Hearty Miso Soba Soup

 

 

 

Miso Soba Soup

We’re smack bang in the middle of winter here, which of course means soup weather. Soup has always been one of my favourite foods to make – it’s easy, economical and you can pack it full of vegetables. Today’s soup has to be one of the most delicious I’ve made in a long time, and definitely added to my ‘must-make’ list. It’s low-in-fat, stuffed full of vegetables and has a little kick from the wasabi added at the very end. To make sure this is vegan, ensure the miso does not include dashi (出し・だし)

Hearty Miso Soba Soup

Makes 4 huge servings

Approx 275 calories per serving

Ingredients

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp minced ginger

4 tsp minced garlic (approx 4 cloves)

10 cups of water

1 tsp dried wakame

30g dried shiitake (remove stems and cut using scissors)

250g sliced carrots

3 heads of bok choy (about 220-240g), cleaned and leaves separated

2 bundles of dried soba noodles (about 160g)

6 tbsp mild white miso (I used miso with grains added)

1 tsp wasabi paste

Instructions

1. Heat up the oil in a big sauce pan and add ginger and garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add about 1/2 cup of your water. stir to remove all lumps.

2. Add in the rest of the water, shiitake mushrooms, carrots and wakame. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes.

3. Add in the soba noodles (snap in half to make them go further) and bok choy. Cook for about 7 minutes (or until soba is cooked).

4. Put the miso paste and wasabi in a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the soup water. Combine until all the lumps are gone.

5. Turn the soup to a low heat and add the miso/wasabi mix. Stir and let heat (but do not allow to boil) for about 1 minute.

6. Serve and enjoy!

いただきます!

Roasted broccoli with Seaweed Soba

It’s been a while…my only real excuses are A: laziness, and B: forgetting to take a photo whenever I made something. I’m attempting to turn that around, with two recipes ready to go. Today’s one was a quick dinner I made tonight, and tomorrow’s will be a Pumpkin scone recipe that creates fluffy, sweet scones in gorgeous Autumnal tones.

Today’s dinner was a bit of a mashup coming together. I knew I had to use the head of broccoli I had in my fridge, but no idea what to have it with. So after a little mulling I decided on roasting my broccoli and having it with some soba noodles and tsuyu sauce. Brilliant! Broccoli roasting away happily in my little toaster oven, soba noodles bubbling on the stove…and then I discover my tsuyu had a ‘best before’ date of September. Yeah…that wasn’t happening. I opened the fridge to try to find something but I had absolutely zero idea on what to do with my soba…plain was just too bland. Then my eyes fell upon my jar of seaweed paste and a plan formed.

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I discovered this seaweed paste when I first arrived in Kumamoto and it was served to me on top of a bowl of steaming rice. It’s basically exactly what it states…a paste made of seaweed. It might sound a little off putting, but it’s got a really nice umami flavour to it. It can be found in most supermarkets, tending to be around the canned vegetable/fish area. The only problem is I rarely eat rice, so it is hard for me to use a whole jar of it. So with a little experimentation, I came upon my end dish, and it was surprisingly tasty (and damn morish!).

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Roasted Broccoli with Seaweed Soba

Serves 1
360 calories (depending on your soba noodles)

Ingredients

80g bundle of dry soba noodles

125g of broccoli florets, washed and dried.

1/2 tsp of sesame oil

2 tsp of Seaweed paste

Method

1. Depending on what oven capabilities you have in your apartment, heat it to around 240 – 250 degrees celsius. I used my little toaster oven for this.

2. On a lined train, place your broccoli florets. Using a pasty brush (or silicone brush – both of which you can pick up at the 100 yen stores easily) brush each floret with sesame oil. You won’t need to use much. Just so there is an even light layer on each floret. Put the broccoli in the oven and let roast for approximately 10-15 minutes. It’ll be cooked when the tips are beginning to brown and the stem is a little soft (but still with crunch!).

3. Boil some water, and place your soba noodles in, cooking until they are done (go by the packet but I tend to boil mine for about 4 minutes or so).

4. In a small bowl place about 1/4 cup of the boiling water from the soba pot, and add the 2 tsp of seaweed paste. Mix until it is all combined.

5. Drain your soba, mix the broccoli through and pour over the sauce to finish. Enjoy!

いただきます!

Grilled tofu spring rolls

We’re still clinging on to the good weather here in Kyushu. It’s still warm enough in the day to warrant a t-shirt but cool enough at night to require a few extra blankets. As a result I’m either going for warming comfort food (as in my soba, tofu and miso honey roast squash dish) or salads and crisp tastes. I’m also firmly in love with grilled tofu at the moment, so after finding some rice paper sheets at my local supermarket, I decided to try out this meal!

A bit fiddly to make, but you can prepare the ingredients and create a ‘make your own spring roll’ meal.

Grilled tofu spring rolls

Serves 1 (makes 5 large rolls)

Approx. 400 calories

Ingredients

5 large rice paper sheets

200g firm tofu (もめん) pressed and drained

70g ripped up iceberg lettuce leaves

25g daikon radish sprouts (かいわれ – can find in little pottles near the bok choy/sprout section of your supermarket)

100g cucumber, grated

30g red onion, sliced thinly(approx 1/4 an onion)

1tsp sweet chilli sauce

1/2tbsp soy sauce

Instructions

1. Slice your tofu into 5 equally sized pieces, lightly salt, and grill on all sides until golden. Set aside

2. Prepare a large bowl of warmish water. The bowl will have to be large enough for you to place a whole sheet of rice paper in flat.

3. Place a single sheet of rice paper into the water, making sure to have it covered. Keep an eye on it (poke it!). When it’s ready it should be soft and no longer hard. Sometimes it has rips in it, but that’s okay!

4. Spread your rice paper (delicately) onto a flat surface. Begin to put a layer of ingredients in the middle of your spring roll sheet. I started with a layer of lettuce, then added the daikon sprouts, a strip of tofu, red onion and grated cucumber.

5. Parcel up your spring roll. The easiest way to ensure nothing falls out is to cover with one end, then fold in the sides, then fold over. Try to make it nice and tight (it gets easier with practice!)

6. Repeat until you have 5 spring rolls ready!

7. To make the sauce just combine the sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce.

8. Dip and enjoy!

いただきます!

Soba noodles with grilled tofu and honey miso roast squash

It’s hard to find ‘proper’ pumpkin in southern Japan, but come Autumn the stores fill with a glutton of kabocha, the Japanese squash known for its sweet flesh. You can pick up medium-sized locally grown kabocha for only ¥150 in the supermarkets, so it can make a cheap meal that’s full on taste.

The meal below is a little time consuming, but worth it. The pumpkin can be used as a side dish for any other meals, and is quite simple to make. You will need a toaster oven or microwave that you can set the temperature on if you don’t have an actual oven (the woes of living in Japan).

Soba noodles with grilled tofu and honey miso roast squash

Serves 2

Approx 550 cals (depending on soba)
Honey miso roast Pumpkin approx 130 cals

 

Ingredients

 

For the honey miso roast squash
500g kabocha, deseeded, peeled and chopped into medium-sized chunks
1tbsp rice wine vinegar
1tbsp miso paste
1tsp honey
1tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1tsp olive oil

 

For grilled tofu
400g pressed and drained firm tofu (もめん)
Salt

 

For soba noodles and sauce
2 bundles of dry soba noodles
1tbsp miso paste
1tbsp rice wine vinegar
1tsp soy sauce
Instructions

 

For the honey miso roast squash
1. Preheat your oven to 230 degrees celsius.
2. In a small bowl whisk together the rice wine, miso paste, honey, sesame oil and ginger until smooth.
3. Grease an oven-proof dish with the olive oil, and put in the chunks of kabocha, preferably in a single layer.
4. Pour over the sauce, get your fingers in there and make sure every piece of kabocha is coated in it!
5. Put in the oven and cook. Make sure to turn after about 10-15 minutes.
6. Cooking time is approx 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your kabocha pieces. If you can cut it with a fork/insert a toothpick easily it will be cooked perfectly. Keep warm. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

 

For the grilled tofu
1. While the pumpkin is cooking, cut the tofu into pieces and lightly salt.
2. Grill on a lightly-greased frying pan until all sides are golden.
3. Take off the heat and wrap the tofu in some aluminium foil to keep it warm.

 

For the soba noodles, with sauce
(This is the final step, so start this once your tofu and pumpkin are cooked.)
1. Bring lightly salted water to the boil and pop in the soba. The packet will tell you the optimal time, but it will be approximately 4-5 minutes.
2. When the noodles are finished, set aside one cup of the hot water and then drain the noodles. Put in a bowl and cover to keep warm.
3. Back in the saucepan mix the cup of hot water with the miso paste, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and make sure the miso is fully dissolved.

 

To assemble
1. Divide up the soba noodles into two bowls.
2. Top with half the tofu and pumpkin mix.
3. Pour over 1/2 the sauce each.
いただきます!

Black Bean Salsa

Black beans are only a new addition to my diet, and I’m not entirely sure why it’s taken me this long to discover how amazing they are. I was lucky enough to be given a leftover can of black beans (plus a bag of dried beans for later use, galangal, lemongrass and numerous other Thai seasonings) when a friend recently returned home after her time on JET. I’ve been determined to use more legumes in my meals recently, since they’re a powerful source of iron, protein and other good macros.

I needed a way to use up the 1/2 can I had leftover from a fusion stirfry, plus with avocados still cropping up cheaply, a salsa was definitely on the cards. It’s also ridiculously easy to make, with the only real prep time going into the cutting up!  This will give you a good boost of protein (9g), calcium (9g) and a HUGE shot of iron (14g) with the only fat coming from the good stuff found in the avocado.

Black Bean Salsa

Serves 2

Approx 200 calories  per serving.

Ingredients

1 cup of cooked chilled black beans (canned is perfect)

1 large ripe tomato, deseeded and chopped up into small chunks (approx 140g)

1 small cucumber, chopped into small chunks (approx 100g)

1/2 an avocado, sliced and diced

1/2 a raw red onion, sliced and diced thinly

1tsp Avocado oil (if you don’t have avocado oil, use a good quality olive oil instead. You can also omit this)

Lemon juice (I used about 2-3 tbsp)

Salt and Pepper (freshly cracked is always best)

Instructions

1. Throw the vegetables and black beans together in a bowl and mix together (being sure to break up the red onion and not squish the avocado).

2. Sprinkle over the oil and lemon juice, then season to taste.

3. Stir and serve!

いただきます!

Autumn Mushroom Rice

In the last few days it has certainly felt like Autumn has reached us here in Kyushu. One thing I’ve always noticed is the change in seasons here is very sudden. One day it will be sweltering in the 30’s, the next you’ll certainly feel a crisp touch to the air. We’re sitting on 23 degrees celsius at the moment. For several months the coolest temperature we would reach would be 25 degrees at around 3am, so this is a noticeable difference.

The rice fields near my mountain schools are now being harvested, which means the area will soon be  blanketed with a smokey haze as farmers burn off the stalks. Seasonable flavours are also creeping out in stores, with Starbucks now selling  Crunchy Caramel lattes and pumpkin muffins, while the local ¥100  stores are filling up with Halloween decorations.

It has also meant a steady flow of persimmons, nashi pears, pumpkins, chestnuts and mushrooms into the supermarkets. The latter is starting to sprout up in various styles, each with its own distinct taste and look. Today’s meal is something is a staple in my Autumn and Winter here in Japan, whether to pop in a bento to take to work, to mix into a quick stirfry or if I’m in desperate need of carbs. It’s all done in the rice cooker and takes very little effort to make! It can also be frozen away easily, since it makes at least 10 servings.

Autumn Mushroom Rice

Makes 10 servings (1 cup each)

Each serving approx 210 calories

Ingredients

3 cups washed white rice (I use pre-washed (無洗米)rice as it cuts out the long washing process to remove all the starch)

3 1/2  cups dashi stock (I used a single konbu dashi sachet to the water for mine (which also makes it vegan))

About 300g mixed mushrooms (the more varieties the better! I used bimeji, enoki and shiitake in mine)

2tbsp soy sauce

1tbsp cooking mirin

1tbsp cooking sake

1 fried bean curd (aburaage) (You’ll find this in the tofu section and it’s most commonly a golden puffy triangle shape)

Instructions

1. Put the mushrooms into a sealable container and sprinkle over the soy sauce, mirin and sake. Mix well and leave for at least 1 hour to marinate. The longer the better (but if you are running short on time just give the mushrooms a good squeeze to get the soy sauce mix in).

2. When you are ready to get cooking, throw the rice, dashi and mushroom mix into your rice cooker (with the leftover soy sauce/mirin/sake mix!). Rip up your aburaage and add on top.

3. Give it a quick stir then shut the lid and set your rice cooker going! Just a standard setting for this meal.

4. When your rice cooker has done it’s thing open up and give everything a stir once again! The mushrooms invariably end up at the top, so you want to get them mixed through all the rice.

5. Serve and enjoy! You can also freeze this rice away successfully.

いただきます!

Season of figs

Figs are in season here in Japan, which means we’re snapping at the heels of Autumn. It’s already becoming much darker at night, and the rice is almost ready for harvest, which means soon I’ll be driving home to the smell of burning rice fields. Some people hate the smell, but I utterly adore it.

With Autumn also comes a glutton of seasonal vegetables…pumpkins, mushrooms, figs, chestnuts and sweet potatoes. I’m much more likely to cook meals in Autumn, so hopefully that will result in more updates on here. Summer is just too hot to cook, so I largely existed off of salads and cold noodles. On a recent trip to the supermarket I spotted some ripe figs in the ‘locally grown produce’ section. Figs are largely used in desserts, but can easily loan themselves to savoury dishes. Tonight’s meal was a twist on a dish I have already posted on here.

Teriyaki Fig, Chicken and Broccoli

Serves 1

The meal above was approx. 470 calories (served with 135g of brown rice)


Ingredients

150g chicken fillets (deboned, deskinned)

50g of broccoli

30g of fresh fig, sliced

50ml of cooking sake

30ml of mirin

15ml of soy sauce

Instructions

1. Heat up a frying pan and lightly oil (using a paper towel to wipe up any excess oil!)

2. Place chicken in the pan and lightly brown on both sides (will take about 1-2 minutes depending on heat of pan. There should only be a very light brown shade on your chicken. You do not want to dry it out).

3. While chicken is browning place your broccoli and fig slices in the pan to warm. (I placed my fig slices on the side of the frypan so they didn’t burn or overcook).

4. Pour over the sake and cover with a lid. The sake may spit a bit so just be warned!

5. Reduce heat and leave to cook for about 3-4 minutes.

6. Take off the lid and pour over the mirin and soy sauce. Simmer for a few minutes, making sure to turn the chicken and broccoli and spoon the sauce over the top once or twice so the flavours gets all over.

7. Take out the chicken, broccoli and fig slices. Let the sauce reduce down for about a minute or two. You don’t want it too thick otherwise it will stick to the pan. If it looks like it might be too thick then add a little extra sake or water to help thin it out.

8. Once the sauce is to a suitable viscosity for your preference put the chicken, figs and broccoli back in and coat with the sauce.

10. Serve over rice and enjoy.

いただきます