The Magic of Kinako (Roasted Soy Bean Flour)

The Magic of Kinako (Roasted Soy Bean Flour)

As a kid, one of my favorite Japanese foods was sweetened kinako, or roasted soy bean flour. Of course, back then, I had no clue as to what the dry, golden brown, powdery flour-like substance called kinako was, other than the fact that my mom said it was made from soy, but to me, it was magical. It was the most delicious food ever, especially when my mom dusted fresh warm mochi with sweetened kinako. The sugary sweetness of the kinako, combined...

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Slow Cooker Recipe for Kuromame (Sweet Black Soy Beans)

Slow Cooker Recipe for Kuromame (Sweet Black Soy Beans)

  Last year, my mom taught me a new osechi ryori (traditional food for celebrating Japanese New Year) dish that she learned from a friend of hers: kuromame, or sweet black soy beans cooked in the slow cooker. [Photo Credit: Hideki Ueha] This slow cooker recipe is a life saver, given I’ve burned my share of kuromame batches by forgetting about the beans simmering on the stove. The beans need to simmer for a while in order to achieve the...

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Spicy Konnyaku

Spicy Konnyaku

Konnyaku, is the Japanese term for the root vegetable (plant) or yam cake, also known as konjac, konjak, konjaku, devil’s tongue, or elephant yam. To me, konnyaku is a vegetable that was as common as broccoli at our family’s dinner table when I was growing up. It’s also a favorite of mine. I loved it, even before I knew what I was eating. I just accepted it as “konnyaku”, a Japanese food that my Mom cooked, and it...

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Shio Koji Asparagus

Shio Koji Asparagus

Shio koji asparagus is fresh asparagus sautéed with shio koji and olive oil. It’s a really easy side dish for enjoying fresh asparagus and goes great with almost any seafood or protein. Summer is still in full swing and we’re still as busy as ever. With our schedule full of activities and fun, I haven’t had much time to spend in the kitchen, other than to throw together quick and easy meals.  Shio koji works great for quick...

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Kinpira Gobo

Kinpira Gobo

Kinpira gobo is a traditional Japanese side dish made of gobo (burdock root) and carrots. It’s both savory and sweet and sometimes has a hint of red chili spice, depending on the cook. While gobo is considered a mainstream vegetable as far as Japanese and other Asian cuisines are concerned, it is less common in Western cuisine, although in recent years it has gained more visibility. Growing up in a traditional Japanese home (albeit in Los...

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Mame Gohan (Brown Rice with Green Peas)

Mame Gohan (Brown Rice with Green Peas)

Mame gohan, or Japanese rice with green peas, is a very simple dish that requires few ingredients and it’s often served during the springtime. This dish made a frequent appearance during my childhood because it is one of my Dad’s favorite rice dishes. Not surprisingly, mame gohan is a dish that his mom, or my obaachan (grandma, pronounced “oh-bah-ah-chan”), used to make for him and their family. This dish brings back...

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Kyuri Su Shoyuzuke (Soy Sauce & Vinegar Pickled Cucumbers)

Kyuri Su Shoyuzuke (Soy Sauce & Vinegar Pickled Cucumbers)

  Su shoyuzuke Japanese style tsukemono, or pickles, marinated in a vinegar (su) and soy sauce (shoyuzuke) mixture is one of Bebe’s favorites. She wouldn’t complain if all she found on our dinner table were a huge bowl of these pickled cucumbers for a one-dish (unbalanced) meal. Whenever we visit my parents, my Mom is certain to make a batch of these delicious kyuri (cucumber) tsukemono a day ahead of our arrival, or on the morning...

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Avocado Wontons and Apricot Soy Dipping Sauce

Avocado Wontons and Apricot Soy Dipping Sauce

There are three things that I love at The Cheesecake Factory: 1. Vanilla Bean Cheesecake; 2. Mushroom Soup; and 3. Avocado Egg Rolls. Everything else on the menu is good and I have my favorites and not-so-favorites, but the three dishes I listed above are truly what get me through the restaurant’s doors. The first dish, Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, I will never, ever, try to re-create. Ever. It’s just one of those recipes that deserves...

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