From Tokyo with Love (for Food)

Food Pilgrimages in Japan

In recent years, many people have asked me to start a food blog, but I have always found it too time-consuming. Now, at last, here it is, a blog about my favourite hobby, gourmet, or "gurume", as it becomes in Japanese. Cookings, bakings, cafes & restaurants around my other favourite topic, Japan. From Tokyo with Love (for Food).


Apple Rose Tartlets

These tartlets make a cute treat for afternoon tea or a nice present for a friend. They can also be made with pie sheet to save time, and to get a fluffier texture. In that case, roll the pie sheet to a 30 cm long and cut in 1 1/2 cm thick slices. Line the apples on the slices and roll to a rose shape.
I had some almond powder that needed to be used, so I made a tart crust version.

Apple Rose Tartlets (8 pcs)

30 g butter
30 g sugar
1 egg yolk
20 g almond powder
90 g plain flour

Apple filling:
1 middle sized apple
25 g sugar
10 g butter
Cinnamon to taste

1) Make the dough first. Whisk the soft butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture turns white and a bit fluffy.
2) Add the egg yolk little by little while mixing well.
3) Add the flour and almond powder using a sieve, and mix with a spatula. Don’t knead though!
4) Make the dough a one ball, and wrap with cling film. Mold to rectangular shape and let it rest in a fridge at least an hour.
5) Meanwhile make the filling. Wash the apple well, take off the core and cut in half. Cut in 1 mm thin slices vertically.
6) Put the slices in a heat resistant bowl, add sugar, cubed butter and cinnamon to your liking. Put on a cling film and heat in a 600 W microwave for 4 1/2 mins.
7) Mix once and let cool down. When cooled down, move to a sieve to cut the liquid.
8) If you use tartlet tins, spread them with butter. (I was lazy and made them without tins though…)
9) Take the dough out of fridge and cut to 8 pieces. Put a piece of wrap on a table and move one ball of dough on it. Cover with another piece of wrap and roll to 2 mm thin round. Cover the tin with the dough, and picket it with a fork. Repeat for the rest dough.
10) Bake in a 180°C oven for 10 mins.
11) Line 6 slices of apple on the table, partly on each other. Roll to a rose shape. Add layers until they are the size you want.
12) Put the rose on the tartlet, bake another 5 mins.

If you want, you can also add custard cream, but in that case be sure to bake the crust well.


Gratin-style Bread with Autumn Vegetables

Those who have visited a Japanese bread shop know that they are filled with original shaped and flavoured breads. There is roughly speaking 3 categories – sweet kashipan, savoury o-kazupan, and shokupan, bread for daily consuming, meaning white toast-like loaf bread.

Anpan (sweet red bean paste filling bread), kuriimupan (custard filling bread) and melonpan (soft bread topped with crunchy cookie dough) are probably the most known kashipan, but the varieties are many more.

However, most o-kazupan use cheese, mayonnaise, bacon and sausages – sometimes combined with season’s vegetables. So it’s time to get creative!

Gratin-Style Bread with Autumn Vegetables (8 pcs)

200 g plain flour
20 g sugar
4 g dry yeast
20 g egg
100 cc milk
20 g butter
1/2 tsp salt

White sauce:
25 g plain flour
25 g butter
300 cc milk
A hint of white pepper

Vegetables for filling:
1/2 pack of shimeji mushrooms
1 potato
1/4 onion
40 g bacon
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce

For finishing touch:
Some beaten egg
Grated cheese
Dried parsley

1) Make the dough first. Put half of the flour in a bowl, and put sugar and yeast next to each other on it.
2) Put the other half of the flour, salt and cubed butter in another bowl.
3) Pour the egg in the first bowl, but not on the yeast and sugar. Warm the milk to 42°C and pour on the yeast and sugar. Mix well with a wooden spatula.
4) Add the ingredients in the second bowl to the mixture, and mix until the “flourness” is gone.
5) Move the dough to a table, and knead by hand. When the dough comes nicely in shape, roll with both hands like drawing the alphabet V.
6) Move in a bowl, put a wrap on it and let proof in 40°C for 25 mins.
7) Prepare the vegetables next. Peel the potato and onion, cut the potato in bite-size and onion in thin slices vertically. Cut the stalk of the shimeji off, and rip in smaller bunches by hand. Cut the bacon in 1 cm slices.
8) Boil the potato cubes in salted water for 5 mins. Put 1/2 tsp of oil on a frying pan, and fry bacon over medium heat. Add onion slices and fry until they become transparent. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 tsp of soy sauce and mix quickly. When the potatoes are finished, add to the mixture and let cool down.
9) When the dough has become double the original size, push it down to get the excess air out. Move to table and cut in 8 pieces. Shape in balls and let them rest under wrap for 15 mins.
10) Prepare the white sauce. Put flour and butter in a microwave safe bowl (glass bowl is recommended), put a wrap on the bowl and heat in 600 W microwave for 2 mins. Mix well with a whisk.
11) Add 1/3 of the milk mixing well at the same time. Add the rest of the milk, mix and put the wrap on. Heat again on 600 W for 7 mins.
12) Mix well, put the wrap back on and heat another 2 mins 30 s.
13) Mix and add a hint of white pepper for taste. Add also the vegetables prepared in 8).
14) Line up 8 aluminum foil cups (Ø 8cm) on a oven plate. Take one ball of the dough and flatten by hand making a round fitting to the foil cup. Place nicely in foil cup and picket with a fork. Prepare all the rest dough balls in the same way.
15) Fill with the gratin sauce, put the wrap and moist cloth on them, and let proof in 40°C for 30 mins.
16) Brush the dough parts with beaten egg, sprinkle some grated cheese on the top, and bake in a 180°C oven for 13-15 mins.
17) Garnish with parsley and serve for lunch or night snack.

Foil-Steamed Salmon with Miso-Mayonnaise Sauce


This is really simple but delicious dish. The fish is steamed in an aluminum foil wrapping together with vegetables, so all the umami from the fish is put in good use. What is great about this dish is that there will be no pots and pans to wash afterwards!

Foil-Steamed Salmon with Miso-Mayonnaise Sauce (for 2 persons)

2 fillets of salmon
1 1/2 tbs mayonnaise
1/2 tsp miso paste

1/2 onion
3 cm of carrot
1/2 pack shimeji mushrooms
4 snow peas
Salmonfoilyakiteishoku1) Peel the carrot and cut in 6 slices. If you want, you can carve them to flower shape. Warm in microwave (500 W) for 1 min.
2) String the snow peas and boil quickly. Cool down and cut in half diagonally.
3) Cut off the stalk of the shimeji mushrooms and rip in smaller bunches by hand.
4) Cut the onion to thin slices. Take 2 pieces of foil, and put the onion slices on them.
5) Mix the mayonnaise and miso well. Put the salmon fillets on the onion slices, and brush the sauce on the fish.
6) Place the shimeji and carrot slices next to the fish. Close the foil partly.
7) Bake in 250°C oven for 20-23 mins. If the miso sauce seems to get too dark, close the foil.
8) Garnish with show peas and serve with rice and miso soup.

I had time, so I made a whole menu using autumn vegetables. Satsumaimo (sweet potato) rice, abura-age and green pepper nimono, cherry tomatoes & shunkiku (edible chrysanthemum) with white tofu-peanut sauce, and miso soup.

Tarte Tatin with Rice Cooker


If someone asked me what’s my favourite fruit, I would say apple. I mean, I love most fruits, and in the autumn kakis, or Japanese persimmons, are irresistible, but can you think more versatile fruit than an apple? There are many fruits that are sweeter or more exotic than the apple, but the humbleness of the apple gives us almost unlimited variations with cooking or baking.

As a reader of my blog might have noticed, I like to try out new ways of using a rice cooker. Thus when I found a recipe for Tarte Tatin made with a rice cooker, I immediately wanted to try out.

Tarte Tatin with Rice Cooker (3合分)

2 middle sized apples
30 g butter cut in 1 cm cubes
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Tart dough:
15 g butter
35 g almond powder
20 g sugar
2/3 egg
15 g plain flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
*liquid from the apples

1) Peel the apples and cut them in 4 chunks. Cut out the core with seeds.
2) Wipe some butter to the bowl of the rice cooker, and put half of the butter and sugar (for the filling) in it. Arrange the apple chunks in the bowl so that the round side faces down. Add rest of the butter and sugar, sprinkle lemon juice over the apples, and turn the rice cooker on.
3) Make the tart dough. Melt the butter in the microwave, and let it cool down a bit.
4) Mix almond powder and sugar in a bowl, add egg and mix lightly.
5) Mix flour and baking powder, and add to the dough using a sifter. Mix lightly, but don’t knead. Add the melted butter and mix well.
6) When the rice cooker finishes, pour out the liquid to a separate bowl. Be careful, as the rice cooker bowl is hot! After cooling the liquid down a little bit, mix it to the dough.
7) Check that the apples are neatly at the bottom of the bowl, and crush them lightly to make the surface even. Pour the tart dough on the apples, and turn the rice cooker on again.
8) When finished, turn the bowl over to get the tart out.

Roasted Mackerel Sushi


In Japan, autumn is said to be good for sports, reading, and eating good food. 食欲の秋 (shokuyoku no aki) means exactly the last, and implies all the delicious vegetables and fish that are at their best in autumn.

鯖 (saba), or mackerel, is one of the ingredients that are delicious in the autumn. The only problem with saba is that as it is quite oily fish, the food easily ends up smelling “fishy” if the preparations are not made well.

Roasted Mackerel Sushi (for 2 persons)

2 fillets of mackerel
300 g warm rice
20 cc (rice) vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10 perilla leaves
1 tsp white sesame seeds
(Pickled ginger, gari, if you like it)

1) Scrape off scales of the mackerel if needed. Take the backbone out, and cut off the bony parts in the belly as well as fins, if still attached.
2) Wipe the fillets with a kitchen paper, add 4 to 5 diagonal cuts to the skin side of the fillets, and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 10 mins. Wipe off the moisture with kitchen paper.
3) Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt well.
4) Cut the perilla leaves into thin stripes.
5) Put the mackerel fillets with the skin side up on a oven pan covered with cooking paper. Sprinkle with some salt, and roast in 200 degree oven for 15 mins.
6) Put the warm rice in a big bowl, add the vinegar mix with slow circling motion. Mix with a rice ladle like you were cutting something. This is to prevent the rice to get smashed. Mix until the rice is not watery anymore, and gets a nice gloss.
7) Add perilla leave strips and sesame seeds in two sets while mixing well.
8) Divide the rice to two, and put them on two pieces of wrap film. Use the film to make two even sized sticks.
9) Put the mackerel fillets on two pieces of wrap, this time the skin side down to the table. Put a thin layer of gari on the fish, if you want to use it. Instead of gari, you can spread some wasabi paste on the fish. Place the rice stick on the top, and adjust the form with the wrap.
10) Cut into 3 cm pieces and serve.

Avocado & Shirasu Donburi, and Some Tsukimi Treats



Today is 中秋の名月 (chushu no meigetsu), Harvest Moon, time to celebrate this year’s crops. It’s also called 月見 (tsukimi), the Moon festival, as since Heian period Japanese people have enjoyed watching the full moon that is said to be at its best at this time of year. Maybe not so much about the moon itself, but the temperature starts to be nice after the hot summer, without being too cold yet.

Sadly it’s raining today, and I had to concentrate on celebrating the crops instead of the moon. Well, I might have done that even it wasn’t raining. 花より団子 (hana yori dango), or 月より団子, to be correct.

Though my “crops” weren’t quite traditional, as I wanted to try out this delicious looking recipe.

Avocado & Shirasu Donburi (for 2 persons)

2 bowls of rice
1 avocado
1/2 tsp lemon juice
50 g shirasu (whitebait)
4 perilla leaves
Some shredded nori
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp wasabi
1/4 tsp sesame oil
Some white sesame seeds for garnishing
Usagigashi1) Mix the soy sauce, wasabi and sesame oil to make dressing.
2) Cut the avocado in half, take out the stone and cut to bite-sized. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent color changing.
3) Cut the perilla leaves to thin strips.
4) Put the warm rice in 2 bowls, cover with shredded nori. Put 1/4 of the avocado chunks to each bowl, and top with whitebait. Add the rest of the avocado, top with perilla strips, and garnish with sesame seeds.
5) Pour the dressing on the dish just before eating.

Tip: Instead of wasabi, you can try yuzukosho to get a bit spicier version. Then leave the sesame oil out.

For tsukimi, it is traditional to eat taro, so this time I had my taro in a form of a rabbit confectionery. It was almost too cute to eat…

Khao Man Gai (Hainanese Chicken Rice) with Rice Cooker

Khao Man Gai
At last I’m able to chew properly, so after porridge diet, I wanted to make some “real” food. Spicy dishes were also banned during the healing period, so I was craving for some chilis.

Khao Man Gai, the Thai version of Hainanese Chicken Rice, has been in the media a lot lately, as the first Khao Man Gai restaurant straight from Bangkok opened their first shop in Shibuya last month. I decided to try it out at home, as I found out it could be easily done with a rice cooker.

Khao Man Gai (for 2 persons)

1 chicken thigh (250 g, boneless)
Hint of salt
Hint of white pepper
1 1/2 go (180 cc) rice
1 tbs sake
1/2 tsp chicken broth powder
1 tsp nam pla fish sauce
3 slices of ginger
5 cm leek

For serving:

1/2 cucumber sliced diagonally
Some coriander leaves


1 glove of garlic (peeled and minced)
1 cm piece of ginger (peeled and minced)
1 tsp nam pla
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp miso paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs water
1-2 red chilis

1) Wash the rice and let it stand in water for 30 minutes (depending on the type of rice you use, this might not be needed).
2) Cut out excess fat from the chicken, and sting the meat thoroughly with a fork to make it tender. Rub some salt and white pepper to the meat.
3) Cut the ginger (leave the skin on) and leek. Crush the leek a little bit with the side of a knife.
4) Put the rice, sake, chicken broth powder, nam pla, as well as sliced ginger and leek in a rice cooker. Add a little bit less water than usually.
5) Put the chicken on the top of the rice and turn the cooker on.
6) Mix the ingredients of the sauce. Adjust the saltiness to your liking by adding more soy sauce and miso, and hotness by increasing the amount of chili.
7) When the cooker finishes, take the meat out (be careful, as it is hot and really tender) as well as ginger and leek. Mix the rice well and divide to serving plates.
8) Cut the chicken to slices and put on the top of the rice. Garnish with cucumber slices and coriander leaves. Serve with the sauce.

I used brown rice for health reasons, even though white jasmine rice would look nicer with chicken. I also made some daikon salad in som tam style to go with the chicken rice; if you can find green papaya you can try to make the real som tam.