All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Tomorokoshi gohan / steamed rice with corn

Sweet kernels of corn instantly make ordinary rice a summer dish. Julienned green shiso perilla leaves offer a nice counter punch, preventing the rice from becoming too mellow.

1/3 of recipe:
209 calories; 4.0 g protein; 0.9 g fat; 43.5 g carbohydrate; 42.5 g net carbs; 79.3 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
313 calories; 6.0 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 65.3 g carbohydrate; 63.8 g net carbs; 101 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.5 g fiber


Hiyajiru / steamed barley rice with cold sesame-miso soup with cucumber and grilled fish

Literally called "cold soup," this soupy rice dish is a quick meal for hot days in southern Japan's Miyazaki Prefecture. When I first learned about this dish, the description sounded reminiscent of neko manma [lit. cat rice], where you pour miso soup over steamed rice and shovel it in, and at first I was doubtful: Would this actually taste good? Well, there was nothing to do but to try to figure that out. The mixture of miso and sesame paste is first toasted for a deep rich taste, while cucumber, shiso leaves and ginger contribute to a refreshing aftertaste. When the soup is prepared in the cool of the morning, the rest is quite easy and fast. While cucumber is available all year around nowadays, in oriental medicine it is known for cooling down your body -- a very appropriate vegetable for the dog days of summer.
This is another great choice when having little appetite on hot days!

1/2 of recipe, served with 120 g steamed barley rice:
370 calories; 26.8 g protein; 8.8 g fat; 45.2 g carbohydrate; 40.9 g net carbs; 452 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 4.3 g fiber

1/2 of recipe, soup only:
209 calories; 24.0 g protein; 8.3 g fat; 9.6 g carbohydrate; 7.0 g net carbs; 452 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 2.6 g fiber


Breakfast, August 17, 2016

Summer is finally here, and local corn has started to look appetizing. Weeks of chilly days up until mid August have already turned the giant leaves of the maples partially yellow around our house. Before we lose the warm weather, we had a breakfast featuring a couple of summer vegetables.

  • Tomorokoshi gohan / steamed rice with corn, topped with julienned shiso perilla leaves (209 kcal; 79 mg sodium)
  • Mini tomato to nira-iri nattojiru / miso soup with fermented soybeans, cherry tomatoes and garlic chives (80 kcal; 231 mg sodium)
  • Zukkiini to tofu no yuzukosho-itame / stir-fried zucchini and tofu, yuzu citron pepper flavor (78 kcal; 60 mg sodium)
  • Horenso no ohitashi, kuko no mi-zoe / spinach marinated in light broth, with goji berries (16 kcal; 30 mg sodium)
  • Hijiki no itameni / braised hijiki seaweed (17 kcal; 79 mg sodium)

Total calories & sodium content: 400 kcal; 489 mg sodium  (For Tom: 608 kcal; 523 mg sodium)


Hotate-shinjo to endomame no surinagashi / green pea soup with fish and scallop dumplings

Plump green peas in season make a cheerful chartreuse soup. While the soup is very pleasant by itself, fish and scallop dumplings broaden the spectrum of gentle taste.  Juicy and crispy fuki stalks work as a nice counter-punch in this small soup.

121 calories (1/2 of recipe); 12.0 g protein; 0.7 g fat; 14.6 g carbohydrate; 12.3 g net carbs; 298 mg sodium; 27 mg cholesterol; 2.3 g fiber


Kaburamushi / steamed fish with grated Japanese turnip

Another super-light steamed fish dish topped with a fluffy white blanket of turnip and aromatic gin-an dashi sauce. This is generally regarded as a cold season dish in Japan, yet erratic weather and different growing seasons here offer good excuses to serve this on chilly days -- it warms you up from inside.

119 calories (1/2 of recipe); 15.4 g protein; 1.4 g fat; 9.9 g carbohydrate; 8.3 g net carbs; 177 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 1.7 g fiber


Saba no oshizushi / pressed sushi with grilled mackerel

A specialty sushi from the eastern part of Toyama Prefecture. This sushi appeared at gatherings of relatives at the house of my grandmother on my mother's side in Urayama (Unazuki). We would all get together for mid-summer obon to welcome ancestors as well as to attend spring and fall ennichi festivals at the local shrine. In my mind's eye, I can see my grandmother and aunties working in the large, earthen floor kitchen, chattering away and laughing against the sounds of running water, chopping vegetables and steaming pots, with indulgent smells filling the air. There, they used several huge wooden molds to make hundreds of sushi to feed dozens of people during their stay at the house and to take home. My mom, the youngest of her siblings, claims that gently breaking up grilled mackerel was her role in the sushi making, but she is not in my picture ...

I have a clear visual recollection of me holding a piece of sushi with vivid green sansho leaves. After my grandmother's health deteriorated and we began buying this type of sushi from shops, sansho was always missing, and needless to say there were differences in taste and texture. It was still home style, but certainly not what my family was familiar with.

Because of the big operation I used to see at grandmother's kitchen, I had long thought making this sushi would be too much work. But when I finally made a satisfactory one, it was surprisingly easy -- why couldn't I make this before?

As with masuzushi pressed salmon sushi, making this -- especially mackerel prep and pressing after assembly -- takes a bit of time. It tastes better the next day, too, so plan ahead.

Whole recipe: 1,212 calories; 32.9 g protein; 28.9 g fat; 187.9 g carbohydrate; 185.4 g net carbs; 443 mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice); 69 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber

1/9 cut: 135 calories; 3.7 g protein; 3.2 g fat; 20.9 g carbohydrate; 20.6 g net carbs; 49 mg sodium (with shiokoji salted rice malt for sushi rice); 69 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber


Fuki to ebi no ohitashi / Japanese butterbur and shrimp marinated in light broth

Colorful coon shrimp (small spot shrimp), a local specialty, paired with fuki Japanese butterbur from our garden. Cooked coon shrimp we bought the other day happened to be inexcusably salty. After wondering if we should just throw them away, I decided to do an experiment, marinating them in lightly seasoned dashi to get rid of excess sodium while flavoring at the same time, a technique that works like magic with smoked salmon. And yes, the rescue effort was a delicious success.

32 calories (1/2 of recipe); 4.8 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 2.0 g carbohydrate; 1.5 g net carbs; 145 mg sodium; 38 mg cholesterol; 0.5 g fiber