Tag Archives: japanese

Japanese Pumpkin and Azuki Bean Soup

29 Dec

Feeling a little bit nasty after over-indulging over Christmas? You need a bowl of nutritious soup that makes you feel all virtuous and healthy inside.

Kabocha squash (or Japanese pumpkin) has dark green skin with lighter stripes. Inside, the flesh is a bright yellowy orange colour and it has a natural sweetness that makes it delicious as well as nutritious. I saw this one growing in the fields where we walk the dog but have been unable to find them to buy here. Apparently they are readily available in Australia, New Zealand & the US as well as in Japan obviously.

Azuki beans (or adzuki beans) are small, reddish-brown beans with a white ridge along one edge. Cooked, they have a sweet, nutty flavor. They originated in China but are also popular in Japan. Here are the nutritional benefits of eating these amazing little beans. Taken from Natural Health Articles Continue reading

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Tempura Green Peppers with Dipping Sauce

2 Sep

First of all, sorry for my lack of posts recently. I’ve had some sort of virus and I couldn’t eat. I know, it was awful. Everything made me feel sick, even the smell of food was repulsive. I haven’t cooked anything for a week. The Washer Up has been surviving on pasta (and beer obviously) and is now desperate for something different.

This has been on my “to make” list ever since these beautiful long emerald peppers first made an appearance in the fields where we walk the dog about  a month ago. They are known as frying peppers here and are used in a typically Andaluz dish called Pimientos Fritos (fried peppers) where they are simply fried in lots of good olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

This Spanish/Japanese fusion came to me because I wanted to do something a little different from the usual fried peppers and I saw Nami’s recipe for Shrimp Tempura. She also posted a video of a Japanese chef making proper tempura and I was intrigued. It looked light, airy, crispy and delicate. A million miles away from the doughy excuses you get for tempura in most places.

They are not perfect but I’m really pleased with my first attempt at making tempura. They are light, crispy and gorgeous with the dipping sauce. It’s not as hard as I thought. The kitchen’s a bit of  a state though, better clean that up before The Washer Up gets home…

I’d definitely recommend heading over to Nami’s blog and watching the video if you are going to have a go at this. It’s amazing to watch and so much easier than me trying to explain it!

Green Pepper Tempura with Dipping Sauce Recipe

Serves 2, vegan. Adapted from Just One Cookbook

  • 4 medium long green peppers (frying peppers)
  • 2 or 3 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch, maizena)
  • 100 gr (3/4 cup) flour. I’m going to try it with rice flour next time.
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200 ml iced water
  • oil for deep-frying

For the dipping sauce:

  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 1/2 tsp dashi flakes/powder (I used ajishima no dashi)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine or sake
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • a pinch of shichimi (a Japanese 7 spice chilli pepper mix)
  • salt & shichimi to serve

First make the dipping sauce. Heat all the ingredients in a small sauce pan over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the dashi. When boiling remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Cut your peppers in half lengthways, through the stalk so that both sides has a bit of stalk to pick them up with. Lay them on a plate and sieve over the cornflour. Turn the peppers in the cornflour until evenly coated. Heat up your oil in a wok or deep frying pan over a medium high heat, 170 C.

Sieve the flour, baking powder & salt into a bowl and whisk in the ice-cold water until just combined to make a batter. Don’t over whisk. 

Dip your peppers into the batter and coat them well (you will need to do it in two batches). Carefully lower them into the hot oil and sprinkle over some more batter from a height with your fingers. This gives it that extra light crispy coating. Use a metal slotted spoon or chopsticks to move the peppers onto the bits of batter (watch the video it explains it so much better) and cook for 2 or 3 minutes turning once to cook on both sides.

Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you cook the rest.

To serve, pile up the peppers sprinkle with sea salt and shichimi pepper and pour some of the dipping sauce into a bowl.

 Buen Provecho!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……..

I’ve been trying to get a shot of this for ages. There’s a pair of them in the spring where Rufus likes to cool down. They look like a cross between a dragonfly and a butterfly. The Washer Up got the shot in the end, he was more patient then me and willing to balance on a rock in the stream while trying not to fall in.

He also spotted this one through a gap in a fence….

I love that you can see it’s cute little face…

Have a great weekend…

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Spring Onions, Chives and Awards

14 May

I’ll start by saying a big thank you to Kimberli at Kimberli’s Kitchen for passing a Versatile Blogger award onto me. Go and check out her blog, she makes lovely cookies!

The rules of these things are that :

  1. You must thank the person who awarded you by linking back to their post (check)
  2. You have to list 7 interesting things about yourself  (Seven! Oh dear) 
  3. You have to pass the award on to 15 other new or newly discovered blogs. (That’s the easy part)

The following blogs are new (or new-ish) to me and I find them all inspiring in different ways…

Journeys of Your Life. Andrew is living the dream and doing his round the world trip in style. Stops in New York, Peru, Thailand, Bali, India and more. Jealous much?!

A Meandering Mango Bhavani takes some of the most beautiful pictures of food I have seen. I want to be that good!

Pearl & Pine Sarah has an understated and beautiful blog. Her food is simple and elegant. I love her photos of Seattle it makes me want to live there even though it seems to rain all the time!

The Culinary Taste Rita lives in Tuscany with her husband and little boy Lapo. She makes simple, seasonal Italian inspired food and she has just written a children’s book for her son’s first birthday.

Beloved Green Clarkie makes delicious food that you want to eat. Her step by step photos are always gorgeous and she has a soft spot for beautifully designed things.

Two Tarts Sarah are Dulcie are two friends who like to cook and make things from scratch. They show you how to make things like ricotta and mascarpone and then give you a list of gorgeous recipes to make with them. They also post full menus for entertaining which is really brilliant.

Chocolate Chilli Mango As the name suggests, Viviane is obsessed with chocolate and uses her Italian genes to come up with some beautifully delicious sweet things that may have an exotic Aussie twist!

KO Rasoi Sanjana makes the most mouth-watering Indian vegetarian food out there and photographs it beautifully.

Alexa Marsden Alexa is an artist and photographer who also has a  beautiful vegetarian/vegan food blog. Some people can just be too talented you know!

Sweet Caroline’s Cooking Caroline is, as the name suggests, very sweet. Her happy, smiling face greets you when you arrive at her blog and you immediately feel at home. Home cooked beautiful food at it’s best. Margarita cupcakes, need I say more!

Mission Delectable Kirsten lives in San Francisco and I love every delicious recipe she posts. Her photos are light and beautiful, and her dog is just gorgeous!

Moderate Oven Dani makes healthy, seasonal dishes for her family using local produce and has a beautiful vegetable garden to pick from too. So jealous!

A little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock n’ Roll Mama J muses on food, family, music and life. Her vegetarian food is always what I want to eat right now. She also takes beautiful pictures of flowers!

Rufus’ Food & Spirit Guide Rufus is not a spirit guide in the yogic sense (as I thought when I first read it!). What he does do is make interesting, eclectic recipes and amazing cocktails. I love that combination!

The Taste Space  Janet/Saveur posts delicious vegetarian recipes with a definite world flavour. Think Middle Eastern, Asian and Mexican with a whole lot more thrown in. My idea of heaven! 

Okay so that’s my 15 new- ish finds. I really hope you check them out and have a good look round. You won’t regret it and if you feel like leaving a comment don’t forget to say who sent you…..

So back to the recipe while I struggle to find SEVEN interesting things to share about myself….

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat so they are gluten-free. They are also delicious. They have a nutty whole-wheat flavour which goes perfectly with the sesame oil. You can serve them hot in a stir fry or noodle broth but I actually prefer them cold which is how the Japanese serve them. Something about the cold bringing out the flavours and textures I think. They are also extremely more- ish (not Moorish). You can definitely eat a large bowl by yourself, no problem. Which is fine because they’re good for you.

This is our little chive plant which is growing on our roof terrace. It’s beautiful purple flowers make it stand out from the rest of the herbs so I wanted to do a recipe using chives as a main ingredient. This is a Nigella recipe that I make quite often, I just added the chives, it’s delicious…

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad with Spring Onions & Chives

serves 1, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe

  • about 100 gr soba noodles (about 200 gr cooked)
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • a bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 25 gr (or more) sesame seeds, toasted

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat until golden brown, and tip them into a bowl. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add some salt. Put in the soba noodles and cook them for about 6 -8 minutes (or according to packet instructions) until they are just tender. Have a bowl of iced water waiting to plunge them into after draining.

In the bowl you are going to serve the noodles in, whisk together the vinegar, rice wine, soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Then add most of the spring onions and chives into the bowl with the cooled, drained noodles and mix together thoroughly before adding most of the sesame seeds and tossing again.

Leave the sesame noodles for about half an hour to let the flavours develop if physically possible.  If not, serve straight away garnished with the remaining, spring onions, chives and sesame seeds.

Okay so here we go: Seven “Interesting” Facts you may not know about me……

  1. I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years (that’s scary)
  2. When I was 13 I saw an episode of the TV show MASH where they had a pet lamb. By the end of the show they had to eat it. I never ate meat again.
  3. I developed breast cancer 2 years ago aged 36. I’ve just finished my treatment which was 6 months of chemo & lapatinib (a clinical trial) followed by an operation to remove the tumor. Then 6 weeks of radiotherapy and then a year of Herceptin.
  4. I now feel better than ever and attribute my swift recovery to a combination of conventional treatment, healthy diet (during treatment I stopped eating dairy (cow) products and all sugars, including fruit), reiki sessions and some alternative medicines such as Salvestrol, LDN and Melatonin. Salvestrol and LDN I will continue to take for the rest of my life.
  5. We used to own a restaurant where I designed the menus but I never went in the kitchen, except to make tea.
  6. None of my friends and family can believe that I now cook because from the age of 18 I lived on a diet that consisted of Marks & Spencer’s mashed potato and hummus, and I NEVER cooked!
  7. My ambition is to publish a vegetarian/vegan cookbook that will be a  vegetarian culinary journey around the world.

Enjoy!!

Thai Spiced Crispy Cabbage Pancake (or Japanese Pizza)

18 Mar

I was looking for a recipe to use up the other half of  the cabbage I used to make my Cabbage, Potato & Leek Soup and found this on 101 Cookbooks. The origianl version is called Okonomiyaki but is also known as Japanese Pizza. It is nothing like a pizza except, I suppose, it’s round. It is delicious though and you can add whatever flavourings you like. I added some toasted sushi nori (the seaweed sheets) and some Thai Massaman curry paste which gave it great flavour. It’s kind of like street food in your own home. It has that crispy, fried, spicy addictive thing that you want to eat with your hands. The shredded cabbage is mixed with leeks, eggs, wholemeal flour and whatever seasoning you fancy.

It’s a mixture of a pancake, frittata, tortilla, rosti and squeak without the bubble. But it definitely is not a pizza….

Thai Spiced Crispy Cabbage Pancake (or Japanese Pizza)

makes 3 or 4 large thin pancakes, vegetarian. Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

  • 1/2 head cabbage, core removed and finely shredded
  • 1 large leek, dark green ends removed, cut in half lengthways, rinsed well and sliced
  • 100 gr wholemeal flour (or plain)
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 2 tbsp curry paste (whatever you have)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 2 sheets of sushi nori (toasted under the grill for few seconds on each side)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh coriander to serve

In a large bowl, mix together the cabbage, leeks, flour, salt & black pepper until everything is coated in the flour. Stir in the beaten eggs, curry paste, oyster sauce and finely crumble over the toasted nori sheets. Mix well to make sure everything is evenly distribited.

Heat  about 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add a quarter of the cabbage mixture to the hot pan and press it out and down to fill the pan with a metal spatula. Make sure it is quite thin & flat. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. To flip it, slide it out onto a plate, place another plate on top and turn them over. Add some more oil to the pan if necessary and slide the pancake back into the frying pan. Press down with the spatula and cook for a further 3 -5 minutes until golden on that side too.

Serve straight away garnished with lots of fresh coriander leaves. This is a perfect quick and easy supper or brunch dish with bags of flavour. Great hangover food that isn’t bad for you!!

Mountains of Greens Miso Soup

9 Jan

While walking the dog today it hit me how many greens there are growing here at the moment. There are cabbages…

Lettuces…

Acelgas (Chard)……

and spring onions…

All growing in very neat & tidy rows…

These are the greens I had at home..

I was inspired by a Japanese dish called Nanakusa-Shiru I found on Bittersweet which promises wealth, luck and a healthy clean start to the year. The ingredients are greens, herbs, brown rice & miso paste. Healthy, delicious, nutritious and warming. Proper feel good food that is good for you. I just used everything green that I had in my fridge…

Mountains of Greens Miso Soup

serves 4 – 6 vegan

  • 150 gr uncooked brown rice
  • 1/2 head cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut in half lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped & leaves
  • 4 garlic chives/ajillos (look like scallions see photo above) sliced, or 2 cloves garlic. minced
  • 1 spanish spring onion (or 4 scallions) chopped
  • 1/2 bag spinach about 150gr
  • 1 little gem /lettuce heart, sliced
  • a thumbsize piece of ginger peeled & grated about 1tbsp
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped. Stalks chopped separately
  • 100 gr red miso paste
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1/2 litre water (maybe more)
  • a few drops sesame oil
  • 1 or 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
  • salt
  • sesame seeds
  • dried chilli flakes
  • coriander leaves

Cook the brown rice according to the instructions on the pack, rinse well in cold water and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot over a medium heat, heat some oil then add the leeks, celery, garlic chives, spring onions, ginger, coriander stalks & a good pinch of salt. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until softened & fragrant then add the sliced cabbage. Pour in the veg stock and water,(you may want to add more water) bring to the boil then reduce the heat & simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the miso paste with a couple of spoonfuls of the hot stock and mix well to loosen it. Pour the miso into the soup pot and stir. Add in the cooked rice, the rest of the greens and the chopped coriander. Cook for a couple of minutes then season with a few drops of sesame oil and the Shaoxing rice wine. Taste and add some salt if necessary. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with coriander leaves, sesame seeds and a small pinch of chilli flakes.

This recipe can be adapted to use whatever greens you have.  Most greens can go in right at the end as they just need to wilt in the hot broth. Cabbage needs a little longer. 

This is one of those dishes that is really good for you and it also tastes fantastic, so you don’t feel like you are being deprived. In fact you can feel safe in the knowledge that you are treating your body as a temple for a change and really enjoying it…!

Red Onion Tempura Bhajis

3 Dec

 

I’ve never made onion bhajis before. I had been thinking about making red onion rings using a tempura batter then I found a recipe for Indian Onion Fritters on one of my favourite food blogs http://tesathome.com Tes is from Thailand but lives in India so her blog is full of really inspiring recipes from these two fantastic countries as well as beautiful photos from her travels around India & Thailand.

 Tes’s recipe uses besan which is chickpea flour to make the batter. I didn’t have any but I had some rice flour so I decided to go down the Japanese Tempura batter route but add in the Indian spices. The batter I made was very liquidy so I panicked a bit and thickened it with a few Panko breadcrumbs just to continue with the Japanese theme.

I was really pleased, they turned out to be deliciously light, crispy & spicy just how I had imagined. The colour of the red onions made them look more special. I love it when experiments work out and I hope Tes approves of my fusion of Japanese technique with Indian flavours…

Red Onion Tempura Bhajis

Serves 2 or 3 as a snack or starter,Vegetarian

  • 1 large red onion, cut in half & sliced into half moons
  • 1 small green chilli chopped
  • about 100 gr rice flour 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • ice-cold sparkling water
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Mix the rice flour, turmeric & salt together in a bowl then slowly whisk in the fizzy water until you get the consistency of single cream. Add the sliced onion, chopped chilli & coriander and mix well. Sprinkle over some panko breadcrumbs until it thickens into more of a paste.

Heat about 5cm oil in a wok/frying pan over a medium high heat until hot. Take a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and drop it into the hot oil. You can probably do 3 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Cook them for about 2 or 3 minutes turning occasionally until golden brown & crispy. Pat dry on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.

Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over the bhajis & some yoghurt mixed with lemon juice, mint & salt to dip them in. Eat with your fingers………….Enjoy!

Chinese Mushroom, Pak Choi and Sesame Soba Noodles

6 Nov

We went to the chinese supermarket in Fuengirola yesterday to buy some noodles. Obviously we ended up buying loads more stuff. I love it there, there’s always something new and exciting to try- something you just have to have ! I love the packaging as well I am such a sucker for nice packaging it doesn’t matter what it is. I am always inspired by what is on offer and have to go home straight away to cook with it.

Yesterday we bought some lovely japanese buckwheat noodles in a gorgeous jade green packet.

We also bought an enormous pak choi, some dried shitake mushrooms & some fresh little oyster mushrooms.

This was the biggest pak choi I had ever seen, I just had to have it. They are normally small and slightly wilted looking and a bit disappointing really but this looked delicious. I think pak choi must be part of the Acelgas family because when I was walking Rufus this morning the acelgas growing looked really good as well, they must be near to harvesting them now. The Spanish call pak choi Acelgas Chinas which translates as Chinese Chard.

The Spanish cook the white stalks of the acelgas in butter first until tender and then add the leaves to wilt, which is how I am going to treat this huge pak choi but without the butter!

We also bought some fermented chilli bean paste which is one of my favourite asian ingredients. It gives a really spicy, savoury flavour to loads of dishes, essential store cupboard ingredient..

The other bottle is Shaoxing rice wine, another storecupboard favourite, it gives great authentic flavour but you can use sherry if you can’t get any. We also bought some new props for photos like the chopsticks, little rice bowl & spoon and a red painted white bowl. Asian supermarkets are great for props. They are cheap and look great in photos. Needless to say The Washer Up had to drag me out before I bought more stuff, I do get a bit carried away and excited…..

So those are the ingredients that inspired this dish, here’s how they come together..

Chinese Mushroom & Pak Choi Sesame Soba Noodles

Serves 2-3 Vegetarian

  • about 6 dried shitake mushrooms (or whatever dried mushrooms you can find)
  •  150-200gr oyster mushrooms
  • 1 large pak choi or 3 small
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped finely
  • 1/2 large spanish spring onion chopped finely (or 3 or 4 scallions)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • a handful of fresh coriander including stalks
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 or 3 tsp chilli bean paste (depending how hot you like it)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce (I use kecap manis its sweeter & less salty)
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  •  2tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2oo gr japanese buckwheat soba noodles (or your favourite noodles)
  • sesame seeds

First of all put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover them. Leave to rehydrate for about 20 mins. Meanwhile put the noodles in a pan of boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions (about 4 or 5 minutes), drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.

Pull away the pak choi leaves from the root and wash if necessary. Cut the green parts away from the white and set aside then chop the white parts into 1 cm slices. Slice the oyster mushrooms if they are big (I left mine whole as they where mini), then finely slice the rehydrated dried mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid to add to the dish when cooking.

Finely chop the coriander stalks and keep them separate from the leaves. Heat about a tbsp of veg oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spring onions, garlic, coriander stalks and ginger paste then grind over some white pepper stirring constantly. Add the chilli bean paste, mushrooms and the white parts of the pak choi. Stir fry for 1 minute then add the soy sauce (or kecap manis), the sugar, rice wine, sesame oil and 2 spoonfuls of the reserved mushroom liquid. Stir fry for another minute before adding in the cooked noodles(a handful at a time), the green leaves of the pak choi and the chopped coriander leaves. Stir fry again to heat through then taste for seasoning you may need salt or more soy sauce.

Serve in warmed bowls sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds & coriander leaves.

Enjoy in your new asian bowls!!

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