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

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 ^_^;

Hokkaido Potage (AKA Pumpkin Soup)


Hokkaido Pumpkin Potage

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m an American, or just underexposed to culinary words, but potage was a new word for me. In case it is for you too, it’s a soup where you boil everything until it’s soft. In other words, a very very easy soup.

I was a little bit on the fence about posting this recipe here because I’ve been trying to focus on Asian dishes. However, even though this is a Western dish, I feel like it is the sort of thing that would be popular in Japan. To reassure myself, I did a quick Cookpad search and it turned up over 5,000 potage recipes written in Japanese. So there!

The original recipe that inspired this one comes from an online Asian store demonstrating how to use kabocha. Inside of Japan they translate it as “pumpkin,” in the West I’ve always seen it referred to as “kabocha squash.” In Germany, Hokkaido squash is the most common squash, and luckily quite similar to kabocha. So that is what I used here. I found it funny that the most common squash in Germany also has a Japanese name! I’m not an expert, but I think the main difference is that the Hokkaido is a little softer and has a thinner skin. I think sugar pumpkin would also probably work well if you can’t find kabocha or Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Pumpkin Potage

Serves 2, Time: approximately 30 minutes


1 tablespoon butter or bacon grease

1/2 kabocha or Hokkaido squash (sugar pumpkin is also probably fine, but I’ve never tried it)

2 carrots (or 1 really big fat one)

1 russet potato (about the size of a small lady’s palm, not a huge man one 🙂 )

1/2 large white onion, minced

500 ml chicken broth

100 ml cream



basil (optional)

First: Clean out the seeds and the squishy part from the squash. Peel and cut the squash into large chunks. Around 1 inch by 1 inch is good, but the exact size isn’t that important. You just want it to cook quickly when it’s simmered. Mince onion. Cut carrot into small bite sized pieces (mine were about 1/4 inch thick, left in a round carrot shape). Peel and cut potato into quarters. Aside from the onion, the size you cut things really doesn’t matter that much.

Second: Sauté onions in butter until translucent. They should be soft, but not brown.

Third: Add the other vegetables and chicken broth. Bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat down. Put the lid on and simmer until everything is soft. Mash or puree the soup. If you like a thicker consistency, put the soup back on the hot stove and allow the soup to simmer until it reaches your desired consistency. When you are happy with the consistency, continue to the next step.

Fourth: Stir in cream and season to taste with remaining ingredients.

Done! My preferred accompanying menu: brussels sprouts cooked with bacon (and garlic), bread, and butter.

I was so happy to have this leftover mug of soup for lunch today!

Link to the original recipe this was adapted from at Japancentre.com.