Cooking Craft Workshop in Berlin: Umami and the essentials of Japanese Cuisine

Is umami one of those hip trends that shakes up the food scene for a while only to vanish in the unknown to make space for another trend? My answer is no – umami has been around for more than 2000 years. And it is not a Japanese phenomenon. It is essential part of the world’s cuisine – from East to West and North to South.

Given the distinct flavors of e.g. sweet and sour, umami is hard to describe. Two days ago I go the nicest description of umami so far: “Umami is that deep pleasure, it simply makes me happy”.

Because of that it is worth to know what umami is, how it tastes and how it can be created and influenced. This is what I am going to tackle during my craft workshop for the Food Entrepreneurs Club. But I will also cover the essentials of Japanese cuisine. How respecting food is essential for the taste, why #nowastecooking is not a trend but a century old tradition and how this enlivens cooking creativity.

Booking just opened a couple of days ago, so hop over to the Food Entrepreneurs Club and get your spot.

Green Beans with Walnut Miso

One way to change from slumber to wide awake is stepping barefoot on a Lego brick. I assume an experience that all parents somehow share. Sooner or later they will get you – or your foot. These days at our home those evil Lego bricks collude with walnut shells. Lucky me! While still deciding which one hurts more, my patience not to curse full-throated through our home gets tested almost every day.

What is left from our big pile of walnuts

On our family vacation we collected this huge bag walnuts from the garden and I never expected them to be that popular among my girls. Even more so I was surprised about their speed in using the nutcracker, which kind of explains the shells all over our living room. But those nuts are magic. They turn tired, cranky and hungry little monsters that come home fighting after a long day of school and kindergarten into a cheerful little gang collaborating in cracking and eating those nuts.

Who am I to change this dynamic, although I actually planed a different use for the walnuts: I wanted to make a batch of walnut miso sauce, which is one of my favorite addition to blanched green beans (and always good to have in your fridge for when you are running out of time). But its use is far from being limited to that. I can think of many vegetables that would benefit from being topped with walnut miso sauce and I even like it a s a dip. So before they are all gone, I grabbed a few handful for tonights dinner.

Recipe for Green beans in Walnut Miso sauce

Serves 6

  • 300g green beans
  • 150ml (Kombu) dashi
  • Splash of soy sauce and mirin
  • Splash of mirin (sweet sake)
  • 80 g shelled walnut
  • A heaped 1  Tbsp.  white, sweet miso
  • 2 tsp. mirin
  • a splash or more  of (kombu) dashi


Pour 150 ml (kombu) dashi in a wide container and season it with a splash of soy sauce and mirin .

Green beans waiting in dashi to be plated

Bring a fairly large pot with water to a rolling boil and blanch the beans until they are tender but still firm (about five minutes after the water has returned to a boil). Drain and DO NOT refresh them in cold water, but put them in the seasoned dashi instead.

Dry-roasting walnuts

Dry roast the walnuts in a pan over medium heat. Use a suribachi (Japanese mortar) to grind the nuts until they form a paste. If you don’t have a suribachi use a western style mortar and pestle instead. Mix the walnuts with the miso and the mirin and thin it out with (kombu) dashi to your preferred consistency. You may do this in a separate bowl or in the suribachi to avoid any loss.

Crushed walnuts

Take the green beans from the dashi, cut them to your preferred length (depending on your serving style) and arrange them with the walnut miso sauce. You can either coat them by mixing it with the sauce in the suribachi (and use the suribachi as a serving bowl) or serve the green beans on a plate and arrange the sauce on top.

Final Dish: Green beans with walnut miso sauce on top

Tip: You can prepare a lager amount of walnut miso sauce and keep it in the fridge for later use. In this case omit the dashi until you are ready to use it.

Gari: Blushing Ginger

Once in a while I need to refill my Japanese pantry and as such I went to my local Asian grocery store. Contrary to the popular belief you don’t need many things for Japanese cooking. Shoyu (soy sauce), sake, mirin (sweet sake), rice vinegar, kombu (seaweed) and if you are not vegan katsuo bushi (bonito flakes) are a good choice.

I don’t buy any convenience products. No teriyaki sauce, no ponzu sauce, instant dashi or similar products. As making them yourself only takes a few minutes, no need to spend the money, but more than that a glimpse on the list of ingredients makes me shiver. They are usually full of additives, flavor enhancer and coloring.

Gari (pickled ginger) or Shin-shoga no Amazu-zuké , that you probably know as a side dish to sushi is no exception. Sushi is so popular that more and more people make it at home, but most of them buy pre-made gari, even though making it is fast, easy and cheap.

All you need for Gari is Young Ginger

In making gari there is one thing mandatory: Young ginger. Young ginger has a mild ginger flavor, is juicier and the flesh is tender compared to matured ginger. The skin is paper-thin and can be scraped off instead of cutting. Young ginger is often sold with parts of the stem that has a red ‘neck’ between the dark green stem and the light yellow root. The season for young ginger in Thailand just started and I already saw the first ones being sold last week.

How does Ginger turn pink?

Gari is available in both colors: yellow and pink. Both types are made with young ginger. The blushing pink develops naturally, if:

  1. The young ginger contains enough red pigments, meaning enough red ‘necks attached to the root AND
  2. Either the ginger or the amazu (sweet and sour sauce) is hot when they are combined to activate the pigmentation

Recipe for 1 jar Gari

350 g   young ginger
1          clean glass jar

Amazu (sweet-sour sauce):
– 500ml    rice vinegar
– 7 Tbsp.   caster sugar
– ½ tsp.   salt
– ca. 5×10 cm   kombu (dried seeweed)



Combine rice vinegar, caster sugar, salt and kombu and let them sit of a minimum of 30 minutes. The kombu will soften, give off its umami and melow the acidity of the rice vinegar. I like to use a non-reactivepan for that (lined with teflon or enamel) so that the vinegar and will not get a chance to react with the metal of the pan.

After the soaking heat on medium heat and stir until the sugar and the salt dissolved.

Preparation of the ginger

Scrape off the peel with a spoon or the back of a knife and cut the ginger in paper thin slices. Bring a pot with 1,5-2 l Water to a ruling boil and add the ginger. let it boil for 60 seconds after the water has come back to a boil before you strain it through a sieve.

Pickling the Ginger

Put the hot ginger immediately into the glass jar and fill it up with the amazu. Close the lid and let the ginger pickle in the fridge. If you have enough red pigmentation, the first signs of color will show after about 3-4 hours and the final result will be visible after about 48 hours.

The coloring will be a subtle, light pink. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t get that bright pink that you see in the supermarkets, which is the result of artificial coloring. The color by the way has no influence on the taste. So even if you have yellow gari it will be as tasty.

Summer days dried eggplants

The far away sound of crickets is riding on the cool breeze that is coming in from the window next to me. A welcoming refreshing sign of the upcoming fall. I like fall. The golden colors, the rich crops and the turning leaves. I like to watch kids jumping through piles of leaves and joyfully throwing them high in the air. I like the silky touch of shiny, dark-brown chestnuts and the coziness that slowly enters the homes.

French postcard-like harbor romanticI do look forward to fall, even though I know how much I will miss those long lazy summer days. Days where my girl’s laughter fill the backyard way past sunset, when back-to-school is still far away. Happy-go-lucky days with normal life being on hold. Maybe not always voluntarily, but on hold – for a few weeks only. Living the days without any plans, enjoying the moment. Doing things just because.

French summer feeling: A scooter as bright blue as the sea

For many years now we spend this short period of time in Southern France. Far away from the tourists that populate the area at that time of the year we spend sunny days between lavender and plane trees. We play hide and seek in a box tree-labyrinth and pick grapes from the side of the path behind our home.

Picnic of the locals at Gruissan harborWe strive through the nearby harbors and local markets and get inspired by the opulence of colors that pile up appetizingly on each stall, begging us to take them home.

Impressive Entrance to the Narbonne marketBaskets full of oysters and seafood

Vegetables piling up at the market

My time is the early afternoon. While the ‘big’ girls play full-throated in the garden I sit next to the open window and listen to the regular breathing of my youngest one taking her nap, regenerating to be able to keep up with the other two until nightfall – or mommy – will force them to stop. Last year I used those moments to make umé boshi (pickled plums). This year I am capturing the summer making sun dried eggplants. Given the intensity of the sun in Southern France at this time of the year and the abundance of fresh eggplants an easy project, promising exciting kitchen experiments in the colder months to come.

Like all Kambutsu (dried products) sun-dried eggplants need to be reconstituted in water before they can be used. When using untreated eggplants the water can serve as a stock (dashi) for further cooking or as a soup. Especially Japan’s temple cuisine (shojin ryori) uses such vegan dashi (e.g. also shiitake-dashi, kampyo-dashi, kombu-dashi) from a single ingredient as well as a mix of different dashis .I must admit this is my first time to experiment with sun-dried eggplants. It might be an old fashioned way of preserving food but maybe it is because of this I am looking forward to give it a try.

Recipe for Hoshinasu (dried eggplants)

Take a few eggplants (however many you like), wipe the surface with a damp cloth and cut them to your liking. As you can see I made two varieties: Thin strips and chunks.

Eggplants cut into chunks

Auberginen in JulienneI decided for two widely different cuts to have more options when using them later. Lay the pieces out in the sun on a bamboo basket, rack or any other flat aerated tool (mine was formerly used commercially to dry prunes). The eggplants should not get wet. Neither in the rain nor with the humidity at night. Take them inside if necessary or cover them with a clean cloth, ensuring aeration throughout the entire time to avoid mold.

Drying eggplants A net is protecting my eggplants against hungry birdsThe eggplants are done when they are hard to the touch. The time varies depending on the thickness of your cuts as well as the temperature and humidity. My chunks took a good three days and nights and the julienne were done within two days.

Eggplants finished drying

Blog event on pickling, preserving and fermenting

It all started while I was flicking through my old Japanese cookbooks. The granny-style ones where the pictures of the authors remind me of the old yellowed pictures of me as a kid, where my grandma had a similar haircut. I was looking for an inspiration what recipe would be a good idea to share in Anika’s blog roll. ‚Vergissmeinnicht-Rezepte einer Floristin’ is Anika’s blog which she started to preserve the old family recipes. That’s why her blog translates to forget-me-not, recipes of a florist, combining her education as a florist with her passion as a cook. With ‚Kulinarisch auf Vorrat’ – which translates into culinary preserving – she asked 15 bloggers to share their recipes for pickling, preserving and fermenting. A wonderful potpourri of ideas how to capture the summer before it disbands for this year.

When I got the email that it would be nice to chip in a tsukémono-recipe, I didn’t need to think twice. Tsukémono is definitely one of my soft spots. Ever since my first encounter with Elizabeth’s nuka-pot, I am fascinated by the way the Japanese way of preserving, pickling and fermenting. Soon afterwards a nuka-pot became a member of our family and travels with us wherever we go. My girl’s eyes spark in delight when I serve them takuan (giant radish pickled in nuka for several months). If I top this with a bit of Yukari infused rice (dried shiso leaves from making umé boshi) and a miso soup I instantly have three happy girls.

For the blogevent I decided in favor of a classic pickle recipe. Sun-dried eggplants would be far too easy, plus the German summer this year would make it next to impossible. Takuan is pretty advanced, but more than that it cannot be done in small portions, so not really suitable either. In the end I decided in favor for an all-time-classic: Gari (pickled ginger).

Stay tuned for instructions on what you need to do to get pink ginger without any additives and color enhancements.

Tsukémono: Umeboshi@ home

Their taste is new to most people in the West. Mouth-puckering sour, though pleasant, their saltiness is pronounced but acceptable and make a perfect match for many dishes. At our home umeboshi are often added to onigiri. Those hand pressed rice balls that for some miracle reason taste best if they are made by the hands of one who loves you.

Yukari Onigiri with umé boshi

These days it is easy to buy ready made umeboshi at Asian and organic supermarkets, but nothing beats them being home made. Getting umé, botanically prunus mume or Japanese apricots in Germany is not easy. Until our umé tree yields fruit I am using local apricots instead.

Layered apricots with salt in a glass container
Layer soaked, unbruised apricots with salt in a non-reactive container.

How umeboshi are made

Traditionally umeboshi are being pickled – often but not always with red shiso leaves – in Japan’s rainy season and are left to ferment in their own brine for about six weeks, before they get laid out and dry in the summer sun for three days.

Add weight and patience for the brine to develop and rise and fermentation to happen

What seems easy in Japan with its hot summers is a challenge in Germany. Even more so this year, where summer took a long time coming. But finally the weather forecast predicted a couple of hot days. Perfect timing for my ‘umeboshi’, that will get their finishing touch of summer sun.

Local apricots fermented umeboshi style
‘Umeboshi’ laid out to dry in the summer sun

Want to make umeboshi at home?

This years umeboshi pickling season is over, but if you want to join me in making umeboshi next time, sign up for the newsletter and I will guide you through it step-by-step.

Shōjin Ryōri @ Berlin Food Art Week: A Japanese Vegan Food Art Experience

Experience Extraordinary Events. Discover the exploding taste of sustainability for all your senses…

I am proud to demonstrate SHŌJIN RYŌRI – Japan’s peaceful temple cuisine that will blow your mind during this year’s Berlin Food Art Week.

SHŌJIN RYŌRI Event Description

Discover the alluring blending of Japanese culinary concepts in one meal, which incorporates every last bit of each ingredient while appreciating and respecting the seasons, nature’s bounty and the diligence and ingenuity of the people that produce it.

For the event seasonal fruits and vegetables will be carefully transformed into nutritionally sound and aesthetically satisfying dishes that avoid waste and sustain our natural resources.

Experience Shojin Ryori –Japanese Buddhist Cuisine, paired with carefully selected Japanese sake tucked away from Berlin’s buzz in an intimate setting.

  • When Saturday, July 08,  7 pm
  • Where ExBerlin, Zionskirchplatz 16, 10119 Berlin
  • Tickets Get your tickets here


This dining experience is Omakase-style, which is the Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose the dishes for you. It literally means “I will leave it to you” and it is a fine tradition that gives the chef creative freedom to focus on the freshest and most seasonal ingredients on the day of preparation.

Still nee to be convinced that SHŌJIN RYŌRI is for you?

  • Learn more about SHŌJIN RYŌRI here
  • Questions about the  SHŌJIN RYŌRI-event or about ‘The Taste of Japan’? Drop me a line:
  • Visit the Berlin Food Art Week-website for more information and the full program

Nuka zuké @ home: What is Nuka zuké?

“A bowl of rice with a small plate of pickles and some soup is not merely food, but cuisine…”

(Michael Ashkenazi, The Essence of Japanese Cuisine)

I remember a sunny early autumn day in Tokyo. The heat and cruel humidity of the summer was finally over when a bunch of people literally from around the world gathered in Elizabeth’s kitchen around a big dark brown earth ware pot, waiting for its secret to be unveiled. ‘Take a whiff ‘ was the invitation to carefully look and smell into the pot.

Turnips coming out of the nukadoko
Turnips coming out of the nukadoko

But no hands, because hygiene is extremely important in keeping a nuka-pickle-pot healthy. Nukadoko (pickling bed) can be passed down for generations and as such the one in front of me was easily some 150+ years old. Given that nukadoko is a living organism that requires constant monitoring and attention, it doesn’t come on a surprise that Elizabeth is very cautious.

My nuka-pots carefully packed for the long trip down south
My nuka-pots carefully packed for the long trip down south

The only one allowed to touch Elizabeth’s nuka pot besides her is her neighbor that takes care of it whenever she is out of town for a long time. Sounds irritating in the beginning, but after having to throw out nuka-pickle-pots that had gone bad three times, I find myself being as careful and restrictive. I even take my nuka-pickle pot with me on vacation or weekend-trips. Is that absolutely necessary? No. There are ways to maintain your nuka-pickle-pot even though you are not around, but as I have Elizabeth’s 150+ years in mine , I am not going to take chances.

Nuka zuke in France
Making nuka zuke in my holiday home kitchen in Southern France last year

Nuka, Nukadoko and Nuka zuké: What’s the difference?

But before I go on, let me explain a few terms here, so that you don’t get confused:

  • Nuka is the Japanese term for rice bran. In Japan, nothing goes to waste and as such, the nuka that is left after polishing rice (e.g. for table rice, sake making etc.) is used as a pickling medium.
  • Nuka mixed with water salt and aromatics becomes the pickling medium, called nukadoko.
  • The nukadoko is usually kept in a (non-reactive) container, a ‘nuka-pickle-pot’ or nuka-pot and
  • the generic term for vegetables, pickled in nukadoko is nuka zuké.

Nuka zuké ferments vegetables in a couple of hours

Nuka zuké is fairly easy and fast compared to other fermented products, but it needs to be mixed by hand to aerate the nukadoko. Yes, everyday! It only takes a few seconds, but you should be willing to commit to this before you start you own nuka-pot at home. Your reward? Cucumbers turned into crisp, savory pickles over night and tart red radishes get enchanted into exhilarant crudités in a couple of hours.

Nuka zuké: Cucumbers and turnips topped with yukari and shio zuké on the side
Nuka zuké: Cucumbers and turnips topped with yukari and shio zuké on the side

Nukodoko thrives off the bacteria that live on your hands and the vegetable’s skin. They also influence the taste as well as the aromatics that you can put in. So each nukadoko has its unique taste that will constantly change. Generally spoken an aged nukadoko will be more round and smooth than a young one, similar to wine, that’s why nukadoko can be passed down the generations.

Nuka zuké contains brown rice nutrients

Nukadoko is made from nuka – rice bran. The vitamin rich outer layers of rice – undoubtedly nutritious and healthy – would create off flavors in sake and are often unwanted for table rice. So one way to get back some of those nutrients that have been milled away is pickling vegetables in nukadoko. Nowadays it is fairly easy to source nuka either in Asian markets or online (e.g. here or here), but you could also substitute nuka with wheat bran. Wheat bran is lighter and more fluffy. When using wheat bran instead of nuka you should use a little more water and make sure that your pack down your ‘wheat bran-doko’ tightly on your vegetables to ensure contact with the bacteria.

Become a tsukémono addict

Ever since that one sunny autumn day in Tokyo when I smelled and tasted nuka zuké for the first time, I am enamored with it. But while a taste of vegetables pickled in nuka can prise the gates to Tsukémono heaven ajar, making it yourself will fling them open and convert you to the delights of preserving the Japanese way.

For those that are interested to learn how to start a nuka-pot and to handle it properly, how to influence its taste and troubleshooting-strategies to avoid it going bad, subscribe to the newsletter to get the information on the next nuka zuké-workshop delivered directly to your inbox.

Taste of Japan @ Berlin Food Art Week

I am happy to announce that The Taste of Japan will host two events at the Food Art Week that will take place in Berlin this year.

The Food Art Week, curated by Tainá Guedes, focuses on a wide range of contemporary art and dining experiences. There will be a central art exhibition alongside performances, dining experiences, workshops, screenings, and much more.

Shōjin Ryōri in Berlin

For this year’s theme “Vs. Meat”, Taste of Japan will host WaSu: An intimate dining experience showcasing Shōjin Ryōri* cuisine – Japanese Temple Food.

Shōjin Ryōri is the traditional dining style of Buddhist monks in Japan that grew in popularity with the spread of Zen Buddhism in the 13th century. It is a plant based cuisine, focused on simplicity and harmony. Shōjin Ryōri is strictly tight to the Washoku-guidelines, the underlying principles of traditional Japanese cuisine. So Appreciation and respect of the seasons, nature’s bounty and the diligence and ingenuity of the people that produce the dishes are essential part of cook’s consideration in creating a meal.

At the Food Art Week’s WaSu dining event fresh, seasonal food will be transformed into nutritionally sound and aesthetically satisfying dishes that avoid waste and sustain our natural resources.

Decoding Japanese Sake

Brewing Japanese sake is tradition, is passion, is art. Although on the rise in popularity still wildly unfamiliar. As sake sommelier and certified educator for sake I will decode Japanese sake at Food Art Week’s SAKAYA event, explain what you need to know and walk you through the sampling of curated premium sake to experience what you have heard.

Interested? Stay tuned. More details are coming soon.



Tsukemono: Cucumbers pickled with Ginger and Kombu

Today’s recipe is a fast one. And easy. Another example of mottainai – in this case using left over kombu from making dashi. Full-flavored pickled cucumber with an addictive hint of sweetness, illustrating once more that Japanese cuisine per se is neither complicated nor that it needs many ingredients.

Tsukemono ingredients: Pickled cucumbers with kombu and ginger
Tsukemono ingredients: Mirin, soy sauce, rice vinegar, cucumbers cut into 0,5cm rounds, threads of kombu and ginger

The recipe calls for cucumbers that do not have a lot of core, so Lebanese cucumbers are not what you are looking for. Japanese cucumbers are perfect, of course, but even if you don’t have access to real Japanese cucumbers you should be able to find mini-cucumbers in your grocery store, that usually have a better flesh-core ratio.

Recipe for one jar Cucumber-Tsukemono

  • 500g      Cucumbers
  • 2,5 cm   Ginger (peeled)
  • 3-4 pcs. Kombu, left over from making dashi (in threads a small hand full)
  • 180 ml   Soy Sauce
  • 120 ml   Mirin (sweet sake)
  • 60 ml     Rice Vinegar


How to make Tsukemono: Put cucumbers into the cooking liquid
How to make Tsukemono: Put cucumbers into the cooking liquid

Wash the cucumbers and cut them into 0,5cm rounds. Take the ginger and the kombu and cut them into fine threads. Combine soy sauce, mirin and vinegar in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the cucumbers, ginger and kombu and reboil for a minute. Take the pot off the heat source and let cool (about one hour).

How to make Tsukemono: Stain the cooking liquid if you want to repeat the process
How to make Tsukemono: Strain the cooking liquid before reheating it if you prefer the vegetables to be less crunchy

If you like your pickles to be less crunchy, repeat the process after the pickles have cooled down. In order to do so, strain the liquid and bring to a boil once more. Add the cucumbers, ginger and kombu and reboil for another minute before leaving it to cool again.

Fill pickles with the liquid into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator

A Japanese 15-Minute-Meal

A while ago I wrote about ‘one of these days’. Days on which nothing seems to work out or days on which time seems to fly too fast to get everything done – or worse: both. Spending time in the kitchen to prepare your family a healthy, nutritious meal is usually not on top of the list on those days. The focus is more on how to get something quickly on the table that soothes the mind of children, hungry and tired from the day, and switches their mood to ‘satisfied and happy’.

In Japan it is unusual to cook every dish on the same day

Once every week we return home really late. Hungry and tired after a long day that ends with the girl’s swimming lesson. Once at home I only have a few minutes to get dinner on the table, but thanks to the general rhythm in Japanese cuisine this is a doable task. Traditionally a Japanese meal consists of one main dish, two side dishes, a soup and rice. In Japanese referred to as ‘ichi-ju-san-sei’. One-soup-three dishes. An accompanying bowl of rice is not in question, so it is not mentioned. But it is not uncommon that the different dishes are prepared on different days.

Japanese cuisine is extremely seasonal and it is frugal, as you can read in Persimmon Peel Prominence or  The Peak of Flavor or Why Wash Rice?. Nothing goes to waste. Typically you find in a Japanese meal something that is in season as well as something that needed to be prepared, left from cooking other dishes. Skillfully organized, it is possible to get a traditional Japanese meal on the table in 10-15 Minutes. Nutritionally balanced, fresh and yummy.


As an example I take our dinner from this week’s swimming-day. On the tray you find:

  1. String beans with a walnut-miso-sauce,
  2. pickled cucumber with kombu and ginger as well as some takuan (pickled radish)
  3. tamagoyaki (rolled omelet),
  4. miso soup with carrots, green onion tops and little wheat gluten,
  5. miso marinated salmon and
  6. rice.

Cooking time in total about 1,5-2 hours, but spread over a couple of days. ‘Cooking’ time to get dinner on the table that night: 10-15 minutes. Mainly ‘that long’, because I wanted to serve the salmon still warm and not at room temperature, which is commonly done in Japan. But how is that possible?

A Japanese 15 minute meal

Not a recipe for a single dish, more a recipe for a rhythm in the kitchen that enables you to get a Japanese meal on the table in 15 minute.

Just before dinner time (right after we get home):

Miso preserved the salmon for a few days until I finished it off in a couple of minutes
Miso preserved the salmon for a few days until I finished it off in a couple of minutes
  • Take the salmon from the marinade and fry it on medium heat, put dashi in a separate pan and bring to a boil
  • While this is happening, take the string beans, miso-sauce, tamagoyaki and pickles out of the fridge and arrange on individual plates
  • Cut carrots and green onions and place them with the (store bought) wheat gluten
    Prep-time for miso soup is basically the time necessary to heat dashi
    Prep-time for miso soup is basically the time necessary to heat dashi

    in the soup bowl (my family doesn’t eat cooked carrots, so they go directly in the bowl)

  • Plate the salmon
  • Take dashi from the heat, add miso and pour into the soup bowl.
  • Fill rice bowl with freshly cooked rice. ‘Itadakimasu’ (Enjoy)!

On the days before our dinner

  1. I cooked the string beans on the day they were bought and stored them in dashi with a dash of soy sauce and a dash of mirin (sake brewed from mochigome – Japanese sweet rice)
  2. I usually rejuvenate miso that lost its aroma and make some kind of neri miso with it (see basic recipe in What can you do with ‘old’ Miso?) and as such I had a walnut-miso-sauce waiting in my fridge that I made a while ago (probably a week or so).

    The string beans were cooked and stored in dash the day they were bought
    The string beans were cooked and stored in dash the day they were bought
  3. I always make pickles when I come across good looking vegetables at a reasonable price or whenever ‘it is time’ to do something with what I have on hand (like I use left-over kombu) or make persimmon vinegar ). In this case I came across really fresh mini-cucumbers about a week ago, which I like in particular, because they are the closest to Japanese cucumbers that you can get around here. At the same time I had quite an amount of left-over kombu from making dashi. So I pickled them together with ginger, soy, mirin and vinegar.
  4. The day before our dinner I made Tamagoyaki and whenever I do this I usually make a few omelets. In theory the keep a couple of days in the fridge, but in our home the ‘magically’ disappear quickly….

    I always have pickles in my fridge that can be pulled out any given time to enhance a meal
    I always have pickles in my fridge that can be pulled out any given time to enhance a meal
  5. In my kitchen dashi for miso soup is basic layout and I always have some in the fridge. Similar I always have a jar of kombu sitting in water on my kitchen counter so I can make new dashi in a couple of minutes (see recipe). As such making miso soup (see recipe here) is a piece of cake.
  6. The salmon also went in the miso on the weekend before (here is the recipe). Whenever I get my hands on really fresh fish I get a bit more and put it in miso, because it is yummy and because with three kids, a job and a household to manage I can pretty much rely on ‘those days’ to happen. By the way: the technique of preserving fish in miso is an old one and has been invented long before there was refrigeration. So don’t be shy. Give it a try!
  7. I did not prepare the rice days before. I prepared it in the morning (read here what you need to do and why) and put it in the rice cooker who did the cooking automatically at the time set and we had freshly cooked rice when we got home.

And what are we going to have today? I am not sure yet. There are still some string beans sitting in dashi that could go well with dry roasted katsuo bushi (bonito flakes) and some soy sauce as well as a piece of silken tofu that would make a perfect match as shira aé (tofu sauce) to some of the loquats that I came across the other day and I also have an eggplant that should be used. I could simmer it in neri miso and dashi and finish it off with some roasted sesame seeds. With some rice, a soup and some of the pickles in my fridge we should be set for tonight. Prep time: probably something around 30 minutes…