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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
If using oven, pre-heat the oven to 200C/392F.
Lightly oil the centre of each piece of foil, drawing an elongated oval so that the salmon fillet can fit in the oiled area.
Spread the sliced onions on the oiled area of each piece of foil so that the salmon can nicely sit on them.
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).
Place 3g butter on top of the vegetables in the centre of each fillet.
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.
If cooking in the oven, place the foil bags on a tray and cook for 13-15 minutes.
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.
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.
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%
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.
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.
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.
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’!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Mix the Sauce ingredients well until there are no lumps of the tomato ketchup.
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.
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.
Shape it into a flat oval with about 2-2.5cm/¾-1' thickness. Repeat step 3 and 4 to make 8 patties.
Arrange each of your ingredients on individual plates/bowls - patties, flour, beaten egg and panko. Place a new plate/cutting board next the panko.
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.
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.
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.
Serve while hot with cabbage, tomato and parsley.
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%
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.
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!
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.
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:
Apart from a bag of bean sprouts, all you need to dress Sesame Bean Sprouts are:
The key is to dress the steamed bean sprouts while they are still hot to let the bean sprouts absorb the flavours.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Rinse the bean sprouts, shake dry (retain moisture and do not dry completely), then wrap in cling wrap (note 1).
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.
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)
Serve at room temperature.
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%
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
(From bottom right clockwise)
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.
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.
There are a few tips to successfully making a roll:
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.
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.
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.
Add rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt in a jar or a bowl. Mix well until sugar and salt are dissolved.
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.
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.
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.
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
Place your choice of fillings onto the nori sheet, as per the sections below (step-by-step photo
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
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
By now, the mat should be completely covering the sushi roll (step-by-step photo
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
Using both hands, gently but firmly press the mat over the sushi roll (step-by-step photo
Cut the roll in half.
Place a fish strip and a cucumber wedge together in the middle of the rice horizontally.
Line up 2-3 slices of chicken cutlet connected to each other horizontally in the middle of the rice.
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.
Put tuna in a bowl. If it came in chunky pieces, break them into flakes using a fork.
Add mayonnaise and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread ⅓ of the tuna mixture in the middle of the rice horizontally, making a narrow mound.
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.
Line two green leaves connected together to cover the centre of the rice horizontally.
Place two tempura prawns, tail ends in the middle and overlapping slightly, on the green leaves.
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.
Spread ⅓ of the beef in the middle of the rice horizontally, making a narrow mound.
Spread ⅓ of the carrots along the beef.
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%
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tosazu goes well with certain types of garnishes and I decided to add three different toppings to my oysters.
You can serve oysters with just Tosazu if you like but I think these toppings give different dimensions to the dish.
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.
It takes less than a minute to clean them, but you will be surprised how black the water gets.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Pour 1 teaspoon of Tosazu over each oyster, then place ½ teaspoon of shallots on each oysters.
Pick ¼ teaspoon each of momiji oroshi, squeeze slightly to get excess moisture out if necessary, and place it on the oysters.
Roll perilla leaves together and cut the roll to 1mm thick all the way through. Untangle the rolled strands.
Spread equal portions of perilla on the oysters, then place a small pinch of grated ginger in the centre of each oyster.
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%
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) 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.
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.
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 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″.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Put the pork pieces in a pot and fill with water to fully cover the pork.
Bring it to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and discard the fluid. Rinse the pork pieces ensuring that scum is removed.
Remove the scums from the pot cleanly, return the pork to the pot and add ginger pieces.
Transfer the pork pieces to another large pot or a frying pan, preferably large enough to place the pork pieces in without overlapping.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, turning the pork pieces over so that the flavour coats them.
Put the broth through a sieve to remove ginger, bonito flakes and tiny pork bits (note 9).
Drain water well and place noodles in each serving bowl.
Pour 350ml of the soba broth into each of the bowls, topped with the simmered sōki, kamoaboko/chikuwa and shallots. Serve immediately.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
From left to right: Blue eye cod, Salmon, Spanish mackerel.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Marinating time is 1-3 days, preferably 3 days. I tested different marinating times and found that:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Pat dry using kitchen paper to remove the moisture.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Cook for 4-5 minutes until the edge of the fish starts burning. Turn it over and cook further 3-4 minutes (note 6).
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.
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.
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 (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.
The basic marinade consists of only four ingredients – Saikyo miso, Sake, Mirin and sugar. The proportion of these ingredients are:
The above quantity is plenty to marinate 6 x 130g/4.6oz fillet.
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.
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.
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”.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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+.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Can you see in the photo below the edge of the disc is round and no longer sharp?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I use this vacuuming method when I want to store food in the freezer. It works perfectly every time.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
Add water with 2 tablesponns of rice or white liquid to cover the daikon pieces about 1-2cm/¼” above the daikon.
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).
Remove from heat and leave to cool a bit. Rinse daikon pieces and remove stickiness from the surface of daikon (note 4).
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, place a drop lid (note 5) on and cook for 20 minutes.
Serve (cut side down if you made incisions in step 2) with some broth and a drop of wasabi in the centre.
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%
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.
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.
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 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.
There are only 3 steps to making Tuna Tataki and it takes less than a couple of minutes to cook.
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.
In today’s recipe, I used a home-made Ponzu dressing that I posted in Japanese Dressings.
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.
I have two ways of serving Tuna Tataki today. The first option is a very simple presentation with vegetables at hand.
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.
This serving option takes a little bit more effort than Option 1 because it comes with condiments.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Cook until the bottom of the tuna changes colour, about 2-3mm/ 1/8" into the flesh (about 15-20 seconds, note 7).
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.
Slice the seared tuna into 5-6mm/¼" thick pieces.
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.
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.
Make a vertical incision to the daikon piece, three quarters of the way through so that the bottom part of the daikon is intact.
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 1½" 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%
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.
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.
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.
The ingredients for today’s Bento Box are listed below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Teriyaki Chicken is a very popular Japanese dish and is so easy to make. The sauce is just a mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar. Just sauté the chicken and cook in the sauce (DO NOT marinate chicken in the sauce to make Teriyaki Chicken the Japanese way). It takes only 15 minutes!
Teriyaki Chicken (照り焼きチキン) is more commonly called tori no teriyaki (鳥の照り焼き) in Japan. Tori (鳥) means bird but chicken in this context.
It is one of the most popular Japanese dishes among Aussies and I presume in other parts of the world as well. At almost every Japanese restaurant in Sydney, you will find Teriyaki Chicken on the menu.
I often find that the flavour of the Teriyaki Chicken at restaurants is slightly Westernised and I can sometimes even taste garlic in it. But the recipe I am sharing today is the traditional Japanese way of making Teriyaki Chicken.
You can’t talk about Teriyaki Chicken without mentioning Teriyaki Sauce.
This is a very simple sauce that is made up of only four ingredients. But once you know the proportion of ingredients, it becomes so easy to cook flavoursome dishes in 5-10 minutes. Any dishes called ‘teriyaki’ something uses this Teriyaki Sauce.
The Teriyaki Sauce is made with 1 part soy sauce + 1 part sake + 1 part mirin + about ½ part sugar. I say ‘about ½ part sugar’ because you can adjust the sweetness to your liking.
Here is the sample photo of soy sauce, sake and mirin I use. At supermarkets in Australia, you might find different brands of miring and cooking sake such as Bento brand. They are fine to use too. Please visit Japanese Dressings for more details about them.
Combine them together and mix well to dissolve the sugar. You can heat the mixture slightly to speed up the process of dissolving the sugar if you like.
This sauce is a very good sauce to have on hand. It keeps for weeks in the fridge and you can sauté or grill fish/meat/vegetables and pour the sauce over it. You could add grated garlic/ginger to vary the flavour too.
I use chicken thigh with the skin on. I know the skin is fatty, but I think that the chicken looks nicer with the skin on when cooked, especially nicely browned.
But if you prefer chicken fillets without the skin on, that’s OK. You can also use chicken breast but you might find that the cooked chicken is slightly dry.
Thigh fillets are usually thick on both sides and thin in the middle. It is important to make the thickness of the fillet even.
Place a fillet on a cutting board, skin side down, and make a cut horizontally and outward where the meat is thick and butterfly it (see the photo below and the Video).
Using the tip of the knife, poke the skin randomly (see the Video). This will allow the Teriyaki Sauce absorb into the flesh better.
Have you ever experienced the teriyaki sauce not sticking to the chicken evenly and the sauce is somewhat mixed with oil? This is because you had too much oil in the frying pan before adding the Teriyaki Sauce to it.
The chicken is covered with oil and also the excess oil and the sauce splits as they do not mix well. To prevent this to happen:
When you do the above, you will find that the sauce sticks to the cooked chicken and you will have a saucy Teriyaki Chicken.
Most Japanese meals are served in such a way that you can pick up and eat the food with chopsticks without needing to cut it. In this recipe, I sliced the chicken after it was cooked so that you can still see the whole fillet of chicken, and it is easier to pick up a piece with chopsticks.
But if you are eating Teriyaki Chicken with a knife and fork, you don’t need to slice the chicken.
I served Teriyaki Chicken with shredded cabbage but any green salads or boiled vegetables are OK. If you are using a dressing, I’d suggest a light one.
If you place sliced Teriyaki Chicken over the rice with extra sauce poured on it, you get a Teriyaki Chicken don (Teriyaki Chicken on rice in a bowl).
Instead of shredded cabbage, you can grill or blanch vegetables to give extra colour to the dish. Below is a Teriyaki Chicken don with charred shallot/scallion stems and blanched snow peas that I just ate after taking these photos (yum, yum).
I cut the white part of shallots/scallions to 5cm/2″ long then cooked in a frying pan with no oil until they get burnt here and there. They go surprising well with the Teriyaki Sauce.
If you are making Teriyaki Chicken don, cook Teriyaki Chicken as per the recipe but increase the amount of Teriyaki Sauce by 50% so that more sauce will be poured over the chicken and dribbled onto the rice, making the rice so tasty.
I hope you like my version of Teriyaki Chicken.
Teriyaki Chicken is one of the most popular Japanese dishes. The Teriyaki Sauce is so easy to make, it’s just a mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirinand sugar. You do not marinate the chicken in the sauce to make Teriyaki Chicken. Just sauté the chicken and cook it in the sauce, which takes only 15 minutes in total! See the video below the recipe to believe it.
Combine the Teriyaki Sauce ingredients in a small bowl or cup and mix well until the sugar dissolves (note 4).
If the thickness of the chicken is uneven place a fillet on a cutting board, skin side down, make a cut horizontally and outward where the meat is thick and butterfly it (see the Video).
Poke the skin with the tip of the knife in several places so that the sauce will get through to the flesh better.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin gets cooked to a golden brown. Turn the chicken over and cook for about 3 minutes (Note 5). If a lot of oil comes out of the chicken fat and skin, absorb excess oil with a paper towel (Note 6).
When the chicken is nearly cooked, add the sauce, shake the pan to even out the sauce, and put the lid on. Cook for 30 seconds.
Remove the lid and cook until the sauce thickens and reduces to about 1-1.5 tablespoons (Note 7). Turn the chicken over and coat the skin side with the sauce.
Remove the pan from the heat and place the chicken on the cutting board, skin side up. Cover with foil for few minutes to let it cook further. Slice the chicken into 1.5-2cm/⅝-¾” thick pieces.
Place mixed cabbage, carrot and capsicum salad on a plate and then arrange the sliced chicken. Pour the sauce over the chicken and add a sprig of parsley/mint if using. Serve immediately.
1. I could not find chicken thigh with only skin on. So, I bought chicken thighs with skin and bone on and removed the bones.
You can use skin off and even chicken breast if you prefer. The texture of the chicken will be different, particularly with chicken breast, but the flavour should be the same.
2. You can make a larger quantity of Teriyaki Sauce to use for another dish. Teriyaki Sauce keeps about a month in the fridge.
3. You can pick any vegetables to go with the Teriyaki Chicken but I would recoomend either fresh salad or boiled vegetables.
4. You can warm up the sauce on the stove or in the microwave to dissolve the sugar faster if you want.
5. Depending on the thickness of the thigh fillets, time will vary.
6. It is important to remove the excess oil as much as possible. Too much oil from the fat prevents the teriyaki sauce from sticking to the meat. This is the reason for using a non-stick frying pan with no oil. If using a normal frying pan, I’d suggest that you oil the pan with a small amount of oil when heating it up.
7. You need to retain enough sauce to pour over the chicken on the plate. After turning off the heat, the sauce continues to cook with the pan’s residual heat and concentrate further. So, turn off the heat slightly earlier. You can always concentrate further if required.
8. If you are making Teriyaki Chicken don (Teriyaki Chicken on rice in a bowl), increase the quantity of Teriyaki Sauce by 50% and pour it over the cooked chicken on rice. The rice will absorb extra sauce which is really tasty.
9 Nutrition per serving including salad.
serving: 329g calories: 442kcal fat: 26g (40%) saturated fat: 7g (35%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 505g monounsaturated fat: 11g cholesterol: 166mg (55%) sodium: 301mg (13%) potassium: 634mg (18%) carbohydrates: 19g (6%) dietary fibre: 3.1g (12%) sugar: 14g protein: 31g vitamin a: 109% vitamin c: 127% calcium: 4.6% iron: 9.5%
Originally published in August 2017. Rewritten in June 2019, new photos, Meal Ideas added.
As Chicken Teriyaki comes with a sweet sauce, I serve Cucumber and Seaweed Sunomono (Vinegar Dressing) to cleanse the palate. Instead of Sunomono, you can serve something with vinegar but perhaps not with Amazu (sweet vinegar) as the teriyaki sauce is sweet.
Instead of miso soup, I though clear soup might be better suited to the strongly flavoured main dish.
It takes a mere 10 minutes to make this salad. My Japanese Pasta Salad is a spaghetti salad dressed in Kewpie mayonnaise with Dijon mustard. It is slightly creamy but not heavy. Japanese Pasta Salad is also great as a side or a light meal.
Most pasta salad recipes you will find on internet are macaroni salad like Nagi’s Macaroni Salad. But today’s Japanese Pasta Salad is made with spaghetti. When you order a Western-style meal in Japan, Japanese Pasta Salad is often served as a side.
When I was a uni student, I often had meals at the café next to the university, which served Western-style dishes such as Hamburg steak, cutlet etc. They always came with shredded cabbage, tomato wedges and either potato salad or pasta salad, all on one plate.
Today’s recipe is very similar to what I used to eat back then and loved.
I use standard spaghetti and break the strands in half before boiling them. If the noodles are too long, it is quite annoying to eat as a side with chopsticks. Instead of spaghetti, you can use various shapes of macaroni as a substitute.
The other ingredients are thinly sliced ham, cucumber and onion. That’s all.
Come to think of it, it is quite similar to the ingredients of Japanese Potato Salad that I posted. I guess that’s why Japanese Pasta Salad and Japanese Potato Salad can be exchangeable as a side dish.
Julienned carrot and/or corn kernels would be good to add to the above ingredients, or as alternatives too.
This is a creamy salad with Kewpie mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. But it is not heavy or oily at all.
Simply mixing 3 tablespoons of Kewpie mayonnaise and 2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard with a pinch of salt & pepper will do the job. If you would prefer the dressing a little bit runny, you can add a tablespoon of milk.
You could use Western-style mayonnaise but it will change the flavour of the dressing. Kewpie mayonnaise is not as sour as the Western-style ones and not so sweet either.
Japanese Pasta Salad is not a very colourful salad as the mayonnaise dressing makes it look whitish and pale.
So, I would suggest that you do one or both of the following when serving it as a salad.
If you compare the above with the same salad served on a whitish plate, you will see how appetising the salad looks on green leaves or a dark plate/bowl.
As mentioned in the earlier paragraph, Japanese Pasta Salad can also be a good side for a Western-style dish. When you feel that there is something missing on a plate, try this salad. It only takes about 10 minutes.
You can also make ahead as it can keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, which makes it perfect for a bento box too!
It only contains a small amount of protein. On one of those days when I feel like a quick meal, I have Japanese Pasta Salad as a main with fresh salad to go with it – no rice of course.
It takes a mere 10 minutes to make this salad. My Japanese Pasta Salad is a spaghetti salad dressed in Kewpie mayonnaise with Dijon mustard. It is not heavy and is great even as a light meal.
Cook Time depends on the type/brand of pasta you use. My pasta needs 8 minutes to cook al-dente.
Actual Total Time is about 10 minutes as you can do the preparation while cooking the pasta.
Mix the Dressing ingredients in a bowl. If you prefer slightly runny dressing, add milk to adjust consistency.
Add pasta, ham, cucumber and onion slices to the bowl and mix gently ensuring that the dressing coats every strand of spaghetti.
Place lettuce leaves (if using) on a serving plate and place the pasta salad in a mound in the centre.
1. Instead of spaghetti, you can use macaroni if you like.
2. I used a slice of leg ham but you can use other hams, even salami.
3. Kewpie mayonnaise is a Japanese brand of mayonnaise. It is creamier than the Western-style mayonnaise and not very sour, or sweet. See the photo of Kewpie mayonnaise in the post Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savoury Pancake). It is sold at major supermarkets.
You can use Western-style mayonnaise instead of Kewpie brand but the flavour of the dressing will be different.
4. This is to take the bite out of the onions. Some onions are sweet and do not have a strong bite. In that case, you can skip this step.
5. You could also add corn kernels and/or julienned carrot to the salad.
6. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 187g calories: 435kcal fat: 20g (31%) saturated fat: 3.3g (16%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 10g monounsaturated fat: 5g cholesterol: 53mg (18%) sodium: 1039mg (43%) potassium: 414mg (12%) carbohydrates: 41g (14%) dietary fibre: 2.1g (8%) sugar: 3g protein: 22g vitamin a: 1.7% vitamin c: 2.3% calcium: 2.6% iron: 13%
Japanese Pasta Salad goes well with Western-style main dishes. I picked Tonkatsu but you could have Korokke (Japanese Potato and Ground Meat Croquettes), Stewed Hamburg Steak (Nikomi Hamburg), Diced Beef Steak (Saikoro Steak), etc.
Since I wanted to include a bowl of rice in the meal, I decided to make Japanese Pasta Salad as a side to the main dish. You could even place the pasta salad on the main dish plate.
Would you like to make pretty flowers using radish (or turnip)? You can make edible flowers out of them and it’s quite easy to do. Finely slice radish in a grid leaving the bottom intact and just marinate in sweet vinegar marinade. Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish is a great garnish for grilled fish or sautéed meat, and also a great side dish – even for a bento box.
Today’s dish is a variation of the Japanese dish called Kikka Kabu (菊花かぶ), which uses turnips (see the photo below). The Japanese name translates to chrysanthemum flower (kikka, 菊花) turnip (kabu, かぶ) as the turnip looks just like a white chrysanthemum flower.
OK, let’s be honest here. It doesn’t have to be called chrysanthemum flowers. It could be any other flowers with many white petals such as dahlia or daisy.
But the Japanese picked chrysanthemum since it is a significant flower in Japan. Although Japan does not have an official national flower, chrysanthemum is a symbol of the country itself as the monarchy is referred to as the Chrysanthemum Throne and chrysanthemum is used for the imperial seal.
I occasionally make kikka kabu but you are meant to use very small turnips (about 5cm/2” in diameter at most). They are readily available in Japan but unfortunately where I live, the majority of turnips are very large, about twice as wide in diameter as those in Japan.
So, I tried kikka kabu with radish instead and they were a great success, transforming to red chrysanthemum flowers!
It’s not turnip (kabu) so I would have to call it kikka radisshu (菊花ラディッシュ) – yes, Japanese people say radish in almost the same way as English speakers because it is a foreign vegetable. Hence the name is written in katakana, instead of hiragana or kanjicharacters.
Throughout this post and recipes, I added notes on how to make chrysanthemum turnips (Kikka Kabu) as well for those who can find small turnips.
You need to have a little bit of patience and meticulousness but it is worth the effort when you see the results.
When you squeeze the water out of the radishes, you will see the resemblance to flowers.
Leaving a small amount of radish intact at the bottom while slicing it thinly is a tricky job, but you can use bamboo skewers to make it easier. See the photo below.
While slicing both ends of the radish, you can’t rely on the skewers as the knife reaches the bottom before hitting them. So, you need to judge where to stop cutting. After a couple of slices, you should be OK to cut through until the knife hits the skewers.
If you are making chrysanthemum flowers with turnips, use a pair of chopsticks instead of bamboo skewers.
You could use a simple sweet vinegar called Amazu, which consists of just vinegar and sugar with a dash of salt.
But for today’s dish, I added dashi stock to the Amazu. By adding dashi stock, the sharp acidity from the vinegar becomes milder.
I used dashi stock made from bonito flakes but you can use konbu dashi stock to make it vegetarian. The recipes for different types of dashi stocks can be found in Varieties of Dashi Stock.
You only need to marinate the radishes for 30 minutes.
You can marinate them longer or even overnight but then the red colour from the skin gradually fades, making the marinade pinkish. As a result of this, the white part of the radish becomes pinkish, too.
I once forgot to take out the marinated radishes and left them in the fridge overnight. They turned into pink chrysanthemum flowers but the flavour was the same or slightly more intense.
If you are making Kikka Kabu with turnips, marinate them overnight.
Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish as well as Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip (Kikka Kabu) can keep for a week in fridge. It is handy to have them when you need something to add to the dinner plate. It is also a perfect dish for a bento box to fill a small space.
Finely slice radish in a grid leaving the bottom intact and just marinate in sweet vinegar marinade. Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish is a great garnish for grilled fish or sautéed meat and it’s also great a side dish - even for a bento box. I have included the ingredients and steps to make Pickled Chrysanthemum Turnip (Kikka Kabu) as well.
Total Time does not include the time to soak the vegetables in salty water or marinating time, both of which are included in Custom Time.
Custom Time is based on the time to marinate radishes. If using turnips, Custom Time becomes 8 hours 20 minutes.
Add salt to 300ml water in a bowl or a zip lock bag and mix well to dissolve.
Cut the leafy end of radish/turnip to make it flat so that the radish can sit steadily, cut side down. If there is a long root attached to the radish, trim it.
Slice turnip vertically at 2mm thick intervals from one end to the other, leaving 5mm (a bit less for radish if possible) uncut at the bottom (see note 4 for tricks).
Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. If using radish, marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes (note 6). Marinate overnight if using turnip.
To serve, squeeze marinade out of the radish/turnip, spread the tips of the surface to make it look like chrysanthemum petals. Place it with the connected side at the bottom with a piece of lemon/chilli slice in the centre.
1. There were 8 radishes in my bunch. Try to buy a bunch with similar size radishes. The number of lemon rind pieces depends on how many radishes you have.
2. I used 3 turnips - two that weighed 95g and one 50g. The large turnips are cut into quarters after making criss-crosses. Make a cross incision at the bottom, then place the both thumbs in the incision to break it into quarters.
3. Use Konbu Dashi to make the dish vegetarian.
4. Place bamboo skewers (or two chopsticks for turnips) on a cutting board. If you want, place two rubber bands around the cutting board to secure skewers/chopsticks. Then place a radish/turnip between them (see step-by-step photos in post).
While slicing both ends of the radish, you can’t rely on the skewers as the knife reaches the bottom of the radish before hitting the skewers/chopsticks. You need to judge where to stop cutting. After a couple of slices, you should be OK to cut through until the knife hits the skewers/chopsticks.
5. Hold the sliced ends with your thumb and index finger tightly, then slice it in the same way. If you don't hold the sliced ends, you will not be able to cut them properly.
6. You can marinate the radish longer than 30 minutes, even overnight. However, the colour of the radish starts fading and stains the marinade resulting in the white part of the radish turning pink. Although the distinction between the red and white colours is lost, I think the pinkish chrysanthemum radish is also pretty.
Kikka Kabu is often added to a main dish as a garnish. Today’s recipe Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish can also be a great garnish. So, in today’s Meal Ideas section, I list four main dishes that can be enhanced by adding a piece of Pickled Chrysanthemum Radish or Turnip.
You can’t go wrong if you add them to the dishes that have either strong flavours or are a bit oily.
I’ve tried so many different hot pot dishes and Salmon Hot Pot (Ishikari Nabe) is one of my favourites. It is quite simple to make and flavoursome. The miso-based broth goes so well with salmon, keeping you warm on a cold day. It’s almost like a big miso soup with lots of ingredients!
Winter appears to be fast approaching in Sydney and the temperature in the morning and at night time can get very low. When this happens, I always think of having a hot pot for dinner.
I have a very old cookbook that only contains local specialty hot pot dishes from all over Japan. It starts in the north of Japan, i.e.Hokkaido and ends in Kyushu, in the south of Japan. Okinawa was not included, probably because Okinawa belonged to the USA until few years before the cookbook was published.
Inside the book is a map of Japan showing all kinds of local specialty hot pot dishes in each prefecture.
The top photo covers Hokkaido and half of Honshū, the main island. The bottom photo covers the rest of Japan, i.e. west and south of Japan.
There are three hot pot dishes from Hokkaido listed and Ishiskari Nabe (石狩鍋) is the first one. I interpreted Ishikari Nabe as Salmon Hot Pot because salmon is the hero of this hot pot. But I need to call it Ishikari Nabe throughout the post as it sounds right for this dish.
Ishikari Nabe is one of the local specialty dishes in Hokkaido. The name came from Ishikari River, which originates from the centre of Hokkaido on the side of Ishikari-dake mountain to the west, passing through Asahikawa and Sapporo, then into Ishikari Bay.
Ishikari River is famous for its salmon run in Autumn and it is said that a Japanese restaurant located near Ishskari Bay served Ishikari Nabe in 1880, bringing the hot pot made at home and by fishermen into the world.
Firstly, there has to be salmon, which is cut into large bite-size chunks. Unlike most Japanese hot pot dishes, my Ishikari Nabe does not use tofu or Chinese cabbage. But there are plenty of vegetables included in it.
Potatoes, daikon, carrot, shiitake mushrooms, shallots/scallions, shirataki(konnyakuin noodle form) and chrysanthemum leaves. All of these go into a donabe (clay pot specifically made for cooking hot pot).
Some Japanese/Asian grocery stores sell knotted shirataki like those in the photo. They are great for hot pot as you can easily pick them up with chopsticks.
There are no rules as to which vegetables should or should not be included in Ishikari Nabe. I think that as long as the meat is salmon and the broth is miso-based, you can call it Ishikari Nabe.
Some recipes add tofu, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, sliced onion, etc. Instead of shiitake mushrooms, you can use shimeji mushrooms, enoki mushrooms or all of them mixed together.
Some Ishikari Nabe also include sliced pork but then it becomes another local specialty hot pot in Hokkaido called Ishikari Nabe (十勝鍋).
Making a real version of Ishikari Nabe broth starts from the fish stock made with salmon heads and bones. But for Ishikari Nabe at home, I think that the salmon flavour from the fillet is tasty enough. So instead of fish stock, I use dashi stock.
For 800ml of dashi stock, add 50g of miso, 1 tablespoon of mirin.
I use brown miso but you can use other types of miso. Depending on the type of miso you use, you may have to adjust the sweetness and saltiness as the amount of saltiness varies a lot depending on the miso. Sweetness is strong in the case of shiro miso/Saikyo miso and you may need to replace mirin with sake to compensate for that.
Cooking Ishikari Nabe is quite easy – bring the broth in a pot to a boil, add fish and vegetables, and cook. When they are cooked through, it’s ready to eat. Depending on how you cook and serve, I vary the cooking sequence a little bit (two methods in the recipe).
If you have a portable cooktop that you can place on a dining table, it would be fun to cook the dish on the table and everyone can pick food out of the pot while it is simmering. In this case, I parboil root vegetables, then place all ingredients in a pot with the broth and cook.
If you are serving a hot pot that is already fully cooked on the stove, then I cook the root vegetables first, add salmon pieces, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Ishikari Nabe is meant to be eaten with the broth. Transfer the ingredients and a small amount of broth into your bowl to eat them. If you are intending to make Zosui (see below), do not drink too much broth while eating your hot pot. It’s really tasty, though (need a strong will power!).
After eating all the fish and vegetables in the pot, you should have quite a bit of miso broth leftover (note: I underlined ‘a small amount’ in the previous section!). This broth is packed with good flavours, particularly from the salmon.
I always use this broth to make Zosui (Japanese Rice Soup – Ojiya). All you need is two bowls of cooked rice and a couple of eggs for two servings. Finely chopped shallots/scallions would also be good to sprinkle over the soup (top photo below).
Bring the leftover soup to a boil, adjust the flavour (add some water if too salty, add salt if too bland), and add cooked rice to the broth. When it starts boiling again, add beaten eggs and cook. Sprinkle shallots over the soup. Zosui after the hot pot is so tasty and comforting.
Nagi loves Zosui a lot. Hot pot is not her favourite food but she eats it only because she will be able to have Zosui at the end.
When Nagi was little, she had no choice but to eat hot pot otherwise she was not allowed to eat Zosui. But nowadays Nagi skips the hot pot, waits for others to finish (as her mother is not so strict anymore) and joins when Zosui is ready. How cheeky is that?
Miso-based broth goes so well with salmon, keeping you warm on a cold night. It’s almost like a big miso soup with lots of ingredients! I included two different ways of cooking Ishikari Nabe – (1) cook it at the dining table and eat while cooking and (2) cook it on stove top and serve.
Cook Time is assuming that the hot pot is cooked on the stove. If you are cooking as you eat, you don't need to worry about cooking time as everyone is practically cooking at the table.
Cut potato in half lengthwise, then slice each piece perpendicular to the first cut to 1-1.5cm/3/8-5/8" thick. Cut daikon in half vertically, then slice each piece horizontally to 7-8mm/¼" thick. Slice carrot diagonally to about 5mm/3/16" thick. If you are cooking hot pot at a table and eat as you cook, parboil potato, daikon and carrot slices.
Place shirataki in a sieve and pour boiling water over to rinse. If you are not using tied shirataki, spread the shirataki noodles on a cutting board and cut them in half.
Cut shallots diagonally to 6-7cm/ 2 3/8-2 3/4" long.
Mix miso and mirin in a large bowl or a pot (capacity of about 1000ml/2.1pt) to soften the miso, then gradually add dashi stock mixing well. Add konbu strips.
Place all the ingredients in a cooking pot (donabe if you have one or a shallow pot), clustering each ingredient together.
Provide a small eating bowl to each diner to pick up and eat cooked food from the hot pot while simmering.
Add salmon to the pot and cook for a minute or so.
Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and cook until shiitake mushrooms are cooked though.
Serve with small eating bowls for individual to take food from the pot. The cooked ingredients should be eaten with miso flavoured broth.
1. You can also use salmon cutlet/steak with or without bone. I cut the fillet into 8 pieces.
2. You can buy shirataki at Japanese/Asian grocery stores. Some shops sell shirataki that are tied (see the ingredients photo in post), which is handy because you can pick them up easily. But standard shirataki is also OK to use.
3. . I sometimes get chrysanthemum leaves with thick stems that I can't use. I remove the leaves from the stems and discard the thick stringy portion of the stems before weighing.
4. The majority of Ishikari Nabe use brown miso but you can use other types of miso. If using white miso, replace mirin with sake as the white miso is sweeter than brown miso.
5. As you can see in the photos, I made hot pot in two individual donabe (clay pot to cook hot pot) by dividing the ingredients but you can of course cook all in a large pot.
6. The remaining broth is packed with yummy flavours, particularly from the salmon. Why don’t you make Zōsui (also called Ojiya) – Japanese Rice Soup using this broth? Simply add cooked rice to the broth, bring it to a boil, then add beaten eggs. It’s so yummy. You can find how to make Zōsui in my post Zosui (Japanese Rice Soup – Ojiya). The recipe shows how to make it from the broth leftover from Yosenabe but you can replace the broth with the miso broth from today's recipe.
7. Nutrition per serving. It assumes that the broth is all consumed so the sodium is quite high.
serving: 787g calories: 577kcal fat: 25g (38%) saturated fat: 6g (30%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g monounsaturated fat: 8.1g cholesterol: 59mg (20%) sodium: 2007mg (84%) potassium: 1931mg (55%) carbohydrates: 47g (16%) dietary fibre: 5.8g (23%) sugar: 20g protein: 42g vitamin a: 106% vitamin c: 63% calcium: 31% iron: 16%
When you order a hot pot at a restaurant, it often comes with a couple of small dishes as appetiser or side. Since the salmon is the hero of today’s meal, I decided to serve Smoked Salmon Mizore-ae to show a different way of using salmon in a dish.
Side dish 2 can be anything other than the miso flavour. And I would strongly recommend having Zosui made with the leftover broth at the end of the hot pot.
Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage is a visually attractive dish. Chinese cabbage/Nappa cabbage, chicken mince (ground chicken) and aburaage are layered alternatively to make a stripy pattern, then simmered in flavoured broth.
When a few ingredients are layered alternatively and cooked, the dish is often called Hakata (博多)-something in Japan. If it is a steamed dish, it is called Hakata-mushi (博多蒸し), meaning Hakata-style steamed dish. If the layered ingredients are deep-fried, it is often called Hakata-age (博多揚げ), which is Hakata-style fried dish.
The name of the dish came from the kimono sash (obi) woven in the Hakata region of the Fukuoka prefecture. Hakata obi has a distinctive stripy pattern and this pattern is compared to the pattern of the layered ingredients.
The most common Hakata-style dish is Hakata-mushi, which is a steamed dish with a flavoured sauce poured over it. But today I decided to simmer it so that I can make it in one pot.
There are only three ingredients needed to make the pretty layers – chicken mince/ground chicken, Chinese cabbage/Nappa cabbage and aburaage. But each ingredient needs to be prepared before layering it.
I have not tried yet, but I saw many Hakata-style dishes using cabbage instead of Chinese cabbage. Even with cabbage, I’d recommend blanching the cabbage to remove crispness.
Layering three ingredients takes a bit of care as you need to build up a rectangular block with them. The size of the base area is identical to the size of an aburaage. The photo shows how it looks in each step described below.
To secure the shape, use butcher’s twine to tie up in 4-5 places before cooking per below.
Unlike most simmering broths in Japanese cooking, my broth for Layered Chicken and Cabbage does not use soy sauce. It only consists of dashi stock, sake, sugar and salt, so it is a clear broth.
To prevent the bottom of the layered block from getting burnt, I place sliced carrots beneath it. The carrot slices also add sweetness to the broth.
It is made of only a few simple ingredients but after 25 minutes of cooking with chicken and vegetables, the broth ends up with a condensed, flavoursome sauce with a bit of richness from the chicken and aburaage.
The broth is then thickened to make a sauce to be poured over when serving.
Many recipes serve the sliced block with the Chinese cabbage side on top. But I prefer serving it with the stripy pattern showing on top, like serving a slice of terrine.
Because of the size and the shape of the block, this is the best way to serve it in my recipe. But if you cut it into smaller sizes to serve them as an appetiser, you may want to serve it with the cabbage on the top.
Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage takes a bit of effort to make but you can make it the day before serving and it can certainly impress the diners.
Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage is a visually attractive dish. Chinese cabbage, chicken mince (ground chicken) and aburaage are layered alternatively to make a stripy pattern, then simmered in flavoured broth.
Boil Chinese leaves in a pot with 2 teaspoons of salt until the thick stems soften (about 5 minutes). When cooked, drain water and cool them down.
Soak aburaage in boiled water (you can use the boiling water in step 1) for 5 seconds to remove excess oil. Take them out of the hot water and squeeze out excess water. Leave them to cool down.
Add the Chicken Mixture ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide the chicken mixture into 4 equal portions.
Trim the root end of Chinese cabbage leaves to make it straight, then cut the white part of each leaf to the length of the aburaage (lengthwise). Fold the tip of the other portion of the cabbage leaf to make it the same length as the white part.
Place two pieces of one leaf on a cutting board overlapping each other to make the same rectangular shape as the aburaage.
Spread ¼ of the chicken mixture thinly and evenly over the cabbage, then place a piece of aburaage on top of it.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 four times to make layers, placing the cabbage sheet on top of the aburaage (note 5). The layer will end with an aburaage at the top.
Make the last Chinese cabbage leaf the size of an aburaage in the same way and place it at the top (note 5). Tie the layered block with butcher's twine in 5 places to secure.
Add the Broth ingredients to the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Place a drop lid (note 6), then a lid on and cook for 25 minutes. If liquid evaporates too fast, add some water.
Take out the block from the pot, remove the strings and cut it into 4 equal pieces (note 7). Place each piece on a plate or in a shallow bowl showing the cut side up.
Transfer the broth to a small pot. You should have about 150ml/5.1oz of broth left in the pot. If not enough, add water. If too much, condense.
Add corn flour with water to the sauce to make it thicker. Pour the sauce over the blocks with a couple of drops of ginger juice if using.
1. Each Chinese cabbage leaf does not have to be as wide as that of an aburaage but the length needs to be at least twice as long as the long side of the aburaage.
If some of the leaves are cut to half vertically (this happens when you buy a Chinese cabbage cut in half), use two leaves to make up for a full leaf.
2. Instead of salt, you can add 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce.
3. It can be either thigh mince or breast mince.
4. Alternatively, you can use 3 cups of hot water with 2 teaspoons of dashi powder.
5. When placing a Chinese cabbage leaf on, change the direction of the leaf alternatively so that the height of the terrine will become even on both ends. If you place the leaves in the same direction, i.e. white parts of all the leaves on one side, you will end up with this side too high and the leaf side too low.
6. A drop lid is called 'otoshibuta' (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a saucepan. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless-steel lid. It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, and the ingredients cook faster, and 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 baking paper or aluminium foil. Cut a square in foil, fold the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.
7. If serving as appetiser, cut it into 8 pieces (with extra one horizontal cut).
8. You can make this the day before serving. Store the sauce separately and pour it at the time of serving. Microwave to reheat.
9. Nutrition per serving. Carrot slices are not to be eaten but included in the nutrition calculation as some nutrients come out into the broth. Accordingly, calories, weight etc are marginally overstated.
serving: 404g calories: 229kcal fat: 12g (18%) saturated fat: 2.5g (13%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 4.4g monounsaturated fat: 3.6g cholesterol: 45mg (15%) sodium: 1943mg (81%) potassium: 867mg (25%) carbohydrates: 9.8g (3%) dietary fibre: 2.5g (10%) sugar: 3.2g protein: 20g vitamin a: 104% vitamin c: 67% calcium: 16% iron: 15%
It is good to have different types of food every day. Since today’s recipe contains chicken mince (ground chicken), I picked fish for main. You can control your protein intake by adjusting the quantity of Shime Saba.
For side dish 2, I picked Kinpira Gobō to give a different flavour and texture to the meal. Along with the miso soup, which contains three ingredients, I think today’s menu uses a pretty good variety of ingredients.
Green Beans with Tofu Dressing (Shira-ae) is a simple vegetarian side dish. The tofu-based dressing has a very gentle flavour and goes well with blanched green beans with some carrot to give a bright colour to the dish.
Tofu is a versatile ingredient. It can be eaten fresh, boiled, in miso soup or clear soup, simmered with other vegetables, or stir fried. Here are some of the tofu recipes that I posted already.
Today’s recipe is a Japanese dressing made with tofu which is called Shira-ae (白和え). When I posted Broccolini Karashi-ae (Mustard Dressing), I talked about aemono, which means foods that are dressed or seasoned. I listed all kinds of aemono dishes and shira-ae was one of them.
The name of today’s dish shira-ae comes from the colour of the tofu dressing. The colour white is shiro (白) in Japanese and when combined with other word, ‘ae’ in this case, it changes the sound to shira.
Tofu itself does not have sufficient flavour to dress vegetables but when mixed with roasted white sesame seeds, sugar, miso, light soy sauce and salt, it becomes a delicately flavoured but thick white dressing that matches perfectly with blanched green beans.
For 200g of tofu, you need 1½ tablespoons of roasted white sesame seeds, just over 1 tablespoon of sugar, ½ tablespoon each of miso and light soy sauce and tiny amount of salt.
When you Google search ‘shira-ae’ and look at the images, you notice that some dishes are dressed in rather dry tofu dressings that almost look like scrambled tofu. But some of them have slightly watery dressings.
The consistency of my tofu dressing is slightly watery and I believe this is the right consistency of the traditional shira-ae in Japan.
I use firm tofu (also called momen tofu) to make tofu dressing. Firstly, the water contained in the tofu needs to be extracted by wrapping the tofu in a couple of sheets of kitchen paper and putting a plate on it. The weight of the plate pushes the water out.
This process is necessary to prevent the dressing from becoming too watery. Leave it for about 20-30 minutes and you are ready to make a dressing.
The easiest way to make tofu dressing is to add all the ingredients to a food processor and whiz it until it becomes a loose yoghurt-like consistency with very small tofu lumps. A stick blender is also good for this.
I used a mortar and pestle because my son borrowed my food processor and stick blender and they are still with him. It took me a while to remove the large tofu lumps and produce the smooth consistency of the tofu dressing, but it worked fine.
I used green beans and a small amount of julienned carrot in my recipe to give a bright colour to the dish. Blanch green beans and cut them to about 5cm long. Julienned carrot pieces are softened with a small amount of salt.
But the most commonly used vegetable among the shira-ae dishes is spinach. Blanch spinach leaves and cut them to 5cm long. Because the dressing is white, I think that green leaves work the best.
Mushrooms such as shiitake mushrooms and shimeji mushrooms are also often used, especially together with spinach.
Shira-ae is a delicate vegetarian dish. It is often served in Kaiseki Ryori (a traditional Japanese multi course dinner) and you can make it quite easily.
Green Beans with Tofu Dressing (Shira-ae) is a simple vegetarian side dish. The tofu-based dressing has a very gentle flavour and goes well with blanched green beans with some carrot to give a bright colour to the dish.
Note: Prep time includes the time to extract water out of the tofu. Actual working time is much less.
Wrap the tofu in a couple of sheets of kitchen papers and place it on a cutting board. Place a plate on the top as a weight and leave it for 20-30 minutes.
Boil water in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and blanch green beans for a minute or two. Transfer the beans to a bowl of cold water to cool them down quickly.
Trim both ends off the beans and cut each bean diagonally into 5cm long pieces.
Grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle until most seeds are ground.
Remove the kitchen paper from the tofu, and place the tofu into the mortar, breaking it into small pieces (note 2).
Pound the tofu using a pestle until the tofu becomes smooth without large chunks of tofu pieces. The consistency is like loose yoghurt.
Serve in 4 small individual bowls as a side or in 1-2 plates/bowls as a salad.
1. It is best to use firm tofu (momen tofu) to make a tofu dressing. If you can only find silken tofu, you will need to extract the water much more by wrapping the tofu in kitchen paper and squeezing the water out.
Hard tofu is not suited to this dish.
2. Prior to placing the tofu into the mortar, you can put the tofu through a sieve if you want so that the time taken to make a smooth tofu mixture is reduced.
3. Nutrition per serving as a side.
serving: 108g calories: 115kcal fat: 6.3g (10%) saturated fat: 1g (5%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 2.9g monounsaturated fat: 2g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 365mg (15%) potassium: 215mg (6%) carbohydrates: 10g (3%) dietary fibre: 2.8g (11%) sugar: 5.7g protein: 7.3g vitamin a: 46% vitamin c: 7.3% calcium: 18% iron: 14%
The flavour of today’s dish is quite delicate, so I matched it with Beef Steak, which has a robust flavour. The sauce can be either Wasabi Sauce or Grated Onion Sauce but since the salad has wasabi in the dressing, I would pick the grated onion sauce.
Whiting is often served in clear soup at special occasions because of its elegant taste and white meat. Make a knot from a fillet and serve with a green leaf in a dashi-based clear soup. Japanese Clear Soup with Whiting is a very quick and easy soup and is visually quite attractive.
Japanese Clear Soup is called osuimono (お吸い物). I touched on osuimonoin my post Shrimp Balls (Ebi Shinjo) in Clear Soup. But today’s clear soup uses whiting fillet instead of shrimp balls and it is much simpler and faster to make.
Whiting is kisu (鱚or キス) in Japanese. The kanji character 鱚is made up of two kanji characters – 魚meaning fish and 喜meaning joy. This is another reason why Kisu no Osuimono (鱚のお吸い物) is served at special occasions.
The proper way of making a knot with whiting is to make fillets from both sides of a whiting without detaching them from the tail so that you will have two strips of fillets to make a knot with. This method of filleting a fish is only applicable to small fish of less than 15cm/6”. It is often used to prepare fish for tempura.
This technique of filleting a fish is called matsuba oroshi (松葉おろし), which means filleting a fish to look like pine leaves. The shape of two fillets connected at the tail end looks like two pine leaves attached to the base. That’s why this filleting technique is named this way.
Japanese people associate many cooking terms with nature, don’t they?
I talked about shigureni (autumn/winter rain that comes and goes momentarily) and sasagaki (vegetable cut to look like a bamboo leaf) in Braised Beef and Burdock with Ginger. Also, grated daikon is likened to sleet as mentioned in Smoked Salmon in Grated Daikon Dressing (Mizore-ae).
I can hardly find such small whiting at the fish markets nearby. So, I usually use one side of fillet and cut it in the middle to look like a matsuba oroshi fillet. This is actually easier to prepare especially if you buy small whiting fillets.
I know it is probably not easy to just buy two whiting fillets for the sake of making four servings of Japanese Clear Soup with Whiting and I’ve never bought just four fillets (or two whole whiting).
To tell you the truth, I usually buy a kilo of fresh small whiting when I find small ones about 15cm long. I fillet them and semi-dry them so that I can keep them in the fridge and freezer for grilling later. And in doing so, I put aside a few fillets to make Kisu no Osuimono.
I am planning to post a recipe for semi-dried whiting in the near future.
It’s basically the same thing as tying shoe laces– but only the first step, i.e. tie an overhand knot.
You might find it a bit awkward to do because each piece of fillet is wide. But you should be able to tie them once and that’s all you need to do.
See the photos below for before and after tieing a knot.
Japanese-style Clear Soup is meant to be really clear. It might be slightly yellowish due to the colour of dashi stock but it is still transparent and not cloudy.
If you drop a raw knotted whiting into the boiling clear soup, the soup becomes a bit cloudy. To avoid this, the whiting knots need to be boiled first, then added to the clear soup.
Pre-cooking the raw fish also removes the fishy smell, although whiting is not as fishy as most other fish.
You only need to boil the knotted fish for 30 seconds or so in gently simmering water. Then transfer it to ice water to stop it cooking further. Place the cooked whiting piece in a serving bowl and add the hot clear soup.
Just a piece of whiting in clear soup lacks colour as the fish is white and the soup is transparent. The most common way of adding colour to such a soup is to add something green.
I used a mizuna leaf today to decorate the soup, but most recipes use mitsuba (三つ葉, a wild Japanese parsley or the Japanese version of Cryptotaenia), which is a Japanese herb that looks like large flat leaf parsley and has a distinct flavour unlike any other herb.
You can use other green leaves such as spinach or snow pea shoots. In the case of spinach, boil and cut to 4-5cm/2” long.
Japanese Clear Soup with Whiting (Kisu no Osuimono) is a delicate looking soup and is perfect for special occasions. It is very easy to make and the fish can be prepared ahead of time.
Bring water in a saucepan to a boil, reduce the heat to gently simmer.
Add the whiting knots to the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds (note 4). Transfer them to serving bowls using a slotted spoon or a netted strainer to serving bowls.
Add the Clear Soup ingredients ito a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
Pour the clear soup into serving bowls, add a green leaf to each bowl and serve while hot.
1. My fillet was about 12cm long.
2. When the dashi stock is one of the key features of the dish like today, I use ichiban-dashi (see Home Style Japanese Dashi Stock) as it has the best flavour. But if you have no time to make dashi stock from scratch, you can use a dashi pack to make clear soup. Please refer to the instructions on the pack and use the appropriate quantity of dashi pack for the dashi stock required in the recipe.
3. Japanese people often use mitsuba (三つ葉, a wild Japanese parsley or the Japanese version of Cryptotaenia), which is a Japanese herb that looks like large flat leaf parsley and has a distinct flavour unlike any other herb. But I could not find them, so I used mizuna leaves instead.
You can use other green leaves such as spinach or snow pea shoots. In the case of spinach, boil and cut to 4-5cm/2” long.
4. If your whiting fillet is large, you will need to boil it a bit longer. The idea is to cook the fish 100% at this stage.
I think that clear soup goes well with deep fried dishes like Tempura which can also be a dish for a special occasion.
Seasoned minced prawns are put between lotus root slices, then deep fried. Deep Fried Lotus Root and Prawn Sandwiches can be an appetiser, a side or a main. It all depends on how much you want to make and serve.
Deep Fried Lotus Root and Prawn Sandwiches (Renkon no Hasami Age) is a curious looking dish. But if you have ever had lotus roots before and you liked them, you will know before tasting this that it’s going to be a great dish.
Crunchy lotus roots on the outside, meaty prawns inside with great flavour. I can guarantee you that you won’t be able to stop munching them.
When one ingredient is sandwiched with another ingredient and deep fried, Japanese people call it hasamiage (はさみ揚げ). The word hasami (はさみ) comes from the verb hasamu, which means putting in between two things, and age (揚げ) means deep frying.
Renkon (蓮根) is lotus root and the name of the ingredient that the other ingredient is placed between. It is one of the commonly used ingredients to make hasamiage.
Another vegetable often used to make hasamiage is eggplant. Eggplants are cut vertically into halves or quarters with the stem end intact. Then other ingredients are stuffed between them. I will one day post Eggplant Hasamiage.
The ingredients that are put between the vegetables are either seasoned prawns or minced meat (ground meat), usually pork or chicken. I used prawns today to go between the lotus root slices, but pork mince is equally as popular to make Renkon no Haamiage.
If you don’t count the seasonings included in this recipe, there are only two ingredients to make today’s dish – lotus roots and prawns. And these two ingredients shine in their own way.
Fresh lotus root is sliced thinly to 3-4mm thick. The sliced lotus roots need to be left in water with a small amount of vinegar so that they do not discolour.
Fresh prawns are minced, mixed with some chopped shallots/scallions, and seasoned with ginger, sake, soy sauce and salt.
When you mince raw prawns, they become quite sticky so you don’t even need to add cornflour or flour to bind the prawn mixture. This is what makes the prawn flavour of this dish so strong.
The prawn mixture is pretty sticky, but the lotus root slices retain some moisture. To ensure that the lotus root slices stick to the prawn mixture well, they are coated with cornflour on the inside of the sandwich.
It is quite a simple process to make a sandwich:
The best part of today’s dish is the crunchiness of the lotus roots. Sliced fresh lotus roots are deep fried without flour or cornflour around them.
You don’t need a sauce to eat Deep Fried Lotus Root and Prawn Sandwiches (Renkon no Hasami Age) as the prawn mixture is seasoned very well. I didn’t add any garnish to go with it, but you could use lemon wedges if you wish.
My lotus root was quite small so I served the sandwich as a whole. But if your lotus root is large, you may want to cut the sandwiches in half after cooking as seen in the photo above.
I also tried frozen lotus root slices instead of using fresh lotus roots. To my delight, it worksed well too. However, the frozen lotus roots are not as crunchy as the fresh ones when cooked.
Any deep-fried food is great to eat while hot but Deep Fried Lotus Root and Prawn Sandwiches (Renkon no Hasami Age) is yummy even if it is at room temperature. It’s a great dish to go in a bento box.
Seasoned minced prawns are put between lotus roots slices, then deep fried. Deep Fried Lotus Root and Prawn Sandwiches can be an appetiser, a side or a main. It all depends on how much you want to make and serve.
Peel lotus root skin and slice it to 3-4mm/⅛" thick round slices (note 5). As you slice lotus root, put it in a small bowl of water with 1 tbsp vinegar (this prevents the lotus root slices from getting brown).
Pat dry lotus root slices and place cornflour on a plate.
Take a pair of lotus root slices and place each of them on the cornflour so that the inside of the pair is covered with cornflour.
Hold one of the slices, cornflour side up, and place about 1 tablespoon (note 7) of the Prawn Mixture on it and spread evenly. Place the other slice on top with the cornflour side attached to the prawn mixture.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the remaining slices of lotus root. Do not discard cornflour as you will use it again.
Heat oil in a deep pot or a pan to 180C/356F.
Roll each lotus sandwich in the left-over cornflour so that the side of the sandwich where prawn mixture is showing is coated with cornflour.
Put a few lotus root sandwiches in the oil, one at a time and fry for 1-1.5 minutes.
Turn them over and cook further 1.5 minutes.
Serve hot or at room temperature with garnish.
1. My lotus root was thin, 5cm/2" in diameter.
2. You can use frozen prawns.
3. Use the white part if possible.
4. Garnish is optional but given that the dish is brownish with mot much variations, I thought something needs to accompany it. I grow nasturtium, so I used it today, but it can be a sprig of parsley. A wedge of lime would be good, too.
5. Depending on the thickness of the lotus root, the number of slices you get from the root varies. Try to get an even number of slices as you need to make a sandwich.
When placing in the vinegar water, try to maintain the order of the slices so that you can pair the slices that were next each other.
6. You can use a food processor but the intention is not to make a paste but to chop them into small pieces so that you get lumps of meat when cooked.
7. With my lotus root slices of about 5cm/2" in diameter, I could make 10 of them. If your slices are much larger, you will need less slices but more prawn mixture per sandwich. Then cut the sandwich in half after cooking.
8. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 138g calories: 181kcal fat: 7.8g (12%) saturated fat: 0.7g (3%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g monounsaturated fat: 5.2g cholesterol: 98mg (33%) sodium: 677mg (28%) potassium: 196mg (6%) carbohydrates: 13g (4%) dietary fibre: 0.9g (4%) sugar: 0.2g protein: 11g vitamin a: 3.4% vitamin c: 12% calcium: 4% iron: 2.8%
Today’s recipe, Deep Fried Lotus Root and Prawn Sandwiches (Renkon no Hasami Age) is a main in today’s Meal Ideas. Since the main dish does not contain a lot of prawns, I picked Chikuzenni as Side dish 1 to supplement a little bit of protein. Shimeji Gohan in a rice bowl also contains a small amount of chicken pieces.
Simmered in a thick soy based broth, this Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni) is a comfort food that is an iconic dish in Ishikawa prefecture. Cooked together with shiitake mushrooms and carrots, and garnished with green leaves, it is a good looking, flavoursome dish.
Kanazawa is a capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, which is located on the coast of the Japan Sea. Kanazawa is one of the very popular travel destinations among not only overseas travellers but also Japanese people themselves.
It is perhaps because Kanazawa preserved Edo period (Tokugawa shōgun period, 1603-1868) districts with art museums and crafts shops, etc. There is also Kanazawa Castle and one of the three great gardens of Japan, Kenrokuen Garden, located just next to the castle.
Kenrokuen garden – one of the three great gardens of Japan.
The Japanese name of Kanazawa’s local specialty dish, jibuni (治部煮) does not imply what the dish is about, other than the last word ‘ni’ (煮), which means simmer/simmered. The word ‘jibu’ means nothing really related to the dish itself or ingredients.
There are a few theories about how the dish was named. One theory is that the broth gets thickened with flour and while simmering, it makes a sound like ‘jibu jibu’. So, they called it jibuni!
Jibuni is traditionally made with duck, which is the key ingredient of this dish. But these days, there are many restaurants that serve jibuni with chicken instead. I also use chicken in my recipe.
You can use many combinations of other ingredients to make up jibuni. But commonly used ingredients are mushrooms, green leaves, baked wheat gluten called fu(麩), and small taro.
I used deep fried thick tofu called atsuage (厚揚げ) instead of baked wheat gluten and I added sliced carrot to give more colour to the dish.
For green leaves, I used choy sum, but you could use spinach or other green leaves with stems. Try to choose leaves with neutral flavour, otherwise the flavour of the leaves become overpowering.
Atsuage is like a thick version of aburaage. It is made by simply deep frying a block of firm tofu. It does not have any coating or batter to deep fry it. So, although I have not tried yet, you could make atsuage at home if you want.
The block of atsuage is about 2.5cm/1” thick, which is where the name of this tofu product came from, i.e. atsu (厚, thick) + age (揚げ, deep frying).
Unlike aburaage, atsuageis deep fried only to get the surface of the tofu golden brown while retaining the tofu texture inside. This is the reason why atsuage has another name, namaage(生揚げ) which is made up of nama (生, raw/fresh) + age (揚げ, deep frying).
For this reason, atsuageis not the same as a tofu puff either because the inside of tofu puffs have many air pockets and do not have the texture of original tofu.
However, if atsuage is not available where you live, tofu puffs are the best substitute.
When a sauce or broths need to be thickened, you either add cornflour/corn starch to the broth or sauté flour in the beginning before adding liquid to make thick broth.
In the case of Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu, thickness is achieved by cooking flour-coated sliced meat in the broth.
Cook the vegetables in a flavoured broth that consists of dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin and sake. Then one by one add chicken pieces coated in flour.
As soon as the chicken pieces are added to the broth, the flour around the meat becomes sticky and locks the good flavour of the meat inside, while the broth becomes thicker at the same time.
Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni) is a hearty home-cooking dish and quite easy to cook. It is traditionally served with a small amount of wasabi.
I am travelling in Japan at the moment with my Aussie friends. I am taking them around to several great cities and we will be in Kanazawa tomorrow. We will definitely eat Jibuni there!
Slice chicken diagonally into thin bite size pieces – about 1cm thick (note 2). Coat each piece of chicken with flour.
Add boiling water over the thick fried tofu to remove excess oil. Cut it in half lengthwise, then slice perpendicular to the fist cut into 2cm thick blocks.
Blanch Choy sum stems for 30 seconds, then cool them down quickly in cold water or under running water. Squeeze water out of the stems and cut them into 4cm long.
Add the Broth ingredients to a saucepan. Add fried tofu pieces, shiitake mushrooms and carrots to the pan and bring it to a boil.
Add chicken pieces one by one gently, ensuring that the whole piece submerges in the broth.
Cook for 3 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You will notice that the broth becomes thickened from the flour on the chicken.
Place Choy sum on the side and serve with a small amount of wasabi on top.
1. Thick fried tofu is called atsuage (厚揚げ) which is a deep-fried tofu of about 2.5cm/1" thick. It comes in a rectangular block (see the photo in post) and is often used in simmered dishes or stir fry.
Although tofu puffs are also deep-fried tofu, the texture is quite different from atsuage. The insides of tofu puffs are spongy but atsuage stays solid inside.
If you cannot find atsuage, you can substitute it with tofu puffs or even aburaage(deep fried thin tofu).
2. Do not slice the chicken too thick as it will take longer to cook.
3. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 257g calories: 268kcal fat: 16g (25%) saturated fat: 3.3g (16%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 6g monounsaturated fat: 5.1g cholesterol: 48mg (16%) sodium: 701mg (29%) potassium: 473mg (14%) carbohydrates: 13g (4%) dietary fibre: 2.6g (10%) sugar: 6.7g protein: 19g vitamin a: 58% vitamin c: 15% calcium: 13% iron: 14%
Kanazawa is also famous for fresh seafood so I decided to serve Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi) to go with jibuni. Temakizushi is self-serve rolled sushi and preparation is quite easy. My Temakizushi recipe includes many ingredients to roll as it was made for a special occasion but you can just pick a few sashimi and vegetables for dinner.