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


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)

Tomorokoshi gohan is a simple seasonal rice dish. Fresh and juicy kernels of corn are steamed with rice, imparting a sweet taste. For color, jullienned shiso perilla leaves top the rice -- very pleasant.

Hijiki no itameni is something that used to routinely show up at our table until Tom got sick three years ago. I had never measured the exact amount of seasoning for this dish, and I fully depended on my sense of taste when cooking it. The other day, Tom reminded me that he always enjoyed it. I did too, and both of us could simply eat plain steamed rice and this hijiki dish, and call it a meal. So I made hijiki no itameni pretty much the way I used to, but with reduced-sodium soy sauce and rice vinegar. The outcome was as good as what I used to make, while lowering sodium content by half. Now we can comfortably enjoy this on a regular basis.

Tom has impressed his doctors with his recovery and has been off warfarin, an anticoagulant, since this spring. Warfarin comes with a dietary restriction -- avoid taking too much Vitamin K. While warfarin informational leaflets in the US list kale and spinach as the representative vegetables to avoid, in Japan natto fermented soybeans tops the list. Natto's super healthy properties significantly affect blood test readings even when having only a bite. As a food item, natto is analogous to a blood thinner, and there is no reason not to take advantage of this property, especially when you like it (Tom claims natto as one of his favorite Japanese foods, partly, I think, to surprise inquisitive Japanese). These days, I like natto in miso soup and jjigae Korean stew. For this breakfast, grape tomatoes and nira garlic chives are added for a summery touch. Also added were enoki mushrooms, but because I put a few too many, the soup tasted slightly watery.

Small yellow zucchini from our garden are sauteed with momen firm tofu and flavored with spicy yuzukosho citron pepper paste. Sauteed tofu with yuzukosho is one of my favorites. Vegetables in season are the key to making the dish a bit more special.

I had blanched the spinach the day before with the intention of making a spinach curry for a dinner. A plan obviously is just a plan, and the green vegetable became another typical simple dish. On a whim, I rehydrated several goji berries -- another item we avoided consuming with warfarin -- in dashi and sake, and topped the spinach with a red, fruity accent. Taste-wise, goji berries did absolutely nothing in terms of creating an intriguing effect with spinach. They would probably go better with nagaimo Chinese yam, cucumber, kabu turnip or daikon in sunomono marinated dishes with vinegar. I'll try the combination next time ... before Tom eats all the goji berries in the bag.


Anonymous said...

Great to see you're back blogging and I'm looking forward to more delicious recipes. I'm in a veggie glut myself, including eggplants, mini tomatoes and shiso - among others and I frequently seek inspiration here.
This lot looks good (as always) and adding goji to the spinach dish sounds wonderful.
Regards, Philip

neco said...

Hi Philip,
Eggplants! We haven't had enough eggplants this summer. I envy you for getting lots of delicious vegetables. Our eggplants are still in flower, and eggplants at stores tend to be out of their prime.
I wanted to write receipts of my favorite summer dishes this year, but it has been too chilly to even thinking about cooking them … so until next year, I'm putting away my tentative ingredient list and ideas, hoping the next summer will have some heat.