Okonomiyaki + homemade sauce

Simple cabbage okonomiyaki, homemade brown sauce

Okonomiyaki ­– I doubt I’d heard the word 10 or 12 years ago, but at some point this Japanese pancake made its spectacular entrance, bursting into our kitchen, our love for it totally sealed after we had kids. Throwing back to the good old ‘vegetable fritter days’, when our two children were babies and each went through that tricky stage of not wanting to be fed from a spoon, but not having the skills to spoon-feed themselves – carrot fritters and pumpkin quinoa fritters (and others; I made a list!) were the TOP way to eat vegetables and also be happy at the dinner table. Okonomiyaki, essentially a big cabbage fritter, with its bonus smothering of mayonnaise, brown sauce and seaweed, has always been the queen of all fritters, and the one I still make regularly, and it’s probably quite cagey of me that it’s taken this long to bring the recipe here. Continue reading Okonomiyaki + homemade sauce

Eggplant with yuzu and bonito

Japanese aubergine with yuzu and bonitoJapanese aubergine with yuzu and bonito

Years back, while travelling in rural China, we realised that the best stir-fries are a lot like the best Italian pastas – minimal ingredients, simple technique, allowing the produce to shine. It’s true of this dish from Japan, too. (But in case those two foreign words in the title are mysterious: yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that I think you can only have fresh here in Australia if you grow it. However, in the Japanese sections of Asian grocers you can buy bottles of yuzu concentrate, which works wonderfully here. Hunt it out – so delicious! While you’re there, search the shelves for bonito flakes, which are fine shavings of dried fish famously used in dashi broth, but which also make a magical, delicately fishy garnish. You can get them in convenient serving-sized sachets.) Continue reading Eggplant with yuzu and bonito

Japanese buckwheat soup

buckwheat kernels, tofu, carrot and pine mushrooms – ingredients for Japanese buckwheat soup

This soup makes me ridiculously happy, for a lot of reasons. A sure first is remembering the day last year when we hired a car and drove deep into the mountains of Shikoku, Japan. It was a big day in the car, punctuated by pockets of time spent in the quiet little villages of the Iya Valley, and at our final destination before we turned back, which was the double vine bridges suspended high above a turquoise river. Continue reading Japanese buckwheat soup

Japanese greens and walnut salad

Blanched beetroot leaves, chopped asparagus, calendula and short-grain rice

We just got back from three weeks travelling around Japan, and we’re still doing that lovely thing – remembering what we were doing in increments from now. You know, ‘This time last week’, or ‘Two weeks ago today’: ‘We were walking around that amazing moss-covered cemetery in Koya San / at the giant Buddha in Kamakura with Shiro and Timoko / eating yakitori skewers for breakfast in Kochi / in our Airbnb in Kanazawa listening to the typhoon howling out our window!’ Continue reading Japanese greens and walnut salad

Brown-rice nori rolls

Brown rice nori rolls

We’ve been eating lots of sandwiches of late. When I can, they involve homemade sourdough, and we toast them up in a frying pan with a splash of olive oil to make them extra delicious. But still, it equals bread for lunch, and I don’t think it’s clever if we’ve also had bread for breakfast. Continue reading Brown-rice nori rolls