Archives for category: Japanese

Tai is the name for Sea Bream in Japanese. Meshi means rice and this simple yet beautiful dish is basically Sea Bream rice. The fish is cleaned, scales removed and simmered in a pot with rice, ginger and dashi stock. Very healthy and easy to make and although I forgot to include Mitsuba which would have really made the dish, it was still perfect. The recipe was kindly shared by a good friend Yuko and her knowledge of fish dishes is huge so I love getting simple recipes and trying them. Although this is usually considered a very special dish, made on occasions like birthdays and New Year, I made this on a weekday for lunch with friends. Soaking Konbu in water first, adding some Japanese seasonings and cooking the fish with the bones really gives such an incredible flavour and the key is to remove the bones and mix gently before serving. Mitsuba, the Japanese Parsley really would have been great thrown on top before serving but hey, next time…

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A much anticipated post here and with these cold winter nights Nabe is just what is needed for most of them. You can get such variety for Nabe soups. For those of you who don’t know what a Nabe is, it’s basically a hotpot. Vegetables and meat or fish simmered in a soup in a clay Nabe pot. Very easy to prepare and beautifully social with the little gas burner often in the middle of a family or group of friends, cooking, eating together and staying warm. The clay pot keeps the dish warm and usually rice or Udon noodles are added at the end. There are so many different kinds of soup bases you can have in your Nabe pot, from kimichi, sesame, tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, miso to name a few. From an earlier post for homemade nabe meatballs, I had promised to try a yuzu soup base and I’m pleased to say it turned out well. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit, somewhere between a lemon and grapefruit and if you don’t have any near where you are I think a combination of other citrus fruits would work equally well.

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Stir-fried Japanese noodles here.. Yaki means to fry and with Udon a thick wheat Japanese noodle this dish is a great way to use up any vegetables you have and takes about ten minutes to make. An all round winner when you’re hungry and have that moment of ‘what shall I eat today’. Perfect cooking for one and you can always make extra for a lunch box the next day too so don’t be shy with adding vegetables and making it colour-tastic. Flavour in this dish comes from the vegetables themselves, some simple dark sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, pepper and ginger. Katsuboshi thrown over the top add a great extra flavour, otherwise they taste perfectly fine without.

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Zakkoku (雑穀) means mixed grains/cereals in Japanese and with rice being such a fundamental part to meals here incorporating Zakkoku in your cooking means you benefit from lots nutrients and fibre when cooking with white rice. I love Genmai brown rice (玄米)with it’s nuttier flavour and obvious health benefits that you lose when you use white rice. I love white rice too however. Although it gets bad press for taking more time to process, therefore being environmentally worse as uses more energy. And due to all this processing loses much of it’s goodness, it is cheaper, softer and much quicker to cook. Zakkoku is the magic solution! As most things in Japan it is sold in convenient packets and there are lots of varieties. You can get white mixes that often include barley, sesame seeds, millet and sprouted brown rice and a more colorful set that can include azuki beans, black rice, red rice, and any number of extra goodies. I love the subtle flavour that it adds, clearly the health benefits and it looks pretty too. You can buy this outside Japan, I know it is available in the UK at the Japan Centre and your nearest Japanese grocery might stock some. If you can’t find any, you can easily make your own mix and keep it in a ziplock bag adding whenever you need to. Some things you could add include beans, sesame seeds, barley, quinoa, mung beans, lentils, black rice, red rice, poppy seeds, flaxseeds..  anything you like! If adding bigger beans that look like they might take longer to cook you might to pre-soak the mix before you use it, overnight or in the morning.

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The Joy of Cooking with Friends… presents Aji no nanbanzuke. Thanks to Yuka from the trippplenipples and Make Believe’s own Amber Joy, as the Tokyo summer gave us one last day of beautiful sun and glory,  we had an afternoon of wine, cooking and made some classic Japanese dishes with Yuka’s help. This really deserves to be shared and can easily be made with a few key ingredients.

Nanbanzuke is a Japanese dish with meat or fish that has been deep fried and marinated in a sweet vinegar sauce. The Aji you can’t really see in the picture is a type of fish, horse mackerel to be precise, which is what we used, together with sliced vegetables and a lovely sweet marinade.

Yuka took charge of the fish which needed some preparation and a little clean, while Amber sliced away and I helped make the dashi. A video here on how to cut and clean Aji the whole way, although for this dish removing the head, innards and fins is fine. It is great in summer as has a refreshing note to it and even though this was the first time making it I will definitely be making this again. Even in winter this is a perfect part of any meal.

Try another white fish or salmon if you like and you can cut the fish or deep fry the whole fillet as we did. Making the marinade, allowing it cool while chopping some vegetables, deep frying the fish and putting it in a plate for a few hours is all this takes. Although best served after all the yummy sweet vinegar has had time to be infused with the fish, it is also great as soon as you’ve made it too. Without the depth of flavor that marinating gives you but SO fresh and deeply enjoyable nonetheless.

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Nabe is a classic one-pot wonder here in Japan over the winter months and with such a variety of ready-made soup broths available you can really enjoy staying warm and trying all the different flavours with very little effort.

I picked up a delectable Yuzu based broth which I will attempt to try and make next time so please watch out for that recipe coming soon. Yuzu is one of my all time favourite Japanese ingredients, the citrusy loveliness somewhere inbetween a lemon, grapefruit and heaven. Here I just wanted to share the meatball recipe here which completely revolutionizes the already wonderful pot of freshly assembled ingredients.

I’d like to apologise at this stage that this post has no picture of the nabe actually cooked. The delight smelled SO good and we were SO hungry that taking a picture just didn’t happen! It did look and taste remarkable just to be clear and there will be picture of a cooked one next time.

The best thing about nabe is you don’t need to do much as you can see. Cutting the carrots into hearts and trying to get the pot as pretty as possible is the most you really do and you don’t even need to do that so please try the meatballs with your favourite nabe goodies and enjoy!

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A traditional Japanese meal here and perfect brunch for me to start my Sunday.

Sanma fish, known as Pacific Saury or Mackerel Pike depending on which dictionary you use, is a real Autumn fish here in Japan. It is very protein rich and simple to grill as needs no preparation. Some other ways it can be served are nicely shown here.

I like to put a bit of water in the grill since the fish is quite fatty and as the fish oils drip in the grill this prevents the oils from spluttering and getting too hot and also makes your grill much easier to clean after you’ve eaten.

Served with some tofu and leek Miso soup, Japanese rice and nori seaweed are the perfect accompaniments and I find fresh lemon is enough to compliment the fish.

While the fish is being grilled on a high heat for about 5-10 minutes, it only needs turning once when the skin is nicely brown and depending on the size of the fish needs a bit longer, you can boil water for the soup, add some dashi stock, chopped leek, stir in the miso paste and tofu and add some ichimi if you like.

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