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


Karashi renkon /deep-fried lotus root with mustard-flavored miso

A regional specialty with 400 years of history from Kumamoto in southern Japan. It makes a great appetizer, as the dish was originally designed to stimulate the appetite and improve the health of a great lord. Sweet miso blended with spicy karashi mustard releases a soft yet pungent aroma as you bite into the crunchy lotus root, making you want to take another sip of sake or bite of plain rice ...
Actual cooking time is not particularly long, but preparation does take some time to let the lotus root and filling work on their own to stabilize the karashi-miso mixture, so plan ahead.

Whole recipe:
419 calories; 7.1 g protein; 26.3 g fat; 38.3 g carbohydrate; 32.0 g net carbs; 444 mg sodium; 14 mg cholesterol; 6.3 g fiber

1/2 of recipe:
210 calories; 3.6 g protein; 13.2 g fat; 19.2 g carbohydrate; 16.0 g net carbs; 222 mg sodium; 7 mg cholesterol; 3.2 g fiber

1/3 of recipe:
140 calories; 2.4 g protein; 8.8 g fat; 12.8 g carbohydrate; 10.7 g net carbs; 148 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber


Satsumaimo no ukishima / steamed bean paste cake with roasted sweet potato

This moist and gently sweet sponge cake is another great teatime companion. While it contains sweet bean paste, its egg and flour content lets it also complement Western meals when served as a dessert.  Below, I replaced some shiroan white bean paste with yakiimo roasted satsumaimo sweet potato, and threw in some apple bits cooked with mikan tangerine and cinnamon.

Whole recipe:
376 calories; 16.8 g protein; 5.9 g fat; 63.4 g carbohydrate; 52.6 g net carbs; 86 mg sodium; 196 mg cholesterol; 10.8 g fiber


Suigyoza no chige-fu nabe / jjigae-style hotpot with shui jiao dumplings

A spicy red hotpot for chilly days, very filling yet gentle on your stomach. Have lots of fresh lemon wedges ready -- they will work some amazing magic at the end.
As with any nabe hotpot, any ingredients in the fridge or on the kitchen counter can go in. Explore with what you have, and find your favorite combinations.

1/2 of recipe (when taking a few sips of broth): 
436 calories; 25.8 g protein; 10.2 g fat; 58.2 g carbohydrate; 47.2 g net carbs; 366 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 38 mg cholesterol; 11.0 g fiber


Osechi New Year's Day meal, 2017

Finally, I was able to make a tasty reduced-sodium version of ozoni soup, ganmodoki to warabi no nimono tofu patties and bracken simmered in broth, and ebi no umani shrimp in broth. This marks a big step forward from previous years' osechi.

I skipped making chrysanthemum flower-cut kabu Japanese turnip marinated in sweetened vinegar as we could not find the vegetable, but I missed the sweet and fresh taste of kabu, which provides a nice contrast to other dishes and works great to refresh your mouth. The appearance of plates and bowls when placed on each tray seemed to lack something as well. The bright green camellia leaves that accompany chrysanthemum flower-cut kabu usually tighten the overall scene, and without the leaves, the picture looked a bit fuzzy. You notice how important something is only when it is not there.


Tom cooks 19. Tenshinhan (crab omlette over rice) & miso soup

Tom officially has a new addition to his crab repertoire.

This was the second time Tom made tenshinhan (crabmeat egg foo young with steamed rice). Mastering a couple of Asian dishes that involve multiple tasks as well as preparing a few dishes simultaneously on a number of occasions have given him the confidence to try more recipes. 

When Tom made tenshinhan the first time, it naturally took longer and some processes were confusing. The second time, his focus was to finish up crabmeat in the fridge, and he basically forgot about preliminary prep such as rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms or using dried julienned daikon radish (substitute for takenoko bamboo shoots). But once these problems were solved (by me), his cooking seemed to go well --  at least I did not hear him screaming in the kitchen.


Horenso no shami-ae / spinach with dried shrimp dressing

A light spinach side dish with a Chinese twist. Make sure to soak shami -- little salted dried shrimp -- long enough in water to get maximum flavor for the dressing.

1/2 of recipe: 25 calories; 2.4 g protein; 0.9 g fat; 2.4 g carbohydrate; 0.4 g net carbs; 75 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 8 mg cholesterol; 2.0 g fiber


Shimeji to shantoreru no momiji-oroshi-ae / grilled shimeji and chanterelle mushrooms dressed with citrus-flavored soy sauce, grated turnip and carrot

A dish featuring the colors of autumn and mushrooms in season. Fresh and sweet kabu turnip and carrot are grated to create an orange blanket for the mushrooms, which are grilled to intensify their taste and aroma. This mild dish is a great companion with something heavy or strong-flavored dishes.

1/2 of recipe: 22 calories; 1.9 g protein; 0.2 g fat; 4.9 g carbohydrate; 2.4 g net carbs; 43 mg sodium (with homemade ponzujoyu using 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 77 mg with regular soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.2 g fiber