Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Spicy Tofu Hot Pot

Super Easy Tofu Soup


Do you know October 2nd is a Tofu Day in Japan?  10 in Chinese Character ‘’ (looks like cross or plus sign doesn’t it?) has two pronunciations – Jyu and To (pronounce tow). 2’s Chinese character is very simple, just draw two lines, one on top of the other, make the top line slightly shorter.  ‘’ also has two pronunciations two…I mean too. Nee and Fu. See where I’m going with this? 

Inexpensive, available in supermarkets everywhere, versatile tofu is a Japanese kitchen staple. This tofu dish is incredibly easy and quick, the spicy tobanjyan sooth your melancholic soul.

The recipe is just guideline, adjust to your own taste.


Ingredients and Instruction for two servings (Print Recipe Here)

Nice to have equipment – small stone pot with lid

  • 150 cc water
  • 2 teaspoons instant dashi powder Note; I used no-MSG granule type.
  • 4 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons tobanjyan (豆板醤/spicy miso paste) available in tube or jar.
  • 1 package Japanese style soft tofu, drained and cut in 4ths
  • 2-3 stalks of green onion or 1 long green onion, cut the white part -diagonally
  • 1/3 cup tempura batter crumbs (agedama/揚げ玉 or tenkasu/天かす) they comes in a bag, find in refrigerated section of a Japanese market. Note: Homemade tempura batter crumbs – Fish out with a slotted spoon the crumbs naturally occur when you frying tempura.
  1. Pour water in stone pot or bottom heavy small pan and boil.
  2. Add dashi powder and stir to dissolve
  3. Add soy sauce.
  4. Add tobanjyan and mix well. cook until liquids come to a full boil.
  5. Lower the heat and place tofu in the pot. Put lid on and cook for about 5 -7 minutes. Turn tofu once mid way.
  6. Add green onion and cook for additional 2 minutes.DSC_7329
  7. Sprinkle tempura crumbs on top, cook for 30 second to soften the crumbs or serve immediately if you prefer crunchy texture. DSC_7333

Variation#1 – Instead of Tofu, add rinsed frozen udon noodle
Variation #2 – Add kimchi and it’s own juice to make knock-off kimchi jjiage

From instagram posts of Today’s TAPAS (#todaystapas) and Today’s Sweets(#todayssweets) -

I love Tamago yaki (卵焼き/Japanese style omelet). The amazing quilt underneath is a gift from a friend…she is so talented and very kind.IMG_5573

Pickled Grapes (the recipe in bon apetit magazine) is delightful! Ready in 30 minutes,  great in salad or for snack.IMG_5604

Well received, lovely Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes with custard cream filling for a church function. The recipe links - Bake for Happy kids or Nasi Lemak Lover. I must say…I did a good job!IMG_5589

Night fall comes early now, I just have one of those,  a cup of decaffeinated  earl gray tea and a good book to curl up with…when I wake in the morning, it’s still dark. I feel like I need mega dose of Vitamin D.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chicken and Mushroom Sweet Rice


DSC_7283White rice was valuable and hard to obtain long ago in Japan. Putting ingredients in a stone pot along with seasoning added to the rice cooking method was welcomed because you could use less rice. It has evolved since then and hundreds of recipes are available now days but my favorite still is the five ingredients rice(五目ご飯), because I get nostalgic about my late mother…she made the best seasoned rice…my complaint was that she only made it on special occasions; 1-2 times a year.DSC_7282

It tastes great even if it gets cold, plus no need for side dish…maybe some pickle or salted plum(梅干)?…clear broth is not too bad a combination either…mmm…baked egg(卵焼き), I must add.

Ingredients and Instruction  for 3-4 servings (Print Recipe Here)
Revised recipe of Masahiro Kasahara

Necessary equipment –rice cooker

  • 2 cups (rice cooker cup) sweet rice (もち米)
  • 1 package shimeji mushroom, cut off ends, separate
  • 1 package enoki mushroom, cut off the ends, cut in half then separate
  • 4 shiitake mushroom remove stems, chop cap into 4-5 piecesDSC_7258
  • 2 chicken thighs, boneless, skin on, butterfly the chicken so that the chicken is mostly flat.
  • Combined seasoning (3 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari, 2 Table spoons each of mirin and sake) mixed in a measuring cup.
  • 2x4 dried kelp sheet, clean the surface with moist paper towel
  • 1-2 stems of mitsuba/Japanese parsley (optional) roughly cut leaves.DSC_7261
  1. Wash rice and soak in plenty of water. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours. If you are using regular white rice then soak just 30 minutes.DSC_7257
  2. Put all mushrooms in a non-stick frying pan. Dry sauté mushroom at low- medium heat until the volume goes down to about half and it becomes aromatic, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.DSC_7262
  3. Heat another pan (or quickly clean the same pan used in step #2) at medium-high. Place chicken skin side down to brown the skin only, about 4 minutes then remove from heat. When the chicken is safe to handle, cut in chunks. Set aside.
  4. Drain the rice and put in the rice cooker, add sautéed mushroom, chicken, mixed seasoning, 1 cup water* and push kelp in the liquid. Cook as normal (if you have a ‘Quick’ feature in your rice cooker, you may opt for that). * if you like softer rice, add another 1/4 cup of water.DSC_7273DSC_7275DSC_7279
  5. When it’s done, remove kelp, stir to combine with rice spatula, top with mitsuba and serve.DSC_7286


Some of my Today’s Sweets instagram post (#todayssweets…do not confuse with Today’s TAPAS) – Soy milk pudding with dark brown sugar syrup…not bad! IMG_5491

Some of my Today’s Sweets are store bought. This fruit tart from Saint-Honoré French pasty shop in downtown Lake Oswego. I liked it! IMG_5469-1

Speaking of French, oui, oui, we dined at Cocotte – Fried frog legs! Son goût comme le poulet (It tastes like chicken)!IMG_5565

Our Anniversary and my birthday were both last week. I received bouquets of flowers, a plant and some chocolate from my husband, friends and neighbor. IMG_5562I’m flowered…I mean, floored with gratitude!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Chinese Sour Soup


We’re officially in autumn, I see some leaves are turning colors. The cooler temperature calls for warm soup that should not be complicated.  I made this mostly from what’s in the refrigerator.


Ingredients and Instruction for two servings (Print Recipe Here)DSC_7180

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 pounds pork cut into small pieces  You may substitute with chicken
  • 1 stalk green onion minced
  • 2 inch ginger root, skinned and minced
  • 2 Tablespoons sake
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 1 bok choy separate green and white parts then sliced thinly
  • 1 small bag enoki mushrooms, discard bottom dark ends, cut in 2 inches lengthDSC_7184
  • salt, white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  1. Heat sesame oil in skillet at low heat. Add pork and cook until the meat just turns white.
  2. Add green onions and ginger to the skillet. Sauté for 1 minute.DSC_7188
  3. Turn the heat up to medium. Pour sake, water and sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper when the liquids boil,  turn heat to low, put the lid on and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add bok choy’s white parts and enoki mushroom, put the lid back on and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add green parts of sliced bok choy, sugar and vinegar. Stir few times and it’s done! Take taste test, if you like more zing then add more vinegar

We drove to a hill to see the Super Moon last Sunday…wondered what it is like to see the moon form the airplane. DSC_7243

Still we had quite good spot to observed beautiful blood moon. DSC_7251

Goodnight Moon

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Follower of good foodIMG_5234

While waiting for our ride at the airport, I turned up my shirt collar to shield me from the cool air. Returning from the midst of volatile weather in Japan, Portland seemed very calm and already showing the face of Autumn. IMG_5366
This is a PDX tradition photo

Since then I haven’t been cooking much…the first day back I fixed the instant ramen noodle below. I like the texture of the noodle and love salt ramen. I had to ask my son to order it on-line (10 packages for 1800 yen). The proceeds goes to the Maruyama Zoo of Sapporo, Japan. Neat, right?IMG_5423

The following day, I cooked the pricey ‘Yumepirika’(ゆめぴりか) rice. I could buy more but it weighed a ton. I recommend it to people who love white rice.IMG_5370Topped with ready made Strawberry Curry…Tochigi prefecture is famous for ‘Tochiotome’(とちおとめ) brand strawberry…I love strawberry but perhaps not in curry…too sweet for my liking but interesting.IMG_5367

We overindulged in sweets and baked goods…velvety smooth vanilla pudding for instance. IMG_5275

Everybody loves strawberry shortcake!?

This idea is cute though… I don’t really care for the combination – croissant taiyaki with sweet azuki bean filling (the custard filling is better I think).IMG_5295

We had a three course lunch at iconic NIkko Kanaya Hotel (日光金谷ホテル)  elegantly presented, mango ice cream for dessert…amazing!IMG_5320

Typhoon #18 brought so much rain and it caused flooding in many places. This is Nikko Station before the major rain fell…we feel sorry for those lost lives…IMG_5296We rode a bus north of Nikko to Kinugawa Hot Spring Resort (鬼怒川温泉) as the trains were not running because of the typhoon.001Kinugawa means Angry Ogre River..it’s just like it’s name. The usually clear Kinu River turned into a muddy stream because of the excessive rain. Our hotel was just downstream and we were safe but this neighboring hotel’s structure was partially destroyed, fortunately no one got hurt. D51EE52E-017C-422D-A8D1-3A94E793BFC0


My husband took this video of Kegon Waterfall/華厳の滝 in Nikko. The winds were so strong that it blew the water clear away from the usual course.

Soft serve ice cream cost nearly $5 each at Payard in Ikebukuro, before heading to the airport.IMG_5357

The highlight of our trip…Our grandchildren are all beautiful (biased? just a little) including the latest one. My husband and I instantly fell in love with him. IMG_0051

My husband in particular melted under his spell.IMG_5248

We had a hard time saying goodbye.