Sweet potato and black rice takikomi gohan


A couple of weeks ago I picked up three cooking magazines at the local bookstore, カラダ温めレシピ (recipes to warm you up), Esse Special edition of their most popular bentos and 楽々スープジャーレシピ (thermos recipes). Now I have tons of ideas for lunches. I found the thermos recipe book the most interesting, conceptually. Almost everything is cooked in the microwave but I can easily make everything on the stove.

This recipe is the second one I tried from the warming recipes magazine. The first one I tried was carrot and ginger rice and none of us liked it. This one, on the other had, was delicious. I used orange fleshed yams (annouimo 安納芋 あんのういも) instead of sweet potato and I don’t think I can go back to regular sweet potatoes. The yams were so smooth.

Goma shio is a mixture of salt and black sesame and is a common rice topping. To mix, use one part salt to ten parts black sesame seeds, by volume.

Sweet Potato and Black Rice Takikomi Gohan

From Sakura Mook 23 (カラダ温めレシピ)
Serves 2

1/2 sweet potato (I used about 70 grams)
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tablespoon black rice
1/3 teaspoon salt
goma shio for topping

Wash the rice, add the appropriate amount of water and let sit for at least thirty minutes. Chop, but don’t peel, the sweet potato into small cubes and soak in water for about fifteen minutes. Drain and rinse the sweet potato and it and the salt to the rice. Give it a quick stir and then put it in the rice cooker and cook on the regular white rice setting. I haven’t tried the quick setting but it is probably okay if you are in a pinch for time. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cook it the same way you would rice. Serve topped with goma shio.

If you haven’t signed up yet, head here to join my email newsletter. You will get recipes I haven’t shared here on the blog and advanced notice about upcoming cooking classes.


Split Pea Soup

yellow-split-pea-soup-japanI just about had to ditch writing this post. I went on to Amazon to get the link to the 1kg bag of yellow split peas I bought last month and I couldn’t find it. I searched for イエロースプリットピーズ instead of イエロースプリットピース and the difference in the final character made a huge difference. Then I went on to Rakuten to see if they had any (using the incorrect search term) and nothing.  I checked Tengu Natural Foods as well. Nada. I can’t post a recipe if you can’t get the main ingredient relatively easily. Luckily I just googled it and google suggested the correct spelling. Phew.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite winter soups. It might even rank higher than my kabocha soup. Maybe because it is special because I have to order one of the ingredients. It’s usually made with a ham bone but I have had to improvise since I have never even seen one for sale here (not that I’ve ever thought to look).

This soup tastes fantastic the next day and is great in a thermos for lunch.

Split Pea Soup

250mL cup of yellow split peas
750mL water
3 slices of bacon, sliced thinly
1 small onion, diced
1/2 carrot, cut into slices
10-15cm of celery, cut into slices
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
optional, 1 bullion/consomme cube

Fry the bacon in the bottom of your soup pot. When browned, take out and saute the onion in the bacon fat. Add everything and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer on low, covered, until the split peas are soft. Take out the bay leaf and puree. You may want to let it cool a bit first. Reheat, if necessary,  and season to taste. If you like thinner soup you may want to add water but wait until after you puree as it will appear thicker at first. Serve with a hearty good bread.

If you’re looking for more soup recipes try my

If you haven’t signed up yet, head here to join my email newsletter. You will get recipes I haven’t shared here on the blog and advanced notice about upcoming cooking classes.

What is your favorite winter soup? Please leave a comment below and let me know. If you have a link to the recipe please add it as well.


Kabocha friendly recipes


I troll Pinterest every day. I look in three sections and three sections only. Geek (because I am one), food and drink (no explanation needed) and women’s fashion (for research purposes as I have no sense of style but feel I should look respectable). Now that it is colder in North America, there is a plethora of pumpkin recipes. Sadly, it is still t-shirt and shorts weather here so I can’t quite start making something kabocha-y every dinner. But I’m going to torture myself, and possibly you, by posting some promising recipes I have discovered in the last little bit. If you are on Pinterest please check out my board “Also could be made with kabocha”. Please note that I have not tested these recipes but by looking at them, I’m pretty sure they would taste great.

Kabocha Squash Friendly Recipes and Suggested Changes to Make Them Japan-Friendly

Pumpkin, Barley and Sage Soup at Better Homes and Gardens

  • use dried sage which is easier to find (try upscale supermarkets or import shops)
  • use kabocha puree that has been watered down to canned pumpkin consistency
  • quick cooking barley is called oshimugi 押麦in Japanese and is located in the rice section
  • The Meat Guy sells andouille sausages but I would probably just get any smoked sausage I could find

Pumpkin Pesto at Better Homes and Gardens

  • use kabocha puree that has been watered down to canned pumpkin consistency

Pumpkin Spice Latte Popsicles at Purple House Cafe

Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip at Recipe Critic

If you are looking for other kabocha ideas check out some of my recipes:

Do you have any pumpkin recipes that work well with kabocha squash? Please share them below in the comments section.

If you would like to get more tips, class information and recipes that I only share in the newsletter, please sign up here.

Frozen bento fillers


I take my lunch to work and most days I take a large salad. I love salad. My son, on the other hand, is two and is not a bit fan of raw vegetables. Lunch making takes a bit longer since I have to cater to his twoness. When I moved a few weeks ago, I picked up some frozen veggie side dishes to use for the first couple of days. They came frozen in individual muffin cups, perfect for his bento box. I thought it was a great idea decided to give it a try.

In the picture is leftovers from a quick side dish I made with spinach, tomato and canned tuna. I decided to freeze leftovers instead of making a whole batch of something to freeze. Who wants to have the same side dish for three weeks? I picked up some reusable muffin cups at the local supermarket and have been using those. I’ll soon have quite the collection going. The best part is that since it is summer, I don’t even need to thaw them before I put them in his lunch. It’s over thirty degrees everyday, they’ll be thawed before he gets to school…

Do you freeze small quantities of food for lunches? Please leave a comment below with what you freeze. I’d love to see all of your ideas.

How to find a turkey in japan

How to find a turkey in Japan

How to find a turkey in japan

For the first couple of Thanksgivings and Christmases it didn’t even occur to me to miss turkey. All of a sudden, about a week before my third Christmas here, I felt I had to roast a turkey. Since rarely went out of my way to get food that wasn’t sold in the local supermarket, I had no idea where to look. I was in Shinjuku that evening so I decided to pop into the basement of Isetan and check out the meat shop. I was lucky. They happened to have these tiny one and two kilogram turkeys for 3500 yen and 5000 yen respectively. They were imported from France. Not knowing where else to look, I bought one of the little ones and took it home. It was the best turkey I had ever had and worth the price. Thanksgiving the next year was a bit more of a challenge because turkeys aren’t hard to find around American Thanksgiving Day in November but Canadian Thanksgiving Day is a full month earlier. Luckily Nissin had one the right size.

The next Christmas I happened upon one in the supermarket in the Meguro station the day before I was going to go off in search of one. Lucky. Eventually I learned about The Meat Guy and that solved all of my problems. You can order a couple months in advance and have it delivered the day you would have taken it out of the freezer so you don’t have to worry about freezer space.

Where to find turkeys in Tokyo *updated*

  • Nissin has turkeys year round from 3-4lbs to the huge 20+lbs
  • National Azabu had turkeys before it shut down. They should have them again now.
  • Meat counters of large upscale department stores – only around Christmas
  • Some upscale supermarkets will carry them at Christmas time – ask at the meat department.
  • A friend buys her Christmas turkey from her local Hanamasa (website: Japanese language only) but I have never seen one at the ones I’ve visited so you would have to ask. Ask for ターキー(taakii) not 七面鳥 (shichimenchou) as many people associate the roasted bird with the English word and the live bird in the wild with the Japanese word.
  • Costco – you can actually call and ask them before you make the trip out

On the internet *updated*

Note: if you have an average sized microwave/oven you will probably want to go for a 1-2kg bird but be sure to measure the inside of your oven to check. I now have a 30L oven and find a 5kg is a great size.