From Tokyo with Love (for Food)


Korean Style Pumpkin Congee

I am still recovering from the extraction of the wisdom tooth, and able to eat only soft dishes. It is also really hot and tiring in Tokyo at the moment, but as much I would love to eat only (matcha) ice cream, it won’t do. Thus I’m experimenting with different kind of porridges.

This is one of favourite Korean dishes, lightly sweet pumpkin porridge, or hobakjuk in Korean, with azuki bean topping. Whenever I go to Korea, I need to go to eat it at least once, and every time I have the same problem – to take the azuki bean porridge patjuk or the pumpkin one, and always end up choosing the pumpkin. I had never tried to make it at home, and was surprised how easy it was.

Korean Style Pumpkin Congee, Hobakjuk (for 2 persons)

1/4 Japanese pumpkin + 200 cc water
50 g glutinous rice (mochigome) + 75 cc water
400 cc water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp honey
Boiled and sweetened azuki beans
Black sesame seeds

1) Put glutinous rice and 75 cc water in a bowl and mix quickly by hand.
2) Scape off the seed from the pumpkin using for example a spoon. Put in heat-resistant bowl, cover with cling film and steam in microwave (500 W) for 6-7 minutes.
3) Scrape off the orange pulp, be careful not to scoop too much of the green part. Add 200 cc of water and use a hand mixer to make an even mixture.
4) Move the pumpkin purée to a pot, and add the rest 400 cc of water. Turn to high heat and boil 10 min while mixing well to prevent burning.
5) Lower the heat to medium and add the glutinous rice soaked in water. Keep on boiling another 5 min and mix well so that the rice won’t stick together.
6) When the porridge becomes the thickness of your liking, add salt and honey, and bring to boil quickly.
7) Mix with had mixer once more to get an even texture.
8) Garnish with sweetened azuki beans and black sesame seeds.

You can add more honey if you like more sweet dishes, and mochi rice cakes for more filling meal. Hobakjuk is also delicious when served as a cold dessert. 


Easy Rice Gruel Seasoned with Miso


I had felt a vague pain in my back teeth for a week, and went to see a dentist. As I had suspected, the wisdom tooth was to blame, so after a short consultation I decided to get it extracted. All went well, and it wasn’t even very painful, but of course I couldn’t eat normal food for a couple of days.

Thus I decided to make ojiya, rice gruel, which is often served to kids and elderly when they are sick. Also during the winter, the rest of nabe – or hot-pot – dish can be made to ojiya to utilize all the tasty stock that otherwise tends to end up down the drain.

Easy Rice Gruel Seasoned with Miso (for 1 person)

300cc water
1 tsp granuled dashi
1 bowl of (brown) rice
1/2 tbs miso
1 egg
Some shiokombu or nori for topping

1) If you use refrigerated rice, warm it in microwave. I use brown rice, but for example for elderly person or a person with stomach problems white rice is easier to digest.
2) Put the water and dashi granules in a pot. Add also rice and mix lightly so that rice grains won’t stick to each other any more. Turn the heat on and bring to boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes.
3) Turn the heat off and dissolve miso in the mixture. Mix and turn the heat on again to low heat.
4) Add beaten egg slowly in circles, turn off the heat and put a lid on. When the egg is half-cooked, move to serving bowl.
5) Garnish with shiokombu or nori seaweed.

Tip: You can also add vegetables to gruel. Spinach, japanese pumpkin, and leek for example are nourishing and easy to eat when cooked soft. Also shrimps go well as topping.


Salmon no Nambanzuke


Lately it’s been so hot and humid in Tokyo that I wanted to have something light and refreshing for dinner. I decided on nambanzuke, fish in sweet vinegar sauce. This time I used salmon – or shake in Japanese – but other fish like horse mackerel or sardine can be used too.

Sake no nambanzuke (for 2 persons)

200 g salmon fillet
hint of salt
hint of white pepper
1 tsp sake
1 tbs plain flour
Oil for frying

1/4 onion
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 red pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil

Sweet vinegar sauce:
100 cc dashi stock
60 cc (rice) vinegar
2 tsp Japanese soy sace
1 tbs sugar
1/8 cut of lemon thinly sliced
10 rings of dried red chili

1) Make the sauce first. Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a pan and bring to boil. When the sugar has totally dissolved, turn off the heat and let cool down.
2) Take the seeds out of the peppers and slice thinly (vertically). Peel the onion and make thin slices vertically.
3) Cut the salmon diagonally to bite-sized, equally thick pieces. Move them on a tray, sprinkle both sides with salt & white pepper, and pour 1 tsp of sake on them. Let them marinade while preparing the vegetables.
4) Heat 1 tsp of oil in a frying pan and fry onions until they become transparent. Add the sliced peppers and fry quickly. Move the vegetables into the sauce made in point 1).
5) Wipe excess moisture off from the fish, and sprinkle with plain flour. Pour around 5 mm of vegetable oil to the frying pan and turn the heat on. When oil is around 160 degrees, add the salmon pieces. Fry until light brown, then turn and fry the other side as well (together around 5 mins with low heat). Take of the pan and put on tray spread with kitchen paper.
6) Move the fish to the vegetable and vinegar sauce, mix carefully and move to fridge. Let marinade around 2 hours before eating.
7) Garnish with radish sprouts etc.

Chicken, Tomatoes And Basil In Thai Style

TorinikubasilfryTomatoes were fresh and cheap at the local supermarket, so I bought a big bag, even though tomatoes are not my favourite vegetables. Now I had a problem how to use them, and preferably quickly as they were very ripe.

Thus I came up this variation of Thai classic, stir-fried chicken and basil, with tomatoes instead of red peppers, and it turned out delicious.

Chicken, Tomatoes And Basil In Thai Style (for 2 persons)

200g chicken tenderloin (4 pcs)
1 tbs sake
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs potato starch
2 garlic cloves
1-2 red chili (fresh or dried)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 big tomato
1/2 leek
Handful of (Thai) basil leaves

1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs nampla
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar

1) Take out the sinews from the tenderloins by making a cut on both sides of white sinew and then pulling it out while pushing the meat with the back of the knife. Cut the tenderloins into 4 pieces with diagonal cuts.
2) Put the meat in a bowl, and add sake and soy sauce. Rub lightly, and add potato starch. Mix so that all the pieces are covered with starch. Let marinade 10 mins.
3) Peel the garlic and cut to thin slices. Take off the sprout so that there will a hole in the middle of the slices. If you are using fresh chili, cut the it into rings.
4) Take off the stem of the tomato and cut it to 8 chunks. Cut the leek diagonally into 1 cm thick slices. Cut the big basil leaves in two.
5) Mix the ingredients of tare.
6) Put 1 tsp of vegetable oil into a frying pan, and fry garlic and chili rings on low heat for 3 mins or when the garlic becomes soft. Take out of the pan.
7) Add chicken and fry on medium heat until both sides have a nice golden brown colour.
8) Add leek and the garlic and chili that were taken out. Fry quickly over high heat. Add tomatoes and fry quickly from both sides. Add tare while mixing. Turn of the heat and add basil leaves. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with rice.

Omuraisu with Onion Demi-Glace Sauce


Japanese are masters in shaping Western food to their own tastes. Omuraisu (comes from omelette and rice) is a long-time home food classic, and lately also an oshare menu in many cafés favored by women.

There are many variants of omuraisu, but instead of typical ketchup rice with a thin omelette rolled on it, I prefer my rice more sappari (simple) and omelette more fuwa-fuwa (soft and fluffy).

Omuraisu with Onion Demi-Glace Sauce (for 2 persons)

4 eggs
3 tbs milk
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp light soy sauce
Salt & white pepper
Some vegetable oil

2 cups of (brown) rice
3-4 scallions
1 tsp light soy sauce
Salt & pepper

Demi-Glace Sauce:
1/4 onion
2 tbs plain flour
10 g butter
200cc water
1/2 tsp granuled consomme
2 tbs Worcester sauce
2 tbs ketchup

1) Make the sauce first. Peel and cut the onion to thin slices vertically. Mix the water, consomme, Worchester sauce and ketchup.
2) Put the flour to a frying pan, and fry until evenly light brown. Move away from the pan, and wipe with kitchen towel. (Be careful not to burn the flour!)
3) Warm the butter on the frying pan, and add the onion slices. Fry until the onion has absorbed the butter evenly. Add the brown flour and mix well. Add the water mix and heat while mixing until getting the thickness of your liking.
4) Make the rice next. Cut the scallions to 1-2 mm slices. Mix all the ingredients and put the rice to 2 plates.
5) Mix the ingredients of the omelette. Warm some vegetable oil on a frying pan, and pour half of the liquid to the pan. Move the liquid towards the center with a spatula, making a thick omelette. When half-cooked, fold the omelette to half and slide carefully on the rice. Make a cut to the omelette with scissors or knife, and fold it open on the rice. Make the other omelette in similar way.
6) Pour the demi-glace sauce on the omelette, and serve with vegetables or salad.


Marinated Salmon & Avocado Donburi


June brings the rainy season to Japan, and it’s raining almost everyday. With the temperature around 25 degrees it makes the season very exhausting.

This dish is served cold, so it feels refreshing even in the hot summer days.

Marinated Salmon & Avocado Donburi (for 2 persons)

150g salmon for sashimi
1 ripe avocado (+ lemon juice)
4 perilla leaves
4 cherry tomatoes

2 tbs Japanese soy sauce
2 tbs sake
1 tbs mirin
A hint of wasabi

2 portions of rice

1) Put the soy sauce, sake and mirin in a pot and bring to boil. Simmer until the smell of alcohol is gone. Let the tare cool down.
2) Cut the salmon in bite-sized cubes and mix with cold tare. Let pickle for 20 minutes.
3) Cut the perilla leaves in paper thin slices and halve the tomatoes.
4) Peel the avocado and cut in bite-sized cubes. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent the change of colour.
5) Add some wasabi to the tare where salmon is, and add the avocado. Let pickle for another 5 minutes.
6) Put the rice into 2 bowls, sprinkle perilla leave strips on the rice. Put the salmon & avocado mix on the rice, and pour some tare on. Decorate with halved tomatoes and some perilla strips.

This dish can be made with maguro, bluefin tuna, or other fish suitable for eaten as raw.
I use brown rice for more nutritious meal, but white rice is fine too.


Walnut & Fig Hearts

Walnut & Fig Hearts

Although St. Valentine’s Day was last month, I decided to try to make heart shaped rolls. After proofing they aren’t quite as heart shaped as I wanted, but still quite cute. I used walnuts & figs in the filling, but other nuts and chocolate chips can also be used. Even cinnamon rolls could take this shape!

Walnut & Fig Hearts (8 pcs)

200 g plain flour
20 g skim milk
20 g sugar
a hint of salt
3 g dry yeast
30 g of egg lightly beaten
120 g milk
20 g butter (room temperature)

30 g walnuts (roasted)
2-3 dried figs
5 g butter (room temperature)
1 tsp sugar
(a hint of cinnamon)

1) Mix flour and skim milk in a bowl. Put sugar and dry yeast next to each other on one side, and salt on the other side.
2) Mix milk and lightly beaten egg and warm to 40°C in a microwave.
3) Add milk and egg mix to the bowl with flours, and make sure the yeast is mixed well. Knead by hand until the dough comes firm. Add the butter and keep kneading in a stretching manner. When the dough stops sticking to the bowl, make it a seamless ball and cover the bowl with wrap. Let proof in 40°C for 40 mins.
4) Roast walnuts in a oven for around 10 mins, and let cool down a bit. Crush them smaller pieces by hand. Cut the figs the same sized pieces as the nuts with scissors.
5) Take the dough out of the bowl and push it down to let the excessive air out. Make the dough to a ball and cover with wrap. Let rest for 15 mins.
6) Push the dough down again and make into a rectangular by using a rolling pin. Spread the butter over the sheet and sprinkle sugar over it. Sprinkle also roasted walnuts and figs onto the sheet. If you want, you can add some cinnamon for taste.
7) Roll from both side towards the centre so that they meet up in the middle. Use some water to glue them together so that the hearts won’t open while in the oven.
8) Turn the roll 90 degrees upwards so that the the upper part of the heart is towards the wall. Cut to 8 pieces with a dough scraper or a sharp knife.
9) Put on the baking tray and fix the shape. Put on a wrap and moist cloth, and let proof in 40°C for 25 mins.
10) Brush some egg on the hearts (use the leftover from making the dough) and bake in 180°C oven for 15-17 mins.