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


Miso yasai raamen / vegetable ramen noodles with miso-flavored soup

Finally, a sodium-savvy ramen with plenty of vegetables and great-tasting soup! More toppings mean more soup going into your mouth, especially when toppings are cut or sliced into small sizes, as a greater surface area is likely to carry more soup into your mouth. So for a reduced-sodium version, having lots of toppings is counter-intuitive, yet we opted for julienned vegetables for the extra flavor they add.

After being on a reduced-sodium diet for more than three and a half years, this is quite salty for us and definitely tasty. The recipe below is at the low end of the sodium content spectrum (soup has a salt level of 0.8% whereas soup at ramen shops averages 1.5%). Feel free to add more seasonings to taste, at your own risk ...

1/2 of recipe (approx. half of soup left in bowl): 
515 calories; 17.0 g protein; 9.3 g fat; 88.1 g carbohydrate; 15.8 g net carbs; 781 mg sodium* (with reduced-sodium miso and shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 11 mg cholesterol; 7.5 g fiber 
*Stir-fried vegetable toppings alone contain 100 mg sodium per serving.


Dinner, April 17, 2018

The furled fronds of seiyo meshida [Western lady fern] are already up. Harvesting is as easy as snapping their stems, but they do take some time to clean. Still, they are one of the freshest harvests we can hope for, as they are growing right next to the creek in our field.

  • Kinki no taimeshi modoki / fisherman's rice with channel rockfish
  • Asupara-iri kakitama misoshiru / egg-flower miso soup with asparagus
  • Renkon no ebi-hasamiyaki, gin-an-gake / sauteed lotus root with shrimp, with thickened dashi sauce
  • Seiyo meshida no goma-ae / Western lady fern fiddleheads in sesame dressing
  • Saishin no okaka-ae / yu choy sum with bonito flakes
  • Tomato / tomatoes


Tanpopo no shiraae / dandelions with tofu dressing

The bitter greens of dandelions paired with the faint sweetness of tofu dressing. Tanpopo dandelions may be your enemy when it comes to lawns, but could become an endless supply of leafy greens ... well, maybe not. Still, let's enjoy the stimulating bitterness of spring and get our share of burgeoning energy.

As the leaves are quite bitter, they are soaked in water for 1-2 hours after boiling for 1-2 minutes, and then coated with oil before mixing with the tofu dressing below.

1/2 of recipe:
84 calories; 4.3 g protein; 5.1 g fat; 6.2 g carbohydrate; 3.7 g net carbs; 90 mg sodium; 53 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber


Koyadofu-iri seri to koebi no chijimi / jijigmae Korean savory pancake with freeze-dried tofu, water dropwort and bay shrimp

An easy fix when feeling like eating lots of vegetables, especially strong-tasting greens. For the batter below, koyadofu freeze-dried tofu along with ground okara soybean pulp are added to partially replace wheat flour and lower net carbs. Koyadofu's fat content contributes to a rich taste, while at the same time grating the freeze-dried tofu makes the batter light and airy. It also makes pancake surfaces toastier. But be patient when cooking -- wait to flip pancakes until their bottom surface has turned opaque and shows some golden color at edges, otherwise they tend to crumble in the air.

1/2 recipe (pancake only; dipping sauce not included)
496 calories per serving; 32.2 g protein; 22.4 g fat; 40.5 g carbohydrate; 33.6 g net carbs; 198 mg sodium; 307 mg cholesterol; 6.9 g fiber


Kaminaridofu / pan-fried tofu with soy sauce and katsuobushi

With the literal meaning of "thunder tofu," this dish is well named; the water from these small cubes of firm tofu makes a rumbling sound when fried at high heat. For the sodium-savvy version below, I use less oil so that the amount of seasoning (soy sauce in this case) can be reduced. As a result, the tofu cubes only make a tame roar, if any. While the dish is now less entertaining to cook in an audio-visual sense, it has the advantage of requiring less cleanup of spattered oil. Taste-wise, this is quite strong thanks to the intense flavor of katsuobushi bonito flakes, and the strong flavor is highlighted by refreshing green onion slices. A small yet satisfying dish.

1/2 of recipe:
99 calories; 7.7 g protein; 6.4 g fat; 2.2 g carbohydrate; 15.8 g net carbs; 100 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 1 mg cholesterol; 0.5 g fiber


Biitsu to ninjin no akadashi / red miso soup with beets and carrots

Butter-sauteed carrots are paired with baked beets for red miso soup, creating a deep melody of flavors. When carrot slices are lightly cooked and allowed to retain their crispness, the taste of the two vegetables is more clearly noticed. When carrot slices are cooked until very tender and beets are cooked a bit longer, the two vegetables mingle together in the soup and produce a complex taste, although cooking beet chunks longer makes beets themselves lighter in color while the soup becomes darker. Below, beet chunks are added toward the end of the cooking process to retain their vivid color, but cooking them longer is well worth trying. This soup may not be a typical Japanese dish but does go well with any Japanese or other Asian food.

1/2 of recipe:
66 calories; 2.8 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 11.6 g carbohydrate; 8.5 g net carbs; 296 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 3.1 g fiber


Chawanmushi / steamed savory custard

Heavenly soft custard that quickly disappears on your tongue after releasing its umami-packed flavor. When serving only a small number of people, chawanmushi is easy to make in a regular pot or deeper pan with lid. Finishing with a smooth surface and no obvious holes is the sign of extra silky texture; for this, cook at low heat once water starts to bubble and the pot is filled with steam! While all solid ingredients can be immersed in the egg-dashi mixture, shrimp is placed after custard has basically solidified so that it stays on top along with mitsuba leaves and yuzu peel, the aromatic garnishes.

1/2 of recipe:
66 calories; 7.7 g protein; 2.7 g fat; 2.2 g carbohydrate; 1.8 g net carbs; 210 mg sodium; 125 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber