Fusion Spaghetti for Morning Sickness (or a Light and Healthy Meal for Anytime)

Nothing says fusion food like shiso on spaghetti! Or in this case my substituted mint.

This post was written originally way back in February or March, when I was in the early stages of pregnancy. But, since it was early, I wasn’t keen on posting about it on the internet. This week I’m at 33 weeks, so no more worries about everyone knowing!

So, the other day I was browsing around the bookshelves at my local Japanese bookstore. And by local I guess I mean all the way downtown in the somewhat Asian part of town. Anyways, while I was browsing I stumbled upon a guide in Japanese for pregnancy. It was so cute! It had tons of cute illustrations and color coded bullet points. But what most impressed me, was that it had specific recipes aimed at pregnancy tummy troubles such as morning sickness, bloating, and constipation.

This really impressed me because all What to Expect When You’re Expecting has to offer is a suggestion to eat 6 times a day healthily. A search of the internet turns up all sorts of wacky things for morning sickness food: steak, mac and cheese, ice cream. And while food aversions can vary greatly from person to person, I find it hard to believe that the puking women out there really want a giant steak for dinner. However, obviously I can’t know, since I only have my own experience to go on.

This recipe starts really simple for the super sick feeling (the original recipe from said pregnancy book), but you can build it up and add more depending on how much and what kind of food you can handle (or for the non-pregnant people in your life). I have nausea, but no barfing (so far), so my stomach may be able to handle more than yours.

Fusion Spaghetti

serves 1-2, 10 minutes


Basic version:

spaghetti for 1-2 people



Extra virgin olive oil (be careful that it hasn’t gone rancid!)

Fresh shiso, mint, or basil chiffonade (aka thin strips)

1 Fresh beefsteak tomato, cut into bite-sized pieces

Optional add ons:

Black olives

Seasoned tuna:

1 can of tuna packed in oil (138 grams or 5 ounces. My can listed 2 weights, this is the “fish” weight)

1/2 Tablespoon mirin

1/2 Tablespoon white sugar

1 Tablespoon usukutchi soy sauce (can substitute 3/4 Tbs. normal soy sauce)

First: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain immediately. In a mixing bowl add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Top with tomatoes and shiso (or your chosen herb).

If you want more substance: Open the can of tuna and try to press as much excess oil out of the can as possible. Heat a frying pan to medium and add the tuna directly (no need for extra oil). Add the mirin, stir it around, and let it sizzle for a while. When it starts to look a little flaky, and less like a big wet mess, add the sugar and stir. After 30 seconds to a minute, add the soy sauce. Cook until it looks a little bit flaky and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove from heat. Add desired amount of olives and tuna to your spaghetti. Bon Appétit!

Nutritious and light! In hindsight I probably would have used less olives 🙂

Avocado Toast

Yummy brunch! A slice of avocado toast and a tuna-leftover concoction!

Can you believe I’ve never tried avocado toast?! I absolutely love it! Super easy with an awesome play of acid from lemon, salt, and fattiness from avocado. And probably takes one minute to put together! Hello breakfast/light lunch with lots of vegetables and nutrients!

Avocado Toast

Makes 1 slice time: 1-2 minutes


1 slice of multigrain bread, toasted (I also tried this on a whole wheat English muffin and it was great!)

1/4 of a ripe avocado

squeeze of lemon juice (1 tsp or to taste)

sprinkle of salt and pepper


flax and chia seeds OR sunflower seeds


Mash pieces of avocado onto the slice of bread until it looks like a spread. Squeeze lemon juice on top and add other ingredients to taste. Done. It’s just that easy

Original recipe from Cooking Light: Avocado Sprout Toast

Rice and Broth Soup: For when you need some gentle food

A gentle, nourishing broth

Want to be amused? Right now, search Pinterest for “light meals.” While half of these will indeed be light, the other half will be filled with things like fried sweet potato balls, 3 cheese ravioli, and stuff with kale. Now, I guess kale is “light,” but it’s not exactly gentle, nor what I want to eat when I’m feeling queasy! Which I was today. After some stomach upset involving some really rich food I was hungry, but wanting something gentle for my tummy.

I’m not sure if this dish really has a name, but there are several variations of rice with added liquid in Japan (probably with added tea is the most well known). This recipe evolved as I was making it, so some of the directions here call for a lot of “season/add ingredient” to taste. Which honestly, I think is preferable if your stomach is feeling off. Your seasoning preferences may be different than normal.

Basically: yummy broth + glutinous rice + gentle toppings. It was really good! My husband, who was feeling super healthy and fine also enjoyed this!

Ingredients note: I call for “water that you’ve boiled chicken in” or dashi. Why not chicken broth? Because western chicken broth is made with a lot of aromatics like onions, cellery, carrots, etc. I wanted to use the chicken water as a substitute for dashi, which is made with only fish and seaweed. (as an aside, Japanese chicken broth also has aromatics, but they’re different.) Depending on what kind of dashi you use, you could easily make this entire recipe vegetarian.

I also chose to do a 2:1 ratio of Japanese white rice to mochi rice so it would be extra sticky, and I could use the extra rice to make a sweet snack. You could definitely use normal Japanese white rice.

Rice and Broth

Serves Two, 20 minutes to make


For the broth:

500 ml water that’s had chicken boiled in it, or dashi

Soy sauce

Usukutchi soy sauce (optional)

white sugar

brown sugar (optional)

for the rice:

2:1 ratio of Japanese white rice to mochi rice, cooked normally

for the sweet omelet:

2 eggs

1/2 tsp usukutchi soy sauce (can substitute normal)

1/2 tsp sugar

4 Tbs chicken water or dashi

1/2 tsp mirin (can substitute white sugar and a little water)

additional toppings:


green onion, thinly sliced

sesame seeds (optional)

First: Set aside 4 tablespoons of dashi and bring the rest to a boil. Add sugar and the two soy sauces until you like the flavor. I probably added about 4 Tablespoons of mostly white sugar (some brown), and about 1/4 cup of soy sauce. I recommend adding everything 2 tablespoons at a time if it scares you to eyeball it. The broth is now done.

Second: Using chopsticks (or a fork) beat the egg ingredients until one uniform color (no egg whites separate from the yolk). I think it’s better not to use a whisk, to avoid frothy bubbles. Lightly oil a pan using a paper towel to make sure it’s thoroughly covered.

You now have two options: rolled omelets, or thin strips. Thin strips are easier.

Pour the egg batter into the pan and swirl it around until the egg has spread out to touch all sides.

For strips: Wait until the eggs have “set” and the top is glossy, but no longer liquid and mobile. Turn out onto a cutting board and slice into strips.

These are the sliced version. WAY easier in my opinion! And easier to keep moist!

For a rolled omelet: As soon as one side has finished cooking, roll the omelet on itself to create a tight roll. Remove from heat and using a kitchen towel, paper towel, or sushi roller, roll the omelet tightly and let it sit in this shape for a minute or two. Remove and slice into rounds.

Here you see the rolled version. Mine aren’t perfect. Ideally there should NOT be a dark line where it was rolled. But still yummy!

Third: If you have an electric stove, place the nori directly on the turned off (but still hot) burner until it has shrunk in size, and darkened in color. For gas, turn the flame on medium, and use tongs to hold the nori above the flame.

Fourth: Place toppings on top of rice and ladle a little bit of broth over it. Enjoy!

Before adding broth
After adding broth and sesame seeds. Time to eat!


Bonus recipe:

Smoosh the left over rice up with a spoon or rice scoop until it clumps together a bit. Using hands moistened in water, loosely pack the rice into small balls. Combine kinako powder and white sugar (to taste) in a separate tupperware. Toss the balls in the powder. This is essentially ohagi minus the sweet red bean paste in the middle (which you can buy in a can and add if you want!).

Yeah, there’s no getting around the fact that these are SUPER ugly! But they make a light and sweet snack.

Gochujang Tofu


I’m not vegan, but I’m always super excited when I manage to make something that is. Maybe because:

A) For some reason I perceive veganism as super difficult and exotic.

B) Any time I can cut down on meat I feel like my meal is a lot healthier.

C) So many vegan and vegetarian recipes suffer from a lack of umami (the savory flavor), so I’m really happy when I find one that’s delicious and well balanced flavorwise.

So basically I felt like a super hero that just ate something really delicious after making this recipe. And guess what? It was actually really easy!

This is a spicy Korean sauce with a little bit of sweetness. Serve it with rice and a variety of Korean side dishes like bean sprout namul or takuan/danmuji (the yellow pickle).

Gochujang Tofu

Serves 2, 25 minutes


400 grams (14 oz. or 1 large block) firm tofu

1 1/2 Tbs (22 ml) Cornstarch

Oil for frying

For the Sauce:

2 Tbs (30 ml) Garlic, minced

4 Tbs (60 ml) Gochujang

2 Tbs (30 ml) Sesame oil

4 Tbs (60 ml) Soy sauce

2 Tbs (60 ml) Sugar (used 1 part white sugar to 3 parts raw sugar, but use whatever you want)

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) Apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup plus (or a large handful) green onions, sliced

1/4 cup (60 ml) sesame seeds (optional)


Step One: Press your tofu between some paper towels for 5 minutes to a half hour. Cut into desired size (I cut mine into 1 cm cubes) and dry with a paper towel. In a large container toss the tofu with the cornstarch until all pieces are lightly coated.

Step Two: Depending on how fast you are in the kitchen, you can do this while doing step three. Combine all sauce ingredients except water together in a clean saucepan. Add the water a few tablespoons at a time until you have a thick sauce consistency to your liking (I used about 1/4 cup of water).

So much spicy yumminess!

Step Three: Heat oil in a large pan. It doesn’t need to be super deep, but enough that you can fry each side of the tofu pieces in it. Test a small piece of tofu before putting all of them in. The oil should immediately start sizzling and bubbling when the tofu touches. If not, let the oil heat up some more.  Add all of the tofu to the oil and fry each side until it’s a very light golden beige (approximately 2 minutes per side). To me, it looks just a little bit lighter than a chicken nugget. Remove tofu to paper towels to drain and blot off any excess oil.

Desired “golden beige” color

Step Four: Heat the sauce until it bubbles. Immediately combine sauce with tofu and serve immediately. This recipe makes a lot of sauce, so I would combine a little at a time until you’ve reached your desired “sauciness” level.


That’s it! Time to eat!

Thanks to the bloggers out there with all the different versions of this recipe that inspired this one. Especially Food52’s Gochujang Tofu with Scallions which mine is heavily based on.

If this were an academic paper with a “further work” section: Make a sandwich with this tofu!

Japanese Hamburg Steak

ハンバーグ Japanese Hamburger Steak

One of the things English speakers quickly learn in Japan is the difference between hambaaga and hambaagu. The first one is your typical hamburger. The other one is a hamburg steak. Apparently, in the States we also have this, and it’s called Salisbury steak. I say apparently because I’d never heard of it before moving to Japan.

Hamburg is a super soft steamed patty made with ground meat, and some stuff to bind it together. There are lots of different toppings and sauces, but I like the wafu “Japanese” style. It’s topped with a sweet teriyaki sauce and grated daikon. For a Hawaiian twist, use a slice of grilled pineapple for the topping!

Fun fact: Hamburg is one of children’s favorite foods in Japan!

For the language learners out there: The word たね (tah-neh) is used for both seeds and meat patties.

Japanese Hamburg

Serves: 2 (makes two patties)


1/3 cup grated daikon

thinly sliced green onion or shiso

For the hamburg:

250 grams ground pork and beef mixture

1/2 beaten egg

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1/3 cup panko

1/3 cup milk (or soy milk)

1/4 onion, minced


3 Tablespoons of each: water, sake, mirin, soy sauce

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 tsp corn starch


First: Combine all hamburg ingredients and stir until it combines into a slightly sticky homogenous mixture. Divide in half for large patties, or 4 for small ones.

Second: lightly throw each patty from hand to hand. This will compact the patty and get rid of any extra air. Shape it into a round circle.

Third: In a frying pan add a enough cooking oil to coat the pan and gently place the patties in it. Brown both sides of the patty. After each side is browned, add half a cup of water, cover with a lid. Allow to steam for 4-6 minutes, or until cooked through.

Fourth: Wipe out any remaining water in the pan. Combine sauce ingredients and pour over the patties. With a spoon, keep pouring the excess sauce in the pan over the meat until the sauce has thickened and the hamburgs are coated in shiny brown layer.

Fifth: Remove from heat to serving plates. Ladle extra sauce over the patty, and top the patties with shredded daikon, green onion, and a tiny spoon full of sauce over the daikon.

Itadakimasu! Let’s eat!

I was too lazy to make any side dishes…

Thanks to orangepage.net for the original recipe! They also have some lovely pictures that are much more appetizing than mine ^_^;

Chashu: Braised Pork

Chashu: The perfect meat for any bowl of ramen.

YUUUUUUUM! I am still in shock that this turned out so well! I recently got a cookbook about making ramen. However, once it arrived from Amazon, and I started looking through the recipes, I was worried that it wasn’t authentic and was more of a fusion-cuisine book. But, I decided to wait and try some recipes before passing judgement. I am so glad I did! While I am still evaluating the rest of the recipes in said book, this chashu (or chyashu, if you want to be even more Japanese in your pronunciation) recipe is spectacular. And surprisingly hands off. As long as you have four hours to sit in your house and make sure your stove doesn’t spontaneously catch fire, this is a great recipe for you. Or, if you have a slow cooker, you could probably safely leave your house and still enjoy this!

So, what is chyashu? Basically, a very soft pork that’s been simmered in a sweet soy sauce mixture. Typically, it’s served as a topping for ramen. But you can also serve it with rice, green onions, and Japanese mayo for a tasty and quick treat (brown rice goes really well with this). I haven’t done it yet, but I think this would also be awesome in steamed buns.

Even though this is a “Japanese” recipe, it’s Japanese in the same way nachos are American. As an American, I would say that nachos are Mexican food, not American (though I’m pretty sure they don’t exist in Mexico). Most Japanese will tell you that ramen and chashu are Chinese food. I find this super funny, since Japan is famous internationally for its ramen! In case you’re curious, Chinese char siu is roasted, but the Japanese version is simmered. The seasonings are also slightly different.


Serves 4-6 Time: 4-12 hours


1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) pork belly

1.6 liters (6 cups) water (If you have a very large stockpot, use 10 cups, or 2.4 liters)

945 ml (4 1/2 cups) soy sauce

500 grams (2 1/2) cups sugar

1 green onion, cut in 1/2

1 1/2 Tablespoon sized knob of ginger (3 cm diameter, 1 cm thick), peeled

175 ml (3/4 cup) mirin

30 ml (1/8 cup) sake (optional)

Special materials: kitchen twine

First: Cut the pork belly to a length of about 4-5 inches (8-9 cm), and roll it tightly, so that the fatty side faces outwards. Tie it in place with cooking string. This makes the meat cook into a nice circular shape.

My local grocery store didn’t have kitchen twine, so I cut up a cheese cloth.

Second: Add the pork and remaining ingredients to a large stock pot. If your stock pot only holds around 2-3 liters (like me) add everything except the water first. Then, add as much water as you can fit into the pot at the end. If you have any extra pork belly that didn’t get tied up, just throw it in as is.

Third: Bring to a boil and skim off any foam for 1 minute. Reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 4 hours, or until the pork is tender. As it simmers, skim off any additional foam. If you were unable to add the full amount of water, add more as the water evaporates off.

Optional Fourth Step: While it’s simmering, place a piece of baking parchment with holes cut in it over the top. This will help keep everything wet, even though the pork is floating.

Fourth: It’s now done! Let it chill in its own juices overnight before cutting to get thinner, prettier slices. Or eat it right away! To reheat: combine meat slices and a small amount (about 1 Tablespoon) of water or the meat juice, cover, and microwave.  The liquid keeps the meat from drying out while you heat it up.

Sadly out of focus, but you can sort of see the round shape 😦
Miso ramen with chashu, bean sprouts, and green onions
Chashu rice bowl: chashu, rice, green onions, and Japanese mayonaise

Big thanks to Simply Ramen: A Complete Course in Preparing Ramen Meals at Home by Amy Kimoto-Kahn for this recipe! 🙂



Tamagokakegohan: Egg and Rice

Easy breakfast!

This is probably the simplest thing you can make for breakfast. I love it. When I first wake up, I have a hard time eating a big meal. This is a really gentle meal to start your day off with but it still gives you some protein to make it to lunch without getting hungry. As a big plus, it is super fast. I hate doing a ton of cooking while I’m still waking up!

At first, I thought this meal didn’t have a name, but then I saw it on a menu somewhere. They called it “TKG” tamagokakegohan, literally “egg mixed with rice.” Feel free to change the toppings! Kimchi’s really good with this too!

Ingredients note: Make sure your eggs are high quality ones that you feel safe and confident eating raw. If you’re in doubt, you probably shouldn’t make this recipe. The steam of the rice might cook the egg slightly, but not much.

Egg and Rice


1 egg

1 medium bowl of hot cooked rice (or however much rice you want)

1 Tablespoon green onion, sliced into small rings

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (or more, depending on your personal taste)

Directions: Mix it all up! The egg should get kind of foamy looking. Done!

Put it all in a bowl.
Mix it all up! The egg will foam a little.