Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I ate on my holiday: Japan 2010

Hi everyone, just back from 2 great weeks in Japan – awesome food, great weather and a truly wonderful holiday.

As you’d expect, food played a big part of the trip, so here’s a glimpse at some of the delicacies we devoured along the way…










Hope you like it…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CookwareStyle – Kitchen Appliances and Cookware : LAUNCH!

Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of recipes of late emanating from Cook Japan Towers, we’ve had some technical difficulties with our camera, but a lot of time has been taken up with the launch of our new shop…

Cook Japan is still going from strength to strength and we’ll have lots of new summer recipes for you, plus a food rundown on our trip back to Japan in July, but following interest from customers we have now launched CookwareStyle which is a new online shop dedicated to great kitchen appliances and cookware…


We have an ever expanding range of wonderful appliances, so if you want high quality kitchen appliances and cookware that are great to use and offer bags of style then come and visit us at

Our current range of items includes:

We look forward to seeing you at CookwareStyle and will be back with more recipes soon at CookJapan.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cooking Nabe on an Induction Hot Plate

A portable induction hot plate is a great addition to any kitchen. They are perfect for cooking a variety of Japanese nabe (one pot) dishes, where family and friends sit around the nabe, eating, cooking, talking and having fun.

In Japanese cooking the nabe pot is usually placed in the centre of the tables and shared by family and friends, not only is this considered a very sociable way to eat, but is the reason for the saying Nabe o kakomu (鍋を囲む"sitting around the pot"), implying that sharing nabe will create warm relations between the diners who eat together from the shared pot.

Nabe is a wonderful meal, especially in these cold winter months.  Induction heating technology means that cooking with an induction hob is not only energy efficient, but time saving as well with up to 90% more efficiency, 50% energy savings and 30% faster cooking times.

For more information visit:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Steamed Chinese Dumplings in the rice cooker

Hard not to love Cha Siu Bau; lovely chau siu pork filling and a light fluffy bun on the outside…perfect with on their own or even with a bit of soy sauce and chilli oil to dip…
As for the rice cooker’s part in this culinary master-snack…fill the cooking bowl with 3 cups of water, place the buns in the steamer tray and use the “slow cook” function for 10-20minutes depending on whether they’re fresh or frozen, and then enjoy…
I use the “slow cook” function as it creates the fastest boiling water from which to steam…in addition to dumplings, you can steam anything and everything in the rice cooker.
For more information visit:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day in a Rice Cooker

If I could have worked out how to make crab terrine in a rice cooker it would have been a clean sweep, but as it was Mrs Cook Japan had to make do with 2 courses from my favourite appliance…risotto (her request) and a dessert of strawberry and rhubarb compote…
…time for the sweetness later, with the terrine taken care off it was another run out for risotto in the rice cooker.  On the menu this evening was Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto…an absolute breeze and very tasty (although could have perhaps been a tad moister)…
It really is so easy to cook risotto in a rice cooker…braise the shallots in oil and butter, add the rice and cook for a few minutes, then in goes the asparagus and mushrooms followed by chicken stock and pop the whole thing on the “Porridge” (or risotto setting depending on which machine) for 20-minutes and hey presto…
The dessert was made this morning to save some time, then served chilled with good quality vanilla ice cream.  Again super easy in the rice cooker…first cook rhubarb with water and sugar for 20-minutes then add the strawberries and cook for a further 40-minutes or so…
Incredibly simple, but a great dessert full of flavour and amazingly refreshing…

Rice Cooker Ikameshi (Squid stuffed with rice)

For squid fans out there – why not try ikameshi (squid stuffed with glutinous rice)
Its incredibly easy to do in the rice cooker, first up take a large squid and stuff it with glutinous rice (not to full, as the rice will expand), and we also added a few chopped up bits and pieces of squid, then close the end using a toothpick and pop them in the rice cooker…
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…along with sake, mirin, sugar and a pinch of salt and a little bit of soy sauce. We also put a piece of baking parchment over everything then popped it into the rice cooker for 30-minutes… 
…plate up with the sauce that its been cooked in, you’ll probably find a fair bit of rice has eked out into the liquid but that’s fine and garnish with some spring onion and a bit of grated ginger…
…or just slice it open on a plate and devour it…

For more information visit:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rice Cooker Slow Roasted Pork with Cabbage and Beans

Frugal freezing February – cheap, hearty warming food is most definitely on the menu this month…


This is a very simple and very tasty dish – and a bit of a recession buster as well.  First up we cooked 2 pork fillet in early grey tea for about 45mins to tenderise the meat.  The water was then thrown away and the pork went into the rice cooker along with a whole cabbage (chopped) and a rinsed can of baked beans.  Rather than buying haricot beans or something similar, rinsing the tomato sauce of a can of baked beans was Mrs Cook Japan’s latest innovation.  For added flavour in went some left over stock from the previous days udon, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, salt and pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.    PC170251

Use the slow cook option on the rice cooker and once the cooking cycle is completed just leave it on keep warm until ready to serve.  Alongside some nice jacket potatoes, ‘twas a delight…


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sausage and Chestnut Rice

One of the joys of cooking in a rice cooker is the ease with which you can literally “dump” ingredients into the machine and come back later to a delicious meal.  This time in went shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts and some “sausage-meat-balls”, along with a dash of soy sauce…
Admittedly making meatballs isn’t too difficult or time consuming, but why not just take some sausages, remove the casing, mix with soy sauce and a bit of seasoning then make into bite size meatballs?  If you are lucky enough to be able to get fresh chestnuts then use those, but equally easy is just using canned chestnuts…
PB250184   …delicious, simple and a joy to eat.
For more information visit:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Making Mochi

I have to put my hands up and admit I’m not a big fan of mochi (rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded), but it is a mainstay of Japanese cuisine and served in soup (ozoni) is a traditional aspect of New Year…
So without entering into the mochitsuki ceremony how did we make mochi? (Well, when I say “we”, I mean Mrs Cook Japan and the 10 friends and countless children who had a great time making and eating it at our house.)
First up, mochigome (special glutinous rice for making mochi) was left to soak then wrapped in muslin and steamed in the Cook Japan rice cooker…
…and this is where the brilliant idea came into play…use a breadmaker!!!
Traditionally the rice is steamed then put into a huge mortar where it is a pounded to make a paste, whereas their plan was to put the rice into a breadmaker using the “dough” function and keep 20+ collective fingers crossed on the results….
…and what great results they were!  About 30-minutes in the breadmaker produced a wonderfully sticky paste that could be easily moulded then devoured…
And what a feast it turned into, never before have I seen so much mochi in one place.  Eaten with adzuki (red beans), natto (fermented soya beans), daikon oroshi (grated radish), kinako (soybean flour), and of course as ozoni, everyone had a whale of a time.
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So if you’ve got a breadmaker to hand, start steaming your rice and start making mochi!

For more information visit:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rice, Teriyaki Chicken, Burdock Root and (Eggy) Miso Soup

…yeah you read that right, “Burdock Root” (gobo).  Do you remember drinking dandelion and burdock as a kid, well this is the root it is made from… 


We are really lucky because our friend Ikuko-san has a Japanese vegetable farm in Sussex so we can actually get fresh burdock root from her (by their very nature is a root fresh?).  At the top of the picture is kinpira gobo (braised burdock root – the thin one) with renkon (lotus root).  Alongside which is some lovely chunks of chicken in a teriyaki sauce and lightly tempura’ed leeks.

Alongside which was the obligatory bowl of Japanese rice…


…and a light miso soup into which a poached egg was inserted – delicious!!  I can heartily recommend this combination for any lovers of miso and egg out there…


Monday, January 11, 2010

French Onion Soup a la rice cooker

Pray tell, what could be easier…
…first brown 3 onions in the Cook Japan rice cooker using the “braise function” (or do it in a pan if your machine does not have this option…
…then add 4-cups of water into which you’ve dissolved 2tbsp of beef bouillon, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a bit of salt…
…set the “slow cook” function for around 3hours and come back to it later, when its had chance to sit a little longer on “keep warm” to intensify the flavour and voila…
…top it off with a piece of cheesy toast and its a supremely easy way to cook a lovely heart-warming soup…
For more information visit:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nanakusa-gayu (Seven herb porridge)

Eaten and drunk too much over the past couple of weeks?  Feeling a bit lardy, lethargic and lumpy?  Have a bowl of Nanakusa-gayu (seven herb porridge)…


After indulging too much over ohshogatsu (new year), a long standing tradition in Japan is to eat nanakusa-gayu on 7th January.  Not only is it a simple low-calorie food after all that richness over the previous few days, but importantly it is believed to bring longevity and health, and also intended to ward off evil for the coming year.

The tricky bit if you’re not in Japan (where you can actually special packs at this time of year in the supermarket) is how to get the 7 herbs, traditionally (but with local variations):

  • seri – Japanese parsley
  • nazuna – Shepherd’s purse
  • gogyo – Jersey Cudweed
  • hakobera – Common chickweed
  • hotokenoza – nipplewort
  • suzuna – turnip
  • suzushiro - daikon


Your best bet is to therefore replace these greens with whatever locally available green leaf vegetables you can easily get hold of, and more importantly like.  So, armed with some lovely fresh greens how do you make this porridge?

Well, first things first, its not porridge in the western rolled oats sense of the world, this is an Asian rice porridge (in Japan referred to as okayu – but not much different from what you would find in China as congee or similar dishes elsewhere throughout SE Asia). 

In a rice cooker its an absolute breeze to make…

…wash the rice thoroughly, then put 1 cup of rice into the rice cooker with 7 cups of water, press “Congee” and leave the rice to cook.  Probably takes about 40-minutes or so and then it will have a nice porridge consistency (see top photo).  At this point ,add your chopped greens and leave it on “Keep Warm” for a few minutes – but not too long as you don’t want everything to wilt too much.  Add a little bit of salt and serve…how easy is that!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sardines with Mentaiko

What is mentaiko I hear you ask? Well, its marinated Pollock roe to the unitiated…


…but this isn’t any mentaiko, its karashi mentaiko or spicy fish eggs!

In case you’re not sure, the mentaiko is the orangey/brown balls on the outside of the fish.   Of course the bowl of rice was courtesy of the dear old Cook Japan rice cooker, but what a wonderful combination for a quick easy healthy lunch…


The sardines have been cooked have a sweet soy sauce taste from their own marinade, which combined with the slightly spicy marinated mentaiko is a great fusion of flavour and texture.  With a steaming bowl of fresh rice its a real treat along with a piping hot bowl of miso soup and a side of homemade gobo (burdock) salad…


Osechi Ryori Part 2

Come on, you didn’t really expect me to allow the leftovers to go to waste did you?


A great end to the first day of the year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Osechi ryōri (Japanese New Year Meal)

あけましておめでとうございます! Happy New Year!

1st of January can mean only one thing in many Japanese households – osechi.  Osechi ryori is the traditional Japanese food eaten on New Years Day dating back centuries, an array of delicate dishes presented in lacquered boxes.  This year we didn’t get back to Japan so made it at home (check the bottom of the post for last years photos from Japan).

In addition to the traditional 3 jubako (lacquer boxes) we indulged in some homemade sushi and got some chu-toro (tuna belly) for sashimi…


…while not quite up to the standards of a master in Japan, this was really nice sushi (squid, octopus, prawn and saltwater eel)…


The jubako roughly followed the Japanese traditional one one being seafood, one from the land and one from the earth...

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I couldn’t resist this little photo of one of the Cook Japan kids fave osechi dishes – ebi prawn) tempura on one of our “only to be used on New Years Day plates”…


Osechi wou;dn’t be osechi though without also having a bowl of ozoni – soup with “mochi” (steamed rice pounded into a sticky/elasticy rice cake) inside…but its not for the faint hearted!  Each year there are a few small deaths recorded from people choking on mochi!"


So that was our attempt at making osechi and it was a wonderful meal and perfect way to start what will hopefully be a good 2010.  Last year, we were back in Japan and this is the magnificent food Mrs Cook Japan’s mum rustled up…a true master of the kitchen!!!




…and yes, it did taste as amazing as it looked!


So with the osechi devoured, there’s only one thing left for me to do…relax and enjoy hatsuburo (the first bath of the year).  Oh, and the kids will be expecting otoshidama – the traditional Japanese gift of money on New Years Day!

Happy New Year everyone…and don’t forget the Cook Japan shop is running a 10% discount on all stock through January.

Osechi on Foodista