Archives for January 2011

Japanese New Year food Osechi ryori


Japanese New Year food called Osechi ryori. Osechi ryōri (御節料理 or お節料理) are traditional Japanese New Year foods. The tradition started in the Heian Period (794-1185). Osechi are easily recognizable by their special boxes called jūbako (重箱), which resemble bentō boxes. Like bentō boxes, jūbako are often kept stacked before and after use.

The term osechi originally referred to o-sechi, a season or significant period. New Year’s Day was one of the five seasonal festivals (節句 sekku) in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. This custom of celebrating particular days was introduced from China into Japan. If you read more about Osaechi ryori, go this page.


Picture above: Osechi ryori

This is my girlfriend made to this new year.  She had been cooking this every year since she married.  I had never made it whole things.  Now a days, you can buy those already made package from store.  My mother makes this every year.  This picture has black bean-Kuro mame which I made this time.  I made Kuromame couple times already.

Left yellow egg roll called Datemaki (伊達巻 or 伊達巻き),  sweet rolled omelette mixed with fish paste or mashed shrimp. They symbolize a wish for many auspicious days. On auspicious days (晴れの日, hare-no-hi), Japanese people traditionally wear fine clothing as a part of enjoying themselves. One of the meanings associated with the second kanji includes “fashionability,” derived from the illustrious dress of the samurai from Date Han.

Left top white and pink are Kamaboko (蒲鉾), broiled fish paste. Traditionally, slices of red and white kamaboko are alternated in rows or arranged in a pattern. The color and shape are reminiscent of Japan rising sun, and have a celebratory, festive meaning.

Next to Pink kamaboko, yellow stuff (difficult to see it is picture, sorry) Kazunoko (数の子), herring roe. Kazu means “number” and ko means “child”. It symbolizes a wish to be gifted with numerous children in the New Year.

Right top is Kuri kinton which is sweet potato paste and chestnuts.

Next black stuff is Konbu (昆布), a kind of seaweed. It is associated with the word yorokobu, meaning “joy”.

Right bottom is shrimp, it’s call Ebi in Japanese and skewered prawns cooked with sake and soy sauce.

Left bottom is Kuro-mame (黒豆), black soybeans. Mame also means “health,” symbolizing a wish for health in the New Year.

matsumae zuke

This is Konbu (昆布), a kind of seaweed. It is associated with the word yorokobu, meaning “joy”.  Konbu, squid and carrots mixed with soy sauce and vineger. 


This is Kuro-mame (黒豆), black soybeans. Mame also means “health,” symbolizing a wish for health in the New Year.

kuromame kuromame kuromame kuromame kuromame

I will put Kuromame recipe later to another page.

Kinpira Gobo the Japanese vegetable recipe

kinpira gobo

Kinpira gobo burdock root is the popular Japanese vegetable recipe. Kinpira is a cooking style involving stir frying and simmering with sugar and soy sauce. Carrots, lortus roots, and celery are also delicious for kimpira.

What is Gobo? – the greater burdock

Gobo the greater burdock was used during the Middle Ages as a vegetable, but now it is rarely used, with the exception of Japan where it is called gobō (牛蒡 or ゴボウ), Taiwan (牛蒡), Korea where it is called ueong (우엉), Italy, Brazil and Portugal, where it is known as bardana. Plants are cultivated for their slender roots, which can grow about 1 meter long and 2 cm across.

Immature flower stalks may also be harvested in late spring, before flowers appear. The taste resembles that of artichoke, to which the burdock is related.

Gobo the greater Burdock is rather tall, reaching as much as 2 metres. It has large, alternating, cordiform leaves that have a long petiole and are pubescent on the underside. If you want to find more, read Wikipedia Greater burdock page.

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Kinpira gobo Ingredients:

gobo roots ——————————1 (5 1/4oz9)
carrots ———————————–2 (almost same amount of gobo)
sesame oil ——————————–2tbs

sugar ————————————2tbs
sake ————————————-1tbs
mirin ————————————-1tbs
soy sauce ——————————–3 oz
sesame seeds —————————-1tsp
dry chili pepper ————————–1 (cut half – if you make small, food tase become hotter)

gobou gobou gobou in the water oil with hot dried papper

Wash gobo roots well, and shave coarsely from the skinnier ends. Leave in the water for 10 min. You will see the water become brown and drain them. Rinse briefly with water, and drain.

Heat seame oil in a frying pan with chili pepepr flakes or chili pepper, and stir fry gobo root and carrots over high heat

Add all sauce ingredients, put otoshibuta and cook down until almost all the liquid is evaporated.

gobou and carrots otoshi buta

Serve in small dishes with toasted sesame seeds and chili pepper flakes sprinkled on top to taste.

Futomaki sushi


Futomaki Sushi is popular in Japan.  My mother makes this at New Years day or any celebrate occasion.  Or when she invites  some guests to her house, sometimes she makes this.   When I was a child and have school sports day, my mom makes this so we will have lunch together at the school ground.  It is almost finger food, easy to pick and eat.  It is made by rice and other things together, fill you up.  It is usually colorful and pretty, but most of all, it is very tastey!!

Futomaki (太巻?, “thick, large or fat rolls”) is a large cylindrical piece, with nori on the outside. A typical futomaki is three or four centimeters (1.5 in) in diameter. They are often made with two or three fillings that are chosen for their complementary tastes and colors. During the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in Kansai to eat uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form, where it is particularly called ehou-maki (恵方巻, lit. happy direction rolls). Futomaki is often vegetarian, but may include non-vegetarian toppings such as tiny fish roe and chopped tuna.

You can read more from Wikipedia – futomaki.

You can put any other ingredients than what I introduce here, if you have any good idea.  This is what I choose this time.

Ingredients:  About 4 rolls

Shiitake ———————————————————-15 pieces
Carrots ———————————————————–1
Avocado ———————————————————1
Egg omelettes —————————————————–1 (3 eggs I used)
Tuna can ———————————————————1 can
Mayonnaise ——————————————————-3TBS
Sushi Rice (see this page)————————————–3 cupsof uncooked rice

How to make shiitake:

dried shiitake how to cook dried shiitake how to cook shiitake cut dried shiitake

dashi cooking dried shiitake cooked shitake

You will leave dried shiitake in the water until it soften.  When it become soft, cut like this picture.

Put Dashi in the pot and sugar, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and salt and shiitake.  Put high heat until it boils  and turn the heat to low.  Cook it until the dashi is gone like picture above.

carrots carrots carrots in the vineger avocado

Julian carrots or I recommend to use this Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer
.  I use this company and it is very handy for Japanese cooking.  You can slice vegetables by this very thin.  I will recommend this if you are looking for to buy one for your Japanese cooking.  This make Sashimi Tsuma (Daikon) very easy!  Of course you can use this for salad.

After you julian carrots, put in the bowl with 1TBS vinegar and 1TSP sugar together.  If you have put sesame seeds.  leave it about 10 min and mix well.  Then dump the vinegar and squeeze the carrots so that there is no remaining vinegar.  You don’t use watery carrots.

When you make tuna and mayonnaise, dump the can tuna water well.  Then mix with mayonaise.  If it is too watery, when you make sushi roll, too much water and whole sushi will be watery.  It make easily break Nori.

Make Egg omelettes from this page and cut long and skinny way (picture below).

This time, I use those ingredients below to my Futomaki.

futomaki ingredients

how to make sushi how to make sushi how to make sushi

This is how to roll sushi.   Put rice ball on the Nori (sea weeds) and spread on the Nori. Front of you and other side of the nori, you should leave the space (not spread rice) about 1/3 inch. When you spread rice, DO NOT tighten the rice. You need spread rice softely with air. Do not pack the rice on Nori.

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⬆️ click here ⬆️ You can see the youtube video.

The middle picture I spread the ingredients so you can see I put them all.
However, when you are ready to roll (Picture on the right), I put all ingredients make a mount (pile up) so I can roll easily.

You need to buy this Helen’s Asian Kitchen Bamboo Sushi Mat with Paddle , it is called sunoco.

how to make sushi how to roll sushi how to roll sushi how to roll sushi

1)  You roll from your side.  Left picture, where my index finger is the end of the Nori which is the edge of the sushi.  I am wrapping all ingredients in my palm.  The edge of the sushi is almost end of the ingredients line.  Roll into the ingredients.

2)  You move Sunoko so as roll the sushi the end of the other side.

3)  Make whole thing roll and put a little bit  pressure to make it round.  Do not push too hard.

4)  Finish rolling

Tip for cutting the sushi:
Wet and clean your knife each time when you cut the roll sushi.  Use very sharp knife – see my knife section.  Do not cut slowly.  If you cut slowly, you break nori and sushi will be break open.  Cut quickly, that is why you really need a sharp good knife.

Tip for Nori:
There are different kind of Nori.  Sushi Hane or Sushi Nori is good for sushi.  Usually those are cheap kind compare of other kind of Japanese Nori.  It is thicker than expensive Nori.  I don’t know why less is more (expensive) but thin Nori texture is more easy to eat (it means Nori is not stay in your mouth.  thin nori is disolved quickly, easy to swallow.  more crunchy than thicker Nori)  I think the texture of nori makes price different.

Because wrapping the rice and other ingredients, thicker nori is stronger.  For the beginner, it is easy to handle them.

I usually serve this way, sometimes make a pyramid.  Use soy sauce and wasabi a side and put them before eat it.  However,  Futomaki has usually already taste to it so you don’t need to put soy sauce.  You can enjoy sweetness of shiitake.  Sweet Japanese teriyaki like taste and mayonnaise is very good harmony together.  You can enjoy this great Futomaki taste!

futomaki sushi



Chikuzen Ni, Chicken and Vegetables

chikuzen ni

Chikuzen Ni, Chiken and Vegetables has many roots vegetables in the one tasety meal.   I make this Japanese Chicken and Vegetables dish often here in U.S.   I can buy Gobo from local Whole Foods store or Asian store, now.  Shiitake, I can find local grocery store easily.  Well,  Konnyaku, rotus roots and bamboo shoots are difficult to find at local store but I can often  find in Asian store.

Chikuzen Ni has many roots vegetables and they have very good fiber and nutritous food.  Those roots vegetables make your body warm when you eat them.  Raw vegetables like you see in regular salad make your body cool.  It is very healthy to eat roots vegetables, especially winter time.

Chikuzen Ni  is very orthodox Japanese taste food, sugar, sake, soy sauce, and mirin taste.  And Chicken, I use thigh is better than breast.  Japanese people eat chicken skin often so I would like to use without skin but I cook this time without skin.  Still little fat and it makes very good flavor for this food.    One of the ingredients you may not know which is Konnyaku.  If you don’t know about Konnyaku, read this page.   It is very healthy food.

You can see this Chicken and Vegetables Japanese  food in 1st of January.  Chikuzen is place name in Japan and that is  this food origin.  Now a days, this is popular Japanese Chicken and Vegetables food.  Usually Chikuzen Ni is not main dish but could be a second dish.  I think this is very unique food that you don’t see those mixed ingredients, even other asian countries.

Chikuzen ni Ingredients:
Chicken thighs, boned ————————14oz
Carrot —————————————1  (5 1/4 oz)
Burdock root (Gobou root) ——————–1 (3 1/2 oz)
Lotus root ———————————–2 inch (3 1/2 oz)
Konnyaku ———————————-  1/2 cake
Bamboo shoots ——————————-3 1/2 oz
Shiitake mushroom —————————5 (I didn’t put it on this picture)
Vegitable oil———————————-2tbs

Dashi ——————————————2 1/2 cups
Sugar —————————————–2tbs
Mirin ——————————————2 tbs
Soy sauce ————————————-5 tbs
Sake ——————————————1 tbs

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
Cut carrot, gobou, bamboo shoot and rotus root like picture below.  If you put Shiitake mushroom, cut half and take off the stem.

ogo gobo in the water carotts hasu renkon bamboo shoots
konnyaku konnnyuaku konnyaku

Tear connyaku into bite sized pieces by hand. parboil briefly.  But before you tear connyaku, put salt on konnyaku and rub it.  This way, salt makes water in konnyaku out of itself.   Put oil in the skillet,  and fry connyaku first.  Again, this way, takes off the water inside of  konnyaku.  This way, when you cook konnyaku, dashi and all flavor go into the konnyaku.  Tear the konnyaku by hand is also the effect that flavor easily goes  into the konnyaku than you use knife to cut it.

cooking chicken and konnyaku cooking them all chicken and konnyaku

Heat oil in a skillet, add chicken, carrot, burdock, lotus root, konnyaku and bamboo in order, and stir fry.

Add dashi, sugar, and mirin, sake and cover with a drop-lid.   Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cook until vegetables are tender, skimming.

Add soy sauce and keep cooking over medium heat until the sauce is almost gone.

chikuzen ni

Chikuzen ni


Oyakodon, Donburi, chicken and egg recipe

Oyako don

Popular Japanese Donburi food Oyakodon, chicken and egg recipe. Why it’s called Oyakodon?  Oyako mean parents and kids.  Both Chicken (parents) and Egg (child) use to cook together. Wow, it’s sounds horrible! And you will eat this!!  However, it is easy to cook and fill you up.  Of course tastes good, you may want to repeat again. Just thank you for the animals who die for you and do not waste their life which makes your life better…

Oyakodon (親子丼?), literally “parent-and-child donburi”, is a donburi, or Japanese rice bowl dish, in which chicken, egg, green onions, and other ingredients are all simmered together in a sauce and then served on top of a large bowl of rice. The name of the dish, parent and child donburi, is a poetic reflection of the fact that both chicken and egg are used in the dish.[note 1] In Japan, oyakodon is often served in soba restaurants and other traditional Japanese restaurants.  If you want to read more about Oyako Don, read this page.

Ingredients for Oyakodon for 4 serving:

Rice ———————————————–1 bowl (about 7oz)/person
Chicken thigh, boned and skinned——————–14 oz
Onion ———————————————-1/2 (2 1/2 oz)
Watercress —————————————- 1/2 oz

SauceDashi ———————————————-2 1/8 cup
Sugar ———————————————-3 tbs
Mirin ———————————————–3 TBS
Soy sauce —————————————–8 TBS
Sake ———————————————-1TBS

Eggs ———————————————–5

Cut Vegetables and meat like this pictures.
I recommend Chicken thigh. If you like breast, that would be OK, but I think thigh is softer than breast when you cook this meal and taste (texture) better.

Cut chicken into 3/4 inch cubes. Cut onions into thin slices, and cut watercress almost same size.

water onion chicken egg

Place all sauce ingredients in a pan, bring to a boil, add chicken, and boil briefly.
Put onion next, and simmer to cook them.  Take off the foams from the sauce.

dashi dashi chicken dashi onion aku nuki

When the onion color becomes clear (that mean it is cooked), it is ready to put the eggs in.
Beat eggs in another bowl. Put eggs on the top of the sauce slowly. Pour over in circular motion and cook until egg is half done. Then put watercress over it and put lid on. Wait for 30 seconds and open the lid and stirring and moving the pot.

cooked onion add egg lid on the egg add green

Place a portion of hot rice in a bowl, and slide chicken and egg topping carefully over rice.
Egg is not completely cooked for this recipe. It is like almost half done. But if you have a concern about not all the way cooked egg, you should put more heat and time.

Tip of this cooking, the ingredients are for 4 people. However, it is easy to cook small portion for this recipe. Try to cook for  2 people at a time. I won’t recomend you will make for 4 people at a time. If you can, it is better to make one person at a time.

Oyako don


Cooking Sushi Rice in the house

Cooking sushi rice in the house is easy. I will write 2 different ways of How to make Sushi rice.
People may think Sushi is Japanese food with raw fish. It is not!
Sushi is Su (vinegar) and Rice together, it is called Su-meshi (rice) and you arranged with some other ingredients and it become sushi.
So we have many varieties of sushi.  Now you can cook sushi rice and make sushi in your own home!

how to make sushi rice

This is from Wikipedia sushi page and Sumeshi section: Sushi is made with white, short-grained, Japanese rice mixed with a dressing made of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and occasionally kombu and sake. It has to be cooled to room temperature before being used for a filling in a sushi or else it will get too sticky while being seasoned. Traditionally, the mixing is done with a hanger, which is a round, flat-bottom wooden tub or barrel, and a wooden paddle (shamoji).

Sushi rice (sushi-meshi or su-meshi 酢飯) is prepared with short-grain Japanese rice, which has a consistency that differs from long-grain strains such as those from India, Thailand, and Vietnam. The essential quality is its stickiness or glutinousness. Rice that is too sticky has a mushy texture; if not sticky enough, it feels dry. Freshly harvested rice (shinmai) typically contains too much water, and requires extra time to drain the rice cooker after washing. In some fusion cuisine restaurants, short grain brown rice and wild rice are also used. – If you want to read more, go to Wikipedia page.

First of all, when you make sushi, you need su-meshi (vinegar-rice). That is the basic for sushi.
so I will teach you how to make su-meshi the sushi rice.

There are 2 ways: instant version and long version.
You can choose whichever you like and make sushi rice and make sushi!
You have to master it, and then you can make sushi (next step).

This is the easiest one – instant version.
You can read my How to cook Japanese Rice page and cook Japanese rice first.

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You can cook Japanese rice the regular way, and you buy the “Sushi no ko” the powder vinegar package to make sushi rice. You need to simply mix with regular rice and make sushi rice.

      sushi meshi

how to mix sushi rice  how to mix sushi rice  how to mix sushi rice  how to mix sushi rice

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      ⬆️ watch this video ⬆️

However, how to mix the rice is a bit tricky. You don’t mix rice like you mix dough. You don’t want to smash the individual rice like paste. You will destroy the rice taste and can not make good sushi rice. Mix rice by cutting across it in a slashing motion, and then cool it by fanning.

The second row of pictures, you put the spatula in the middle far from you.

First, you move the spatula pulling toward you and flip the rice over to the left side.
Next, go in the opposite direction Scoop rice left bottom and flip over to the right side.
This will mix the vinegar and rice together without squishing the rice.

how to cook sushi rice in the jar

This is the picture of my rice cooker.
The left bar said regular rice, if you major 3.5 cups of rice (1 cup is 180cc, not 250cc like American standard), you put the water up to the left bar to the 3.5 line.

The second left is sushi rice bar. If you want to make sushi rice, do the same 3.5cups of rice and you put water until that line. Now you see for the same cups of rice the water is less than regular rice. Sushi rice use less water to cook it. Why is this? Because, you have to add vinegar and sugar after you cook sushi rice. So if you cook with regular water, the sushi rice is too watery.

Rice ————————————————–2cup (360cc, 360g)

Water———————————————— 560cc (19oz)
Konbu ———————————————–1 inch square

Sushi su (Sushi vinegar)

Rice vinegar——————————————-4tbs

You prepare to cook the rice – read how to cook Japanese rice page. When you cook the rice, put Konbu into the pot with the water and cook it.

It is better to have Konbu in the rice to cook with it but if you can not get it, it is OK. Cook the rice without Konbu.

When the rice is cooked, transfer the hot rice into the sushi-oke (picture above -wooden sushi bowl) or big bowl (if it is possible, put flat plate or bowl). Spread out the rice gently and cool down the rice a little. If you use sushi – oke, before you transfer the rice, you wet the oke with vinegar. You wet the cloth with vinegar and wipe the inside of the oke (bowl). I usually put vinegar in the oke and wet the oke and dump the vinegar out.

When the rice is not extremely hot, put mixed vinegar ingredients on the rice and mix it. When you put mixed vinegar ingredients (its call Sushi su – sushi vinegar) do not put directly onto the rice. Put spatula over the rice and put sushi su over the spatula.

Again, Mix the rice by cutting across it in a slashing motion, then cool it by fanning.