Archive | Japan RSS feed for this section

Bean and pea salad with miso dressing

5 May

green bean, pea and peashoot salad with miso dressing

Lightly cooked green beans and peas on a bed of fresh peashoots with walnuts and a miso-sake dressing makes a fresh, healthy lunch.

I go with whatever combination of beans I have to hand – mangetout and podded edamame are both good and give an interesting visual and texture contrast. Continue reading

Japanese curry

26 Apr

Japanese curry

Making Japanese curry from scratch for the first time was the high point of my week.

I discovered Japanese curry when I lived in Tokyo after finishing uni, and became an instant convert. I love the thick, slightly sweet taste of the sauce, and the way it sticks to the vegetables like a thick coat of paint.

What makes Japanese curry unique is the roux, which is sold in thick bars. I’ve always lived where Asian ingredients are easy to come by, and usually have a packet of Japanese curry in the cupboard.

You fry, then simmer, your veg, meat or tofu to the point of tenderness, dissolve a chunk of roux in the pan and instant curry goodness ensues. Continue reading

Pork and cabbage gyoza

8 Oct

pork and cabbage gyoza

Gyoza are a family favourite, and the four of us can easily get through a large panful for dinner.

They are both steamed and pan-fried, resulting in a juicy interior, silky soft sides and a crisp, golden bottom.

I usually go with the classic pork and cabbage filling, but they are also very good with minced raw prawn substituted for the ground pork.
Continue reading

Japanese sesame spinach (horenso no gomaae)

20 Feb

spinach gomaae

This dish of blanched spinach in a sesame seed dressing takes me straight back to my time living in Japan. Tokyo was (and is) an expensive city, and we ate in most nights — Japanese food mainly.

The local shops didn’t sell anything else, and anyway, it was fun to buy unfamiliar ingredients and figure out what to do with them.

Continue reading

Asparagus with wasabi mayonnaise

21 Jul

asparagus with wasabi mayonnaise
Asparagus with wasabi mayonnaise is a really nice, simple summer appetiser.

It contains so few ingredients – and is so straightforward to make – that it’s more of an idea than an actual recipe. Continue reading

Japanese fluffy pancakes

19 Jun

Japan’s inventiveness and attention to detail might take them all the way in this year’s World Cup cook-off.

According to my older daughter, these fluffy Japanese pancakes “are practically perfect in every way”.

They certainly look impressive, and have a lovely, soft (and fluffy) texture. Apparently, the mayonnaise is what makes these pancakes so moist.

I did find them a bit fiddly to flip, but I’m sure it’s a matter of practice. (Which I’m certain to get, as everyone loved them so much.)

Continue reading

Tataki kyuri (smashed cucumber salad)

20 Apr

tataki kyuri

I tried this chilled cucumber salad at a Japanese pop-up kitchen the other day, and was intrigued both by the texture and the depth of flavour.

Turns out giving the cucumbers a few whacks with a rolling pin before dressing them is the secret. Continue reading

Zaru soba (cold soba noodles with dipping sauce)

23 Jul

Soba noodles with dipping sauce

Zaru soba – or cold soba noodles with dipping sauce – is one of my favourite hot weather lunches. During the summer, I often make a batch of dipping sauce in advance and have it chilled and ready in the fridge.

I prefer to cook the noodles fresh each time I want to eat them – but as long as you rinse them very well after cooking, they should be fine in the fridge for a day or two. Continue reading

Miso ramen

28 Apr

Miso ramen

A great bowl of ramen noodles is a wonderful thing. Hot, cheap, filling and reasonably quick to throw together – unless your culinary ambitions stretch to making your own ramen noodles, like the amazing Migrant Chef has done. (I am in awe of this achievement…) Continue reading

Fish rice broccoli bowl

21 Apr

Fish rice broccoli bowl

“Andrea has made… steamed Japanese rice, a store-bought smoked mackerel fillet, and steamed broccoli, garnished with strips of nori and a sprinkling of sesame seeds,” Nova drawled in wicked imitation of India Fisher, as we settled with our rice bowls in front of the telly to watch Masterchef.

I get this kind of thing a lot: “You’ve let yourself down on the presentation again, I’m afraid”, or “for me, the elements don’t combine into a single dish” or occasionally “this cherry sorbet is a lovely, lovely thing.”

Continue reading

Spinach and abura age miso soup

7 Apr

spinach-tofu miso soup

This spinach and abura age miso soup makes a change from the tofu and wakame version I usually serve when we have Japanese food. Continue reading

Chirashi sushi

14 Feb

Chirashi sushi

Chirashi sushi is an adaptable dish. It’s colourful and impressive party fare when arranged on a large serving platter, but makes a great midweek supper as well.

In the time it takes the rice to steam, I can throw together a quick Japanese omelette, soak and slice a few dried mushrooms, shred some nori and make the dressing for the rice. After that it’s just a matter of tossing things together.

Continue reading

Sake-soy marinated salmon

8 Jan

Sake-soy marinated salmon

Salmon is the lifeblood of British Columbia, the province in Canada where I grew up. It permeates everything – the history, culture, mythology, ecology, and economy. It feeds the people, the bears, the soil itself. It attracts tourists and sends them home with suitcases full of salmon products. Continue reading

Hijiki no ni mono

23 Nov

Hijiki no ni mono

“It smells like Japan!” Lyra said when she walked into the kitchen. And so it did, that inimitable simmering dashi smell. We ate hijiki no ni mono pretty regularly when we lived in Japan. It was one of the only dishes Adam cooked and his main contribution to house meals.

Hijiki has a slightly liquorice flavour that works well with the carrots, and the chewiness of the fried tofu provides a contrast to the softness of the vegetables. It looks so pretty too… Continue reading

Nikujaga (Japanese simmered beef and potatoes)

19 Nov

nikujaga

Nikujaga (or simmered beef and potatoes) is no-frills, homestyle Japanese cooking – something a Japanese mum would make on a busy weeknight the way I might make macaroni cheese. The Japanese call this sort of cooking ofukuro no aji, which means “mother’s taste”.

There’s a nostalgia associated with these dishes – while others may cook them, nobody’s tastes quite like your mum’s version. That’s because hers tasted of home and childhood… and love. Continue reading

Sayonara baby

18 Sep

Sayonara baby

At the end of July, we decided to throw a party for my birthday in September. So we sent out a raft of invitations… and then pretty much forgot about it until last weekend when it struck us, “Ay caramba! We’ve got several dozen people turning up next Saturday!”

We had the first requirement for a successful party – lots of people – sorted. Which left the second requirement… a killer cocktail. Get lots of people drinking cocktails at the same time and a great evening is pretty much guaranteed. Continue reading

Yakitori

4 Aug

Yakitori

The smell of grilling yakitori takes me straight back to Tokyo, and late nights spent in izakaya bars with friends and colleagues. Plate after plate of skewers would arrive – not always identifiable, always delicious. But however many I’d eat, it never seemed enough to absorb the amount of sake I managed to drink…

I usually make my yakitori with chicken thighs, but breast meat works too – especially if you allow a bit of time to marinate the meat before grilling. Continue reading

Chicken karaage

6 Jul

chicken karaage

Chicken wings Japanese-style – what’s not to like? Continue reading

Cucumber maki

6 Jul

cucumber maki

These are very easy to make — Lyra often does them by herself once I assemble the elements for her. Continue reading

Miso soup with tofu and seaweed

6 Jul

IMG_5540

I sometimes knock together a super quick bowl of miso soup by boiling water in the kettle, pouring it into a cup with a teaspoon of miso paste, then adding some chopped tofu and green onion. But it’s still easy – and tastes a lot better – when I take the time to measure the ingredients. I use a recipe in At Home With Japanese Cooking by Elizabeth Andoh. Continue reading