I wanted something nice and light for lunch yesterday so I decided to try making a soup that I had the day before at Earthen Place Cafe here in Zushi. It was a kabu (a white turnip) and onion soup so I gave it a try and was happy with the results. Click here for a picture of the kabu. Despite the texture resembling the daikon radish, which takes a long time to cook through and become tender, kabus cook very quickly. This soup can easily be vegan, gluten-free or any other allergen free simply by changing your bullion cube.
Kabu and Onion Soup
500mL water 1 bullion cube 1 medium onion 1 medium to large kabu salt and pepper, to taste
Put the water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, peel and thinly slice the onion into half moon shapes. When the water has boiled, add the onion and bullion cube and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the onion turns translucent. I let mine get soft because I don’t like onions that are still firm. While the onion is cooking, peel the kabu, cut in half, then each half into thirds. Finally slice thinly. You basically need to cut a thin slice into six pieces. Once the onion is ready, add the kabu and simmer until it becomes tender. This should only take about five minutes.
A couple of weeks ago I picked up three cooking magazines at the local bookstore, カラダ温めレシピ (recipes to warm you up), Esse Special edition of their most popular bentos and 楽々スープジャーレシピ (thermos recipes). Now I have tons of ideas for lunches. I found the thermos recipe book the most interesting, conceptually. Almost everything is cooked in the microwave but I can easily make everything on the stove.
This recipe is the second one I tried from the warming recipes magazine. The first one I tried was carrot and ginger rice and none of us liked it. This one, on the other had, was delicious. I used orange fleshed yams (annouimo安納芋 あんのういも) instead of sweet potato and I don’t think I can go back to regular sweet potatoes. The yams were so smooth.
Goma shio is a mixture of salt and black sesame and is a common rice topping. To mix, use one part salt to ten parts black sesame seeds, by volume.
Sweet Potato and Black Rice Takikomi Gohan
1/2 sweet potato (I used about 70 grams) 1 cup uncooked rice 1 tablespoon black rice 1/3 teaspoon salt goma shio for topping
Wash the rice, add the appropriate amount of water and let sit for at least thirty minutes. Chop, but don’t peel, the sweet potato into small cubes and soak in water for about fifteen minutes. Drain and rinse the sweet potato and it and the salt to the rice. Give it a quick stir and then put it in the rice cooker and cook on the regular white rice setting. I haven’t tried the quick setting but it is probably okay if you are in a pinch for time. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cook it the same way you would rice. Serve topped with goma shio.
I have been making a bit of an effort to buy more additive-free and organic pantry items. I have started keeping my eyes peeled for organic/additive-free products in the supermarket. My food philosophy tends to be eat as healthy as possible with what is available. You should be able to find some of these items in your local supermarket. I have found a lot of additive-free and organic food at the local OK Supermarket, a discount supermarket.
I have been using this soy sauce for a couple of weeks and I like it. It is made by Yamasa which is the company I usually buy non-organic soy sauce. This is a picture of the bag it was sold in.
Additive-free sausages 無添加 ソーセージ (むてんか ソーセージ mutenka souseeji)
I spotted this about a week ago for the first time and tried them. They taste like normal chemical laden sausages. They were about 270 yen for one pack so they are a bit more expensive than regular sausages.
My husband got into these before I had a chance to eat them. He said they tasted good.
(Mostly) Organic soy sauce
有機しょうゆ (ゆうき しょうゆ yuuki shouyu)
This one is made from organic soy beans but all other ingredients are not organic. I have never made soy sauce before so I can’t say how much non-organic material is in the soy sauce.
有機コーヒー (ゆうき こうひい yuuki kouhii)
I don’t drink coffee so I will not be able to review it but it is there for you to try.
有機納豆 (ゆうき なっとう yuuki nattou)
Another product I can’t stomach but the boys of the house love it. Aside from OK Supermarket, which sells organic natto for the same price as non-organic, supermarkets seem to sell organic natto in two packs for the same price as a three pack of non-organic. Not too bad if you don’t go through a lot.
Do you have a favorite organic or additive-free product? Please leave a comment (preferably with a link to a picture) below in the comments.
I have great news. The Japanese cooking site I use the most, Cookpad, now has an English page. Cookpad is Japan’s biggest recipe submission site. This is very exciting for those days when I need inspiration but can’t be bothered to research in Japanese. It looks like they translated everything as is because the recipes have the same cutesy titles the Japanese titles have.
I like the way they have sorted the recipes. Some of the categories have interesting names. I looked for an allergy-friendly category but there doesn’t seem to be one yet. Hopefully soon.
I spotted this recipe on Cookpad (Japanese) and I couldn’t resist trying it. It looked simple and I knew if I made one small adjustment it would be fabulous. I happened to have some mackerel in the fridge and the supermarket had a bag of super ripe tomatoes on the discount veggie rack and I knew it was fate. The original recipe called for one can of tomatoes but they are in season now so fresh is best. I will try this again with canned tomatoes but I think I will splurge on expensive canned tomatoes as the freshness of the tomatoes was one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much.
Mackerel simmered in tomato sauce
4 mackerel fillets – make sure there are not too many bones 3 small tomatoes, cut into large chunks 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 clove garlic, diced/minced 1 tablespoon flour (to make gluten-free use rice flour) salt and pepper to taste splash of white wine or cooking sake (I used cooking sake)
Sprinkle some salt on the mackerel fillets and let them sit for five minutes. Dice/mince the garlic and saute it in the olive oil in a frying pan (large enough to fit all the ingredients) until it is fragrant but no darker than light brown. Pat the mackerel fillets dry with some paper towel and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Add the fillets to the pan and brown on each side. They don’t have to be fully cooked at this point. Once they are brown add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer everything on medium for about ten minutes. the fish will be fully cooked and the flavors will have melded. Serve.