Monday, October 13, 2008

Kimpira Gobo

Burdock is a widely used Asian vegetable; its humble appearance hides an excellent source food source. With its long thin woody root and bark like skin, it is crunchy and filled with fibre and nutrition. Burdock can be prepared in a variety of ways including soups, stir fries, curries, stews, salads, and marinades. This recipe is a favorite Japanese side dish, steeped in tradition, that is usually served at wedding celebrations.

Kimpira Gobo (Sauteed Burdock and Carrot) - serves 4


1 medium burdock root

1 medium carrot

1 ½ tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp sake

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ tbsp white sesame seeds

dried Japanese red chili pepper


Scrub skin of burdock root.
Cut into julienne strips and soak in water for 10 minutes.

Cut carrot into julienne strips.

Saute carrot and burdock in sesame oil for 3-4 minutes til tender.

Add sake, sugar, soy sauce – cook over medium heat til most of liquid has been absorbed. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chili pepper.

Variation: Try adding lotus root or celery. Can add leftover beef or chicken Рjust chop into small bits and saut̩ with carrot and burdock.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mizutaki Hot Pot

Mizutaki Hot Pot

It's a blustery rainy day, and I have a bad cough and cold, so my husband is making Japan's favourite version of "chicken soup" to help me feel better. Brimming with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, a steaming hot bowl of Mizutaki is perfect for strengthening the immunity system and clearing the sinuses. Served often during the chilly days of autumn and winter, this comforting chicken, tofu and cabbage soup is typically served as a communal hot pot. Its health giving benefits are re-enforced with a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi (7 spice chili pepper) or a dab of kanzouri (a citrus flavoured chili paste) – chili is said to relieve muscle aches and provide extra vitamin C.

Mizutaki (Chicken Hot Pot) -(serves 4)

2 lb chicken thighs
1/2 chinese cabbage
2 leeks, sliced thinly and rinsed thouroughly
2 carrots, sliced in flower shapes
1 bunch spinach/chrysanthemum leaves
8 shitake mushrooms
2 cups dashi stock
5 inch piece of konbu kelp
1/4 cup sake
one inch slice of ginger
1 block of Tofu, rinsed

Individual Dipping Sauces:
1/2 cup soy sauce/1/2 lemon juice/1/4 cup broth from pot/small dab of kanzouri chili paste

Cut first six ingredients into bite-sized pieces and place on large plate.
Make dipping sauce according to taste.
Add stock/kelp/ginger and chicken to communal pot and bring to boil.
Add sake and simmer gently until cooked.
Remove kelp. Add other ingredients and simmer.
Tofu may also be added if desired.
When cooked, dip ingredients into individual dipping sauce and eat with rice.

*After all the ingredients are eaten, rice can be cooked in leftover broth to make a delicious and nutritious rice porridge.

*Kanzouri paste is a refreshing spice made from chili and seasoned with uzu (Japanese citrus).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kaki Fry

I was first introduced to Kaki Fry in Miyajima, which is a world famous heritage park outside of Hiroshima. It is also an area famous for its delicious oysters. It was November and the weather was sunny and cold. My husband and I were starving after having taken the ferry across the bay to tour the beautifully preserved shrine and park. We had fed the deer and dutifully looked for the wild monkeys, and now it was time to eat lunch.
When I ordered Kaki Fry I had no idea what to expect. Two enormous deep fried oysters, drizzled in tonkatsu sauce, were balanced on top of a shredded cabbage garnish: crisp and crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth taste sensations. I am now a kaki fry addict. Every September, as soon as summer is over, my husband rescues our deep fryer from the bottom of our storage tansu (chest of drawers) and races out to our favourite fish market to buy fresh delicious oysters. We gorge on them for several weeks and then put away the deep fryer until the New Year.

Deep Fried Oysters (serves 4)

2 dozen fresh shucked oysters
3-4 eggs
tempura flour
panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
tonkatsu sauce
shredded cabbage salad
cooked rice
lemon wedges


-rinse oysters in running water, pat dry

-season oysters with salt and pepper

-dredge in tempura flour

-dip in beaten egg

-dredge in panko crumbs

-deep fry until golden brown

-serve with rice and cabbage salad and lemon wedges

-drizzle tonkatsu sauce over oysters

*I mix shredded cabbage with slivered carrot, chopped green onion, and cooked corn, and dress with vinaigrette dressing

*I don't cook white rice anymore because of my husband's high sugar levels (borderline diabetic). Instead I mix 1/3 white rice, 1/3 brown rice, and 1/3 barley and cook together in rice cooker

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yoshinoya - Japanese Fast Food

My family and I were in southern california this August attending the Surf Cup, an annual soccer tournament for aspiring soccer players who want to be spotted by university scouts....Anyway, my Japanese husband was delighted to introduce us to Yoshinoya, a popular fast food restaurant chain in Japan which is popping up in California. For approx. $25.00 US, a family of four can feast on a side salad each, and an ample portion of rice, sukiyaki style beef, and vegetables. Not bad for fast food....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Miso Soup with Tofu, Chicken, & Veggies

Miso soup usually always accompanies a meal in Japanese cuisine. Growing up in Japan, my husband enjoyed miso soup at every meal of the day. We try and make it atleast three times a week as it is an easy and nutritious way to eat tofu and seaweed. The best miso soup is made from home-made chicken, pork bone, fish or konbu stock.

12 cups of home-made chicken stock (large soup pot)
1/2 small daikon (Japanese radish) peeled well, julienned
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 cup of chopped cooked chicken
2 blocks of tofu, medium firm, cubed
handful of dried wakame seaweed
1 ladle of miso paste (according to taste)
splash of sake
splash of water if soup is too salty

Bring the chicken stock to a boil with added celery and carrots.
Add a splash of sake or white wine to stock.
Simmer until veggies are softened.
Rinse and cube tofu.
Add tofu with dried seaweed to simmering stock.
Add ladleful of miso paste gradually.
Bring to boil. Turn off heat.
Taste. If too salty, add a splash of water.
Serve immediately.
Can garnish with mitsuba or finely sliced green onion

** The paler the miso paste, the milder the taste. The darker the colour of miso paste, the stronger and saltier the flavour.
** Mitsuba is a traditional japanese herb similar to parsley.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Karei Raisu (Curried Rice)

Katsu Karei

Curried Rice is comfort food for families in Japan. Insanely popular, it is served often. Traditionally it is garnished with slightly sweet japanese pickles called 'fukujinzuke'. Some people sprinkle grated cheese on top. Others serve it over deep fried pork cutlet - 'katsu karei'. The easiest and most convenient way to make this meal is using a curry mix and then adding slight variations like wine or fruit....Other more adventurous cooks make their curries from scratch.

1 box curry sauce mix (Glico or House brand)
1 lb pork, chicken, or beef
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 small apple, grated (optional)
1 small mango (optional)
1/2 cup red wine

Chop meat, onions, potatoes and carrots into bite size pieces.
Saute in large saucepan until lightly browned.
Add 5 1/2 cups water and bring to the boil.
Add grated apple and finely chopped mango.
Cook over low to medium heat about 20 minutes or til tender.
Remove from heat.
Break curry sauce mix into pieces and add to saucepan.
Simmer over low heat about 20 minutes.
Serve over rice.
Can garnish with grated cheese or japanese pickles.
Can also pour over fried pork cutlet.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Misoyaki Salmon

Misoyaki literally means charred miso. It is a delicious marinade that suits flavorful fish, high in fat, like salmon, butter fish, black cod, and halibut. Miso, or fermented soy bean, comes in a variety of colours and flavours, with white miso tasting quite mild and the darker honey coloured miso tasting stronger and saltier. Try this recipe: it's simple but has a subtle, delicate, melt-in-your-mouth texture that will 'wow' your palate.


1/2 cup white miso
1/2 cup red miso
1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1/2 cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (can substitute with 1/4 cup maple syrup)
6 - 4 oz. salmon fillets (can substitute with butter fish or black cod or halibut)


Combine miso, mirin, sake, water, and sugar in bowl.
Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Place fish in marinade.
Cover and refregerate from 12-24 hours.
Remove fish from marinade and wipe off excess.
Grill until tender and golden in colour and slightly charred.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Omuraisu (Japanese Rice Omelette)

Omuraisu is a delicious example of yoshoku which is Japanese food that originates in western recipes but is adapted to the Japanese palate. A typical family style comfort food, omuraisu is served as a quick meal and is a great way to use up leftover rice.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup ham or cooked chicken, diced
1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped
brown sauce
4 large eggs
salt and pepper

-saute chopped onion in butter 'til transparent
-add chopped ham or chicken
-add chopped carrot
-saute for a few minutes
-add rice and heat thoroughly
-season with salt and pepper
-mound rice on plate in oval shape
-pour egg mixture in pan
-shape into an oval while cooking
-cook 'til slightly runny
-lay on top of rice
-drizzle with ketchup or brown sauce
-serve immediately

**Western style omelette is too flat and thin for this recipe. Omelette must be fluffy and still runny. Also, some cooks make a slit lengthwise in omelette so that the egg will run over the rice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Yakitori is an essential Japanese culinary experience. Millions of bamboo chicken skewers are sold every day throughout Japan. A good yakitori shop will offer a fascinating selection of different cuts of chicken on skewers. There might be chicken legs, chicken meatballs, chicken livers, quails' eggs, chicken and leek kebabs to name but a few variations. Popular with beer, yakitori is marinated in teriyaki sauce, grilled over hot direct heat and basted continually during the process. Variations range from salty (shio) to sweetish (amai); however the basting sauce is typically made from soy sauce, sake, mirin (sweet rice wine),and sugar. Next time you're in Tokyo, try walking by a yakitori shop or stall without stopping. The mouth watering aroma of this Japanese specialty will entice you without fail.
Teriyaki Sauce
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
½ cup sake
1 Tbsp. sugar
2-3 slices fresh ginger
Mix the above ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat until boiling point. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until volume is reduced to 1 cup - about 10-15 minutes. Remove ginger. Prepare chicken skewers and place on oiled grill. Baste chicken with sauce and turn when chicken is lightly browned. Repeat grilling, basting and turning until chicken is cooked - about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Teriyaki Sauce is a very versatile sauce which can be used to marinate and baste chicken, salmon, shellfish, and beef.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Japanese Ramen

Probably the most famous and beloved noodle soup in Japan is the ubiquitous ramen. Wonderfully satisfying and infinitely variable, a bowl of ramen is the perfect meal. Typical ingredients include fried pork, seaweed, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg, chili oil and Japanese 7 spice seasoning. The broth is usually made simmered from chicken or pork bones and is seasoned with miso, shio (salty), shoyu (soya sauce) or tonkatsu (pork bones). Remember to slurp the next time you're in a Japanese restaurant eating ramen, to show appreciation for the delicious broth. Also, the next time you're looking for a Japanese movie to watch, try "Tampopo", a timeless comedy about a single woman who owns a noodle restaurant and her truckdriving admirer who accompanies her relentless quest to create the perfect bowl of ramen.

Family style Ramen
Raw Chinese noodles or ramen noodles
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cup chicken soup stock
1 cup kombu dashi soup stock
1 tbsp sake
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
*For toppings:
Chopped negi
nori (dried seaweed)
wakame seaweed (soak in water before using)
Japanese 7 spice seasoning
Sliced cooked pork or chicken
Bean sprouts (steamed)

Heat sesame oil in a deep pan. Saute chopped ginger and garlic in the pan. Lower heat. Add chicken soup stock and dashi and bring to the boil. Add sugar, salt, sake, and soy sauce to the broth. Strain the soup. Serve hot soup in individual bowls. In the meantime, boil water in a large pan. Add Chinese noodles to the boiling water and cook for a few minutes. Drain the noodles and serve in the hot soup. Garnish with an assortment of toppings like sliced pork or chicken, corn, bean sprouts, chopped negi, and nori seaweed. Sprinkle with Japanese 7 spice seasoning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Okonomiyaki is a panfried cross between a pizza and a pancake. It actually means 'grill as you like' with yaki meaning 'grilled', as in yakiniku (grilled meat) or yakisoba (fried noodles) or yakitori (grilled chicken). Osaka and Hiroshima are particularily famous for okonomiyaki which originated hundreds of years ago. There are numerous restaurants which specialize in this comfort food, but I love to watch street food vendors fry this up at a market or a festival. Somehow okonomiyaki tastes so much more delicious when eaten on the run. Typically the batter is made from flour, grated yam, dashi (broth), eggs, shredded cabbage, and an assortment of other ingredients like seafood, vegetables, beef, or pork. These items can vary according to what's in season, what you're craving, and/or what's in your's one of those great family dishes which each member can create and fry individually on a portable grill pan at the kitchen table. After all the ingredients have been mixed into the batter and panfried, the okonomiyaki is then traditionally garnished with mayonnaise, brown special sauce, aonori (seaweed flakes), katsuboshi (fish flakes), and beni shoga (red pickled ginger). Healthy and flavourful!
Okonomiyaki Recipe (serves one)
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp water or dashi (Japanese broth)
1 egg
3/4 cup cabbage, finely chopped
Mix together the above ingredients. Add a selection of other items according to taste:
chopped green onion
thinly sliced pork or beef
thinly sliced red or green pepper
Mix ingredients into batter. Heat griddle and lightly oil. Ladle batter onto griddle. When bubbles form, flip okonomiyaki over. Fry while pressing down gently. When cooked, garnish with special okonomiyaki sauce and japanese mayonnaise. Sprinkle with aonori, katsuboshi and pickled ginger.
NB Okonomiyaki sauce can be made with a mixture of 3 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp. soy sauce.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Mitsumame is a very popular traditional dessert in Japan. Basically it's fruit salad flavoured with syrup and cubes of jelly made from kanten, a type of gelatin derived from seaweed. (Most recently, kanten has been publlicized as a diet food because of its lack of calories.) Delicious and healthy, mitsumame is sometimes garnished with sweet cooked adzuki beans and then called anmitsu. Cream anmitsu and cream mitsumame means that it is served with vanilla ice cream. Sweet comfort food nicely balanced with sips of green tea! (Beautiful photo by Akira Yamada).
Simple Recipe:
Canned jelly cubes (Asian food store)
Canned fruit salad
Add finely chopped fruit (kiwi, mandarin orange, grapes or berries)
Garnish with vanilla ice cream

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Traditional Japanese Breakfast

Many Westerners might find waking up to such a breakfast a little off putting. I, on the other hand, lover of all edible things Japanese, will savor every bite. Typically, there will be grilled fish accompanied by rice, miso soup, an assortment of pickles, crisp sheets of nori, pickled vegetables and either a Japanese style layered omelette or a coddled egg. It takes great dexterity to pick up a sheet of nori with chopsticks and then envelope a small mound of rice which is then dipped swiftly into soy sauce and popped into one's mouth. After eighteen years of marriage to my Japanese husband, I can proudly say that I'm very skilled with my chopsticks!