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

Cherry Blossoms in Rice: Sakura Gohan

Breathtaking beautiful, but only for a short moment. Cherry-blossoms are known for its short but brilliant blooming season, a natural process that not only symbolizes the start of spring but also metaphorically describes transience of human life. Two weeks until the delicate pink and white petals return to earth like snowflakes in the wind.

Last year I wrote about the Japanese custom to serve cherry blossom tea at weddings. Every time I remember that custom I am filled with the grace of Japanese politeness, which you can glean here.

A different and very common culinary use for salted cherry blossoms is sakura gohan (rice mixed with salted cherry blossoms). Wonderful to take with you for a Hanami picnic, but equally wonderful to be served at home for dinner. For tonight I decided to double the cherry blossom experience and shape our sakura gohan into a cherry blossom itself.

Cherry Blossoms Kirschblüten Reis


The cherry blossom mold equals one portion of rice which is about ½ a Japanese cup (100ml) of uncooked rice. Due to the salt the rice keeps well at room temperature, so you can easily make the sakura gohan cherry blossoms ahead of time and keep it covered at room temperature until the rest of the food is ready to eat.

Rice with cherry blossoms: Ingredients (Japanese rice, salted cherry blossoms, rice mold)
Rice with cherry blossoms: Ingredients (Japanese rice, salted cherry blossoms, rice mold)
  • ½  200ml-cup             Japanese rice
  • 120 ml                          Water
  • 1 Tbsp.                         Chopped, salted cherry blossoms
  • 1                                    salted cherry blossom for decoration (optional)

Method for making cherry blossom rice

Wash the rice well, cook it in a rice cooker or on the stove and leave it to steam with the lid closed for another 15 to 20 minutes after it is done cooking.

Making of cherry blossom rice 1: Sprinkle chopped cherry blossoms onto the cooked, hot rice
Sprinkle chopped cherry blossoms onto the cooked, hot rice

Shake off some of the salt from the cherry blossoms and chop them finely. Keep the salt for another use (remember mottainai – nothing goes to waste in the Japanese kitchen). The salt from the cherry blossoms has a wonderful scent and tastes delicious as a finishing salt on grilled fish.

Making of cherry blossom rice 2: Forming a ball of rice
Forming a ball of rice

After the rice is done steaming you should fluff it up and sprinkle the chopped cherry blossoms on top. Now you carefully work the cherry blossoms in the rice, ideally using a shamoji (a plastic or wooden spoon for rice). Make sure to use cutting and folding motions to avoid the rice to become mush. That’s it. Serve your sakura gohan directly in rice bowls or shape them to your liking into onigiris, logs or cherry blossoms.

Making of cherry blossom rice 3: Put the rice in the wet (!) rice mold
Put the rice in the wet (!) rice mold

Introducing onigiri in more detail has long been on the editorial schedule for this blog. So if you are interested to read about the different kinds of onigiri, how to make them and some of the fillings, I invite you to subscribe to the newsletter.

In order to make sakura gohan in the shape of a cherry blossom you need to have a cherry blossom mold.

Making of cherry blossom rice 4: Make sure to gently press the rice in the corners
Make sure to gently press the rice in the corners

Make sure that both – your hands as well as the mold are wet, otherwise the rice will stick to both and shaping it neatly will not be possible. Gently form a ball with the rice in your hands and drop it into the mold. Use your fingertips to help the rice into the corners, put on the lid and apply gentle pressure.

Making of cherry blossom rice 5: Gently press down the rice
Gently press down the rice

Lift the lid and double check that the rice fills the entire mold. Decorate the top with a single cherry blossom if you like and give the rice a final, gentle press with the lid. To release the rice from the mold hold the lid down with your thumbs while your fingers lift the mold up. Now wiggle off the lid to make sure not to ruin the shape and serve your sakura gohan-cherry blossom.

See the pictures below for more details on the process:

Making of cherry blossom rice 6: Add one cherry blossom for decoration (optional) and give the rice a final press
Add one cherry blossom for decoration (optional) and give the rice a final press
Making of cherry blossom rice 7: Lift the lid body of the mold with your fingers while pressing down the lid with your thumbs
Lift the lid body of the mold with your fingers while pressing down the lid with your thumbs
Making of cherry blossom rice 8. Take off the body of the rice mold
Take off the body of the rice mold
Making of cherry blossom rice 9: Gently wiggle the lid of the rice mold off the rice
Gently wiggle the lid of the rice mold off the rice
Making of cherry blossom rice 10: Now its time for plating
Now its time for plating


Nothing goes to waste: Tskudani from left over kombu

It is often the little things that touch your heart. Little things that become very special for one reason or another. Little things that don’t have a real value but a history that makes them invaluable. One of those precious items that I am referring to is in my sensei’s fridge. Whenever Elizabeth is making dashi she pulls out a little plastic box, decorated with tiny flowers all over. A container that she got from a person that means a lot to her and who has also used it to store the kombu from making dashi. Each time I take my kombu from the strainer to put it in a random, ordinary container I am pulled back into Elizabeth’s kitchen and I can hear her say ‘when the lid doesn’t fit anymore it is time to do something with it’.

Yukari: already powdered on the left and sun dried after making my ume-boshi (pickled plums)
Yukari: Already powdered on the left and sun dried after making my ume-boshi (pickled plums) on the right

Saving the kombu when you make dashi is a very good idea. Not only is it frugal and serves Japanese sense of Mottainai*, you would also miss out on a wonderful opportunity to create something delicious. As I mentioned last week, this time I remembered to take pictures when making a staple food from left over kombu in my house: Tskudani. A soy-simmered kombu relish that I paired with some of my girls’ most favorite seasoning: Yukari.

Ingredients: Kombu, Soy Sauce, Mirin, Sugar and Yukari (not pictured: sake and vinegar)
Ingredients: Kombu,  mirin, sugar, soy sauce and yukari (not pictured: sake and vinegar)

Ingredients for 1 jar Tskudani (ca. 100 ml)

Step 1: Tenderizing the kombu

  • ca. 6-7 pieces Kombu (each ca. 5 x 10 cm) from making dashi
  • 500 ml Water
  • 50 ml (ordinary/ low grade) vinegar

Step 2: Making the Relish

  • Tenderized Kombu from step 1
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • a good Splash of sake
  • 50 ml Mirin
  • 60 -70 ml Soy sauce
  • 1 EL Yukari powder


For the first step cut the kombu into bite size pieces.

Left over combo from making dashi
Left over kombu from making dashi

I usually cut my kombu into 2 cm squares when preparing it with yukari, Bring the water to a boil over high heat (ideally in a non-reactive pan). Add the vinegar and the kombu and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until you can pinch it easily with a fingernail. I find the kombu from Japan needs less time than the kombu from Korea that I bought in Germany, so be prepared to check doneness of your kombu a few times more when you do this dish for the first time, When the kombu is tender, drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Kombu cut into bite-size pieces
Kombu cut into bite-size pieces

Put the kombu from step 1 in a clean pot and add sake, mirin and soy sauce. Simmer over low heat, reducing the liquid until it is almost gone. Pay close attention, because this happens quite quickly and has a tendency to scorch. When the kombu is glazed, add the yukari and transfer it into a clean glass jar.


Mottainai (もったいない?, [mottainai]) is a Japanese term conveying a sense of regret concerning waste. The expression “Mottainai!” can be uttered alone as an exclamation when something useful, such as food or time, is wasted, meaning roughly “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste. … Mottainai has been referred to as a tradition, a cultural practice, and an idea which is still present in Japanese culture, which has become an international concept…”

Source: Wikipedia

What can you do with old Miso?

A steaming bowl of miso soup – for the most Japanese a piece of home and the essence of nourishment. A steaming bowl of evoking memories of childhood, family and tradition. It is likely that the number of ‘traditional’ miso soups equals the number of families in Japan and every sip of that soup functions like a time machine back into mom’s kitchen. So the ‘traditional’ miso soup is not only a nutritional powerhouse, but also full to the brim with taste and emotional memories.

A colourful bowl of miso soup
A colourful bowl of miso soup

Miso is one of the two major elements in miso soup, but it is certainly not the only use for this super food. Miso is an essential staple in the Japanese diet and is widely used in preparing dips and sauces, marinades (take a look here for a recipe) or in pickling and it also lends its flavor to wonderful deserts. Even though miso is so versatile, it happens that a pack is sitting in the fridge longer than aroma-wise beneficial (yes, you should keep your miso in the fridge to slow down deterioration). So what to do which ‘old’ miso? Throw it out? Of course not, because nothing goes to waste in the Japanese kitchen!

Here and now is not the time and place for an extensive, scientific essay on miso that has filled hundreds of pages in various books (see the link to a free download below)*. But generally speaking miso is a fermented food product with the fermentation process itself having the potential to function as a natural preservative. Miso also contains quite an amount of salt that acts as a natural preservative. So all in all, miso can be kept for a long time. It will not go bad easily, but once opened it will loose its aroma rather quickly.  So when you tend to use more than one type of miso or don’t use miso on a daily basis you’ll be likely to end up with some miso sitting in your fridge longer than two weeks. For me personally two weeks is about the cut off date for the aroma, but that is personal preference. I do know people that consider four weeks to be ok for them. Test it and trust your taste to find out what works best for you.

Version 2
Pickled turnips with neri miso as a dip

Whenever you find your miso has become old, it is time to rejuvenate it. Add some aromas and some dashi to create a wonderful sauce that works as good as a dip for fresh vegetables (e.g. cucumber, celery) as it does as a scalloped topping on tofu or wheat gluten or even thinned with dashi as a sauce to pan-fried vegetables. Miso prepared this way is called neri miso and means ‘stirred miso’. It is usually made from red miso (aka miso), though i have successfully experimented with all kinds of miso. Today’s recipe is a basic version of this sauce. Stay tuned for more options how to further pimp neri miso with herbs and nuts in the coming weeks.

Ingredients for one jar (ca. 125 ml)

  • ca 100 g    red miso
  • 20-30 g     sugar
  • 30-50 ml   sake
  • 30-50 ml  water or (kombu) dashi


Miso varies widely in consistency, flavor and saltiness, so the measurements for sake, sugar and water/dashi are guidelines only. When making neri miso start by using the lowest quantities and adjust consistency and taste to your liking, should it be necessary.

Version 2
Scalloped neri miso on fried tofu

Combine all the ingredients in a pot and mix them until they are blended well. If you have, use a deep pot, because the sauce tends to splatter. Reduce the sauce on medium heat, stirring constantly (!) until the consistency is creamy again. Don’t be tempted to reduce it too much, because neri miso will thicken in the cooling down process, so take this into consideration. Now is a good time to carefully (it is very hot!) taste your neri miso and adjust the flavor. Let the neri miso cool down and fill it in a clean and disinfected jar.


* Tip:

  1. Add ginger juice while the neri miso cools down for a quick twist on the basic recipe
  2. If you want to dive deeper into the history, the science, nutrition of miso, you may be interested in the free pdf-download of the ‘Book of Miso’ by William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi

Kakisu: Loosing weight is a wonderful side effect

I know that I promised pictures of my Hoshigaki (dried persimmons) and a description how to make this Japanese treat at home. I am continuously documenting the progression of the drying process, but have not yet managed to write up the corresponding article. Sorry for that, I have to put you off for a bit more until I am ready to post this piece.

More exercise is the no.1 New Year’s resolution of German women, with a healthy diet and loosing weight being second and third. Well, I am not going to help you with exercising, but at least I can contribute the other two. Even a pretty yummy contribution: Kakisu (persimmon vinegar).

In Korea persimmon vinegar is rumored to be the secret weapon to loose weight easily. Busy (working) women drink a few glasses persimmon vinegar dilluted in water per day and some of them swear that nothing ever worked as good and easy in loosing weight.

Having three kids, a normal household (as much as a household can ever be normal with there little ones being intensely busy counteracting any attempt of tiding up), a garden and a job, I have neither time to exercise not to eat a lot. I wouldn’t consider myself skinny, but loosing weight has not yet appeared on my priority list. Maybe when I have more time (wonderful excuse – this way I will get around it for a looong time).

In my house making Kakisu always had culinary reasons. A fruity, yummy vinegar that I like to add to fresh and light summer dishes. My current vinegar is happily fermenting its way and should be ready in spring, just about when all the magazines start to promote the ultimate bikini-workout for the upcoming beach season. As I have it sitting around, why not test the loosing weight effect of Kakisu? I will keep you updated how it goes (without pictures :-).

Vorbereitung der Kakis
Remove calyx before adding it to the pot

Kakisu is embarrassingly simple to make. If you want to join me in my loosing-weight experiment or if you are curious about making persimmon-vinegar yourself, start your pot, before the season is over.

Ingredients for one pot

  • 4-6 kg unwashed persimmons (various kinds are as ok as various degree of ripeness)
  • 1 big fermentation pot (non-reactive) without a lid
  • 1 piece of clean cotton, big enough to cover the pot
  • 1 string, long enough to wind around the pot twice


Do not wash the persimmons. The yeast on the skins is what you nee to get the fermentation process going.

Remove the calyx and stuff as many persimmons as you can cut side down in your pot (I like to put the ripe or overripe ones on the bottom to get the liquid production going fast). Put a clean cloth on top of the pot and tie it down with the string. That’s basically it.

Kakis im Gaertopf
Simple start: put persimmons in a pot, cover and wait.

From now on you should mix and squish the persimmons every two days. The first one or two times it is more of a rearranging from top to bottom than mixing. The first two or three times I usually add more persimmons, as the increasing degree of persimmon mash creates room for more persimmons to be added to the mix.

Kakis nach vier Tagen
Fermenting persimmons after four days

After about a week you should have a puree that is happily fermenting it way, forming a fruity and foamy persimmon-mash. Keep mixing every other day for another three to four weeks. Don’t forget to taste it once in a while. After about a month the persimmon-mash should start to get vinegary overtones. This is your sign to stop mixing. Let it rest to form a ‘mother’ on the surface, mature and mellow for the next three months.

Kakis nach 2 Wochen
Fermenting persimmons after two weeks

Don’t forget to taste it periodically. Once it has mellow fruity vinegar taste it is time to strain it through a piece of sarashi (Japanese fabric that today is often used in Japanese cooking), a double-layered cheese cloth or a similar cloth). Plan a couple of days for this process; because of the amount of mash, extracting the vinegar will take some time.

And of course there is another use for the persimmon-puree that is left behind in your cloth, so don’t throw it out! Store it in a lidded container in your fridge and use it to pickle daikon or turnips in it. You might also want to store a bit of it in a separate little jar as a condiment. It can be an alternative to ume boshi (Japanese pickled plums) puree. As such to a simple dish as or shio-zuke (salt pickles) as a fruity kick or spread it as a sauce on roulade and add a shiso leaf (Japanese leafy spice) before you roll it up and fry it.