Archive for September, 2009

Green beans and potatoes with seven spices


This is a simple stir fry with green beans and potatoes, sautéed in oil, salt, and pepper.

In addition, the dish gave us a great occasion to try our newly acquired seven spices seasoning. The bottle is labeled nanami togarashi, but it’s also commonly known as shichimi togarashi. Apparently the name ambiguity comes from the two ways that the character “seven” can be pronounced. Perhaps I’ll understand better once I’m further into my Japanese lessons.

Anyway, the seven spices are:

  • chili pepper
  • orange peel (sometimes a different citrus is used)
  • black sesame seed
  • white sesame seed
  • sansho pepper
  • ginger
  • seaweed

It’s very spicy indeed.

We also added it to our miso soup with bean sprouts and mushrooms.

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Trouty white stew

Tasty stew

Tasty stew

Another modification of one of Yusuke’s stock recipes. To make this white stew, Yusuke mixes flour, milk (in this case, half whole milk (ha) and half soy milk), butter, white wine, and salt and pepper.

This time he added pieces of rainbow trout that he had baked beforehand along with napa, carrots, and white onions. With bread on the side, all food groups were covered (except fruit and chocolate, which is easily handled by dessert).

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Tofu and tako

A pretty melange

A pretty melange

This is similar to another tofu stir fry that Yusuke often makes, but this time he used fresh(-ish) octopus instead of canned tuna.

First, he boiled the octopus until it was tender. Then sautéed the tofu in sesame oil and drained the pan. Finally, the tofu, octopus, fresh bean sprouts, and baby spinach were all stir fried, seasoned with salt and soy sauce.

The firm tofu makes this dish especially filling, and in combination with tako, the texture is very nice.

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Eggplant and bell pepper soup

Colourful soup

This soup’s colour combination was beautiful, with the translucent white onions, deep purple eggplant, and bright red bell pepper. Yusuke didn’t really think it was worth writing home about, as it were, but I found it too aesthetically pleasing to pass up.

The broth is vegetable stock, seasoned with salt and pepper. And possibly parsley? We can’t quite remember.

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Tuna sashimi



We happened upon some sushi-quality in our usual grocery store, and we couldn’t pass it up. Talk about a quick meal: just slice the fish and eat with soy sauce and wasabi, with rice on the side.

However, we are aware that this might be one of the last times to enjoy this treat. Tuna, particularly bluefin tuna in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, has been severely over-fished. It has become endangered, and the European Union is discussing bans or drastic limitations on the fishing and trade of bluefin tuna.

The World Wildlife Foundation presents an overview of the issue here and here. They note that the sushi market worldwide has put a huge demand on the already over-fished stocks, pushing them to the edge of collapse.

Here are a couple other recent newspaper articles on the issue: Bluefin tuna – with a guilt trip thrown in (The Independent), Commission proposal would put tuna on endangered list (European Voice), In Deep Water (CNBC), and Pressure grows over bid for international tuna trade ban (Malta Independent).

Pacific tuna is also disappearing, as described in this news article from the WWF. It seems from this article that illegal fishing is especially exacerbating the problem. Coinciding with the National Tuna Congress in General Santos City (Philippines), Greenpeace is sending a ship to record and, as they put it, protect, tuna in the Pacific.

So all this to say that our tuna was a delicious dilemma.


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Eggplant with edamame dressing

Eggplant with edamame dressing

This beautiful creation was inspired by our shojin ryori cookbook, The Enlightened Kitchen. Trust me, it really was beautiful, even if the picture looks a little, well, odd.

Our brilliant lime green sauce came out a bit lumpier than the picture in the book, probably because our blender isn’t so great (the recipe recommends a food processor). But this didn’t affect the taste.

Yusuke cut the baby eggplants into long strips and fried them in sesame oil (the recipe calls for 4 tbsp!!!) until soft. Then 1 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp soy sauce were stirred in to coat the slices.

Dressing ingredients:
240 g (8 1/2 oz) edamame beans
100 ml (a bit more than 1/3 c) konbu (seaweed) stock
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
1/4 tsp salt

We used frozen edamame beans, which were already shelled. Yusuke boiled them first, and then blended them to a smooth paste while adding the konbu stock. He then stirred in the vinegar, mirin, and salt to complete the sauce.

Edamame is common in Japan, but unusual elsewhere, so I brushed up on its properties via wikipedia. Because I am lazy, and perhaps you are, too, I will quote:

“Edamame is a preparation of baby soybeans in the pod commonly found in Japan, China and Korea. The pods are boiled in water together with condiments such as salt, and served whole.

Outside East Asia, the dish is most often found in Japanese restaurants and some Chinese restaurants, but has also found popularity elsewhere as a healthful food item.” (“Edamame.” Wikipedia., accessed August 22, 2009.) And here’s a random article with a few interesting tidbits: “Oh soy, can you see: Edamame market climbing like Jack’s Beanstalk …”

In Japan, edamame is a common bar snack, restaurant appetizer, and bento item.

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Sautéed mushrooms

Mushrooms in a cup

Mushrooms in a cup

This was an exceedingly simple and tasty side dish. The mushrooms were sautéed in a bit of butter and served in our adorable custard cups with sesame seeds and fresh green onions. We only had crimini mushrooms in the fridge, but shitake would have been much better.

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