Gotta Get – Tomizawa’s Deep-Fried Okra



We came across these deep-fried okra at Tomizawa. The okra are deep-fried until light and crispy. Not at all oily. Surely they must be better for you than potato chips, right? Well, that is what we tell ourselves. We are seeing lots of fried vegetables sold at the markets, but most of them are non-memorable. These are different. We can’t get enough. The okra are not always in stock, so call ahead before you go. Just wanted to put this on everyone’s radar. We will stock up on some as hanami, cherry-blossom viewing season, is just around the corner. This will be great for any picnic.

Tomizawa is a chain of shops that specialize in dried goods. We go to our local Tomizawa when looking for spices or ingredients for baking. There is a big shop in Machida. Not necessarily worth a big trip to Machida, but worth checking out if you are in the area.

Tokyo shops can be found at: B1 of Yurakucho Lumine, 8F of Shinjuku Keio, B2 of Ikebukuro Seibu, and Shibuya Seibu.

Tomizawa homepage:



Gotta Get – Sansai Mountain Vegetables




Today at lunch I was reminded of what a special time of year this is. This gorgeous katakuchi bowl was presented with simmered octopus, fava beans, and fukiFuki is the stem of a bog rhubarb. It is no relation to the rhubarb I grew up with in Minnesota. It looks like a thin celery and has a somewhat similar texture, although more refined and elegant.


This time of year when sansai (mountain vegetables), like kogomi ferns, spring up from under the leaves that have covered the ground over winter. Angelica trees start to bud and the tender greens, tara no me, are harvested. And one of my favorites is the bitter butterbur, fuki no to, that is best when served as tempura. Some of these can be blanched and served with a splash of soy sauce.

If you are visiting Japan this spring, be sure to have a meal at a tempura restaurant that serves sansai. If you go out to an izakaya, ask them if they have any dishes with sansai. Some sansai are only around for a few weeks, so carpe diem.

August Seasonal Japanese Seafood



Katsuo tataki


Katsuo sashimi topped with myoga, shiso, and garlic


Katsuo as done by chef Zaiyu Hasegawa at Den

Look for seafood from this list when eating out in Japan or in the supermarkets or at your fishmonger. Most of the seafood listed here you can enjoy as sushi or sashimi. At home we like to have tachiuo as sashimi with a bit of sesame oil and sea salt. Ayu is best salted and grilled. And while we don’t cook hamo at home we look forward to having it out at restaurants, especially with a bainiku (umeboshi) dressing. At home we often have katsuo topped with lots of yakumi like shiso, myōga, and garlic then dress it with a soy sauce and sesame oil dressing. Katsuo can be bought raw or seared on the outside as tataki).

Ayu 鮎  sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Hamo   pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Hiramasa 平政 yellowtail amberjack (Seriola lalandi)

Hoya  ほや sea squirt(Halocynthia roretzi)

Inada 鰍 young amberjack (or yellowtail) (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Stages of buri: wakashi, inada, warasa, buri

Indo maguro Southern Bluefin tuna 

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

Katsuo 鰹 skipjack tuna (or bonito) (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kensaki ika 剣先烏賊 swordtip squid (Loligo edulis)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Kisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)*or shirogisu

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Koyari ika槍烏賊  baby spear squid (Loligo bleekeri)

Kuruma-ebi 車海老 Japanese tiger prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Ma-aji 真鯵 Japanese jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Ma-anago 真穴子 whitespotted conger (saltwater eel) (Conger myriaster)

Ma-iwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Managatsuo 真名鰹 silver pomfret (Pampus punctatissimus)

Ma-tako 真蛸  common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Nijimasu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Shiira  しいら 鱪 dorado or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

Shima aji  島鯵 striped jack or white trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shinko (Konoshiro) 鰶 dotted gizzard shad (Konosirus punctatus)

Surumei ika するめいか Japanese common squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Suzuki すずき 鱸 Japanese sea bass (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚  cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Takabe たかべ yellow-striped butterfish (Labracoglossa argentiventris)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese freshwater eel  (Anguilla japonica)

Popular Egg Dishes in Japan

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper released results of a survey of popular egg dishes in Japan. Many of these are dishes we make at home. The one big difference of living in Japan and when we lived in New York City is that we only eat raw eggs in Japan. Also, our oven in Japan has a steam function making it very easy to make chawanmushi, a savory egg custard.

If you love eggs, then learning how to make the savory dashimaki (rolled omelet) or the sweeter version tamagoyaki is essential. Dashimaki is more prevalent in the Kansai region while tamagoyaki is more popular in the Kantō region. Buying a tamagoyaki pan will help make rolling the omelet a snap.

Japan’s most popular egg dishes are:

1. Omuraisu (ketchup flavored rice enveloped in an omelet)

2.  Tamago kake gohan (raw egg and soy sauce over rice)

3. Dashimaki (savory, juicy rolled omelet)

4. Chawanmushi (savory egg custard)

5. Omuretsu (Western style omelet)

6. Tamagoyaki (sweet rolled omelet)

7.  Medamayaki (sunny side up fried egg)

8. Yu de tamago (boiled egg)

9. Onsen tamago (soft-boiled egg)

10. Tamago sando (egg salad sandwich)