From Tokyo with Love (for Food)


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.



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.


My Pepper Steak

My Pepper Steak

Green pepper steak, or chinjaoroosu in Japanese, can be arranged according to what you have in your fridge. This time I had some leftover shiitake mushrooms, so I threw them in, and ended up with nice bento lunch for work. Lately I have started experimenting with brown rice, and replacing half of the portion with it seems to work well.

Chinjaoroosu (for 2 persons)

100g beef steak
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sake
hint of salt
hint of white pepper
1/4 egg
1 tsp potato starch
1/2 tsp vegetable oil

2 green bell peppers
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 onion
2 shiitake mushrooms
1 cm piece of ginger
1 garlic glove

Tare sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sake
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp oyster sauce
hint of chicken broth powder
1 tbs water
1/2 tsp potato starch

1) Rinse the peppers and take the seeds out. Cut in 1/2cm thick slices.
2) Take out the stems of shiitake mushrooms and cut the caps into thin slices.
3) Peel and mince the ginger and garlic.
4) Peel the onion and cut to half. Mince the other half as small as possible and cut the other half to 1cm slices.
5) Cut the beef to 1/2 cm slices.
6) Mix 1/2 tsp of soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of sake, and salt & pepper. Marinade the beef in the mixture about 10 mins.
7) Mix the ingredients of tare sauce.
8) Add the egg, potato starch and 1/2 tsp of oil to the meat slices and mix well.
9) Put 1 tsp of oil to a frying pan and fry the beef over high heat about 2 mins. Remove form the pan.
10) Put 1 tsp of oil to the frying pan and add minces onion, garlic and ginger. Fry over low heat until the aromas come out.
11) Add sliced onions and fry quickly. Add the peppers and mix well. Add the shiitake and fry quickly over high heat.
12) Add the beef and tare, mix well.
13) Turn off the heat and pour 1/2 tsp of sesame oil to give nice aroma.


Japanese Style Spaghetti with Perilla Leaves & Whitebait

Spaghetti in Japanese Style with Perilla Leaves & Whitebait

Some time ago I had a wonderful shiso (perilla) pasta at one restaurant here in Tokyo, and thought that I should try to make it at home too. Shiso is an aromatic Japanese herb, which you might know as a decoration of sashimi, but it goes well with western style foods too.

Shiso & Shirasu Spaghetti (for 2 persons)

160 g spaghetti
1 garlic clove
20 shiso (perilla) leaves
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbs shirasuboshi (partly dried whitebait)
Good olive oil

1) Boil the spaghetti in salted water.
2) Peel and grate the garlic clove. Rinse the shiso and chop finely.
3) Put 3 tbs of olive oil to a frying pan and fry garlic over low heat until the aromas come out. Add the chopped shiso and fry quickly. Add 3 tbs of pasta’s boiling water and mix well.
4) Add the boiled pasta and mix with the shiso sauce. Add the soy sauce and mix quickly.
5) Place the pasta on serving plate and top it with 1 tbs of shirasu per portion.




Lately I have been trying out different nimono, simmered dishes. Nimono are considered a bit tricky by some, but preparing the vegetables properly, and adding the stock ingredients in right order is a big part of the process.

Chikuzen-ni (for 4 persons)

200g chicken thigh
1/2 carrot
100g boiled bamboo shoot
1/3 burdock
1/2 lotus root
12 snow peas
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 block of konnyaku
1 tbs sesame oil
1/2 cup of water where shiitake were soaked
1 cup dashi stock
3 tbs sugar
2 tbs sake
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs mirin

1) Soak the dried shiitake in cold water to soften. Cut the stems off, and cut diagonally to half. Keep 1/2 cup of liquid for later use!
2) Cut konnyaku to 3 cm thick bars, and teat into bite-sized by hand. Rub some salt on the cubes and rinse in cols water. Put in a pot with plenty of water and bring to boil. Simmer for 5 mins, then drain on a sieve.
3) Boil the bamboo shoots quickly to take off the bitterness.
4) Peel the carrot and lotus root. Cut the two and the boiled bamboo shoots into bite-sized pieces.
5) Scrape off the skin of the burdock with a piece of aluminum foil, and cut to bite-size. Put in a bowl with water and little bit vinegar for 4 mins to take off the bitterness. Rinse in cold water.
6) Take off the excess skin and fat from the chicken, and cut to 3 cm sized cubes. Pour a small amount of sake on the meat and let stand for 1-2 mins.
7) Cut off the stalks off snow peas and remove the strings. Boiled quickly in salted water and rinse in cold water. Cut in half.
8) Heat the sesame oil in a pot, add burdock, lotus root, carrot, konnyaku and bamboo shoots in this order, and fry over high heat. When covered in oil evenly, add shiitake and chicken, and continue to fry.
9) When chicken is heated through, add water used to soak mushrooms, and dashi stock. Reduce heat to medium, and skim the foam when comes to boil. Add sugar, and then sake, and simmer for 10 mins.
10) Add the soy sauce and cover with a drop lid made from aluminum foil. Let simmer until the liquid has been reduced to half.
11) Turn the high heat and add mirin to give the dish glossy appearance. Add the boiled snow beans and mix lightly.




Nikujaga, braised meat and potatoes, is common home cooking in Japan. For many it resembles “o-fukuro no aji“, taste of mom’s cooking.

Nikujaga (for 4 persons)

200g thinly sliced beef (pork can be used too)
4 medium sized potatoes
3/4 carrot
1 medium sized onion
1 pack of shirataki
1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
2 cups of dashi
2/3 cup sake
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin
green beans for garnish

1) Peel the potatoes and cut in chunks. Round the edges and put in cold water for 10 mins. (Beveling the edges prevents potatoes getting mashed when simmering.)
2) Peel the carrot and cut in same-sized chunks with the potatoes. Peel the onion and cut to moon-shaped slices. Cut also the meat in bite-sized strips. Boil the shirataki quickly.
3) Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the potatoes, carrot and onion until the surfaces absorb the oil. Add dashi, sake and shirataki, and let boil for 5 mins.
4) Add the sugar and the meat, turn the heat to strong and let boil while skimming off the scum.
5) Add soy sauce and mirin, and turn the heat to medium. Make a drop-lid from foil and let simmer covered until the vegetables are soft.
6) Boil the green beans and cut diagonally. Put nikujaga in serving bowls and garnish with green beans.