Chirashizushi

When I was a child, my mom always made this Chirashi zushi for my birthday or Girl’s Day which is March 3rd, and she still makes this when I visit her. This is a very special dish for me and I make it for my sons on special occasions.

“Chirashi Zushi” means ‘scattered sushi’ because all the delicious toppings are scattered or strewn over the rice just before serving.

What you need;4 servings

Rice

  • 2 cups Japanese style short grain sushi rice (500ml)
  • 2 cups water (500ml)
  • 1 small piece of Kombu (dried kelp), (optional)

Sushi Vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

Other Ingredients

  • 2 pcs Koya Tofu (freeze dried tofu)
  • 2 Carrots about 150g
  • 1 ½ cup Konbu Dashi
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ½ tablespoon low sodium soysauce
  • ½ tsp salt

Pickled Renkon (for topping)

  • 100 g of Renkon – Lotus root
  • 3 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar

50g blanched snow peas or green beans (for topping)

Making Sushi Rice;

  1. Put the rice in a large bowl, fill with cold water and mix gently. Pour off the first water immediately.
  2. Wash the rice like you are rubbing grains with your hand.
  3.  Thoroughly rinse the rice with several changes of water until it runs clear.
  4.  If you are using a rice cooker, put the 2 cups rice and 2 cups water in the rice cooker and cook the rice according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If using kombu for flavour, place it on top of the rice just before closing the lid and pressing start.
  5.  If you are not using a rice cooker, pour the 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water (and the kombu if you are using it) into a deep saucepan and let stand 15 minutes. Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom. Immediately after coming to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer, cover, and simmer without stirring for 10-15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow to stand with the lid still in place for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.
  6. Meanwhile make the sushi vinegar. Put the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl or a jar and stir until dissolved.
  7. Transfer the rice to a large bowl, preferably a wooden one, and remove the piece of Kombu if you are using it. Pour the sushi vinegar slowly over the rice using the back of your rice paddle or spatula to broaden and gentle the stream. Mix the rice to distribute the sushi vinegar thoroughly. To prevent breaking the grains and avoid mashing them together, use a “cutting” or “slicing” motion to mix with the rice paddle or spatula. Throughout the vinegaring and mixing process, fan the rice with your other hand using a Japanese fan or a piece of cardboard.

Preparing the other ingredients;

  1. Soak koyadofu in water for 5-10 minutes, then gently squeeze the excess water from koyadofu. Slice them into small pieces.
  2. Cut carrots about same pieces as koyadofu and set aside.
  3.  In a medium pot, combine dashi, sugar, soy sauce and salt and bring to boil. Add koyadofu and bring the heat down to medium low and cook for about 10 minutes till the koyadofu softens. Add the carrots and cook another 2 minutes. Let cool.

Pickled Renkon;

  1. Peel renkon and slice into thin slices about 2 mm thickness. If the slices are still quite large, cut them into halves or quarters. In a small pot, bring water to boil. Add sliced renkon and blanch for just 3 or 4 minutes so they retain some crunchiness.
  2. Mix sugar and vinegar in a small bowl.
  3.  Soak the blanched renkon slices in sugar and vinegar mixture and let stand for 15 minutes.

Mixing rice and other ingredients;

  1.  Mix sushi rice and the other ingredients (except renkon and green beans or snow peas). Plate the rice mixture and to finish it off scatter pickled renkon and sliced snow peas or green beans over top.

Tips: Use gluten free soy sauce for a gluten free version. This is also another vegan recipe.

Avocado Rolls

Everybody loves Avocado rolls and they are much easier than you think. If you follow my simple steps, you can make and enjoy all kinds of sushi at home!

Kimiko’s Basic Sushi Rice

Rice

  • 2 cups Japanese style short grain sushi rice (500ml)
  • 2 cups water (500ml)
  • 1 small piece of Kombu (dried kelp), (optional)

Sushi Vinegar Mixture

  • 5 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons White Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  1.  Put the rice in a large bowl, fill with cold water and mix gently. Pour off the first water immediately. (This is very important for best flavour, as it flushes away dust and debris before it infiltrates the rice itself)
  2.  Wash the rice like you are rubbing grains with your hand.
  3.  Thoroughly rinse the rice with several changes of water until it runs clear. This is the step my husband always gets wrong – he doesn’t wash quite long or thoroughly enough, and the rice never quite tastes the way it should!
  4.  If you are using a rice cooker, put the 2 cups rice and 2 cups water in the rice cooker and cook the rice according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If using kombu for flavour, place it on top of the rice just before closing the lid and pressing start.
  5. If you are not using a rice cooker, pour the 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water (and the kombu if you are using it) into a deep saucepan and let stand 15 minutes. Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom. Immediately after coming to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer, cover, and simmer without stirring for 10-15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow to stand with the lid still in place for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.
  6. Meanwhile make the sushi vinegar. Put the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl or a jar and stir until dissolved.
  7.  Transfer the rice to a large bowl, preferably a wooden one, and remove the piece of Kombu if you are using it. Pour the sushi vinegar slowly over the rice using the back of your rice paddle or spatula to broaden and gentle the stream. Mix the rice to distribute the sushi vinegar thoroughly. To prevent breaking the grains and avoid mashing them together, use a “cutting” or “slicing” motion to mix with the rice paddle or spatula. Throughout the vinegaring and mixing process, fan the rice with your other hand using a Japanese fan or a piece of cardboard. Fanning will cool the rice to the right temperature and is critical to evaporating excess moisture.
  8. Cover the bowl of freshly prepared rice with a damp cloth until you are ready to make sushi (ie: start “rolling” with other ingredients, just before serving). Do not store fresh sushi rice in the refrigerator as it will harden the rice. It’s best to use the rice up completely within a few hours, but if you do have leftover sushi rice, it can be stored in the refrigerator in a well sealed container and warmed up in a microwave for later use.

Kimiko’s Avocado Inside-out rolls (makes about 10 rolls)

  • 1 Avocado 20 pcs of 4 inch long avocado
  • 1 Kimiko’s Basic sushi rice (recipe above)
  • 5 sheets of nori, halved
  1. Cover a rolling mat with plastic wrap.
  2. Place a half-sheet of nori, shiny side down, rough side up on a rolling mat. The long edge of the nori sheet should be towards you.
  3. Spread the rice in a thin layer on the nori, covering whole area of nori. Carefully flip over rice covered nori sheet onto the plastic wrap covered rolling mat.
  4. Arrange two pieces of avocado in a line along the middle of the nori. Lift the edge of the mat closest to you and start rolling up the sushi away from you, tightening the mat as you roll. Put a little water-vinegar mixture along the far edge to seal it.

Suggested fillings;

Cucumber, avocado, bell pepper, asparagus, egg omelets, mushroom, pickles, salmon, tuna, canned tuna etc and any of mixture.

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Chicken Yakitori marinated with Herb Koji

Shiokoji (Salted Koji) is a fermented mixture of Koji, (rice inoculated with the special — and safe — mold Aspergillus oryzae), shio (sea salt) and water and it’s used as a seasoning in place of salt.  It’s packed with Umami and bring out of more flavor of any meat.

I used Herb koji from Misoya Nagomi for this recipe, but regular shiokoji makes chicken so delicious too!

What you need; Makes about 15 skewers

  • 1 lb. (425g) of Chicken breast or thigh chopped into ½” cubes
  • 2 ½ tbsp. of Herb Koji
  • Bamboo skewers

How to;

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the chicken and Herb koji and marinate for 4-5 hours.
  2. Thread chicken onto skewers about 5 pcs each.
  3. Grilling or BBQ Grill until charred and cooked through, about 6 minutes per side._DSC1802 _DSC1801

Yakisoba with thin sliced pork

Yakisoba is one of very popular street food in Japan. I remember going to Night market with my family, my sister and I wearing Yukata (summer kimono) and smelling of delicious, hot cooked Yakisoba on a big griddle. Also buying Yakisoba hotdog ( yes, Yakisoba between hotdog buns, totally carb packed!) from a corner store close to our house after school is a great memory. And oh, I just loved it!

Traditionally either pork, beef or prawn, sometimes this sliced squid are used for Yakisoba. Mix of pork and prawn or Beef and Prawn is delicious as well.

What you need;

One serving

  • 1 package of Yakisoba noodle (pre-cooked/pre-steamed)
  • 1 pce cabbage cut into bite size
  • 2″ carrot, cut into thin rectangles
  • 50g of thin sliced pork, cut into 1″
  • Yakisoba sauce
  • Beni shoga (red pickled ginger)
  • Aonori (dried green seaweed)
  • a bit of ketchup if you like sweeter taste
  • Salt and pepper

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How to;

  1. Place Yakisoba noodle in a colander and pour hot water over to lightly loosen the noodle.
  2. Drain well and set aside.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in medium fryingpan or wok on medium heat.
  4. Stir-fry the pork until almost cooked.
  5. Add carrots in the pan and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add cabbage in the pan and season with salt and pepper
  7. Stir-fry for an another minute till everything is cooked.
  8. Add the noodle and Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes stirring quickly.
  9. Add yakisoba sauce, a bit of ketchup if using and stir well.
  10. Serve with Aonori and Benishoga. Yum!

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Shiraae dressing/dip

Shiraae is a classic Japanese side dish. It is thick yummy dressing made of Tofu, Miso and Sesame seeds mixed with various vegetables. I often use this dressing as a dip for vegetables or filling for a sandwich.

Makes about 1 1/2 cup

What you need;

  • 200g Medium tofu
  • 4 tablespoons ground toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  1. In a small pot, bring enough water to a boil to cover the tofu.
  2. Tear tofu to 5-6 pieces and add to the pot. Boil for just about 2minutes and drain and let it cool and set aside..
  3. In a small bowl, put the tofu, sesame seeds, miso and sugar and mix well.

Tips:

For classic shiraae, mix the dressing with blanched  spinach, broccoli or carrots or try any other vegetable you like.

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Gyoza

I like to use organic turkey meat instead of the pork traditionally used in Japan and I use lots of cabbage and green onions. To wrap gyozas is very fun to do as a family. My husband and three sons always help me to wrap and we enjoy making them into different shapes. Also making it to “Gyoza party” with your friends would be so fun!

  (approx. 45-50pcs)

  •  300g cabbage
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 300 g minced turkey, chicken or pork
  • 1 small piece ginger
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt
  • 45-50 round gyoza wrappers

Gyoza dipping sauce:

  •  2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  •  3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • Chili oil (dash) optional
  • Japanese mustard on the side (optional)
  1. Microwave the cabbage for 3 minutes on high, and squeeze out the liquid. Let cool before chopping finely. Squeeze out liquid again from the chopped cabbage. Chop the green onion finely and grate the ginger.
  2. Place the ground/minced meat of your choice, soy sauce and salt in a large bowl and combine well. Add in the cabbage, green onion, ginger and mix the filling together.
  3. Spoon about one heaping teaspoonful of filling in the center of each wrapper. Moisten a finger with a little water and run it halfway around the inside edge of the wrapper, to create a sticky edge. Fold over to enclose the filling, making a half-moon shape, and squeeze the wetted edge to the opposite edge to seal. It can also be useful (and prettier) to pinch the sealed edge several times to make a serrated sort of pattern.
  4. Heat a frying pan — preferably non stick — and add one tablespoon of oil. Place the gyoza in the pan in rows. Fry until the bottoms of Gyoza are golden brown (about 5 minutes) then add water to half cover the gyoza and immediately cover with a lid and cook until the water evaporates —about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and turn the heat down to medium till the pan is dry.
  6. Place gyoza upside down on a serving plate to show the beautifully browned side, and serve with the sauce in separate dipping dishes.

Uncooked gyoza can be stored in the freezer. When cooking frozen gyoza, do not thaw or defrost first; gyoza should be fried while still frozen.

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Kimiko’s Japanese Kitchen

One of my dreams is publishing my own Japanese cooking book! It will have many authentic Japanese recipes and stories. I have started to write a little and will write more and I am hoping to share them with you. Please write me back if you have any comments or improvement I can make. Whenever you see blog title called Kimiko’s Japanese Kitchen, it’s a book project I am writing and working on. Thank you for reading my stories!

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The bounty of great ingredients for everyday home cooking

I am so grateful that I am able to cook for my family every day. Without them, I wouldn’t have realized how good ingredients and the everyday meals created from them are so important, not only to our bodies, but our family connections, culture, and communities. Cooking for your own family gives an appreciation of truly ‘good’ food, and the farmers and cooks who bring it to the table.

Healthy eating – Happy body and mind

I strongly believe “you are what you eat.” When you are eating well, your body is happy, has lots of energy and just feels good inside and outside. Because of today’s busy life style, omnipresent fast food shops, and ready-made foods on supermarket shelves, heavily processed unhealthy foods are hard to avoid. But cooking healthy foods doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t require a lot of time in the kitchen. Most of the recipes in this blog/cookbook are what I cook at home for my family. They are healthy, simple and delicious Japanese dishes using lots of fresh local vegetables and other ingredients. They don’t require much special equipment, but I admit some of the dishes do require quite a bit of preparation. I think that it is a labour of love, reflecting your effort and your love for your family. I wish you the joy of cooking; serving nutritional foods to your family and yourself is more than just cooking, it is building the habit of a healthy life style for yourself and your family.

With this blog/cookbook and a few key ingredients, now you don’t have to go to Japanese restaurants, you can enjoy even healthier Japanese dishes at home!