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How to cook "with visual instructions" healthy, traditional and delicious Japanese dishes!!


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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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Sweet Sesame Dressing (Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free)

This is a traditional Japanese side dish which dresses boiled spinach with sweet sesame dressing. It is healthy, delicious, easy and a very quick dish.

The dressing contains sesame, soy sauce and sugar, and it has sweet taste so many kids can also enjoy the dish.

The basic arrangement for many Japanese meals is called “Ichi-jiru, San-sai” which consists of one bowl of cooked rice, one kind of soup and three vegetables or fish side dishes, so this is a very common dish in the Japanese diet.

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Enjoy this new healthy side dish!!

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

½ bunch Fresh Spinach

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

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1 Tbsp. Mirin Sweet Cooking Rice Wine

1 Tbsp. White Roasted Sesame Seeds

Here is my recipe in PDF: Sweet Sesame Dressing


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Very Flavorful!! “Asparagus with Bacon”

This is a common recipe for bacon-wrapped asparagus in Japan. We wrap a cut asparagus with a piece of bacon. The dish is usually pan-fried or grilled. You will often see bacon-wrapped asparagus on a long stick on the menu at Yakitori restaurants in Japan. When making it as a homemade dish, we usually use a toothpick instead of the long stick because it is easy to cook. But be careful about the toothpicks when you and your family eat. Of course you can serve without toothpicks even though the bacon wrap might come off.

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I use turkey bacon in this recipe but you can use any kind of bacon you want. And also if you or your family don’t like using cooking Sake or white wine for the dishes, you can substitute stock or broth for those.

We have this dish as a side dish and we sometimes put it in our lunch boxes.

In Japan, some kindergartens, most elementary schools (1st~6th grade) and some junior high schools (7th~9th grade) serve school lunch. If the school doesn’t have school lunch, we bring boxed lunches (sometimes the school also has a small shop to get lunch). My mother made boxed lunches for me and my sister all the time when our school didn’t serve lunch. We loved her lunch boxes so much!!

This is one of common Japanese school lunch.

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Recently, many Japanese mothers cook very cute lunch box dishes for their kids, which we call “Character Bento”. They decorate their lunch as cartoon’s characters with many ingredients to make their kids happy to eat everything. I really respect the mothers because they get up very early, prepare their family’s breakfast and a wonderful lunch box for their kids (some of them prepare lunch boxes for their husbands as well, not “Character Bento” though), and then many of these mothers get ready to go to their own work!

My Japanese friend made these boxed lunches! It is incredible!!! The 2 pictures are “Character Bento” for her boys. The 3rd one is a normal Bento for family event.

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I recommend this dish with any meal. If you want to have it for breakfast or in a lunch box, you can prepare it the previous day and cook it in the morning, or you can cook it the previous day and microwave in the morning, because the cutting, wrapping and cooking can take a little extra time, especially in the morning.

{Ingredients (servings 2)}

10 Asparagus spears

10 slices Turkey Bacon (any kind of bacon is okay)

A pinch of Salt and Pepper

¼ cup Cooking Sake or white wine

1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

Here is my recipe in PDF (5 MB): Asparagus with Bacon