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


Dinner, July 7, 2017

We had a decent lunch out at an Italian restaurant. Both of our dishes were pleasantly tasty and not heavy. We were able to finish each portion without feeling stuffed to the gills and were still able to think about what to have for dinner when we left the restaurant. Around here, not feeling overfed after a meal out is amazing.

As we had good news from Tom's doctor and a package from my parents, we decided on an experimental dinner to test dried hotaruika firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans).

  • Iri-kurodaizu gohan / steamed rice with roasted black soybeans
  • Endomame to satoimo no surinagashi, hotaruika-dashi-jitate / English pea and baby taro soup with firefly squid broth
  • Okara tamago to horenso no bataa-joyu itame / stir-fried spinach and egg with soybean pulp, soy sauce butter flavor
  • Zukkiini to shiitake, satsumaage, tomato no yakibitashi / grilled zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, deep-fried fishcakes and tomato in light broth

A few days before this year's tanabata Star Festival, one of our wishes came true.
During his annual follow-up visit, Tom was told that his heart no longer showed signs of congestive cardio problems, other than long-standing a-fib (atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia). Upon Tom's report of experiencing dizziness from his a-fib pill, the doctor gave him three options: reduce dose; change to a relatively new drug; or increase sodium intake! The third option -- which would increase the amount of body fluid and in turn raise blood pressure, therefore eliminating dizziness -- was immediately rejected, but I wonder if it is something many people happily jump at. Tom chose Option 1. Now he takes only one tiny pill a day.

Although we will continue with the same reduced-sodium diet, it does clear up a cloud hanging over our heads. So I went in the opposite direction of trying potentially sodium-rich dried hotaruika as part of dinner.

Hotaruika is a regional specialty of my hometown and neighboring cities on Toyama Bay. The firefly squid come close to shore in spring and their small bodies (total length 7-8 cm) are illuminated. We used to be able to scoop them up with a long-handled net from the pier. The only drawback was that you had to be at the port very early in the morning while dark; yet seeing the blue illumination floating in the water was like magic.

Dried hotaruika (lightly salted and dried; photo at right) were something new to me, and I quickly roasted and soaked them in water to make dashi. Hotaruika's salt content prevailed, and my dashi test was a disappointment. Still, I continued with the failed dashi and regular katsuo-kobu dashi to cook English peas (now available at local shops following fava beans ... their seasons are backward this year). Satoimo baby taro root slices were added for thick creaminess. Both vegetables were pureed once soft, and the soup itself turned out great. Rehydrated hotaruika topped the soup.

Spinach, okara soybean pulp and eggs were taking up space in the fridge, and they were made into an easy stir-fry with the golden combination of butter and soy sauce. Rich taste appeals to Tom.

Thick slices of zucchini were sun dried the day before. I was going to make jeon, then my motivation went down and the vegetable went into Tupperware instead of on a hot griddle. Desalinated satsumaage fishcakes were also sitting in the fridge. They, along with tomato and shiitake, were grilled and marinated in light broth. An easy, tasty solution.

Nothing really crunchy so far. Kinpira and other dishes that came to mind would add more seasoning that involves sodium. So I toasted black soybeans and added them to rice. Although not particularly crunchy, soybeans provide enough contrast with soft rice, plus you have to chew them repeatedly, which naturally slows how fast you eat and helps to signal your brain that you are full at some point (some people say 20 minutes after starting to eat). Besides those side benefits, toasted soybeans add a pretty purple color thanks to anthocyanin, a polyphenol, as well as a mellow aroma to rice, and it tasted good.

Rough sodium content per serving is 600 mg for this dinner.
Who said you need to avoid soy sauce for a reduced-sodium diet?

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