The Pantry - Tofu Workshop - Seattle

Posted on February 27, 2016 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Just got back from the Bay Area teaching tofu and nabe workshops.  I had a few days to breathe in Tehachapi, play with my dog Ana and do laundry.  Now I am headed to Seattle where I will be teaching tofu at" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> the Pantry in Ballard.  I am looking forward to teaching in the new kitchen. I also get to hang out with my son Sakae and my daughter-in-law, Binah in Seattle. All three workshops are sold out!

Tofu Workshop February 6, 2016

Posted on January 15, 2016 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (1)

If you haven't tasted fresh tofu, you got to do it at least once.  You will realize that what you have been eating all this time, the commercial stuff that is, doesn't have any flavor at all.  Fresh tofu is made and eaten on the same to enjoy its full flavor.

Join me on February 6 from 10-130p and 3-6pm in Highland Park. E-mail me to register -

Tofu Making - SF Cooking School

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)
This summer I started teaching tofu making.  It's a lot more work than other workshops - prep and clean up wise but the rewards are wonderful and I found some nice Non-GMO soybeans and good sources for nigari. There is nothing like the flavor of freshly made tofu.   Here is a blog about my workshop at the SF Cooking School and some nice pictures to share with you. 

Explaining the water-bean ratio.  Chalkboard is a useful tool.

Tofu in the maiking

Beautiful cotton type tofu made by a student

Tofu Workshop July 18, 2015

Posted on July 11, 2015 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I will be offering a Tofu workshop from 11-2pm on Saturday, July 18 in Highland Park.  This is a hands on workshop that will show you how to mae tofu from scratch!  You will never eat commercial tofu again.  To register, e mail

Perfect Eggs for a Japanese Omelet's Elegant Swirls

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)

One of my favorite passtime is making a Japanese omelet.  If I have pastured eggs, the occasion becomes even more special.  Here is the omelet story I wrote for Zester Daily.  The pastured eggs I used to make this omelet came from Linda Vista Farms.


Sushi just right for making at home

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Noone really makes nigiri sushi at home - we leave that to the sushi chefs.  But almost every home cook makes chirashi-sushi. It's a scattered sushi - a Japanese version of a paella or pilaf.   This particular chirashi sushi is vegetarian; the toppings can be almost anything you want them to be - but seasonal is preferred.  The strips of egg, greens and the pink ginger bring the message of spring.  (Here is the story about chirashi sushi I wrote for Zester Daily. )

Miso Soup and Bagels for Breakfast

Posted on June 1, 2010 at 11:14 AM Comments comments (0)

Good morning! It's nice to have a wholesome breakfast from time to time. Wholesome, it's been.  I've been eating bagels 3 days in a row. This is the last one, accompanied by two beautiful eggs and miso soup.  I used turnip, fresh Meiji tofu, scallions and wakame for the soup.  (here is the link to the recipe, which is made with Napa cabbage and enoki mushrooms. Just slice up some turnips and use them in the place of the napa cabbage and mushrooms).

Something "Kawaii" - Japanese Egg Mold

Posted on April 10, 2010 at 5:48 AM Comments comments (0)

I keep finding things in Japan that makes me say, Wahhh Kawaii!  This basically means "Oh, how cute!" but it can also mean "I like it." Japanese use this word in almost any context. Kawaii rhymes with Hawaii so it is easy to remember. Here is what I found today while shopping at SUPER VIVA HOME, a gigantic store that reminds me of HOME DEPOT, only it's got tons of fun and Kawaii merchandise.  Take a look at this egg mold.  It molds a hard boiled egg into the following  Kawaii shape.   

Car shape egg mold. This one didn't work very well. The

design was too complicated for the delicate egg.  The egg fell apart

when I closed the mold.

The fish shape egg mold worked much better.

The egg is beige because it has been marinated in

a dipping sauce for noodles. 

It was Kawaii and delicious.

Marinated soft boiled egg recipe

2 peeled soft boiled eggs

1 cup Basic Dipping sauce (see below)


Marinate the peeled soft boiled eggs in dipping sauce for four hours or overnight.

Put it in the egg mold and lightly press to make your favorite shape. Keeps in the

fridge for 4-5 days.

Basic Dipping Sauce

 This is an all purpose basic dipping sauce that I use for dipping Tempura, Soba, Somen noodles. You can use this as a basic recipe and make some adjustments with the seasonings to suit your palate. The sauce is sweetened with Mirin, sweet sake, which unlike sugar has more depth in flavor.

1 cup of Dashi (see Basics for Dashi broth recipe)

1/6 cup - light color soy sauce (Usukuchi-shoyu) or regular soysauce. (I prefer light color soysauce)

1/6 cup - Mirin, sweet sake

1/2 cup - bonito flakes

Bring the Dashi broth, soysauce and Mirin, sweet sake in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bonito flakes and let the flakes sink to the bottom. Strain broth. Discard bonito flakes. Let the broth cool down to room temperature. Refrigerate.


Makes about 11/4 cups of dipping sauce.

Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.



Ganmodoki - Tofu Fritters with Yuzu

Posted on November 7, 2009 at 5:07 AM Comments comments (1)

We are approaching  yuzu season. This aromatic citrus is a bit pricy at about $1 or $2 for a tiny fruit, and at the moment, I can only find green unripe yuzus.The ripe yellow, mini-grapefruit shape beauties should come out soon though.  You can still use the green Yuzus in the same way as the yellow ones. A little zest adds lovely fragrance to the food, and to the hand that holds it. Yuzu is a nice brightener for gammadoki, tofu fritters. Gammodoki is a tofu based, vegetarian fritter.



These fritters are fried at a low temperature of 250 degrees F. If you deep fry it in higher temperatures, it will brown faster but you will end up with cold tofu inside so keep an eye on the thermometer.  To this tofu mixture, I added edamame and shitake mushroom, which gives the bland tofu a lot more flavor. Other possible fillings are chopped carrots, ginko nuts, lotus root, hijiki seaweed, black sesame seeds, chopeed shrimp, squid, octopus.  Make sure these vegetables and seafood don't exceed forty percent of tofu, or it will not hold together in the oil very well.  Gamodoki's other name is Hiryozu, Flying Dragon's head, and as in its name, I find the best way to eat it is piping hot with soysauce and yuzu or lemon; it makes a nice appetizer. Ganmodoki is a popuar ingredient in braised dishes and  Nabe, Japanese Hot Pots. Prepare the ganmodoki a few days ahead of time, and have them ready to throw in your hot pot!  And don't forget the yuzu.  You can add yuzu rinds into the hot pot or enjoy the cooked hot pot ingredients with a squeeze of yuzu. 


Serves 4 - about 12 tofu balls

1 firm tofu, about 14 oz

1 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg 

1/2 cup edamame, shelled

4 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped

4 cups of vegetable oil for deep frying


Garnish - Yuzu wedges (if you can't find yuzu, use lemon or lime)

2 teaspoons of grated ginger 

Soysauce for the table.

 Wrap tofu with a clean cloth or paper towels and put it on a cutting board. Place another cutting board or plate on top of the tofu to press out the water, about 20 minutes.  Put tofu, egg, salt and flour in the food processor.  Process to make a paste. Add the edamame and shitake mushrooms.

In a cast iron pan, heat oil to 250-275F.   With slightly wet or oiled (use vegetable oil) hands, make tofu balls the size of a golf balls. The oil or water prevents the tofu mixture from sticking to your hands.  You should be able to make about a dozen. Slowly drop the tofu balls into the heated oil.  Deep fry the tofu balls slowly until they are golden.  Drain well on paper towels or newspaper. Serve them with yuzu or lemon weges, grated ginger and Soysauce on the side.  

Wrap the tofu in a clean cloth or paper towels.  Place a cutting

on top to press out water. 

Deep fry the tofu balls at around 250F-275F until golden.

Do not put too many balls in the oil. 

Remove excess oil with newspaper or paper towels

Serve with yuzu wedges, grated ginger and soy sauce.

Footballs- Inari sushi

Posted on September 25, 2009 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (4)

The only people I know who call Inari sushi Footballs are my Japanese-American friends. When I first heard it called that way,  I laughed.  I didn't understand anything about the game because I had just moved from Japan but I knew what a football looked like and I could see the resemblance.  In Japan, we call Inari zushi Oinari-san, with an honorific "o" and "san" at the beginning and end.  It's because Inari also happens to be the Japanese mythological God of fertility.  It turns out that this God has a fox servant who loves deep fried tofu.

Don't ask me how a fox acquired a taste for such food but if you visit a shrine or temple in Japan where Inari is worshipped, you will sometimes find an Inari sushi or a piece of deep fried Tofu hanging in a place as an offering to Inari and the fox. I hear Buddhist monks don't encourage this practice but worshipers do it.  Now God Inari, the Fox and the Sushi share the same name: Oinari-san. 

In the last ten years, Inari sushi has become very popular in the US.  If there is a market that sells sushi, I usually find Inari along with California and Spicy tuna rolls.  But I never buy them.  I find store made Inaris terribly sugary and the sushi rice is often dry from sitting in the refrigerated display.  I know the health department imposes certain rules but sushi should never go in the fridge.  Inaris should be eaten right away when they are plumpy and juicy.

Inaris are easy to make at home. Kids love them.  When my son Sakae was in highschool, I would make a large plate of inaris as an afternoon snack  He would bring a half a dozen of his waterpolo team mates ( big guys) over and within minutes, all the inaris would disappear along with everything else in the fridge. 

Marking an inari is like stuffing a pillow with feathers.  Same theory applies. Try to get the stuffing to reach the corners but don't over stuff.  Start by stuffing the seasoned tofu pouches with plain sushi rice. When you get comfortable making inaris, you can try mixing plain sushi rice with vegetables.  If braising vegetables like I did in this recipe is too much work, you can shred raw carrots or slice up some cucumbers, rub them with a little salt, squeeze out the excess water and put them in the sushi rice.  Be creative.




What you need to make Footballs - Inaris are two things: Seasoned Tofu Pouches and Sushi Rice. 

Serves 4


16 Deep fried tofu pieces (Four pieces in a package. See picture.) - In Japanese deep fried tofu is called Age or Abura age 

1 1/2 cups Dashi (here is the link) or Dried Maitake mushrooms dashi (here is the link for the vegan recipe)

3 1/2 Tbls Sugar

1 1/2 Tbls Mirin

3 Tbls Soy sauce


This Oagesan brand contains 4 inari pouches.

Deep fried tofu pouches are sold in either small or large pieces. The small ones are the size of one Inari pouch.  If they are large, slice them crosswise in half and you have two Inari pouches.  Blanch the pouches in hot water to remove the excess oil before seasoning them.  Drain well.


Cook the blanched tofu pouches in dashi, sugar, mirin and soy sauce over low heat until the deep fried tofu pouches absorb most of the broth.  Remove from heat.  Store in a tupperware.  

The inaris will absorb most of the seasoned broth.  You want

the inaris to have some broth left in them so they come out

moist when you eat them



(makes enough rice to stuff 16 inari sushi)

1 3/4 cups short or medium grain white rice

1 3/4 cups water

2 inch piece dried konbu seaweed (optional)

Vinegared dressing for Rice:

4 Tbls rice vinegar

2 1/2 Tbls sugar

2/3 tsp salt


Rinse the rice and drain.  Cook the rice with the measured water and a piece of

dried konbu seaweed in the rice cooker or in a pot.  Follow manufacturer's instructions

for steaming rice.  Discard the seaweed. 

When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl.  Add the vinegared dressing by pouring it evenly all over the rice.  Cut the vinegar into the rice with a rice paddle or wooden spatula. Toss gently.  Make sure the vinegar is incorporated into the rice evenly.  

Slit one side of the seasoned pouch.  "Gently" squeeze some of the broth and open the pouch using your fingers.  Don't squeeze too much of the broth out and be careful not to tear the pouch.  If you do, chop it up and put it into the sushi rice or eat it!  You should be able to put 1/3 cup or more sushi rice in each pouch. Close the pouch so the rice doesn't spill out. Fold one end on top of the other to seal and then the pouch over to the other side so the seal is at the bottom. That will hold the pouch together.  Makes 16 footballs.


4 Tbls roasted sesame seeds

Sushi Ginger Recipe  (here is the link)


Serves 4

To the plain Sushi rice (recipe above), add the seasoned chopped seasoned vegetables. Make the vegetables before you cook the sushi rice.  You can do this a couple days in advance and keep the vegetables in the fridge. 

Braised Carrot and burdock 

1 medium carrot

1/2 burdock

1 Tbls vegetable oil

1 Tbls sugar

2/3 Tbls soy sauce

Peel the carrot and burdock and cut them into 1/8 inch cubes.

Heat oil in a frying pan and saute the cut vegetables over medium heat. Add sugar and soysauce and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Braised Shitake mushrooms (here is the link) should be made in advance.

Slice The braised mushrooms and then chop finely.

Combine the chopped braised Shitake, Burdock and Carrots and mix them into the sushi rice. If there is too much juice in the vegetables, squeeze out excess before mixing them into the sushi rice.  

Be careful not to mash the rice while mixing in the vegetables.. A rice paddle works best.  The one in the picture is not a good example.  A rice paddle has a flat surface which works much better when mixing cooked rice.

I added a couple of tablespoons of roasted sesame seeds. 

Now the pouches are ready to be stuffed.  Slit one side of the pouch. Gently squeeze out excess broth and open the pouch gently.  Careful not to tear the pouch.  You should be able to put 1/3 cup or more rice in each pouch.  Close the pouch so the rice doesn't spill out.  Fold one end on top of the other to seal and then the pouch over to the other side so
the seal is at the bottom.  That will hold the pouch together. 

The pouches will seal themselves with the weight of the rice inside.  These are ready to be served.

Sakai's assistant helps himself to the footballs.  He ate nine in one day.  He teaches kickboxing.  I am sure he can eat more if I let him.

MENU SUGGESTIONS: Inaris, Vinegared Cucumber and Wakame Sunomono, Vinegared Ginger, Miso Soup

Tofu and Myoga Ginger Soup

Posted on August 25, 2009 at 4:42 PM Comments comments (1)

Suimono with Tofu and Myoga 

Whenever I see Myoga at the Japanese Market, I buy a few.   Just one Myoga flower bud can be so refreshing in a soup or with noodles and chopped in a salad.  Myoga is not cheap, about $1-1.50 a bud. I wish there would be a higher demand for this beautiful bud so the farmers here will start growing it.  Myoga  tastes spicy like ginge or scallion but it is more delicate and feminine.  My Grandmother had wild Myoga growing in her garden where the bamboo grew.  We would go into the forested area to hunt for them, which she believed had good medicinal properties.  In fact, Myoga ginger is a popular  yakumi (medicinal condiment), that is commonly used to spice and season Japanese dishes and aid in digestion.

The combination of tofu and myoga in a simple dashi broth is a perfect summer soup.  You can garnish with yuzu or lime rind if you wish.





Makes  4 servings

2 1/2 cups Dashi broth (See Basics for Dashi broth recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushrooms Dashi (here is the link for the Vegan recipe)

2/3 tsp of salt

1 Tbs Light color soysauce (Usukuchi-Shoyu)

2 Myoga, sliced thinly

2 Tbls  scallion, sliced thinly (optional)

1/2 Tbls Yuzu or Lime rind, very thinly sliced

1/2 Soft silken Tofu

Make the Dashi. You can make Dashi in advance.  See Basic recipe for instructions.

Season the dashi.  Heat the soup but do not boil it.  Turn to a low simmer. 

Slice the tofu in long rectangles or small cubes.  Add the tofu and turn the heat t the lowest.

Let the tofu warm up for a couple of minutes.  Remove from heat.

Pour the soup in individual soup bowls.  Arrange the sliced Myoga, the scallions and

garnish with Yuzu.  Serve immediately.

Note: Reheating Dashi does not improve in flavor.  Make fresh dashi and use it right away for best flavor.


Nutty Tofu Dressing - the oil and vinegar alternative

Posted on August 24, 2009 at 3:13 PM Comments comments (0)

SHIRA AE is a tofu based dressing that goes well with vegetables and seafood. It is one of my favorite ways to eat tofu since I was a child.  My grandmother would sometimes make it just for me.  That meant a lot because I had four other siblings and many cousins to compete with.  I would help her grind the sesame seeds in the mortar. The grinding of sesame seeds took time but that was okay, we talked stories while we worked.   

Traditional Japanese mortar and pestle -suribachi and


The ridged interior of a Japanese mortar works efficiently to grind

sesame seeds and nuts.  

This pestle which is made from the branch of a pepper tree

is more than 20 years old.   

My grandmother made Shira Ae to dress a variety of vegetables - spinach, green beans, eggplant, taro potatoes, carrots.  I still remember the day she suggested making Shira Ae with Taro potatoes.  I thought it was a bizzare idea but I loved it.  Shira ae is very mild in flavor.  It is pureed tofu with a little soy sauce and sugar. You can add ground nuts or roasted sesame seeds and even add a tablespoon of heavy cream, if you want a richer and creamier sauce.  Today, I wasn't really thinking about putting any nuts in the sauce but I remembered that I had some fresh trail mix, which I got at the farmers market.  Okay, so why not throw a few pieces in to make it a little nutty?  I picked out the fresh walnuts and pecans, enough to make a 1/3 cup. The amount of nuts will depend on how nutty you want the sauce to be.  I tried this sauce on shimeji mushrooms, broccoli and banana, yes, fruit too.  

Broccoli with Walnut and Pecan Tofu Sauce


Strawberries, kiwi, apples, kaki work well but not the citrusy kind. I could be wrong but I think the general rule is to leave out the watery and citrusy fruit because it will make the tofu sauce watery.  Don't combine the sauce with the vegetables or fruit until the last minute because that will also make it watery.  You can serve fruit with tofu dressing at the end as a dessert.

What's a Banana doing here?


Banana with Walnut and Pecan Sauce - a good dessert


1/2 Firm (Mengoshi-type Tofu)

1 Tbls sugar or maple sugar

1 Tsp Light color soy sauce (Usu-kuchi shoyu)

1 tsp white miso (such as Saikyo miso) (optional)

1/3 cup unsalted mixed nuts (roasted, unsalted) - pecan and walnuts * (optional)

1 Tbls heavy cream (optional) 

Grind the nuts in a blender or mortar until it is as fine as you can get them to be. You want to extract the oil out of the nut.  Aadd the tofu, sugar, heavy cream and soy sauce to the ground nuts and blend well to make a smooth sauce.  You can also do the whole thing in the mortar if you have one.  It will be more textural.  If you want a creamy finish, you can press it through a strainer.  That will mean more work though.  It's good either way.


Make the tofu dressing that contains miso.

Makes 4 servings

1/4 broccoli, cut into florets

Tofu Dressing


Make the Tofu Dressing (See recipe above)

In a medium size saucepan, cook the broccoli with a pinch of salt until its cooked but still firm. Drain.  Chill in ice cold water for a couple of minutes.  Drain again. 

Serve with the Tofu dressing.  Either put the sauce on top or serve it on the side like a dip.

You can make the broccoli in advance but do not combine it with the dressing until you are ready to serve.


Make the tofu dressing that contains the miso.

Makes 4 servings

1 package of shimeji mushrooms, ends removed and mushrooms separated

into small mouth-size bunches

Tofu dressing


In a medium size saucepan, blanch the mushrooms with a pinch of salt in boiling water for about 10 seconds. The mushrooms should hold their shape after cooking so be careful not to over cook them.  Gently drain.  Set aside and cool.

Combine with tofu dressing or serve it on top of the mushrooms.  Serve immediately.


Makes 4 servings

1 banana 

Tofu dressing

Make Tofu dressing.

Slice the banana into 1/2-inch thick pieces.  Each person should get 3-4 pieces.

Combine the pieces with the tofu sauce and serve immediately.

* You can use other seeds and nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and sesame seeds.

Miso soup with Tofu

Posted on August 19, 2009 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

We've had cool weather in LA.  It was perfect weather for the eight mile hike we did up   Westridge fire road last Sunday.  I got my arm stung by a bee as we were coming down the mountain but otherwise, it was nice to be outdoors.  My hiking pal Ellen always asks the same question when we get to the top of the Santa Monica mountains, "So what does this remind you of?" and we all have the same answer,  "TUSCANY!"  (...........without the vineyards!).  See, you don't have to spend all the money or free miles to see Italy.  If you have never done this hike before,  try it.   it's very nice.  You can bring your dog along.

On cool summer days like this, you can have warm soup in the middle of the day and get a nice lift of energy.  I made some miso soup. It only took a few minutes to whip it up since I already had the Dashi broth ready.  Good girl.

For this miso soup, use the freshest tofu you can find.  I love Meiji Tofu.  You don't  have to cut the block of tofu in cubes.  Just put the half or whole block of tofu into the saucepan and break it up with the ladle to get uneven size pieces of tofu.  It is more fun and textural this way.   



Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 10 minutes


3 1/2 cups Dashi (see BASICS for  Dashi broth recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushrooms Dashi (here is the link for the Vegan recipe)


3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons koji, white or red miso


6 ounces soft tofu, drained 


1 green onion, chopped, optional


Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.


In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


Add the tofu to the soup.  Break up the tofu in the saucepan.

Pour the soup into individual bowls.


Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.

French country lunch - Fontainbleau, France

Posted on July 19, 2009 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (0)

So this week brings me to Paris. Yes, I am hopping around the world a lot this summer. Tokyo then Paris, then back to Tokyo again before I go home to Santa Monica. It's business combined with a little pleasure. When I travel to a place like France, food is almost always good. So I love eating out but since I will take a good home made meal anytime over a restaurant meal, I get very excited when somebody invites me to their house.  This time I got very lucky.  

I was invited to Rudy and Brien Chelminski's home for lunch in Fontainbleau, which is about three quarters of an hour by train from Gare de Lyon in Paris. The Chelminskis are Americans who have lived in France for more than 30 years. Rudy is a journalist and Brien is a homemaker. Rudy has written several books on wine and French cuisine. So he always gtives me good insight on French culture and food. Their house sits right at the edge of the famous forest of Fontainbleau. I have visited them a dozen times. I always take the same 11 am-ish train and get there just in time for lunch. If it is warm, Brien sets the table outside and we eat in the beautiful garden.  Something is always blooming.  This time of the year, the hydrangeas dotted the garden in pink.  Today, it is a little cold so Brien set the table in the dining room. She is expecting two other guests. Her neighbors Joe and Benedictine who live across the street.

Every space in this house is used efficiently and reflects the Chelminski's artistic taste.  I love the kitchen.  It has a warm country feeling.  Whenever I am here, I feel like cooking.

      Brien painted the ceiling green.

All the pots and pans hang comfortably on the wall and they feel like they could be mine.

Rudy cooked a "more vegetables than egg frittata" - a recipe he found in the New York Times. The final garnish was chopped basil.  It was really more vegetables than egg. He used zuchinni, broccoli, red onions, peas.  The red onions made the frittata a little brownish in color but still, we all loved it a and there were very little left over.  It's nice to see a man cook.  I saw this happen in all three French kitchens I was invited to.  Which I think is a good thing.

  Everyone pitched in.


The table setting was very French.  There was five of us.  I was starving.

Dessert consisted of Brien's homemade apricot clauffouti and macarons from Pierre Herme.  I ate a lot of claffouti and macarons this month.  It started out with my sister's cherry claffouti in Tokyo, then Fran's cherry claffouti in Paris and Brien's apricot clafouti in Fountainbleau.  Fran said that Clafoutti is as homey as desserts come in France. It is so simple to make.  You can make it with crust or without.  I loved the claffouti with fresh apricots.  The classic claffouti is made with whole cherries, with the pit and all.  The pit adds flavor to the dish.  

Pierre Herme's macarons, the other dessert, were a big hit as always.  Pierre Herme worked at Le Notre, Fauchon, then at La Duree where he did a whole makeover of their pastries. He then opened his own open shops in Paris and Tokyo. I think his macarons, the variety and freshness of taste, are remarkable.  He even makes Yuzu and Wasabi flavors, which the Japanese clientele love.



From The New York Times - Mark Bittman

2 Tbls olve or or butter

1/2 onion, sliced

salt and ground pepper

4-6 cups of any chopped or sliced raw or barely cooked vegetables

1/4 cup fresh basil or parsely leaves, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or mint leaves, or any other herb

2-3 eggs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Put olive oil or butter in a skillet and turn heat to medium. When fat is hot, add onion, if using, and cook, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until it is soft, 3-5 minutes. Add vegetable, raise heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, from a couple of minutes for greens to 15 minutes for sliced potatoes.  Adjust heat so vegetbles brown a little without scorching.  (With precooked vegetables, just add them to onions and stir before proceeding.)

2. When vegetable are nearly done, turn heat to low and add herb.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

3. Meanwhile, beat eggs with some salt and pepper, along with cheese if you are using it. Pour over vegetables, distributing them evenly.  Cook undisturbed until eggs are barely set, 10 minutes or so; run pan under broiler for a  minute or 2 if top does not set.  Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or a t room temperature.

Yield: 2-4 servings.


Posted on June 25, 2009 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (1)

There are so many ways to cook an omelet. What I often make at home is a Japanese style omelet called tamago or tamago-yaki. This is a good recipe when you want to use up your eggs. I've got lots of eggs in the fridge. If I don't cook them before I leave town, noone else will so I better get on with it. I use five to make one tamago-yaki.


You have probably ordered tamago at a sushi bar. The -yaki from tamago-yaki is dropped and is simply called by its principle ingredient: tamago which means egg. I take the quality of tamago at a sushi bar as seriously as a piece of tuna. It is one of the few things that the sushi chef serves cooked. The secret of a good tamago is in the ingredients, which are eggs, dashi broth, sugar and light soysauce. Some sushi bars buy ready made tamago from a tamago-maker; they can be horribly sweet and dry. A good sushi chef will make his own tamago . Fresh everyday. If you are lucky, it may be sitting on the counter top still cooling off. The chef will slice you a fluffy hot piece, which you will have to blow at while eating it. It's so good.

I often make tamago-yaki to serve with noodles or put in the bento box. Or sometimes as an appetizer. I stuff tamago-yaki with herbs and vegetables such as Mitsuba, tomato, scallions, mushrooms, etc. Also, meat and seafood. I made one with cut pieces of grilled eel the other day. It was great. I will have to blog about that recipe.

This is my everyday non-stick pan, which I use for making tamago.

Since I made a big batch of somen and soba noodle dipping sauce, I decided to serve noodles and make tamago-yaki as a side dish. I haven't made tamago-yaki in awhile. My tamago making skills will be a bit rusty. I can make it in a rectangle tamago pan or a round non-stick pan. I will make it in a pan that everyone recognizes and probably owns - the round non-stick pan. Most Japanese home cooks don't bother to invest in a rectangle tamago pans. The shape of the tamago can be molded with a bamboo mat while the tamago is warm. My grandmother made hers from a round pan. She would serve it right out of the pan on a small cutting board and slice the hot tamago-yaki right at the table. It was one of the last beautiful dishes she made for me when she was 100 years old and still living on her own in Kamakura. I remember eating tamago with sashimi. She cooked rice on the wood burning stove and seasoned it to make sushi rice. Grandmother always tried to make the occasion of our visit, the best onel ever. It always was.



Pop the air bubbles with a fork or chopstick before folding the tamago into three.

TAMAGO - Japanese style omelet

Serves 4



  • 6 eggs
  • 6 Tbls Dashi ((link to Basic Dashi stock recipe)
  • 4 tsp sugar 
  • 3 tsp light color soy sauce (Usukuchi-syoyu)
  • Vegetable oil for frying, about 3 tbls (to be used for basting the pan)
  • 1/2 cup grated daikon radish to serve on the side
  • Soysauce- on the table to taste
  1. Make dashi broth. (here is the link).
  2. Bring the eggs, sugar, soy sauce and dashi and mix gently. Do not beat the eggs.  
  3. Put the egg mixture through a strainer.  Any big egg while lumps remaining in the strainer should be discarded.  
  4. Heat the non-stick pan over medium heat.  Add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Spread the oil around the pan evenly. Wipe away excess oil.  Keep the remaining oil in a little cup.  Have a paper towel ready to baste/rebaste the frying pan with oil.
  5. Drop a little egg in the frying pan to test the heat. If the egg sizzles and starts to cook right away, the pan is ready for cooking.   You want the pan on the hot side but be careful not to burn the egg.  Add about 1/6 of the egg mixture to the pan and distribute it quickly and evenly around the pan, tilting it up and down. When the egg starts to bubble, use the tip of the chopsticks or something pointy to break the air bubbles. Tilt the pan and fill the holes with egg batter in the pan.  
  6. When the eggs are half way cooked,  move it away from the heat for a moment and with a non-stick spatula quickly take the far end of the omelet and fold it towards you in three, as if you were folding a napkin. Push the tamago to the far end of the pan again and reheat the pan over medium high heat.
  7. Put a little oil in the empty spaces and remove any egg parts stuck to the pan. Now pour another 1/6 of the egg mixture and again, wait for it to cook. Pop the bubbles if you see any. Fold the egg over the first egg roll.Repeat three or four more times. Be careful not to burn the egg. Some sushi chefs make tamago that remains yellow and soft. This is a matter of preference.  I like it a little bit on the brown side but I still want the tamago to come out fluffy and taste the dashi. When you have used up all the egg, brown both sides to give the Tamago some color. 
  8. Bring out the bamboo sushi mat. Put the tamago on the bamboo mat surface. Wrap the tamago and let it taken on a rounder shape. Don't wrap it too tightly. Let tamago rest for a couple of minutes. Slice the tamago crosswise into 1 inch pieces and serve it with grated daikon radish and soy sauce. You can also serve tamago at room temperature.  

Menu suggestions: Tamago, Soba noodles with dipping sauce, Satsuma-age


Roll it up in the mat and let the tamago rest for a few minutes or long


The ends are for nibbling



Mapo Tofu

Posted on June 6, 2009 at 11:13 AM Comments comments (0)

I took Ana on a long walk and came home around 7pm.  I still didn't know what I was going to make for supper.  I looked inside the fridge and found 3 blocks of tofu and ground chicken.  I wanted to use them up so I decided Mapo Tofu. 

MapoTofu is a very popular Szechuan dish in Japan.  It's a "Teiban" - a"standard" fast food  that I make at home.  My Mapo Tofu is milder than the original Szechuan dish.  This is what happens to most foreign dishes when it reaches the Japanese kitchen.  We adjust the recipes to suit our milder palate.  I still use Tobanjan - the hot Chinese fermented bean paste but sparingly because the heat is rather intense. I combine it with Japanese miso paste which tones down the intensity and gives it a nice beany flavor of miso.   

If anyone wants the dish tobe hotter, I pass the hot chili sauce at the table or you can add more Tobanjan or La Yu while you are cooking the dish. The tofu cubes can be cut small or big.  Smaller tofu cubes make the dish look fancier. Also, a dash of ground Szechuan pepper at the end adds a nice fragrance and spice to the dish.  With bowls of steamed rice, this makes a quick and satsifying meal.




Serves 2-3 

  • 3/4 lbs ground chicken, beef or pork
  • 1 medium firm tofu, cot into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbls soy sauce 
  • 1 medium firm tofu (men-goshi tofu)
  • 4 scallions, chopped - white and green parts
  • 1 tbls ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped  
  • 2 Tbls white miso paste or more to taste
  • 1 tsp Tobanjan (Chinese fermented bean paste) or more to taste
  • 2 Tbls Sake 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar 
  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 1 Tbls corn starch (Katakuriko) mixed with 1 Tbls water
  • Ground Szhechuan Pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying - I use roasted sesame oil (1-2 Tbls)
  • La Yu (optional hot seasoning)
  1. Combine ground meat with soysauce. Let meat marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix miso paste,  sake, salt, sugar and water in a small bowl and set aside. 
  3. In a medium size frying pan, heat oil and saute ground mea over medium heat until the meat is cooked and a little crispy.  Add the chopped ginger, white part of green onions and garlic.  Mix in the miso mixture and bring the heat to a simmer.
  4. Blanch the tofu cubes in hot water for 2-3 minutes.  Drain.  Gently add the tofu cubes and continue cooking over low heat for another 10 minutes.  
  5. Combine cornstarch with one tablespoon of water to dissolve the starch.  Pour the starch mixture into the frying pan.  Mix it into the meat-tofu mixture.  Be careful not to break and crumble the tofu cubes.  Cook until the cornstarch liquid thickens the Mapo Tofu.
  6. Sprinkle with scallions and ground some Szechuan pepper on top.  Serve immediately with fresh steamed rice.