Category Archives: Current Favorites


Kabocha friendly recipes


I troll Pinterest every day. I look in three sections and three sections only. Geek (because I am one), food and drink (no explanation needed) and women’s fashion (for research purposes as I have no sense of style but feel I should look respectable). Now that it is colder in North America, there is a plethora of pumpkin recipes. Sadly, it is still t-shirt and shorts weather here so I can’t quite start making something kabocha-y every dinner. But I’m going to torture myself, and possibly you, by posting some promising recipes I have discovered in the last little bit. If you are on Pinterest please check out my board “Also could be made with kabocha”. Please note that I have not tested these recipes but by looking at them, I’m pretty sure they would taste great.

Kabocha Squash Friendly Recipes and Suggested Changes to Make Them Japan-Friendly

Pumpkin, Barley and Sage Soup at Better Homes and Gardens

  • use dried sage which is easier to find (try upscale supermarkets or import shops)
  • use kabocha puree that has been watered down to canned pumpkin consistency
  • quick cooking barley is called oshimugi 押麦in Japanese and is located in the rice section
  • The Meat Guy sells andouille sausages but I would probably just get any smoked sausage I could find

Pumpkin Pesto at Better Homes and Gardens

  • use kabocha puree that has been watered down to canned pumpkin consistency

Pumpkin Spice Latte Popsicles at Purple House Cafe

Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip at Recipe Critic

If you are looking for other kabocha ideas check out some of my recipes:

Do you have any pumpkin recipes that work well with kabocha squash? Please share them below in the comments section.

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Green Pepper Maki


I love veggies wrapped in meat. My favorite is asparagus wrapped in pork but an honorable mention must go to eringi wrapped in beef. I tried something new the other day. I had some fast fry pork chops and some green peppers in the house so I search on with those two ingredients and found a few pictures of sliced green pepper wrapped in pork. I was sold. I didn’t actually look at the recipes but I knew what I wanted  then and there.

Green pepper maki

4 shabushabu cut pork slices (thin fast fry pork chops) or the equivalent of shaved pork
2 green peppers (Japanese sized)
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon cooking sake
salt to taste

At least thirty minutes before you want to start cooking, mix the cooking sake and miso together and spread over both sides of the pork. Let sit until you are ready to cook. Cut the green peppers lengthwise into thin strips. Roll half of a green pepper’s worth of strips in each piece of pork. Cook in your fish grill for 7-10 minutes, or fry on medium, until the meat is brown and crispy. The green peppers will be cooked but still crispy. Sprinkle a bit of salt (keeping in mind miso is about 30% salt) and serve.

fried rice balls yakionigiri

Freezing Yakionigiri

fried rice balls yakionigiri

I think one of the first frozen foods I had in Japan was frozen onigiri. The hubby bought them one evening and I was skeptical. I don’t really like frozen food and these seemed to simple to be good. I loved them. Haven’t bought them since but they did inspire me to explore the world of yakionigiri. There have been terrible results in the past but now all is good. I haven’t perfected them but they are pretty good. I usually use the frying pan but I tried them in the riceball plates of my waffle iron and was pleased. It’s so easy. Since I need to have some food prepped in the freezer for work day breakfasts, lunches and dinners, freezing riceballs seemed to be perfect. You can just reheat with miso soup for a quick meal. They are best heated in a toaster oven so they don’t get too soggy. I use the grill setting in my microwave but keep the pan on a lower level than when actually grilling.

Basically, lightly salt the rice and make riceballs. If you need a tutorial, check out this one on Just Hungry. In a small bowl mix a bit of soy sauce and grated ginger. Lightly oil a frying pan and heat up the pan on medium. When the frying pan has heated up, place the rice balls and fry until they are just starting to turn golden. Turn over and either brush or sprinkle with a spoon the ginger soy sauce mixture on the cooked side. Just a little at a time so the riceball doesn’t fall apart. When the other side has started to change color turn over again and repeat with the sauce. Now you can fry them until they turn a deeper color. If you are freezing them, cool them completely before putting them in the freezer. Either thaw at room temperature or microwave for about 30 seconds and then put them in the toaster oven until they look nice and toasty.

Pita sandwich

Sprout Love


Has anyone else never really checked out the sprout section of the Japanese supermarket? I’ve passed by and noticed the variety but didn’t actually take a look. I think I accidentally bought mustard sprouts (I hate mustardy things) a while back and was too scarred to go back. I had a craving for a tuna sandwich on Sunday and suddenly remembered that alfalfa sprouts exist and had to have them in my tuna sandwich. Good choice as the sandwich made me feel nostalgic. I kid you not. Anyhow, I also picked up some broccoli sprouts to try and discovered that I love them. I added both types of sprouts to my lunch pita pocket today. Yum.

You can sprout your own seeds in a glass jar. This could be fun. Instructions here.


Coconut Chicken Strips and Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Cups

coconut Chicken strips and quinoa cups

This is the best picture I could manage the night I made these. The chicken strips reflect way too much light. I guess I should have been patient enough to brown them under the broiler. After the success of the tofu version of these I made, I couldn’t wait long enough. I came accross both of these recipes via pinterest and they immediately went to the top of my do make list. You can find the chicken strip recipe here on Budget Bytes. And the quinoa cups here on Iowa Girl Eats. Both of these recipes you don’t actually have to follow as they are flexible. Just look for inspiration and go with what you feel like.

Changes to the chicken strips:

  • added coconut milk powder to the coating mix instead of coating them in coconut milk
  • baked them at 170C for 25 minutes instead of frying

Changes to the quinoa cups

  • used steamed broccoli and shredded gouda (cheap supermarket stuff) as the addins
  • used a bit less quinoa so only used two eggs, no egg whites

 Where to find shredded coconut: in the cake baking section of your supermarket (very small bag for about 130 yen).

Where to find coconut milk powder: in the Asian food section of your supermarket near the Thai curry mix or an import shop. The spice maker S&B now makes small (about 30g) bags as addins for curry and they are located in the curry section.

Where to find quinoa: sometimes you can find small bags in import shops, health food stores, online at Rakuten, Amazon, etc. – it is called キヌア kinua in Japanese.

Where to find Thai Sweet Chili Sauce: the below pic is the only brand I’ve ever seen. It used to have English on it as well but the last bottle I bought doesn’t. It is in the Asian food section of supermarkets and should be readily available as it is used for spring roll dipping sauce.

August 2011 Blog Matsuri Post: Summer Noodle Lovin’

This is my first Japan Blog Matsuri post.  I have wanted to participate for a long time.  Super Happy Awesome is hosting and you can check out other Matsuri posts in the comments section here. The topic is Summer Lovin’ and this summer I’m lovin’ noodles. Regular readers will know that I have posted several noodle recipes over the last couple of months. That’s because cold noodles are some of my favorite things about summer.  Here are a few things I have made this summer. Click on the picture to go to the post with recipes/ingredient lists.

Yakisoba (not hot but a classic summer bbq menu item)


Hiyashi Chuuka

Hiyamugi – my current favorite summer noodle

Hiyamugi are less well known than soumen.  They are a bit thicker and seem to be easy to find in stores.


First Yakisoba of August


July and August are BBQ months here in Japan and yakisoba is often the last dish made before packing up. That’s right, for those of you outside Japan, they make a fried noodle dish on the barbecue on a cookie sheet. I won’t be attending any BBQs this year because it is too hot for le akachan. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some yakisoba at home.

In the mix: a homemade tofu burger, carrot, cabbage and green pepper.

Cold Soba, Beans and Chicken


Cold soba topped with green beans and pan fried chicken breasts (seasoned with salt and pepper). The dressing is home made creamy kinako-sesame-almond. I used the recipe below and with a kinako-sesame almond mix I had.

This was my first time making a creamy salad dressing. I don’t usually even eat creamy salad dressings but I have a soft spot for sesame dressing.  I had always assumed it was basically mayo and sesame seeds and had never looked it up. Tonight I felt like sesame dressing but since I was out and getting a baby ready to go shopping for five minutes seems silly, I looked it up on CookpadCookpad is my go to Japanese recipe site.  I was pleased to find out that you don’t need mayo to make sesame dressing.  I skipped one ingredient because I couldn’t remember how to read the characters and was too lazy to look it up.

Sesame Dressing

Posted on Cookpad by☆凜☆

50mL plain soy milk
1 tablespoon miso
1-2 teaspoons vinegar (go for one)
1+ tablespoons ground white sesame

Put everything in a small jar or salad dressing container and mix (I shook it).  Done and done.

Spinach and Bacon Crustless Tofu Quiche

I make crustless tofu quiche quite often but I have never posted about it.  I change up the fillings all of the time but the base recipe remains the same. This recipe is easily made vegetarian and even vegan.  I prefer tofu to eggs in quiche.

Spinach and Bacon Crustless Tofu Quiche

Serves 4


2 – 350g blocks of soft tofu
1/4 cup flour (I usually use AP)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 onion
1/2 cup cheese of your choice (I usually mix it in to the quiche instead of putting it on top)


1 bunch spinach, cut into thin ribbons
6 slices of bacon
1 small tomato, sliced (for topping)

With a whisk or a food processor, whip the tofu until it is fairly smooth.  It doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth.  Mix in the flour, garlic powder, salt, soy sauce and cheese (if you don’t want it on top).  You may need to add a splash of water to help it smooth out.  Cut the bacon into small squares and fry in a pan until brown (and crispy if you aren’t using Japanese bacon).  Add the bacon to the tofu mix.  Dice the onion and saute it in the bacon drippings until translucent.  Add the onion to the tofu mix.  Add the spinach to the frying pan and saute until it just becomes limp.  Add to the tofu mix.  Mix everything but the tomato together and put in the baking pan of your choice.  Top with tomato (and cheese if you want) and bake at 180C for 50 minutes.  Let it sit for about ten minutes before you serve.  Tastes even better as leftovers the next day.  You can also bake it in muffin tins for individual snacks.