Soba noodle with Wasabi mayo dressing

Soba noodles are made from Buckwheat flour and have a nutty flavour. They can be eaten as warm noodle soup and cold noodles with a dipping sauce.

When you look for soba noodles, check the label to make sure the brand you choose have as much as buckwheat flour possible for health benefit.

I like to serve this salad as an light appetizer or for light and quick lunch with hard boiled egg or poached chicken.

what you need; 4 servings for appetizer or 2 servings for lunch

  • 5-6 mini cucumbers or 1/2 English cucumber cut into bite sizes
  • 1 avocado cut into bite sizes
  • 2 bundles of buckwheat noodles
  • Finely chopped green onion and cilantro

for dressing

  • 4 tablespoons of Japanese mayo
  • a bit of wasabi paste

How to;

  1. Cook buckwheat noodles according to the package and set a side.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mayo and wasabi.
  3. Arrange buckwheat noodles on a large serving plates and arrange the cucumbers and avocados on top.
  4. Sprinkle the green onion and cilantro.
  5. Serve with wasabi mayo dressing.

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Simple avocado pressed sushi

I love serving this sushi for appetizers! So simple to make and pretty. Traditionally we use a wooden box to make this type of sushi, but instead I use a square baking pan. Please feel free to use a square paper box or even a milk carton!

What you need;

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
  • 3 tablespoons White Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt

Topping

2-3 avocado sliced

How to;

  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.

How to assemble this simple avocado sushi.

  1. First line a pan with a plastic wrap (this helps to remove the sushi).
  2. Fill the pan with the sushi rice and then cover the top with another plastic wrap.
  3. Put a piece of card board same size as the pan and  put a couple of canned beans and leave if for an hour.
  4. Unwrap the sushi and slice them to desire pieces and top with sliced avocado and serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

Tips!

You can get all creative here! Instead of avocado, use smoked salmon, tuna sashimi, mango, cucumber etc to make them colorful.

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Kuromame

Kuromame(Black Beans) is traditionally eaten as part of Osechi Ryori (Special new years meal) and represents a wish for good health and hard work.  These Black Beans are much larger and plump than the ones we eat here. So delicious!

What you need;

  • 600g of dried Black Beans, Kuromame
  • 9.5 cups of water (about 2,400ml)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 450 g of Sugar
  • 100ml of soy sauce

How to;

  1. Rinse the bean and dry them and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add, baking soda, sugar and soy sauce to the pot and mix and wait till the sugar resolves.
  4. Add the beans and leave it over night with a lid on.
  5. Turn the heat and bring to the boil.
  6. Add one cup of water.
  7. When it comes to the boil, add an another cup of water.
  8. Simmer the beans for 5-6 hours until the beans are tender.
  9. Let them cool and serve.

Keep the beans with the cooking liquid in the refrigerator.

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Teishoku

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This is a great example what we have for lunch or dinner. We call these set menu, Teishoku. Teishoku usually includes, one main and a couple of side dishes , miso soup and a bowl of rice. I had my girlfriend over for lunch the other day and this is what I made. Simple and delicious!

The menu includes;

  • Japanese Style Mapo Tofu (recipe from my August 24th post)
  • Miso Soup (recipe from my April 27th post. I used sliced daikon radish, carrots and tofu)
  • Boiled Spinach with shredded dried bonito flake on top with a little bit of sou sauce)
  • A bowl of rice

 

 

 

 

Ebi Chill

This was my first time to make Ebi Chill! And I find how easy and simple to make and absolutely delicious when you buy already peeled and deveined shrimp.

Ingredients: 4 servings

  • 450g (1lb) large shrimp peeled, deveined
  • 2 tsp tobanjan paste (Chinese Chill paste)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ cup onion finely chopped

For marinade:

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger juice

For Sauce;

  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tbsp. corn Starch

vegetable oil for frying
Sesame oil

  1. Rinse the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. In a small bowl, add the shrimp, salt, sake and ginger juice and mix and set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix water, soy sauce, ketchup, sugar and corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Heat a tablespoon cooking oil in a frying pan on medium heat, add garlic and onion. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add the tobanjan and stir frequently for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the shrimp in the pan and cook just until the shrimp turn pink for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add Sauce mixture in the pan and cook until the sauce thickened. Add a splash of sesame oil and gently mix.
  7. Serve immediately with cooked rice and salad or side dishes.

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Do you like Pocky? My favorite one is Matcha Pocky!

Interesting article from The Washington Post:

South Korea and Japan fight over a group of guano-covered rocky islets in the sea between them. They argue over their recollections of history in the first half of the 20th century, when Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula.

Now, they’re arguing over pretzel sticks dipped in chocolate.

Today, Nov. 11, is Pepero Day. Well, it is if you’re in South Korea. If you’re in Japan, it’s Pocky Day.
Not letting any commercial opportunity slip by, food companies in both countries have turned 11/11 — a date marked by four long lines — into a celebration of their respective long and skinny snacks.
And, as with so many issues between them, there’s a dispute about who “owns” the day, something that has escalated as each company promotes its product in the other country — and farther afield in Asia.

In Japan, Pepero has gained popularity thanks to the “Korean wave” of films and music. In South Korea, Japanese products are still widely considered more high-end than homemade ones.
The fight says much about the similarities, as well as the antagonism, between the two countries.
Some background: There is no doubt that the treat originated in Japan.
Ezaki Glico, the Japanese confectionery company, brought out Pocky in 1966, promoting it as a “snack with a handle,” as the chocolate doesn’t extend all the way to the bottom. The name Pocky represents the snapping sound made while eating it — pokkin pokkin — to the Japanese ear, the company’s Web site says.
Lotte Confectionery, a South Korean food company, started making a strikingly similar product — while denying it had copied Pocky — called Pepero in 1983.

But the dispute arises over who commercialized 11/11 first. Lotte presents this as an organic event that began in the mid-1990s when middle-school girls in South Korea started exchanging Peperos, promising each other that they would become as skinny as the sticks. It took off. Now, sales from the Pepero Day season, which extends from September to November, account for as much as half of Lotte’s annual Pepero sales, according to Yonhap News.

This year, consumers are expected to spend up to 20 percent more for the day, as it falls one day before the College Scholastic Ability Test, Hankook Ilbo reports.
In Japan, Nov. 11 is officially known as Pocky and Pretz Day, including its plainer, non-candied pretzel cousin Pretz, since about 1999.

Glico has emphasized the originality of its Pocky snack, particularly through social media marketing. In 2012, it set a Guinness World Record for the most-tweeted brand name in a 24-hour period. There’s a Pocky-themed dance contest with J Soul Brothers, a music group, and a festival in Osaka, in collaboration with Tsutenkaku, the landmark tower.

As Nov. 11 dawned in Asia, both companies launched social media campaigns. People, both ordinary and famous, posted photos of themselves celebrating with the stick snacks.
Seems everyone can agree on one thing: Chocolate-covered pretzels are delicious. And that, if nothing else, is a marketing triumph.

Hearty miso soup with Kabocha squash

This is one of my favorite miso soups in the fall so as my sons. Using Kabocha, Japanese squash is the key to make this hearty, sweet and so yummy miso soup.

what you need;4 servings

  • 4-5 cups dashi stock
  • 1/4 kabocha squash about 450g
  • 2-3 tbsp miso paste

How to;

  1. Cut kabocha into bite-sized pieces about 1 x 2 cm.
  2. Place the dashi stock in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add kabocha and and cook until tender about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add 2-3 tbsp of miso paste and serve.

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