“Nanakusa gayu” (7 spring weed congee)
According to Wikipedia,
“The seventh of the first month has been an important Japanese festival since ancient times. The custom of eating nanakusa-gayu on this day, to bring longevity and health, developed in Japan from a similar ancient Chinese custom, intended to ward off evil. Since there is little green at that time of the year, the young green herbs bring color to the table and eating them suits the spirit of the New Year.”
As well as it is for resting & healing the hard worked stomach from the new year’s rich, festive food.
I can’t have the plants until spring in Vancouver, but wait! Found some green plants outside.
However..I don’t have that much desire to go to wet forest ( Vancouver is rain almost all winter).
So that I made western version of the congee - less number of plants but I’d call “Nanakusa” risotto.
My method is hybrid of risotto & cooking rice in Japanese style. Japanese cook rice very thoughtfully. Control the heat, water- all for the texture of rice.
I found the idea of Risotto is a bit similar to japanese rice cooking method because Italians really think about the texture of rice and the liquid.
Nanakusa risotto - Yeld for 2people
Onion 1/4 piece, small diced
Garlic I clove, minced
Carrot 1 inches Julian
Radish red or white with top 1 piece, radish top : chopped. Raddish : Very thinly sliced
Rapini 2-3 pieces cut in 1 - 2 inches
Watercress cut in 1-2 inches
(If you can find dandelion leaves, that’s great adding too)
Dashi stock 2Lb
Evo 2 TB or more
Nutritional yeast 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil or evo to finish(2TB or as you like)
Salt to taste
Put oil in a frying pan, on medium high heat, stir fry the onion and a little bit of salt until slightly caramelized.
Add rice and toast them until the rice mixture have gotten good smell, then lower the heat as medium heat.
Add dashi stock carefully at first, little by little. You will continue keeping adding liquid, about 1cup each time.
At first 15 min, on medium heat and sort of boil the rice to be fluffed up them but keep stirring. Then change the heat to medium low heat . Keep stirring, wait to add next ladle until the rice absorbed the liquid.
Keep adding the liquid, at this point (photo), lower the heat. Keep stirring sometimes but not too often to avoid breaking the rice.
When the rice get your desired point(aldente or whatever), as well as until the sauce gets creamy, add seasoning.
Nutritional yeast and salt, add rapini, to get them slightly to be cooked.
Add carrot, chopped radish top.
Lastly add water cress and sliced radish.
Finish salt, coconut oil.
Add “good amount” of salt is a key point since the vegetables are just slightly cooked, the moisture would thin out the saltiness.
I got bunch of green pea pods from a farmers market and it inspired me.
Then tried to make fresh green peas rice - this dish brings me back memories from my mom's cooking.
She makes green peas rice when its season. Actually, in Japan, we cook rice with seasonal vegetables often when they are in seasons. It is like a celebration and appreciation for the season.
In spring, bamboo shoot or mixture of mountain wild vegetables, in summer, green peas, in autumn, chestnuts or pine mushroom, in winter,gingko nuts .. and more.
I didn't realize when I grew up in Japan but now I know such rich food culture my home country has.
So.Here is the green peas rice recipe.
The photo is with barley but this recipe is for white Japanese rice. You must change the amount of water if you substitute with brown rice or mixing with other grains.
This is pretty authentic one. Most of old time Japanese moms know.
Rice (Japanese rice) 2cups
Water 2 3/4 cups
Salt 1 pinch, for taste
Kelp (Konbu) about 2 inches square strip
Fresh green peas, depods around 10 pods
Wash the rice 30 min beforehands and drain well.
How to wash the rice : If you want to know how Japanese rice lovers wash,see this. Otherwise you can wash it 3 times until the water looks without milky fog.
Dissolve the salt in the water then pour over the rice and add kelp in your medium sized, tall( has a depth), heavy cooking pot.
Add peas, cover with a lid, then start cooking with medium high heat.
The point of cooking rice is controlling heat.
Wait until the water just being boiled, then change the heat to high make it to super, highly boiling.
The lid would be bounced by the boiling.
Then let the lid open just a little bit (max 1/4 inch), and let it boil likely 2-3 min, change the heat as low.Professionals don't let the lid open but I don't like to make my stove dirty so I do this.
Cook until the rice absorb all liquid. I found that the rice looks very slightly wet is better for another process.
Turn off the heat, then let the lid back to fully cover the pot, let it leave15-20min.We call this process "steaming". This is very important to rest the cooked rice to be fluffy, perfectly moist.
With rice spatula(we call it "shamoji"), gently flip the rice in the pot with sideways, like slicing rice.
It is very important to keep the texture of rice for fine cooking, however.. this is home cooking and also this time is with peas then no worries too much!
Then serve with rice bowls. Bon appetit.
I will separate this method how to cook rice in a pot sometimes soon.
I got green tempeh from Tempea foods.It is their new product - Edamame and pumpkin seed tempeh.
It has nice flavor, as well as colour is beautiful.
I was thinking a recipe with keeping nice green colour.
Then made this.
Inspired by "Nanban zuke".Nanban means white barbarian(haha) but the word is pretty old when Portugal arrived in Japan for spreading their religions. Many of things arrived with them called "nanban". Food with Curry taste, chinese inspired, portugal style egg cake..etc.
Anyways. "Nanban zuke" is kind of chinese style dish, it is way less oil than the chinese ones, and usually make it with fried sardines and other white meat fish.
Put the fried fish in vinegary sauce with sliced vegetables.
The crust getting soggy? That is the best point to Japanese.
We like soggy crust. The crust sucks sauce is very good matching with rice.Sounds gross? Try it. You will like it.
However. I wrote this recipe less soggy. But still soggy.
Vinegar, 3 Tablespoons
Soy sauce, 2 Table spoons
Agave or maple syrup, 1 Table spoons(if you like sweet taste, add 2-3 T)
Dashi stock (or water), 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Tempeh (Edamame one or regular), 300g, sliced in 8/1 inch thin
Corn starch, less than 2 cups
Frying oil (I will recommend coconuts oil) As you need
Onion 1/4 piece, slice very thin
Yellow or red pepper 1/4 piece, slice very thin julian
Carrot, celery, green onion, as your choice.
Put all vegetables in a heatproof bowl and salt, set aside.
Boil all ingredients for the sauce.
When it reached boiling, stop heat, pour hot liquid into the veggies in the bowl.
Fry the tempeh.
Heat up frying oil. Dust the tempeh with cornstarch.
Once the oil reached high heat, fry the tempeh.
Watching the heat, be patient.It will take time to get the surface completely dry.
When the tempeh fried, put them on a plate.
Put vegetables, then pour sauce very end.
It is pretty simple.
There are a few method to get it better, but I will write simplest method here.
2 inch by 1/2 ich kelp
2 litteres of water.
If you like to get more umami, add a few pieces of dried shiitake.
Boil a piece of Konbu( and shiitake) from cold water, once it reached boiling, stop heat and leave it for a while.
Konbu will be slimy so take it out when it's cool down.
You can keep it in your freezer or fridge.
Soba salad is pretty popular in western Japanese restaurants.
Most of them are using vinaigrette, mine is a little bit more like "soba meal".
<Ingredients, serving for 1-2 >
Soba noodle, dried , 1-2 bunch
Dried lily flower (optional) , small hand full
Carrot, cut in julian( like sticks)
Kelp, 2 inch long, 1/2 inch wide
Soy sauce 2 Table spoon
Agave 1 Table spoon
Salt 1 teaspoon
Purple daikon, or raddish , small piece, thinly sliced
Asparagus, 3-4 pieces, cut the bottom edge
Green beans 5-6 pieces, prepared( cut the top)
Fresh greens, as your amount
pumpkin seed, sesame seed, small amount for topping
Salt, finishing olive oil
Tahini, 2 Tablespoons
Miso, 1 Tablespoon
Dashi stock (see last post.Kelp infused water)
Soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon
Salt, 1 Tea spoon
Stew the lily flowers. Rinse them lightly and put them in a pot, cover with water.
Put kelp and heat up with medium high heat.
Once it boiled, turn the heat into low.
Lily flower in water.
Christian world is Easter now and people may cook birds and hunting eggs..but this Omelette is without eggs.
Omuraisu is another popular comfort food in Japan. The name came from Omelette (and) rice.
The inside of rice is mostly ketchup rice, but can be other sort of fried rice.
When I make this recipe, I tried to use just Tofu, flour and corn starch,and a little bit of oil, it wasn't succeed.The texture wasn't the best, the omelette was too soft to flip.
Many people uses chickpea flour for omelette, but I didin't want to make complicated recipe so just tried using simplest ingredients.
I was thinking about the texture - How can I get the curdle-y, sort of gel-ish texture like cooked eggs.
Then tried adding Agar agar. I assumed it would be cooked while cooking the omelette.
Then it was succeed.The inside is curdle-ish, outside is crispy.
Here is the recipe. With Japanese-y tomato sauce.
<ingredients, 2 servings>
Silk tofu about 1 cup
Soy milk or other neutral milk 1/4 cup
Flour 2 Tbsp
Corn starch 1 Tbsp
Agar agr 2 Teaspoon
Salt and pepper
< For filling>
Left over cooked rice 2 cups
*Left over vegetables : chopped in small dice. : Optional
Garlic 1 clove, minced
Tomato Ketup or tomato sauce , 2 Tbsp
Salt and pepper
<Japanese ish tomato sauce>
Tomato paste, 1/2 cup
Celery, 2 steaks, diced
Onion,1/4 piece, diced
Garlic, 1 clove, chopped
Capers, 1 tea spoon
Apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoon
Kelp, strip,1 inch long, 1/2 inch wide
Agave syrup or other sweetener 2Tbsp (As your taste buds.)
Salt and pepper
Make tomato sauce first.
Put water and kelp in a small pot, boil until fully boiled, then leave from the heat,leave it around 15 min and take out the kelp.This is easy dashi stock.
Put all ingredients in the dashi stock pot, then heat up with medium high, when it is bubbling, change the heat as low heat, leave it 20min.
Blend the tomato mixture with hand blender, set aside.
Make the filling.You can do it while you are waiting to done the tomato sauce.
Fry the rice with a little bit of frying oil, if you want it with vegetables, veggies first (does it sound like ladies first?! Dad joke).
Mix in ketchup or tomato sauce with the fried rice, make taste with S+P.
Put it on a plate, make it like nice small hill.
Blend all ingredients with hand blender, beside frying oil.If the mixture was too thick, add more neutral milk.Make it as the same texture of pancake dough.
Fry the tofu mixture.
Put little bit of oil in a frying pan, put it on medium high heat.
Ladle the tofu mixture in, about 1/4 cup (4oz). You can eyeball it.
Spread it as your size, change the heat as medium low, wait until the edge looks dry.
Make sure the bottom of tofu mixture was fully fried, then flip. You will get nice crust on the top.
Fry it for 1-2 min or so, put it on the ketchup rice hill.
Put the tomato sauce.Done.
I had a serious conversation with my Philipino friend the other day.
I thought about Adobo means Spanish Adobo like red sauce, but it is different.
Philipino one is very simple, nearly Japanese teriyaki but it is acidic, Westernized version, I would say.
Normally with meat and using richness and depth of "umami" from the meat.
I tried to make vegan version..was succeed!
Here is the recipe:
Firm tofu, 300-350g, Cut water and slice in 1/2 inch thick, as you like the shape. I'd recommend rectangle is easy to cook.
Veggie stock, 1cup for marinade sauce.
Soy sauce, 1/4 cup and 2 Tb separate both
Vinegar, 1/4 cup, I used apple cider, but the best is white vinegar.
Salt, 1/2 tsp + amount of finishing taste
Konbu(Kelp), 2 inch long & 1/2wide
Maple syrup or Brown sugar 1/4 cup
Bay leaf, 3 pieces
Garlic, 2-3 cloves clushed
Ginger, 1/8 piece, chopped
Corn starch, 1 Tbsp
Soy sauce, 2Tbsp for the graze
Veggie stock, 1 cup for the graze
Pepper, for finishing the taste
Oil, for fry about 3 tablespoons
Mix all liquid ingredients besides oil to make marinade sauce.
Marinade the tofu slices in the sauce, add Konbu piece and leave them in the fridge over night.
Take the tofu out from the sauce, keep the sauce and kelp.
Lightly off the water from the tofu with paper towel, then fry them on a frying pan with oil, medium high heat.
Take good amount time to fry all sides until the colour got golden brown and the surface look slightly dry. This process is for keeping the shape of tofu, as well as making good flavour.
Add the marinade sauce into the pan, then bay leaves and garlics, ginger.
Simmer for a while with medium heat until the sauce reach half amount.
Take the tofu out from the pan, keep the sauce.
Mix the veggie stock and soy sauce for graze and corn starch, in a small bowl, until the mixture get very incorporated.
Heat up the pan with the cooked sauce with medium low heat, then add the corn starch mixture, mix well quickly with spatura or wooden spoon until the sauce get set, then make the taste with salt and pepper.
Take the tofu slices back to the pan and coat the sauce.
By the way, this is totally different subject but I will do Vegan contemporary dinner event.
This is the 3rd edition, secret dinner.
Check it out the detail here.
When I saw Tempea food's Instagram story that about the teriyaki tempeh and pinapple, reminded me sweet and sour pork.
I didn't like it with pineapple when I was a kid, but now, I like it. It makes sense the pineapple brings good acidity and sweetness.
However. I didn't make it for long..I even forgot about it.
Then, I came up with this recipe. Vegan sweet and sour...tempeh balls. People use ketchup for the sauce..but my recipe doesn't.
You can add it if you desired.
Ingredients : about two servings
Flax seed, 1 Tbsp
Water, 1/4 cup
Tempeh, 100g, crushed
Small onion, 1/4 piece , diced in small
Corn starch, 3 Tbsp
Corn meal, 1Tbsp
Sesame paste(Tahini), 1 Tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil to fry
Corn starch for dusting the balls
<Sweet and sour vegetables>
- Veggies -
Onion, small, 1/4 piece, cut in bite size
Carrot, 1 piece, cut in bite size
Celery, 1 steak,cut in bite size
Red pepper, 1 piece,cut in bite size
Pine apple, 1/4 pound, cut in bite size
Button mushrooms, tiny ones, half hands full
Garlic, 1 piece, minced
Ginger, 1/4 inch, minced
- sauce -
Corn starch, 1/4 cup
Veggie stock or water, 1 cup
Apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup
Maple syrup, 3 Tbsp
Soy sauce, 3 Tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Make the tempeh balls.
Perheat the oven to 400F.
Put all ingredients together and mix well until you can make the shape.
Make them into balls, and dust with corn starch.
Pan fry them with frying oil, with keep rolling them time to time.
Once it got a colour, line them to a sheet pan with a parchment paper, put in the oven for 30 min.
Make sweet and sour vegetables.
Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl, set aside.
Fry onions first until they reached slight transparent, and add carrots, keep frying for a while, then add celery, red peppers and mushrooms, pineapples.( About 20 min, until the carrot get slightly soft)
Put the sauce liquid into the pan, keep stirling until the sauce got lightly set.
Finishing with salt and pepper, take out the balls from the oven, and mix into the sauce.
Fufu is popular african meal made with fermented cassava dumplings. The shape is mostly like a log or sometimes round. I had this meal when I was travelling in Japan at an african restaurant called "Los Barbados" And tried to make it in my style - using baby taro instead of cassava.
In Japan, cassava is not common, baby taro is popular. People call it "satoimo". The history is so long, they are grown in Japan since 1300 B.C. ,amazing!
Back to the fufu. I researched about the meal. I thought it is like gnocchi but seems it is commonly eaten without recook after made the shape, and also my chef friend said it is popular with peanuts soup.
So.. I imagined the soup must have rich nutty flavour, then as I make Japanese fusion..made the soup with miso instead of peanuts. It was like earthy tomato soup.
Onion medium size, half, cut in dice
Garlic 2-3 cloves, sliced
Ginger 1/4 inch, small mince
Carrot 1 medium size, cut in dice
Celery 1 stake, cut in dice
Mushroom hand full, cut in 1/4
Okura 6-8 pieces.
Can hole tomato 1, crush the tomatos
Miso 1/4 cup
Bay leaf, 2 pieces
S+P to taste
Baby Taro 5 medium sized pieces, cut in dice
Corn starch 1/4 cup, mix well with 1 cup water
Tofu, 1 inch cube
First of all..prepare the fufu.
Ferment the taro. You can skip the fermentation if you feel lazy or don't like fermented flavour, but I'm sure it will be tastier when you do it.
Put in diced taro in a small jar with same amount of water, leave it in room temperature(likely warm place) in three days.
After three days..
Make the soup first.
Fry Onion in a medium sized soup pot with medium high heat, until it slight caramelized and put garlic, ginger, carrot, celery and keep stir frying for a while, add mushrooms stir frying again for a while, put the stock and crushed can tomatoes, add okura, bay leaves.
When it reached boiling, add miso and spices, switch the heat to low heat.
Stew it for a while at least 1 hour and finishing taste with salt and pepper.
Make the fufu.
When the potatos got slight softer, dump half of water, put in a food processor with all other ingredients.
Then process until smooth, transfer the mixture in a pot.
So this is the magical playing with starch..
Put the pot in medium heat, stir the mixture with wooden spoon until thick. You will need really patient.
When the mixture started bubbling, change the heat to medium low, keep stirling.
When the dough reached good thickness - like you can make the shape but still sticky, stop the heat and cool down the dough, after the dough reached touchable temperature, make the shape into as you like.I made them as Italian gnudie sizes.
As I wrote ahead, people eats it without reheat. However. I put them in the soup and quickly heated up.
To me it's better because the fufu sucked the soup flavour.
So I used this tofu, it is fermented with something special. Will tell you later. You can use normal firm tofu, you must squeeze out the moisture.
Nettles, hand full.
Boiling water with salt in a pot
A bowl of ice bath
Tofu(firm) , 1 inch square, quater inch thick, squeeze moisture with paper towel etc.
Soy sauce , 1 Tbsp
Maple syrup, 1 Tbsp
Tahini, 1/4 cup
Dashi stock or water, 1 Tbsp
Boil the nettles. Be careful with the soft needles..you need to put gloves when you handle them fresh.
Boil the water in a pot with a salt. Make ice bath in a bowl.
Put nettles in the pot when the water got simmered. Boil them for 4-5 minutes, drain, put in the ice bath.
When the nettles got cool down, squeeze the water.
Traditional Goma-ae recipe is grind the sesame seed until it turned into paste, however..this is quick recipe so I used tahini.
Crush the squeezed tofu in a bowl.
Mix all ingredients for the sace, don't worry about chunks.
*Traditionally, we strain the tofu to make it smoother.If you like, do it!
Tomoko Tahara A.K.A.#cookhatter
<Restaurans in Vancouver>
The Acorn : Vegetarian restaurant
The birds and beets : Cafe
Cacao Vancouver:Modern latin
The mackenzieroom:Modern coastal
Birds and beets
Tempea food: tempeh maker
<Restaurant in Japan>
Bon Gout: Bakery and wine
Bar Pancho:Spanish tapas
Takanoya :Gastro pub