The Secrets to Japanese Cooking: Use the Power of Fermented Ingredients to Create Authentic Flavors at Home

The Secrets to Japanese Cooking: Use the Power of Fermented Ingredients to Create Authentic Flavors at Home


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Make Traditional & Contemporary Japanese Dishes with Powerful, Umami-Rich Flavor

Mother and daughter Shihoko Ura and Elizabeth McClelland, founders of the blog Chopstick Chronicles, reveal the key to amazing Japanese cooking—fermenting your own miso, amazake and more.

Sweet, salty, tangy and rich, these ingredients add subtle layers of flavor to dishes like Ultimate Miso Ramen, Vibrant Rainbow Roll Sushi and Japanese Curry with Summer Vegetables and Natto. It’s easy to enjoy the health benefits of fermented foods, known for aiding digestion and boosting the immune system, with fun recipes like Amazake Bubble Tea and Super Simple Shio Koji–Pickled Cucumbers.

This book makes achieving Japanese flavors so simple, these fermented ingredients will quickly become staples in your pantry. From multicourse dinners to sweet-salty desserts and refreshing drinks, find out what elevates everyday Japanese dishes to unforgettable classics.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624147838
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 05/21/2019
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 682,062
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Shihoko Ura and her daughter Elizabeth McClelland are the founders of Chopstick Chronicles. Shihoko is the cook and photographer behind the blog, and Elizabeth is the writer and editor. Born and raised in Wakayama, Japan, Shihoko relocated to Australia where she discovered her passion for sharing Japanese recipes. Elizabeth learned Japanese cooking from her mother, and both enjoy using fermented ingredients in their cooking every day. They live in Brisbane, Australia.

Read an Excerpt


delicious home-cooked dishes with Miso

Miso is one of the most commonly used and well-known fermented foods from Japan. I use it in so many dishes because it's one of my favorite flavors, and perfect for marinating meats and cooking with vegetables.

Miso can be classified by the color (red, white or mixed) or by the ingredient used (rice, barley or beans). There are two main types of miso, red (aka) and white (shiro). They both use the same basic ingredients but differ in taste and color due to the length of their fermentation process. The longer it is fermented, the darker the miso. The flavor can range from salty to sweet, which is why miso is such a versatile fermented food and an easy ingredient to use when cooking. For every recipe in this chapter you can change the color of the miso depending on how mild or strong you want the flavor to be. White miso will give the recipe a sweet, mild and subtle miso flavor, whereas red miso will be stronger and saltier.

I do like to make my own miso whenever I can. While the process of making miso is long, it is also very easy and rewarding. Otherwise, I use store-bought when I'm in a hurry.

Miso is an important ingredient in Japanese cuisine and adds a unique and delicious flavor to a variety of dishes from Miso Ground Pork Spring Rolls to Chicken Miso Teriyaki to desserts like Perfectly Creamy No-Churn Miso Ice Cream and Classic Crème Brûlée with a Touch of Miso. This chapter will show you the many ways you can use miso in your cooking!

basic homemade miso

Making your own miso is not difficult and though it's a long process, it's all worthwhile in the end. You can tailor the recipe to your tastes to truly make it your own and worthy to pass down to the next generation. This recipe will make whatever color miso you like. I usually make white miso, but you can leave your miso to ferment for over six months if you want red miso. It's really up to you!

yield: 4 cups (1 L) fermentation time: 3 to 6 months

1 cup (200 g) soybeans
7 tbsp (130 g) salt, plus 2 tbsp (35 g) for topping
16 oz (454 g) rice koji
½ cup (120 ml) reserved cooking water from soybean s

Wash the soybeans under running water. Soak the washed soybeans for 18 to 24 hours, then drain the water and place them in a pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the soybeans, lock the lid in place and set the timer to pressure-cook for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, let the pressure come down naturally. If you don't have a pressure cooker you can cook the beans in a regular pot; allow the beans to simmer in the pot for 7 hours. While the soybeans are being cooked, place 7 tablespoons (130 g) of salt and the koji in a mixing bowl, mix and set aside. Pick one bean out of the pot and see if you can squish it with your fingertips. If it can be squished, it is the right softness to mash.

Mash the cooked soybeans with a potato masher or a mixer with a mincer attachment. Reserve the soybean cooking water, place the mashed soybeans in a large mixing bowl while they are still hot and add the salt and koji mixture to the bowl. Mix well with your hands until a coarse, but soft texture is reached, then add ¼ to ½ cup (60 to 120 ml) of the reserved soybean cooking water, if necessary.

Form the mashed soybeans into eight baseball-sized balls. Place the soybean balls into a container that is going to be used for the fermenting. Press the balls into the container tightly to force any air bubbles out, repeating the process until all the soybean balls are pressed into the container. Smooth the surface and wipe off any soybean mash from the container, then sprinkle salt to cover. Add 2 tablespoons (35 g) of salt to a ziplock bag and seal. Place the bag on top of the soybean balls, then cover the container with cling wrap and place the lid on top. Write the date prepared on the lid, then store the container in a dark and cool place for at least 3 months.

After 3 months, open the lid, remove the ziplock bag and turn the mixture with a wooden spatula. The miso should be white, so you can transfer it to the fridge until you are ready to use it. However, if you want red miso, then after the 3 months, smooth the surface of the miso again and place cling wrap on top. Place the container back in a dark and cool place for another 2 to 3 months. After 2 to 3 months, transfer the container to the fridge in order to stop the miso from over-fermenting. Due to its salt content, the miso will keep in the fridge for a long time without going bad.

root vegetable miso soup

Adding root vegetables will make classic miso soup heartier and more comforting. You can use whatever type of miso you like depending on your personal preference; white miso is subtler while red miso will give the soup a stronger flavor. Whenever you make miso soup, don't let it boil! Otherwise you will lose the miso flavor.

yield: 2 servings

1 medium onion
2 tsp (10 g) butter
¼ lb (100 g) pork belly, thinly sliced
¾ cup (100 g) diced sweet potato
¼ cup (30 g) diced carrots
1/3 cup (40 g) diced daikon radish
¼ cup (30 g) lotus root (renkon), sliced
1¼ cups (300 ml) water
1½ tbsp (24 g) Basic Homemade Miso Finely chopped scallions, for garnish

Cut the onion in half and then into wedges and set aside.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the pork and cook for 2 minutes. Add the diced sweet potato, carrots, daikon radish, lotus root and onion to the saucepan. Stir to coat the vegetables with the butter. Add the water to the pan and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the miso to the soup and stir to dissolve the paste into the stock, then put the saucepan back on the burner at medium heat. Turn the heat off just before it boils. Serve immediately in a small soup bowl and garnish with scallions.

miso-glazed tofu

This is one of the go-to recipes that my daughter Elizabeth and I both love to cook. It's so quick and simple but also tasty and nutritious. The miso glaze gives a delicious flavor to basic tofu.

yield: 2 servings

7 oz (200 g) firm tofu
3 tbsp (48 g) Basic Homemade Miso
3 tbsp (45 g) sugar
1 tbsp (15 ml) mirin rice wine
1 tbsp (15 ml) sake
½ tbsp (7 g) grated ginger root, for garnish
¼ tsp white sesame seeds, for garnish

Wrap the tofu in a paper towel and place it on a small cutting board. Put something heavy like a flat plate over the wrapped tofu and lift one end of the cutting board up slightly in order to drain the excess water out of the tofu. Set it aside for 20 minutes.

While the excess water is being drained from the tofu, make the miso glaze. Mix together the miso and sugar. Add the mirin and sake, mixing well after each addition.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) on the broil (grill) setting. Cut the tofu into 1 x 1–inch (3 x 3–cm) squares, ½ inch (1 cm) thick, and skewer two pieces onto each skewer.

Lightly spray a frying pan with olive oil spray. Place the pan over medium heat and add the skewered tofu pieces. Fry one side for 2 minutes over medium heat until brown. Flip the pieces and brown the other side for 2 minutes. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the tofu skewers on the tray. Brush the miso glaze over the tofu. Broil (grill) for a few minutes in the preheated oven. Place the skewers on a flat plate and garnish with the grated ginger. Sprinkle the white sesame seeds on top of each tofu skewer.

miso tofu dip two ways

Veggie sticks or crackers with dip is my favorite healthy snack, and if the dip has a fermented ingredient, even better! This dip is super quick and easy and can be made sweet or savory so it'll suit any taste buds.

yield: 2 small bowls

sweet miso dip

2 tbsp (30 g) white Basic Homemade Miso
3 tbsp (50 g) firm tofu
2 tbsp (30 g) unsalted natural peanut butter
2 tbsp (30 ml) honey White sesame seeds, for garnish

savory miso dip

2 tbsp (30 g) red Basic Homemade Miso
3 tbsp (50 g) firm tofu
½ tbsp (4 g) grated garlic Pine nuts, for garnish Crackers, for serving Raw vegetables, chopped, for serving

For the sweet miso dip, place the white miso, firm tofu, peanut butter and honey in a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, you can mix all the ingredients using a mortar and pestle. Garnish with white sesame seeds.

For the savory miso dip, place the red miso, tofu and garlic in a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds. Garnish with pine nuts.

Serve the dip in a bowl with crackers or raw chopped vegetables such as celery, cucumber and carrots. Store the dip in an airtight container and it will keep for a couple days in the fridge.

succulent scallops glazed with miso

This is a very delicate and simple looking dish, but the taste is anything but modest. The subtle touch of white miso goes so well with the scallops and always leaves my guests wanting more when I serve this dish as an appetizer.

yield: 2 servings

2 tsp (10 ml) sake
8 scallops
1 tbsp (15 g) white Basic Homemade Miso
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp (15 g) butter

Sprinkle the sake over the scallops and let them rest for 5 minutes. Combine the miso, mirin and honey in a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) on the broil (grill) setting.

Heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and pan-fry for 2 minutes on each side. Glaze the top of the scallops with the miso mixture and put them into the oven. I put my whole frying pan into the oven, but if you don't have an ovenproof frying pan you can transfer them to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Let them broil (grill) in the oven for 5 minutes.

simmered daikon radish dressed with sweet miso

You can eat these both hot and cold, so they're perfect for any season. I like to make a few batches at a time and save them in the fridge for days when I need a light dinner, don't have time to cook or when I want to add some extra veggies to a meal.

yield: 2 servings

1 lb (454 g) daikon radish
1 tbsp (15 g) short-grain Japanese koshihikari rice
6 cups (1.5 L) water, divided
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 ml) sake
2-inch (5-cm) dried kelp strip (kombu)

miso dressing

2 tbsp (30 g) Basic Homemade Miso
1 tbsp (15 ml) mirin
2 tbsp (30 g) sugar
1 tbsp (15 ml) sake White sesame seeds, for garnish

Cut the daikon into pieces about 1 inch (3 cm) thick. Use a knife or grater to shave the edges of the daikon pieces. Score the top of each piece of daikon so that the seasoning and flavor will absorb.

You won't actually eat the rice in this recipe, but it is essential to add because it absorbs the film and the acidity created when boiling the daikon. I place the rice into an empty tea bag first, which makes it easier to remove later, but if you don't have them it's okay to add the loose rice.

In a large pot, place 3 cups (710 ml) of water and add the daikon and rice. Simmer the daikon and rice over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove it from the heat, drain the water and remove the rice. Add another 3 cups (710 ml) of water to the daikon in the pot and add the soy sauce, sake and kelp strip. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 40 minutes.

While the daikon is simmering, stir together the miso, mirin, sugar and sake in a small saucepan. Cook it over low heat until the sauce thickens, for about 5 minutes. When the daikon is soft enough for a skewer to easily go through, remove the kelp strip from the pot and discard. Remove the daikon pieces from the heat and place them in a small bowl. Top with the miso dressing and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.

note: If possible, use the middle or root end of the daikon because the ends are more bitter.

creamy miso prawn stew

This soup is the perfect balance of miso and prawns. Eat it with some buttered toast and you'll be scraping every last bit of stew out of the bowl!

yield: 4 servings

12 tiger prawns
1 tbsp (15 g) butter
½ cup (120 ml) water
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
1/3 cup (42 g) carrots, diced
2 oz (50 g) frozen lotus roots (renkon), sliced
¾ cup (110 g) potato, diced
1/3 cup (50 g) onion, diced
2 tbsp (30 g) white Basic Homemade Miso
1 serving of White Sauce
1¼ cups (50 g) broccolini, chopped Salt and pepper, to taste

Remove the shells from the prawns, devein and clean them. Keep the shells and heads of the prawns to use for the stock.

Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the prawn shells and heads. Cook until the shells and heads change color, about 3 minutes. Once the shells and heads change color, add the water and bring it to boil. Remove the stock from the heat and discard the prawn shells and heads.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the carrots, lotus roots, potato and onion. Stir-fry the vegetables for 5 minutes or until the edges of the potatoes become slightly transparent and the vegetables are coated well with the oil, then add the prawns and the prawn stock. Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the miso to the pot and stir to dissolve it. Add the white sauce and stir thoroughly. Add the broccolini and continue to cook the stew for 3 more minutes, until the broccolini is cooked. Remove it from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

note: Make sure not to use banana prawns because the prawn flavor will be too overpowering. Tiger prawns work much better in this recipe.

grilled miso-glazed rice balls

Rice balls, called onigiri or omusubi in Japanese, are a super common Japanese food. You'll find them almost anywhere and with many different types of fillings. I like to glaze my onigiri with miso because it goes so well with the plain white rice. The rice can be formed into balls, but a triangular shape adds a fun twist to this dish. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of making the rice into a triangular shape, but it's not hard to master, so hang in there!

yield: 6 rice balls

rice balls

2 cups (400 g) uncooked short-grain Japanese koshihikari rice
1 tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil

miso glaze

1 tbsp (15 g) red Basic Homemade Miso
1 tbsp (15 ml) sake
1 tbsp (15 g) sugar

1 tbsp (15 g) white sesame seeds, for garnish
2 tbsp (30 g) chopped scallions, for garnish

Cook the rice in your rice cooker or in a pot. Make sure you use Japanese-style sushi rice because it is stickier and the onigiri will be able to come together properly. Once the rice is cooked, lay down some cling wrap and scoop ? of the rice onto the cling wrap. Wrap the cling wrap over the rice and squish the rice with your hands to form it into a round or triangular shape. Repeat this process with the remaining rice to make six onigiri in total, then remove the cling wrap and set them aside.

For the glaze, mix the red miso, sake and sugar together in a small bowl. Coat each onigiri with the glaze. I use a pastry brush to do this; it makes it a lot easier.

Heat some sesame oil in a frying pan and fry the onigiri for 2 minutes on each side over medium heat. Remove it from the heat and sprinkle it with the sesame seeds and scallions to garnish.

rice gratin with white miso sauce

Rice gratin (we call it doria in Japan) is such a tasty comfort food. The creamy white sauce with melted cheese over rice is complemented nicely with the white miso, adding an extra pack of flavor.

yield: 2 servings

2 tsp (10 g) butter
1/3 cup (42 g) diced carrot
1/3 cup (50 g) finely chopped onion
3 cups (600 g) cooked short-grain Japanese koshihikari rice
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
4 oz (100 g) chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
1 cup (100 g) shimeji mushrooms (or regular white mushrooms)
1½ servings White Sauce
1 tbsp (15 g) white Basic Homemade Miso
½ cup (60 g) grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Heat the butter in a large frying pan on medium heat and cook the carrot and onion until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cooked rice and stir them together, then remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

In another frying pan, heat the oil and cook the chopped chicken and mushrooms on medium heat until the chicken is cooked all the way through, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the white sauce and miso to the frying pan with the chicken and mushrooms, mix them together, then remove it from the heat and set aside.

Divide the rice mixture into two small oven dishes. Top the rice with the chicken and white sauce mixture and sprinkle some cheese over the top. Cook it in the oven until the cheese is browned. Remove it from the oven, and season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped parsley.

note: Shimeji mushrooms are used often in Japanese cooking. They are small with long stems and can be found in most Asian grocery stores.


Excerpted from "The Secrets to Japanese Cooking"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Shihoko Ura and Elizabeth McClelland.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 7

Delicious home-cooked dishes with miso 9

Basic Homemade Miso 10

Root Vegetable Miso Soup 13

Miso-Glazed Tofu 14

Miso Tofu Dip Two Ways 17

Succulent Scallops Glazed with Miso 18

Simmered Daikon Radish Dressed with Sweet Miso 21

Creamy Miso Prawn Stew 22

Grilled Miso-Glazed Rice Balls 25

Rice Gratin with White Miso Sauce 26

Simple Miso Rice Porridge 29

Miso Cream Pasta 30

Japanese-Style Mabo Tofu 33

Green Beans Dressed with Sesame Miso 34

Pork and Cabbage Miso Stir-Fry 37

Miso Udon Stew 38

Ultimate Miso Ramen 41

Ginger-Miso Pork with Scallions 42

Chicken Miso Teriyaki 45

Miso Beef Bowl 46

Easy Miso Ground Pork (Nikumiso) 49

Fresh Lettuce Wraps with Miso Ground Pork 50

Miso Ground Pork Udon 53

Miso Ground Pork Spring Rolls 54

Miso Sukiyaki 57

Classic Crème Brûlée with a Touch of Miso 58

Sweet and Salty Miso Brownies 61

Umami Miso-Glazed Apple Tarte Tatin 62

Buttery Miso-Sesame Cookies 65

Perfectly Creamy No-Churn Miso Ice Cream 66

Soft and Moist Miso Pound Cake 69

Rice vinegar for tasty home meals 71

Simple Homemade Ponzu 72

Healthy Vinegared Tomatoes 75

Inside-Out Sushi (Uramaki) 76

Layered Pork and Cabbage Hot Pot with Ponzu 79

Mushroom Sauté Dressed with Ponzu 80

Ground Chicken Meatball Stew with Ponzu Sauce 83

Healthy and Fresh Octopus and Cucumber Salad (Sunomono) 84

Soft Tofu and Chicken Burgers with Ponzu Sauce 87

Pickled Daikon Radish with Zesty Yuzu 88

Vibrant Rainbow Roll Sushi 91

Easy everyday ways to cook with amazake 93

Homemade Amazake 94

Healthy and Simple Oatmeal Amazake 97

Basic Brown Rice Amazake 98

Baked Salmon with Amazake Marinade 101

Amazake Teriyaki Chicken 102

Amazake Tamagoyaki 105

Mango Amazake Summer Smoothie 106

Soft Amazake Kinako Mochi 109

Sweet Amazake Custard Pudding 110

Amazake Matcha Sweet Rice Balls (Ohagi) 113

Sweet Steamed Buns (Mushi Pan) with Amazake 114

Amazake Bubble Tea 117

Amazake Pancakes 118

Naturally Sweet Amazake Lemonade 121

Cool and Refreshing Amazake Kiwi Granita 122

Simple and scrumptious dishes using shio koji 125

Homemade Shio Koji 126

Crispy Shio Koji Karaage 129

Creamy Mushroom Soup with Shio Koji 130

Juicy Shio Koji Japanese Hamburgers 133

Shio Koji-Marinated Fish Fry 134

Rice Balls with Shio Koji and Pickled Plum 137

Super Simple Shio Koji-Pickled Cucumbers 138

Fresh Shio Koji-Marinated Seafood Poke Bowl 141

Cozy Vegetable Soup with Shio Koji 142

Multipurpose Shio Koji Dressing with Simple Garden Salad 145

Shio Koji-Marinated Chicken 146

Amazing natto recipes 149

Basic Natto 150

Chickpea Natto 153

Easy Natto on Rice (Natto Gohan) 154

Grunchy Natto Tempura Kakiage 157

Classic Fried Rice with Natto 158

Natto Warship Roll Sushi (Gunkan Maki) 161

Refreshing Natto and Grated Daikon Soba Noodle 162

Natto Avocado Rice Bowl 165

Japanese Curry with Summer Vegetables and Natto 166

Japanese Cooking Essentials 168

Acknowledgments 170

About the Authors 170

Index 171

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