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


Zukkiini no shami-itameni / braized zucchini with dried shrimp

Very aromatic and flavorful, shami dried shrimp instantly transform a simple saute. Soaking shami in water ahead of time as below ensures that zucchini is softly and thoroughly seasoned. If you don't have time to soak or want to enjoy the contrast between tender zucchini and crunchy shami, they can simply be chopped and sauteed. The dish is equally tasty either way. Great with plain steamed rice, and can be served as one of starter dishes with drinks.

1/2 of recipe:
34 calories; 3.7 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 2.7 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g net carbs; 132 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 24 mg cholesterol; 1.1 g fiber


Dinner, June 16, 2017

One day our friends gave us very crisp, chicory-like mizuna called Mizuna Green Streak, and Tom put some in an omelet the next morning. But we still had plenty, so we got super fresh rockfish from a local fish store and lots of fava beans from another local shop. My menu plan naturally was to enjoy this great food!

  • Soramame to sakura ebi no gohan / steamed rice with fava beans and dried shrimp
  • Tofu, wakame, usuage no misoshiru / miso soup with tofu, wakame seaweed, thin deep-fried tofu, with daikon radish sprouts
  • Menuke no karashiage to mizuna, serori no okaka-ae / deep-fried mustard-marinated rockfish with mustard greens and celery
  • Tomato to okura no amazu oroshi-ae / tomatoes and okra in grated radish with sweetened vinegar
429 calories, 515 mg sodium (items on front tray, for me; 566 calories, 612 mg sodium after eating half of remaining fish karashiage)

For Tom, after having another serving of rice and finishing up half of remaining fish karashiage in the serving bowl, the dinner had 778 calories and 731 mg sodium. I knew the number wouldn't be low, as I made takikomi gohan rice cooked with goodies instead of plain rice (virtually zero sodium), but going above 700 mg gave me a minor shock.


Kanso asari gohan / steamed rice with dried clams

Just like dried scallops, dried clams make an aromatic broth by simply soaking them in water. When the rehydrated clams and rehydration water are used to cook rice, you have a very tasty steamed rice. Dried clams have a mellower note compared to fresh, boiled or steamed clams, and it can be a bit overwhelming if you use too many, depending on other ingredients to pair. Below, julienned ginger is added for a refreshing taste to contrast the mellow aroma of clams.

1/2 of recipe:
290 calories; 6.7 g protein; 1.0 g fat; 59.0 g carbohydrate; 58.5 g net carbs; 112 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 5 mg cholesterol; 0.5 g fiber

1/3 of recipe:
194 calories; 4.4 g protein; 0.7 g fat; 39.4 g carbohydrate; 39.1 g net carbs; 75 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 4 mg cholesterol; 0.3 g fiber


Oriibu no shionuki / desalination of olives

Finding olives with lower sodium content at stores is nice, but they still contain quite a bit of salt. Tom tends to end up eating more than he probably should, thinking each fruit is small ... one more is OK ... another is still OK ... maybe one more ...

Soaking olives in water with a tiny amount of salt can take care of desalination. 

According to my kitchen tests, when olives are soaked in cold water (50F/10C), their sodium content is reduced by approximately 30% after 1 hour, 40-50% after 2 hours, and 60+% after 3 hours.


Zukkini to tamago, feta chiizu no pan / zucchini, egg and feta cheese pastry

This is another savory pastry we like. Sauteed zucchini is paired with fluffy fried or microwaved egg and feta cheese. Dill makes this combination truly savory.

1 pastry (1/9 piroshki-style dough recipe and 1/3 of filling recipe):
266 calories; 12.9 g protein; 12.8 g fat; 25.5 g carbohydrate; 20.9 g net carbs; 151 mg sodium; 89 mg cholesterol; 4.6 g fiber


Eringi to shimeji no namuru / namul saute with king oyster and shimeji mushrooms

A quick saute of mushrooms with sesame oil. Fresno pepper adds colorful contrast and soft crunch. Great as a filler in a bento box, too.

1/2 of recipe:
24 calories; 1.7 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 3.6 g carbohydrate; 0 g net carbs; 31 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.6 g fiber


Burokkorii to mini tomato no gomaae / broccoli and grape tomatoes in sesame dressing

A little side dish to add green and red to your plate. It is very quick to make, as chopping and microwaving broccoli are basically all you need to do (other than preparing dressing, which is also very easy). Fresh tomatoes ensure a light taste for this gomaae, which sometimes can be a bit heavy.

1/2 of recipe:
93 calories; 3.9 g protein; 6.3 g fat; 6.3 g carbohydrate; 3.2 g net carbs; 27 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 8 mg cholesterol; 3.1 g fiber


Feta chiizu no shionuki / desalinating feta cheese

Long before we started reduced-sodium cooking, I learned to avoid feta cheese at restaurants and delis in this country, as feta makes dishes uncomfortably salty (partly because way too much cheese is used). At home, you can choose feta cheese with lower sodium content (although still high compared to most other cheese) and use the amount you need. Better yet, desalinating can easily solve the issue.

Test results from my kitchen experiments show that soaking feta cheese in a mixture of milk and water for 3-4 hours lowers sodium content by 35-50%.

Desalination speed mainly depends on the proportion of cheese and liquid as well as on the size of cheese chunks, The more liquid (milk + water) you use, the faster cheese desalinates. Also, when cheese chunks are smaller, they desalinate faster than when soaking a larger block.


Karifurawaa to masshuruumu no karee pan / curried cauliflower and mushroom pastry

Great for breakfast and lunch! This savory pastry is intended to be eaten with other dishes, and only a moderate amount of spices are used to flavor the filling. It freezes well too, making it a handy, virtually ready-to-eat snack.

1 pastry (1/9 piroshki-style dough recipe and 1/3 of filling recipe):
239 calories; 10.9 g protein; 9.8 g fat; 28.7 g carbohydrate; 22.2 g net carbs; 60 mg sodium; 7 mg cholesterol; 6.5 g fiber


Piroshiki-fu pan no kiji / piroshki-style pastry dough

Okazu pan, osozai pan or sozai pan -- savory bread or pastry -- are common bakery or home-baked goods in Japan. Savory sounds good, but may raise concern if you watch your sodium intake, as bread is a top source of sodium in Western diets (in the US at least). So why not make your own? When you do, you can lower sodium, cholesterol and net-carbs of the dough itself, giving you more options for toppings or fillings, accompanying items, and dishes to enjoy the rest of the day. Below you'll find a leaner, lighter dough. Using ingredients closer to the regular version makes the dough fluffier and richer.

Whole recipe:
1800 calories; 73.3 g protein; 72.3 g fat; 214.5 g carbohydrate; 178.8 g net carbs; 199 mg sodium; 42 mg cholesterol; 35.7 g fiber

Dough for 1 pastry (1/9 of recipe):
200 calories; 8.1 g protein; 8.0 g fat; 23.8 g carbohydrate; 19.8 g net carbs; 22 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 4.0 g fiber