An Dango

Posted November 13th, 2016 in Food | No Comments »


Here in Perth it’s Spring and the weather has been strange – hot day, then rainy day, then cloudy day then again hot day! Hmmm I know Summer is just around the corner but I am not really looking forward to these scorching hot days..

Today was a hot day, and usually I would take my kids to the park in the early morning or to the swimming pool but we had someone come over to fix the garden today so we stayed home. Staying home with 2 kids means lots of food preparation. To combine the “cooking” and “playing”, I involved them in cooking and this is one of the things we made together – dango.

I love dango – I love the chewy texture! In Japan we normally use “shiratama-ko”  or “joshin-ko ” to made dango, but I do not have neither at home. Instead, I stock up this rice flour from Coles.


Erawan Glutinous Rice Flour. It has to be this green package! It’s just over $2 a packet and so easy to make sticky dango snack.

The recipe is roughly measured, so please adjust the amount of water. And, I mixed tofu to the mixture this time, but you don’t need tofu if you don’t have. Just water and this flour is fine.

<recipe> makes around 20

• Erawan Glutinous Rice Flour … 1 cup

• Tofu (silken or momen) … 50g

• Water … around 1-2 tablespoon

Anko (or some alternative shown below)


  1. Drain the tofu from water, then wrap with kitchen paper. Microwave for 30 seconds ~ 1 minutes. This drains more water from tofu.
  2. Place flour into a bowl. Add cooled tofu, then smash the tofu and mix well.  Add water bit by bit to adjust the consistency of the mixture. It should be as firm as your earlobes.
  3. Boil water in a deep pan. Shape the mixture into small balls (1.5cm) then press lightly in the centre to flatten a bit. Drop the balls into boiling water.  Once the balls start to float, count 10 seconds then take them out of the water, and then drop them into a bowl of cold water.
  4. Drain the dango. Skewer them onto toothpicks, then place anko on top.
  5. Enjoy ♬


I made koshi-an (strained smooth Anko) but you can just buy a can of Anko from Asian grocery store, or you can eat dango with kinako (sweet soybean flour) or sweet soy sauce (Japanese soy sauce + sugar).   It’s all up to you!


Oden with Ginger

Posted August 21st, 2012 in Food | 1 Comment »

Here is the real winter warmer – Oden with dipping sauce of ginger.

Oden, a Japanese dish of winter casserole, is usually eaten with karashi (Japanese mustard).  It is the very common and typical condiment for Oden.  Everywhere you go, an izakaya or a convenience store, Oden is served with a dash of karashi on the side.

But one of my friend from Himeji (a city in Hyogo prefecture) introduced me a new condiment – gingered soy sauce!

I’d never tried the combination before, but I immediately knew ginger would go great with oden.  Oden and ginger….  how clever!  It’s the best dish to warm up your body in cold days.

For for Oden, common ingredients are :  Egg, Konnyaku, Daikon, Gyu-suji (beef tendon), Nerimono (basically fishcakes, but many varieties : e.g. chikuwa, hanpen, gobo-maki etc), Atsuage (thick deep-fried tofu), and Potato.  Some people add other things too.

This time I used egg, daikon, konnyaku, tofu, and gobo-maki.  I can’t get good nerimono here in Perth.  Some Asian grocery shops sell “oden set” (mixed nerimono) in freezer section, but I find it quite expensive.


  • Water 6 cups
  • Sake (cooking wine) 1/4 cup
  • Soy Sauce 4 tbs
  • Mirin (sweet cooking wine) 2 tbs
  • Dashi Konbu seaweed 15cm
  • Ingredients (I used 4 Eggs, 4 Potatos, 1 Konnyaku sheet, 4 Gobo-maki, 500g Tofu, & 1 Daikon radish.)
  • Ginger 1 knob + Soy Sauce


  1. Place Dashi Konbu in 6 cups of water in a large pot, and leave for around 2 hours.
  2. Prepare ingredients : boil eggs, peel and cut daikon etc.  I don’t cut potato but you can if you prefer so.
  3. Place daikon & potato in the water with konbu, and turn on the heat.  Bring to gentle simmer – do not boil.  Remove konbu.
  4. Add sake, soy sauce, and mirin.  Add eggs, konnyaku, tofu & gobo-maki.  Simmer for 30minutes +.  ( I simmered few hours)


Once you turn off the heat, leave the oden for around 2 hours (or more), then warm up again before serving.  Ingredients in oden soak up the flavour when they cool down.  Let everything soak up all the flavor.

Serve with grated ginger + soy sauce.

Beef & Tofu Donburi

Posted November 2nd, 2011 in Food | No Comments »

This is one of my favorite donburi dish – beef and tofu.  It is just like beef donburi (gyu-don), with tofu.  Normally, firm tofu is used in cooking as it’s more likely to hold its shape than soft silken tofu, but I love the silky smooth texture of silken tofu and I used it in this recipe.

Donburi is like Japanese version of fast food.  Make it in one pot, and eat it all together with rice.

Mix them up and eat it like a man!

<Recipe> serves 2

  • 200g beef, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 brown onion, small
  • 100g silken tofu (Japanese)
  • 1/4 tsp dashi stock powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 tbs sake (cooking wine)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1.5 tbs soy sauce
  • red ginger, chopped spring onion, steamed rice to serve


  1. Slice onion.  Place beef, onion, water and dashi stock in a sauce pan, and bring to gentle simmer.
  2. Place tofu on your left palm, and drop into the pan as you slice.  Add sake, sugar and soy sauce.  Turn the heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the beef mixture over steamed rice.  Garnish with red ginger and spring onion.


Canapes with Miso Jam (Torimiso)

Posted October 14th, 2010 in Food | 2 Comments »

Grilled vegetables, boiled eggs, and fresh silken tofu topped with miso jam with chicken mince.

It is a great party item or as a accompaniment to any alcohol!  It also goes with hot steamed rice. 😀

Today I used zucchini, boiled eggs and tofu, but you can basically use any vegetables, such as broccoli, daikon radish, or even Chinese cabbage leaves.  Anything goes with this tori-miso jam.

<Torimiso with Vegetables and Tofu> serves 2~4

  • 100g chicken mince
  • 50g red miso paste
  • 30g sugar
  • 1.5 tbs sake (cooking wine)
  • zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pack silken tofu (around 300~500g)
  • sesame seeds and spring onion to garnish
  1. Place chicken mince and sake in a small sauce pan, and turn on the heat.  Over low heat, cook chicken while stirling with silicon spatula.  Add sugar and miso paste, and stir until the miso mixture starts to look shiny and smooth.  Be careful, miso easily gets burned.   Turn off the heat and set aside.
  2. Make boiled eggs.  Slice into half, or quoter.
  3. Slice zucchini, and grill until just cooked through.
  4. Cut tofu into bite size.
  5. Arrange zucchini, eggs and tofu on a serving plate.  Top with miso mixture, and garnish with chopped spring onion or sesame seeds.

Tofu Croquette

Posted August 18th, 2010 in Food | 2 Comments »

Coated with breadcrumbs, deep-fried until golden brown….  Croquette can be a snack item as well as a main menu.  You can arrange it with the ingredients and sauces for a variety.  Adding tofu to the croquette and making the potato % into half potato and half tofu can reduce the calorie, carb, and add extra nutrition.

Enjoy while they are hot!  You can freeze the batch before deep-frying : place in a gip-lock bag and close the bag tightly. If freezing, you’d better shape the croquette flat so that they will be cooked thoroughly when deep-frying the frozen ones.

<Tofu Croquette>  Makes 8~10
  • 100g mince (I used 50g beef & 50g pork)
  • 2 potato
  • 350g tofu (momen tofu preferred)
  • 1/2 onion
  • plain flour,   1 egg, breadcrumbs to coat
  1. Boil peeled potatoes until cooked through.  Cut the potatoes into pieces so that they’ll be cooked faster.  Drain, and mash.
  2. Meanwhile, chop onion finely.  Heat 1/2 tbs oil in a frying pan and saute over low heat.  Add mince and saute until cooked.  Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a container or plate to cool.
  3. Place tofu in a microwave proof plate or container.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Drain any liquid, and wipe with paper towel.
  4. Mix the tofu with mashed potato.  Add mince, and mix through. Divide and Shape.
  5. Beat the egg well.  Prepare 3 plates: one is for the flour, one is for the egg wash, and the one is for the breadcrumbs.
  6. Start heating up the oil in a deep pan.  Dust the croquette mixture with flour, shake off any excess.  Dip in the egg wash, then drop in the plate of breadcrumbs.  Coat well, and deep-fry until golden.  (the oil should be around 180°)
  7. Serve while hot with sauce  (I mixed tomato sauce and Worcester sauce) or as it is.

Hearty Tofu Dish (Tofu An-kake)

Posted May 11th, 2010 in Ume's Interests | No Comments »

Tofu has been one of my favorite food since I was little.  I remember my 10th birthday, my grandma was asking me

“ume, what do you want to eat today?”

then I answered “tofu miso soup!  I want to pour it over steamed rice!”

Everyone was shocked and laughed, as they were expecting to hear some food that kids normally like, such as sushi or ebi-fry (prawn katsu).

“Tofu miso soup is so easy and cheap to make.  Don’t you want something special today?” My mum said.  But the tofu miso soup was what I wanted to eat that day 😀

I make tofu dish quite often here in Perth too.  The simple one is miso soup.  It’s easy to make and very hearty.  In summer I make tofu salad and hiya-yakko (chilled silken tofu eaten with some condiments and soy sauce/ponzu sauce) very often.  Low in calories, high in protein, and it contains some nutritious stuff such as isoflavone : which can act as estrogens in the body and have protective functions.  Good for women!

Yesterday I had a craving for the warm tofu dish that I ate at a sushi bar back in Japan.  This sushi bar is owned by my friend’s mother, and she knows me very well since I was a baby 🙂  At the sushi bar, they have different menus everyday.  All the menus are decided depending on what items they got from the fish market on each morning.  Other than sushi, they also serve some izakaya type of menu.

She served me this warm hearty tofu dish with ginger-sauce.  I loved it!  The crunchy texture of diced carrots and broccoli matched with silky tofu.  I think some people wouldn’t like this as its taste is little bold, but I don’t mind eating this everyday.  A nice supper dish.

< recipe > serves 4

  • 600g silken tofu
  • 100g broccoli florets (about 6 pieces)
  • 1 carrot, small
  • 100g chicken mince
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs sake
  • 5 g ginger
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tsp corn flour + water
  1. Dice carrot into small pieces.  Chop ginger.  Cut broccoli florets into pieces.
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat sesame oil and stir-fry chicken mince.  Add ginger, carrot and broccoli and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add water and sake, and bring to the gentle boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Season with salt (and 1 tsp of soy sauce if needed), and bring to the boil again.  Pour the corn flour + water mixture, stirring, and keep the gentle simmer until the soup thickens.

By the way, I read an article about tofu sold in Perth.  The person who wrote the article (Japanese) used to live in Perth with his wife, and the wife started to have a heavy allergy reaction each time she eats tofu here.  It never happened to her back in Japan, he wrote.  I don’t know what is the reason: maybe the tofu here is made in different way from what they do in Japan, or there is some additional ingredient in the tofu she ate…  but what they assumed is that there may be genetically modified soybeans used in the tofu.

Most of soybean products sold in Japan, including miso paste, abura-age, natto and soy milk, state “genetically modified soybeans are not used in this products” on their packages.  I’m not sure if it is all true (I hope so) as 85% of soybean products around the world seem to be actually using genetically modified soybeans.  Anyway, thinking that the tofu I eat here may contain genetically modified beans makes me feel not good, but I have no problem with the tofu in Perth so far and I will probably continue eating them as usual.

Fresh Tofu and Chicken Salad

Posted January 14th, 2010 in Food | No Comments »

The taste of this salad really depends on the freshness of tofu you are using.  I normally buy Japanese silken tofu (or soft and smooth tofu) from Asian grocery shops such as Lion Oriental (Northbridge), Emma’s Seafood (Northbridge), Maruyu (Perth) or Yee Seng (Myaree) if eating fresh.  

I made this salad with sesame dressing (goma dare) that I used the other day at my friend’s house, with some steamed and shredded chicken breast.  I don’t know if I can call it “recipe”, but it is super easy to prepare and this fresh tofu salad is perfect for eating in summer days.

<Fresh Tofu and Chicken Salad> serves 4

  • 300 g silken tofu
  • 200 g chicken breast
  • salad
  • ssesame dressing (goma dare)
  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil.  Cook chicken breast.  Remove from the water and drain.  Let it cool.
  2. Shred chicken.  
  3. Tear lettuce leaves and arrange on a serving plate.  Top with shredded chicken and tofu cubes.  Drizzle sesame dressing and serve immediately.

Tofu and Chicken Meatballs

Posted January 8th, 2010 in Food | 2 Comments »

Adding tofu to a meatball gives soft, fluffy texture.  If you have leftover tofu in your fridge and want to use it up, try this recipe ♪


<Tofu & Chicken Meatballs>

  • 400g chicken mince
  • 300 tofu
  • 1tbs miso paste
  • 1tsp grated ginger
  • 1tsp sake (cooking wine)
  • 1tsp corn flour
<extra sauce>
  • 1tbs miso
  • 1tss mirin
  • 1tsp soy sauce
  • 2tbs water 
  1.  Drain liquid from tofu : Place tofu on a microwave-proof plate.  Microwave for 1 minutes.  Sandwich with kitchen paper to absorb any water from tofu.
  2. Place tofu in a bowl.  Break with hand or wooden spoon briefly, and add all the ingredients.  Mix well, slightly beating the mince, until the mixture comes together.
  3. Shape the mixture into balls.  Flatten the centre.  Dust with extra corn flour.
  4. Heat 1 tbs olive oil, and grill meat balls both side, until browned and cooked through.  remove from the pan, and set aside.
  5. Mix all the ingredients from <extra sauce>.  Simmer the sauce in another pan.  Place the meat balls into the sauce and coat through, turn off the heat.
You can also make this with pork mince.  Add to soup, udon, steam board, miso soup etc…  enjoy your way 🙂

Japanese style Chili Tofu (Mabo Tofu)

Posted October 19th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

Mabo Tofu is a typical Chinese food we eat in Japan.  Apparently it’s little different from the original dish, but we still call it “Mabo Tofu” and we enjoy it.  Some people add more chili to make it spicier, and that’s became one of “summer food” in Japan.  (In Japan we eat hot & spicy food in summer)

There is a dish called “Mabo Donburi”, it’s basically a rice served in a bowl, covered with mabo tofu.  You can find it even in convenience stores in Japan during summer.

Mabo Tofu (ma-bo dofu)

<Mabo Tofu>

  • 50g pork mince
  • 300g silken tofu
  • 1tsp grated ginger
  • 1tsp grated garlic
  • 1tsp tobanjan
  • 1tbs sesame oil
  • 1tsp corn flour + 1tsp water
  • 1/2tbs sake (cooking wine)
  • 1tbs miso paste
  • 1tbs soy sauce
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 150cc water
  1. Cut tofu into cubes. Mix the ingredients from <a>.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a frying pan, and saute ginger, garlic and tobanjan. Once you start to smell nutty aroma, add pork mince and stir. Break down the mince with wooden spoon while stirring.
  3. Pour the mixture <a> into the pan, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for few minutes.
  4. Add tofu cubes in the pan. Try not to break the tofu as they are pretty soft. Gently stir the sauce, avoiding to crush the tofu, and stir through the corn flour water to thicken the sauce.
  5. Garnish with chopped spring onion.

Deep-fried Tofu in Dashi Soup (Agedashi Tofu)

Posted May 27th, 2009 in Food | No Comments »

In Perth it’s getting really cold, especially at night time.  I need a heater and blanket every night…

Why not warm up with this Japanese tofu dish?  Enjoy while tofu is hot and crispy ♪

<Agedashi Tofu>

  • Tofu
  • corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp dashi powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs sake (or white wine)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp grated ginger
  1. Heat up water and add dashi powder.  Turn down the heat, and add sake and soy sauce.  Keep warm.
  2. Cut tofu into about 5cm cubes.  Coat with corn flour and shake off any excess flour.  Deep fry until nicely crispy.
  3. Immerse the tofu into the sauce and eat immediately.

Simmered Tofu Broth

Posted May 17th, 2009 in Food | 2 Comments »

After continuous eating-out at Chinese restaurants, a steak house and a smorgasbord restaurant, I really really needed to rest my stomach with some hearty Japanese food.  In traditional Japanese cuisine we don’t use much oil, fat and meat.  That’s why Japanese food’s known as healthy, good diet among the world.

Some people think they are too bland and plain.  Even some Japanese people (especially men) prefer Western style food such as pizza, burgers and chips to the traditional Japanese food.  Nowadays, however, Japanese diet has been changed and we don’t get to see traditional Japanese food at the dinning table anymore.  We eat more Youshoku – Japanized Western dish everyday.  Some of the dish you know, such as Japanese curry, omu-rice, gyoza are not traditional Japanese food.  In Japan, gyoza, fried rice, ramen and char siu pows etc are considered as Chinese food, not Japanese food.  In Perth there are some Japanrese restaurants which sell sushi and dim sums together.  For me, the combination is really weird!  Dim sums are not supposed to be Japanese :p

Japanese cuisine doesn’t use garlic either.  They are really natural, plain flavor.  And, I love the bland food.  🙂

Tonight I cooked a broth with Chinese cabbage, shiitake mushroom and tofu.  I wanted to add enoki and shimeji mushroom but they are really expensive in Perth…  I love mushroom!

< Tofu and Shiitake Mushroom Broth >

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp dashi powder (powdered fish stock)
  • 2 shiitake mushroom
  • 80g tofu
  • 1~2 leaves Chinese cabbage
  • 1 tbs sake
  • 1~2 tsp soy sauce
  • salt
  1. Bring the water to boil.  Add dashi powder and stir.  Add sake, soy sauce and salt.
  2. Place cut tofu, Chinese cabbage and mushroom to the pan.  Simmer for 10~15 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle ichimi-togarashi (one spiced chilli powder) if you like.

If the soup is really bland, you can add more soy sauce or salt. Or, you can use ponzu as dipping sauce.  Ponzu is commonly used for Japanese steamboard dish and simmered broth.

Chunky Miso Soup

Posted September 23rd, 2008 in Food | 2 Comments »

It’s been very cold lately…(><)  To warm up, I cooked miso soup!  You know, miso soup is not always with just wakame(seaweed) and tofu.

Dashi Powder

Dashi Powder

Dissolve this Dashi powder (stock) into water.  The amount is about 4g of Dashi : 600ml water.

You can put lots of things into miso soup, like root veges, tofu, potatoes, konnyaku, legume, fish, clam etc…  In Japan we also put pork meat into miso soup too, the dish is called “buta-jiru”.  It’s really really nice and I can eat just this with rice.

Konnyaku, Tofu, Wakame

From left:Konnyaku, Tofu, Wakame

Today I put some root veges (like daikon radish, gobou (burdock), carrots…), tofu, konnyaku, abura-age(deep-fried bean curd), shiitake mushroom, onion, wakame and satoimo taro potatoes.  See, from just with one bowl of miso soup you can get lots of nutrition:)

You can also use like this frozen veges.  You don’t need to cut, peel or wash, just chuck into the soup:p

Turn off the heat, and then dissolve miso paste.  Do not boil the soup after putting the miso paste as it will kill the flavor.

You can actually EAT miso soup, not DRINK 🙂