Tag Archives: mirin

Heat me up, Scotty: Takikomi Rice

14 Nov

It’s now a cold season. May I make a suggestion?

Boil the rice inside with soy sauce and goods  for keeping body comfortable temperature.

Warm of rice for body is clever technique on such a cool day.

Takikomi Gohan

Rice cookers rock. Not only do they cook perfect rice every time, they also give you the freedom to make dishes like takikomi gohan. At the danger of sounding like an infomercial, I have to say that it’s SO EASY to make. Just to throw in some veggies (and possibly meat) and seasoning in with your rice, press “cook” and wait for deliciousness. The best part is, these make great onigiri (rice balls) for tomorrow’s lunch.

There are two ways to make it:

  1. The easy way.
  2. The REALLY easy way.

How to make takikomi rice “The easy way”:

  1. Wash and rinse 2 cups of plain, Japanese rice. Drain. Put into your rice cooker and fill to the “2” line with fresh water.
  2. Drop in some sliced mushrooms (shiitake, shimeji, enoki, matsutake, button, etc.) cubed carrots, sliced bamboo shoots (takenoko), strips of inari (deep fried tofu sheets), bite-sized pieces of raw chicken or thin slices of pork, half a can of tuna, or whatever other fillings you like or have in your kitchen.
  3. Season with 1 Tbsp sake, 3/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp mirin (or 1 tsp sugar).
  4. Press “cook”. Enjoy. Serve with a sprinkle of some crumbled or sliced nori (dried seaweed) or sesame seeds on top for garnish.

How to make takikomi gohan the REALLY easy way:

  1. Wash and rinse 2 cups of plain, Japanese rice. Drain. Put into your rice cooker and fill to the “2” line with fresh water.
  2. Add a pre-packed bag of fillings and bag of seasoning (available at Fujiya) and press “cook”. Enjoy.


pre-mixed set of fillings for takikomi gohan


Spinach Gomaae

24 Oct

One of most popular Japanese dish, simple preparation is best feature.

Enjoy to squeeze the water out, making leaves tender.

Pleasure of health by eating.

Spinach Gomaae

Spinach Gomaae

Gomaae salads in North America are usually presented with spinach, but you can make a variety of things in gomaae style. (Goma = sesame, Ae = to dress.) Although the custom is generally to undress before forking, this dressing is so yummy, you’ll prefer to be dressed for this forking sesssion. Dressings vary from cook to cook, so see the suggestions below for four different takes on this ever-popular dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 bunches of spinach, or the guu (filling) of your choice (see “Variations” section”)
  • Goma dressing (choose variation appealing to you)
Ingredient Recipe 1 Recipe 2 Recipe 3 Recipe 4
Freshly ground sesame seeds (NOT tahini) 4 Tbsp 3 Tbsp 3 Tbsp 4 Tbsp
Sugar 2 Tbsp 3 Tbsp 1 ½ Tbsp 1 Tbsp
Soy Sauce 1 ½ tsp 2 Tbsp 1 ½ Tbsp 1 Tbsp
Sesame oil ¾  – 1 tsp 3 Tbsp

How to make Spinach Gomaae

  1. Prepare and set aside the dressing.
  2. Wash and boil the greens. Boil and salt plenty of water, drop in washed leaves and boil until just wilted.
  3. Drain wilted leaves into a colander and plunge into a large bowl of icy cold water.
  4. Once greens have cooled, drain them again and then squeeze out the water (be quite firm). The leaves will be much smaller in size – don’t be surprised.
  5. Prepare portions: Shape the squeezed greens into a thick log-shape, and cut into individual portion sizes. Put each portion into a small dish and dress just before serving. (Toss the dressing through the guu if you prefer.)


Toss any of the following (or any combination of the following) with the dressing for a simple side-dish

  • Salt-massaged vegetables: e.g. daikon radish, carrot, cucumber which has been thinly sliced, salted and “massaged”, left to leech moisture for 20+ minutes, and then squeezed out.
  • Steamed vegetables: e.g. green beans, thinly sliced potato
  • Sauteed vegetables: e.g. mushrooms, okra
  • Steamed or boiled meats: e.g. chicken, sliced pork
  • Raw fish: sashimi-grade tuna (cut into cubes) or slices of tuna carpaccio – great with avocado

Not the same as the creamy “gomaae” dressings you’ll find at most Japanese restaurants (some of which taste as though they are made from peanuts and not sesame) you can substitute the above recipe with a pre-made sesame dressing. Try sesame shabu shabu dipping sauce if you prefer to fork something creamy and rich.

Happy forking!

Slippery When Wet

26 Jul

It’s summer, and it’s hot. Somen, thin Japanese noodles, usually arrive at the table in a bowl of ice cold water. Served with a cool dipping sauce garnished with ginger and sliced green onions, this is the perfect summer food – light, flavourful, and most importantly, COLD!

But wait… why not bump up the summertime fun? Want a little extra excitement for your backyard party? Send your noodles slip-sliding down a waterslide and watch (and take pictures!) as your guests try to catch their meal with chopsticks! That’s right – way back when ice was a major luxury, the Japanese would cut a long piece of bamboo in half lengthwise, and build a water slide running from a cool stream into their picnic area. Then, the designated shmuck would be sent to the water source with a bowl of noodles and ordered to send bite-sized portions down the chute, to be caught, dipped, and eaten by the rest of the crew. Hurray for nagashi-somen! (Note for language buffs: nagashi = to drain or run a fluid.)

Nagashi Somen

No bamboo? How about this little machine? Photo courtesy of http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/ephrene/diary/201005310000/

No bamboo in the backyard? No access to a miniature fake bamboo slide set for your table? No problem! Improvise with a series of pop bottles cut in half, with half of a corrugated tube, or whatever you can find and prop up! Just make sure to run a hose from the top to provide lubrication, and to prop a colander at the end of the chute to catch what slips through your chopsticks. Lastly, slather on the sun screen and make sure that everyone is wearing thongs (a.k.a. flip-flops) … things are about to get wet!!

Nagashi Somen Party

Nagashi Somen at home!

Ingredients for Somen


  • One portion of somen per person (it usually comes bundled in single portions)
  • Water for boiling
  • Plenty of water and ice for cooling

Dipping Sauce (per 2 people):

  • 1 cup dashi soup, chilled
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp cooking sake
  • Grated ginger or wasabi (1/4 tsp) and sliced green onion (1/2 Tbsp) to garnish

How to make Somen

  1. Prepare the sauce by dissolving the stock powder in about ¼ cup of boiling water. Mix in the remaining amount of water and the other sauce ingredients. Chill in the fridge, about 30 minutes, and divide into individual cups or bowls for dipping.
  2. Drop the noodles into plenty of boiling water and cook for a few minutes, until they are cooked through. While they are boiling, prepare a colander and a large bowl of ice water (be generous with the ice!)
  3. Drain the noodles and flash chill by dropping the whole colander right into the big bowl of ice water. Stick your hand in, and shake the noodles around, ensuring that they all get exposed to the frigid water. Keep shaking and mixing the noodles until they (and your hands!) are chilled right through. You may need to drain the water and add fresh, cold water and more ice!
  4. Serve the noodles! Garnish the dipping sauce with either ginger or wasabi and green onion, and serve the noodles either in one communal bowl or in individual bowls of ice water. Want to get slippery? Send the chilled noodles down a slippery slide in roughly ¼ cup sized portions for guests to catch and dip. Hint: use waribashi, the wooden chopsticks you get at Japanese restaurants, for the best traction. Slippery chopsticks are for slip-n-slide pros only!

Let’s try slippery forking!!

BBQ Party

Thank you, everyone, for slippery times!

Thank you to my hosts, Aya and Kazu, for making this Japanese tradition come to life!


8 Jul

For hot time during the summer month,

Japanese like bukkake.

It’s spreading the cold liquid on top.

Please enjoy with your favourite noodle!

Bukkake Udon

Bukkake Udon with Chikuwa (steamed fish paste) Tempura

Get your head out of the gutter, it’s not that kind of bukkake. Bukkake udon is a cold version of the popular udon noodle soup dish, where cold noodles are served with a squirt… er… topped… er… well, served with a cool soup. Easy to make, delicious to eat. Let’s try bukkake!

Ingredients for Bukkake (serves 2, naturally)

  • 2 portions of udon noodles
  • garnish: chopped green onions, grated daikon radish and/or grated ginger

For the bukkake soup:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups cold fish stock (water plus about 1/2 tsp of dashi powder)
  • 4 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons mirin
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons cooking sake (optional)
  1. Make the soup by dissolving the dashi powder into about 2 – 3 Tablespoons of hot (boiling) water. Add 2 1/2 cups of cold water and chill while you prepare the noodles.
  2. Boil the noodles until al dente, then strain and immediately run under cold water. Once noodles have cooled down, plunge into a bowl of ice water to thoroughly chill.
  3. Drain the noodles, arrange them in a bowl, pour the soup on top and garnish.

Let’s enjoying bukkake forking!