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.