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


Kyuri to gyuniku no sarada / Japanese cucumber and beef salad

Sweet and spicy, a light salad with beef.

Breakfast, September 27, 2011

Mornings and evenings are getting chilly, but the days are still warm -- cucumbers, eggplant and tomatoes are still on their way from the greenhouse. Our meals these days are a mixture of summer and fall.



Brassica para var. perviridis
While used in similar ways as spinach, komatsuna has a milder taste and stays firmer when cooked. It is rich in calcium (170 mg/100 g vs. 49 mg/100 g spinach), carotene, Vitamins B, C and E, iron, phosphorus and fiber.


Nasu no shiomomi / instant eggplant pickles

My favorite way to enjoy freshly harvested eggplant. Nothing else can make plain steamed rice taste so good in warm weather.


Shirataki to jako no itameni / konnyaku noodles and young dried sardines in soy sauce broth

Rich in fiber and calcium, this side dish has a soft soy sauce flavor slightly deepened by toasted dried sardines.

56 calories per serving (1/2 of above recipe); 2.7 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 7.8 g carbohydrate; 5.3 g net carbs; 552 mg sodium; 12 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fiber


Sumeshi / sushi rice

With only a couple of extra steps, you can make sushi rice the way it should be.

Whole recipe:
With homemade sushizu:
(sushizu made with shiokoji salted rice malt): 1,168 calories; 19.0g protein; 3.0g fat; 259.0g carbohydrate; 257.0 g net carbs; 282mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.0 g fiber
(sushizu made with kosher salt) 1,180 calories; 19.0 g protein; 3.0 g fat; 253.0 g carbohydrate; 251.0 g net carbs; 779 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.0 g fiber

With store-bought sushizu:
1,138 calories; 18.4 g protein; 2.7 g fat; 242.5 g carbohydrate; 241.0 g net carbs; 1,583 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber

Sushizu / sushi vinegar

Did you know sushi vinegar is easy to make?

Regular version whole recipe (with 6 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar/erythritol, 1 tsp kosher salt):
134 calories; 0.2 g protein; 0 g fat; 30.7 g carbohydrate; 30.7 g net carbs; 1,120 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0 g fiber
(When using erythritol) 41 calories; 0.2 g protein; 0 g fat; 30.7 g carbohydrate; 6.7 g net carbs; 1,120 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0 g fiber

Reduced-sodium version whole recipe:
115 calories; 0.5 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 25.3 g carbohydrate; 25.2 g net carbs; 375 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber
(When using erythritol) 53 calories; 0.5 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 17.3 g carbohydrate; 9.2 g net carbs; 375 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber

Handai, hangiri sushi rice mixing tub

Typically made of Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera), the sushi rice mixing tub is lightweight, has no coating, and absorbs excess moisture while mixing sushi vinegar into steamed rice. Tubs or bowls made of other materials are OK, but handai/hangiri is well worth the investment to easily prepare sushi rice with just the right of moisture without rice becoming soggy or the surface being too sticky. Some handai/hangiri come with a lid of the same material, yet lid-less design is more common. To cover sushi rice in handai/hangiri, a moistened (well-wrung) towel works just fine (and is better than non-wood hard materials).

Comes in various sizes according the amount of rice or the number of servings.

To prevent rice from sticking, handai/hangiri is first moistened before use. Just like with other shiraki (uncoated wood) products, handai/hangiri needs to be dried well before storing to prevent mold. If not used for an extensive period of time, wetting and drying it monthly is recommended. Moisture absorption, retention and breathing are shiraki products' functions in practical usage, and oil is not used in their care.


Tamagoyaki / plain omelet

A little salty and slightly sweet.
One of the few dishes that my sister, who was never interested in cooking, was good at making when we were in high school.


Tamagoyaki-ki / square omelet pan

A square, shallow pan to make tamagoyaki, rolled omelets. Also used to cook usuyakitamago thin egg crepes and kinshitamago julienned egg crepes.

The curved-up bottom at the far end helps to roll egg mixture into an oblong cylinder form. While it is not a must-have item to cook tamagoyaki or usuyakitamago, the majority of households in Japan probably have at least one in their kitchen.
Comes in various sizes according to number of servings.

Size of the pan matters when making the stumpy oblong shape, which is typically how tamagoyaki is served. When the pan is too big for the number of servings, tamagoyaki would be too thin.


Kyuri no shiomomi, shiso iri / Japanese cucumber instant pickle, with green perilla leaf

A quick, simple cucumber dish.

Ebi no suigyoza / shuijiao boiled dumplings with prawns

Mild prawn dumplings. Tender, filling, and gentle on your stomach.

Suigyoza wrappers / shuijiao boiled dumpling wrappers

Supple and smooth wrappers for suigyoza, shuijiao boiled dumplings.

Whole recipe (40 wrappers):
769 calories; 18.8 g protein; 3.8 g fat; 156.3 g carbohydrate; 150.4 g net carbs; 4 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 5.9 g fiber

Each wrapper:
19 calories; 0.5 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 3.9 g carbohydrate; 3.8 g net carbs; 0.1 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber

Nira garlic chives

Allium tuberosum
A chive with a strong flavor and garlic overtone. Commonly used in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cooking. In addition to being a main ingredient in various dishes, it is also used as a tie for wrapped items.


Shiso perilla leaves, flowers and fruits

Shiso perilla leaves are largely either green or purple, with some leaves being flat and some crinkled. There are also bicolor shiso leaves with a green top surface and purple underside, as shown with katamenjiso below.

Aojiso Perilla frutescens crispa fo. viridi-crispa

Akajiso Perilla frutescens purpurea Makino (flat leaves) and Perilla frutescens purpurea crispa (crinkled leaves)

Katamenjiso Perilla frutescens crispa fo. discolor

Where I grew up, shiso is synonymous with aojiso or oba [both green perilla], but when it comes to umeboshi pickled plums, shiso always means akajiso [purple perilla]. In some regions, shiso is said to be more strongly associated with akajiso [purple perilla]. Confusing, isn't it? Aka literally means red, therefore it refers to the reddish purple color. Ao, referring to the green leaves, literally means blue in today's Japanese language, but in ancient times it referred to cold colors (both greenish and bluish) in general. For this reason, the actual color of something described as ao [blue] is often green.

Kyuri Japanese cucumber

Cucumis sativus
Kyuri has a crispy and juicy texture, thin skin and is mostly eaten raw in Japanese cooking. In Chinese cooking, it is also cooked. Kyuri is known to remove heat from the body -- a perfect summer vegetable. While it is mostly water (over 95%), kyuri does contain Vitamin C, carotene and potassium. Potassium promotes discharge of sodium from the body, and thus is effective for prevention of high blood pressure. Cucurbitacin, the substance that makes kyuri skin bitter, is said to control cancer cell growth.

Breakfast, September 12, 2011

Tomatoes and Japanese cucumbers are now a regular harvest from our greenhouse.


Kyuri to atsuage no pirikaraae / Japanese cucumber and deep-fried tofu with ginger and spicy soy sauce

Juicy, crispy, and substantial. Ginger stimulates the appetite in hot weather.

109 calories (1/2 of recipe); 7.6 g protein; 7.3 g fat; 2.6 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g net carbs; 155 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 235 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber


Gyu tataki warijoyuzuke / seared beef marinated in soy sauce broth

One of Tom's and our guests' favorites. Great appetizer. Good for sandwiches too, according to Tom.

Sakana to kinoko no tsutsumiyaki / fish and mushrooms grill-steamed in paper packet

Simple is best when you have fresh ingredients. Upon opening packets at the table, steam and aroma fill the air.

Dinner, September 3, 2011

We found chanterelle mushrooms at our local farmers' market, the first time this season. We also bought some red rockfish. Fresh fish is tasty by itself and simple preparation works the best.



Konnyaku is jelly-like yam (Amorphophallus konjac) cake eaten for its texture rather than for its taste. Yet while this is true if you are eating inexpensive mass-manufactured konnyaku, fresh konnyaku made in the traditional method has a delicate flavor and it is well worth trying if you ever have an opportunity, such as at a morning market in the countryside of Japan. It will make you wonder about all those konnyaku you have been eating.


Poo ob woon sen / steamed crab with mung bean noodles

A flavorful crab dish with the pungent punch of whiskey. Great with steamed rice or drinks!

1/2 of regular recipe:
309 calories per serving; 14.1 g protein; 13.9 g fat; 26.6 g carbohydrate; 25.4 g net carbs; 792 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 1.2 g fiber

1/2 of reduced-sodium version:
 278 calories per serving; 14.0 g protein; 10.9 g fat; 26.7 g carbohydrate; 25.5 g net carbs; 558 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 1.2 g fiber


Ganmodoki / deep-fried tofu patties

Home-made ganmodoki tofu patties are heavenly soft and flavorful.

When 10 patties are made:
141 calories (1 ganmodoki); 8.1 g protein; 12.0 g fat; 4.7 g carbohydrate; 1.3 g net carbs; 29 mg sodium; 214 mg cholesterol; 3.4 g fiber

When 12 patties are made:
107 calories (1 ganmodoki); 6.8 g protein; 10.0 g fat; 3.9 g carbohydrate; 1.1 g net carbs; 24 mg sodium; 18 mg cholesterol; 2.8 g fiber


Suribachi & surikogi / mortar & pestle

Suribachi pottery mortars are glazed outside and unglazed inside. A comb pattern on the inside surface works as a grinder when food is pressed against it with a hand or pestle. In addition to grinding ingredients, it is used to mash or mix. Suribachi come in various sizes according to type of food and the number of servings to prepare.

For the surikogi pestle, sansho (Zanthoxylum piperitum) is the traditional material (in photo). It is very hard wood and does not wear out easily. It is also said to neutralize harmful substances in food ingredients, but this claim is likely untrue since this effect comes from the skin of sansho fruit and not from the wood. The uneven surface of a sansho pestle naturally provides a good grip.

Nagaimo Chinese yam

Dioscorea batatas
Nagaimo keeps its crunchiness when sliced, julienned or diced even when cooked (for a short time). Grated nagaimo is often added to fluff up a mixture of other ingredients (batter for savory pancakes, Japanese confectioneries, ganmodoki tofu patties, etc).

Nagaimo is one of the top tonic-effect vegetables. When cut or skinned, nagaimo secretes a sticky fluid. The slimy fluid contains mucin and mannan that protect stomach mucus (preventing stomach ulcers), prevents diabetes and hyperlipidemia as well as revitalizes the immune systems.

Tofu to age no aka dashi / aka miso soup with tofu and thin deep-fried tofu

A basic miso soup with tofu.