Michiko and Tomo, mother and daughter, took us on a Japanese journey and made it simple and delicious.
From ordinary garden vegetables emerged delicious miso soup, sesame flavoured tofu salad with silver beet, a lettuce salad with seaweed and a simple dressing of oil, tamari and lemon juice. We used fresh shirataki mushrooms, simmered with ground beef, leek and silver beet, learning how to use mirin, sake and dashi to create a mouthwatering simmering sauce. Then we discovered okara – a by product of tofu production – and how we could make great little chicken nuggets and even chocolate brownie cakes with this little known gem. The miso soup was delicate and fresh, using kelp, miso, spring onions and dried bonito flakes to create a very nutritious food. Some of us even mastered the stuffed rice balls – in triangle shapes. Michiko treated us to a real surprise at the end of the class with green tea ice cream and a dessert made of adzuki beans – amazing!
We also learned about the suribachi – the handmade grooved mortar bowl for crushing the likes of sesame seeds and the surikogi, the wooden pestle made from the Japanese pepper tree, which add its own flavour to whatever is being ground up.
One of the most endearing parts of the class was just as we were ready to eat the wonderful food, and in a very “Slow Food” way spoke the Japanese word “Itadkimasu” which means ” I deeply appreciate the lives of animals and plants that I have taken, and respectfully receive them for my own life.” It acknowledges the sacrifices made by other lives that enable us to continue to live, and expresses gratitude toward the all mighty nature.
It was a great way to spend a few hours on a drizzly spring Sunday and Slow Food Waitakere is grateful for the generous donation of tofu, and other products from The Organic Soy Company in Henderson.
It was a really great lesson in how simple and delicious Japanese cooking can be with expert instruction.
1 tofu, 1cm cube cut
1 pinch dried wakame seaweed, soaked in a bowlful of water to reconstitute
spring onion, finely chopped for topping
20g dried bonito flakes
10cm dried konbu kelp, lightly wiped with dry cloth (do not wipe off white stuff on the surface as it contains flavor and nutrition)
- Place konbu in a pot and fill it with cold water. Leave it at least 1 hour
- After letting it stand for at least 1 hour, bring the pot to near boiling. Remove the konbu just before water is fully boiling
- When water is boiled , add bonito flake and turn off the heat.
- Wait until all the dried bonit flakes sink to the pot bottom. Strain the liquid through a sieve or remove bonito flakes with chopsticks. This broth is called ”ichiban dashi”
- Add tofu, reconstituted wakame and add the miso gradually into the dashi while dissolving on a ladle.
- Turn off the heat just before coming to the boil. Never bring miso soup to boil
- Ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle shopped spring onion to serve
*Ichiban dashi (the first broth) can be too thick for miso soup, so you may want to adjust by adding water. You can reuse the bonito flakes and konbu from ichiban dashi by adding another small amount of bonito flakes to make “niban dashi” (the second broth). Niban dashi is less thick and more suitable for miso soup.
*Basic ratio of miso and dashi : 1 Tbsp (15cc) miso to 200cc dashi
Marinated tofu & silverbeet 豆腐とシルバービートのサラダ
1 tofu, 1cm cube cut
1bunch silverbeet, chopped
Soy sauce (or tamari)
1 bunch spring onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 Tbsp white sesame seeds
4 Tbsp soy sauce (or Tamari)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp vinegar (or 1/2 lemon juice )
1 Tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt
- Put the tofu (1cm cube cut) in a bowl and pour a small amount of soy sauce over them
- Place silverbeet in boiling water and cook it for a few minutes
- Toast the white sesame seeds. Grind them in a grinding bowl while they are still hot. Add all dressing ingredients (spring onion, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, salt) into the griding bowl
- Place the tofu and silverbeet into the griding bowl and mix well with the dressing
*You can also add other veges (spinach, soy bean sprouts, or carrots)
Nori & lettuce salad レタスのノリサラダ
1/2 – 1 lettuce
1-2 sheets of nori, torn to preferred size
soy sauce (or tamari)
oil (for dressing – can be sesame oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, etc)
- Wash the lettuce and cut it into your preferred size, drain water well
- Place them on a plate, place nori on top, then pour soy sauce, oil and lemon juice
Okara nuggets おからナゲット
500g okara (tofu by-product)
500g chicken mince
1 onion, finely chopped
1 potato, grated
6 Tbsp potato starch
3 tsp soup stock
1 pinch nutmeg, salt, pepper
oil (for pan frying)
tomato ketchup (for topping)
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. Mix them until the whole mixture becomes thick and soft. Shape the mixture into small nuggets
- Pan fry both sides with lots of oil (half-deep frying)
- Serve them with tomato ketchup
Rice balls おにぎり
500-1kg medium grain rice, cooked
your favorite stuffing and topping (miso, sesame seeds, pickled plum, canned tuna, etc)
- Put a handful of cooked rice lightly into a small rice bowl, make an indentation at the center of the rice, tuck in whichever stuffing you prefer
- Moisten your hands, and spread a small amount of salt over the palms
- Transfer the rice in the bowl to one hand, and form into a ball lightly while rolling in both hands. Make sure that the position of the stuffing comes to the center
- To make a triangle rice roll, transfer the rice in the bowl to the palm of the left hand, and angle the right palm. Roll the rice counterclockwise in both hands while maintaining the angle of the right palm to make it into a triangle. Wrap the roll with a nori seaweed.
200g chicken mince
1 tofu (1 TONZU = 275g)
1 small onion, chopped
2 sliced bread
1 pinch salt & pepper
1 bag mushroom
1 daikon (Chinese long white radish), grated
soy sauce (or tamari)
1 bunch spring onion, finely chopped
*Normally topped with thin chopped perrila leaves (hard to find in NZ!) – can be substituted with chopped mint or/and basil leaves .
- Put the tofu and bread in a large bowl and hand-mix them until the whole mixture becomes thick and soft.
- Add onion, egg, salt, pepper and hand-mix them well
- Shape the mixture into burgers
- Pan fry both sides until the surface is nice brow, then cover with a lid and simmer it over a low heat
- When burgers are cooked take them out to a plate.
- Using the same pan make the mushroom & daikon sauce – cook mushrooms and add grated s soy sauce, water (or dashi), then bring to the boil with a lid.
- Pour cooked mushroom & daikon sauce over the burgers.
- Serve them with lemon and finely chopped spring onions on top of the dish.
＊You can also use leek, carrots or soy bean sprouts for the sauce
＊Grated daikon is normally used raw. Instead of cooking with mushroom you can add grated daikon on top of the dish just before serving. Raw daikon in summer can be a bit hot spicy.
Simmered tofu & beef – Sukiyaki style すき焼き風肉豆腐
2 tofu, 1 cm cube cut
1 leek, diagonal cut
1 bunch silverbeet, chopped
400g beef mince
1 bag shirataki (devil’s tongue)
4 Tbsp sake (rice wine)
100cc dashi (broth)
4 Tbsp mirin
3-5 Tbsp sugar (adjust for your preference)
100cc soy sauce (or tamari)
- Cut veges into lengths that are easy to eat. (tofu 1cm cube cut, leek, diagonal cut)
- Wash shirataki with water (or pour boiled water over) and drain on a sieve. Cut them into lengths that are easy to eat
- Mix sake, dashi, mirin, sugar, soy sauce in another bowl to prepare simmering sauce
- Heat a pan (or pot) and cook the beef mince, then place tofu, shirataki, leek and silverbeet
- Pour the simmering sauce over and turn up the heat with a lid until the beef mince is cooked.
*It taste better to serve next day as flavor is more settled
*You can also pour 1-2 raw egg (beaten) in the end and simmer it with a lid until eggs are cooked to your preference.