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


Meshida to satsumaage no nibitashi / Western lady fern fiddleheads and deep-fried fishcakes in light broth

An everyday comfort side dish featuring fiddleheads in season. The faint bitterness of meshida lady fern with its succulent texture tastes great with gently mellow fishcakes.

1/2 of recipe:
73 calories; 6.5 g protein; 1.5 g fat; 8.7 g carbohydrate; 6.1 g net carbs; 67 mg sodium; 8 mg cholesterol; 2.7 g fiber 


Teuchi udon / handmade wheat noodles

Udon noodles made without adding salt! Using boiling water for dough appears to be a common technique with commercially available salt-free udon. But they don't share other secrets to achieve a chewy yet sticky texture. Some people suggest using milk or tofu as a (partial) replacement for water, while others say water alone gives satisfactory results. Below is my best attempt so far, based on a bread-making technique using yudane water roux (flour gelatinization).

1/2 recipe (average to large 1-person portion):
385 calories; 10.5 g protein; 2.8 g fat; 75.2 g carbohydrate; 73.1 g net carbs; 14 mg sodium (basically 0 mg after boiling); 3 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber

Whole recipe:
770 calories; 21.1 g protein; 5.5 g fat; 150.4 g carbohydrate; 146.2 g net carbs; 28 mg sodium (basically 0 mg after boiling); 6 mg cholesterol; 4.2 g fiber


Gomadashi udon / wheat noodles with fish sesame paste

Gomadashi udon is simply wheat noodles, fish sesame paste, a garnish and plenty of hot water. It is amazingly simple to prepare, as it was originally developed as a quick warm dish for fishermen coming back from the ocean. To satisfy our taste buds with a smaller amount of reduced-sodium version gomadashi, I use a small amount of dashi instead of hot water and add other goodies for overall umami enhancement and color to stimulate the appetite. This is one of Tom's recent favorites.

1 serving (with 150 g fresh low-sodium udon noodles):
575 calories; 22.6 g protein; 13.6 g fat; 87.9 g carbohydrate; 80.8 g net carbs; 460 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium gomadashi); 118 mg cholesterol; 7.1 g fiber 

1 serving (without udon noodles):
191 calories; 12.8 g protein; 11.0 g fat; 11.6 g carbohydrate; 7.3 g net carbs; 450 mg sodium (with reduced-sodium gomadashi); 115 mg cholesterol; 4.3 g fiber


Gomadashi / fish sesame paste

I first encountered the expression gomadashi on a website introducing regional udon specialties. It is a paste made of grilled fish, sesame seeds, soy sauce and sweetener. The paste's name does not intuitively convey how tasty it is. It is typically served with udon wheat noodles. It is also good with rice and as an addition to a number of dips and dressings. When making the paste, grilling the fish takes the longest, and once it is done, the paste should keep in the fridge for a relatively long time -- 4 weeks when made with regular soy sauce is what people say, so probably 2+ weeks with the reduced sodium version below.

1 tbsp (20g):
56 calories; 3.8 g protein; 3.4 g fat; 2.8 g carbohydrate; 2.0 g net carbs; 190 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce & shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 5 mg cholesterol; 0.8 g fiber

Whole recipe (approx. 170g):
476 calories; 32.5 g protein; 28.8 g fat; 23.7 g carbohydrate; 16.7 g net carbs; 1,601 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce & shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 42 mg cholesterol; 7.0 g fiber


Dinner, May 13, 2017

My father's birthday marks the end of a rash of spring birthdays among our friends and family. Thinking of a warabi bracken dish he made while visiting us here years ago, I took the opportunity to cook something using warabi and a couple of other things he hopefully would like to eat. Then I realized I do not really know what he likes, other than miso soup, tofu, usuage, sashimi, pork, beef, and strong-flavored dishes in general. Following ubiquitous advice, he tries to eat lots of vegetables for his health.

  • Asari to gobo no takikomi gohan / steamed rice with clams and burdock root, topped with mitsuba and nori seaweed
  • Satoimo to shiitake no misoshiru / miso soup with baby taro root and shiitake mushrooms
  • Gomadofu / sesame tofu
  • Kabu to usuage no nimono / braised Japanese turnips and thin deep-fried tofu
  • Fu champuruu / Okinawan-style stir-fry with gluten cakes

My warabi dish idea was a miso soup with gomadofu, but the gomadofu became too soft to maintain its form in soup ... Instead, it became a small side dish with wasabi.


Tom Cooks 20. Soondupu tofu stew and spinach namul

This is the best soondupu Tom has made so far. He even made the yangyeom seasoning mix for the soup. Incredibly, a small spinach side dish also appeared on the table.

Before cooking, Tom showed me how much spinach he was going to use. While it seemed like as much as half a bunch to him, it was only half a bunch to me, and clearly not enough. But I kept my mouth shut, as Tom wouldn't have listened to me anyway. He learns best from his own trial and error, not from other people's advice. My words are noise to him, especially after he has made up his mind.


Okara-iritamago no okaka mazegohan / steamed rice with scrambled soybean pulp, egg and bonito flakes

An easy makeover of plain steamed rice into a tasty comfort meal. Scrambled eggs fluffed up with fiber-rich okara increase the overall volume of rice, so even one-third of the entire recipe is quite filling. Mild okara-egg is balanced with the strong taste and aroma of okaka or katsuobushi bonito flakes. Although forms are totally different, onigiri rice balls came to mind when I first tasted this rice. Yummy!

1/3 of recipe:
229 calories; 6.6 g protein; 3.5 g fat; 40.4 g carbohydrate; 38.9 g net carbs; 41 mg sodium; 72 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
343 calories; 9.9 g protein; 5.2 g fat; 60.6 g carbohydrate; 58.4 g net carbs; 61 mg sodium; 108 mg cholesterol; 2.2 g fiber