I am forever fascinated by the way my tastes change with the seasons. It seems for months I’ve been craving Indian, but last night my cravings suddenly made a turn for the Japanese. Is this a March thing? Or is it mere coincidence that March was also the month when Tim and I took the Japanese-centric whole foods cooking course at London’s Concord Institute in 2007?
Either way, last night we decided to revisit one of our favorite recipes from the course: Marinated Tofu Steaks. We must have stopped making this when we ran out of shichimi, a Japanese 7-spice blend that is excellent with tofu. Last night, we made do without it, but the steaks were still superb. I served it with a simple spinach gomae and a delicious raw seaweed salad from sweetbeet and greenbean.
The meal reminded me how much I enjoy Japanese food. I simply feel so good after eating it! There are reasons for this.
Naomi Moriyama, co-author of Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen, calls Japan a “vegetable-crazed nation”, and credits their superior health to the diet’s wholesome foundations: more fruits and vegetables, more fish, smaller portions, and mindful eating.
The magic of Japan-style eating is a healthier balance of filling, delicious lower-calorie foods, presented with beautiful portion control in pretty little dishes and plates.
It seems I’m not the only one who’s loving Japanese food lately. Here are a few Japanese-themed links and recipes that have been making the rounds lately.
- Japanese Spinach with Sesame Dressing – The New York Times recently featured spinach in its “Recipes for Health” series. This recipe is very similar to my spinach gomae, using white sesame seeds instead of black, and adding sake to the dressing.
- Ensuring the Future of Food – This video released by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) highlight some of the complex future of food in Japan, including food importation, changing food habits, aging farming population and so on. Really well done. [via stuffed and starved.org]
- A Strategy for Japanese Restaurants – While Japanese food is typically healthy by nature, Japanese restaurants can be just as calorific as the Denny’s next door. Roni has some great advice for dining at a Japanese restaurant, using her neighborhood Japanese Steak House as a case study. In a nutshell: stick with sushi, salad and soup; order child-sized portions where available; and eat with chopsticks – it slows you down!
- Raw seaweed salad – As I mentioned, this seaweed salad from sweetbeet and greenbean is delicious. The dressing – a simple blend of rice vinegar, sesame oil, liquid aminos, agave syrup, sesame seeds and salt – makes the salad and would be delicious with any kind of vegetable, sea-sourced or otherwise. (Note: I subbed honey for the agave syrup and soy sauce for the liquid aminos – it still rocked my world.)
- Just Hungry – For more Japanese inspiration, check out this blog that’s full of great recipes and how-tos, including time-tested vegan proteins, how to make sushi rice, and the ultimate worldwide Japanese grocery store list.
Diary for Sunday, March 1, 2009
Welcome to March!
Bircher Muesli with Bananas
Pan-fried tofu with brown rice, raw seaweed salad and spinach gomae