Category Archives: Sauces/Dips/Dressings

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Salad dressing love

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I need to up my game when it comes to salad dressing. I’m pretty predictable. I make a vinaigrette every time. There is some variety in the spices but not that much. Salad dressing is inexpensive to make (unless you get caught up in fancy vinegar and oils) and pretty easy as well. I’ve done a peruse on Pinterest and narrowed it down to five recipes to try. I’m still on the lookout for a good ranch dressing recipe. I’m pretty sure that if I substitute Greek yogurt for mayonnaise and buttermilk it will work well. I just need to play with the spices.

Mamma Allegra’s Vinaigrette – I would probably reduce the sugar a bit

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette – on Premeditated Leftovers (love the blog name)

Homemade Italian Dressing Mix – this will be a big time saver

Paleo Italian Salad Dressing

Carrot, Miso and Ginger Salad Dressing – I can’t wait to try this

Dressing ingredient substitutions

  • buttermilk –> Greek yogurt
  • Mayonnaise –> whipped tofu (as in put soft tofu in the blender)
  • Mayonnaise –> yogurt
  • Tahini –> sesame paste (nerigoma 練りゴマ)

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kabocha coconut curry dip

Kabocha Coconut Curry Dip

kabocha coconut curry dip

I made this for a little while ago and it was a hit. I was a little worried because the day before I cooked a kabocha that was so dry I couldn’t eat it. While the creaminess varies a lot, I’ve never had such dry kabocha. Luckily the one I used for the dip was nice and creamy.

Kabocha Coconut Curry Dip

1/4 kabocha squash, cooked
1/2 can white beans, drained
18g coconut milk powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

Put everything in the food processor and puree until you get a desired texture. You may need to add a bit of water if it is too thick for your liking.

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Quick Dip: Onion Tofu

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It’s now dip season. As I am not a hot dip person, dip season is only when it is warm. This is a quickie – only two ingredients. All you need to do is blend them together using the tool of your choice whether it is a whisk, blender, food processor or immersion blender (my tool of choice).  In the picture you can see my onion consome (オニオンコンソメ onion consome) of choice, Knorr – I love their chicken and beef stock cubes as well.

Quick Onion Tofu Dip

1 small block soft tofu
1 packet onion consome soup

Blend and serve. You may need to add a bit of water to get your desired consistency.

miso making

Highlights from Miso Making

Every year since I got married I have made miso with my mother-in-law. I love homemade miso, everything else pales in comparison. Miso making is really easy as you can order everything in one kit called a miso set in Japanese (味噌セット miso setto). If you search using that key word you can find lots of places to order miso kits. My mother-in-law orders from a company that isn’t online as far as I know. I just about had a heart attack when I was editing the photos because one of the ingredients (kouji kome こうじ米 – fermented rice) comes from Fukushima (of nuclear disaster fame). The heart attack subsided when I remembered that the rice used in this batch was pre-disaster. Phew. This last weekend we also ordered barley and brown rice miso to make for fun. My mother-in-law told me that when she was a kid barley miso was the norm because rice was to expensive. She can’t remember what it tastes like so we decided to order a kit. I’m also curious how the brown rice miso will be as it has a lower salt to rice ratio. The two new kits probably won’t arrive for a couple of weeks.

The miso we made has three ingredients salt, soy beans and kouji kome.

You start off like this mixing the kouji kome and salt.

Then you add soy beans.

And eventually you get this.

And six months later you can use it.

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Kabocha Miso Vinagrette

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I went into Tokyo today and had planned on bringing my lunch. When I realized how much stuff I had to take to daycare for my son, I gave up on the idea. That is the reason for the bento box presentation. Beautiful, isn’t it? I threw the dressing together in a minute. Salad dressings are all about personal taste so I’ll just give you the ingredients list and you can find your ideal mix. Just put everything in a jar and give it a shake.

In the mix: kabocha puree, miso, cider vinegar, sugar, water and salad oil

In the salad: lettuce, zucchini, carrot and red peppers

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Cold Soba, Beans and Chicken

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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.

Sugar Beet Syrup


I needed some pancake syrup for breakfast this morning. I thought I’d use some beet sugar since it tastes great in maple tea. I may add some vanilla extract next time. This syrup is thin but flavorful like maple syrup.

Easy Syrup

1 cup sugar (beet sugar is てんさい糖 in Japanese)
1/2 cup water

Bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium heat in a sauce pan. When the sugar has dissolved transfer to a glass container of your choice.

Chili Oil Furikake

At the moment chili oil, raayu, is really popular in Japan.  It’s being used in a lot of nontraditional ways.  I saw this furikake in a Seijoishi the other day and thought it might make a good stocking stuffer for the hubby.  Furikake is basically topping for rice.  This stuff is good.  We’ve had it on rice and today we tried it on the turkey okayuu he made.  If you see some pick it up and give it a try.

What looks good

Intrigued by the idea of broccoli pesto via 101 Cookbooks.  I will definitely have to try this out.

A great raw dessert idea that non-raw foodies will like on Kristen’s Raw.  I hope my blender can handle frozen bananas.

Granola bar recipe from Smitten Kitchen with no added fat. With a bonus of me being able to buy almost all of the ingredients in the sticks of Saitama.
Obachan introduces you to Mushipan on Still Clumsy with Chopsticks.  I had never heard of this simple dessert.  Can’t wait to make it.

Tajine Recipe: Pork and Vegetables with Onion Dipping Sauce

I finally had the chance to try out my tajine last night.  I also used this opportunity to try out a recipe for a dipping sauce that I had been wanting to try.  There seem to be two types of recipes that come with tajines in Japan: stew-like recipes that use the stove and quick recipes using the microwave.  Last night was of the second variety.

IMG_0298I decided to use the recipe that came included in the tajine box.  Well, I kind of used the recipe.  I made an onion dipping sauce I found in a cook book.  Not being a raw onion lover I wasn’t so fond of the sauce – but I could actually eat it which was surprising.  My husband, who is a big onion fan, loved it.  So I can recommend the sauce to raw onion eaters – the preparation technique renders the onion quite mild.

Microwave Tajine Vegetables and Meat

All amounts depend on the size of your tajine. I have the world’s smallest microwave so mine is a two person tajine.IMG_0303

100g meat of your choice – I used shaved pork

1 bunch base vegetable – usually a leafy green or something kind of nondescript- I used bean sprouts

3/4 carrot, cut into smallish sticks

contrast color vegetable – I used green beans

small piece of ginger

Layer in order: base vegetable, carrot, contrast vegetable and meat. Grate ginger or put it through a garlic press and sprinkle on top of the meat.  Microwave for 5 minutes in a 500W microwave.  Serve immediately.  Dip into sauce which, depending on your ingredients, could be salad dressing, bbq sauce or anything else you think would taste good.

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Onion Dipping Sauce

Found in Summer Recipes edition of Orange Page Magazine (Japanese cooking magazine)

IMG_02991/2 large onion, finely diced, grated or processed in food processor (I used food processor)

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cooking sake

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut/grate/process the onions and soak them in water for five minutes to remove the strong taste. While the onions are soaking, mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Drain the onions and add to the rest of ingredients. Stir and place in dipping sauce bowls.  Can also be served over karage or used as a salad dressing.

Note: as I am not fluent in Japanese the instructions I post may be different from the original recipe in regard to preparation method.