Kale and Mushroom Stir-fry

Kale and Mushroom are not vegetables for Japanese authentic cuisine, but I love them and are good for you! Very simple side dish.

What you need; 4 servings

  • A bunch of kale washed and chopped
  • 6 mushrooms washed and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A dash of sesame oil

How to;

  1. In a frying pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and stir for a minutes.
  2. Add the kale and stir for about 7-8 minutes till Kale is still crunchy.
  3. Add the mushroom and stir for 2-3 minutes. Season with Salt and pepper and add a dash of sesame oil just before finish.
  4. Serve immediately.

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Read all about it!

My passion is not only sharing Japanese home cooking with others but sharing the joy of cooking, enjoying the process of it. Cooking includes going to a market to pick your favorite sauces, choosing fresh vegetables, and talking and enjoying interacting with people. Market vendors, or friends or family who go shopping with you. I believe that cooking involves not only just the act of cooking, but it involves choosing dishes for meal menus, thinking about who you are cooking for, shopping, and hand selecting fresh ingredients. After the cooking process itself, it is such a joy to see your family or friends enjoying your dishes and some conversation. I try to appreciate every moment.

I was featured in the North Shore News last Friday! I was so thrilled to see the article and appreciated reading the article as it brought to mind for me again  what my passion and goals are.

I am so grateful to Cook Culture for believing in me and having guests that are so eager to learn; helpful volunters and kitchen Helpers helping me with anything I need to make the classes to go smoothly. When I see our guests’ smiles I can see they are enjoying it and they often come to see me after the class to thank me. I feel so blessed and I say back thank you deep from my heart.

Home cooking, not just Japanese cooking, means more than just cooking.

What do you think of when you are cooking or when you are picking menus for your family? No. 1 Easy and quick to cook! No.2 Budget! No.3 What you have on hand! and you may think about reducing salt and sugar amounts, using lots of fresh and seasonal vegetables, using organic meat if possible etc, to make meals as healthy as possible.

In my three hour classes, both Izakaya and Sushi, my goal is not that all my guests learn top chef skills, but rather to share some of my culture, focus on the importance of home cooking, share some Japanese cooking skills and techniques, and above all sharing the joy of making delicious and healthy dishes don’t have to be complicated or expensive.

Here’s to good health, and good cooking!

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Spinach Ohitashi

Spinach is a super food packed with tons of nutrients in a low calorie package. And this dish, Spinach Ohitashi is simple and really refreshing.

What you need; 4 servings

  • 1 bunch of washed spinach
  • 3 tablespoons of Dashi stock (please see my August 29th post for dashi stock recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Roasted sesame seeds

How to;

  1. In a large pot, bring enough water to a boil to cover the spinach.
  2. Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water and add the spinach. Boil for only 1-2 minutes until still crunchy. Remove the spinach, chill them into very cold water, drain, gently squeeze water out from the spinach and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix dashi, soy sauce and set aside.
  4. Cut the spinach about 1 1/2 inches long.
  5. Arrange the spinach to 4 small plates and sprinkle some sesame seeds.
  6. Pour a tablespoon of dashi and soy sauce mixture and serve!

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Tuna Donburi

This dish is actually called “Zuke Don” in Japanese. Zuke means marinade and Don is a short name of Donburi. This is one of my hubby’s favorite dish!

What you need; 4 servings

  • 300g of Sashimi Grade tuna
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Cooked/Steamed sushi grade rice

Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons of Soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of Mirin

Toppings:

  • Finely chopped green onion
  • Roasted sesame seeds
  • Nori seaweeds
  • Sesame oil

How to;

  1. Add soy sauce and mirin in a small sauce pan and bring it to boil and boil for two minutes. Transfer it to a small bowl and let it cool.
  2. Cut sashimi into bite size pieces. Once the soy sauce and mirin mixture cooled, add sashimi to the remix and marinade for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut avocados into bite size pieces.
  4. To serve, arrange the cooked rice on serving plates, and arrange nori, sashimi and avocado on top and sprinkle toppings and drizzle a bit of sesame oil if you like. Enjoy!

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Edamame beans with Blackbean sauce

I like just simple boiled edamame beans with a sprinkle of salt,but this one was a big hit for my hubby and second son! Super easy to make and delicious snack!

What you need;

  • 1 pkg of Edamame beans defrost if they are frozen
  • 3 tablespoons of blackbean sauce
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

How to;

  1. Add the blackbean sauce in a frying pan with medium low heat, stir the sauce till it is fragrant.
  2. Add the honey to the pan and mix well with the blackbean sauce.
  3. Add the edamame beans and coat well with the sauce and honey mixture.
  4. Serve immediately.

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Connecting families

I was born and raised in a small town called Sakai, Kainan City, Wakayama prefecture in Japan. I am the baby of the family with an older brother and sister, and my grandfather also lived with us. I was really close to my grandfather and went everywhere with him, sitting in front of him on his motorcycle. He was so proud of taking me with him to see his friends and his relatives.
My grandfather had a good size vegetable garden in a plot of land nearby, and grew all kinds of vegetables from tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plants, daikon radish, sui choy cabbage, peas, to beans and you name it. I went to his vegetable garden with him or sometimes stopped by there on the way home from elementary school knowing he was there. I loved helping him in the garden, especially harvesting vegetables and tasting those beautiful cucumbers and tomatoes and other vegetables which tasted so fresh, sweet and rich in their own flavours. That taught me which vegetables are in season. Cucumbers and tomatoes don’t grow in winter. Daikon radish and sui choy cabbage get sweeter in cold winters after first frost. Vegetables might not look perfect or pretty, but they always taste delicious and beautiful in their own way.

Apart from vegetables, there were fig and persimmon trees, and a bamboo grove beside his garden where he would lay in specially chosen logs to grow shiitake mushrooms. We harvested young bamboo in spring, plump and sweet figs in summer, big and meaty shiitake mushrooms in fall, and rich orange colored persimmons in winter. Just being in his garden, I could feel the beauty of the four seasons, watching the colors change with my own eye, smelling the freshness of spring and feeling the crispness of winter.
Once we brought them home, my job was to clean and wash the vegetables. We had a little water hose outside of our house which of course had only cold water and I remember my little hands freezing so getting all the dirt off the vegetables was never easy. This whole process from planting, harvesting and cleaning gave me precious time with my grandfather and taught me nature’s beautiful life cycle.

I started to cook at an early age and my mom enjoyed having me in our kitchen. Watching her different cutting and cooking techniques, multi-tasking and smoothly flowing from cutting board to stove is how I learned to cook.

Vegetables from my grandfather’s garden turned into delicious dishes in my mom’s magic loving hands. Dishes like simple and fresh cucumber sunomono salad, eggplant with goma (sesame) miso, simmered daikon radish with squid, as well as the Japanese staples: rice and soup, meant there were always a number of small dishes on the table.

She let me taste her dashi stock, miso soup, sauce for stewed fish and whatever we were cooking, scooping a spoonful into a small dish for me. When I tried to season by myself and asked her to taste mine, giving her a spoonful of soup in a small dish, if she liked it, she nodded and said “Oishii” which means delicious in Japanese and that made me so happy and proud.

I still cook the same dishes my mom used to cook for us for my husband and children now, and it brings back memories of my family. Telling these memories to my children makes me feel fulfilled and loved. I hope they do the same for their own children and feel the same I do.

In Japan, a bowl of rice and soup are staples at every meal. The particular recipe and flavour of miso soup in particular vary from house to house and region to region. Each house has their own specific flavour of miso soup, and each family grows up with that particular taste. When you get married, it’s common for wives, who are now responsible for making the miso soup for their new household, to adjust how they flavour the soup so it matches what their new husband grew up with. Wives adjust the recipe to their husband’s family’s miso soup flavour. My husband is from Vancouver, Canada, so luckily for me my miso soup is staying the same at our house!
My dad was working in Osaka and had a long commute by train, so he left for work early in the morning and came home late at night in typical Japanese husband fashion. He didn’t have dinner with us every day, but the five of us: my mom, sister, brother and grandfather, always ate together. My mom also had a full time job, but I don’t remember having take-out dinner often. We never ate out unless there was a special occasion, and she managed to put home cooked meals on the table with the help of me and my sister.

Since my dad didn’t have dinner with us so often, he enjoyed cooking and on Saturdays he made yaki-udon or tempura, deep-fried fish which he caught in a nearby pond, and waiting for us kids to come home for lunch after the half day of school we had on Saturdays. His dishes were very different from my moms, very dynamic, ‘man’-style dishes, but I really looked forward to Saturdays, coming home from school and eating with him.

Eating together as a family means so much to me. My husband is away for business quite a bit, but when he is home, he tries to come home early and eats dinner with us as a family. With after school activities and our busy and scattered life, sometimes it is not easy to eat together, but we make a great effort to sit down and eat and chat about what happened that day at school or some such. Those moments give us the chance to share our thoughts, care for each other and connect as a family. We sometimes argue and the kids fight, complain about what I cooked of course, but that is a part of life and FUN!

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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