All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Osechi New Year's Day meal, 2018

Our New Year's Day meal was smaller than in other years, yet consisted of all of our favorites.

People say that holiday seasons are uplifting. For me, it is the last week of December. The feverish mood at grocery stores and shopping arcades in Japan toward the end of the year is infectious. Both sellers and shoppers are in high spirits, all hoping for an auspicious start to the coming year. Here in the US, a somewhat similar ambiance is seen at Japanese grocery stores that often carry better quality ingredients and special items for the New Year's Day celebration.


Shirunashi tantan men / dan dan mian noodles

Yummy dan dan noodles featuring okara-konnyaku bits and Chinese-flavored green olives. The numbing spiciness of hua jiao Sichuan peppercorns is intriguing in this dish. One of the big hits in our kitchen this year.
Use fewer noodles if adding more vegetables or other unflavored goodies, as the amount of sauce is on the low end below.

1/2 of recipe:
523 calories; 14.2 g protein; 16.2 g fat; 81.6 g carbohydrate; 75.6 g net carbs; 497 mg sodium (with lower sodium seasonings); 0.2 mg cholesterol; 6.0 g fiber

1/2 of recipe without noodles:
177 calories; 4.2 g protein; 14.2 g fat; 9.6 g carbohydrate; 5.6 g net carbs; 439 mg sodium (with lower sodium seasonings); 0.2 mg cholesterol; 4.0 g fiber 


Renkon to ginnan no shiokoji kinpira / spicy lotus root and gingko nut saute

A quick saute of crunchy lotus root slices and chewy gingko nuts. While soy sauce is usually the main seasoning in salty, sweet and spicy kinpira saute, using salt or shiokoji salted rice malt helps to retain the color of ingredients and brings out the taste of ginkgo nuts.

1/2 recipe:
96 calories; 2.1 g protein; 2.5 g fat; 16.1 g carbohydrate; 14.2 g net carbs; 105 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.9 g fiber


Ginnan to shungiku, kani no karashi sumiso-zoe / gingko nuts, garland chrysanthemum and crab with mustard vinegar miso sauce

Dishes with salty, sweet and sour sumiso sauce or its spicy karashi mustard variation were for sober grown-ups in my mind, and it took a long time before I found their charm. Both match very well with strong-tasting leafy greens, among which green onions and their relatives are the popular choices, as well as seafood, especially calamari (including hotaruika firefly squid) and shellfish. While both types are more common in spring, fall ingredients -- gingko nuts and shungiku below -- also pair well.

1/2 recipe:
60 calories; 7.1 g protein; 0.5 g fat; 6.6 g carbohydrate; 5.6 g net carbs; 143 mg sodium; 17 mg cholesterol; 0.6 g fiber

Karashi sumiso only (1/6 recipe):
13 calories; 0.4 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 2.5 g carbohydrate; 2.2 g net carbs; 58 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.2 g fiber


Okara-konnyaku no nikumiso-fu soboro to iritamago no gohan / steamed rice topped with sweet & salty fried soybean pulp yam cakes and scrambled egg

Here is an example of how to use my meaty meatless okara-konnyaku bits. Just like other strong flavored items, these bits cooked with dried shiitake and gobo burdock root make a great topping for steamed rice. Oil-free scrambled egg with dashi offers a mild balance, with green onion slices accentuating the dish with a softly spicy note.

1/2 recipe without rice:
60 calories; 4.0 g protein; 3.5 g fat; 3.2 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g net carbs; 104 mg sodium; 105 mg cholesterol; 1.6 g fiber

1/2 recipe with 110 g steamed rice (approx. 1/3 of steamed rice made with 180 cc/150 g dry rice):
239 calories; 7.0 g protein; 3.9 g fat; 42.0 g carbohydrate; 40.1 g net carbs; 104 mg sodium; 105 mg cholesterol; 1.9 g fiber

1/2 recipe with 165 g steamed rice (approx. 1/2 of steamed rice made with 180 cc/150 g dry rice):
328 calories; 8.5 g protein; 4.1 g fat; 61.4 g carbohydrate; 59.4 g net carbs; 104 mg sodium; 105 mg cholesterol; 2.0 g fiber


Okara-konnyaku no nikumiso-fu / sweet and salty fried ground soybean pulp yam cakes

A meaty meat-less topping for noodles, rice and more. This is the latest popular creation using okara soybeans at our house. It also features gobo burdock root and dried shiitake mushrooms for deeper taste, aroma and variation in texture. Its strong flavor translates into keeping longer in the fridge. One major disadvantage is that Tom wants to eat more than he should. This is made to fit a sodium savvy diet, but take care with how much you eat.

Whole recipe (with okara-konnyaku made with nagaimo Chinese yam):
311 calories; 12.4 g protein; 13.1 g fat; 43.8 g carbohydrate; 21.0 g net carbs; 972 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 22.8 g fiber

1 heaping tablespoon (4 tsp/20 g; 1/10 of recipe):
28 calories; 1.1 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 4.0 g carbohydrate; 1.9 g net carbs; 88 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 2.1 g fiber


Murasaki tamanegi to renkon no amazuzuke / red onion and lotus root in sweetened vinegar

A handy small side dish or condiment to accompany other dishes or in a bento box. Its pleasant color and refreshing taste offer a nice change of pace. While red onion alone would become vivid purplish pink in the vinegar, adding another pale color ingredient -- lotus root in this case -- results in a much softer pink for both ingredients.

Whole recipe (solid ingredients):
111 calories; 2.7 g protein; 0.2 g fat; 29.3 g carbohydrate; 21.8 g net carbs; 46 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 3.9 g fiber