Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Sweet and Sour Tofu Burger

_DSC3064Tofu burger sounds vegetarian, right? but not so with this recipe. The 4 pack Organic Tofu was on sale at Costco. The word ‘organic’ is over used lately I think. It’s true that organic resonates ‘healthier’ but really? _DSC3025

My tofu repertory is rather limited and perhaps boring. After I used tofu in hot pot (鍋料理) and mapo-tofu (麻婆豆腐), its expiration date is fast approaching. I dig into treasure chest… I mean storage box (I sometimes like low-tech search) and there I found this recipe that calls for ingredients I already have. Lucky! The bed of vegetables could be optional yet it completes the dish. I highly recommend that you include it in the circle.

Ingredients and Instructions for 6, 3 inch diameter burgers (Print Recipe Here)

For Tofu burger

  • 1 package of medium firm tofu
  • Ground pork 1/2 pound
  • 2 stalks of green onion finely minced
  • Ginger finely minced 1 Tablespoon
  • Sesame oil 2 teaspoons
  • Salt and pepper 

For Seasoning sauce – adjust as needed

  • Water 1 cup
  • Chinese chicken soup granules or Japanese dashi base 1 teaspoon
  • Tomato ketchup 1/4 cup
  • Rice vinegar 3 Tablespoons
  • Sugar 2 teaspoons
  • Potato starch or cornstarch 2 teaspoons

For vegetable

  • Bean sprouts 1 bag or 2 cups
  • Green onion or garlic chives 2-3 stalks cut green part only in 2 inches length.
  • Bok Choy (optional) 1-2 Separate and cut in half length wise.
  • Salt and pepper (I recommend white pepper)

Vegetable oil 2 Tablespoons

  1. Remove water from tofu – Lay 2 sheets of paper towels onto shallow microwave safe dish. Tear off tofu by hand and put on the top. Microwave for 2 minutes at 60% power. Bring the four corners of the paper towel together and squeeze (careful, it may still be hot) above a dish to catch the drippings, ensure that most of the liquid from tofu is removed, discard liquid. Leave tofu on a new sheet of paper towels till needed._DSC3027 
  2. Mix ground pork with the salt and pepper until the pork is pasty. Add minced green onion, ginger, prepared tofu, sesame oil in a large bowl and mix well. Divide in 6ths or 12ths and make patties or balls. Set aside._DSC3045
  3. Make season sauce– Pour water in a bowl or large measuring cup. Dissolve Chinese chicken soup granules or Japanese dashi base. Add rest of the season mix ingredients except cornstarch then mix well. Pour about 1/4 cup of the just prepared seasoning sauce into a small bowl and dissolve potato starch or cornstarch. Put the starch mix back into the seasoning mix bowl. Set aside._DSC3049
  4. Bedding vegetable - Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan at high temperature. Sauté the bean sprouts, green onion (or garlic chives) and bok choy until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large platter.
  5. Wipe the same frying pan with paper towel. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil at medium heat. Lay the patties in and brown about 3 minutes. Turn over to brown other side about 3 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Stir the seasoning sauce once again and pour over the patties. Cook until the liquids get thicker and patties are coated._DSC3052
  7. Put the patties over the vegetables on the platter. Spoon remaining seasoning liquid over the patties. Serve hot._DSC3074

Fancy Chocolate Kefir Sourdough Waffles showed up one morning. My husband’s two day project. He loves homemade fermented kefir. _DSC3192

After my husband mowed the lawn last Saturday, he took a number of “Signs of Spring” pictures. This is my fav pic, Star Magnolia. _DSC3167Our back yard vegetable garden – forgotten kale plants and noxious weeds._DSC3143IMG_1020

I hope you’re having a great Spring Break. I wish I’m somewhere I can hear my grandkids whining.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Tuna Chirashi Sushi_DSC2899

It is a rare occasion that I make Chirashi ( vinegar rice at bottom then top with a variety of seafood and other ingredients). Wandering the Asian market with the big question of the day – What is for dinner? ‘What can I get you?’ said the guy on the other side of the fish case…Ah…a million bucks?_DSC2900

Sometimes my sense of humor cascades unintended into some awkwardness. I had to change the subject pronto! What is the difference between the $24.99 per pound tuna and $28.99 per pound ones? He lifted up each of the tuna and kindly gave me a lengthy explanation but my brain was stuck at …how am I going to get out of this situation? He basically said those cuts came from different parts of tuna thus the price difference. So what will it be ma'am? I will have the $28.99 a pound tuna plea…what did I just say? With incredible speed he wrapped up the tuna and handed it to me. Have a nice day! ….Tha..n..kyou?

This recipe requires a few little preps and you assemble all in the end.The fresh new ginger (新しょうが) infused vinegar rice is quite refreshing.

Ingredients and instruction for 2-3 servings Note: change the seasoning amount to fit your taste.(Print recipe here)_DSC2873

  • Tuna approximately 1/2 pound (or less) sliced_DSC3000
  • Mirin* 2 Tablespoons  *Some of the seasoned sake wine (本みりん) contains alcohol. I cooked for a few minutes on low heat to remove alcohol (this is an optional step, skip if you don’t mind the alcohol). _DSC3005
  • Soy sauce #1  2 Tablespoons
  • New ginger (no substitute) 2 Tablespoons finely minced_DSC2874
  • Rice vinegar 2-3 Tablespoons
  • Sugar 1 Tablespoon
  • Salt 1/2 teaspoon
  • Just cooked warm rice about 3 cups
  • White sesame seeds 2 Tablespoons lightly toasted_DSC2872
  • White radish sprouts bunch
  • 1 Avocado  
  • Lemon juice 1-2 Tablespoons
  • Green onion (just the green part) chopped small
  • Seaweed (nori)
  • Wasabi paste 1 teaspoon - Mix with soy sauce and olive oil below.
  • Soy sauce #2 1 Tablespoon
  • Olive oil 2 teaspoons
  1. In a medium bowl mix mirin and soy sauce #1. Place sliced tuna in. Marinate for 20 minutes. Set aside
  2. Combine ginger, rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Set aside to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Put cooked rice in a large bowl, add sesame seeds and mix it lightly then add ginger-rice-vinegar mixture and distribute evenly. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside
  4. Cut white radish sprouts to 2 inches length (discard root parts). Slice avocado about 1/4 inch then sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent discoloring. Set aside.
  5. Assembling – in a large plate or bowl, make a mound with vinegar rice, gentry dry the tuna and avocado with paper towel and put on the rice, top with radish sprouts and green onions.
  6. Serve with seaweed and wasabi soy sauce (as dipping sauce or sprinkle on top)._DSC2885_DSC3015

Just for fun, I made bite sized square shushibits._DSC2904Confession…The label on the package of the tuna reads $24.99 per pound. What? I know he got tuna from the pricier bin…he made a mistake or just a nice gesture? Who knows but doIfeel lucky? Do ya punk? 

This soy sauce dispenser is Imari pottery. Practically identical to Arita pottery method. Cute right?_DSC3010

Love from Oregon - Son, we’re wishing you a very Happy Birthday!Image1

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Crab and Brie Bake_DSC2994

May you have warm words on
a cold evening, a full moon on a
dark night and a smooth road
all the way to your door.

This gentle Irish prayer reflects my thoughts for those who were affected by the tsunami three years ago today. The enormity of the aftermath is still evident and lives of many were changed that day.

The anniversary happened to fall on Tuesday this year, my blog day. I went back to check my old post to see what I was feeling that day three years ago, more of the same feelings - sadness of course, powerlessness and fear…I pray that time is kind and people find hope and happiness even if it’s still in darkness.  P1020148My son and my husband (my son is in back wearing towel, my husband is next to him in dark shirt) traveled to Japan to volunteer for clean up efforts in 2011.

Oh hello there… I found Fillo sheets inside the freezer. It must be more than 6 months old. I think I had a plan for this but what was it? It’s time for plan B. I improvised one of the recipe in a ‘Award winning Fillo Recipes’ booklet.The recipe is simple however, fillo demands a most delicate touch which is not my strong suit.

Ingredients and Instruction for Crab and Brie Bake for 2-4 servings (Print recipe here)


  • 1/2 cup crab meat

  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh chives finely chopped _DSC2916
  • 1-2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice 1-2 teaspoons
  • Cayenne pepper 1/8 teaspoon or more 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8oz brie
  • Fillo sheets or Puff pastry dough. Defrost over night in refrigerator
  • Olive oil 1/4 cup or more or melted butter 
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  1. In a medium bowl, mix crab meat, chive, mayonnaise cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Prepare fillo –Unfold and lay flat for sometime to get crease out. Brush 1/2 sheet with olive oil and fold in half. Repeat 8 more times. Prevent the fillo sheet from drying by covering with plastic wrap and a moist towel. Lay the prepared fillo sheets in a sunburst design._DSC2914
  3. Remove rind from top of brie and place on the center of the sunburst. Top with crab meat mixture. Press to make dome form._DSC2921
  4. Fold over fillo sheets over from top layer sheets and so on. Trim fillo if needed as you go.
  5. Heat oven to 375F. Lay foil on the cooking sheet or just simply grease the baking tray. Place fillo wrapped crab and brie on top of it.
  6. In a small bowl beat egg and 1 Tablespoon of water. Brush fillo with egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Garnish with mixture of mayonnaise and wasabi paste if you like._DSC2931_DSC2995

The accompanying warm soup was not really that complementary. Spinach soup is vegan, gluten free and has 8 servings of vegetables in it. Although the color is wonderful, It tasted like a warm spinach smoothie. Get me some ice cubes! A Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!


I didn’t notice last week but cherry blossom is already happening.IMG_1001

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Spaghetti Alle Vongole Rosso_DSC2862

What’s on the menu is determined by what’s on sale sometimes, rather than what you’d like to have for dinner. The vine tomato was on special pricing at a near by market – 99 cent per pound. I doubt out of season tomatoes have full flavor but they looked so darn cute! It’s time to replenish lycopene in my body?

I don’t know much about Italian but I think rosso means red and the type of pasta dish using clams is called vongole. This is not a complicated recipe though you need to give plenty of time for the clams to spit sand out before cooking so obtain clams the day before. Biting into sandy clams is an unpleasant experience of course! In that case, you may spit discretely into your napkin.

Here is easy way to remove sand from clams – prepare a deep casserole dish by inserting a drainage rack. Lay the clams in a single layer. Pour enough salt water (1 Tablespoon salt dissolved in every 500cc water) to cover most of its body but leave the top of the shell slightly exposed. Put a long chopstick or ruler across the casserole dish (this will prevent the newspaper from falling into the dish). Cover with 3-4 layers of newspaper on top. Leave it in a dark place for at least 1 hour but overnight if you can as you will have more success. Clean the clam’s shell with a stiff vegetable brush under running water. See a similar method here. _DSC2813

Ingredients and instructions for 2-3 servings (print recipe here)

For Homemade tomato sauce yield approximately 4 cups Note: you need only 2 cups from this. Refrigerate the rest for later use.

  • 1/2 medium onion minced
  • 6 medium fresh tomatoes; cook in boiling water for 1 minute then immediately plunge in ice cold water to peel skin. Finely chop them and reserve the liquid_DSC2818_DSC2819
  • Olive oil 2 Tablespoons
  • Dry basil 1 teaspoon or fresh basil chopped 3 Tablespoons
  • Salt
  1. Heat olive oil in a thick pan at medium heat. Add onion and cook until transparent. Do not brown.
  2. Add basil and when it gets fragrant add chopped tomatoes and liquid. Simmer till soft 20 – 25 minutes.
  3. Crush the tomato with potato musher or immersion blender for smoother texture then salt to taste.Note: add a can of tomato sauce (1/2 cup to 1 cup) to enhance the flavor if you prefer stronger taste

For Vongole

  • Olive oil 3 Tablespoons
  • Garlic 2 cloves minced
  • Anchovies (I used oil pack) 4
  • Red dried whole hot pepper 1-2
  • Clams 15 to 25
  • White wine 4 Tablespoons
  • Homemade tomato sauce (recipe above) 2 cups.
  • Spaghetti noodle 10-15 oz.
  • Dry or fresh parsley (optional)
  1. Start boiling plenty of water with 2-3 Tablespoons salt in a large pot for spaghetti. Cook spaghetti al dente and reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water.
  2. In a large frying pan heat olive oil at low heat. Add garlic, anchovies and red pepper. Chop up anchovies while sautéing; cook about 5 minutes to infuse red pepper into oil. Do not brown garlic._DSC2837_DSC2841
  3. When the garlic starts getting aromatic, put in the sand-purged clams then pour wine in. Turn the heat up to high to evaporate alcohol. Remove red pepper and discard
  4. Lower the heat to medium. Add home made tomato sauce and cook until clams start opening up.
  5. Add cooked spaghetti plus reserved cooking water if needed to thin the sauce. _DSC2854
  6. Toss gently to coat spaghetti with tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot. Buon appetito!_DSC2861


Around corner from Living Room Theater in downtown Portland where we viewed a Japanese film called ‘Like Father, Like Son’ we stopped by for an early supper at Boxer Ramen.IMG_0984My choice of tonkotsu ramen was (almost ) a knock out. The pork belly had a nice jab to it.IMG_0982Whimsical interior I liked. IMG_0978IMG_0980 The movie was thought provoking and had its charm. My husband started crying in the middle of the movie. I pretended not to notice. IMG_0985

The multi talented singer/actor Masaharu Fukyuyama produced many hit songs. I’m huge fan of his and have several CDs. Click above to enjoy one of my favorite music video of his. Have a beautiful week!