Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Japanese Green Salad

Japanese Green Salad

Green salads in Japan are a little different than in America.  You can buy lettuce, but most often cabbage is used.  There are many different kinds of cabbage.  Grated dikon (big Japanese radish) is nearly always part of a Japanese green salad. 
Mushrooms are also plentiful in all of the stores and there are many, many different kinds of mushrooms.  The cucumbers are petite and delicious.   Salads are usually served like this- arranged with each vegetable separate.  The most common dressing is Goma dressing- roasted sesame seed.  It is delicious, but they have others as well.  We often make a salad like this and add chicken, making it our meal.  Enjoy a Japanese green salad!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Beans and Ham Soup

Beans and Ham

One of our favorite wintertime soups is beans and ham.  I had the ham bone from our Christmas ham frozen and wanted to make beans and ham with it.   In Japan, I had a hard time finding dry beans like I was used to.  I usually use white navy beans, but couldn’t find any white beans at all.  I could only find red beans and little black, round beans.  I bought the black beans.  They were absolutely delicious.  I have never tasted a better bean in my life.  I soaked them overnight, then cooked them with the ham bone and vegetables.  It’s hard to describe, but their texture was smooth and creamy and just delicious.  At home I usually use white beans or pinto beans.  But now I know that black works, too!  You can also make this with a ham steak, and I have many times.

2 cups beans (navy, pinto, black or a mixture)

1 meaty ham bone or a ham steak

Bay Leaf

1 onion, chopped

2 or 3 carrots, chopped

2 or 3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped

About 2 quarts water or chicken stock

Wash and sort the beans, throwing out any bad ones.  Put them in a bowl and soak them overnight.  In the morning, or several hours before you want to eat them the next day, drain them and add the 2 quarts water and the vegetables.  You can do this in a pot on the stove or in a crock pot.  Put the ham bone( if you’re using a ham steak, you can add it later.)  Cook until the beans are soft (the time it takes varies by what beans you use.)  Remove the bone and take off the meat and chop.  Discard the bone.  Add the meat back into the soup.  Serve hot. 

This is the same dish made with white beans in America:
I like to serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches or slices of homemade bread.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dill Pasta Salad

I love this salad!!! It's more of a summer salad but I was needing a little summer flavor so I whipped this up and I'm in heaven again (yes, in January). It tastes amazing with fresh garden tomatoes but it's still great with store-bought produce.


Dill & Garlic Vinaigrette:
-1/3 cup olive oil
-7 TBSP red wine vinegar
-2 tsp sugar
-1 large clove garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
-1 1/2 TBSP fresh dill, minced. (I use LITEHOUSE freeze dried dill and it's awesome.)
-1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
-3/4 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp salt

Pasta Salad:
-1 lb pasta (Rotini, bow-tie, choose your favorite shape)
-1 lb tomatoes (cherry, cut in half or 3 large, diced)
-1 lb cucumbers (approximately 2 large or 4 small), peeled and diced
-1/2 cup olives, drained, pitted & sliced (the original recipe called for Kalamata, but I like black or none at all)
-1/2 to 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (I use 3/4 cup when I don't put in olives, it adds the salt it needs)
-2 avocados, diced (serve these on the side or else it browns in the salad leftovers)


For the vinaigrette:
1. Place ingredients in a jar, tighten the lid and shake until incorporated. Or sometimes I mix the dressing right in the bowl I'll put the ingredients in and whisk it, then add the ingredients and stir. Save 1/3 of the vinaigrette to add just before serving.

For the salad:
2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool.
3. In a large bowl, combine all (except avocado) salad ingredients and toss with 2/3 of the vinaigrette until everything is evenly coated.
4. Cover salad and refrigerate for a few hours. The longer it "marinates" the more flavorful it is. When ready to serve add in the remaining vinaigrette and stir. I occasionally add a few dashes more of the red wine vinegar or leave it on the table for each person to add as desired. Serve with avocado on the side. Enjoy!

I got the original recipe from

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Japanese Stir Fry

We are in Japan now!  My husband and I are serving a mission in Tsuruoka, Japan.  We are so happy to be here.  We are having so much fun experiencing the culture and cuisine of this land.  So my posts may be less frequent and the foods may reflect my new surroundings.  We are having amazing culinary experiences.  Every week, the members of the branch gather together on Tuesday evening and cook and eat.  It is a thrill to watch these ladies cook the foods of their land.  I take notes, but until I do it, I’m not sure if I’m getting it all. 

A dish I’ve already made several times is Japanese Stir Fry.  A rice cooker is an essential piece of kitchen equipment here.  In fact, it’s the main piece.  The rice cooker is very heavy duty and it cooks a lot of things besides rice (including our glazed Christmas ham slices)  You put the rice in and it cooks and then it keeps it warm and moist and ready to eat for literally days.  Since Japanese people often eat rice three meals a day, this is very convenient.  So, that’s where this recipe starts.  Cook some sticky, white rice (or you can do as we do and mix it with brown rice.)

Japanese Stir Fry

Cooked meat, cut up, any kind: ham, chicken, beef, pork  (opt.)  amount to taste  You can start by cooking the meat, which is what I usually do.

Vegetables of your choice:

Dikon (big Japanese radish- a staple in Japan.  It tastes like a radish when raw, but when cooked, is more like a potato), cut up

Cabbage, shredded

Green onion, sliced

Mushrooms (they have many more varieties here), sliced

Carrots, sliced

Broccoli, cut up

Cauliflower, cut up


Soy Sauce

Sugar, (a couple of Tablespoons)

Garlic granules or you can use fresh garlic in with the vegetables

2 eggs

Heat some oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the meat and cook (if not already cooked- like ham)  Stir fry the vegetables until tender.  Add the cooked meat and stir fry together for a minute, then add 2 eggs in the hot pan and scramble and stir in with veggies and meat.  Pour the sauce over and cook until hot and bubbly.  Serve over hot rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds.  Serve with sesame seed dressing (it’s the most popular salad dressing here- called Goma Dressing) and sprinkled with sesame seeds.