ohitashi, kuko no mi-zoe / spinach marinated in light broth, with goji berries (16 kcal; 30 mg sodium)
  • Hijiki no itameni / braised hijiki seaweed (17 kcal; 79 mg sodium)

Total calories & sodium content: 400 kcal; 489 mg sodium  (For Tom: 608 kcal; 523 mg sodium)

2016-06-29

Hotate-shinjo to endomame no surinagashi / green pea soup with fish and scallop dumplings

Plump green peas in season make a cheerful chartreuse soup. While the soup is very pleasant by itself, fish and scallop dumplings broaden the spectrum of gentle taste.  Juicy and crispy fuki stalks work as a nice counter-punch in this small soup.



121 calories (1/2 of recipe); 12.0 g protein; 0.7 g fat; 14.6 g carbohydrate; 12.3 g net carbs; 298 mg sodium; 27 mg cholesterol; 2.3 g fiber

2016-06-16

Kaburamushi / steamed fish with grated Japanese turnip

Another super-light steamed fish dish topped with a fluffy white blanket of turnip and aromatic gin-an dashi sauce. This is generally regarded as a cold season dish in Japan, yet erratic weather and different growing seasons here offer good excuses to serve this on chilly days -- it warms you up from inside.



119 calories (1/2 of recipe); 15.4 g protein; 1.4 g fat; 9.9 g carbohydrate; 8.3 g net carbs; 177 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 1.7 g fiber

2016-06-11

Saba no oshizushi / pressed sushi with grilled mackerel

A specialty sushi from the eastern part of Toyama Prefecture. This sushi appeared at gatherings of relatives at the house of my grandmother on my mother's side in Urayama (Unazuki). We would all get together for mid-summer obon to welcome ancestors as well as to attend spring and fall ennichi festivals at the local shrine. In my mind's eye, I can see my grandmother and aunties working in the large, earthen floor kitchen, chattering away and laughing against the sounds of running water, chopping vegetables and steaming pots, with indulgent smells filling the air. There, they used several huge wooden molds to make hundreds of sushi to feed dozens of people during their stay at the house and to take home. My mom, the youngest of her siblings, claims that gently breaking up grilled mackerel was her role in the sushi making, but she is not in my picture ...

I have a clear visual recollection of me holding a piece of sushi with vivid green sansho leaves. After my grandmother's health deteriorated and we began buying this type of sushi from shops, sansho was always missing, and needless to say there were differences in taste and texture. It was still home style, but certainly not what my family was familiar with.

Because of the big operation I used to see at grandmother's kitchen, I had long thought making this sushi would be too much work. But when I finally made a satisfactory one, it was surprisingly easy -- why couldn't I make this before?

As with masuzushi pressed salmon sushi, making this -- especially mackerel prep and pressing after assembly -- takes a bit of time. It tastes better the next day, too, so plan ahead.


Whole recipe: 1,212 calories; 32.9 g protein; 28.9 g fat; 187.9 g carbohydrate; 185.4 g net carbs; 443 mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice); 69 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber

1/9 cut: 135 calories; 3.7 g protein; 3.2 g fat; 20.9 g carbohydrate; 20.6 g net carbs; 49 mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice); 69 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber

2016-06-09

Fuki to ebi no ohitashi / Japanese butterbur and shrimp marinated in light broth

Colorful coon shrimp (small spot shrimp), a local specialty, paired with fuki Japanese butterbur from our garden. Cooked coon shrimp we bought the other day happened to be inexcusably salty. After wondering if we should just throw them away, I decided to do an experiment, marinating them in lightly seasoned dashi to get rid of excess sodium while flavoring at the same time, a technique that works like magic with smoked salmon. And yes, the rescue effort was a delicious success.



32 calories (1/2 of recipe); 4.8 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 2.0 g carbohydrate; 1.5 g net carbs; 145 mg sodium; 38 mg cholesterol; 0.5 g fiber

2016-06-07

Karukan / steamed yam cake

A regional specialty with 300 years of history from Kagoshima in southern Japan. Traditionally made with yamaimo or jinenjo Japanese yam (Dioscorea japonica), regular rice flour, sugar and water, this simple snow-white cake has a nostalgic sweet taste. Karukan has a supple texture like mochi rice cakes but much lighter and spongy like steamed buns, which seems to make your hand automatically reach for one more piece, and another, and ...
The recipe below features more commonly found nagaimo Chinese yam and an egg white for additional fluffy texture. Plain, white cake without topping is the basic style, yet there are a number of flavor and color variations today.


Whole recipe (approx. 360 g), without kumquat confiture:
676 calories; 12.2 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 152.5 g carbohydrate; 150.9 g net carbs; 70 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.6 g fiber

1 piece (approx. 40 g; 1/9 of recipe), without kumquat confiture:
75 calories; 1.4 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 16.9 g carbohydrate; 16.8 g net carbs; 8 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.2 g fiber

2016-06-05

Asazuke hakusai kimuchi / quick napa cabbage kimchi

Sodium-savvy kimchi that we can eat without hesitation. This is a quick version inspired by non-fermented salad-like baechu geotjeori. Quick, but not exactly so ... the process takes some patience, as you need to let hakusai enjoy the sun (or the chill in the fridge) to intensify its natural sweetness and then spiced it up in red seasoning mix. The seasoning mix does contain sodium from fish sauce, shiokoji salted rice malt and shrimp flakes, but total sodium content is one-third to one-quarter of regular store-bought kimchi.



Kimchi (whole recipe; approx. 320 g [260-270 g solids])
237 calories; 7.2 g protein; 6.7 g fat; 33.7 g carbohydrate; 27.4 g net carbs; 612 mg sodium (approx. 340 mg with solids only); 1 mg cholesterol; 6.3 g fiber

Yangnyeom seasoning mix only (whole recipe; approx. 100 g)
175 calories; 4.3 g protein; 6.4 g fat; 19.1 g carbohydrate; 17.6 g net carbs; 596 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

2016-06-03

Kabocha pumpkin

Right: Akagawa kuri kabocha (Cucurbita maxima Duchesne "Red Kuri")
Left: Kurokawa kuri kabocha (Cucurbita maxima Duchesne)

Most kabocha grown and distributed today in Japan are improved varieties of kuri kabocha [lit. chestnut pumpkin] or seiyo kabocha [lit. Western pumpkin, Cucurbita maxima Duchesne], which were introduced to Japan in the late 19th century. The less commonly distributed nihon kabocha [lit. Japanese pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata Duchesne] arrived in Japan on a Portuguese ship via Cambodia and has deep grooves on its skin, as seen with the representative kiku kabocha [lit. chrysanthemum pumpkin] variety. Cambodia is said to be where the vegetable's Japanese name "kabocha" comes from. As a side note, kiku/nihon kabocha's true origin is Mexico, whereas kuri kabocha's roots are in Peru -- just two more examples of vegetables crisscrossing the globe.

2016-05-28

Kinkan namasu / daikon radish and kumquat pickled in sweetened vinegar

This contrasting combination of sweet, faintly bitter kumquat and spicy daikon radish makes a juicy, refreshing side dish that goes well with any dish of any cuisine! Just one thing to remember: It tastes bland immediately after putting everything together, so prepare it several hours ahead of time or a day in advance.



23 calories (1/3 of recipe); 0.4 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 7.7 g carbohydrate; 3.7 g net carbs; 58 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.3 g fiber

17 calories (1/4 of recipe); 0.3 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 5.8 g carbohydrate; 2.8 g net carbs; 44 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber

2016-05-26

Tom Cooks 18. Mame gohan (steamed rice with peas) & daikon, ninjin, age no itameni (daikon radish, carrot and thin deep-fried tofu saute simmered in broth)

One day Tom got particularly ambitious and decided to make a Japanese dinner consisting of five dishes for my birthday. Working hard all by himself, he carefully planned the menu and made a shopping list, and was looking nervous as the day approached. Then he won an unexpected reprieve from his self-proposed task, as our savior friends took us out for dinner!
Lucky Tom.

Well, now he must regret that the time and thought he put into the menu have evaporated as if they never existed. So, to recognize his efforts, I suggested he prepare two dishes the next day. A reduction from five dishes to two seemed like a bargain to him, and almost instantly Tom said, "I can do that," flashing a cheeky smile.

2016-05-24

Nattojiru / miso soup with fermented soybeans

A stew-like miso soup featuring natto. Natto's distinctive aroma softens after simmering for some time, and this is a good introductory dish for those who are not familiar with the ingredient. Great for chilly or cool days, as the soup warms your body. 


104 calories (1/2 of recipe); 8.8 g protein; 5.2 g fat; 5.4 g carbohydrate; 3.3 g net carbs; 261 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber

2016-05-18

Ebi to zukkiini no ebimayo-fu / shrimp and zucchini in ebimayo-style sauce

A delightful dish inspired by a popular Chinese-influenced recipe, ebimayo or deep-fried shrimp in mayonnaise sauce. This takes full advantage of light soy milk curd made with apple cider vinegar, softly rich tamago no moto egg yolk emulsion, and fresh tomato. Zucchini and shrimp are sauteed for a quick fix, and mixed with the sauce. Yes, making the soy milk curd and egg yolk emulsion takes extra time, and so does cleaning shrimp with potato starch, but you will not regret it with the pleasant result.


212 calories (1/2 of recipe); 18.0 g protein; 11.9 g fat; 6.7 g carbohydrate; 5.6 g net carbs; 206 mg sodium; 148 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber

2016-05-16

Tamago no moto / egg yolk emulsion

This simple mixture of egg yolk and oil is often used to give fluffy texture and impart subtle richness. It also works as a moderate binder. For successful, creamy emulsification, add a small amount of oil to egg yolk at a time and whisk well. Otherwise, the two ingredients end up separating unhappily.



390 calories (whole recipe); 2.5 g protein; 41.0 g fat; 0 g carbohydrate; 0 g net carbs; 7 mg sodium; 211 mg cholesterol; 0 g fiber

111 calories (1 tbsp); 0.7 g protein; 11.7 g fat; 0 g carbohydrate; 0 g net carbs; 2 mg sodium; 60 mg cholesterol; 0 g fiber

2016-05-13

Tsumire to retasu no nimono / fish dumplings and lettuce simmered in broth

This resembles a nabe hot pot but is cooked in a stronger broth. Soft and fluffy tsumire fish dumplings crumble in your mouth, while lettuce gives some crispiness. As with any item made with surimi ground fish paste, these dumplings by themselves contain a relatively high amount of sodium, but the sodium is released into the broth while simmering, and you can comfortably enjoy the gentle taste tsumire offers -- one of the great advantages of nimono simmered dishes, where the broth is often left behind in the pot or untouched in bowls.


196 calories (1/2 of recipe); 12.6 g protein; 8.2 g fat; 14.6 g carbohydrate; 13.0 g net carbs; 250 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 79 mg cholesterol; 1.6 g fiber

2016-05-10

Fuki to atsuage no nimono (genen) / Japanese butterbur and deep-fried tofu in light broth (reduced-sodium version)

This is a reduced-sodium version of a past fuki and atsuage recipe. The original recipe already tasted soft and hit the spot for me, and I cut the amount of soy sauce by only 25% of the original version while adjusting most of the other seasonings and adding a tiny amount of rice vinegar to maintain the flavor. As with the original recipe, this dish, especially atsuage, would taste bland immediately after cooking or cooling only for 1 hour; making this hours ahead or a day in advance ensures maximum flavor.



104 calories (1/2 of recipe); 6.7 g protein; 6.6 g fat; 3.2 g carbohydrate; 2.3 g net carbs; 95 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.9 g fiber

2016-05-07

Radisshu no kazarikiri, temari / decorative thread ball cut for radish

Create a decorative edible ornament with a little radish! It takes a bit of time, but all cuts are simple. It's an instant upgrade to a cheerful plate, bento or table, even ones filled with dull colors. Use globe-shaped radishes for best results.


2016-05-04

Maitake to warabi no gorugonzoora pasta / pasta with hen of the woods mushrooms and bracken in gorgonzola sauce

Crunchy maitake is a nice addition to rich gorgonzola sauce for pasta. A vegetable in season -- warabi this time -- takes away the heavy note of the cheese sauce, which is also lightened by replacing the typical heavy cream with a combination of soy milk and sakekasu sake lees.
Since the sauce cooks fast once you add the soy milk and gorgonzola mixture, start cooking pasta before starting to saute maitake and warabi for the sauce.



548 calories (1/2 of recipe); 21.6 g protein; 24.2 g fat; 59.8 g carbohydrate; 54.2 g net carbs; 234 mg sodium; 30 mg cholesterol; 5.6 g fiber

2016-04-23

Abokado to meshida, ebi no sarada, tonyu no yooguruto-fu doresshingu / avocado, Western lady fern and shrimp salad with soy milk yogurt-style dressing

Juicy, succulent lady fern fiddleheads lighten up the golden combination of avocado and shrimp, with everything held together by a softly spicy and creamy dressing made of soy milk.
Drawing out enough water from soy milk after mixing with apple cider vinegar takes a bit of time, so strain the mixture of soy milk and apple cider vinegar ahead of time -- the rest goes pretty quickly.



Salad with dressing (1/2 of recipe):
148 calories; 8.8 g protein; 10.4 g fat; 6.3 g carbohydrate; 2.3 g net carbs; 55 mg sodium; 38 mg cholesterol; 4.1 g fiber

Dressing only (1/2 of recipe):
46 calories; 2.0 g protein; 3.1 g fat; 1.9 g carbohydrate; 1.8 g net carbs; 14 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.2 g fiber

2016-04-19

Nitamago / flavored soft-boiled eggs

A popular topping for ramen noodles! These eggs are also tasty on their own, in addition to working well as a topping for other types of noodles or steamed rice and as part of a salad (one of key components or as dressing). The recipe below involves slow flavoring in the fridge, where eggs are ready starting on Day 2 and lasting at least to Day 6.



83 calories (1 egg); 6.6 g protein; 5.3 g fat; 1.4g carbohydrate; 1.2 g net carbs; 115 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce and shoyukoji made of 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 214 mg cholesterol; 0.2 g fiber 

2016-04-16

Mitsuba to kumiage-yuba no wasabijoyu-ae / mitsuba and fresh tofu skin dressed with wasabi soy sauce

Wasabijoyu-ae -- dressing the main ingredient in wasabi soy sauce -- is a common way to enjoy either mitsuba or kumiage-yuba on its own. When combining the two, fresh yuba softly envelops refreshing mitsuba in a creamy blanket.



76 calories (1/2 of recipe); 7.0 g protein; 4.1 g fat; 2.4 g carbohydrate; 1.7 g net carbs; 81 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; approximately 170 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber

2016-04-13

Meshida to tomato no sarada / lady fern fiddleheads and tomato salad

Enjoy the delicate flavor of succulent lady fern fiddleheads in a simple pairing with tomatoes. Goes well with any cuisine!



50 calories (1/2 of recipe); 2.6 g protein; 2.1 g fat; 6.9 g carbohydrate; 2.7 g net carbs; 15 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 4.2 g fiber

2016-04-11

Warabi no tataki (miso aji) / savory bracken paste (miso version)

An earthy and softly bitter taste with the minty sensation of spring. This simple little dish is treasured by grownups as a companion for their drinks or as a topping for steamed rice. Try this with just-harvested warabi bracken to experience the best taste and aroma of the wild plant.


11 calories (1/2 of recipe); 0.8 g protein; 0.2 g fat; 1.6 g carbohydrate; 0.7 g net carbs; 103 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.9 g fiber

2016-04-09

Sakura daifuku / soft rice cake with cherry blossom bean paste

A seasonal variation of daifuku, a soft rice cake with sweet azuki bean paste inside. While sakura-an -- cherry blossom bean paste -- is usually made with shiroan, salted cherry leaves and red colorant, I mixed in sakura no hana no shiozuke salted cherry blossoms and beet water to shiroan white bean paste to create a softly salty, aromatic filling in sakura-iro pale pink.



104 calories (one cake, 1/4 of recipe); 2.1 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 26.0 g carbohydrate; 24.5 g net carbs; 5 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

2016-04-07

Sukuidofu to kumiage-yuba no miso guratan / extra soft tofu and fresh tofu skin gratin with red miso

This creation is inspired by a little savory gratin we shared at an upscale izakaya pub in Osaka last winter. Red miso's rich complexity binds and highlights all the mild key players -- extra soft tofu, fresh yuba, bechamel sauce and fontina cheese. A combination of lemon zest and yuzu citron juice offers a fresh note and lightens the overall taste. Below, bechamel or white sauce is made in the microwave for simplified preparation.



254 calories (1 ramekin); 15.7 g protein; 16.0 g fat; 10.3 g carbohydrate; 9.5 g net carbs; 181 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 0.8 g fiber

2016-04-04

Sakura shiokoji gohan / steamed rice with salted cherry blossoms (salted rice malt version)

Sakura shiokoji -- made with the salt used to pickle cherry blossoms -- instantly transforms regular salty-sweet sakura gohan into a sodium-savvy dish with a more subtly salty and milder taste.



1/3 of recipe:
188 calories; 3.1 g protein; 0.5 g fat; 39.8 g carbohydrate; 39.5 g net carbs; 56 mg sodium (when using sakura shiokoji made of kosher salt; excluding pickled cherry blossoms); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.3 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
282 calories; 4.7 g protein; 0.7 g fat; 59.7 g carbohydrate; 59.3 g net carbs; 84 mg sodium (when using sakura shiokoji made of kosher salt; excluding pickled cherry blossoms); 0 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber

2016-04-01

Asupara to burokkoriirabu, mini tomato no okaka-ae / asparagus, broccoli raab and cherry tomatoes with bonito flakes

A quick side vegetable dish dressed with bonito flakes. Great next to your main dish or as a filler in a bento box.


22 calories (1/2 of recipe); 2.7 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 3.4 g carbohydrate; 2.0 g net carbs; 52 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; approximately 100 mg with regular soy sauce); 2 mg cholesterol; 1.4 g fiber 

2016-03-30

Karifurawaa to satoimo, daikon, seri no surinagashi / cauliflower, baby taro root and daikon radish white miso potage soup with water dropwort

A soothing Japanese-style potage soup featuring in-season white vegetables. Seri's soft bitterness and refreshing aroma provide a contrasting accent.



50 calories (1/2 of recipe); 2.9 g protein; 0.3 g fat; 9.0 g carbohydrate; 6.7 g net carbs; 19 4mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.3 g fiber

2016-03-27

Kumiage-yuba to kani no ankakedon / fresh tofu skin and crab sauce over steamed rice

Heavenly creamy fresh yuba meets sweet Dungeness crab! Mitsuba, with its refreshing bouquet and taste, works as a highlight as the other ingredients blend in harmony. Below, the dish is served with steamed rice cooked with lotus root for a nice crunch and seasonal reminder. Comforting and yummy!



When served with 150 g steamed rice (plus several lotus root slices) and 60% of yuba-an sauce:
350 calories; 13.2 g protein; 4.1 g fat; 59.4 g carbohydrate; 58.4 g net carbs; 380 mg sodium; 12 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber

When served with 110 g steamed rice (plus several lotus root slices) and 40% of yuba-an sauce:
251 calories; 9.1 g protein; 2.8 g fat; 43.4 g carbohydrate; 42.7 g net carbs; 253 mg sodium; 8 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber

2016-03-25

Kumiage-yuba / fresh tofu skin

Kumiage-yuba is a type of fresh yuba tofu skin (beancurd sheets). It has a very silky, creamy texture that melts in your mouth. Making it requires only fresh additive-free tonyu soy milk and some water ... and lots of time.

In my case, 500 cc (about a pint) of soy milk yields only sixteen 20 cm/8" round sheets over 2+ hours. Each sheet takes several minutes to harvest, so think of it this way -- you have lots of time to take care of simple tasks in the kitchen, or even get some exercise in front of the stove! You won't regret the time you spend once you discover how delicate and tasty these simple creations can be.

2016-03-23

Seri to toriniku no karashijoyu-ae / water dropwort and chicken in mustard soy sauce dressing

Seri water dropwort goes really well with chicken. Here is a quick, light side dish using boiled chicken from making chicken stock.


57 calories (1/2 of recipe); 8.2 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 1.3 g carbohydrate; 0.9 g net carbs; 83 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; approximately 180 mg with regular soy sauce); 39 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber

2016-03-21

Asupara no kani-ankake / asparagus with thickened crab sauce

Another dish that appears at our table when asparagus season rolls around. The sweet note of juicy asparagus is a natural match with Dungeness crab. This quick, easy and delicious Chinese-style ankake (dish with thickened sauce) is a surefire hit.


79 calories (1/2 of recipe); 8.0 g protein; 2.5 g fat; 6.3 g carbohydrate; 4.6 g net carbs; 189 mg sodium; 20 mg cholesterol; 1.7 g fiber

2016-03-19

Kabu to usuage no nimono (genen) / Japanese turnip and thin deep-fried tofu in broth (reduced-sodium version)

Among many variations of nibitashi or nimono simmered dishes, this is one of my favorite combinations. While I continue to use usukuchi soy sauce with its pale color and higher sodium content than regular soy sauce, I cut the amount by more than half. Also reduced is the amount of dashi, sake and mirin, and I add a small amount of rice vinegar to the broth. Kabu leaves are removed from the pot after sauteing to keep their green color, but cooking them in broth actually results in a deeper, more satisfying taste (see Notes).



99 calories (1/2 of recipe); 3.5 g protein; 5.5 g fat; 8.2 g carbohydrate; 6.1 g net carbs; 204 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber

2016-03-17

Seri water dropwort













Oenanthe javanica
Seri is native to the Northern Hemisphere and Australia. In addition to growing near clean streams, seri is often found near rice paddies in Japan. The seri growing near streams is called mizuzeri [lit. water seri], and the one near rice paddies is called tazeri [rice field seri]. Tazeri is often treated as a (noxious) weed due to its vigorous growth. The vigor of the plant is said to be where its name comes from, at least phonetically. While written in different characters, seri means bidding at wholesale fish and produce markets, and seru, the verb form of seri, means to aggressively compete. In turn, it is one of the easiest vegetables to grow -- you can start with a bunch you buy at a grocery store, by keeping their stems in water for some days or weeks. If stems come with roots, even very short ones, success is almost guaranteed. Once roots are long enough, you can transplant seri to soil, either in a pot or in the ground. The plant will be happy as long as you keep it watered.

2016-03-15

Kinoko-iri sundupu / soondupu jjigae Korean soft tofu stew with mushrooms

A tasty Korean soft tofu stew has made a comeback at our table! My now typical lineup of seasonings to reduce overall sodium -- shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt, shiokoji salted rice malt and (brown) rice vinegar -- works like a charm again here. The strong taste and aroma of dashi stock made of niboshi dried young sardines and konbu kelp is softened to a deeper note by adding the water used to rehydrate dried shiitake, which is one of assorted mushrooms that go into the stew. All in all, this is very satisfying, filling dish.


248 calories (1/2 of recipe); 18.9 g protein; 13.9 g fat; 16.1 g carbohydrate; 10.1 g net carbs; 574 mg sodium; 219 mg cholesterol; 6.0 g fiber

2016-03-14

Sundupu-yo yannyomu / yangnyeom seasoning mix for soondupu jjigae Korean soft tofu stew

This seasoning mix lets you make tasty soondupu jjigae that is low in sodium!


Whole recipe:
295 calories; 5.0 g protein; 19.8 g fat; 19.9 g carbohydrate; 19.2 g net carbs; 464 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber

1 tsp (6 g):
21 calories; 0.4 g protein; 1.4 g fat; 1.4 g carbohydrate; 1.4 g net carbs; 33 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber