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Home-made Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)

By: Yumiko

Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu) is a very popular ingredient among Japanese people because it is a cheap source of protein. The outside is puffy and a bit crunchy but inside is a smooth silky tofu. Atsuage is excellent to eat on its own or cook with other vegetables.

Hero shot of Atsuage pieces with chopped shallots/scallions and grated ginger as garnish.

I first introduced atsuage in my post, Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni). In the post, I talked about atsuage with sample photos and explained where the name came from. I also used atsuage in Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu.

In Japan, atsuage is sold not only at tofu specialty shops but also in the tofu section at any supermarket or grocery store.

Until recently, the Asian grocery store near my house was selling fresh atsuage packs but they don’t sell them anymore. I went to many other Asian grocery stores in search of fresh atsuage but could not find it.

I even drove far away and visited the tofu shop that was printed on the container of the atsuage that I used to buy (see the photo below). But the shop was only open until midday and I was too late. When this happened, I thought my luck was not favouring me and decided to make my own atsuage.

Store-bought Atsuage

Store-bought Atsuage that I used when I made Kanazawa-style simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni).

How to make Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)?

It is very simple to make atsuage. Get a tofu block and deep fry it without coating it, ie. su-age (素揚げ). That’s all there is to it.

I explained about su-age in my recent recipe, Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi). My post, Agedashi Tofu also uses deep-fried tofu pieces but it coats the tofu with cornflour/corn starch before frying. This method of frying tofu is the major difference between these dishes and the textures of the tofu pieces are quite different.

When you makeatsuage, you will need to remove the extra moisture before deep-frying it.

  1. Wrap the tofu slice in kitchen paper and place it on a cutting board.
  2. On top of the tofu, place a tray with a small weight or a flat plate upside down.
  3. Lift one end of the cutting board so that the water drains well.
  4. Leave it for 10-15 minutes.
Hoping how to press tofu to drain excess water out of it.

I prepared one momen tofu (the tofu at the back) and silken tofu (the tofu in front).

Pat dry the tofu and deep fry. The temperature of the oil should be about 175C/347F. The hot oil makes a bubbling noise initially due to the water in the tofu, but surprisingly it does not splash any more than Karaage Chicken, which is coated with flour before frying.

I use a flat sieve with a handle to transfer the tofu into the oil as well as turn it over so that the tofu does not break. A slotted metal spatula is also good to use. When both sides of the tofu become light golden brown, it is done. It only takes about 5 minutes.

Tofu suitable for Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)

You can use either silken tofu (kinugoshi-doufu, 絹ごし豆腐) or regular/momentofu (木綿豆腐). Silken tofu is a little bit fiddly due to its soft texture, but you will enjoy a delicate atsuage with very soft tofu inside.

Very hard tofu is not suited for atsuage since the soft texture inside the atsuage contrasted with the deep-fried skin outside is the key to atsuage.

I made atsuage with silken tofu as well as momentofu. The photo below is the atsuage made with silken tofu (left) and momen tofu (right).

Home-made Atsuage comparison between silken tofu and women tofu.

I actually liked momentofu atsuage better because the inside was still soft and was easier to handle. It also kept the shape of the tofu block well.

Thickness of Atsuage

The ideal thickness of atsuageis about 2.5cm/1″. In Australia, the thickness of a standard 300g tofu pack is less than 5cm. So, if you slice the tofu in half horizontally, which is the ideal shape to make atsuage,it becomes a bit thinner than 2.5cm/1″. That’s close enough and from 1 standard pack of tofu, you can make two atsuage pieces.

But if you want to try and see what the ideal thickness of atsuagelooks like, by all means slice it to 2.5cm/1″ thick. The thinner remaining slice can become a very thin atsuage if you deep-fry or can be used in miso soup, etc.

I made atsuage with less than 2cm/¾” thick tofu. It looked OK but when I bit into it, I just didn’t get enough soft tofu inside and it made the atsuage a tiny bit oily. But the flavour and the texture were the same.

Atsuage on a plate with soy sauce over them.

How to eat it?

The list below shows the various ways of eating atsuage. The best way to have freshly made hot atsuage is to simply eat it with soy sauce and toppings (as per today’s recipe). You can enjoy the different texture of the atsuage and the great tofu flavour.

  • Cut freshly made hot atsuage into bite size pieces and dribble with soy sauce. Additional toppings such as finely chopped shallots/scallions, grated ginger and/or bonito flakes would be great to use as well. It is actually exactly the same way of eating as Chilled Tofu.
  • Eat at room temperature with the toppings mentioned above.
  • Grill on the BBQ, grill pan or frying pan to warm it up – great when atsuage is chilled in the fridge. Cook at low heat until the centre of the tofu becomes warm and the outside becomes crispy. Eat with the toppings mentioned above or pour vegetable sauce (refer to Tofu with Vegetable Sauce) or thick sauce (refer to Japanese Meatballs (Niku-dango) with Two Sauces) over it.
  • Stir-fry with other ingredients – see Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu as an example. Use atsuage as a substitute for meat in other stir-fry dishes.
  • Simmer with other ingredients – see Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni).
  • Add to miso soup to give extra volume to it.

Zoomed-in photo of picking up a piece of atsuage.

You can keep atsuage for 2-3 days in the fridge.

It is possible to freeze atsuage but the tofu inside becomes a bit spongy. For this very reason, I would not recommend freezing atsuage unless you are stir-frying or simmering it.

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Home-made Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu) is a very popular ingredient among Japanese people as a cheap source of protein. The outside is puffy and crunchy but inside is a smooth, silky tofu. Atsuage is excellent to eat on its own or cook with other vegetables.

Prep Time includes the time to drain the water out of the tofu.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 1 300g/10.6oz fresh tofu pack (note 1)
  • Oil to deep fry
Topping (note 2)
  • Finely chopped shallots/scallions
  • Grated ginger
Instructions
  1. Slice the tofu horizontally into half. It should make 2 pieces of about 2-2.5cm/¾-1" thick block (note 3).

  2. Place a clean kitchen towel or kitchen paper on a cutting board and place the tofu pieces on it. Cover the tofu pieces with another kitchen towel/paper, then on top of it, place a tray with a small weight or a flat large plate upside down.

  3. Place something underneath one end of the cutting board to tilt the board and positon the board so that the excess water drains into the sink. Leave it for 10-15 minutes.

  4. Fill a saucepan or a frying pan with oil and heat to about 175C/347F. The depth of the oil needs to be 3-4cm/1¼-1½“as a minimum.

  5. Pat dry a tofu slice with kitchen paper, place the tofu on a slotted metal spatula or a flat sieve spoon and gently slide it into the oil. Lots of bubbles will rise up because the tofu contains water, but they will settle down.

  6. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the outside of the tofu becomes firm and lightly browned. Turn it over half way using the spatula/sieve spoon.
  7. Using the spatula/sieve spoon, transfer the tofu to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.

  8. Cut the in half lengthwise. Then cut it crosswise into four, making 8 small blocks in total.

  9. Plate the atsuage, topped with shallots and ginger. Serve while hot with soy sauce (note 4).

  10. To eat, pour the soy sauce over the toppings and atsuage.

Recipe Notes

1. Silken tofu or momen tofu is best suited for making atsuage. Silken tofu is slightly more difficult to handle due to the delicate texture of the tofu. If difficult, make smaller blocks of silken tofu but retain 2.5cm/1" thickness.

2. It is OK to eat atsuage without topping but I find that adding at least one topping makes it tastier. Other popular toppings include grated daikon and julienned Japanese perilla.

3. Depending on the brand, the thickness of the tofu block varies. The ideal thickness of the tofu for making atsuage is 2.5cm/1". My tofu was just over 4cm/1⅝" thick, which was a bit too thin to make two slices of ideal thickness.

To show you the ideal atsuage size, I sliced the tofu into a 2.5cm/1" thick. I ate the leftover as chilled tofu.

But you can make two slices of slightly thinner atsuage.

4. Serving options:

a. As per the recipe instruction, eat atsuage while it is hot with toppings such as finely chopped shallots/scallions, grated ginger,  julienned shiso (Japanese perilla) or bonito flakes, etc.
b. At room temperature with the toppings mentioned above.
c. Grill on the BBQ, grill pan or frying pan to warm up – great when atsuage is chilled in the fridge. Cook at low heat until the centre of the tofu becomes warm. Eat with toppings mentioned above.
d. Stir-fry with other ingredients – see Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu.
e. Simmer with other ingredients – see Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni).
f. Add to miso soup to give the soup an extra volume.

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Atsuage goes well with a simple stir-fry. Since atsuage is deep-fried, the stir-fry should not be too oily. I think that my choice of Main dish below is perfect for it.

Tofu also goes well with bean sprouts, probably because both are made from soy beans.

Dinner idea with home-made Atsuage.

Related

Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu

By: Yumiko

Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu is a stir-fry using Chinese greens, but it has a Japanese flavour. It contains a good amount of umami from a special dashi stock, and uses minimal oil. It’s a healthy side dish. You can use non-fried hard tofu instead of Deep Fried Thick Tofu if you want to go even healthier!

Hero shot of Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried thick Tofu.

Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu is simple but full of flavour.  It’s a great side dish you can make when you want to add one little dish to your meal. If you double the quantity, you can even have it as a main dish.

‘Atsuage’ (厚揚げ) or ‘namaage‘ (生揚げ) is the name for Deep Fried Thick Tofu is called in Japanese. It is made in a similar way to aburaage and tofu puffs but atsuage is nothing like these.

Atsuage vs Aburaage vs Tofu Puffs

In my recipes, I often used aburaage, which is a deep fried thin tofu. Aburaage is a versatile ingredient in Japanese cooking. It can be added to simmered dishes, miso soup and takikomi gohan. The following are some of my recipes usingabraage:

You could say that atsuage is a thick version of aburaage because the method of making them are the same – i.e. fresh tofu is deep-fried without coating – no flour or cornflour/corn starch.

It’s just that the tofu is quite thick in the case of atsuage. Even after deep frying, the inside of atsuage retains the original soft texture of tofu unlike aburaage, which has a spongy texture inside.

Showing the inside of deep fried tofu in stir-fry.

For this very reason, I don’t call atsuage ‘tofu puffs’, which are more readily available at Asian grocery stores and some supermarkets. Tofu puffs are closer to aburaage as the inside of the puffs are spongy and do not resemble silky smooth tofu. And they come in small cubes or triangular pieces.

But for today’s dish, you can use tofu puffs if you cannot find atsuage. Alternatively, you can use a hard tofu. You need to stir-fry the hard tofu pieces a bit longer to seal the surface of the tofu and protect the soft inside.

Secret seasoning used in Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick TofuIngredients of Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried thick Tofu.

Today’s stir-fry is made of just choy sum and atsuage. But for flavouring I used a secret seasoning called shiro dashi (白出汁), which translates to white dashi stock.

Shiro dashi is a seasoned dashi stock made of sake, mirin, light soy sauce, salt, bonito flakes and konbu (dried kelp). The ingredients are very similar to the dipping sauce for Tempura and cold noodles such as Zaru Soba and Sōmen.

But shiro dashi is usually made as a condensed dashi stock and you need to dilute it with water or hot water when using it. The ratio of shiro dashi to water depends on the type of dish you want to make. Sometimes you don’t even dilute the condensed shiro dashi, like today’s dish.

The good thing about shiro dashi is that you can add great flavour to the dish by just adding a tiny amount. You can add the typical Japanese flavour without simmering the ingredients with other seasonings in a large quantity of dashi.

Stir-frying Choy Sum and Deep Fried thick Tofu.

I am hoping that I can introduce more dishes using shiro dashi in near future.

Store-bought Shiro Dashi vs Home-made Shiro Dashi

You can buy shiro dashi at Japanese grocery stores. Below is the store-bought shiro dashi pack that I used in today’s dish. On the side of the pack, it tells you how much water you need to dilute the shiro dashi depending on the type of dish you are going to make.

A 500ml carton of store-bought shiro dashi.

Shiro dashi is full of umami but it is a very salty and sweet liquid because it is condensed. As you can see in the recipe below, I only used ½ teaspoon of shiro dashi with a bit of soy sauce and that was sufficient.

When shiro dashi was first created, it was made with white soy sauce, which is a soy sauce that is almost transparent light amber in colour (close to the colour of rice wine vinegar) unlike normal blackish soy sauce.

Shiro dashi was the dashi stock with white soy sauce, hence it is called shiro (white) dashi. Even now, the traditional Japanese restaurants make shiro dashi with white soy sauce to retain the colour of the ingredients better.

You can make shiro dashi at home and it is not so difficult. The flavour of home-made shiro dashi can vary and may not be the same as the store-bought one, just as the flavourings of any dishes differ household by household.

How to Make Shiro Dashi at homeHome-made shiro dashi in a bottle.

Unlike dashi stock where bonito flakes and konbu (dried kelp) are cooked in boiling water, shiro dashi is made by cooking bonito flakes and konbu in the typical Japanese seasonings – soy sauce, sake, mirin and salt.

A large amount of bonito flakes and konbu (dried kelp) are added to a small quantity of seasoning mixture and cooked for a while to extract umami from the bonito flakes and konbu.

Here is the photo of all the ingredients in the saucepan after cooking for 10 minutes. It looks like there is hardly any liquid left since the bonito flakes absorbed a lot of liquid. I got about 100ml/3.4oz of shiro dashi from this.

Making shiro dashi in a saucepan.

Filter the liquid through a sieve and collect the clear amber-coloured shiro dashi.

I added a recipe for how to make shiro dashi below the recipe for Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu. Home-made shiro dashi keeps for about a month in the fridge.

Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu is a very quick dish to make and it is tasty. It is a perfect side dish when you need one more dish to add.

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Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

It’s a stir-fry using Chinese greens but it has a Japanese flavour. It contains a good amount of umami from a special dashi stock, and uses minimal oil.  Deep Fried Thick Tofu can be substituted to non-fried tofu if you prefer.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: atsuage, choy sum, stir fry
Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 100g/3.5oz choy sum , cut to 5cm/2" long pieces (note 1)
  • 185g/6.5oz deep fried thick tofu (atsuage), cut to bite-size blocks (note 2)
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp condensed shiro dashi (note 3)
Instructions
  1. Add sesame oil to the frying pan and heat over high heat.
  2. Add atsuage pieces and stir until the surface of the atsuage starts slightly browning (2-3 minutes).

  3. Add the stem part pf the choy sum pieces and stir for 30 seconds. Then add the remaining choy sum and stir gently so that tofu pieces do not break.

  4. Add the Seasoning ingredients and stir, ensuring that the vegetables are coated with the seasoning.

  5. Serve while hot or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

1. I like the texture of choy sum in stir-fried dishes as the stems stay crunchy. But you can use other Chinese green leaves such as Bock Choy or Chinese broccoli.

2. Atsuage is a thick tofu that is deep-fried without coating. You can find more details about assuage in the post. I cut an atsuage in half lengthwise, then cut them into 1.5-2cm/⅝-¾" thick slices, perpendicular to the first cut so that every piece has at least three fried sides.

3. Shiro dashi is a dashi stock seasoned with sake, mirin, light soy sauce and salt. I used a store-bought condensed shiro dashi, which you can buy at Japanese grocery stores. But you can also make shiro dashi at home. I added a Shiro Dashi Recipe below this recipe.

 

Shiro Dashi (Seasoned Dashi Stock) Recipe
Prep Time
0 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Cooling Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

The secret seasoning called Shiro Dashi (白出汁) is a seasoned dashi stock that is made of sake, mirin, light soy sauce, salt, bonito flakes and konbu (kelp). It is very similar to the flavour of the dipping sauce for Tempura and cold noodles such as Zaru Soba and Sōmen. But Shiro Dashi is condensed and you are meant to use it by diluting it with water/boiling water.

Recipe Type: Pantry
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: dashi stock, seasoned dashi stock, shiro dashi
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
Makes about 100ml/3.4oz (note 1)
  • 150ml/5.1oz sake
  • 100ml/3.4oz mirin
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (note 2)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 10 g bonito flake
  • 5cm/2" x 10cm/4" konbu (dried kelp)
Instructions
  1. Add sake and mirin to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Bring the heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan, bring down the heat to minimum so that it simmers extremely gently (almost like keeping the liquid warfor 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off and let it cool for 10 minutes.

  4. Place two layers of muslin or kitchen paper over a sieve and place it over the top of the container.

  5. Put the shiro dashi liquid with bonito/kelp through the sieve and collect clear liquid. Squeeze the muslin/kitchen paper to get the liquid out of the bonito flakes.

  6. 1.    Store in a container/bottle. It keeps up to 1 month in the fridge.

How to Use Shiro Dashi (Examples)
  1. Add water and bring it to a boil to make a clear soup.

  2. Add a small amount of soy sauce and water to make the sauce for Katsu-don or Oyako-don.

  3. Add soy sauce and water and cook simmered dishes.
  4. Dilute 2 tsp shiro dashi with 3 tbsp water as the flavour base for Dashimaki Tamago (Japanese Rolled Omelette).

Recipe Notes

1. The final quantity you make depends on the evaporation rate and the type of bonito flakes you use. My bonito flakes were large pieces (larger than those you buy in a pack at the grocery stores/supermarket) and they absorbed quite a lot of liquid.

2. The original Shiro Dashi uses white soy sauce instead of light soy sauce. You can buy white soy sauce at Japanese grocery stores but I used light soy sauce instead. You could also use normal soy sauce.

The difference is the colour of the shiro dashi, which will then become the colour of the sauce for the dish you are going to make. I personally think that light soy sauce is quite OK since this is a home cooking recipe.

3. You can adjust the ratio of mirin and salt to make it sweeter or saltier to suit to your palate.

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

The main dish can be any other meat or fish dish, but I think Pork Shōgayaki gives a good colour combination to the meal.

Both Pork Shōgayaki and today’s dish use a frying pan. You can serve today’s side dish at room temperature, so I suggest that you cook Side dish 1 first. If you have two frying pans and can manage cooking both at once, that’s even better!

Diner idea with Stir-fried Choy Sum with Atsuage.

Related

Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad

By: Yumiko

Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad is a quick and easy mustard green recipe. The canned tuna and sliced tofu skin add extra dimensions to the texture. Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad makes it easy to eat a lot of green leaves and the salad is dressed in just sesame oil and light soy sauce with a little bit of mayonnaise.

Hero shot of Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad.

It takes only 10 minutes to make! The longest time you have to bear with is the time to bring the water to a boil so that you can blanch the mustard greens.

About Mustard Greens

As the name suggests, mustard is the seeds of mustard greens. There are numerous varieties of mustard greens. In Japan, mustard greens are called ‘karashina’ (からし菜). ‘Karashi’ (からし) means mustard and ‘na’ (菜) means leaves so there is no argument here.

The Japanese mustard greens have thin stems and are rather small compared to the Chinese mustard greens called ‘gai choy’ (Cantonese) that have thick stems and many leaves are growing off the stems. The leaves of the Chinese mustard greens are larger too. But both of them have a similar spiciness to them, which is unique to this vegetable.

Fresh baby mustard greens.

Karashina is a typical spring vegetable. When it starts appearing at vegetable shops in Japan, Japanese people really feel that spring has come.

Recently at my favourite Chinese grocery shop, I found a baby gai choy that looked just like karashina. So, I had to buy a bunch and make something using it. Well, it’s spring here in Sydney.

Mustard greens may also be called Indian mustard, leaf mustard, or mustard cabbage.

Salad Ingredients

This salad is made of only three ingredients. I have also added alternative ingredients below.

Zoomed-in photo of Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad.

  • Baby mustard greens – see the previous section for details. You can of course use normal Chinese mustard greens, instead. Other alternatives include English spinach, broccolini, Chinese broccoli or choy sum.
  • Tuna – I used canned tuna in spring water. Poached chicken can be an alternative. Shred the chicken after poaching. I thought of canned salmon but I think that the fishiness might be overpowering.
  • Tofu skin – I used a sheet of dried tofu skin that I bought at a Chinese grocery store. Please visit my post, Dried Tofu Skin Soup Two Ways, to see the photo of sample products. Instead of tofu skin, you can use blanched enoki mushrooms or bean sprouts. They will be quite different in texture and flavour, but they go very well with the salad. You could also omit this third ingredient if you want.

Here is the salad I made with normal Chinese mustard greens and enoki mushrooms.

Baby mustard greens and tuna salad with enoki mushrooms.

Blanching Mustard Greens

To make the salad, the mustard greens need to be cut into 5cm/2” long pieces. Some recipes cut them before blanching and some after blanching.

If you need to plate the greens in a neat and tidy piles like the way I plate spinach in my post, Spinach Ohitashi Salad, you must blanch the leaves before cutting. Otherwise it will be a daunting task to place each piece in a neat pile since boiling will scatter every piece of the green leaves.

In the case of today’s dish, you can cut the mustard leaves either before or after blanching them. The blanched leaves will be mixed with other ingredients anyway.

I always blanch the leaves before cutting. I feel that the cut pieces might lose more nutrients than whole leaves when blanched.

Blanched baby mustard greens before and after cutting into 5cm/2" long pieces.

Dressing for Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad

The dressing is a mixture of just the same quantity of sesame oil and soy sauce with some mayonnaise. If you want, you can add a pinch of pepper.

Mayonnaise gives umami to the flavour of the salad. It also makes the dressing milder. If you prefer not to use mayonnaise, you can substitute it with a pinch of salt.

Although I called it ‘dressing’, it is hardly a dressing since I do not pre-mix the dressing ingredients. After mixing the salad ingredients, I add dressing ingredients to the salad and mix them. It’s so quick to make!

Baby mustard greens, tuna and tofu skin pieces mixed in a mixing bowl.

Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad is a tasty filling salad that goes quite well with rice. The speed of making this dish is also attractive.

YumikoYM_Signature

5 from 1 vote
Hero shot of Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad.
Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
 

This is a quick and easy salad that fills you up. Mixed with canned tuna and sliced tofu skin, which add extra dimensions to the texture, Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad makes it easy to eat a lot of green leaves. The salad is dressed in just sesame oil, light soy sauce and a bit of mayonnaise.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Salad, Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: canned tuna, gai choy, mustard greens, tuna salad
Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 200g/7.1oz baby mustard greens (note 1)
  • 10g/0.4oz dried tofu skin sheet , cut to 5cm/2" long x 5mm/3/16" wide strips (note 2)
  • 65g/2.3oz canned tuna chunks in spring water , drained (note 3)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise (note 4)
  • A pinch of pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak the tofu skin strips in water for 5 minutes to rehydrate, then drain.
  2. Bring water in a large pot to a boil. Add a pinch of salt (not in ingredients) and put the mustard greens in, ensuring that all leaves are submerged in the water.

  3. When the water starts boiling again (note 3), drain and add cold water to the pot with the leaves to quickly cool them down.

  4. Rinse each stem with running water to clean the root end of the clusters as they tend to accumulate soil.
  5. Align all the stems with root side on the right (for right handers). Cut at the beginning of the root and discard the root bits. Starting from the root end, cut the leaves to 5cm long pieces.

  6. Take a handful of chopped leaves at a time, squeeze and drain water and transfer them to a mixing bowl.

  7. Squeeze water out of the rehydrated tofu skin pieces and put them into the mixing bowl.

  8. Add the tuna to the mixing bowl and mix well with other ingredients. Ensure that the pieces of mustard greens are separated (they get stuck together when the water is squeezed out) and mixed with other ingredients.

  9. Add sesame oil, soy sauce and mayonnaise. Add pepper if using and mix all ingredients well.
Recipe Notes

1. Finding Japanese mustard greens called ‘karashina’, would be the best. Baby Chinese mustard greens are very similar.

If you can only find fully grown mustard greens, that’s OK, too. Blanching time will be a bit longer due to thick stems (I blanched for 1 minute). If the stems are very thick, you may halve them vertically halfway so that the stems become thinner without separating two halves.

To avoid the soft leaf part from getting over cooked, put the stem-end of the leaves in the boiling water first, keeping the green leaves above the water for a short while, then push the leaves into the water.

Spinach, Broccolini, Chinee  broccoli or choy sum can be good alternatives too.

2. Instead of tofu skin, you can use 50g/1.8oz of blanched enoki mushrooms. Remove the stem and cut into half if too long before blanching. Cool them down and squeeze the water out before mixing to the salad.

You can also substitute tofu skin with blanched bean sprouts. Make sure to squeeze water out before adding to the mixing bowl.

3. I used the smallest canned tuna which had the net weight of 95g/3.4oz. After draining the liquid, it weighed about 65g/2.3oz.

You can use blanched chicken if you prefer. Shred it after blanching.

4. Mayonnaise gives umami to the flavour of the salad. It also makes the dressing milder. If you prefer not to use mayonnaise, you can substitute it with a pinch of salt.

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Today’s salad contains a bit of protein so I picked Tsukune for the Main so that you can adjust the amount of protein intake. It is also good to have meat instead of seafood for the main dish today.

You can use any ingredients in your Miso soup, but having a miso soup with wakame seaweed would be great. In fact, I often pop in a few pinches of dried wakame seaweed pieces (see the thumbnail photo in Miso Soup Basics) to a bowl of miso soup as an additional ingredient.

Menu idea with Baby Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad.

Related

Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce (Pumpkin Soboro-an)

By: Yumiko

With gravy mince poured over the steamed pumpkin, Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce is so filling that you could make it a main dish. Simmered Pumpkin is a popular Japanese side dish among the pumpkin recipes, but today’s dish is also popular.

Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce in a bowl.

Instead of boiling the pumpkin, steam it so that the flavours are retained inside of the flesh. A flavoursome dashi-based gravy sauce made with beef mince/ground beef makes this dish a real comfort food.

Steaming is the best for Pumpkin with Beef Mince

Compared to boiling or stir-frying, steaming is considered to be a healthier way to cook food.

When you boil vegetables, nutrients that are water soluble come out of the flesh into boiling water and the vegetables lose the nutrients. But in the case of steaming vegetables, this dose not occur and you get to keep nutrients within the vegetables better.

And of course unlike stir-frying no oil is required to cook.

There are many ways to steam pumpkin:

  • A steamer
  • A pot/wok with a colander
  • A bamboo steamer
  • A microwave
  • An oven

Pumpkin pieces in a steaming pot.

For today’s dish I tried two cooking methods – using a pot and using a microwave. The recipe instructions use a pot to steam the pumpkin but I added a note about how to cook it in a microwave.

Microwaving is actually faster, but there could be inconsistencies in how well the flesh inside is cooked. To overcome this problem, you either have to turn the pumpkin pieces over or not turn and accept the fact that part of the pumpkin might be a bit too soft.

About Soboro-an

The flavoured thick sauce with minced meat/ground meat is called ‘soboro-an’ (そぼろあん) in Japanese.

I touched on soboro-an in my post, Braise White Radish with Pork Mince and I am repeating it here. When mince is cooked and flavour is added, it becomes ‘soboro’ (そぼろ). When soboro is cooked in a thick sauce, it becomes soboro-an.

Beef mince sauce - sobero-an, on a frying pan.

Soboro can be made with eggs as well instead of minced meat. When beaten eggs are cooked in a frying pan and stirred vigorously until they become small pieces it’s called egg soboro. See my Sanshoku Bento (tri-coloured Rice Bowl), which includes two kinds of soboro – egg and meat.

The word ‘an’ (あんor 餡) means three things one of which is thick sauce. The other meanings are (1) sweet bean paste and (2) fillings for dishes such as Gyoza, Shumai, and Japanese sweets, etc.

What’s in Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce

The major ingredients are just pumpkin and beef mince/ground beef. The other ingredients are dashi stock and seasonings to make a thick sauce.

Cut the pumpkin into cubes and steam them. Cook the beef mince with ½ tablespoon of oil, then add dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and grated ginger. Cook and reduce the sauce a little bit.

Add a small amount of cornflour/corn starch to thicken the sauce. Pour the mince sauce over the steamed pumpkin and it’s done!

Zoomed-in photo of Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce.

When I cook a dish using beef mince/ground beef, I often end up with a small amount of left-over mince which is not enough for a main dish. Today’s dish is a perfect ground beef recipe to consume such left-over mince. Instead of beef, you can use pork mince or chicken mice too.

Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce is quite filling for a side dish. You could even increase the quantity and make it a main dish too.

Today’s dish is cooked in the time it takes to steam the pumpkin pieces . You can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can also freeze it for a few weeks but when re-heated, the pumpkin tends to become mushier.

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5 from 1 vote
Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce in a bowl.
Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce (Pumpkin Soboro-an)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
 

With gravy mince poured over the steamed pumpkin, Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce is so filling that you could make it a main dish. Simmered Pumpkin is a popular Japanese side dish, and today's dish is also popular.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Main, Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: beef mince, pumpkin, soboro, soboro-an, steamed pumpkin
Serves: 3 - 4 as a side
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 500g/1.1lb pumpkin (note 1)
Soboro-an
  • ½ tbsp oil
  • 150g/5.3oz beef mince/ground beef (note 2)
  • 100ml/3.4oz dashi stock
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tbsp cornflour with 1 tbsp water
Garnish (optional)
  • Finely julienned ginger (note 3)
Instructions
  1. Remove seeds from pumpkin using a spoon, including stringy tissue. Cut the pumpkin into about 3cm/1¼"x 4cm/1½” blocks (note 4).

  2. Place the pumpkin pieces on a steamer tray or a metal colander skin side down without overlapping. Then place it over the boiling water. Put a lid on and steam over high heat for 15-20 minutes until pumpkin is cooked through. (note 5)

  3. Transfer pumpkin pieces to serving bowls (I place them with skin side down but it doesn't have to be this way).

Making Soboro-an (Cook while pumpkin is being steamed)
  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add beef mince to the pan and cook, breaking it up as you go.
  2. Once the beef has changed the colour from red to brown, add the remaining Soboro-an ingredients except cornflour with water.

  3. Bring it to a boil and cook for 30 seconds or so. Then add the cornflour with water.
  4. Cook until the liquid reduces and the mince sauce becomes the consistency of a gravy sauce.

  5. Pour the mince sauce over the pumpkin, place julienned ginger on top and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

1. There are different varieties of Japanese pumpkins. In Australia, Kent pumpkin is often labelled as Japanese Pumpkin and that is what I used today. It is larger in size than the Japanese version and the skin colour is different, but it works well with this recipe. If you can find the Japanese version of Kabocha, it’s even better.

2. It is totally alright to use pork or chicken mince as a substitute for beef mince. You will get quite a different flavour of the sauce. You may also reduce the amount of ginger if not using beef mince.

3. Japanese citrus, yuzu, is often used as a garnish on top of the Soboro-an. But I cannot get fresh yuzu in Sydney so I substituted it with ginger since ginger flavour is added to the sauce. You could also use finely julienned lemon rind as an alternative.

4. See my post, Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha No Nimono) to see how I cut the pumpkin.

5. The duration of steaming varies depending on the size of the pumpkin, variety of pumpkin and the strength of the heat. If a thin bamboo stick or a fork can get through the pumpkin easily, it is OK.

Instead of steaming the pumpkins on a stove, you could use a microwave to steam. Place pumpkin pieces in a microwave safe container, cover it with cling wrap and cook for 6 minutes or so at 600W. It is faster than steaming in a pot, but the pumpkin tends to cook inconsistently. To prevent this problem, you may want to turn the pumpkin pieces over half way.

6. Nutrition per serving assuming 4 servings.

serving: 246g calories: 182kcal fat: 9.9g (15%) saturated fat: 3.1g (16%) trans fat: 0.5g polyunsaturated fat: 0.6g monounsaturated fat: 4.7g cholesterol: 27mg (9%) sodium: 557mg (23%) potassium: 648mg (19%) carbohydrates: 13g (4%) dietary fibre: 0.7g (3%) sugar: 7.3g protein: 9.7g vitamin a: 213% vitamin c: 9% calcium: 2.9% iron: 10%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

I matched today’s side dish with Sakamushi Fish as it also requires a steamer to cook. While using a steamer for the pumpkin, I thought I could make use of it for the main dish too. Although Sakamushi Fish takes a while to prepare, steaming takes only 5 minutes.

You can have another kind of fish dish if you are in a hurry such as grilled fish. A chicken dish can go well too.

Menu idea with Steamed Pumpkin with Beef Mince Sauce.

Related

Pork Shabu-shabu Salad

By: Yumiko

It’s filling yet not so heavy. Paper-thin pork slices are cooked just like Shabu-shabu Hotpot and quickly cooled down. A mound of chilled Pork Shabu-shabu on plenty of lettuce leaves is quite a healthy salad. It can be a main dish as well. The sesame soy dressing is perfect for it.

Hero shot of Pork Shabu-shabu Salad.

People in the Northern Hemisphere might still be experiencing hot days, even if it is supposed to be autumn. When I was living in Japan, I noticed that people lost their appetite during the humid, hot summer. Japanese people say that they just want a simple, light, and cold dish to get through the day.

Today’s dish, Pork Shabu-shabu Salad, is exactly what they need. It’s simple and fast to cook, light on your stomach, and cold. And it’s so delicious that you can eat a lot of fresh salad without realising.

Chilled Pork Shabu-shabu

Shabu-shabu is a hotpot dish. As you can see in my post Shabu-shabu Hotpot, very thinly sliced meat is cooked in a pot of boiling water together with various vegetables.

The sliced meat is so thin that you only cook it for 5-10 seconds. Each piece is about 1mm/1/16” thick (see the photo below).

Thinly sliced pork loin.

To serve cooked pork slices on salad, the slices need to be cooled down quickly. If I have time, I cover the cooked pork slices and leave them in the freezer for 15 minutes or so until they are almost cooled down.

If I am in a hurry I place the pork slices in ice water as soon as they are cooked, then transfer them to a plate. I line up a plate of sliced pork, a bowl of ice water and a new plate next to the pot with boiling water on a stove.

Pick up a slice, cook it for 5 seconds, then transfer to the ice water. When the second slice goes into the ice water, I transfer the first one to the plate. It’s a production line and takes less than 5 minutes to cook them all.

Step-by-step photo of cooking a pork slice in Shabu-shabu way.

Pork or Beef?

Traditionally, Shabu-shabu Hotpot is a beef dish. But when it comes to home cooking in Japan, pork shabu-shabu is much more popular than beef. There was a survey a few years ago about pork vs beef in shabu-shabu and almost 75% of the people surveyed said ‘pork’.

The main reasons pork was the preferred meat for shabu-shabu were (1) beef is much more expensive in Japan, (2) pork is not as heavy on the stomach as beef.

You could make today’s Shabu-shabu Salad with beef slices if you prefer. But my preference is pork.

Regardless of the type of meat you use, obtaining paper-thin slices is the key. My frozen sliced pork loin was 1mm/1/16” thick and it took only 5 seconds to cook a slice.

You could also use thinly sliced pork belly, which is more economical, and many Japanese households use it. I found a tray of thinly sliced pork belly at Coles supermarket. The slices were about 2mm thick.

A pack of thinly sliced pork belly bought at Coles supermarket.

I tried shabu-shabu with these pork belly slices. The flavour was great but they were a bit chewy unfortunately due to the thickness of the slice. If you are using them for today’s Pork Shabu-shabu Salad, I would suggest that you pound each slice and make them thinner before cooking.

Vegetables for Salad can be anything

My salad included tons of shredded lettuce, sliced cucumbers, sliced red onions and tomato wedges.

Salad ingredients.

I like the bright green colour of the lettuce as I think it goes well with the pale colour of the blanched pork slices. Adding tomato wedges brightens up the colour of the dish even further.

But you can have other salad leaves, or even boiled vegetables to go with the Pork Shabu-shabu Salad. Just think about the colour combinations.

For example, if you are using whitish vegetables such as cauliflower, you probably want to add red or green such as sliced carrots, tomatoes, or chopped shallots/scallions to make the salad more appetising.

Salad on a plate before & after placing pork slices.

Dressing Options

Today, I made a Sesame Soy Dressing to go with the salad. It is made with grated roasted white sesame, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, mirin, sugar, grated ginger, and grated apple. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake it. That’s all it is.

The dressing is slightly sweet, which makes it pleasant to eat with shabu-shabu pork. The addition of grated apple makes the dressing milder. Apple and pork are a good match!

Pork Shabu-shabu Salad poured with Sesame Soy Dressing.

If you like garlic, you could add a small amount of grated garlic to it and make a slightly modern version of Sesame Soy Dressing.

Many of the recipes on internet similar to my Pork Shabu-shabu Salad suggest a ponzu dressing to eat it with. Ponzu should go well with the pork. My Shabu-shabu Hotpot recipe listed ponzu as one of the two dipping sauces.

I tried both Sesame Soy Dressing and Ponzu with today’s salad and I liked the former better. The citrus flavour of the Ponzu was a bit too sharp for me. If I were to use beef slices instead of pork, I would use Ponzu dressing, especially if using Wagyu beef. The citrus in the Ponzu makes the beef taste lighter and more refreshing.

Today’s recipe is very quick to make and great to have on a hot summer day. When I made this dish, it was still cool in Sydney but I certainly enjoyed the dish. It was a perfect dinner for me, who prefers a light meal in the evening (don’t worry, I eat substantial food in the morning and at lunch time).

Zoomed-in photo of a piece of shabby-shabu pork with sesame dressing on it.

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Pork Shabu-shabu Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
 

Paper-thin pork slices are cooked just like Shabu-shabu Hotpot and quickly cooled down. The mound of chilled Pork Shabu-shabu on plenty of lettuce leaves is quite a healthy salad. It can be a main dish as well. The sesame soy dressing is perfect for it.

Total Time does not include time to chill the cooked pork in the freezer (about 15 minutes).

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Japanese salad, Pork, Shabu-shabu
Serves: 1
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 100g/3.5oz thinly sliced pork (1-2mm/1/16” thick, note 1)
Vegetables (note 2)
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 50g/1.8oz cucumber , thinly sliced
  • 20g/0.7oz red onion , thinly sliced
  • ½ tomato cut to 6 wedges
Sesame Soy Dressing
  • ½ tbsp grated roasted white sesame seeds
  • 1⅓ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • ¼ tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated apple
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
Shabu-shabu
  • 500ml/1.1pt water
  • 1 tbsp sake (cooking rice wine)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A bowl of ice water (optional, if you are in a hurry)
Garnish
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallots/scallions
Instructions
  1. Add all the Sesame Soy Dressing ingredients to a jar, place a lid on and shake well until the sugar dissolves.

Cooking Shabu-shabu Pork
  1. Bring 500ml water with ½ teaspoon salt in a pot to a boil, add sake to the water, then reduce the heat to low so that the water is gently simmering.
  2. Pick up a pork slice, lower it into the simmering water and jiggle for 5 seconds or so until the pork slice becomes whitish and there are no patches of pink flesh (note 3).

  3. Transfer the pork to the ice water to cool down (optional, if you are in a hurry). Then transfer to a plate.

  4. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the rest of the pork slices (note 4).

Assembling
  1. Spread the lettuce on a serving plate, then spread the cucumber slices and onion slices on top (note 5).

  2. Place the tomato wedges around the lettuce.
  3. Drain the pork slices well (if the bottom of them is wet) and place them on top of the salad, topped with chopped shallots/scallions.

  4. Serve with the Sesame Soy Dressing.
Recipe Notes

1. I bought a pack of frozen shabu-shabu pork at an Asian grocery store. The meat was pork loin and the thickness of the slices was about 1mm/1/16”. Unless you have an electric slicer, it is pretty hard to slice so thinly by hand, unfortunately.

You can also use thinly sliced pork belly. For Aussies, Coles supermarket sells it and the slices are 2mm thick. They can be a bit chewy when cooked so you may want to pound them to make them thinner before cooking.

Thaw the meat if frozen, then leave it at room temperature before cooking.

2. You can substitute to other kinds of vegetables. Even boiled vegetables can work well with the Pork Shabu-shabu and the Sesame Soy Dressing.

3. Depending on the thickness of the meat, time taken to cook pork slices vary. My paper-thin slice needed only 5 seconds. Do not cook at high temperature for a long time. The meat hardens and loses flavour into the water.

It is important not to cook many pork slices in the simmering water at once as the temperature of the water drops and it will take long time to cook meat through.

4. When I use ice water, I cook a pork slice while leaving the cooked pork in the ice water. When I place the newly cooked pork in the ice water, I transfer the previous slice to a plate.

5. You can mix them all and spread on a plate if you like. You could also plate the vegetables on one side and place the pork next to it.

6. Nutrition per serving. You probably don't consume the entire dressing but the nutrition assumes all dressing is consumed.

serving: 420g calories: 531kcal fat: 36g (55%) saturated fat: 505g (28%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 13g monounsaturated fat: 12g cholesterol: 64mg (21%) sodium: 1232mg (51%) potassium: 1079mg (31%) carbohydrates: 24g (8%) dietary fibre: 7.6g (30%) sugar: 11g protein: 30g vitamin a: 175% vitamin c: 26% calcium: 27 % iron: 35 %

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

I decided to have Pork Shabu-shabu Salad as a main dish. To supplement protein, I picked Satsuma Age as Side dish 1.
Side dish 2 can be almost anything but I tried a dish that fills you up a bit with a different flavour to other dishes in the meal.

Menu idea with Pork Shabu-shau Salad.

Related

Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi)

By: Yumiko

When deep fried vegetables are soaked in a soy sauce flavoured broth, the vegetables absorb the flavour from the broth and transform into a delicious dish. Although deep fried, Fried Vegetables in Broth is not oily at all.

Hero shot of Fried Vegetables in Broth.

Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi) is similar to the Western-style dish Marinated BBQ Vegetables from RecipeTin Eats. But the vegetables are deep-fried, and the marinade is a soy-flavoured dashi stock, not an oil-based marinade.

About Agebitashi

I posted Snow Pea Leaves Warm Salad (Nibitashi) some time ago. I explained in the post that Nibitashi (煮浸し) means cook and immerse.

Today’s Agebitashi (揚げ浸し) is a similar technique. But instead of cooking the ingredients in the broth and soaking them, deep fry the ingredients then soak them in the broth.

Deep frying adds a small amount of oil to the broth, making it a little bit richer and flavoursome.

Deep Frying without coating – Su-age (素揚げ)Vegetable after being deep fried.

When frying vegetables for Agebitashi, they are not coated with flour or batter. The vegetables are deep fried with nothing around them. This method of frying ingredients is called ‘su-age’ (素揚げ), which means bare (su, 素) deep frying (age, 揚げ).

By doing su-age, the flavour of the vegetables intesify, making all the vegetables taste better.

This is because more moisture within the ingredients reduces when deep fried without coating. As a result of this, you can taste the stronger natural flavour of the ingredients. Besides, everything deep fried is tasty, right?

Broth for Agebitashi

This broth is very similar to the broth used in my recipe Snow Pea Leaves Warm Salad (Nibitashi). It is made up of dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin and salt.

I used normal soy sauce instead of light soy sauce to give a slightly stronger soy flavour. You can also adjust the amount of seasonings to suit to your palate. If you like a saltier flavour, increase the soy sauce or add a bit of salt to the broth. You can increase the mirin to make it a bit sweeter, too.

 Fried Vegetables marinated in broth.

Vegetables Suited To Fried Vegetables in Broth

Almost any vegetables that can be deep fried are OK to use. But I tend not to use leafy vegetables such as cabbage, Chinese cabbage/nappa cabbage.

Today I used okra, asparagus, eggplant, red capsicum and yellow capsicum. I picked them to have varieties of colours.

Other vegetables that I suggest you use for Agebitashi dish are:

Green – green beans, zucchini, green capsicum
Yellow – yellow squash, pumpkin
Red/orange – Bullhorn chillies, mini tomatoes, sweet potatoes
White – lotus root, potato, King oyster mushrooms
Brown – Shiitake mushrooms, burdock

Vegetables sliced to the similar size too okra.

It is also OK to make Agebitashi with just one ingredient. Eggplant Agebitashi is actually quite a popular dish. Eggplant Agebitashi might look similar to Japanese Fried Eggplant (Agedashi Nasu). The difference is that the eggplants are marinated after deep-fried in the case of Agebitashi, but Agedashi Nasu is made by pouring hot dashi sauce over the deep-fried eggplants.

Preparation of Vegetables

Once the vegetables are sliced and prepared, it takes few minutes to fry them. I simply cut the vegetables into thin strips to match with the shape of the okra. I spent a little bit more time to prepare the okra.

The stem-end of the okra needs to be trimmed off as it is usually blackish. I also run my knife around the stem end, where the stem and the pod meet and remove the black line around the top of the pod. See the photo below showing okra before and after removing the black lines (left pile and right pile respectively).

Trimmed okra - before and after.

You also need to stab the side of the pod to make a tiny incision. This prevents the pod from exploding when heated.

The shape of the vegetables does not have to be like my dish. You can cut the vegetables into different shapes if you wish.

Fried Vegetables in Broth keeps a few days in the fridge. It is a handy side dish or salad that you can prepare ahead of time.

Fried Vegetables in Broth are also like Japanese version of marinated vegetables that go onto antipasto platters. It’s just that the vegetables are lighter and not as oily.

Top-down photo of Fried Vegetables in Broth.

YumikoYM_Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Marinating Time
30 mins
 

When deep fried vegetables are soaked in a soy sauce flavoured broth, the vegetables absorb the flavour from the broth and transform to a delicious dish. Although deep fried, Fried Vegetables in Broth is not oily at all.

It is a handy side dish or salad that you can prepare ahead of time.

Marinating Time is the minimum required.

Recipe Type: Appetiser, Salad, Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Fried Vegetables, vegetable agebitashi
Serves: 4 as side
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • Oil to deep fry
Vegetables (note 1)
  • 80g/2.8oz okra (I had 8 okra)
  • 80g/2.8oz yellow capsicum
  • 80g/2.8oz red capsicum
  • 80g/2.8oz asparagus
  • 100g/3.5oz eggplant (note 2)
Broth
  • 300ml/10oz dashi stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • A pinch of salt
Garnish (optional)
  • Finely julienned shallots/scallions (white part), curled in ice water
Instructions
  1. Mix the Broth ingredients in a container with a lid that is large enough to fit all the vegetables snuggly.

Preparing Vegetables
  1. Okra - trim the tip of the stem end. Run your knife around the stem end, where the stem and the pod meet, to remove the black line around the top of the pod (see the photo in the post). Stab the side of the pod to make a tiny incision.

  2. Capsicum - remove the stem and seeds, then slice vertically to 1.5cm/⅝" wide strips.

  3. Asparagus - trim ends and cut to about 5cm/2” long pieces.

  4. Eggplant - trim the stem off. If using a short thin eggplant, cut it vertically to make 4-6 wedges. If the length of the wedges is much longer than 5cm/2”, cut them in half. If using a large eggplant, cut the piece in half vertically, then slice each piece vertically to 1cm/⅜” thickness.

Frying and Marinating
  1. Fill a frying pan with oil to about 1.5cm/⅝" deep and heat to 170C/338F.
  2. Fry same ingredients together for about 1 minute, turning over half way. Fry vegetables in a few batches so the oil is not over-crowd (note 3).

  3. Transfer the fried vegetables to a tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb oil. Then while still hot, transfer them to the broth. (note 4)

  4. When all vegetables are placed in the broth, put the lid on and leave the container in the fridge for 30 minutes to a few hours (note 5).

Serving
  1. Place a few pieces each of the different vegetables in an individual bowl or a plate (note 6), topped with a small quantity of julienned shallots/scallions if using.

Recipe Notes

1. You can use other vegetables that are good to deep fry. You can also reduce the number of different vegetables. Please see my post for suggested vegetables.

2. I used ⅓ of a large eggplant. But if you are using small eggplants, you can use whole ones.

3. Depending on the size of the frying pan, the amount of vegetables you can fry at once varies. If using a large frying pan, you can fry two kinds of vegetables together. Just ensure that the oil is not over-crowded.

4. I transfer the vegetables of the first batch while frying the second batch, then keep moving this way like a production line.

5. You can eat Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi) after 30 minutes of marinating. But the flavour of the broth gets absorbed into vegetables and intensifies when the vegetables are marinated in the broth for a while. It is also great to eat cold vegetables when the weather is hot.

6. I placed the same vegetables together and spread out the different colours, but you can place them randomly if you wish.

7. Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi) keeps 3 days in the fridge. But the colour of the eggplant skins fades away if left in the broth too long.

8. Nutrition per serving as a side. Assumed 40ml of oil is absorbed into vegetables, 20% of the broth is soaked into the vegetables which is probably overstated.

serving: 200g calories: 142kcal fat: 10g (15%) saturated fat: 0.8g (4%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 1.8g monounsaturated fat: 7g cholesterol: 0.7mg (0%) sodium: 593mg (25%) potassium: 435mg (12%) carbohydrates: 9.6g (3%) dietary fibre: 2.5g (10%) sugar: 5.2g protein: 4.2g vitamin a: 16% vitamin c: 172% calcium: 2.7% iron: 6.8%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

I think that Vegetables Agebitashi goes very well with plain grilled fish. Grilled Salted Salmon is a perfect match. To add a different flavour to the meal, I picked Seafood Nuta, which is dressed in vinegar flavoured miso dressing.

Menu idea with Fried Vegetables in Broth.

Related

Grilled Whiting Fillets (Dried Fish)

By: Yumiko

This is the fastest grilled fish recipe and it uses Semi Dried Whiting Fillets. The fillets are so thin that it only takes a couple of minutes to cook them. Grilled Whiting Fillets can be a starter, main dish or even served as nibbles with beer, wine, sake, you name it. They are tasty and low calorie.

Hero shot of 5 grilled whiting fillets on a plate.

When it comes to Grilled Whiting, I think that grilled Semi Dried Whiting Fillets are tastier than fresh grilled whiting. Funnily enough, the dried fillets are juicier, too.

Whiting – Low Calorie Fish

Whiting is a low-calorie fish that hardly contains oil, unlike fish like salmon. For example, the fat in whiting is 1/10 of salmon and it has less than half the calories of the salmon.

Because it doesn’t contain much oil, whiting meat tends to become dry when grilled and tastes rather bland. Drying whiting fillets changes the texture and flavour for the better.

I showed you how to make Semi Dried Whiting Fillets in the previous post. This post is all about grilling them to perfection.

Grilling Semi Dried Whiting Fillets

You can grill the whiting fillets on a cook top, a BBQ or in a broiler.

Semi-dried Whiting Fillets on a plate.

If using the broiler in an oven, you will need a tray with a rack to place the fillets on, or a tray lined with creased aluminium foil (scrunch a piece of aluminium foil, then spread it gently) on which the fillets are placed.

By scrunching aluminium foil, only the small pointy peaks of aluminium foil touch the fish and the fish does not stick to the foil.

If you are grilling on a cook top with a grill pan or on a BBQ, make sure that the grill is pre-heated over high heat. The fish does not stick when placed on a very hot grill.

You could use a frying pan if you don’t have a grill pan. I would suggest that you place creased aluminium foil inside the pan and cook the fillets on it. It will take longer to cook but it can be done.

A tray and a Frying pan with scrunched aluminium foil.

I sometimes use a Japanese fish griller that is placed on a stove top. I wouldn’t cook oily fish this way as the bottom tray has slits and the oil from the fish leaks into the stove. But the whiting has hardly any oil so I am happy to cook it on the stove with the fish griller. You can see the photo of the Japanese fish griller in Japanese Salmon Mirin-zuke).

Which Side to Grill First?

Among Japanese people, it is a common understanding that: If fish is from the sea, cook the meat side of the fillet first and for river fish, cook the skin side first. There are a couple of reasons for this.

  • The fish in the sea tends to be oilier than fish in the river. If you cook the skin side first on a tray or a grill pan, the oil beneath the skin gets burnt and when the fillet is turned over, the meat side gets black stains, making it look unclean.
  • River fish tends to have a muddy smell. By grilling the skin first, it removes the muddy smell.

In the case of whiting fillets, you don’t need to worry about the oil from the skin burning. I experimented cooking the whiting fillets skin side first as well as the flesh side first.

My conclusion is that the flesh side first is the better way. This is because the skin shrinks as it gets cooked. The fillet curls up and makes it difficult to cook the flesh side.

Zoomed-in photo of grilled whiting showing inside.

Only 2 Minutes to Make Grilled Whiting Fillets

Whiting fillets are so thin that you only need a minute or so to cook one side, then another minute after you turn them over.

You will know when the fish is cooked as you will see a little steam coming up from the blistered skin. Do not overcook it as the meat gets too dry and chewy.

If you plan to serve Grilled Whiting Fillets as a main, you will need to cook many fillets to fill your stomach. My Semi Dried Whiting Fillets weighed about 20g/0.7oz each! But even if you have to cook 20 fillets over two batches, it only takes about 5 minutes! This is another reason why I love this dish so much.

Zoomed-in photo of Grilled Whiting Fillets.

I can just munch them with my favourite wine without needing anything else! I hope you try this.

YumikoYM_Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Grilled Whiting Fillets
Cook Time
5 mins
 

Grilled Whiting Fillets can be a starter, main dish or even served as nibbles with beer or wine. They are

tasty and low calorie.
I've included several grilling methods – broiler, grill pan, BBQ and frying pan.

Cook Time is based on using a grill.

Recipe Type: Appetizer, Main, Side
Serves: 10 pieces
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
Garnish
  • Sliced cucumbers (note 2)
Instructions
Grilling Whiting Fillets using a broiler
  1. Pre-heat a broiler.
  2. If you are using the broiler in the oven, you will need a tray with a rack, or a tray covered with a piece of creased aluminium foil (note 3).

  3. Place the fillets on the rack or the foil, skin side down without overlapping. Then place the tray below the heat. The distance between the heat and the fish should be about 3-5 cm/1½-2”.
  4. Cook for a couple of minutes (note 4) until the surface of the fillets become white and the tail starts browning.

  5. Turn them over and cook further for a couple of minutes (note 4) or so until the skins start blistering with burnt patches.

  6. Transfer to a plate with cucumber slices on the side.
Grilling Whiting Fillets using a grill pan or BBQ
  1. Pre-heat the grill pan/BBQ over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and place the fillets on the grill skin side up.
  2. Cook for 1 minute or so (note 5) until edges of the fillets are cooked and become white. Check to see if the flesh side of the fillets has few blisters with burnt patches.

  3. Turn them over and cook further 1 minute or so (note 5) until steam starts coming up from the blistered patches and the skin has a few burnt patches.

  4. Transfer to a plate with cucumber slices on the side.
Grilling Whiting Fillets using a frying pan
  1. Place a piece of creased aluminium foil (note 3) on the pan and heat over high heat.

  2. Place the fillets on the foil, skin side up without overlapping.

  3. Cook for 2-3 minutes (note 5) until you see little burnt patches on the flesh side of the fillets.

  4. Gently turn them over and cook further for a couple of minutes (note 3) until the moisture starts bubbling inside the fillets and steam comes up.

  5. Transfer to a plate with cucumber slices on the side.
Recipe Notes

1. A piece of Semi Dried Whiting Fillet weighed about 20g/0.7oz.

2. I peeled the end of the cucumber to show the flesh. From the peeled edge, diagonally cut the cucumber to make a wedge. Then thinly slice the wedge lengthwise. See the step-by-step photo below.

Step-by-step photo of how to make decorative sliced cucumber.

3. Scrunch a piece of aluminium foil, then spread it gently to make many small pointy creases. This will prevent the fish from sticking to the tray/pan. See the photo in the post.

4. Time to cook the fillets depends on how strong the heat is and how far from the heat the fillets are placed. For the first time, it is better to rely on the appearance of the fish to determine whether or not the fish is cooked.

5. Time to cook the fillets depends on the heat and the thickness of the pan. For the first time, it is better to rely on the appearance of the fish to determine whether or not the fish is cooked.

6. Nutrition per fillet. This is the same information as the nutrition of Semi Dried Whiting Fillets.

serving: 30g calories: 27kcal fat: 0.4g (1%) saturated fat: 0.1g (0%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g monounsaturated fat: 0.1g cholesterol: 20mg (7%) sodium: 80mg (3%) potassium: 75mg (2%) carbohydrates: 0g (0%) dietary fibre: 0g (0%) sugar: 0g protein: 5.5g vitamin a: 0.6% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 1.1% iron: 0.6%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

In today’s Meal Idea, I decided to match Grilled Whiting Fillets with Sanshoku Bento. Since Sanshoku Bento is a kind of main dish with rice, grilled fish is served as a side dish.

I usually serve two side dishes, but today I included the Okra salad to add more vegetables. If you want to have a variety of vegetables you could have a fresh green salad instead.

Menu idea with Grilled Whiting Fillets

Related

Semi Dried Whiting Fillets (Whiting Bunkaboshi)

By: Yumiko

Semi Dried Whiting Fillets are packed with umami. The flesh stays soft and moist when grilled. Drying is a great way to keep the fish longer in the fridge and to preserve good flavour when frozen.

Semi-dried Whiting Fillets on a plate.

There are many different ways of drying fish, but I only used two methods – drying them in the sun and drying them in the fridge. Yes, you can dry fish in the fridge and this is the method I used in today’s recipe.

I have made many kinds of dried fish dishes using different dry fish recipes. But Semi Dried Whiting Fillets is my favourite.

About Bunkaboshi

As opposed to making dried fish in the sun, drying fish using an artificial drying mechanism like cold air, is called ‘bunkaboshi’ (文化干し). The word ‘bunka’ (文化) means culture or the shortened version of ‘bunmeikaika’ (文明開化, civilisation and enlightenment). And the word ‘boshi’ (干し) means drying or dried.

The word ‘bunkaboshi’ was introduced in 1950 when a grocery shop wrapped a dried marinated fish in a piece of cellophane instead of a newspaper so that the customers could see what was inside.

It was given this name because the see-through cellophane wrapping was revolutionary and more civilised than the newspaper wrapping. At the time, it was nothing to do with the drying method. But as time went by it lost the original meaning and became the method of drying fish, i.e. drying without the sun light.

Zoomed in photo of whiting fillet on a rack.

Incidentally, drying fish under the sun is called ‘tenpibosh’ (天日干し), which means sun-dried.

Dried fish is tastier than fresh fish

It is said that dried fish is tastier than fresh fish. There are few reasons for it:

  • When the fish is dried, it increases the amino acid, which is the source of umami.
  • By brining fish fillets in salt water, the surface of the fish muscle fibres swells and encloses moisture and umami within the flesh.
  • The umami enzyme accumulates just below the dried surface.
  • Because the fish is covered with a thin dried layer of flesh, it retains moisture better than fresh fish when grilled.

Interestingly, it doesn’t matter how the fish is dried, i.e. bunaboshi vs tenpiboshi. 

If you cook these Semi Dried Whiting Fillets and compare them to a grilled fresh whiting, you will be able to tell the difference. In my view, whiting tastes better when it’s grilled after semi drying.

Filleting Whiting

Before explaining how to make dried fish, let me show you how I fillet whiting.

The photo below shows how I fillet whiting.

Step-by-step photo of filleting whiting.

My method is probably not as common in Australia as the other method where you run the knife from behind the head to the tail horizontally and cut one side of flesh off the bone in one go.

But the method in the above photo is how I taught myself from a Japanese fishing book that included cleaning & filleting all sorts of fish.

You can buy whiting that are already filleted but I usually buy whole whiting and make fillets myself. If your fishmonger is kind enough to make fillets out of the whole whiting, you are lucky.

I buy red spot whiting, not sand whiting or King George whiting. Red spot whiting is cheaper and smaller in size (my whiting was about 15-18cm/6-7” long from head to tail). You can make dried fish out of the large fillets, but I like the miniature ones as they can be served as nibbles as well as a main dish.

Filleted whiting on a plate.

Brining Fillets

Before drying fish fillets you need to salt them, which acts as a preservative. Sprinkling salt over the fillets is the simplest and quickest method, but it is very difficult to evenly salt them.

I use the brining method so that the fillets are salted evenly. You only need to brine 30 minutes as a minimum. The longer you brine, the saltier the fish gets.

I made 5% salt water to brine the whiting fillets because it is a white meat fish and not oily. If you are brining oilier fish such as mackerel or yellow tail/horse mackerel you should increase the amount of salt to 10%.

Drying FilletsFresh whiting fillets on a rack.

Pat dry the brined fillets with kitchen paper. Place them on a baking rack on top of a tray without overlapping (see the photo above).

Then leave it in the fridge without covering the fillets (the moisture has to evaporate in the fridge) for 24 hours to 48 hours. If your fridge has a fan inside, place it near the fan to make drying process more effective.

After 24 hours, you will see the surface of the fillets is just dried. After 48 hours, you will see the tails are pretty dry. Here are the fillets after drying for 48 hours. Can you see the difference between the above photo and the photo below?

Semi Dried Whiting Fillets on a rack.

It is up to you how long you want to dry them in the fridge. The longer you dry the fillets, the less moist the grilled fillets will be and a tiny bit saltier as you’d expect.

And of course, you can dry them in the sun as long as they are covered with a net or something to avoid flies gathering on the fillets. If drying in the sun, you will only need few to several hours depending on the season and strength of the sun.

Presearving Semi Dried Whiting Fillets

Semi Dried Whiting Fillets keep about 4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze them for up to 1 month. Wrap the fillets individually with cling wrap and freeze them. Once frozen, they can be put in a zip lock bag together.

You can grill frozen fillets directly, but they taste better when you thaw them first then grill.

Dried whiting contains more umami than fresh whiting. When I see fresh red spot whiting at a reasonable price, I buy a couple of dozen whiting and make semi dried fillets. I love grilled fish, so it is comforting to know that they are always in the fridge.

The next week’s post will talk about how to grill whiting fillets.

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Semi Dried Whiting Fillets (Whiting Bunkaboshi)
Prep Time
40 mins
Drying Time
2 d
Total Time
2 d 40 mins
 

Semi Dried Whiting Fillets are packed with umami and the flesh is still soft and moist when grilled. All you need to do is to brine the fillets and leave them in the fridge uncovered.

Drying is a great way to keep the fish longer in the fridge and to preserve good flavour when frozen.

Prep Time includes filleting 5 whiting but does not include the time to dry, which can be 24-28 hours.

Recipe Type: Appetizer, Main, Side
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: dried whiting, whiting, whiting fillet
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 5 whole whiting about 400g/0.9lb in total (note 1)
Brine (note 2)
  • 150ml/5.1oz water
  • 8g/0.3oz salt
Instructions
Filleting Whiting
  1. Place a knife just behind the pectoral fin, perpendicular to the fish, and chop the head off. Try to place the knife at a slightly diagonal angle so that more gut area will be cut off.

  2. Slice open the abdominal cavity and remove guts.

  3. Starting from the head-end, make a long deep incision along the belly side, as close to the bones as possible.
  4. Turn the fish around and make a deep incision along the dorsal side in the same way.
  5. Insert the tip of the knife between the flesh and the bone near the tail, with the blade facing to the tail, and slide the knife to remove the tail end of the fillet off the bone.
  6. Hold the semi-detached fillet on the dorsal side with your left hand (for right handers) and use the tip of the knife to remove the flesh in the middle off the bone, working through from the tail end to the head-end.

  7. When the knife reaches the rib bones, cut the bones with the knife and remove the fillet.

  8. Place the knife where the rib bones start, facing the blade towards the bottom of the belly. Slide the knife just below the rib bones in a scraping motion to remove the bones. Try to take as little flesh with the bones as possible.

  9. Repeat on the other side of the fish to make the second fillet.
  10. Rinse the fillets and pat dry them with kitchen paper.

Brining and Drying Fillets
  1. Mix the Brine ingredients well until the salt is dissolved completely.

  2. Put the brine in a shallow tray or a zip lock bag and add the fish filets to it, ensuring that all fillets are submerged in the brine. Leave for 30 minutes.

  3. Drain and place each fillet on the rack without overlapping. Leave it in the fridge uncovered for 24-48 hours (note 4).

  4. Wait for the next post, Grilled Whiting Fillets, to learn about cooking these fillets.

Recipe Notes

1. My whiting was red spot whiting, which is much smaller and cheaper than sand whiting. The whole whiting was about 15-18cm/6-7" long from head to tail, but when filleted the length of each fillet was 10-12cm/4-4¾" long. Alternatively, you can buy whiting fillets if they are very fresh.

2. The saltiness of the brine can be anywhere between 5-15%. For oily red meat fish, you will need saltier brine, but for white non-oily fish like whiting, 5% salt brine is adequate.

3. The tray should be large enough to place 10 fillets without overlapping.

4. It is up to you how long you want to dry the fillets for. After 24 hours of drying, the surface of the fillet should be dry but overall the meat should still be pretty soft when pressed. After 48 hours of drying, the edges of the fillet become dry and the tail-end hardens a bit.

5. Nutrition per fillet assuming that the amount of brined soaked up by the fillets is 10% of the weight of the fillets.

serving: 30g calories: 27kcal fat: 0.4g (1%) saturated fat: 0.1g (0%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g monounsaturated fat: 0.1g cholesterol: 20mg (7%) sodium: 80mg (3%) potassium: 75mg (2%) carbohydrates: 0g (0%) dietary fibre: 0g (0%) sugar: 0g protein: 5.5g vitamin a: 0.6% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 1.1% iron: 0.6%

Related

Bento Box – Yakitori Bento

By: Yumiko

Today’s Bento Box – Yakitori Bento is probably not as commonly sold at bento shops in Japan as other bento boxes such as Chicken Karaage Bento, Pork Shōgayaki Bento. But I can promise you that it is as good and as yummy as other bento.

Hero shot of Yakitori Bento.

The uniqueness of Yakitori Bento is that the main dish, Yakitori, is on skewers and you will need to use your fingers to pick up a skewer and eat the chicken pieces off it, rather than using chopsticks. It’s almost like a picnic lunch.

Some well-mannered people might use chopsticks to slide each piece of chicken off the skewer and eat them.  But I am not one of them. I’d rather bite into the chicken pieces on the skewer and remove them from the skewer with my teeth.

Well it does not look gracious, but this is the right way to eat yakitori and I think it tastes better this way.

What’s in Yakitori Bento

The ingredients of today’s bento are listed below.

Yakitori bento ingredients.

Shimeji Gohan (Rice with Shimeji Mushrooms)– it is best to cook Shimeji Gohan in the morning if possible, but it can be made ahead. You can have plain cooked rice if you prefer.  Pack the cooked rice in a bento box while the rice is still hot or warm as it is easier to shape it, and let it cool down before adding other ingredients.

Yakitori– left over from dinner or make ahead. I packed only momo (chicken thigh) Yakitori to maximise the amount of meat in the bento but negima (chicken and shallots/scallions) Yakitori is also good.

Zoomed-in photo of Yakitori in a bento box.

Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip– this needs to be made ahead. Please refer to my Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish recipe, which has instructions for turnip as an alternative. I used the turnip cut into quarters as turnips in Sydney are large. Instead of turnip, you can use radish if you like.

Gomoku-mame (Simmered Soybeans with Vegetables)– make ahead. It can keep about 4-5 days in the fridge. It is also good to freeze it without konnyaku and use it for a bento.

Blanched Broccoli florets– to add colours to the bento. Any other fresh vegetables can replace them but consider the colour balance since the side dishes and rice are all brownish.

Baby Tomatoes– Instead of tomatoes, you could use blanched carrot or even a wedge of orange. If you are using a pickled chrysanthemum radish instead of a turnip, a food that isn’t red might be better here.

About Okazu Cups for Bento

Most Bento boxes come with one or two partitions as you can see in the photo of many bento boxes in my post Bento Box – Chicken Karaage Bento.

But if you want to pack a few different side dishes, you often need more compartments. Also, if you have saucy dishes (such as simmered dishes), you might want to separate them from the others so that two different flavours don’t mix.

Zoomed-in photo of Gomoku-mame and Pickled Chrysanthemum turnip.

Okazu cups (おかずカップ) are exactly what you need to separate side dishes in a bento box. The word ‘okazu’  (おかず) means side dishes. So, it literally means cups for side dishes.

Okazu cups look just like small cupcake cases and they are usually made with paper with coated paper or aluminium. Reusable silicone cups are also available but silicone tends to be thick and I feel that it wastes precious space to pack foods.

Some cups come in pretty colours and patterns. Here are some okazu cups. I like those with polka dots, so I used them for Gomoku-mame.

Okazu cups are sold at Japanese grocery stores. If you have the Japanese discount shop Daiso is nearby, you can also find okazu cups there.

If your dishes do not contain liquid, you can use a small cupcake case instead or even a piece of lettuce leaf to separate the dishes.

Bento Boxes look great when they are filled with ingredients without gaps. Use okazu cups, lettuce leaves or a small piece of vegetable to fill the gaps.

Top-down photo of Yakitori Bento.

Yumiko

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Bento Box – Yakitori Bento
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Yakitori Bento is probably not as commonly sold at bento shops in Japan as other bento boxes such as Chicken Karaage Bento or Pork Shōgayaki Bento. But Yakitori Bento is as good and as yummy as these. It is a perfect bento for a picnic.

Yakitori Bento consists of Shimeji Gohan, Yakitori, a couple of side dishes and vegetables.

Because bento is usually made mostly from left-over dishes or make-ahead dishes, the time shown in this recipe is only the time to pack the bento box.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: bento, bento box, yakitori
Serves: 1
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. While the Shimeji Gohan is still hot or warm, place it in one section of the bento box and let it cool.

  2. Put Gomoku-mame in a okazu cup and place in the corner of the rice compartment.

  3. Place the turnip next to the Gomoku-mame. If you don’t have a partition between the rice and the turnip, place the turnip in an okazu cup so that the rice does not get vinegary.

  4. Place tomatoes and broccoli florets in one side of the other bento box.
  5. Place yakitori skewers next to the vegetables.

Recipe Notes

1. It is best to pack cooked rice in a bento box while hot or warm. This makes it easier to shape the rice into the bento box.

2. I used chicken thigh Yakitori (momo). You can pick and choose any kind of Yakitori such as negima (chicken thigh and shallots/scallions).

The skewers that I used in my Yakitori recipe were too long to fit in my bento box. So, I used teppōgushi which are shorter with a flat handle. Please visit my post Yakitori for more details about skewers.

3. Please refer to my recipe Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish. To add an extra colour to the bento, I used turnip, but you can use radish instead.

4. See my post for more details about okazu cups. You can use cupcake cases or aluminium foil instead.

Depending on the number of partitions in your bento box, you may need more okazu cups, e.g. for the pickled turnip.

Related

Baked Salmon in Foil with Ponzu Dressing

By: Yumiko

Today’s dish Baked Salmon in Foil with Ponzu Dressing is quite easy to make but flavoursome. It is a great way to enjoy the natural flavours of each ingredient in a foil bag. You can of course change your choice of fish and vegetables – combinations are limitless.

Hero shot of Salmon in Foil with Ponzu Dressing on side.

This is no doubt a Western-style dish but what’s inside the foil is quite simple with only a few flavours added to it for a good reason – they are to be eaten in the Japanese way with Ponzu dressing.

Unlike most Salmon in Foil dishes, my dish uses minimum oil so that the dish becomes super light with oil-free ponzu dressing. I must say today’s dish is one of those Western dishes which were Japanised (is there a such word?) to be simpler and lighter so you can enjoy the natural flavours of the ingredients.

What’s Inside the foil?

I use thinly sliced onions as an underlay for the salmon fillet to sit on.  The sliced onions prevent the salmon from sticking to the foil as well as infusing good flavours into the fish.

On top of the salmon are carrot slices, enoki mushrooms, snow peas and shiitake mushrooms. Place a little knob of butter in the middle on top of the vegetables, then seal the foil and cook.

Step-by-step photo of placing ingredients in a foil bag.

You can use a different fish fillet. But avoid fishy red meat fillets, such as mackerel. Any white meat fish is great.

The vegetables can be any that can be steamed within 15 minutes, e.g. broccoli, green beans, sliced potatoes, shimeji mushrooms and zucchini. Make sure that the vegetables are cut to different sizes so that they cook through at the same time.

Cooking Methods

In Australia, almost every household has an oven so I use an oven to bake the fish and vegetables in foil. It only takes about 15 minutes to cook.

But when I was in Japan I did not have an oven. So, I used a frying pan with a lid to heat up the foil bag to cook – pan baked method. Surprisingly, it takes slightly less time than cooking it in the the oven.

Zoomed-in photo of Salmon in Foil.

The only downside of cooking it in a frying pan is that the bottom of the foil tends to heat up too much and you might end up with charred onions that were hit by the direct heat.

It is quite unfortunate if this happens as the onions are quite yummy as they suck up the salmon juices while being cooked. So, make sure that the heat is brought down to low heat per the recipe instructions.

Ponzu Dressing for Baked Salmon in Foil

I tried Salmon in Foil with lemon juice and/or garlic, or olive oil and herbs added to it. The ingredients are seasoned sufficiently before wrapped in foil.

But for me, simply cooking the ingredients with almost no seasoning and eating them with Ponzu Dressing is the best way. I can even adjust the amount of Ponzu and enjoy the original flavour of each ingredient.

Pouring Ponzu Dressing over cooked salmon and vegetables.

Ponzu Dressing is a citrus-based sauce that is made of soy sauce, bonito flakes, knob (dried kelp) and citrus juice. It is tart and salty with all of umami. The details of how to make Ponzu is in my post Japanese Dressings.

As you will see in the recipe ingredients, there is hardly any flavouring added to the fish and vegetables inside the foil bag – just a little knob of butter to be exact.

It is a much plainer and lighter dish than other recipes which, I think, makes it a typical traditional Japanese flavouring.

Picking up a piece of salmon meat with chopsticks.

Today’s dish is something you can get your kids to help with during the preparation. My children probably don’t remember but I made them help place vegetables on top of the fish when I was making this dish for the family.

Teaching them how to neatly wrap the food in foil was a bit of a challenge but I can tell you that it’s much easier than origami folding!

YumikoYM_Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

5 from 1 vote
Hero shot of Salmon in Foil with Ponzu Dressing on side.
Baked Salmon in Foil with Ponzu Dressing
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
 

Today’s dish Baked Salmon in Foil with Ponzu Dressing is quite easy to make and flavoursome. It is a great way to enjoy the natural flavours of each ingredient in a foil bag. The choice of fish and vegetables are flexible.

Prep time does not include time required to make Ponzu.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: baked salmon, fish in foil, Ponzu, ponzu dressing, salmon, salmon in foil
Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 2 x 150g/5.3oz salmon fillets (note 1)
  • 100g/3.5oz onion , thinly sliced
  • 30g/1.1oz carrot , sliced diagonally to 5mm thick (note 2)
  • 30g/1.1oz enoki mushrooms , roots removed (note 2)
  • 1-2 shiitake mushrooms , remove the stem and cut to quarter or half (note 2)
  • 30g/1.1oz snow peas ends removed (note 2)
  • 6g/0.2oz butter
  • oil
  • 2 x 40cm/1.3ft long sheet of foil
Serving
  • Ponzu (note 3)
Instructions
  1. If using oven, pre-heat the oven to 200C/392F.

  2. Lightly oil the centre of each piece of foil, drawing an elongated oval so that the salmon fillet can fit in the oiled area.

  3. Spread the sliced onions on the oiled area of each piece of foil so that the salmon can nicely sit on them.

  4. Place the salmon on the scattered onion, top with sliced carrots, enoki mushrooms, snow peas and shiitake mushrooms. Try to spread vegetables on the salmon fillets in clusters but to cover the salmon (see the photos).

  5. Place 3g butter on top of the vegetables in the centre of each fillet.

  6. Pick up the end of the foil on your side and the opposite side and fold the both sides together a few times to seal. Then fold left and right sides a few times individually to seal the bag.

  7. If cooking in the oven, place the foil bags on a tray and cook for 13-15 minutes.

  8. If cooking on a stove top, place the bags in a frying pan, without overlapping, with a lid on. Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, then turn down the heat to low and cook further 7-8 minutes.

  9. Place each bag on a plate and serve with ponzu dressing. To eat, open the bag and pour ponzu dressing over the fish and vegetables.

Recipe Notes

1. I made two fillets from a salmon cutlet by removing the bone in the middle. Please see my post Japanese Salmon Mirin-zuke (Mirin Marinade) to see how I make two fillets from one cutlet. You will need a large cutlet of about 320g/0.7lb.

You can use salmon fillets but then, you may want to remove the skin before cooking.
Instead of salmon, you can use other fish fillets but avoid fishy red meat fillets such as mackerel.

2. The vegetables used on the salmon fillets can be substituted with other vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, other mushrooms, and sliced potatoes. Make sure that the vegetables are cut to appropriate sizes so that they will be cooked just right. For example, do not slice potatoes too thin or too thick (about 1cm thick might be just right).

3. Ponzu is a soy based citrus flavoured dressing. Please see my recipe, Japanese Dressings, which includes how to make Ponzu. I recommend you make Ponzu ahead of time as the longer you keep it in the fridge, the better the flavour.

Alternatively, you can use store-bought Ponzu Dressing, which is available at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

4. Nutrition per serving, assuming 1 tablespoon Ponzu Dressing is used.

serving: 286g calories: 430kcal fat: 28g (43%) saturated fat: 6.5g (33%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 6.8g monounsaturated fat: 9.7g cholesterol: 89mg (30%) sodium: 352mg (15%) potassium: 834mg (24%) carbohydrates: 12g (4%) dietary fibre: 2.6g (10%) sugar: 5.5g protein: 33g vitamin a: 61% vitamin c: 36% calcium: 3.1% iron: 7.2%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

The main dish is eaten with ponzu dressing so I picked side dishes with non-acidic flavours. Since Side dish 2 is miso flavoured, I thought clear soup would be more appropriate. But if you like miso soup better, you can of course serve any kind of miso soup.

Menu idea with Salmon in Foil.

Related

Menchi Katsu (Ground Meat Cutlet)

By: Yumiko

When beef and pork patties are coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, you get a juicy soft cutlet called Menchi Katsu (Ground Meat Cutlet). It is another yōshoku (Western food) developed in Japan.

Hero shot of Menchi Katsu served on a plate.

Menchi Katsu – A Hybrid of Korroke and Tonkatsu

Menchi Katsu’s appearance is just like Korokke (Japanese Potato and Ground Meat Croquette) and when you see Menchi Katsu displayed along with Korokke at a shop in Japan, you really can’t tell the difference.

But Menchi Katsu is mainly made of minced/ground beef and pork with sautéed onions, while Korokke is made of mashed potatoes with a small amount of minced/ground pork.

Since Menchi Katsu is a breaded deep fried meat, it’s like Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Schnitzel) and only difference is that the meat is ground meat. But unlike Tonkatsu, the filling is much softer and easier to bite into.

Menchi Katsu – A Japanese-made EnglishZoomed-in photo of a cooked piece of bench Katsu showing the patty inside.

It is said that Menchi Katsu originated from a similar dish sold at a Western food restaurant in Asakusa. It was in Meiji period (late 19th century to early 20th century) and the dish was called ‘minsu mīto katsuretsu’ (ミンスミートカツレツ) meaning minced meat cutlet.

This name, ‘minsu mīto katsuretsu’ must have been a bit of challenge for the Japanese consumers to say.

Then in the early Shōwa period, which started in 1925, the owner of a meat shop in Kobe named it Menchi Katsu, following the example of another Western dish ‘meatball’, which was called ‘menchi ball’.

The word ‘mench’ (in some regions in Japan, it is called ‘minchi’ which sounds closer to mince) is a Japanese version of ‘mince’. Because a meatball is made of minced meat, it was called mench ball.

The word ‘mince’ is not that difficult to pronounce even for Japanese, unlike something like Great Barrier Reef (I had so much trouble getting it right – too many ‘r’s!). But sound of ‘ce’ does not exist in Japanese – it is similar to ‘su’ but not quite the same. And ‘menchi’ is probably much easier for Japanese people to pronounce than ‘mince’.

You might call this dish ‘rissoles’, but I can tell you that for Japanese people, it is too hard to pronounce. ‘R’!

Ground Beef and Ground Pork PattiesMEnchi Katsu ingredients in a glass bowl.

The main ingredients of Menchi Katsu are the equal portions of beef mince/ground beef and pork mince/ground pork. It is OK to just use beef or pork, but I find that the combination of the two gives better flavour and texture. The pork gives the patties juicy and the beef gives the flavour.

In Japan, you can buy pre-mixed minced/ground pork and beef. It is called ‘aibikiniku’ (合挽き肉) which means meat (niku, 肉) that is minced together (aibiki, 合挽き).

Aibikiniku is more commonly sold and used in cooking than 100% beef mince/ground beef in Japan. There are a few theories about the reason, but it seems that in addition to the fact that beef is expensive, pork is more suited to Japanese people’s palate.

Flavours of Mench Katsu Patties

The ingredients of the Mench Katsu patties are very similar to the ingredients to make my Stewed Hamburg Steak (Nikomi Hamburg) – minced meat, sautéed onions, egg, breadcrumbs soaked in milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

But I mix a small amount of Worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup (tomato sauce in Australia) into the patties to give flavour to them.

Mixed patty ingredients and patties shapes into flat oval.

If you are one of those people like me who likes light flavour in general, you might not even need a sauce to be poured over the top. The sauce is just a mixture of Worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup.

Menchi Katsu is quite a filling dish and is often packed in a bento box. It is also great to make a sandwich with Menchi Katsu inside. Yum!

Top-down photo of Menchi Katsu on a place with sauce on the side.

YumikoYM_Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

5 from 2 votes
Hero shot of Menchi Katsu served on a plate.
Menchi Katsu (Ground Meat Cutlet)

Menchi Katsu looks like a Japanese-style croquette but this is basically a deep-fried patty/rissole. While Japanese croquette is made of mashed potatoes with a small amount of pork mince, this is mainly beef and pork mince.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: beef mince, cutlet, ground beef, ground pork, korokke, menchi katsu, pork mince
Serves: 4
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
Patty:
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 250g/8.8oz beef mince/ground beef
  • 250g/8.8oz pork mince/ground pork
  • 3 tbsp bread crumbs soaked in 2 tbsp milk (note 1)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp tomato sauce/ketchup
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • A pinch of nutmeg
Frying:
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (note 2)
  • Oil for deep frying
Sauce
  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce/tomato ketchup
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Garnish:
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Tomato wedges
  • Few stems of fresh parsley
Instructions
Sauce
  1. Mix the Sauce ingredients well until there are no lumps of the tomato ketchup.

Making Patties
  1. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a frying pan and heat over medium high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until they become translucent and the edges of the onion pieces start to brown. Put aside to cool.

  2. Add all the Patty ingredients including sautéed onion to a bowl and mix well until it becomes sticky (note 3). Divide the mince mix into 8 equal portions.

  3. Oil your hands, take one portion at a time and make a ball. Throw the mince ball from one hand to the other hand a couple of times to remove the air inside the patty.
  4. Shape it into a flat oval with about 2-2.5cm/¾-1' thickness. Repeat step 3 and 4 to make 8 patties.

Frying
  1. Arrange each of your ingredients on individual plates/bowls - patties, flour, beaten egg and panko. Place a new plate/cutting board next the panko.

  2. Take a patty and coat it with the flour, then dunk in the egg, followed by the bread crumbs. Place it on the new plate/cutting board. Repeat for the rest of the patties.

  3. Heat oil (about 3cm/1¼” deep) in a deep frying pan or a shallow pot over medium low heat to 160C/320F. Add a couple of breadcrumbs into the oil and if the bubbles around the crumbs are small and slowly increasing, it is the right temperature. If the crumbs are surrounded by lots of bubbles and surface instantaneously, the oil is too hot.

  4. Add patties to the oil gently in 2-3 batches (note 4). Fry for about 3-4 minutes until the bottom half of the cutlet is golden brown. Turn it over and fry further 3-4 minutes (note 5). Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

  5. Serve while hot with cabbage, tomato and parsley.

Recipe Notes

1. I used panko bread crumbs but if you don’t have them, you can use normal breadcrumbs or even torn up fresh bread.

2. You could use normal bread crumbs. But using panko makes the coating very crunchy when fried.

3. If the patty is too soft to handle, you can add more panko.

4. Do not overcrowd the oil with too many patties.

5. Time taken to cook meat depends on the frying pan/pot, thickness of the patty etc. When meat is cooked through, you will feel the Menchi Katsu is lighter and floats in the oil.

6. Nutrition per serving (two Menchi Katsu pieces), assuming that the amount of oil absorbed into a Mench Katsu is 10% of the weight of the Mench Katsu.

serving: 273g calories: 758kcal fat: 55g (85%) saturated fat: 13g (65%) trans fat: 1.3g polyunsaturated fat: 17g monounsaturated fat: 20g cholesterol: 183mg (61%) sodium: 991mg (41%) potassium: 695mg (20%) carbohydrates: 35g (12%) dietary fibre: 1.9g (8%) sugar: 8.5g protein: 30g vitamin a: 5.5% vitamin c: 8.7% calcium: 10% iron: 28%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

The main is a deep-fried meat dish so I use fresh daikon in my salad to help digestion. I picked Snow Pea Leaves Nibitashi for a side to give a bright green colour to the meal. It also gives a different texture and flavour to the meal.

Miso soup can have any ingredients, but I think there is enough vegetables in the dishes and the addition of seaweed to the meal is always a good thing, so I chose Tofu and Wakame Miso Soup.

Menu idea with Menchi Katsu.

Related

Sesame Bean Sprouts

By: Yumiko

Sesame Bean Sprouts is a simple Japanese side dish that only requires 4 ingredients and only takes minutes to make. Today’s dish Sesame Bean Sprouts is so tasty that you’ll eat a whole bag of bean sprouts without even realising it!

Hero shot of Sesame Bean Sprouts in a bow.

Is it just me who buys a bag of bean sprouts and only uses a handful for a stir fry or salad, then wonders what to do with the rest? The bag sits there for a few days (they never seem to last more than a few days) then I end up tossing it out.

Well, this used to be me, but not anymore. Sesame Bean Sprouts is a perfect side dish/salad that you can make when you feel like you want one more dish added to your meal.

Why is it so good?

Isn’t it every home cook’s dream to be able to make yummy food in a small amount of time, with only a few ingredients and without using a stove or an oven? Sesame Bean Sprouts is exactly that:

  • Use your microwave to steam the bean sprouts. No stove/oven is required.
  • Cooks in 1-2 minutes and 30 seconds dress.
  • You only need 4 ingredients including seasonings.
  • It’s tasty.
  • You can pre-make it, although there is really no need to make ahead as it takes so little time to make it.

Landscape view of Sesame Bean Sprouts served in a bowl.

Ingredients to make Sesame Bean Sprouts

Apart from a bag of bean sprouts, all you need to dress Sesame Bean Sprouts are:

  • Sesame oil
  • Chicken or vegetable stock powder
  • Salt

The key is to dress the steamed bean sprouts while they are still hot to let the bean sprouts absorb the flavours.

How to cook bean sprouts in a microwave

It is quite simple – just wrap the washed bean sprouts in cling wrap and place them in the  microwave on high for 1 – 1½ minutes.

I use two long cling wrap pieces, layering one sheet perpendicular to the other to make a ‘+’ shape so that the centre becomes two layers. After washing the bean sprouts, place them in the centre of the cling wrap, then fold the 4 flap ends of the cling wrap over the bean sprouts to cover them completely. Make sure that there are no openings for the steam to escape.

Bean sprouts wrapped in cling wrap, ready to be steamed in microwave.

It is important not to remove too much excess water from the bean sprouts before wrapping because the water is needed to steam the bean sprouts within the cling wrap. I use a large sieve to wash the bean sprouts and shake the sieve only once or twice, then wrap.

Dress Bean Sprouts While Hot

Steamed bean sprouts retain quite a bit of moisture. Once. steamed, it is important to squeeze out as much water as possible, otherwise the dressed bean sprouts will be watery.

It is also important to dress the steamed bean sprouts while they are hot so that the flavours get absorbed by the bean sprouts effectively.

You might find that squeezing water out while the bean sprouts are hot is quite challenging. I use a couple of layers of paper towels or a tea towel to wrap a handful of bean sprouts at a time and squeeze the water out.

Bean sprouts dressed in sesame dressing.

Sesame Bean Sprouts is so simple that today’s post is very short – there is nothing more to say except I hope you will try Sesame Bean Sprouts.

YumikoYM_Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

5 from 1 vote
Hero shot of Sesame Bean Sprouts in a bow.
Sesame Bean Sprouts
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
2 mins
 

A simple Japanese side dish Sesame Bean Sprouts only requires 4 ingredients and only takes a few minutes to make. You don’t even need a stove to steam bean sprouts!

Recipe Type: Sides
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: bean sprouts, sesame dressing
Serves: 4 as a side
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 250g/8.8oz bean sprouts (fresh)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp stock powder (chicken or vegetable)
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • Roasted white sesame seeds to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Rinse the bean sprouts, shake dry (retain moisture and do not dry completely), then wrap in cling wrap (note 1).

  2. Microwave for 1-1½ minutes, then remove and unwrap immediately so they don't continue cooking. Note: if your microwave is not very powerful you might need another 30 seconds. The bean sprouts should not be as crisp as they were, but not limp either.

  3. While the bean sprouts are still hot, squeeze out the excess water. Use a couple of paper towels or a tea towel if they are very hot. (note 2)

  4. Place the bean sprouts in a bowl. Mix well with remaining ingredients.
  5. Place the dressed bean sprouts in a serving bowl to share or individual small serving bowls. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the bean sprouts if using.
  6. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

1. When wrapping the bean sprouts, make sure that there are no openings in the cling wrap otherwise the steam will escape and the bean sprouts will be undercooked.

I use two long layers of cling wrap, placing one sheet perpendicular to the other. After washing the bean sprouts, place them in the centre of the cling wrap, then fold the 4 ends of the cling wrap over the bean sprouts to cover them completely.

2. It is easier to take a handful of bean sprouts at a time to squeeze the water out.

3. You can pre-make it and store in the fridge for a day or two, although there is really no need to make ahead as it takes so little time to make it.

4. Nutrition per serving as a side.

serving: 68g calories: 49kcal fat: 3.5g (5%) saturated fat: 0.5g (3%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 1.5g monounsaturated fat: 1.4g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 335mg (14%) potassium: 97mg (3%) carbohydrates: 3.8g (1%) dietary fibre: 1.1g (4%) sugar: 2.6g protein: 2g vitamin a: 0.3% vitamin c: 14% calcium: 0.7% iron: 3.2%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

I think that Sesame Bean Sprouts goes very well with Japanese Curry. Katsu Curry is a combination of Main and Rice. It is a rather heavy dish so I picked three vegetable sides to go with it.

When I suggested a meal idea for Home-made Japanese Vegetarian Curry, I matched the curry dish with a clear soup as the clear soup cleanses the palate.  But today, I picked miso soup because Tataki Kyuri is quite refreshing and cleanses the palate.

Menu idea with Sesame Bean Sprouts.

Related

Take Away Sushi Rolls

By: Yumiko

Have you ever wondered if you could make the long, fat sushi rolls that you buy from take away sushi shops? I’ll show you how to make them. It’s not very difficult to make Take Away Sushi Rolls once you prepare the sushi rice and the ingredients to go in the middle.

Top-down photo of 12 sushi rolls with 6 different fillings fit in a bamboo container.

I posted Sushi Rolls (Norimaki) in late 2017. They are very small – about 3cm wide and 6-7cm long.

Today’s sushi rolls are much larger and they are exactly like those you get from take away sushi shops. They are 4cm thick and about 10cm long – perfect to grab and bite into even while walking.

What you will need

Different kinds of sushi rolls sold at a take away sushi shop.

Display at a take away sushi shop.

To make sushi rolls like those at take away sushi shops like the photo above, you will need:

  • Sushi rice – cooked rice + sushi vinegar (mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt).
  • Nori sheets – roasted seaweed sheets.
  • Ingredients to go in the centre of each roll – see the next section.
  • Bamboo sushi mat (bamboo rolling mat) – you can find more details about this, including photos in my post Sushi Rolls (Norimaki).
  • A bowl of water with a small amount of vinegar – to wet your hands so that rice grains won’t stick to them.
  • A kitchen knife – to cut sushi rolls.
  • A wet kitchen towel – to wipe the kitchen knife before cutting a sushi roll.

About Sushi Rice and Nori Sheet (Roasted Seaweed Sheet)

In Australia, you can buy Sunrise brand of short grain rice labelled as ‘Sushi Rice’ at super markets. But if possible, try Japanese rice species called ‘Sasanishiki‘ (ササニシキ or ささにしき) which is best suited for sushi. The left photo below is 5kg/11lb of the Sasanishiki rice that I bought from a Japanese grocery store.

Sasanishiki rice is less glutenous than other species such as Koshihikari rice (Sunrise Sushi rice is Koshihikari rice) so the sushi rice does not become sticky when sushi vinegar is mixed. Japanese Grocery store sells it. You could also try Rakuten Global Market or possibly Amazon.

Sasanishiki rice and nori sheet cut to the required size.

The size of the standard nori sheet is 19cm/7½” wide and 21cm/8¼” long. But to make a Take Away Sushi Roll, you only need ⅔ of the full-size length – 19cm x 14cm/7½” x 5½”  (top part of the nori in the right photo above). This is a nuisance because you will end up with many narrow strips of nori.

But you can make short sushi out of them if you like or use them later for Onigiri. Alternatively, cut them in half and use as a topping for Ramen or cut them into short thin strips and sprinkle on Maguro no Zuke-don or Zaru Soba.

What’s in the middle of Take Away Sushi Rolls

One of the reasons why Take Away Sushi Rolls are popular is that the fillings of the rolls can be almost anything and you can eat sushi without raw fish in it.

If you look at the display of sushi rolls at take away sushi shops, you will notice that they can be prawn cutlets, teriyaki beef, chicken cutlet, canned tuna with mayonnaise, etc., in addition to traditional raw fish sushi rolls.

In my Take Away Sushi Rolls recipe, I included the following sushi rolls:

Sushi rolls ingredients.

(From bottom right clockwise)

  • Raw Tuna & cucumber
  • Raw Salmon & cucumber
  • Tempura prawn & green leaf
  • Chicken cutlet & avocado
  • Tuna dressed in mayonnaise & avocado
  • Beef teriyaki & julienned carrots

Zoomed in photos of sushi rolls - teriyaki beef & carrot, canned tuna & avocado, raw tuna & cucumber..

Apart from the raw fish, you can prepare the main fillings ahead of time, even the day before. You can of course use many other combinations of fillings such as:

What you should avoid though are saucy or very oily ingredients.

One Take Away Sushi Roll contains about 60-70g/2.1-2.5oz of sushi rice. In theory, a couple of rolls should fill you up (maybe 3 for me). You can reduce the amount of rice and increase the ingredients in the centre, but when you cut the roll it just doesn’t look good. I think the balance of rice and ingredients needs to be right.

How to Roll Take Away Sushi Rolls

The rolling technique is fundamentally the same as the way I showed you in my post Sushi Rolls (Norimaki). But here is the step-by-step photo to make a Take Away Sushi Roll.

Step-by-step photo of how to roll a sushi roll.

There are a few tips to successfully making a roll:

  1. Place a nori sheet aligned to the edge of the rolling mat closest to you. (The standard method is to place a nori sheet 2-3cm/1″ away from the edge of the mat. But I find that for beginners, my method makes it easier to complete the last point below.)
  2. Evenly spread the rice.
  3. Spread the fillings in the centre of the rice area, not along the edge.
  4. Stop when the end of the nori sheet closest to you reaches to the other end of the rice, and ensure that the nori sheet is slightly tucked in.

The last point is quite important. If you don’t check it and keep on rolling, you could end up with the end of the nori not nicely rolled in and rice bursting out from the seam line.

Zoomed in photos of sushi rolls - chicken cutlet & avocado, teriyaki beef & carrot, tempura prawn & green leaf, raw salmon & cucumber.

Take away sushi shops are everywhere in Sydney these days and they are very popular. I sometimes buy them to just keep my stomach quiet but I always regret it. They press down the rice quite a lot so the rice grains are not fluffy and the vinegar flavour is sometimes almost non-existent.

You will be amazed at how good these Take Away Sushi Rolls taste when you make them at home.

YumikoYM_Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

4.84 from 6 votes
Top-down photo of 12 sushi rolls with 6 different fillings fit in a bamboo container.
Take Away Sushi Rolls
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
 

Today's sushi rolls are just like the those you buy from take away sushi shops. It’s not very difficult once you’ve prepared the ingredients to go in the middle. Here is how to make Take Away Sushi Rolls step-by-step.

This is a long recipe only because I included very detailed step-by-step instuctions for rolling a ssushi as well as instruction for preparing 6 different fillings.

Prep Time and Cook Time are based on making 6 rolls with Beef Teriyaki & Julienned Carrots. Time to cook rice is not included.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: sushi recipe, sushi rice, sushi rolls, take away sushi
Serves: 6 Rolls
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 3 x 19cm/7½” wide 14cm/5½” long nori sheets (note 1)
Sushi Rice
  • cups hot cooked rice (note 2)
  • 35ml/1.2oz rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • tsp salt
Fillings (each filling ingredients make 12 rolls)
    Raw Salmon & Cucumber Roll
    • 3 strips sashimi salmon , 19cm/7½” long, 1.5cm/⅝" wide (about 50g each, note 3)
    • 3 x 19cm/7½” long wedges of cucumber (note 4)
    Raw Tuna & Cucumber Roll
    • 3 strips sashimi tuna , 19cm/7½” long, 1.5cm/⅝" wide (about 50g/1.8oz each, note 3)
    • 3 x 19cm/7½” long wedges of cucumber (note 4)
    Chicken Cutlet & Avocado Roll
    • 4 - 6 x 1.5cm/⅝" wide strips of chicken cutlet (about 150g/5.3oz in total, note 5)
    • 9 slices avocado , sliced lengthwise to 1cm/⅜" thick
    Tuna Dressed in Mayonnaise & Avocado
    • 150g/5.3oz canned tuna flakes or chunks in brine or spring water
    • 3 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
    • salt and pepper
    Tempura Prawn & Green Leaf
    • 6 large prawn tempura (about 10cm/4" long, note 6)
    • 6 small green soft-leaf lettuce leaves (note 7)
    Beef Teriyaki & Julienned Carrots
    • 150g/5.3oz very thinly sliced beef (note 8)
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 2 tsp each soy sauce , sake, mirin
    • ½ tsp of sugar
    • 75g/2.6oz carrot , finely julienned
    Rolling Tools
    • A small bowl of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of vinegar
    • A sushi rolling mat/bamboo rolling mat
    Instructions
    Making Sushi Rice
    1. Add rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt in a jar or a bowl. Mix well until sugar and salt are dissolved.

    2. Add half of the vinegar mixture to the rice, spreading evenly and mix well using a spatula in cutting motion so that the rice grains do not break or get squashed.

    3. Add the remaining vinegar mixture and mix well in the same way. If you can, fan the rice to cool it down quickly to let the moisture evaporate faster.

    Making Sushi Rolls (refer to the corresponding numbers in the step-by-step photo)
    1. Place a nori sheet, smooth side down on a sushi rolling mat, aligning the cut end of the edge to the end of the mat closest to you.

    2. Wet your hands with the vinegar water in the bowl, take ⅓ of the sushi rice and make an oval ball. Place the rice in the centre of the nori sheet and spread the rice in all directions, leaving a 2cm border on the side furthest from you (step-by-step photo ). Ensure that the rice evenly covers the nori sheet and do not press the rice down too hard..

    3. Place your choice of fillings onto the nori sheet, as per the sections below (step-by-step photo ).

    4. Using the thumb and index finger of both hands, hold the end of the mat and lift it up. Then place your middle fingers and ring fingers on the fillings firmly (step-by-step photo ). While placing these fingers on the fillings, roll the bamboo mat away from you (step-by-step photo ).

    5. When the edge of the nori is at the top, let go of your middle and ring fingers and keep rolling slowly until the edge of the nori reaches the other end of the rice (step-by-step photo ).

    6. By now, the mat should be completely covering the sushi roll (step-by-step photo ). Don't roll the end of the mat into the rice! Press the rolling mat around the sushi roll gently but firmly.

    7. Hold the roll by placing one hand over the mat, then pull the end of the mat with the other hand a few centimetres away from yousothat the sushi inside the mat rolls a further 90 degrees or so (step-by-step photo ), overlapping with the end of the seaweed sheet that does not have rice on it.

    8. Using both hands, gently but firmly press the mat over the sushi roll (step-by-step photo ), then remove the mat (note 9).

    9. Place the sushi roll on the plate/cutting board with the overlapping seaweed line down.
    10. Leave the roll for a couple of minutes to let the seam stick.
    11. Wipe a sharp kitchen knife with a wet towel to give moisture to the knife. This will prevent the knife from sticking to the rice, resulting in a clean cut.
    12. Cut the roll in half.

      Step-by-step photo of how to roll a sushi roll.

    Raw Salmon & Cucumber Roll and Raw Tuna & Cucumber Roll
    1. Place a fish strip and a cucumber wedge together in the middle of the rice horizontally.

    Chicken Cutlet & Avocado Roll
    1. Line up 2-3 slices of chicken cutlet connected to each other horizontally in the middle of the rice.

    2. Place 3 avocado slices, breaking in the middle of the arch if the arch is too high so that the avocado piece can be placed along with the chicken.

    Tuna Dressed in Mayonnaise & Avocado
    1. Put tuna in a bowl. If it came in chunky pieces, break them into flakes using a fork.

    2. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

    3. Spread ⅓ of the tuna mixture in the middle of the rice horizontally, making a narrow mound.

    4. Place 3 avocado slices, breaking in the middle of the arch if the arch is too high so that the avocado piece can be placed along with the tuna.

    Tempura Prawn & Green Leaf
    1. Line two green leaves connected together to cover the centre of the rice horizontally.

    2. Place two tempura prawns, tail ends in the middle and overlapping slightly, on the green leaves.

    Beef Teriyaki & Julienned Carrots
    1. Add oil to a frying pan over medium high heat.
    2. Add beef slices and sauté until slightly browned and beef is nearly cooked through for about 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the slices.
    3. Add soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar to the pan and mix with the beef. When the sauce is nearly evaporated, transfer the beef slices frim the heat and cool them down.

    4. Spread ⅓ of the beef in the middle of the rice horizontally, making a narrow mound.

    5. Spread ⅓ of the carrots along the beef.

    Recipe Notes

    1. A standard nori sheet (roasted seaweed sheet) is 19cm/7½” wide 21cm/8¼” long. You need to trim 1/3 off the sheet to make a 19cm/7½” x 14cm/5½” sheet. Please see my post about how to utilise trimmed nori pieces.

    2. You need to use sushi rice, short grain rice or medium grain rice (order of preference). If possible, try to use Japanese brand of rice as they are shiner, fluffier and tastier. Other grains are not suited for sushi.

    Please refer to How to Cook Rice the Japanese Way but add 1 sheet of 10cm x 5cm/4" x 2" konbu (kelp) when cooking the rice if you can. This will add umami to the rice.

    3. It is OK to have 2-3 short strips to make it 19cm long. If the edges of the strips are narrower, make the strips slightly longer so that two strips can be overlapped when placed on the rice.

    4. Cut a cucumber vertically into 6-8 long wedges (depending on the thickness of the cucumber) to make strips. If you can find a long cucumber, great. If your cucumber is short like mine, make more strips to make up to the required length.

    5. Please refer to the Chicken Cutlets section of my Katsu Curry recipe.

    6. Please refer to my post Tempura. If your prawns are smaller, use more prawns to make up to the total length of 19cm/7½”.

    7. Oak leaf lettuce or butter lettuce suits best.

    8. Any cut other than a stewing cut will be fine. I used sukiyaki/shabu-shabu slices as they cook fast.

    9. (Optional) If the rice at the end of the roll is uneven, cover the roll with the rolling mat, aligning the edge of the mat to the end of the roll. Hold the mat on one hand and using the other hand, press the end of the roll inwards to tidy up.

    If you want, you can trim the fillings that are sticking out to make it neater.

    10. You can make tempura prawns, chicken cutlet, tuna with mayo and beef teriyaki the day before. But sushi rice must be made on the day. The sushi rice stored in the fridge is not great to roll sushi.

    11. Nutrition per salmon and cucumber roll. Some fillings will have higher calories.

    serving: 111g calories: 145kcal fat: 3.6g (6%) saturated fat: 0.8g (4%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 1g monounsaturated fat: 1g cholesterol: 14mg (5%) sodium: 28mg (1%) potassium: 135mg (4%) carbohydrates: 20g (7%) dietary fibre: 0.3g (1%) sugar: 1.7g protein: 7g vitamin a: 2.1% vitamin c: 2.8% calcium: 0.9% iron: 5.1%

     

    Meal Ideas

    A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

    Today’s recipe covers Main and Rice, so I filled the photo panel where the rice usually goes with an additional small dish. There is not a large amount of protein in the sushi rolls, so I picked Gomoku-mame to supplement with soy protein. If you prefer animal protein, I would suggest that you replace it with a small amount of grilled fish.

    I picked Broccolini Karachi-ae and Pickled Turnip to go with Take Away Sushi Rolls to add different flavours to the meal. Instead of miso soup, your Soup can be a clear soup such as Dried Tofu Skin Soup or Japanese-style Egg Drop Soup (Kakitama-jiru) if you prefer.

    Menu idea with Take Away Sushi Rolls.

    Related

    Oysters with Tosazu Dressing 3 Ways

    By: Yumiko

    Tosazu is a light Japanese dressing made of vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and bonito dashi stock. It is a delicious way to enjoy fresh oysters. Try three different toppings on Oysters with Tosazu Dressing.

    Hero shot of 6 Oysters with Tosazu Dressing 3 Ways.

    I love fresh oysters. In Australia, it is quite common to buy shucked oysters from a fish shop and serve them straight to the table with lemon wedges. What a simple way to enjoy oysters!

    But today, I will show you a very light dressing that goes perfectly well with fresh oysters without overpowering the flavours of the oysters.

    About Tosazu

    Tosazu (土佐酢) is a vinegar-based Japanese dressing and is also the mildest dressing. It is a variation of the fundamental dressing called Sanbaizu (三杯酢). Tosazu is made by adding bonito dashi stock to Sanbaizu.

    comparison of Sanbaizu and Tosazu in glass bowls.

    Sanbaizu on the right and Tosazu on the left – subtle difference in the colour but major difference in flavour.

    Kōchi Prefecture in Shikoku used to be called ‘Tosa’ (土佐) and it is famous for bonito fishing. Hence, the vinegar dressing with bonito dashi stock is called Tosazu (Tosa + zu).  The word ‘zu’ means vinegar and the sound changes  from ‘su’ (酢, vinegar) for easier pronunciation.

    The recipes for both Sanbaizu and Tosazu are in the post Japanese Dressings. But I changed the proportion of ingredients slightly to make Tosazu for oysters.

    • Rice wine vinegar 2 parts
    • Soy sauce 2 parts
    • Mirin 1 part
    • Bonito dashi stock 3 parts

    The recipe in Japanese Dressings indicates 4-5 dashi stock portions for the same portion of other ingredients. But for today’s dish, a reduced amount of dashi is better suited as the juice from the oyster makes the dressing thinner.

    Dashi stock should be made from bonito flakes to call this dressing ‘Tosazu’ but konbu (kelp) can also be added.

    As per my post Home Style Japanese Dashi Stock, these dashi stocks are called Katsuo-dashi (bonito flakes only) and Awase-dashi (bonito flakes + konbu). You can use either type of dashi stock to make Tosazu.

    Toppings for Oysters with Tosazu DressingThree toppings.

    Tosazu goes well with certain types of garnishes and I decided to add three different toppings to my oysters.

    • Spicy Topping (top in the photo above) – momiji oroshi (grated daikon with chillies) and finely chopped shallots/scallions. This is a bit spicy with red chilli in momiji oroshi. The recipe for momiji oroshi is in Tuna Tataki (Seared Tuna) with Ponzu.
    • Authentic Topping (bottom right in the photo above) – finely sliced perilla leaves and grated ginger. This is a typical combination of garnishes and often used with ponzu when having Chilled Tofu (Hiyayakko).
    • Luxury Topping (bottom left in the photo above)  – finely chopped chives, ground dried wakame seaweed and ikura (salmon roe). I call it luxury as ikura is not a cheap ingredient. I bought 50g of ikura in a small bottle for $12. But, I can assure you that the oysters looked gorgeous – just like those served at restaurants.

    You can serve oysters with just Tosazu if you like but I think these toppings give different dimensions to the dish.

    Three different toppings on Oysters with Tosazu Dressing.

    Preparing Oysters

    When Japanese people buy oysters, they clean them before eating, regardless of eating them fresh or cooking them.

    Oysters often come with cracked shell pieces unless they were shucked skilfully. It is not in the Japanese culture to serve food with inedible broken shell pieces.

    There are a few different methods of cleaning raw oysters – rinse with grated daikon, rinse with cornflour/corn starch, rinse with salt.

    I found that salt is the easiest way to clean oysters.

    1. Place oysters without shells in a colander and add some salt (2 teaspoons for a dozen oysters).
    2. Using your hand, massage the oysters gently. The blackish slimy liquid comes out.
    3. Rinse the oysters thoroughly until the water dripping from the oysters is clear.
    4. Drain well.

    It takes less than a minute to clean them, but you will be surprised how black the water gets.

    Oysters in a sieve with salt to clean oysters.

    If my kids read this section, I know they will roll their eyes because in Australia people just eat oysters straight from the shell without rinsing. They think that my very Japanese trait of obsessive cleanliness is in action.

    In fact, I eat oysters without cleaning them when we have oysters at my family gatherings, etc (I am becoming an Aussie!). But I just thought it would be good to show you how Japanese people do it. And if you don’t want to do it, you can omit this.

    Serving Oysters with Tosazu Dressing

    Oysters served in shells look fresh and appetising. One of the two shells of an oyster is a flat shell and the other side of the shell has a depth that looks like an oval bowl. When adding a dressing to oysters, you will need to use a bowl-shaped shell.

    Unfortunately, most of the bowl-shaped oyster shells do not have a flat bottom and they are very difficult to stay on a plate without being tilted to one side. That’s why fresh oysters in shell are served on either crushed ice, a bunch of seaweed, or on salt.

    I did not want to waste a large amount of salt and I don’t live close to the sea. So, I used crushed ice and placed the shells on it. Below the ice are the bamboo leaves from my back yard for a decoration.

    Zoomed-in photo of Oyster with Tosazu Dressing on crashed ice and bamboo leaves.

    If your oysters do not come in shells, which is often the case in Japan, then serve them in a small bowl with some green leaves. The photo below is an example of how you can serve oysters with the Luxury Topping in a bowl. Well I forgot to add wakame seaweed but I hope you get the idea.

    Serving Oysters with Tosazu Dressing in a bowl without shells.

    The toppings need such a small quantity of ingredients that you might worry about ending up with unused ingredients such as perilla leaves and dried wakame seaweed. But don’t forget that I have recipes using these ingredients.

    Try Chicken Patties Wrapped in Perilla or Stuffed Sardines with Perilla and Pickled Plum. You could also add them to salad or use them to present grilled fish or sashimi as seen in Saikyo Yaki Fish, Marinated Sashimi Tuna, Japanese-style Kingfish Tartare (Kingfish Tataki).

    Wakame seaweed is a great addition to any kind of Miso Soup!

    YumikoYM_Signature

    P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

    5 from 2 votes
    Hero shot of 6 Oysters with Tosazu Dressing 3 Ways.
    Oysters with Tosazu Dressing 3 Ways
    Prep Time
    10 mins
     

    Tosazu is a light Japanese dressing  made up of vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and bonito dashi stock. It is a delicious way to enjoy fresh oysters. Try three different toppings on Oysters with Tosazu Dressing.

    Total Time does not include time required to make Tosazu but even if you make it from scratch, it takes only 5 minutes or so.

    Recipe Type: Appetiser
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: dressing, Oyster, Tosazu
    Serves: 4 Servings (3 each)
    Author: Yumiko
    Ingredients
    • 1 dozen oysters in opened shells (note 1)
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • 4 tbsp Tosazu (for 12 oysters, note 2)
    Spicy Topping (for 12 oysters)
    • 2 tbsp momiji oroshi (note 3)
    • 2 tbsp shallot/scallions , finely chopped (note 4)
    Authentic Topping (for 12 oysters)
    • 4 perilla leaves
    • ½ tbsp grated ginger
    Luxury Topping
    • 2 tbsp chives , finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp dried wakame seaweed , ground finely (note 5)
    • 20 g ikura (salmon roe)
    Instructions
    Prepare Oysters (optional, note 6)
    1. Remove oysters from the shells and place the oysters in a sieve. Sprinkle salt over the oysters and massage gently several times with your hand.

    2. Rinse the oysters well under cold running water and drain well.
    3. Clean the shells, removing tiny broken shell pieces. Drain water well.
    4. Return the oysters back to the shells and place them on a large serving plate.
    Oysters with Spicy Topping
    1. Pour 1 teaspoon of Tosazu over each oyster, then place ½ teaspoon of shallots on each oysters.

    2. Pick ¼ teaspoon each of momiji oroshi, squeeze slightly to get excess moisture out if necessary, and place it on the oysters.

    Oyster with Authentic Topping
    1. Roll perilla leaves together and cut the roll to 1mm thick all the way through. Untangle the rolled strands.

    2. Pour 1 teaspoon of Tosazu over each oyster.
    3. Spread equal portions of perilla on the oysters, then place a small pinch of grated ginger in the centre of each oyster.

    Oyster with Luxury Topping
    1. Pour 1 teaspoon of Tosazu over each oyster.
    2. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of chives on each oyster, covering half of the lip-side of the oyster.
    3. Sprinkle ground seaweed over the white side of the oyster.
    4. Place several ikura in the center of each oyster.
    Recipe Notes

    1. If you can only buy fresh oysters without shells, you can serve them together in a small bowl (see the photo in post).

    2. Please see the recipe in my post Japanese Dressings and the revise the portion of dashi stock to 3 parts as described in my post.

    3. Please see the recipe in Tuna Tataki (Seared Tuna) with Ponzu.

    4. If stems are thick, cut in half lengthwise first, then finely chop them so that the chopped pieces are not too big.

    5. I used a NutriBullet to grind the dried wakame seaweed. It worked surprisingly well and the wakame became almost powdery. I initially tried a mortar and pestle, then used a rolling pin to crush the wakame pieces. I even tried to chop them with a knife but neither method worked.

    Instead of grinding them, you could rehydrate and place them as small sheets of seaweed.

    6. Japanese people do clean oysters before eating. You will be surprised how dark the water gest when you clean them. If you are shucking oysters at home, perhaps you needn’t do this as you know they are clean and you don’t want to lose the oyster juice inside the shell.

    7. Nutrition per oyster with authentic topping. Spicy topping is almost the same with marginal higher vitamins %. Luxury topping is a couple of % higher due to salmon roe.

    serving: 56g calories: 45kcal fat: 1.2g (2%) saturated fat: 0.3g (1%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g monounsaturated fat: 0.2g cholesterol: 25mg (8%) sodium: 129mg (5%) potassium: 94mg (3%) carbohydrates: 3.2g (1%) dietary fibre: 0g (0%) sugar: 0.6g protein: 4.9g vitamin a: 2.7% vitamin c: 6.7% calcium: 0.4% iron: 14%

     

    Meal Ideas

    A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

    In my household, we serve raw oysters only on special occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s Day and Christmas celebrations. So, it is not easy to make up a set of dishes with Oysters with Tosazu Dressing 3 Ways as an everyday meal idea.

    What I listed below are the dishes that might be great to have on a special occasion for a small to medium size gathering, having had Oysters with Tosazu Dressing as an appetiser.

    • Appetiser: Oysters with Tosazu Dressing 3 Ways – today’s recipe
    • Dish Option 1: Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi) – if you like seafood!
    • Dish Option 2: Shabu-shabu Hotpot – if you have a portable cooktop to cook on a dining table, that would be great
    • Dish Option 3: Sukiyaki – you can cook Sukiyaki on the stove and take the pot to the table for everyone to pick
    • Dish Option 4: Yakitori – perfect for outdoor gathering!

    Menu idea with Oyster with Tosazu Dressing.

    Related

    Okinawa Soba (Sōki Soba)

    By: Yumiko

    Okinawa Soba (Sōki Soba) is a famous home-cooking noodle soup in Okinawa. Sweet and tender pork ribs on top of egg noodles in pork broth makes a hearty and flavoursome noodle soup. The pork ribs are so tender that they melt in your mouth.

    Hero shot of Sōki Saba.

    Although the dish is called ‘soba’, the noodles used in Okinawa Soba are not buckwheat noodles. They are egg noodles and are actually very similar to ramen noodles. Here is a bit of history about why they are called ‘soba’ but not buckwheat noodles.

    Soba or Ramen?

    Before ramen was invented from the Chinese noodle soup dishes in Japan, noodles were called ‘soba’ and that meant buckwheat noodles, which have very long history in Japan.

    When Chinese-style wheat noodles were introduced, they called it ‘chūka soba’ (中華そば), meaning Chinese noodles, to distinguish it from the traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles. The word ‘ramen’ only came about in the 1950s.

    Similarly, noodles developed in Okinawa were called ‘Okinawa soba‘ (沖縄そば) to distinguish them from buckwheat noodles. But Okinawa soba is made of wheat like ramen.

    In 1971, the Japanese fair trade commission advised Okinawa that they could not use the word ‘soba’ since soba noodles must contain more than 30% buckwheat. However, after numerous negotiations, Okinawa was permitted to retain the name ‘Okinawa soba’ as the only exception to the rule.

    Top-down photo of Sōki Saba.

    Buckwheat is called ‘soba’ and the kanji character for it is 蕎麦. To indicate that Okinawa soba is not using buckwheat, it does not use these kanji characters when written in Japanese. It is expressed in hiragana as ‘そば’. For the same reason, Yakisoba is written ‘焼きそば’, not ‘焼き蕎麦’ as the noodles are made of wheat.

    What’s in Okinawa Soba (Sōki Soba)

    The uniqueness of Sōki Soba is the broth and the topping made from pork ribs. It is not a complicated noodle dish at all.

    The noodles are similar to ramen noodles, but with the unique flavour of the broth it tastes nothing like ramen. The broth itself is actually much lighter than ramen broth.

    The broth is made from pork ribs with bonito flakes, salt, soy sauce, mirin and sake added to it. The flavour of bonito flakes makes the broth very unique. The pork ribs then become the topping.

    The toppings consist of simmered pork ribs, sliced kamaboko (かまぼこ, steamed fish cakes), chopped shallots/scallions and red pickled ginger. Kamaboko is sold frozen at Japanese grocery stores and some Asian stores. It looks like this.

    Kamaboko (steamed fish cake with and without wrapping.

    Kamaboko (steamed fish cake) comes on a wooden plank (right) which is wrapped in a plastic (left). You might also find pink-skinned kamaboko.

    More about each key component is discussed in the following sections.

    Okinawan Noodles

    In Okinawa, the noodles for Sōki Soba are called Okinawa soba. These are the same Japanese characters as the generic name for Okinawan noodle soups that I explained earlier (very confusing).

    They are egg noodles and almost the same thing as ramen noodles. However, traditional Okinawan noodles are thicker than ramen noodles, or sometimes flat like fettuccini. Click here to see the images of Okinawa Soba noodles.

    The ingredients of the noodles are identical to ramen noodles but the process of making them is slightly different. In the case of Okinawan noodles, cooked noodles are coated in oil and then left to cool down, during which a unique texture of noodles is developed.

    Some Okinawan noodle makers also add lye instead of carbonated water as it is a very traditional method of making Okinawan noodles.

    So, although Sōki Soba are called ‘soba‘, they really sit in the category of ‘ramen’.

    Where I live, I can’t get genuine Okinawan noodles so I use other egg noodles that I can buy in Asian grocery stores. I used the flat egg noodles in the pack below and they were firm and quite good.

    Flat egg noodles bought from an Asian grocery store.

    You can of course use other egg noodles including ramen noodles. Use thick noodles if possible but not those noodles that are sold as Hokkien noodles with a dark yellow and oily surface.

    I also used Shanghai noodles (photo below), which are not yellow noodles and look similar to udon noodles but the thickness and firmness of the noodles are just right. Since the broth has the flavour of bonito flakes, udon noodles work well, too.

    Sōki Soba with Shanghai noodles.

    About Sōki

    Sōki is the Okinawan terminology for pork ribs with bones intact. That’s why today’s Okinawa Soba is called Sōki Soba.

    If topping is pig’s trotters, they call it ‘tebichi soba‘. Tebichi is the Okinawan word for pig’s trotters. If topping is pork ear, they call it ‘mimigā soba’ If the topping is pork belly, it is called Okinawa soba which is also the generic name for Okinawan soba noodles.

    You will need pork ribs with a good amount of meat on bones. Rib bones can be hard bones or soft bones. The strip in the photo below was about 7cm/2¾” wide and had 3-4cm/1⅛” thick meat on the hard bones. I also used a pork lib strip with soft bones and its width was 5cm/2″.

    Photo of sōki strips, hopped, boiled and flavoured.

    I live not far from the suburb of Eastwood where many Chinese and Korean butchers are trading. So I go there to buy pork rib strips.

    Making Broth and Topping from Sōki

    Cut the pork rib strip between each bone and pre-boil it to remove the scum. Then cook with sliced ginger for 1.5 hours. The meat becomes very tender by then. The broth in which the pork pieces were cooked become the basis for the soba broth.

    Cook the pork pieces in soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar for several minutes. Simmered Sōki has a very similar flavour to my Kakuni (Japanese Simmered Pork Belly).

    Zoomed in photos of simmered sōki in Sōki Soba.

    Where I indicated ‘sake’, traditional Okinawa recipes use indigenous Okinawan local sake called ‘awamori’ (泡盛). It is made from long grain rice and distilled, unlike Japanese rice wine ‘sake’. Compared to sake, it has a richer and mellow scent and is marginally sweeter.

    Simmered Sōki keeps about a week in the fridge. You can also keep the broth a few days in the fridge and a month in freezer.

    I am glad that I can add one more ramen dish to my collection of ramen recipes. I hope you try Sōki Soba. Here is the list of ramen dishes that I posted. Click the photo below to display Ramen Collections.

    Ramen collections already posted.

    YumikoYM_Signature

    P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

    Okinawa Soba (Sōki Soba)
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    2 hrs 20 mins
     

    Okinawa Soba (Sōki Soba) is a famous home-cooking dish in Okinawa. Sweet and tender pork ribs on top of egg noodles in broth that is made from pork ribs and bonito flakes. It is a hearty and flavoursome noodle soup. The pork ribs melt in your mouth.

    You can make Simmered Soki and soba broth ahead of time.

    Serves: 4
    Author: Yumiko
    Ingredients
    • 400g/0.9lb egg noodles (note 1)
    • 120g/5.3oz kamaboko or chikuwa , sliced to 7mm/¼" thick (note 2)
    • 8 tbsp finely chopped shallots/scallions
    • 4 tbsp beni shōga (note 3)
    Sōki (makes more than 4 standard servings for Sōki Soba)
    • 1kg/2.2lb pork rib strips (note 4)
    • 30g/1.1oz ginger , sliced
    Sōki Flavouring
    • 65ml/2.2oz soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 2 tbsp mirin
    • 2 tbsp sake (note 5)
    Soba Broth
    • 1400 ml broth from boiling pork (note 6)
    • 10g/0.4oz bonito flakes (note 7)
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp mirin
    • 1 tsp sake (note 5)
    Instructions
    1. Cut pork rib strip between the rib bones so that each piece gets meat with a bone (note 8).
    2. Put the pork pieces in a pot and fill with water to fully cover the pork.

    3. Bring it to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and discard the fluid. Rinse the pork pieces ensuring that scum is removed.

    4. Remove the scums from the pot cleanly, return the pork to the pot and add ginger pieces.

    5. Fill water to fully cover the pork pieces and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1.5 hours with a lid on, until the pork becomes very tender but not breaking easily.
    6. Remove the pork pieces from the pot and keep the broth.
    Making Simmered Sōki
    1. Transfer the pork pieces to another large pot or a frying pan, preferably large enough to place the pork pieces in without overlapping.

    2. Add the Sōki Flavouring ingredients to the pot/pan with the pork and bring it to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, turning the pork pieces over so that the flavour coats them.

    4. Bring the heat to high and continue to cook until the sauce almost evaporates. Turn the heat off.
    Making Sōki Broth
    1. Add bonito flakes to the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for few minutes.
    2. Put the broth through a sieve to remove ginger, bonito flakes and tiny pork bits (note 9).

    3. Add the remaining Soba Broth ingredients and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat off.
    Making Sōki Soba
    1. Boil water in a pot and cook noodles as per the instructions on the pack.
    2. Drain water well and place noodles in each serving bowl.

    3. Pour 350ml of the soba broth into each of the bowls, topped with the simmered sōki, kamoaboko/chikuwa and shallots. Serve immediately.

    Recipe Notes

    1. Traditional Okinawan noodles are thicker than ramen noodles. Sometimes flat noodles (similar to fettuccini) are used as well.

    You can use thick egg noodles from Asian grocery stores but do not use oily thick egg nooddles that are used to make Hokkien Noodles.

    Alternatively, you can use Shanghai noodles that are whitish and are similar to udon. They are available at Asina grocery stores. If you are in NSW, they are also sold at Harris Farm Markets.

    2. Kamaboko is a steamed fish cake and usually comes in a semi-cylinder shape (see the photo in the post), while chikuwa (photo below) is broiled after fish paste is wrapped around a stick and comes as a tube. They are sold in the frozen section of Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

    If using chikuwa, diagonally slice each tube like the photo below.

    Chikuwa (grilled fish cakes) in a pack and sliced.

    3. Beni shōga is red pickled ginger which usually comes in shredded form. You can buy beni shōga at Japanese/Asian grocery stores, possibly at some supermarkets. Please visit Japanese Beef Bowl (Gyū-don) for more details with photos.

    4. The bones attached to the pork rib strip can be hard bones or soft bones. For the best result, the width of the strip should be 5-7cm/2-2¾”.

    5. If you have access to ‘awamori’ (泡盛), which is an indigenous Okinawan local sake, you may want to use awamori instead. Compared to sake, it has a richer and mellow scent and is marginally sweeter.

    6. If not enough, add water.

    7. I use a spice bag or a disposable dashi bag that you can buy at Japanese grocery stores, particularly if your bonito flakes contain tiny powdery bits. Using a bag will maintain the clarity of the broth better. See the recipe notes section of Home-made Ramen Broth Recipe for the sample photo of disposable dashi bag.

    8. If you can only find a narrow strip, you may want to cut it at every alternate rib bone so that the size of each pork piece is not too small.

    9. Unless I am serving to friends or visitors, I use a fine mesh skimmer spoon to remove bits the broth so that I needn't use another container with a strainer.

     

    Meal Ideas

    A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

    I decided to make today’s meal close to the set meal you might find in Okinawa. For this reason, I had to include Goya Chanpuru. Since the topping of Sōki Soba is quite sweet, there should be a vinegar flavour to cleanse the palate. In Okinawa, they often serve sunomono (vinegar dressing) with Okinawan seaweed called ‘mozuku’ (もずく), which is slightly slimy and comes in long thin strands. So, I decided to add sunomono to go with the other Okinawan dishes.

    If you prepare Simmered Sōki and broth a head of time, putting these dishes together on the day is not too hard.

    Menu idea with Sōki Soba

    Related

    Saikyo Yaki Fish (Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Fish)

    By: Yumiko

    Siakyo Yaki Fish is marinated in seasoned sweet miso, Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade, and grilled perfectly. Saikyo Yaki Fish is served at good Japanese restaurants around the world, but you can make it at home at a fraction of the cost.

    Saikyo Yaki Fish showing three different grilled fish.

    Saikyo Yaki (西京焼き) is the grilled fish or meat dish you get after you marinate the fish/meat in the Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade that I posted separately. The marinade is a mixture of Saikyo miso, sake, mirin and sugar. It is pretty simple to make and the flavour is just as good as the dishes you get at Japanese restaurants.

    Fish Suitable for Saikyo Yaki

    The most popular and best suited fish (in my view) for Saikyo Yaki is black cod (sablefish). The famous restaurants often serve a Saikyo yaki dish with black cod. The flesh has a high fat content and the texture is flaky when cooked. The combination of the sweet miso flavour and oily flaky fish is so perfect.

    I don’t know about your country, but in Sydney I cannot buy fresh black cod. So I usually marinate either Spanish mackerel or salmon instead. They are not as oily as black cod, but they are oilier than other fish.

    In today’s recipe, I also added a fillet of blue eye cod. The cod is not oily but the flaky texture is similar to that of black cod. I also tried ocean perch, which was good too. I read somewhere on a Japanese website that pomfret fillet works well too. I must try that.

    Three kinds of fish fillets used in Saiky Yaki Fis - Cod, Salmon and Spanish mackerel.

    From left to right: Blue eye cod, Salmon, Spanish mackerel.

    Fish Fillet vs Fish Cutlet/Steak Cut

    In Japan, it is common to slice the side of the fish diagonally instead of cutting it straight down the way the Western-style fish fillet is cut. The thickness of the diagonally sliced fillet is usually 1.5-2cm/⅝-¼”.

    Diagonally cut salmon fillet and fillet made from cutlet.

    Comparison between diagonally sliced salmon fillet (top) and a fillet made out of a cutlet/steak (bottom).

    The diagonal cut increases surface areas and there is far less skin on the fillet than the Western-style fillet. For this very reason, I think the diagonal cut is more suitable for marinating fish fillets.

    Diagonally sliced fish fillets are not sold at fish markets in my area, so I make two fillets out of a fish cutlet/steak. See the photo below that I also included in my first salmon dish Japanese Salmon Mirin-zuke. Each fillet is not diagonally sliced but the thickness and the surface area of the flesh is close enough.

    Showing how to make two fillets out of a fish cutlet.

    If you have a side of large fish, you can make Japanese-style fillets. But if you can’t get the diagonally sliced fish fillet, the two fillets made from a cutlet/steak cut like the above are the second best.

    If you can only buy a filet of fish, pick a very thick filet and slice it into 1.5-2cm/⅝-¼” crosswise so that each slice comes with skin.

    Marinating Saikyo Yaki Fish

    To marinate the fish you only need Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade (in the separate recipe). Spread half of the miso marinade in a container, place the fish fillets over it without overlapping, then cover the fish with the remaining miso marinade.

    If you can, use a sheet of muslin around the fish when marinating, then coat with the miso (see the photo below). It is an extra step, but when you are ready to cook you will be thankful you did a little extra up front because you don’t need to scrape the miso off the fish when grilling. See the bottom left photo below. No miso is stuck on the fish.

    If you don’t have muslin, you don’t need to use it. But remove the miso from the surface of the fish as much as possible before grilling, otherwise the miso will burn quickly due to the sugar in the miso marinade.

    Step-by-step photo of marinating fish in Saikyo Yaki Fish Marinade.

    Marinating time is 1-3 days, preferably 3 days. I tested different marinating times and found that:

    • 1 day is OK but the flavour does not penetrate the fish sufficiently.
    • 2 days is pretty good but
    • if you can plan 2 days ahead, you might as well plan 3 days ahead and you will get more depth of flavour.

    Little secret to Grilling Saikyo Yaki Fish

    I often use a Japanese Fish Griller, which comes with a metal tray with slits and a holder to secure the fish that goes over the tray. But when I feel a bit lazy, I grill the fish on a tray with scrunched up aluminium foil.  Beauty of using scrunched aluminium foil is that the fish does not stick to the bottom when trying to turn it over!

    You will need a large piece of aluminium foil that is about 2 times longer than the width of the tray  that goes under the oven griller/broiler. Scrunch the foil then spread it to fit in the tray.

    Gently place the fish on the foil and place it under the grill/broiler. The distance from the heat should be about 10cm/4″.

    Saikyo Yaki Fish - Spanish mackerel.

    Saikyo miso marinated fish freezes well before grilling (about 1 months) and after grilling (about 2 weeks). I marinate many fish pieces at once and freeze most of them after 1 day of marinating. If you are freezing the fish after 3 days of marinating, remove the miso from the fish and freeze.

    You can also re-use the miso marinade once more.

    YumikoYM_Signature

    P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

    5 from 5 votes
    Saikyo Yaki Fish showing three different grilled fish.
    Saikyo Yaki Fish (Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Fish)

    Fish marinated in seasoned sweet miso, Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade, and grilled perfectly. Saikyo Yaki Fish is served at good Japanese restaurants around the world but you can make it at home at a fraction of the cost. It is pretty simple to make and the flavour is just as good.

    Preparation time does not include the time to marinate the fish, which is 1-3 days.

    Author: Yumiko
    Ingredients
    Fish to Marinate (note 1)
    • 1 salmon cutlet (steak), 260g/9.2oz
    • 1 Spanish mackerel cutlet (steak), 230g/8.1oz
    • 1 blue eye cod fillet , 290g/10.2oz, about 5 cm/2” wide
    • Salt
    To Marinate (note 2)
    • A tray or a shallow container with a flat bottom that the fish can be placed in without overlapping
    • 2 muslin pieces cut to the size of the tray
    Garnish (optional, note 3)
    • Shiso (Japanese perilla leaves)
    • Pickled ginger
    • Radish
    Instructions
    Preparing the Fish
    1. Cut salmon and Spanish mackerel cutlets into two portions each by cutting the flesh along the bones, starting from the top (the dorsal side). Please visit my post Japanese Salmon Mirin-zuke (Mirin Marinade), which explains how to cut it, including photos.

    2. Slice the blue eye cod down the middle to make two thin fillets.
    3. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over each of the fish pieces and leave for 1 hour, during which excess moisture in the fish comes out.

    4. Pat dry using kitchen paper to remove the moisture.

    Marinating
    1. Spread half of the Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade in the tray evenly and cover the entire surface of the miso mixture with a piece of muslin.

    2. Place the fish pieces on the miso mixture without overlapping each other, then place the other piece of muslin over all of the fish. Cover the fish with the remaining miso mixture and evenly spreading the miso mixture.

    3. Using a thin spatula, press along the inside wall of the tray to ensure that the miso mixture covers the sides of the fish pieces. Trace along the gap between the fish pieces with the spatula and ensure that the miso mixture goes in between the fish pieces.
    4. Cover the tray with a lid (if it comes with one) or aluminium foil/cling wrap and leave it for minimum 1 day, preferably 3 days in the fridge (note 5).

    Grilling
    1. Pre-heat the grill.
    2. Cut aluminium foil to 60cm length and scrunch it gently, then spread it over a baking tray.
    3. Gently remove the upper layer of muslin from the fish tray gently by folding towards one side. Take the fish out and place them on the scrunched aluminium foil.

    4. Place the tray under the oven grill. The distance between the heat and the fish should be about 10cm (4”). If the grill is too close to the fish, the fish will burn before it is cooked.
    5. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the edge of the fish starts burning. Turn it over and cook further 3-4 minutes (note 6).

    6. Remove the fillets from the grill and place them on the serving plate.
    7. Add garnish if using and serve immediately.
    Recipe Notes

    1. I used three kinds of fish to show you how each fish comes out but you can use one kind of fish instead. The size of the fish can be different, too.

    In the case of the fillet, I recommend slicing it into thinner fillets otherwise one side of the fillet is covered with the skin and the marinade does not penetrate well.

    2. Instead of marinating the fish in a tray, you could use a large plastic bag. In this case, you would have to wrap each piece of fish with muslin so that you can put all the fish and the miso mixture in a bag. Mix well to cover every piece of fish with miso.

    You don’t need to use muslin to marinate the fish. The muslin is used simply to avoid the miso mixture sticking to the fish. If you are not using muslin, you need to make sure that the miso mixture is wiped off the fish before grilling. Otherwise the fish will burn quickly due to the sweet miso on it.

    4. You can buy shiso leaves at Japanese grocery stores. I used shiso leaves merely to give colour to the dish. You could use a large green leaf from your garden instead.

    Pickled ginger is thinly sliced ginger marinated in sugar and vinegar. It is usually served when you order sushi. It refreshes the palate. You can buy pickled ginger at Asian/Japanese grocery stores.

    I used a tiny radish for the salmon Saikyo Yaki for a change. To make the tiny flower, slice the radish thinly leaving the bottom part of the radish intact, then slice again in the same way perpendicular to the first cut. Cut the radish into two, sprinkle with salt and gently press down and spread to make it look like tiny petals. Rinse off the salt.

    5. You can freeze the marinated fish. After marinating the fish for 1 day, freeze it together with the miso. When I know that I am going to freeze the fish, I usually wrap it with muslin individually then marinate. After 1 day of marinating, take each piece of fish and some miso mixture into a small freezer bag as if it is marinated individually, then freeze.

    6. Cooking time varies depending on the grill and the thickness of the fish. The fish I cooked was 1.5 - 2.5cm (½ - 1”) thick. You could also grill on a BBQ or a grill pan over medium heat. Watch the fish as it could burn very fast.
    Alternatively, marinate 3 days, remove miso from the fish, then freeze.

    7. Nutrition per serving assuming a Spanish mackerel is served. Nutrition values varies slightly depending on the fish. E.g. the same amount of salmon contains more fat and higher calories.

    The amount of marinade consumed should be minimal but for the calculation purposes, it is assumed that 20% of miso marinade is consumed.

    serving: 127g calories: 184kcal fat: 7.8g (12%) saturated fat: 2.2g (11%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 2.3g monounsaturated fat: 1.9g cholesterol: 87mg (29%) sodium: 538mg (22%) potassium: 534mg (15%) carbohydrates: 3.4g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.5g (2%) sugar: 1.4g protein: 23g vitamin a: 3.2% vitamin c: 3.1% calcium: 1.4% iron: 4.2%

    Originally published in November 2016. Rewritten in July 2019, split into two posts and recipes - Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade (new) and this post, contents updated with Meal Ideas. 

     

    Meal Ideas

    A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

    Saikyo Yaki Fish is quite sweet, so I picked side dishes with different flavours that are not so sweet. I also wanted a variety of vegetables included in the meal and Scrambled Tofu (Iri Dofu) is perfect for this. Instead of Iri Dofu, you can perhaps add Hijiki Seaweed Salad, which is also a make-ahead dish, but it is a little bit sweet. If you don’t mind cooking on the day, you can replace Iri Dofu with Tofu with Vegetable Sauce.

    I picked clear soup instead of miso soup as the main dish has a miso flavour.

    Menu idea with Saikyo Yaki Fish.

    Related

    Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade

    By: Yumiko

    This is a basic marinade for Saikyo Yaki Fish which are served at many great Japanese restaurants. Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade is a sweet miso marinade that is so quick to make. Simply marinate fish or meat and grill it. You will be surprised how flavoursome it can be.

    Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade.

    Saikyo Yaki (西京焼き) is a dish of grilled fish or meat marinated in sweetened miso. Once you master Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade, you can make so many different dishes by simply changing the ingredients to marinate.

    WHAT’S IN SAIKYO YAKI MISO MARINADE

    The basic marinade consists of only four ingredients – Saikyo miso, Sake, Mirin and sugar. The proportion of these ingredients are:

    • 
300g/10.1oz Saikyo miso
    • 
1½ tbsp sake
    • 
1½ tbsp mirin
    • 
1 tbsp sugar

    The above quantity is plenty to marinate 6 x 130g/4.6oz fillet.

    Ingredients of Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade.

    You need to use the particular miso called Saikyo miso (西京味噌) to make an authentic Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade. It has sweet and very subtle miso flavour.

    However, if it is not easy to obtain Saikyo Miso, you can substitute it with shiro miso (white miso), which should be close to Saikyo miso. If your shiro miso is not as pale as Saikyo miso, you may need to add extra sugar to make the marinade sweeter.

    ABOUT SAIKYO MISO

    Saikyo miso is made in Kansai (the western region of Japan), particularly in Kyoto. The name “Saikyo” (西京) came from the name of the miso production company that started making this miso about 200 years ago to serve to the Kyoto Imperial Palace.

    Since then, the capital of Japan has moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. Hence, Kyoto became the western capital, ie. “Saikyo” and the miso company adopted it as the name of the miso. But nowadays, the term Saikyo miso is used generically for cream coloured sweet miso. It is also called shiro miso (白味噌, white miso) because of the colour.

    Saikyo miso and normal miso

    A pack of Saikyo miso and cream coloured Saikyo miso (top right) as well as typical brown miso (top left) as comparison.

    Standard brown miso contains about 12% salt while Saikyo miso contains about 5% salt. Sometimes, Saikyo miso even contains syrup to make it a bit sweet.

    You might find miso labelled as “shiro miso” in supermarkets or Asian grocery stores but often they are not as pale as Saikyo miso nor as sweet.

    In Sydney, I can buy Saikyo miso only at Japanese grocery stores. It is usually stored in the freezer and looks like the photo above. You can see the brand name in the vertical kanji characters “西京”.

    ALTERNATIVE TO SAIKYO MISO MARINADE

    You can also make a miso marinade similar to Saikyo Miso Marinade using normal brown miso. It is not exactly the same as the marinade using Saikyo miso, as the marinade is much darker to start with, but you can still enjoy the sweetness of the miso flavour.

    The ingredients to make miso marinade using brown miso are the same as Saikyo Miso Marinade except the type of miso used. But the quantity needs to be adjusted to compensate for the lack of sweetness in miso. Here is the proportion of these ingredients:

    • 
300g/10.1oz brown miso
    • 
1½ tbsp sake
    • 
1½ tbsp mirin
    • 
30g/1oz sugar

    Brown miso marinade.

    VARIATIONS TO SAIKYO MISO MARINADE

    The sweetness of the marinade can vary depending on your palette. Some people might find my recipe too sweet. Others might want the marinade to be sweeter. You can adjust the amount of mirin/sugar to your liking.

    Some recipes don’t use sugar but add more mirin to the miso. It will make the miso marinade a bit loose but that’s OK.

    If you are an Aussie, you might have watched the SBS food program where the award-winning chef Tetsuya demonstrated how to make his version of Saikyo Yaki recipe. In his recipe, he adds grated ginger, garlic and grapeseed oil to the miso mixture. This is certainly not the traditional Saikyo miso marinade but it’s still pretty tasty, of course.

    MARINATING FISH OR MEAT

    Just like any other thick marinades, simply smudge the miso marinade over the fish or meat pieces (see the example below using salmon fillets). Depending on the ingredients, the marinating time varies, too.

    Salmon marinated in Saikyo YAki Miso Marinade.

    Most well known dish using Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade is black cod Saikyo yaki which I will post some day. But as a starter, please see the post Saikyo Yaki Fish (Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Fish) for how to marinate fish using Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade.

    YumikoYM_Signature

     

    Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    0 mins
     

    This is a basic marinade for Saikyo Yaki Fish, which is served at many great Japanese restaurants. Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade is a sweet miso marinade that is so quick to make. Simply marinate fish or meat and grill it.

    Recipe Type: Pantry
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: miso marinade, Saikyo Miso, Saikyo Yaki
    Serves: 6 fillets (130g/4.6oz each)
    Author: Yumiko
    Ingredients
    Makes enough to marinate 6 x 130g/4.6oz fillet
    • 300g/10.1oz Saikyo miso (note 1)
    • tbsp sake
    • tbsp mirin
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    Instructions
    1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well ensuring that the miso paste is smooth with no lumps, sugar dissolved.
    2. To store in the fridge, place the marinade in an airtight container, cover the surface of the miso marinade with cling wrap (note 2), then place the lid on.

      Alternatively, place the marinade in a zip lock bag, remove air as much as possible (note 2) and seal. Keeps 4 weeks+.

    Recipe Notes

    1. Saikyo miso (西京味噌) is a particular kind of miso that is very sweet and has a creamy pale colour (see the photo in the post). It might also be sold as “shiro miso” (白味噌, white miso) due to its colour.

    If you cannot find Saikyo miso or shiro miso, you can substitute it with brown miso. If you do, increase the amount of sugar to 30g/1.1oz.

    2. Miso marinade can keep a long time in the fridge as long as it is not mixed with water. Covering the surface of the miso marinade prevents the dew that might form on the lid or inside the bag from touching marinade.

    3. Please see the post Saikyo Yaki Fish (Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Fish) for how to marinate fish using Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade.

    4. Saikyo Yaki Miso Marinade can be reused 2-3 times. A small amount of water might come up due to the moisture from the fish/meat. Absorb the water using kitchen paper.

    5. Nutrition of the marinade used for one fillet, i.e. 1/6 of the total quantity. However, the values below do not mean much as majority of the marinade will be discarded before cooking marinated fish or meat.

    serving: 59g calories: 121kcal fat: 3g (5%) saturated fat: 0.5g (3%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g monounsaturated fat: 0.6g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 1864mg (78%) potassium: 106mg (3%) carbohydrates: 17g (6%) dietary fibre: 2.7g (11%) sugar: 6.8g protein: 6.4g vitamin a: 0.9% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 2.2% iron: 7%

    Originally published in November 2016. Rewritten in July 2019, split into two posts with recipes – this post (new) and Saikyo Yaki Fish (Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Fish).

    Related

    Simmered Daikon (Daikon Fukumeni)

    By: Yumiko

    Daikon (white radish) is the hero of this Simmered Daikon recipe. It is just a daikon cooked in a light soy-based broth. This is one of the simplest looking dishes, yet it is so tasty. A knob of wasabi is just perfect with the delicate flavour of Daikon Fukumeni.

    Hero shot of Simmered Daikon in a blue plate.

    Simmered Daikon is a lightly flavoured, simmered dish but the flavour from the broth penetrates even into the centre of the daikon pieces, making the daikon so tasty. The daikon is soft and easy to break with chopsticks.

    About Fukumeni(含め煮)

    Fukumeni is a Japanese cooking method. There are quite few different ways of cooking ingredients in broth or sauce, which are collectively called ‘nimono’ (煮物).

    Nikomi (as in Stewed Hamburg Steak (Nikomi Hamburg))and nibitashi (as in Snow Pea Warm Salad (Nibitashi)), are some of the different ways of cooking nimono dishes that I have posted.

    Fukumeni is the method of cooking ingredients in a lightly flavoured broth so that you can enjoy the original taste and/or the colour of the ingredients –  daikon in the case of today’s dish.

    Picking up a piece of Simmered Daikon with wasabi on it.

    Preparing Daikon for Simmered Daikon

    There are no rules to it but Daikon Fukumeni is usually made with thick discs of daikon that are made by cutting the daikon root horizontally, then peeling the skin thinly.

    The thickness of the daikon is about 3-4cm-1⅛-1½”. This seems to look best when served. The size of the disc can vary but anywhere between 4 to 7cm/1½ to 2¼” in diameter is ideal. If the daikon is very large and fat, the discs can be cut in half into semi-circle shapes.

    Before simmering the daikon in broth, there are key preparations to do – Mentori (面取り), Kakushibōchō (隠し包丁) and Shitayude (下茹で).

    Mentori (面取り)

    I talked about mentori in my post Simmered Pumpkin. Some root vegetables tend to break around the edges when cooked for a long time. By trimming the corners of the vegetable pieces (mentori), you can prevent that.

    The word ‘mentori’ means creating more faces because it creates more sides (faces in mathematical term) to the vegetable by trimming corners.

    Today’s daikon is in a disc shape so you just need to trim two round edges of each daikon. It is easy to do with a knife, but if you prefer you can use a peeler. See how I do it in the photo below.

    Showing how to do Mentori (removing edges of daikon.

    Can you see in the photo below the edge of the disc is round and no longer sharp?

    Kakushibōchō (隠し包丁)

    This is an optional step and only required when you need to speed up the cooking process. When your daikon discs are thick and large, you may want to make a cross incision on one side of the flat surface of the daikon. See the diagram below.

    Kakushibōchō, which means hidden kitchen knife, makes daikon cook faster and the flavour of the broth penetrates better.

    Incisions need to be only ⅓ to ½ of the thickness. Cut the side that is not going to be facing up when serving. For example, if one side of the edge is trimmed neater than the other side, make the incisions on the side that is not neat.

    Photo of a daikon with the lines indicating where to make cuts to do Kakushibōchoō.

    I did not make incisions today as my daikon was not large enough to warrant extra cuts and I was not in a hurry either.

    Shitayude (下茹で)

    Root vegetables like daikon are often pre-boiled. There are different reasons for doing pre-boiling – faster cooking in the sauce, removing bitterness of the vegetables, and removing a strong smell and/or sliminess, etc. Pre-boiling ingredients for these reasons is called ‘shitayude’.

    In the case of daikon, pre-boil the daikon pieces in either the cloudy water you get from washing rice or water with a handful of rice in it.

    It allows the daikon to absorb flavours more easily, eliminates bitterness, and brings out the sweetness in the daikon. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until daikon pieces are all cooked through. Wash the daikon to remove sliminess from the starch before cooking in flavoured broth.

    You can stop at this point and freeze your daikon for later use. I tried frozen daikon to make Fukumeni. There was not much difference in flavour but the texture of the frozen daikon was a bit stringy and spongy.

    Broth for Simmered Daikon (Daikon Fukumeni)

    The flavouring of the broth comes from dashi stock, light soy sauce, mirin and salt. For 500ml/1.1pt of dashi stock, you only add 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of mirin and ½ teaspoon of salt.

    I use light soy sauce to make the colour of the broth lighter. But if you only have normal soy sauce, it’s OK to use it. The broth and cooked daikon will be slightly darker. If you cannot use alcohol, i.e. mirin, replace it with 1 teaspoon of sugar.

    You need about 20 minutes to cook daikon in this broth.

    Soaking Daikon in Simmered Daikon Broth

    After the daikon pieces are cooked, leave them in the broth until they cool down. During this time the flavour penetrates the daikon. Daikon pieces need to be covered in the broth at all times.

    If you have a jar that you can pile up the daikon discs in with minimum unfilled spaces, use it. Otherwise, I find that a zip lock bag does a great job. But you need to remove as much air as possible from the bag.

    To vacuum the bag without a fancy gadget, do the following.

    • Place daikon discs in a bag without overlapping, then add the broth.
    • Close the zip all the way but leave a small opening at the end.
    • Fill water in a kitchen sink or a large deep bowl and gently lower the zip lock bag into the water. As you lower the bag, massage the bag to let the air bubbles stuck inside the bag out.
    • When the water level reaches the zip line and the bag is mostly vacuumed, seal the bag.

    I use this vacuuming method when I want to store food in the freezer. It works perfectly every time.

    Zoomed-in photo of Simmered Daikon.

    Simmered Daikon can keep for several days in the fridge. If you did not freeze your pre-cooked daikon, then you can freeze Simmered Daikon in broth for a month.

    YumikoYM_Signature

    P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

    5 from 1 vote
    Hero shot of Simmered Daikon in a blue plate.
    Simmered Daikon (Daikon Fukumeni)
    Prep Time
    5 mins
    Cook Time
    45 mins
     

    Daikon is the hero of this Simmered Daikon recipe because it is just a daikon cooked in soy-based broth. This is one of the simplest looking dishes, yet it is so tasty with a knob of wasabi as a garnish.

    Cook Time is long as you need to do pre-boiling for 15-20 minutes. But you can stop at this point and re-start cooking the next day if you want.

    Use konbu dashi to make this dish vergetarian.

    Recipe Type: Appetiser, Side
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: daikon recipes, Japanese radish, Simmered Daikon, white radish
    Serves: 5 Pieces
    Author: Yumiko
    Ingredients
    • 500g/1.1lb daikon cut to 3-4cm/1⅛-1½" thick discs (note 1)
    • 2 tbsp rice or white liquid from washing rice
    Fukumeni Flavouring
    • 500ml/1.1pt dashi stock (note 2)
    • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
    • 1 tsp mirin
    • ½ tsp salt
    Condiment (optional)
    • Wasabi paste
    Instructions
    1. Peel skin of each daikon disc thinly, then remove the round edges (mentori) of each disc. See the section MENTORI (面取り) for details.

    2. (Optional) If your daikon discs are thick and large, make cross incisions on one side of each daikon. The depth of incisions needs to be ⅓ to ½ through. See the photo in the section KAKUSHIBŌCHŌ (隠し包丁). This will cook daikon pieces faster.

    3. Place daikon pieces in a pot (note 3) without overlapping, flat side up.
    4. Add water with 2 tablesponns of rice or white liquid to cover the daikon pieces about 1-2cm/¼” above the daikon.

    5. Bring it to a boil. Reduce to low and cook for 15-20 minutes until the centre of daikon pieces are cooked through (I use a bamboo skewer to poke daikon in the centre to check it).

    6. Remove from heat and leave to cool a bit. Rinse daikon pieces and remove stickiness from the surface of daikon (note 4).

    7. Place daikon pieces in a pot, flat side up without overlapping. Add the Fukumeni Flavouring ingredients.
    8. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, place a drop lid (note 5) on and cook for 20 minutes.

    9. Transfer the daikon to a zip lock bag without overlapping, then add the liquid in the pot to the bag (note 6).
    10. Remove the air as much as possible from the bag (note 7), seal the bag and leave it to cool. Best to leave overnight.
    11. Serve (cut side down if you made incisions in step 2) with some broth and a drop of wasabi in the centre.

    Recipe Notes

    1. Diameter of my daikon discs were between 5cm/2” and 6cm/2"⅜”.

    If your daikon is very large, you can cut each disc in half to make it a semi-circular shape.

    2. Use konbu dashi if you are a vegetarian. See Varieties of Dashi Stock.

    3. Since the recipe calls for just the right amount of broth to cook daikon, it is preferable to use a pot that can just fit in all the daikon with few spaces left over. This will allow the broth to fully cover the daikon pieces.

    If you only have a large pot, I would suggest one of the following:
    • Increase the quantity of broth; or
    • Add baking beads or small mug cups etc. to fill the gap so that the level of the broth lifts up to cover the daikon.

    4. At this stage, you can leave the daikon in the fridge and cook 1-3 days later, or in the freezer for a month.

    5. Drop lid is called ‘otoshi buta’ (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a pot. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless lid as well.

    It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, cooks faster, and makes the ingredients stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.

    If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with aluminium foil or baking paper. Cut a square foil/paper, fold/cut the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil/paper with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.

    6. Instead of using a zip lock bag, you can use a container/jar that all the daikon pieces can snuggly fit in.

    7. I don’t have a vacuum food sealer so I do the following to remove most of the air from the bag:
    • Place daikon discs without overlapping in a bag, then add the broth.
    • Close the zip all the way but leave a small opening at the end.
    • Fill water in a kitchen sink or a large deep bowl and gently lower the zip lock bag into the water. As you lower the bag, massage the bag to let the air bubbles stuck inside the bag out.
    • When the water level reaches the zip line and the bag is mostly vacuumed, seal the zip.

    8. Simmered Daikon keeps several days in the fridge. If you did not freeze the daikon after pre-boiling them, you can freeze Simmered Daikon in broth for about 1 month.

    9. Nutrition per piece. Sodium is high as it assumes you drink all the broth which is probably not the case.

    serving: 203g calories: 54kcal fat: 0.9g (1%) saturated fat: 0.2g (1%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.2g monounsaturated fat: 0.3g cholesterol: 0.9mg (0%) sodium: 617mg (26%) potassium: 381mg (11%) carbohydrates: 8.4g (3%) dietary fibre: 1.7g (7%) sugar: 3g protein: 3.3g vitamin a: 0.1% vitamin c: 37% calcium: 2.5% iron: 3.7%

     

    Meal Ideas

    A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

    Today’s dish is a simple daikon dish so I decided to pick a stir fry Goya Chanpuru which contains tons of protein. For Side 2, I needed a sour flavour to add a variety of flavours to the meal. I picked Seafood Nuta because the post was associated with my Okinawa trip and so was the Goya Chanpuru post. Alternatively, you can serve Cucumber and Seaweed Sunomono (Vinegar Dressing) if you prefer a lighter side dish.

    I picked clear soup as Seafood Nuta is miso based. If you are not serving Nuta, Soup can be any miso soup.

    Menu idea with Simmered Daikon.

    Related

    Tuna Tataki (Seared Tuna) with Ponzu

    By: Yumiko

    My Tuna Tataki (Seared Tuna) is a block of sashimi tuna lightly seared and served with Ponzu dressing. It is almost like the Tuna Tataki dish at the world-famous chef Nobu’s restaurant.

    Hero shot of Tuna Tataki with Ponzu Dressing and condiments.

    This is one of the very popular and tasty dishes often served at Japanese restaurants. You probably pay dearly for it at restaurants, but you can easily make it at home. All you need is a block of sashimi tuna and home-made Ponzu!

    In my posts Japanese-style Kingfish Tartare (Kingfish Tataki) and Bonito Tataki (Seared Bonito) I talked about two Japanese cooking methods called ‘tataki’ (たたき).

    In Japan, the seared tataki is most commonly made with bonito by grilling the surface of the fillet. But today’s tataki is made with a sashimi tuna block, which is easier to find (at least in Sydney) and less fiddly to sear.

    How to Make Tuna Tataki

    There are only 3 steps to making Tuna Tataki and it takes less than a couple of minutes to cook.

    Step-by-step photo of searing two blocs of tuna.

    Step 1: You will need a cuboid-shaped block of sashimi tuna. It is important to have a cuboid block (or as close to it as possible) to sear the tuna evenly.

    If you can only buy a chunk of sashimi tuna sliced perpendicular to the backbone (sold like a round triangular shape), see my post Sashimi (Sliced Raw Fish), which shows how to get blocks out of a big triangle piece. It’s ok to have 3-4 short cuboid pieces instead of two 10cm/4″ pieces like those in the step-by-step photo.

    Step 2: Season the tuna with salt and pepper only on four long sides. Do not season on the small sides that are adjacent to the four long sides (the square sides in my step-by-step photo, because only the long sides will be seared.

    Step 3: Cook seasoned sides over high heat with a bit of oil. Only cook for 15-20 seconds on each side until you get 2-3mm/1/8″ of seared trimming around the tuna block (see the step-by-step photo ).

    Now your Tuna Tataki is done! Cool it down before slicing it. I slice it into about 5-6mm/¼” thick pieces.

    About Ponzu Dressing

    In today’s recipe, I used a home-made Ponzu dressing that I posted in Japanese Dressings.

    Two jars of home-made Ponzu - one with ingredients in it, one after filtering.

    Left: Home-made Ponzu with ingredients still in the liquid. Right: After straining through a sieve.

    In my Ponzu recipe, I listed lemon or lime juice. But the most popular authentic ponzu dressing is made with a Japanese citrus fruit called ‘yuzu’ (ゆずor 柚), which is tart and fragrant –  close to grapefruit but not so sweet. If you can source fresh yuzu, by all means make ponzu with yuzu instead of lemon or lime juice.

    I had one fresh yuzu that I bought at the Japanese grocery store. But one yuzu was not enough to make the amount of Ponzu I wanted to make so I added freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little bit of orange juice. You can try different citrus juices to make Ponzu variations.

    Ponzu is a very handy dressing to have – it can keep many months in the fridge. I often use ponzu to eat with hot or cold tofu. Yum.

    Serving Tuna Tataki – Option 1

    I have two ways of serving Tuna Tataki today. The first option is a very simple presentation with vegetables at hand.

    Serving Tuna Tataki with julienned daikon.

    The hero of today’s dish is Tuna Tataki so I presented the tuna slices in a circle to show off. I then filled the centre with suitable vegetables I had on hand, i.e. perilla leaf and julienned daikon (white radish).

    Instead of perilla leaf and daikon, you can use soft lettuce leaves. Because the colour of Tuna Tataki is deep red, I think that the light colour is better suited as a garnish.

    Drizzle Ponzu over the tuna or serve Ponzu separately for each individual to pour over.

    Serving Tuna Tataki – Option 2

    This serving option takes a little bit more effort than Option 1 because it comes with condiments.

    Zoomed-in photo of grated ginger, chopped shallots and momiji oroshi (grated daikon with chilli) on a perilla leaf.

    Bonito Tataki is usually served with grated ginger and chopped shallots, and sometimes with garlic. On the other hand, ponzu is often used with a spicy condiment called momiji oroshi, which is made by grating daikon and chillies together (see the next section).

    So, I decided to serve all of them with Tuna Tataki. These condiments go very well with Ponzu. I plated it in a certain way, but it is up to you how you want to place the condiments and tuna slices.

    You might have noticed this but I used a different block of tuna from the tuna in Option 1. The tuna slices are not square this time. It looks almost like the world-famous chef Nobu’s Tuna Tataki!

    Serving Tuna Tataki with condiments - grated ginger, chopped shallots and momiji oroshi (grated daikon with chilli) on a perilla leaf - before pouring Ponzu Dressing.

    About Momiji Oroshi (もみじおろし)

    Momiji oroshi is a spicy condiment that goes very well with Ponzu. It is also used widely in Japan as a condiment for hot pot dishes where the broth of the hot pot is plain.

    Momiji Oroshi (grated daikon with chillies) on a small plate.

    The word ‘momiji’ (もみじ)means Japanese maple tree and ‘oroshi’ comes from the word ‘daikon oroshi‘, which means grated daikon. The colour of red chillies resembles autumn Japanese maple tree leaves so people call it momiji oroshi.

    The traditional method of momiji oroshi is to grate daikon embedded with red chillies. Poke few holes in a piece of daikon and fill the holes with red chillies. Then grate the daikon with the chilies inside.

    But I found that it is quite difficult to push chillies into small deep holes and sometimes the chillies are pulled out of the holes.

    The alternative method I use these days is easier. Make a vertical incision to the daikon piece, three quarters of the way through, so that the bottom part of the daikon is intact. Place the chillies inside the incision vertically, then hold the daikon firmly so that the chillies do not fall out. Then grate the daikon.

    Step-by-step photo of making Momiji Oroshi (grated daikon with chillies).

    Searing tuna is a very easy way of preparing sashimi and making a stunning presentation of the dish. The red of raw sashimi and light brown trimmings of seared edges look so attractive. Dress it up with vegetables with a great colour combination and impress your diners!

    YumikoYM_Signature

    P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

    5 from 2 votes
    Hero shot of Tuna Tataki with Ponzu Dressing and condiments.
    Tuna Tataki (Seared Tuna) with Ponzu
    Prep Time
    8 mins
    Cook Time
    2 mins
     

    My Tuna Tataki is a block of sashimi tuna lightly seared and served with Ponzu Dressing. It is almost like the Tuna Tataki dish at the world-famous chef Nobu’s restaurant.

    Prep Time does not include the time required to make Ponzu.

    Recipe Type: Appetiser, Main
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: Ponzu, Seared Tuna, Tuna Tataki
    Serves: 2 servings as main, 3-4 servings as appetiser/side
    Author: Yumiko
    Ingredients
    Tuna Tataki
    • 100g/3.5oz x 2 sashimi tuna blocks (note 1)
    • Black pepper and salt (note 2)
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 4 tbsp Ponzu (note 3)
    Serving Option 1
    • 2 perilla leaves
    • 20g/0.7oz daikon , julienned finely (note 4)
    • 1 small yellow tomato , halved
    Serving Option 2
    • 2 perilla leaves
    • 20 g/0.7oz daikon , julienned finely (note 4)
    • 1 tbsp shallots , finely chopped
    • 1 tsp grated ginger
    • 2 tbsp Momiji Oroshi
    Momiji Oroshi (note 5)
    • 50g/1.8oz daikon
    • 2 dried whole chillies , deseeded and rehydrated
    Instructions
    1. Soak the julienned daikon in ice water to crisp.
    Tuna Tataki
    1. Place the tuna blocks on a cutting board. Salt lightly and sprinkle black pepper over the long sides of the blocks (note 6). Do not put salt and pepper on the two small sides that are perpendicular to the long sides.

    2. Heat a frying pan with oil over high heat.
    3. When the frying pan becomes hot, place the tuna blocks on one long side at the bottom.
    4. Cook until the bottom of the tuna changes colour, about 2-3mm/ 1/8" into the flesh (about 15-20 seconds, note 7).

    5. Turn the block 90 degrees and repeat cooking each long side in the same way.
    6. Remove the tuna blocks to a plate, leave them to cool (note 8). You can put them in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.

    7. Slice the seared tuna into 5-6mm/¼" thick pieces.

    Serving Option 1
    1. Place a perilla leaf in the centre of each serving plate.
    2. Place half of the tuna tataki slices around each perilla leaf.
    3. Drain and squeeze the daikon to get rid of excess moisture and pile up half of the daikon on the perilla leaf on each plate, topped with a piece of tomato.

    4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Ponzu over the tuna pieces on each plate. Serve immediately.
    Serving Option 2
    1. Drain and squeeze the daikon to get rid of excess moisture and pile up half of the daikon on each serving plate, slightly off-centred.

    2. Place a perilla leaf on the side of each daikon mound so that the leaf lays diagonally.
    3. Spread the tuna slices next to the perilla leaf only slightly overlapping each other (or no overlapping if the plate is large).
    4. Place shallots, ginger and Momiji Oroshi on each perilla leaf.
    5. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of Ponzu over the tuna pieces on each plate. Serve immediately.
    Momiji Oroshi
    1. Make a vertical incision to the daikon piece, three quarters of the way through so that the bottom part of the daikon is intact.

    2. Squeeze the chillies to remove excess moisture and place them in the slit of the daikon vertically.
    3. Hold the daikon firmly, facing the opening down, so that the chillies do not fall out.
    4. Grate the daikon with chillies using a fine grater.
    Recipe Notes

    1. I used two cuboid shaped tuna blocks that are about 3cm x 3cm x 10cm/1¼" x  1¼" x 4" each (Serving Option 1 photo). I also used 3cm x 4cm x 7.5cm/1¼" x " x 3" (Serving Option 2 photo). It does not have to be the same size and the thickness can vary, i.e. when sliced, it does not have to be square.

    I recommend that the length be no longer than 15cm/6” as it becomes difficult to handle. The thickness needs to be no less than 3cm otherwise you can’t see much of the red raw meat within the seared trimming.

    2. The amount of pepper depends on how spicy you want it to be but do not make it too peppery. See the step-by-step photo as a guide.

    3. Please see the Ponzu recipe in my post Japanese Dressings. You can keep Ponzu for many months in the fridge, so I recommend making a good quantity ahead of time. Ponzu is great for Chilled Tofu, Yudōfu and hot pot dishes such as Shabu-shabu.

    4. I used a 10cm/4" long piece of daikon to make long strands of daikon salad. Slice the daikon lengthwise very thinly, then pile sheets of daikon slices up in the same direction and slice them very thinly.

    5. Momiji oroshi is a spicy grated daikon with chillies. It is called this because the red colour of the daikon resembles the autumn momiji (Japanese maple tree) leaves.

    The recipe for Momiji Oroshi makes more than you need for Tuna Tataki. But you can keep Momiji Oroshi in the freezer. It goes very well with Ponzu Dressing.

    6. I place two tuna blocks close together on a cutting board and sprinkle salt and pepper. Then turn the block 90 degrees and sprinkle pepper and salt. Repeat to season four long sides of the tuna block.

    7. Depending on the temperature of your frying pan, the duration varies. Instead of relying on cooking duration, check the thickness of the seared portion – 2-3mm/ 1/8".

    8. Do not slice the seared tuna while warm as it tends to break and become flaky.

    9. Nutrition per serving as a main.

    serving: 191g calories: 203kcal fat: 7.7g (12%) saturated fat: 0.7g (3%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g monounsaturated fat: 5.2g cholesterol: 39mg (13%) sodium: 655mg (27%) potassium: 627mg (18%) carbohydrates: 6.8g (2%) dietary fibre: 0.9g (3%) sugar: 4.7g protein: 26g vitamin a: 9.1% vitamin c: 20% calcium: 1.4% iron: 6.2%

     

    Meal Ideas

    A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

    I decided to serve Tuna Tataki as a side dish in this Meal Idea. You can adjust the quantity of Tuna Tataki to suit to your appetite. Since Ponzu is a sour dressing, I serve Japanese Meat and Potato Stew (Nikujaga) which has a slightly sweet flavour with a small quantity of meat.

    Menu idea with Tuna Tataki.

    Related

    BENTO BOX – Pork Shōgayaki Bento

    By: Yumiko

    Pork Shōgayaki Bento (Ginger Pork) is one of the very popular bento and it is very filling. A thinly sliced sautéed pork has full of ginger and soy sauce flavour. By placing Pork Shōgayaki on rice, the sweet soy sauce flavour goes onto the rice, making it so flavoursome.

    Top-down photo of Pork Shōgayaki Bento which contains Pork Shōgayaki, small tomatoes, boiled eggs on shredded lettuce and Lotus Root and Spinach salad.

    In my last bento post, Bento Box – Teriyaki Salmon Bento, I talked about how the majority of households prepare bento ahead of time. Today’s bento consists of 5 items in addition to rice but two of them are leftovers from 1-2 days ago. Other items are quick to prepare.

    What’s in Pork Shōgayaki Bento

    The ingredients for today’s Bento Box are listed below.

    Ingredients to make up of Pork Shōgayaki Bento - Pork Shōgayaki, small tomatoes, boiled eggs on shredded lettuce and Lotus Root and Spinach salad.

    COOKED RICE – it is best to cook rice fresh in the morning if possible but can be made ahead. Please refer to How to Cook Rice the Japanese Way. Pack the cooked rice in a bento box while the rice is still hot or warm as it is easier to shape it. Let it cool down before adding other ingredients. Do not fill rice too much as  you will put the Pork Shōgayaki on it.

    PORK SHŌGAYAKI (GINGER PORK) – left over from dinner or make ahead. The pork in this bento is about 100g/3.5oz – two slices in my case. I used pork loin for this bento but you can use pork neck/collar. See more about Pork Shōgayaki in the next section.

    LOTUS ROOT AND SPINACH SALAD – this is a variation of Lotus Root and Mizuna Salad in my post. Instead of mizuna, I used blanched spinach, but of course you can use mizuna as per the recipe.  You will need about 1/8-1/10 of the quantity made in Lotus Root and Mizuna Salad recipe. You can make this salad the day before.

    BOILED EGG – make ahead a few days earlier if you want. Cut it in half just before packing with a tiny pinch of gomashio (胡麻塩, black sesame seeds and salt) as decoration. Please visit Rice with Azuki Beans (Osekihan) for details about gomashio including how to make it.

    SHREDDED LETTUCE – Fresh salad leaves to add green colour to the bento. It can be other salad leaves or sliced cucumbers.

    BABY TOMATOES – I needed red in my bento. Boiled carrot pieces or red grapes can work, too.

    Photo of Pork Shōgayaki Bento which contains Pork Shōgayaki, small tomatoes, boiled eggs on shredded lettuce and Lotus Root and Spinach salad.

    Pork Shōgayaki (Ginger Pork) on Rice

    I previously posted three bento recipes. They are Tonkatsu Bento, Chicken Karaage Bento and Teriyaki Salmon Bento. Unlike these bento boxes, I placed Pork Shōgayaki on the rice.

    This is a great way of packing a bento when the dish comes with some sauce. The sauce from the Shōgayaki drops onto the rice and makes it so flavoursome.

    In this recipe, I cut the pork into large bite size pieces so that it is easier to pick up with chopsticks and eat. But if you want, you can place the pork slices as a whole on the rice to get a gutsy feel when you bite into it.

    Zoomed-in photo of the rice flavoured in Pork Shōgayaki Sauce.

    Boiled Egg is Great for Bento

    Boiled egg keeps a few days in the fridge and it is a handy food to have for bento. The yellow of egg yolk gives an instant colourfulness to the bento. When you feel like you need a bit more protein or colour in the bento, just cut it in half and place them.

    If you don’t have enough space to add two, just one half egg will be sufficient to brighten up the bento box. You can also dice them and sprinkle over the salad.

    So always have some boiled eggs in the fridge.

    About Furoshiki (Traditional Japanese Wrapping Cloth)

    When I took a bento box to school or to work, I always wrapped the bento box in a square cloth called furoshiki (風呂敷). It is used to not only wrap a bento box but also a gift box, a bottle of sake, an important envelope, etc. It is a very authentic way of carrying a present in Japan.

    The photo below shows how to wrap today’s bento box with a chopsticks case. Carry the bento box by holding where the bow is.

    showing how to wrap a bento box with Furoshiki (Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth).

    Material for furoshiki can be silk, rayon, cotton, polyester, nylon. For a bento box, I use cotton furoshiki as it is easy to clean.  Some of them have beautiful patterns on them. Some are woven to have different colours on each side to make it reversible.

    Different kinds of Furoshiki.

    There are three furoshiki in this photo (from top right clockwise): Thin cotton with flowers, red & purple reversible rayon, thick cotton with cranes.

    It is an art to wrap different shapes in a furoshiki. You can see the examples of wrapping methods here. Examples are all in Japanese but you get the idea from the step-by-step images.

    Enjoy great looking yummy bento – Pork Shōgayaki Bento!

    YumikoYM_Signature

    BENTO BOX – Pork Shōgayaki (Ginger Pork)
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Total Time
    10 mins
     

    One of the very popular bento, Pork Shōgayaki Bento is very filling. By placing Pork Shōgayaki on rice, the sweet soy sauce flavour goes onto the rice, making it so flavoursome.

    Pork Shōgayaki (Ginger Pork) Bento consists of cooked rice and just a couple of dishes with a boiled egg and fresh veggies.

    Because bento is usually made mostly from left-over dishes or make-ahead dishes, the time indicated in this recipe only shows the time to pack the bento box.

    Recipe Type: Main
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: bento, bento box, ginger pork, pork shōgayaki
    Serves: 1
    Author: Yumiko
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup cooked rice (note 1)
    • 100g/3.5oz Pork Shōgayaki (Ginger Pork) with sauce (note 2)
    • 50g/1.8oz Lotus Root and Spinach Salad (note 3)
    • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce (note 4)
    • 1 boiled egg cut in half
    • A pinch of gomashio (optional, note 5)
    • 2 baby tomatoes
    • A bento box of your choice
    Instructions
    1. While the rice is still hot or warm, place it in the largest compartment of the bento box (note 6), allowing for the pork slices to be placed on top. Let it cool.

    2. Cut the Pork Shōgayaki into large bite size pieces. Place them on the rice so that the rice is completely covered. Then pour the sauce over it.

    3. Put Lotus Root and Spinach Salad in one of the empty compartments. If your bento box does not have compartments, use a foil cupcake liner to put it in.

    4. In the other empty compartment, spread lettuce and place boiled eggs with the cut side up. Sprinkle gomashio in the centre of the egg yolks if using.
    5. Put the tomatoes in the corner of the main section next to the Ginger Pork.
    Recipe Notes

    1. It is best to pack cooked rice in a bento box while hot or warm as it is easier to shape the rice into the bento box.

    2. When you put aside the cooked pork for bento, make sure to save some sauce too.

    3. I used the recipe Lotus Root and Mizuna Salad, but I substituted mizuna with blanched spinach. The spinach was cut to 5cm long after blanching.

    4. I am one of those people who can eat fresh salad leaves with no dressings. But if you need to add flavouring to the lettuce, bring salad dressing of your choice in a small container with the bento box and pour it over when eating.

    5. Gomashio (胡麻塩) is black sesame seeds and salt sold in a bottle or a packet. Please visit Red Rice with Azuki Beans (Osekihan) for details and photo of gomashio.

    6. If your bento box does not have separate compartment, you can use a sheet of baking paper or a couple of pieces of salad leaves to separate the rice from the rest of section.

    Related

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