Fend Off Colds with Ginger Kuzu-yu

  Kuzu was first put on my radar by the famous vegetarian chef, Yumiko Kano. Kano Sensei is a prolific cookbook author with 29 cookbooks, all vegetarian, except for the very last one, Okazu Salada, which is vegetable-rich, but does introduce a bit of fish and meat. At a cooking class Kano Sensei talked about…

Shikaku-mame Winged Beans

Shikaku-mame 四角豆、literally square beans, are also called winged beans. Shikaku-mame is a crisp green bean with slightly bitter notes that can be blanched, sautéed, or fried as tempura. I came across a package at Tsukiji Market for 100 JPY ($1 USD). I asked the shopkeeper her suggestions for cooking and she suggested ohitashi-style and sautéed. Rinse…

Sweet Potato Chips

Fried as chips, sweet potatoes are a fun alternative to potato chips. The trick is to let the sliced sweet potatoes to dry a bit before deep-frying. The chips are very crispy and have a rich texture. Slightly sweet balanced with some salt call out for an ice cold beer. Wash and dry the sweet…

Kakigori

Tokyo summers are terribly hot and horribly humid. We seek refuge in kakigōri, shave ice, topped with toppings sweetened condensed milk, mattcha, azuki beans, and fruit preserves. The only problem with going out for kakigōri is that this time of year there are usually long lines, often outdoors. We beat the heat at home with a kakigōri machine so…

Japanese Eggplant

The simple step of roasting eggplants and peeling before adding to miso soup adds a rich and smoky dimension to our mornings. Japanese eggplants are thin with small seeds. When cooked the eggplant flesh becomes soft and juicy. Some Japanese eggplant can be eaten as sashimi, simply sliced and served raw with soy sauce. Growing…

Shiso Juice

I am enchanted with the minty aroma of shiso. Did you know there is a red shiso and a green shiso? The green shiso is often served as a garnish for sashimi. If you find it on your plate, often as a backdrop to sliced raw fish, then be sure to eat it. If not…

Yamagata Dashi

One of my go to side dishes this time of year is Yamagata Dashi, a classic kyōdo ryōri (regional dish) from where my family is from. I didn’t eat it growing up, and only came upon it once I lived in Japan. It’s the perfect dish for summer as the vegetables for Yamagata Dashi are…

Kyoto Yasai – Manganji Togarashi 万願寺唐辛子

Kyoto is famous for many locally grown vegetables, Kyo yasai, for short. This list includes mizuna greens that are now popular even in the US, Kyo takenoko (bamboo shoots), and  Kamo nasu (eggplant). Manganji are green peppers that are bigger than shishitō and the skin is a bit thicker. These are not spicy peppers and are easy to cook. The…

Temakizushi Party

A fun idea for entertaining at home is a temaki-zushi party. Hand rolls (手巻き寿司) are interactive and as each person makes their own rolls it can be a good way to keep everyone happy. Some supermarkets and department store seafood sections will sell the seafood already cut for the rolls, especially on weekends and holidays. Ingredients…

Gobo Burdock Root

Our cooking school has opened up. While we continue our food tours in Tokyo, we are starting to put more energy into teaching Japanese cuisine. Our blog will include more recipes going forward. We will also continue to share restaurants and food shops in Japan as well as the occasional travelogue. In season now is…

Takenoko Gohan

Bamboo shoots are in season at the moment. They are also in season in the fall. But I associate the delicate flavor and aroma with spring. I was at a friend’s house on the weekend. Her mother, who is an excllent cook, had just cleaned and boiled a bamboo shoot and had brought half to…

Japanese Spring Vegetable – Udo

Spring is an exciting time for vegetable lovers in Japan. Udo (Aralia cordata) is spikenard. It is grown here in Tokyo in the area where we live. It is grown underground and the spears are white or with a hint of green. There is even a character, Udora, for udo in Tachikawa. While most characters strive…

Renkon Chips

Lotus root (renkon, 蓮根) are a vegetable that is hard to forget. The first time one comes across one it is fascinating to see the natural holes in the vegetable. It seems like a work of art at first. Lotus root start to come into the market in the fall, in September and October, and continue…