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


Kaminaridofu / pan-fried tofu with soy sauce and katsuobushi

With the literal meaning of "thunder tofu," this dish is well named; the water from these small cubes of firm tofu makes a rumbling sound when fried at high heat. For the sodium-savvy version below, I use less oil so that the amount of seasoning (soy sauce in this case) can be reduced. As a result, the tofu cubes only make a tame roar, if any. While the dish is now less entertaining to cook in an audio-visual sense, it has the advantage of requiring less cleanup of spattered oil. Taste-wise, this is quite strong thanks to the intense flavor of katsuobushi bonito flakes, and the strong flavor is highlighted by refreshing green onion slices. A small yet satisfying dish.

1/2 of recipe:
99 calories; 7.7 g protein; 6.4 g fat; 2.2 g carbohydrate; 15.8 g net carbs; 100 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 1 mg cholesterol; 0.5 g fiber


Biitsu to ninjin no akadashi / red miso soup with beets and carrots

Butter-sauteed carrots are paired with baked beets for red miso soup, creating a deep melody of flavors. When carrot slices are lightly cooked and allowed to retain their crispness, the taste of the two vegetables is more clearly noticed. When carrot slices are cooked until very tender and beets are cooked a bit longer, the two vegetables mingle together in the soup and produce a complex taste, although cooking beet chunks longer makes beets themselves lighter in color while the soup becomes darker. Below, beet chunks are added toward the end of the cooking process to retain their vivid color, but cooking them longer is well worth trying. This soup may not be a typical Japanese dish but does go well with any Japanese or other Asian food.

1/2 of recipe:
66 calories; 2.8 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 11.6 g carbohydrate; 8.5 g net carbs; 296 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 3.1 g fiber


Chawanmushi / steamed savory custard

Heavenly soft custard that quickly disappears on your tongue after releasing its umami-packed flavor. When serving only a small number of people, chawanmushi is easy to make in a regular pot or deeper pan with lid. Finishing with a smooth surface and no obvious holes is the sign of extra silky texture; for this, cook at low heat once water starts to bubble and the pot is filled with steam! While all solid ingredients can be immersed in the egg-dashi mixture, shrimp is placed after custard has basically solidified so that it stays on top along with mitsuba leaves and yuzu peel, the aromatic garnishes.

1/2 of recipe:
66 calories; 7.7 g protein; 2.7 g fat; 2.2 g carbohydrate; 1.8 g net carbs; 210 mg sodium; 125 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber


Takenoko no tsukeyaki / sauteed bamboo shoots in citrus soy sauce

This saute can be either strongly or softly flavored by adding or not adding marinade to the frying pan toward the end. Simply sauteing marinated bamboo shoots would naturally result in a soft flavor where their sweet yet tangy taste comes through. When a stronger flavor with punch is desired, continue sauteing bamboo shoots with some of the leftover marinade. In either case, eringi king oyster mushrooms compliment bamboo shoots really well.

1/2 of recipe (bamboo shoots & eringi mushrooms):
89 calories; 2.3 g protein; 1.2 g fat; 18.3 g carbohydrate; 15.8 g net carbs; 166 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce & ponzujoyu made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 0 mg cholesterol; 2.5 g fiber

1/2 of recipe (bamboo shoots, eringi mushrooms & vegetables):
95 calories; 3.0 g protein; 1.3 g fat; 19.1 g carbohydrate; 16.0 g net carbs; 172 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce & ponzujoyu made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 1 mg cholesterol; 3.1g fiber


Tofu no hoshi-ebi itame / stir-fried tofu with shami dried shrimp

An easy tofu stir-fry where extra minutes spent sauteing ensure a pleasantly tender outcome. To match and maximize tofu's silky texture, garlic, ginger and shami dried shrimp are slowly sauteed for a gentler aroma, and tofu is allowed to absorb their flavor along with other seasonings. Tasty and comforting.

1/2 of recipe:
73 calories; 7.4 g protein; 3.4 g fat; 2.6 g carbohydrate; 2.2 g net carbs; 122 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 20 mg cholesterol; 0.4 g fiber


Mineoka-dofu / Mineoka-tofu / milk kudzu pudding

Often made today with cream and sugar as a dessert, this milk pudding originally was improvised as a quasi-tofu dish about 300 years ago when the Shogun, during a visit to the pastures of Mineoka, simply mentioned his desire to eat tofu. Upon hearing the Shogun's words, a cook accompanying the Shogun made the pudding using cow's milk and kudzu found at the pastures. Traditionally, milk is the only dairy ingredient that goes into the pudding; I mixed it with additive-free tonyu soy milk to cut back on sodium in the recipe below. This pudding contains no sweetener, but its milky taste and creamy texture are quite gratifying.      

1 serving (1/4 of Mineoka-dofu recipe, 1/2 of sauce recipe, shrimp & arugula):
113 calories; 5.7 g protein; 5.3 g fat; 10.8 g carbohydrate; 9.9 g net carbs; 105 mg sodium; 19 mg cholesterol; 0.9 g fiber

Whole recipe of Mineoka-dofu only:
388 calories; 14.4 g protein; 20.6 g fat; 37.8 g carbohydrate; 10.8 g net carbs; 85 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 2.4 g fiber


Seri okowa / steamed sweet rice with water dropwort

The mellow aroma that wafts up from okowa steamed sweet rice is comforting in cold seasons. Seri water dropwort acts as a counterpoint even when a smaller amount is used, as seri's slightly bitter taste and vibrant color provide just enough punch.

1/2 of recipe:
277 calories; 5.4 g protein; 0.9 g fat; 59.3 g carbohydrate; 58.3 g net carbs; 96 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber

1/3 of recipe:
185 calories; 3.6 g protein; 0.6 g fat; 39.6 g carbohydrate; 38.9 g net carbs; 64 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber