Your Home for Homemade Japanese Food

How to cook "with visual instructions" "using familiar ingredients from your local grocery stores" healthy, traditional and delicious Japanese dishes!!


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Healthy Bean Side Dish “Gomoku-Mame” (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-free)

Today I introduce you to a traditional Japanese bean side dish “Gomoku-Mame,” which is simmered beans and vegetables. This dish is never served as a main dish, but it is very popular and very important in the Japanese diet.

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The basic rule of traditional Japanese diet is called “Ichi-juu, San-sai.” This means basic meals should consist of one bowl of cooked rice, one kind of soup and three vegetable or fish side dishes. Of course we don’t have enough time to cook this many dishes when cooking each meal so we tend to stock simmered vegetable dishes in the refrigerator. Lately there are a lot of pre-made, reasonably fresh, store bought vegetable side dishes in Japan. This is because there are many people who are too busy to cook who, however, care about their health and don’t want to eat fast foods.

Also, the Japanese diet contains many kinds of ingredients. We always think “Eat a balanced diet” which means we can have anything we want such as meat, fish, rice, bread, vegetables, seaweed and so on. But we have to be careful about the balance of the ingredients and eat in moderation. Japanese food is very healthy when we follow these rules.

The recipe is very easy.

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Put all ingredients and seasoning in a pan and simmer.

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To store, transfer to a container and keep in the refrigerator. Use within 5 days.


{Ingredients (servings 8)}
*Click BLUE TEXT to link to the product on Amazon*

15.5 oz. Can Northern Beans

1 Carrot

3 Shiitake Mushrooms

5-inch × 5-inch piece Dashi Dried Kelp

1.5 cup Water

1 Tbsp. Sugar

2 Tbsp. Cooking Sake

2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

1 Tbsp. Mirin Sweet Cooking Rice Wine


Detailed and visual instructions can be found in the recipe PDF: Healthy Bean Side Dish “Gomoku-Mame”


6 Comments

Healthy Japanese Traditional Side Dish “Okara” (Gluten Free/Vegan/Vegetarian)

Today I introduce you to Japanese traditional side dish which is called “U no Hana”. This is cooked Okara with braised vegetables. Okara is a by-product of making  tofu so it is high in protein, fiber, vitamins and Calcium. This dish is a very popular side dish in my family’s meal because it is healthy, delicious and inexpensive (in Japan).

Here is Dry Okara I used in this recipe.

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Japanese use Okara for many recipes as a meat substitute to make the dish extremely healthy and to increase the amount of food in the dish. For example, we add Okara or we substitute it for the meat when we mix meat balls, hamburger steak,…etc. See the last post Delicious Vegetarian Pan Fried Nuggets using Okara substitution for meat.

In this recipe I used okra, carrot, shiitake mushroom and green onion. You can use any vegetables in your refrigerator. If you can get dried shiitake mushroom instead of fresh ones, the dish will be more flavorful and nutritious. You can just soak shiitake mushrooms in water the day before you cook.

This time I used kelp Dashi stock so for those who stick to a vegan diet this is a vegan dish. You can use any kind of Dashi stock you have.

Here is a tip: “How to store cut green onion.” We often use cut green onion in many Japanese dishes. I always keep cut green onion in my freezer.

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Cut washed green onions and dry on paper towels. Put  in a freezer bag and freeze in freezer. Use within 1 month.

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Simmer all vegetables with Dashi stock and seasonings.

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Cook soaked Okara and stir with braised vegetables.


{Ingredients (servings 2)}          *Click BLUE TEXT to link to the product on Amazon*

½ cup Dry Okara

¾ cup Water for soaking Okara

1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

3 Okras

Slated Boiled Water for boiling Okras

2 Shiitake Mushrooms

1 Green Onion

½ Carrot

½ cup Kelp Dashi Stock
{The recipe of Kelp Dashi}  Kelp Dashi stock
(Recommended Dried Kelp for Dashi stock) Dashi Dried Kelp

1 tsp. Sugar

1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

½ Tbsp. Cooking Sake

½ Tbsp. Mirin Sweet Cooking Wine

½ tsp. Salt


Detailed and visual instructions can be found in the recipe PDF: Okara

 


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Cold Tofu with Okra (Gluten Free/Vegan/Vegetarian)

Today I introduce you to my “Cold Tofu with Okra” recipe. In summer it is very humid in Japan, which makes us tired and lowers our appetite. Therefore, the Japanese traditional summer diet tends to include light foods which have great taste and nutrition, like in this recipe. I hope you add this recipe as a side dish in your meal.

The recipe is very easy and quick.

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Cut boiled okra and put on drained tofu. Drizzle with soy sauce to taste.

Tofu contains a lot of water so we drain tofu before cooking to keep the tofu shape and to keep the dish from becoming too watery. If you don’t like tofu aroma very much, I strongly recommend you drain the tofu because it makes the dish have less of a tofu aroma.

{Ingredients (1 serving)}

2~3 oz. (1/6 Pack) Firm Tofu

3 Okras

1 tsp. Salt

Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic) for seasoning

Boiled Water for Okra

Detailed and visual instructions can be found in the recipe PDF: Tofu with Okra


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Quick Eggplant Pickles (Gluten Free/Vegan/Vegetarian)

In Japan, we often eat eggplant pickles. This recipe is not exactly the traditional pickle but it is a homemade quick and delicious eggplant side dish!

As you know, eggplant is a summer vegetable. When we eat eggplant dishes, they make our body cool down so this recipe is great for hot and humid summer days. And this dish includes ginger and sesame seed so it is very nutritious.

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Japanese eggplant has thiner skin than American eggplant so I never peeled it, but in the U.S. I peel some parts of the skin and leave other parts. I keep some of the skin because it has polyphenol and is good for our health.

The recipe is so easy.

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Slice eggplant, knead with salt and let it sit for 20 minutes.

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Wash the eggplant and season with grated ginger, soy sauce and white sesame seed.

Here is a tip for storing ginger.

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Peel the skin, wrap with kitchen paper and wrap it with aluminum foil. Keep it in the freezer and use within 1 month. You can grate the frozen ginger (you don’t need to defrost).

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

Half Eggplant

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Grated Ginger

½ tsp. Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

1 tsp. White Roasted Sesame Seeds

Detailed and visual instructions can be found in the recipe PDF: Quick Eggplant Pickles


2 Comments

Mashed Taro Cakes (Gluten Free/Vegan/Vegetarian)

Today I introduce you to “Mashed Taro Cakes” which is my mother’s original recipe. She cooked it with leftover “Braised Taro” which I taught you how to make in my previous post on April 14. When I was child, I loved these “Mashed Taro Cakes” more than “Braised Taro”. These two recipes have the same taste but they have a different texture.

I used the same sauce as I did with the “Braised Taro” recipe, which tastes salty-sweet. You use the sauce to finish the cakes, but you can eat them without the sauce. In fact, you can simply use salt and pepper because the taro has already absorbed the delicious sauce. Also, I coated the mashed taro patties in corn starch so the outside of the cakes are crunchy and the inside are smooth. It is very delicious!! I am sure many kids will like this dish.

Taro is high in potassium and water. Taro also is lower in calories than other kinds of potato. When you chew taro, it can feel slightly gooey. This feeling comes from mucin, which is also in our saliva and stomach juice, and it helps the stomach function better.

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

10 small “Braised Taros”

½ cup Corn Starch

3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

Here is my recipe in PDF: Mashed Taro Cakes

Here is “Braised Taro” recipe in PDF: Braised Taro


3 Comments

Japanese Side Dish “Braised Taro” (Gluten Free/Vegan/Vegetarian)

Today I introduce you to Japanese traditional dish “Braised Taro”. It is a very easy, simple and delicious side dish. My mother always cooked 5 small dishes for each member of our family for every dinner. The 5 dishes idea comes from “Ichijiru-Sansai” which means basic meals should consist of one bowl of cooked rice, one kind of soup and three vegetable or fish side dishes. This dish is great as a side dish in a Japanese meal. In addition, we say “Hara-Hachibu” which means eat until you feel your 80% full, don’t eat until you are too full. This is a Japanese traditional eating rule for being healthy so my mother always prepared small dishes for each of us.

The recipe is easy. Just simmer taros in Dashi stock. I used “Kelp Dashi Stock,” but you can use any kind of stock. The dish is mainly seasoned with soy sauce and the taros become so tender that they absorb the Dashi well so it is very delicious and it is great for vegetarians if you use vegetable stock. Also, it is an oil-free dish so it is very healthy.

When I introduce you cooking Japanese dishes I always try to show you the easiest way to cook these dishes even if you have no experience with cooking Japanese food. For example, in this recipe, I simmered peeled taros in Dashi stock. But usually taro requires extra preparation time for to simmer more easily and make a great final presentation. But in this recipe there is no need to do the extra preparation because even without it this dish is very delicious and looks great. I want everybody to try to cook Japanese dishes in a lighthearted and fun manner so we do not need to make these recipes hard in order to enjoy all the taste, health benefits, and beauty of traditional Japanese dishes.

You can buy taros in many grocery stores in the US and in all Asian markets. The tip for picking a good taro is that the taro should have ball shape, and be a little bigger than a golf ball. This shape and size makes for a good and delicious taro.

Enjoy this delicious, healthy, and nutritious dish. I hope you like it.

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

10 Small Taros

¾ cup Kelp Dashi Stock
(Recommended Dried Kelp)Dried Kelp for Dashi stock

3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

2 Tbsp. Sugar

2 Tbsp. Cooking Sake

4 Tbsp. Mirin Sweet Cooking Rice Wine

Here is my recipe in PDF: Braised Taro

Here is “Kelp Dashi Stock recipe” in PDF: Kelp Dashi stock


2 Comments

Seaweed Salad (Oil-Free/Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)

I will introduce you to “Seaweed and Cucumber Salad” tossed with vinegar and sugar. It is very healthy and delicious! In Japan, we often eat this dish as a side dish because vinegar improves our appetite. And also dishes which include vinegar keep longer. This dish can keep about 5 days in the refrigerator. This is why Sushi rice is seasoned with vinegar. (Basically in Japan about 800 years ago, Sushi was not an expensive food like nowadays. It was a preservative food for common people. The conception was people put pickled fish on cooked rice and fermented it for a day.)



My book Bento for Beginners: 60 Recipes for Easy Bento Box Lunches

is now available on Amazon!!

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You can use some other ingredients for this salad recipe, such as seafood, carrot, Daikon, mushrooms, bean sprouts and so on. But seaweed and cucumber are the most popular ingredients in Japan. Cucumber is high in potassium so it is good for modern humans who tend to eat a high-salt diet. If you want to be healthier, it is good to eat more seaweed because seaweed is high in soluble fiber. Exercising and eating healthy is important to a good diet and the most important thing for improving your digestion and the function of your intestines. So if you want to try to be healthier, at first please think about your digestion. You should eat both insoluble fiber (vegetables, potatoes, mushrooms, beans…) and soluble fiber like seaweed to make your bowels work well. Please add this healthy side dish to your meals!

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{Ingredients (servings 2)}

2 Tbsp. Dried Seaweed

A small Cucumber

1 Tbsp. plus 1 cup Water

2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

1 tsp. Yamasa Organic Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

1 tsp. Sugar

1 tsp. Cooking Sake

A pinch of Salt

White Roasted Sesame Seeds


Here is my recipe in PDF: Seaweed Salad (Oil-Free)


4 Comments

Healthy Fish Nabe (Gluten-Free)

Today I introduce you to Nabe which is a traditional Japanese simmering dish. Nabe is a very easy recipe that you can prepare with many kinds of ingredients. You can make Nabe with sea food, meat, various vegetables and various kinds of stock!

Nabe has a variety of great nutrients that come from the ingredients and the soup, and Nabe makes our bodies warm so Japanese usually have Nabe in winter time. Also, Nabe is a low-calorie dish if you choose the ingredients carefully.

Today, I used Tilapia. Tilapia is high in vitamin D, vitamin B12 and potassium. Also, Tilapia has a soft texture and light taste so it is good for many kinds of dishes. Just be careful not to cook it too much. Overcooking Tilapia makes the texture hard.

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This is the Tofu Shirataki I used. It is a firm tofu noodle and common ingredient for Nabe in Japan. It is very easy for kids to eat. In this recipe you can substitute normal Tofu for this.

Enjoy this healthy and easy dinner!

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

1 fillet Tilapia

10 leaves Napa Cabbage

4 Shiitake mushrooms

3 Green Onions

1 pack Tofu Shirataki

1 piece (5 square inches) Dried Kelp

¼ cup Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

¼ cup Cooking Sake

2 ½ cups Water

Here is my recipe in PDF: Healthy Fish Nabe


10 Comments

Bacon Millefeuille Nabe

Nabe is a traditional Japanese simmering dish. We simmer sea food or meat with various vegetables in Dashi stock seasoning with cooking Sake and soy sauce.

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At home or in restaurants we usually set a cooking pot on a countertop range on the table and share it as cooking the dish. The dish and the cooking warm us and the room up so it is common to have Nabe in winter.

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Today I will introduce you to bacon (I use turkey bacon, but you can use any kind) and Napa cabbage millefeuille Nabe, which requires that we set bacon and Napa cabbage leaves alternatively in a pan and simmer in Dashi stock. This time I used Kelp Dashi stock, but you can use any kind of stock you want.

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We add many kinds of vegetables to Nabe but Napa cabbage is a must-have vegetable. 95% of Napa cabbage is water so it is easy to eat for everybody because of it’s tender texture. The cabbage water also makes Nabe juicy even when simmering for a long time.  Napa cabbage also has great nutrition. It is low calorie and high in vitamin C, potassium, iron, magnesium and so on.

Juicy, tender Napa cabbage and bacon makes your Nabe very delicious! I hope you will like it!!

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

1 head Napa Cabbage

20 slices Bacon

1 cup Kelp Dashi Stock (any kind of stock is okay)
(Recommended instant bonito Dashi powder)Ajinomoto – Hon Dashi

1 Tbsp. Cooking Sake

1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

Here is my recipe in PDF (5 MB): Bacon Millefeuille Nabe

Here is “Kelp Dashi stock” recipe in PDF: Kelp Dashi stock


5 Comments

Delicious Braised Eggplant (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)

Following the previous post “This is what I call a great traditional Japanese dish!”,

https://japanese-food.org/2015/11/05/this-is-what-i-call-a-great-traditional-japanese-dish/

I will introduce you to one more traditional Japanese vegetable side dish which is called “Braised Eggplant”. This is also from Buddhist cuisine. It is very delicious, healthy and low-calorie!

If you like eggplant, I highly recommend you try this! You can enjoy the flavorful, tender, and yummy eggplant. The recipe is very easy and very traditional. I simmer eggplant in Japanese Dashi stock, soy sauce, cooking Sake and Mirin. If you like the flavor in Japanese dishes  you should keep soy sauce, cooking Sake, Mirin and Dashi stock on hand (here is my Dashi stock recipe in PDF: Homemade Anchovy Dashi StockKelp Dashi stock ) (also some Asian markets carry useful Dashi stock powder). If you want to try more healthy dishes but you are not a big fan of Japanese flavors, you can just simmer the eggplant in vegetable stock and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. This is also a healthy and low-calorie dish. Unfortunately, however, if you cook it this way you will not get the protein that we get from soy sauce. In fact, my family doesn’t eat soy beans often, we usually get the soy nutrition from soy sauce, Tofu, Miso (soy bean paste), Natto (fermented soy beans), soy milk and so on.

In this recipe, I didn’t peel the eggplant because one of the important nutrients, Anthocyanin (antioxidant), is found in high amounts in eggplant skin. If you don’t like the gooey texture that the skin adds you can peel the eggplant.


{Ingredients (servings 2)}

½ Eggplant

1 cup Kelp Dashi Stock
(Recommended Dried Kelp for Dashi stock) Dashi Dried Kelp

2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
(Recommended Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)Soy Sauce REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic)

2 Tbsp. Cooking Sake

2 Tbsp. Mirin Sweet Cooking Rice Wine


Here is my recipe in PDF (4 MB): Braised Eggplant

Here is my “Kelp Dashi Stock” recipe in PDF: Kelp Dashi stock