Monday, October 19, 2009

Is this really tofu?!

A friend recently gave me a souvenir from Sendai. Sendai is famous for beef tongue, but this was tofu marinated with onions and soy sauce to have the flavour and texture of beef. Delicious and very unusual!

New rice and seasonal gifts

This is the time of year in Japan when rice is harvested. I've just bought some new brown rice (packaged on 12th October so pretty fresh!) New rice (新米) has a little more flavour, contains more water and has a bit more bite. Seasonal food is very important in Japan, and many people send gifts of natural produce that are special to their particular region of Japan.

In Britain and many other countries, it would be too expensive to send fruit and vegetables by post. But in Japan, there is a fantastic network of relatively cheap next day delivery services, where you pay by size and maximum weight. I'm lucky enough to have some very kind students that sometimes give me fruit and vegetables from their families' farms or hometowns, most recently some delicious potatoes from Hokkaido.

Red Grapefruit Water Ice

This idea came about by chance, as I left a grapefruit too close to the back of the fridge, and it partially froze. If you freeze a whole grapefruit, run it under hot water and cut the peel away, it can be sliced and eaten like sorbet - very refreshing. I've also just tried freezing segments of satsuma on a tray and then putting them into bags - works the same way, but much easier to eat! They would also be nice instead of ice cubes in a drink.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Melted Oozing Camembert with Toasted Walnuts and Brandied Raisins

It's taken me a couple of goes to get a photo of this recipe and so be able to add this post, I'm usually too hungry to hang around taking photos!

Nutrition Information
Calories: 325
Protein: 12g
Fat: 10g
Carbohydrate: 34g
Dietary Fibre: 7g


2 slices of rye bread (total 62g)
2 segments of camembert or brie (total 34g)
8g walnuts (4 halves)
3 teaspoons of brandied raisins

  • Roughly crumble the walnuts into a saucepan and dry fry until hot and toasted.
  • Put the rye bread on a microwaveable plate, a piece of camembert on each slice, and sprinkle over the brandied raisins and the walnuts.
  • Microwave for 40 seconds until the camembert is just oozing. Flatten the camembert slightly.
  • Eat immediately!

Brandied raisins

As the weather starts to get cooler, and as a memory of making the Christmas cake in England, here is a very simple recipe for brandied raisins.

It has been a family tradition to make the Christmas cake in about September or October, in order that it is well-matured by Christmas. A good dark fruit Christmas cake will actually last about a year undecorated, believe it or not - and be absolutely delicious for it! Even decorated with marzipan and royal icing, I have memories of still eating absolutely delicious Christmas cake in March..!

The secret is in the brandy. It is preserved with brandy. From the three weeks prior to making the cake (when you are soaking the raisins in brandy) to the months after baking the cake (and before decorating it), when you are carefully unwrapping the cake and sprinkling it with a tablespoon of brandy on a weekly basis - it is steeped in brandy - this cake is good stuff!

A few years ago, my mother did some of these raisins over ice cream, and believe me, they're wonderful! It's very simple - just put some raisins in a container, pour over a generous amount of brandy (you don't have to cover the raisins, but enough to swill them around in), shake well and keep in the fridge. Every few days when you think of it, open the container and toss the raisins a bit more. After at least a week, you can start eating them!  However, they do last almost indefinitely if they remain covered with brandy...

As I say, they're delicious hot or cold on ice cream or on Melted Camembert with Toasted Walnuts and Brandied Raisins.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tofu and Wakame Miso Soup

It was about time that I put a recipe for my miso soup on here. Recently, a friend of mine gave me some homemade niboshi dashi which is a dried stock mixture of grated dried anchovies and grated kombu. It's best to use a fish stock for this recipe if you substitute, although I've used chicken gravy granules before successfully enough...

Servings for this recipe vary... I had it all for myself for breakfast, but depending on when you're eating it and what you're eating it with, it could probably serve up to 3 people!

Nutrition Data
The thing I would note most with this is that whilst miso soup is very healthy, and much healthier than many other food choices available, it is worth choosing low salt varieties of stock and miso. This nutrition data is only for the tofu and the miso, and with the assumption that you eat it all!
Calories: 146
Protein: 10.5
Fat: 7.2g
Carbohydrate: 10g
Dietary Fibre: 2g

400 ml of dashi stock (use the instructions according to your recipe)
6 pieces of wakame seaweed
150g silken tofu
1 heaped teaspoon of miso

  • I made the dashi by putting 2 rounded teaspoons of the homemade dashi in a saucepan with 400ml of water, and heating it to simmering point.
  • Whilst it is heating, cube the tofu and add this, together with 6 pieces of wakame.
  • Take out a tablespoon of dashi and mix the miso in this, then quickly stir it in just as the dashi is simmering.
  • Serve immediately.
If I was doing this properly or for other people, I would have strained the dashi before adding the other ingredients, but I don't usually bother when I'm being quick.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fruit and Nut Oat Bars

Like most people living in small apartments in Japan, I don't have an oven, making do with a 2 ring gas stove, a microwave, a rice cooker and a blender. Wanting to make a healthy-ish snack today, this is what I came up with...

Nutrition Data (per portion)
Calories: 199
Protein: 5g
Fat: 9g
Dietary Fibre: 3g

Ingredients (makes 3 bars)
25g almonds
25g dried apricots
25g raisins
25g fresh pineapple
2 tsp pineapple juice
10g butter
50g rolled oats

  • In a blender, finely chop the almonds, dried apricots, raisins and pineapple.
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the oats and pineapple juice. Mix in the fruit and nut mixture and form into a ball.
  • Put some clingfilm in a square container and press in the mixture.
  • Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes and cut into bars.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Balsamic Figs, Ham and Blue Cheese

I had this same snack minus the balsamic vinegar last night, when I got home from work. It definitely needs a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar and lemon zest to bring out the flavour of the figs, which otherwise get dwarfed by the flavour of the raw ham and blue cheese.

Nutrition Data
Calories 130
Protein 5g
Fat 4.5g
Carbohydrate 21g
Dietary Fibre 2g

Ingredients (serves 1)
2 fresh figs
15g cured ham (eg parma ham)
10g soft creamy blue cheese (I used Arla Danablu, but a mild dolcelatte would be good)
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
a little lemon zest (optional)

  • Quarter the figs and put on a plate. Roughly tear over the raw ham, and crumble over the blue cheese.
  • Sprinkle with the balsamic vinegar and lemon zest.
  • Serve immediately.

Mabo-doufu or Spicy Beef and Tofu on Rice

As always, I am cooking with minimum ingredients so this is my version of mabo-doufu, or spicy beef and tofu. Often recipes include sake, and chicken stock. It's eaten hot, served on steaming rice. This is a Chinese-Szechuan dish, very popular in Japan. This looks to be quite high in fat - I wasn't sure how lean my beef was, although I chose a pack that looked lean, for the nutrition data I probably overestimated the fat content, calling it 75% lean meat, 25% fat.

Nutrition Data (per serving, including rice)
Calories: 658
Protein: 33g
Fat: 34g
Carbohydrate: 66g
Dietary Fibre: 6g

Ingredients (serves 2)
1 tsp olive oil
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 spring onions, snipped (reserve 2 teaspoons of green top for a garnish)
2 heaped teaspoon of spicy bean paste (toubanjan)/you could probably use a mixture of chilli flakes and sauce
200g minced beef/ you could use pork or TVP
2 heaped teaspoons red miso
300g of silken tofu, chopped into chunks
2 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce
100ml water
2 tsp of cornflour or potato starch mixed with a little water
400g cooked brown rice to serve

  • Cook the rice according to instructions.
  • Put the olive oil in a small pan, with the garlic and spring onions. Fry over a low heat for about 2 minutes, add the ginger paste and spicy bean paste and fry for another minute until thick.
  • Add the ground beef and fry until it changes colour. The beef will quickly produce more fat for frying. Stir in the miso paste.
  • Stir in the water, soy sauce and tofu being careful not to break the tofu too much; cover and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the cornflour paste and heat for about a minute more until thickened slightly.
  • Put the hot cooked rice into bowls, and top with the mabo-doufu. Sprinkle with the reserved spring onion tops.
  • Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fruit Nata de Coco

If ever you get the chance to try Nata de Coco, I well recommend it. I ate it for the first time a couple of weeks ago at a Denny's restaurant. It's made from fermented coconut milk, is sweet and has a juicy chewy texture. It's zero fat, high in fibre, and extremely low in calories (64 calories per 100g).

Since eating it, I was hooked, and started to try and buy it. It is made in the Philippines, and it appears from the web that there was a major craze for it in Japan back in 1993, and at that time could be bought just about everywhere. I had more trouble tracking it down, at least in its natural non-additive form, but eventually found it in a Seijo Ishii store in this tin.

This is the dessert that I made with it, using 100g nata de coco, 1 ruby grapefruit, and 100g black grapes.

Nutrition Data

Calories: 235
Protein: 3g
Fat: 0g
Carbohydrate: 59g
Dietary Fibre: 9g

I bought this nata de coco jelly dessert from Jusco this evening: whilst there was a lot less nata de coco in it, it is a 0 calorie dessert (as you can see!) and yet has 3.2% dietary fibre, pretty good eh?!

Sliced beef, the ultimate fast food!

Living in Japan, I am often struck by what a convenient country this is... When you go to a supermarket, there is a huge range of freshly-made meals and salads to tempt you. The same goes for the 24 hour convenience stores. And because of demand, turnover is very high - meaning that your meal was probably prepared no more than a couple of hours ago. In England, there are considerably more frozen ready-meals with lots of additives, but just not the same choice in fresh food.

I'm not really a big meat-eater, but sometimes I really like the fresh sliced cooked beef that I can get in the supermarkets here. I'd never go to the effort of cooking the beef myself, mostly because I would never be able to cook it to the same perfection as I can buy here. In England, on the odd occasion that I ate beef, I would always have it well-done. Here, it's delicious served medium-rare and it really melts in your mouth. It comes pre-packaged with a small salad, sliced onions and a light gravy. I love it!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lentil and Courgette Gratin

Sadly I can't make this dish these days. Like many (most?) people living in a small flat in Japan, I don't have an oven. My cooking is done on 2 gas rings and in a microwave. But this dish was a favourite of mine in the UK. The recipe originally came from Sainsbury’s Healthy Eating Cookbooks: Beans, Nuts & Lentils by the vegetarian food writer Sarah Brown, and I found a copy of the recipe at - see for pictures and other nice recipes.

It's a very healthy recipe: it's high in fibre and low in fat, as the crispy base is not made from pastry but a combination of red lentils and oats.

Nutrition Data (per portion)
Calories 315
Protein 21g
Fat 11g
Carbohydrate 37g
Dietary Fibre 8g

Ingredients (serves 4)
125g/4ozs red lentils
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
15ml/1tbsp tomato purée
50g/2ozs oat flakes
15ml/1tbsp lemon juice
10ml/2tsp chopped mixed herbs (sage/thyme/marjoram)
250g/8ozs courgettes, diced
2 eggs, beaten
15ml/1tbsp wholemeal flour
50ml/2fl ozs skimmed milk
salt & pepper
50g/2ozs Cheddar Cheese


1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/375oF/190oC.
2. Cook the lentils in twice their volume of water for about 15 minutes, or until they are fairly soft. Beat well with a spoon, then drain excess liquid if any remains.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and mix in the cooked lentils, tomato purée, oats, lemon juice and herbs. Season well. The mixture should be thick enough to hold together. If the lentils are a little wet, return the pan to the heat to dry them out before adding or add a few more oat flakes.
5. Press the mixture into the base and up the sides of an 20cm/8″ flan dish. It is easier to do this with your hands than with a spoon.  Pre-bake for 20 minutes until the crust has dried out.
6. For the filling, lightly steam the courgettes for 1 minute.
7. Blend the eggs with the flour, then add the milk. Stir in the cooked courgettes and season well.
8. Spoon the filling into the flan case. Cover with grated cheese.
9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling has set.
10. Serve hot with jacket potatoes and salad.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chipotle Spiced Baked Beans, Rice and Egg

On the trend of Mexican spiced breakfast dishes, but missing my regular brown rice breakfast, I made this for lunch... Very filling! You could add whatever chilli spice you like. The chipotle spice was a present, it has a very smoky taste. I actually cooked double the quantity and then refrigerated the other portion for breakfast tomorrow. Because of my job, I tend to eat a substantial breakfast about 10am and then 3 or 4 much smaller snacks at 2-3 hour intervals! I eat a bit more on days off because I get up earlier...

Nutrition Data (for 1)
Calories 449
Protein 19.4g
Carbohydrate 77.9g
Fat 6.5g
Dietary Fibre 13.5g

1/2 x 420g can of baked beans, drained of most of the tomato sauce
25g frozen peas
1 eggs, beaten
Chipotle chile ground spice, according to taste
150g cooked brown rice
2 plums
1/2 tablespoon sweet jalapeno sauce

  • Roughly chop the plums and stir in the sweet jalapeno sauce. Put in a small serving bowl in the fridge.
  • Put the drained baked beans and frozen peas in a saucepan and heat. Stir in the beaten egg and continue to heat, stirring until the egg is cooked throughout the mixture. Add chipotle chile spice according to taste.
  • Stir in the cooked brown rice and heat until hot. Taste again, and add more chipotle spice if wanted.
  • Serve in a bowl with the plum salsa side dish.

Nectarine, Chickpea and Green Pea Couscous Salad

Nutrition Data (per salad portion)
Calories 208
Protein 7.7g
Carbohydrate 40.8g
Fat 0.8g
Dietary Fibre 5.5g

Ingredients (serves 6 as a salad, or 3 as a main course, which means my diet will be a little unvaried over the next few days...!)
200g dried couscous
Spice to taste (I used 1 rounded teaspoon of Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' Rose and Harissa Rub, which I bought in the summer, a spicy blend of crushed chillies, coriander, cumin and rose petals)
1 x 400g tin chickpeas (ceci/garbanzo beans), drained
100g frozen green peas
1 large nectarine, chopped
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced with a potato peeler

  • Put the couscous and spice in a measuring jug (200g comes up to the 250ml mark). Pour in boiling water to the 500ml mark. Stir and leave for 5 minutes until the water is absorbed.
  • In a large bowl, mix the chickpeas with the couscous.
  • Stir in the frozen green peas, chopped nectarine, and thinly sliced carrot.
  • Serve.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mexican Style Sausage and Egg Tortilla Wrap with Plum Salsa

In future, to reduce the fat content in this otherwise healthy dish, I'll make it with lean ham instead. 40g of the sausage I used accounted for 33% of total calories, 40% of protein, 2% of carbohydrate and a whacking 69% of fat. By substituting 40g of lean ham, you would reduce the calories to 336, increase the protein to 16.6g, the carbohydrate would stay pretty even at 48.4g, but the fat content would halve to a healthier 8.5g. This is good as breakfast because the combination of protein and fibre really fills you up and keeps your energy levels up!

Nutrition Data
Calories 403
Protein 15.4g
Carbohydrate 48.6g
Fat 17.3g
Dietary Fibre 8.5g

1 corn tortilla
40g cooked sausage, chopped (I use 2 thin lime and herb sausages)
1 medium egg
15ml of sour cream
15ml chilli sauce (I use 'Very Hot Cajun Sauce', but you could use a sweet chilli sauce)
15ml of jalapeno sauce/salsa (I use 'Mexican Hot and Sweet Jalapeno Sauce')
3 plums
100g cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded (I use a potato peeler to do this)

  • On a large plate, arrange the shredded cabbage and carrot.
  • Chop the plums and mix with the jalapeno sauce/salsa in a bowl.
  • Brush the tortilla with hot chilli sauce.
  • Beat the eggs with the sour cream in a saucepan and stir in the chopped cooked sausage. Scramble very quickly, stirring continuously, over a high heat until just setting on the surface of the hot pan, but still wet (about 20-30 seconds). Remove from the heat immediately whilst stirring (it will continue to cook) and spoon onto the tortilla.
  • Roll the tortilla, place on top of the shredded vegetables and spoon over the plum salsa.
  • Serve immediately.

Chilli Sauces

I am a huge fan of Mexican food, having visited there twice, and like using different chillis. One of my brothers recently gave me these fantastic chilli sauces from around the world. Mexican-inspired breakfast recipe to follow tomorrow!

Mackerel on rye bread

Ingredients (makes lots of portions)
1 x 120g can of mackerel in olive oil with pickles, drained and rinsed
25g room temperature butter
2 teaspoons of the tiny capers
rye bread to serve

  • Drain and rinse the can of mackerel and put it in a bowl.
  • Add the butter and capers and mash together (or use a food processor)
  • Spread onto rye bread.

Caramelized Onion and Potato Frittata

Nutrition Data (for the whole frittata, serves 2 with a salad)
Calories 512
Protein 25g
Carbohydrate 59g
Fat 22g
Dietary Fibre 8g


1 large onion, chopped
about 250g potatoes
3 medium eggs, beaten with a teaspoon of dill and a good grating of pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

  • Wash and scrub the potatoes and boil them whole in a pan of water until tender. Chop roughly into cubes.
  • Meanwhile, fry the chopped onion in 1 teaspoon of olive oil until brown.
  • Beat the eggs with a teaspoon of dill and a good grating of pepper.
  • In a frying pan, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and coat the pan, making sure that the sides of the pan are oiled. Add the potatoes and onions and pour over the beaten egg.
  • Leave on a medium heat for about 10 - 15 minutes without disturbing, until the egg is set.
  • This can be served hot or, even better, cold from the fridge. I like to wrap up a piece of this tortilla when I go out for early morning walks in the countryside. Whilst this is delicious on the day you make it, it is much much better the following day straight from the fridge.
Note 1
This time I used my small tamagoyaki pan measuring 14cm x 19cm x 3cm to try and get an evenly shaped frittata, and the mixture completely filled this pan. However, the depth meant that the egg didn't set so well on top in the middle, and I had to turn it over to set it at the end when I smelt it was getting overdone on the bottom! I've also added sausages to this in the past.

Note 2
Made this again. This time I only used 2 eggs and a slightly smaller onion. I drastically speeded up the cooking time by mixing the whole mixture together as I poured the egg into the tamagoyaki pan and half scrambling for a couple of minutes. Just as it was beginning to set on top, I flipped it over into a larger frying pan. It probably took less than 5 minutes to cook (after cooking the potatoes and onions of course!) Reckon it would still serve 2 with a salad.

Japanese pear

It's high time I talk about this particular fruit. I live in an area which is famous for its pear orchards, and this is their season.

To a British person, when I first saw it 4 years ago, this looked like an oversized Russet apple. I was used to seeing the giant Japanese apples anyway, that take so long to get through, but this still gave me the thoughts, 'How on earth is anyone supposed to eat something that size?! It's like it's a fruit grown for a family of 4! How many portions of fruit does that count as?' However, one taste, and you know it's not an apple at all, but a particularly juicy pear, closest in taste to a Comice pear. And it's going to take you about 20 minutes to eat it.


This is my usual breakfast, it is absolutely delicious! It's very much just like a particularly simple risotto.

It's just very hot brown Japanese rice with grated cheese stirred in. I take the rice out of my rice cooker about 5-10 minutes early, so that the rice still has some moisture and is slightly al dente. I use Japanese rice, but I hear that Italian risotto rice works well as a substitute for Japanese rice as it is short grain. You want to use a mild to medium cheese for the best taste. Sometimes I add kimchi to this...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cabbage, Carrot and Ham Stirfry

This was very tasty! I made it for supper when I got back from work last night. Knowing I was going to be tired, I cut up the carrots and garlic in the morning and kept them in the fridge, I never want to mess around with fiddly preparation at the end of a working day - the meal has to be ready quickly!

Nutrition Data
230 calories
Protein 1g
Carbohydrate 16.5g
Fat 13g
Dietary Fibre 5.5g

Ingredients (serves 1)
1/4 cabbage (about 250g), shredded
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
8 slices (about 30g) of dry cured ham (nama ham in Japan), not separated and torn into small, thick pieces
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
about 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • Put a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the ham and sesame seeds for a couple of minutes. You could use bacon (and less oil), but I rather like the taste of the cured ham, even when cooked. Plus it was what I had in my fridge!
  • Add the carrot, garlic and cabbage and the rest of the olive oil, and fry for about five minutes until the carrot is just tender and the vegetables are turning golden brown.
  • Serve immediately with a good grating of mixed pepper.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kimchi - one of the great foods!

Let me introduce you to kimchi, one of the world's greatest, tastiest, healthiest foods!

Kimchi is a Korean food that is very popular in Japan. It is a spicy pickle made from vegetables, garlic and red chilli, served with almost every meal in Korea. In Korea, I hear that there are more than 200 different kinds of kimchi; in a typical Japanese supermarket there are probably about 10.

Over the years I've tried many of them, some of them were way too salty and fishy for my taste. I like this fairly standard one made from cabbage.

According to Wikipedia, Health Magazine named kimchi as one of the top 5 'World's Healthiest Foods' for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth. It is very high in dietary fibre, vitamin C and carotene, and is also rich in vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium and iron.

It is a probiotic and antioxidant food. Small scale studies show that it may have some efficacy in repressing avian flu H5N1 (well-fermented 3 year old kimchi mind you!), and they are now testing it's use against swine flu A/H1N1. I'm a little cynical about this... Both of these are viruses, not bacterial infections. However, I can see that if it strengthens your immune system, that has to be a good thing!

Over the last few years, I've been eating it a few times a week. Actually I think the first time I ate it was in okonomiyaki. I like it with grated cheese and brown rice for breakfast, and/or as a snack when I get home from work. If I put the rice cooker on with a little kimchi at the bottom of the rice, then oh, the delicious smell that greets me when I get home from work! (However, the rice actually cooks better if you add the kimchi at the end of cooking). Sometimes, I eat a little just as it is, especially if I have a cold! I certainly miss eating it when I'm away. All this has made my mouth water, guess what I'm going to have for tea tonight?!

Creamy Mushrooms in a Roll

Recently, one of my brothers gave me a couple of cookery books by Nigel Slater. I really like Nigel Slater's style of writing, and I find myself inspired by his recipes, wanting to adapt them to my taste. He says in his books that many of his recipes are adaptations of other people's recipes, so I have no qualms in doing the same...! Anyway, this is my adaptation of one of his recipes, adaptations made for my limited cooking equipment, time and using a lot less cream (and healthier sour cream rather than double cream)...

Ingredients (serves 1)
small piece of unsalted butter for frying
1 small onion, chopped
100g mushrooms, chopped (I used bunashimeji, sometimes called beech mushrooms)
1 crisp roll, or the end of a baguette
about 30ml sour cream (or two heaped teaspoons)
salt, pepper and paprika for seasoning

  • Hollow out the roll or baguette end, reserving the bread.
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onions and fry over a medium heat until softened.
  • Add the mushrooms, crumble in the breadcrumbs and continue to fry until golden brown.
  • Stir in the sour cream and mix until hot. Season with a little salt, and lots of paprika and freshly ground mixed peppercorns.
  • Spoon into the hollowed out bread roll and eat immediately!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Egg Drop and Salmon Soup

All quantities are approximate - it's really not important to measure everything out. I used a 400ml bowl because this was breakfast! If this was a side dish, then this would easily serve 2.

Ingredients (serves 1-2, multiply quantities as necessary)
400ml of water made into a light stock (I used katsuodashi which is stock made from bonito flakes, but any stock would be ok)
a dash of soy sauce (about 1 teaspoon)
1 - 2 teaspoons of seaweed, perhaps wakame (I used nebarumekabu)
1/2 teaspoon of potato starch or cornflour, mixed with a little water)
1 teaspoon ginger paste or grated ginger with juice
2 slices cooked or smoked salmon
1 egg, beaten

  • Add the seaweed to the stock and heat until very hot but not boiling.
  • Mix in the soy sauce and ginger, and stir in the potato starch mixture. It will not noticeably thicken, but will just stop the egg from sinking to the bottom.
  • Add the salmon, and stir in the beaten egg, which will set immediately in strands.
  • Serve immediately.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Black Forest Chicken

OK, so I know that this dish may make you question my sanity... Yes, it really is chicken in a cherry chocolate sauce...

I still had lots of cherries to use up, along with some dark chocolate, after making a Mexican dish, Chicken Mole the other day... Recipe for that to come when I've done some more experimentation with the chilli quantity!

Actually this tastes very nice with a green salad of mixed herbs, cucumber and segments of orange and yellow grapefruit, not included in the nutrition data.

Nutrition Data (per portion)
Calories 250.5
Protein 23g
Carbohydrate 19g
Fat 8.5g
Dietary Fibre 3g

Ingredients (serves 2)
26 cherries
25g unsweetened dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
130g skinless chicken breast, cooked
1/2 lemon, juice and zest

  • Marinate the chicken breast in the lemon juice for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  • Remove the chicken and slice into bite-sized pieces. Keep the lemon juice.
  • Put 20 of the cherries in a blender with the chocolate, rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Blend until smooth.
  • Over a low heat, warm the sauce so that the flaked chocolate just melts. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and cool.
  • Stir in the chicken and serve, garnished with the remaining cherries and some lemon zest.
  • Delicious with a green herb salad, diced cucumber and segments of orange and grapefruit.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cherry, Rosemary and Onion Chicken on Rice

I was going to make oyakodon for lunch again today, but realised that I hadn't put anything new on this blog for some time... A quick look at the fridge revealed that I had a large quantity of cherries that I needed to use up...

Nutrition Data

582 calories
Protein 25.5g
Carbohydrate 101.5g
Fat 11.5g
Dietary Fibre 5.5g

12 American cherries, pitted and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
50g cooked chicken, sliced and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
100g brown rice, cooked

  • Cook the rice according to directions.
  • About 1o minutes before the end, saute the onion and rosemary in the olive oil for about 5 minutes until golden brown, and then add the cherries and the sliced chicken and heat for another minute.
  • Pour in the mirin and soy sauce, continue heating for about half a minute until the liquid has reduced.
  • Serve over the rice.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Freezing Food

I'm going to start this post now, and update it as and when...

Usually, I buy avocados for a recipe either too far in advance and so they go bad in the duration, or on the day and I buy them overripe and so they're also already going bad. So today I mashed 2 nice ones up with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and some mixed ground pepper, put them in small plastic bags, getting rid of all the air, and froze them. They will keep for 3-6 months in the freezer.

Creams etc
This works well for double creams, mascarpone, creme fraich etc.  Freeze in ice cube trays and use as and when.  Brandy cream only semi-freezes because of the alcohol content.

Whenever I use a lemon for juice, I always zest it and add the zest to a freezer bag in the freezer. But, there are many times when I need lemon juice and don't have it. Freeze lemon juice as ice cubes and then put in a freezer bag.

When you buy a pack of these, it's worth cooking them all and then freezing them individually wrapped in foil, in a freezer bag. Take them out as required the night before. I chop some of them up before I freeze them too, to make preparation of some dishes even easier.  In the UK, you can also but tubs of 50 chipolata ready-cooked sausages which are perfect for freezing.

Fig, Melon, Mozzarella and Parma Ham Salad

3 slices melon
1 fig, cut into 1/3s
mozarella slices
3 slices raw ham
a little maple syrup and lemon juice

Arrange all the ingredients on a plate and sprinkle with a little maple syrup and lemon juice.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poached eggs again

About a year ago, I bought a microwave egg boiler, which I thought was a fantastic idea. It boiled eggs from cold to soft-boiled in about 5 minutes from the fridge. All was fine for about 8 months of occasional use until one day it blew up in the microwave, never to be trusted again!

Now I've found that you can poach eggs really easily and incredibly quickly in the microwave. Just fill a cup with cold water to about a third to a half full, break an egg in, and microwave on high for 45 to 60 seconds depending on how you like the egg. Much better, and not at all messy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Citrus Salmon with Strawberry and Mango Balsamic Dressing

This is a variation on my previous recipe that I tried today, all shades of pink and orange! This time the salmon is steamed and cooled rather than panfried and eaten hot.

Nutrition Data
Calories 378
Protein 30g
Carbohydrate 55g
Fat 4g
Fibre 9g

1 ruby grapefruit
1 orange
1 skinless fillet salmon (about 100g)
4 strawberries
about 1/8 of a mango
about 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
shredded dried chilli and lemon zest to garnish

  • Steam the salmon and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile peel and segment the grapefruit and orange and arrange on a plate. Sprinkle with shredded dried chilli.
  • Put the cooled salmon on top of the fruit.
  • Make the dressing. Put the strawberries, mango and balsamic vinegar in a blender and whizz for a few seconds.
  • Spoon the dressing over the salmon and fruit, and sprinkle with a little lemon zest.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rolled Ham and Vegetables

This recipe has been adapted from one in my housing company's monthly magazine. This is a popular bar snack in Japan. It's delicious hot, but I'm going to have it cold at work tomorrow sometime, together with some rolled omelette and edamame! Minus the beer of course...

3 slices parma ham or other raw ham
3 long green beans, cut in half and then finely sliced lengthways
same length of carrot, julienned
30g enoki mushrooms, the ones that look like pins
1 teaspoon of sesame oil for frying
For the dip (optional)
1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and mirin (recipe also uses same quantity of sake, but I didn't have any)

  • Prepare the vegetables.
  • In a small frying pan heat the oil over a low heat.
  • Roll the vegetable strips in the ham.
  • Put in the oil seam-side down and fry until golden brown, turn and repeat twice or three times more - about 6 minutes.
  • Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Coconut milk agar jellies

These are the coconut milk kanten jellies that I made. After making the basic jelly mix below, I then made 4 variations. The one at the bottom right looks a bit lumpy, because the mixture was already setting.

The 4 variations, clockwise from top left: with chopped strawberries (add gradually, topping up with jelly mix as you go so that the strawberries do not sink to the bottom), added dessicated coconut, added dessicated coconut with chopped strawberries, basic mix. I wouldn't add the dessicated coconut again - I think it's better smooth.

4g pack of agar (kanten)
250ml of water
250ml of coconut milk
4 teaspoons honey

  • Prepare any fruit that you want to add to the jellies.
  • Heat the water to simmering point and sprinkle the contents of the sachet in, stiring continuously. Continue stirring for 1 -2 minutes until the agar is fully dissolved and there are no lumps.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk and honey. Mix well.
  • Working quickly, pour the mix into individual containers, adding other ingredients.

Mixed Bean and Chicken Green Curry

This is in fact an 'everything' creamy curry! I wanted to make something delicious and easy, in a large quantity to freeze for work. This did the job very well!

Nutrition Data (per portion, excluding rice)
Calories 245
Protein 15.9g
Carbohydrate 25.3
Fat 9.4g
Dietary Fibre 7.2g

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
400g can red kidney beans, drained
400g can borlotti beans, drained (also known as cranberry beans or roman beans)
200g can sweetcorn, drained
130g frozen green peas
140g skinless cooked chicken breast, chopped
210g pack generic packaged green curry mix (I used S&B Green Curry)
150ml canned coconut milk
brown rice to serve
lemon zest for garnish

  • Cook the rice.
  • Meanwhile, fry the onion in the oil until golden brown.
  • In a large saucepan, add all the other ingredients except the green peas. Add the onion.
  • Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until hot. About 2 minutes before the end of cooking time, stir in the peas.
  • Serve on a bed of rice and garnish with lemon zest.
  • This freezes well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Easy Agar Jelly (or Kantan Kanten, sorry!)

As a child, I never liked jelly, possibly something to do with the way it wobbled...?! As a student I discovered the delights of vodka jelly, and little by little I grew to like it!

Some friends gave me a homemade fruity jelly yesterday, and it was delicious. But the interesting thing is it was made from agar (kanten in Japanese, written in hiragana). Agar (sometimes agar agar) is a type of seaweed which is used for gelling liquids. It is virtually tasteless, calorie-free (until you add the extras!), but contains iodine, calcium and iron and dietary fibre. Unlike gelatine which doesn't set properly if you add kiwifruit or highly acidic fruits, agar has no problems with setting. You don't have to leave it to set in the fridge, it sets in under 30 minutes even in temperatures as hot as 27C, and it doesn't melt. I've become a fan!

The above jellies I made using orange juice, strawberries and a hibiscus flower in syrup (thanks to a present from my brother!) In the fuure, I'm going to try using coconut milk and dessicated coconut, and a layered fruit jelly, and maybe one using other edible flowers setting the flowers at the bottom. I never thought I would get so into jelly!

In the UK, you can probably buy agar powder at health food shops, and it is on the Waitrose website, but certainly also on EBay, (search for kanten, I've used this website before, they are reliable), or in stick form at the Japan Centre in Picadilly (again, I've used this website before and they are reliable).


4g sachet of agar (kanten)
400ml water
200ml orange juice
fruit or flowers

  • Boil the water and turn down to simmering point.
  • Slowly add the agar powder, stirring continuously. Continue stirring and heating for 1-2 minutes, or according the instructions on the packet, until it is completely dissolved and there are no lumps.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the fruit juice.
  • Pour into 5 individual moulds, and add fruit. Leave for about 30 minutes to set.
  • Alternatively add the fruit, pour in a thin layer of liquid, let it partially set (1-2 minutes) and repeat to build up the layers.
  • Delicious chilled!

Melon, Proscuitto Ham and Blue Cheese Salad

This is just to make me remember that the combination is basically good, but these are the ingredients I would use in future...
Thick slices of melon
Slices of proscuitto ham
Dolcelatte soft blue cheese
1 teaspoon each of olive oil and lemon juice

  • Arrange 3 wedges of melon on a plate and the ham on top.
  • Scatter crumbled blue cheese over the top.
  • Combine the olive oil and lemon juice, and drizzle over the salad.

Chilli Bean Dip

400g can red kidney beans, drained
1/2 onion, chopped
3-4 tablespoons of non fat set yoghurt or yoghurt cheese ( made from about 250g non fat regular yoghurt)
1 teaspoon chilli powder (I used chipotle powder - souvenir from a friend!)
Freshly ground pepper

  • Drain the kidney beans.
  • Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Low Fat Lemon & Pepper Houmous

High in fibre, this is a nice snack with crisp breads or vegetable sticks, spread onto bread, or just on its own! It freezes well.

Ingredients (serves 2)
400g can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans, ceci)
3-4 tablespoons of non fat set yoghurt or yoghurt cheese ( made from about 250g non fat regular yoghurt)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground pepper

  • Drain the chickpeas.
  • Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Serve with crispbread, pitta bread, or vegetable sticks.

Pan-Fried Citrus Salmon

Nutrition Data
Calories 570
Protein 26g
Carbohydrate 50g
Fat 33g
Fibre 14g

100g skinless salmon fillet
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 grapefruit
1 orange
1 small avocado
fresh mint, ground pepper and dried chilli to garnish

  • Peel and segment the grapefruit and orange in a bowl.
  • Roughly chop the avocado and tear up a handful of mint leaves and add to the fruit.
  • Put on a plate, reserving any drops of juice.
  • Scatter dried chilli over the top.
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium hot heat.
  • Grate pepper over both sides of the salmon fillet. Put in the frying pan, and pour over any juice. Fry for about 3 minutes both sides until cooked through and golden brown.
  • Serve immediately on top of the fruit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Onion Topped Tofu on Bean Sprouts and Leek

Many recipes come about not through planning of good combinations, but accident. Today I discovered that all these ingredients desperately needed using up, so...

Much to my surprise, it was delicious!

Nutrition Data
Calories 427
Protein 31.2g
Carbohydrate 31.7
Fat 23.9
Fibre 7.9g

200g pack of firm tofu
100g bean sprouts
1 leek, chopped
2 tablespoons of onion & garlic bruschetta topping (from Jupiter), or any other onion topping
1 teaspoon olive oil
Lemon zest to garnish (I keep some in a small bag in the freezer)

  • Stir fry the bean sprouts and chopped leek in the olive oil. Put on a plate.
  • Wrap the tofu block in a double thickness of kitchen paper and microwave on high for 1 minute. Put on top of the vegetables.
  • Heat the onion topping and spoon over the tofu. Garnish with lemon zest.
  • Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yoghurt Cheese

In preparation for my next posts on bean dips, here is a recipe for yoghurt cheese, which can serve as a substitute for either set yoghurt, or a slightly sour cream cheese.

Ingredients and Equipment
1 carton of plain natural yoghurt (I use probiotic non-fat yoghurt)
1 coffee filter (I use a 4-7 cup capacity filter)
1 large mug
1 elastic band or string
Plastic wrap

  • Fix a coffee filter inside the mug, using and elastic band or string around the top of the mug. There should be at least a 1inch (2.5cm) gap between the filter and the bottom of the mug.
  • Spoon in the yoghurt until full. In my mug, I can put in about 200g of yoghurt.
  • Cover the mug and leave in the fridge overnight.
  • In the morning, the curds and whey will have separated.
  • The curds in the filter can be used for dips or as a spread, or eaten with fruit; the whey can either be drunk straight, or added to soups, juices or to the cooking liquid in rice.

Brown Rice and Kimchi Breakfast 'Pancake'

This recipe came to me last night just as I was abut to go to sleep! It was as delicious as I imagined, definitely going to make it a regular!

Nutrition Data
Calories 394
Protein 17.4g
Carbohydrate 57.7g
Fat 9.3g
Fibre 5.1g

70g brown rice
20g soy beans
100g kimchi
1 egg

  • Cook the brown rice.
  • In a bowl mix together the other ingredients. Add the cooked rice and mix thoroughly.
  • Heat a lightly greased frying pan, spoon the rice mixture in and flatten. Cook for about 3 minutes each side until browned.
  • Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sesame Fried Tofu with Mushrooms and Salami

This is a very filling and tasty main meal - it will definitely set you up for the rest of the day! It could be made into a vegetarian dish by adding some kind of chilli sauce to the topping.

Nutrition Information
Calories 746
Protein 42.9g
Carbohydrate 73.1g
Fat 34.6g
Fibre 8.5g

Ingredients (serves 1)
1 pack (200g) firm tofu
1 tablespoon each of water, and mirin
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
20g salami, chopped
30g mushrooms, chopped
70g brown rice
30g cooked edamame (soy beans) or green peas

  • Start to cook the rice and prepare all the ingredients.
  • 15 minutes before the end of rice cooking time, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a frying pan.
  • Meanwhile, slice the tofu lengthwise so that you have two large, but thin slices. Wrap each slice in kitchen paper and microwave on medium high for 1 minute to drain it.
  • Add the tofu to the pan, and leave on a medium heat for 3 minutes until golden brown without disturbing it. Turn the tofu onto the other side and fry for another 3 minutes.
  • Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper to drain some of the oil.
  • Fry the salami in the remaining oil, then add the mushrooms and stir fry until just tender (about 3 minutes).
  • Add 1 tablespoon each of water and mirin, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix in and heat rapidly until the sauce has reduced.
  • Put the hot rice mixed with edamame or peas on a plate, arrange the slices of tofu, and top with the mushooms and salami.
  • Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dietary Fibre

UK government guidelines for the recommended amount of dietary fibre in our diet is at least 18g per day for adults. The average Briton eats just 12g.

However, studies by professional organisations suggest that whilst 18g per day is a good start, even this UK figure is actually too low, and should be around 25g to 35g per day for adults to maintain good health, lower cholesterol and protect against diseases and cancers.

For children and young adults, it is recommended that you add 5 to the age of the child to get the the recommended amount, until they reach the age of 20, when they should follow the guidelines for adults.

If people want to increase their fibre intake, it should be done gradually to avoid bloating or problems with proper nutrient absorption, and the amount of drinking water in the diet should be increased accordingly. In order to include insoluble and soluble fibre which are both important, a wide range of vegetables, fruits and whole-grains should be eaten.

Mixed Beans with a Soy Sauce Gravy

Nutrition Information
315 calories
19.2g protein
16.2g fibre

(serves 1)
60g each of drained red kidney beans, chick peas and butter beans from cans
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and mirin
1 boiled egg, sliced
120g wilted spinach to serve

  • Wash the spinach and pat dry with kitchen paper. Wilt in a saucepan over a medium high heat for about 1 minute (do not add water). Put the spinach on a large plate.
  • Put all the beans in a saucepan. There will probably be enough liquid still on the beans not to need to add any more. Heat until the beans are hot.
  • Drain if necessary, and add 1 tablespoon each of water, soy sauce and mirin. Mix and cook rapidly over a medium high heat until the sauce has reduced slightly and coats the beans.
  • Put on top of the spinach leaves and garnish with slices of boiled egg.
Chick peas are also known as ceci or garbanzo beans, butter beans also known as lima beans. If you don't usually eat so much fibre, it might be worth halving the number of beans and adding a serving of pasta or rice. This will approximately halve the fibre proportion. The remaining beans can be mixed with more sauce and frozen in individual portions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spinach, Cucumber and Avocado Salad

Nutritional Information
Calories 316
Fat 29.1g
Fibre 9.2g

(serves 1 as a main dish, or 2 as a side salad)
80g fresh, washed spinach
1 cucumber, cubed
1 avocado, cubed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon low salt soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon mirin
1 tablespoon golden sesame seeds

  • Arrange the vegetables on a plate.
  • Whisk together the oil, soy sauce, honey and mirin, or mix your favourite salad dressing.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Alcoholic Architecture

On the same lines as inhaling your chocolate, an experimental bar has opened for 2 weekends only in Soho, London. This is described as a walk-in gin and tonic, a room of gin and tonic vapour. Customers are given a protective suit at the door and giant straws. Tickets cost 5 pounds for an hour slot and must be pre-booked.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Le Whif - the inhaled chocolate experience...

Do you like chocolate, but don't like the way it makes you put on weight? Enter Le Whif...

On sale from 29 April, this plastic cigar-shaped product allows you to inhale the aroma of chocolate for a quick calorie-free fix... What?!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rolled Omelette or Tamagoyaki

One of the students of a colleague of mine is the chef in a local restaurant and regularly brings us lunch on her lesson day! It's so kind! One of the dishes she recently brought included this beautiful rolled omelette made using stock (dashi tamagoyaki). It looked like a mille feuille or baumkuchen in terms of the incredibly thin layers.

I really want to get the hang of making this using stock, because it looks more beautiful the thinner the layers, but this is my attempt at regular Japanese rolled omelette. I don't think I mixed the egg thoroughly enough, because the white and yolk seem too separate, but it's still delicious!

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • vegetable oil
Some people also use 1 tablespoon of sugar, but the mirin is sweet cooking sake anyway. I don't measure out the ingredients exactly. If you want, you can add other ingredients such as bonito flakes or roll in thinly sliced ham or fish.

  • Using some kitchen paper, grease a small frying pan. I use a small rectangle pan measuring 14cm x 19cm x 3cm. This makes the tamagoyaki more regularly shaped than if you use a round pan.
  • Thoroughly mix the eggs, soy sauce and mirin, without incorporating too much air.
  • Heat the pan over a medium heat. It is ready when you add a drop of the egg mixture and it easily lifts from the pan.
  • Pour over a thin layer of egg mixture. As soon as it is half set, start to roll it from one side of the pan to the other. Keep the roll at one end of the pan. Wipe clean with the oiled kitchen paper, and pour in another thin layer of egg mixture, lifting the roll briefly so that the egg mixture covers the whole pan.
  • Again, when half set, roll the omelette starting from the first one so that this first one is inside the second. Repeat for as much egg mixture as you've got.
  • To serve, cut into thick slices. Delicious hot or cold.
There is a nice descriptionwith step-by-step photos of how to make this really well at this website

Rice Cooker

This is easily the most used bit of technology in my home here. Before coming to Japan, I had rice perhaps once every couple of months. These days I eat rice at least once a day, at least partly because this makes it so easy! My Zojirushi rice cooker has a timer meaning that it can be ready to add my grated cheese at whatever time I want to get up in the morning! Warning: Japanese electronics can do nothing quietly and serve as a good alarm clock...

If you genuinely want to eat more rice then it is worth buying a rice cooker. In the UK I was never into rice particularly and so buying a rice cooker seemed pointless. But that attitude was for the most part due to the terrible washing up involved with cooking rice in a saucepan (a rice cooker almost rubs clean!)

This model is a Zojirushi NS-VGC05. You can make rice for up to 6 people in it, and it works equally well with a portion for one person. It has 2 timer memories and will keep rice warm if you're not there when it finishes cooking. You don't just have to use it for rice either, you can cook vegetables with your rice too, it says that you can make cakes in it too but I haven't tried that...

I've just found an English manual online for it and discovered that actually I can get it to be a little quieter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Well, today is Good Friday, and you can't get hot cross buns in Japan, so I decided to be imaginative with my rice ball!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Goya Champuru

My all time favourite food! This picture was one I took a couple of Christmases ago... Goya champuru is really easy to cook, and goya is a very cheap vegetable in summer. It's just beginning to come down in price to under 200 yen for a large goya now, so I'm starting to eat it more again. In the summer, it's only about 70yen.

Goya is also known as bitter gourd. It's very high in vitamin C. Usually vitamin C is destroyed when you heat it, but with this vegetable it isn't.

Unfortunately, goya/bitter gourd/nigauri is going to be hard to come by in the UK as it needs hot weather to grow, you might be able to find it in a Japanese supermarket...

This is my recipe, I don't use oil or fatty ham in my version... I also use a lot of goya, and it's very filling! It takes about 5 minutes to cook!

Ingredients (serves 1)
1 goya
200g pack firm or extra firm tofu, drained
1-2 teaspoons of soy sauce
60g of parma type ham, or smoked salmon
1 egg

  1. Halve the goya lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Slice into 1/2cm semi-circles. Put in a saucepan
  2. Wrap the tofu in about 3 sheets of kitchen paper and microwave on high for about 2 minutes to drain. Cut into 12 cubes and add to the saucepan.
  3. Pour the soy sace over the tofu and turn the heat to high. Add the ham or smoked salmon and stir fry until the liquid has just about evaporated.
  4. Crack in the egg and stir everything thoroughly until the egg has set.
  5. Best served immediately, although I often cool it and then take it to work for lunch.

Note: Apparently if you put the cut goya in a colander and sprinkle with salt and leave it for 15 minutes before washing, this removes some of the bitterness. I skip this step! In Okinawa and Hawaii, they often use Spam and oil to cook it, which also counters the bitterness. I love the taste of goya and often eat it raw during the summer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Miso Daikon

This daikon radish is also known as mooli in Hindi and other Indian languages. It can be found in UK supermarkets under that name. Despite it being a widely used and grown vegetable in Japan, it in fact originated in continental Asia.

A couple of years ago, one of my students gave me a whole daikon from her allotment. It was huge (see picture, compared to my kettle). I was eating it for days, and at that time didn't have so many ideas for what to do with it. I think most of it I ate raw with a salad dressing I made from dijon mustard, honey, lemon and pine nuts. You can eat the leaves too.

Anyway, here is a recipe for Miso Daikon:

Some thick (2cm) slices of daikon cut from half a daikon
1-2 teaspoon soft brown or black sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 heaped teaspoon red miso
Black sesame seeds
Lemon zest to garnish

  • Slice the daikon into 2cm thick slices.
  • Mark a cross on one side of each slice to help cooking and absorption of flavours.
  • Put in a saucepan and cover with boiling water and the soya sauce. Boil for 20 - 30 minutes until tender.
  • Put the sugar, miso, lemon juice and sesame seeds in a bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid and mix. Feel free to adjust the sauce ingredients to taste. I used golden sesame seeds as I didn't have black.
  • Arrange the daikon on a plate, and spoon over the sauce.
  • Garnish with lemon zest.
Delicious hot, and best eaten on the same day. If you can get yuzu, use that instead of lemon. To make it easier to eat, the sauce can be a thick spread.

Sesame Sauteed Spinach

Ingredients (serves 1)
200-250g spinach or komatsuna
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
chicken or tofu and sesame seeds to serve

  • Wash and drain the spinach and heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan.
  • Add the spinach to the pan and toss for about 1 minute until the spinach is brighter green, but still keeps it's shape and bite.
  • Serve immediately with some chicken, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Variations: dry frying the sesame seeds might be nice; could use garlic oil instead.

Poached Egg on Toast

OK, for someone who enjoys cooking, I'm well aware of how silly this sounds... But this morning was the first time I poached an egg! I had always imagined that poaching an egg was going to be messy, and the egg would fall apart, but in fact it's incredibly easy. So easy in fact, I made myself another one!

All you need to do is boil a pan of water, enough water to crack an egg into. Bring the water to the boil, crack the egg into the water. Continue at this temperature for about 30 seconds and then turn down to simmer, so that the egg doesn't break up too much. Simmer for about 3 minutes, turning once until the egg white is set. The egg yolk will be soft, with just a little runniness. Serve on wholemeal toast and garnish with a little paprika or mixed ground peppercorns.

Alternatively, bring the water to a slow simmer, with just a few bubbles at the bottom of the pan, crack the egg and slide it into the hot water. Continue simmering for about 5 minutes, turning halfway, until the egg white is firm and the egg yolk is runny inside.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tofu Vegetable Scramble

OK, this is a lot more delicious than it looks! I had this for lunch today before a training afternoon - good for keeping your energy levels up!

Nutrition Information
Calories: 440
Protein: 40g
Carbohydrate: 27g
Fat: 23g
Dietary Fibre: 8g

Ingredients (serves 1)
1 medium carrot (about 60g)
1 leek (about 90g)
1 x 200g pack of firm or extra firm tofu
1 egg
olive oil for sauteing
1 - 2 tbsp of dashi stock or other stock
about 1 teaspoon each of soy sauce and mirin (the mirin could be omitted)
lemon zest or spring onions to garnish
any other vegetables you like!

  1. Drain the tofu of as much water as you can. This can be done quickly by wrapping the tofu block in 3 sheets of kitchen paper and microwaving on high for a couple of minutes.
  2. Saute the vegetables and crumbled tofu for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Stir in the stock, soy sauce and mirin and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Then add the beaten egg and spring onions if using and cook whilst stirring until the consistency is like scrambled eggs. Garnish with lemon zest.
  4. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl (Oyakodon)

Ingredients (serves 1)

This recipe can be multiplied as required.

100g brown or white rice
50g sliced cooked chicken breast
1 spring onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
chopped seaweed for garnish
100ml stock (in Japan dashi stock)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 desertspoon mirin

Cook the rice according to instructions. Meanwhile make the stock and heat. Add soy sauce, mirin, chicken and spring onion. Simmer for about 3 minutes until thickened, but there is still at least 2 or 3 tablespoons of sauce. Add the beaten egg and cover the saucepan for about 50 seconds until the egg is set.

Put the hot cooked rice in a deep bowl, and slip the chicken and egg mixture over. There should be just a little sauce to seep into the rice. Sprinkle with nori seaweed.

Optional: You can also saute half a chopped onion and add it to the rice before slipping the chicken and egg mixture on top.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chicken and Mango Salad

A light, refreshing salad that can be prepared a few hours in advance to allow the flavours to develop.


· 200g Greek natural yoghurt (or set yoghurt strained through a coffee filter/several thicknesses of kitchen paper)
· 1 tbsp mild curry paste
· 2 tbsp mango chutney
· 350g cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
· 1 large firm ripe mango, peeled and cut into chunks
· 40g naturally roasted cashew nuts
· flatleaf parsley sprigs, to garnish
· 225g mixed wild and white/brown rice, boiled and mixed with chopped herb salad, to serve

1. Mix together the yoghurt, curry paste and chutney in a bowl. Add the chicken and mango and toss gently to mix. Cover and chill in the fridge.
2. Boil the rice and allow to cool. Mix with the chopped herb salad.
3. Spoon the chicken mixture onto a plate and sprinkle over the cashew nuts; garnish with flatleaf parsley. Serve with the rice salad.

Bacon, Avocado and Stilton Kedgeree


· 8 rashers smoked back bacon, derinded
· 110g stilton
· 2 ripe avocados
· 570 ml stock
· 225g long grain rice
· 1 bunch spring onions
· handful of fresh chives
· 4 hardboiled eggs
· 50g butter
· 4 tbsp single cream or sour cream
· pepper

1. Heat the stock, then add the rice, bring to the boil and then stir, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed. (This can be done in advance, eg the previous night, but mix with a tablespoon of olive oil to stop the rice sticking together.)
2. Halve, stone and peel the avocados. Reserve 4 slices for the garnish and dice the rest. Grill 4 rashers of bacon until crisp, then chop finely. Finely chop the spring onions, cut the chives with scissors and crumble the stilton. Chop the hardboiled eggs.
3. Put the remaining bacon under the grill. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the chopped bacon, avocado and spring onions to the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Turn the heat down slightly.
4. Add the rice, eggs, stilton, cream and most of the chives (reserve about 1 tablespoon for the garnish). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir gently until piping hot.
5. Garnish with grilled bacon and slices of avocado. Sprinkle chives on top and serve immediately.

Note: I use brown rice and cook it in the rice cooker. I also fry parma ham instead of bacon in a little olive oil with the avocado and spring onions. The picture shows this version, served on a bed of spinach.