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

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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

Ingredients:

Basic version:

spaghetti for 1-2 people

salt

pepper

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!

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

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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

Ingredients:

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

sprouts

flax and chia seeds OR sunflower seeds

Directions:

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

Chashu: Braised Pork

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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.

Chashu

Serves 4-6 Time: 4-12 hours

Ingredients

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.

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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.

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Sadly out of focus, but you can sort of see the round shape 😦
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Miso ramen with chashu, bean sprouts, and green onions
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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

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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

Ingredients:

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!

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

Soboro Donburi: Rice Bowl with Crumbled Toppings

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Soboro donburi!

Soboro-don is probably one of the easiest Japanese meals you can make. It’s super sweet and savory, and makes a great meal for lunch or dinner. Soboro donburi, or soboro-don for short, literally means “finely crumbled rice bowl.” Its toppings consist of crumbly things like ground beef or pork and scrambled eggs. Usually, there are also some vegetables; peas are especially popular.

This is super fast to make and looks pretty. Eat this hot or make it ahead as a bento. It’s also highly customizable in terms of portion sizes. Just add more rice or more of a particular topping!

Some fun history about rice bowls (one dish meals with rice and some kind of topping): According to Shizuo Tsuji, author of Japanese Cooking: a Simple Art, rice bowls first became popular in Japan during the Meiji era (1868-1912). People were busier and having a one-dish meal was a lot easier than the multiple small dishes found in more traditional cooking.

A Note on Ingredients: A lot of Japanese cooking calls for saké, but don’t worry about using anything fancy. You can buy a cheap one specifically for cooking. It should be in your local Asian market next to the mirin and soy sauce.

Soboro-don

Serves 2

Ingredients

White rice

For the Eggs:

4 eggs

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon saké

1 Tablespoon light soy sauce (usukuchi) (or substitute 1/2 Tablespoon normal)

1 Tablespoon sugar

For the Meat:

1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger

120 grams (4 ounces) ground beef and pork mix

3 Tablespoons saké

1 Tablespoon normal or dark soy sauce

1 Tablespoon sugar

Vegetables:

1/4 cup carrots (about half a large carrot), julienned and cut 2 cm or 1 inch length

1/4 cup (58 ml) water

1/4 cup (about 50 grams) raw peas or snap peas cut into bite size pieces

For meat: Combine all meat ingredients and cook on medium high heat until cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir it as it cooks to make the texture more crumbly.

For Eggs: Beat together all of the egg ingredients. Stir and scramble them on medium high heat until they have a slightly dry and crumbly texture.

For carrots: In a frying pan combine carrots and water and cover with a lid. Allow to boil and steam until the carrots turn a more vibrant orange (about 30 second to 1 minute). Remove from heat immediately, drain, and run under cool water. Alternatively, microwave carrots and water for about 30 seconds in a covered bowl or plate. The goal is a very slightly cooked carrot that is not completely soft.

Assembly: Arrange the ingredients in groups over the rice.

Finished! (or in Japanese dekita!)

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Let’s eat!

This recipe comes from Shizuo Tsuji’s Japanese Cooking: a Simple Art. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks and still considered the best Japanese cookbook written in English after 30 years! It also has tons about Japan’s culinary history as well as cultural tidbits.

Hokkaido Potage (AKA Pumpkin Soup)

 

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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

Ingredients:

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

salt

pepper

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.

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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.

Couple’s Dolsot Bibimbap

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Dolsot bibimbap…sort of

So, I’ve tried to make bibimbap a few times, but have never been terribly satisfied with the results. Making it at home, the rice didn’t have that crunch of being cooked onto the piping hot stone bowls (dolsot) they use at restaurants. However, I wasn’t a big fan of spending 15 dollars per bowl for a recipe I make less than once a month.

But, it occurred to me that I own something else that’s hot like a dolsot stone bowl–a frying pan! And my frying pan is also coated in some kind of stone teflon free stuff. That counts as stone, right? Apparently so! After cooking everything separately, I stuck the rice in the hot pan and put the toppings on. My husband and I ate out of it with spoons while watching TV. It was fun and cozy sharing a big pan of food between the two of us. So, I have named this “Couple’s Dolsot Bibimbap.”

One of my favorite things about bibimbap (and most Korean food) is that there are a lot of vegetables incorporated into the dish. Each of these vegetables adds flavor and texture too. They’re not just there to make you feel healthy! And of course there’s some tasty meat too! Don’t be too turned off by the long list of ingredients. Most of this is just sautéing quickly for 2-3 minutes and then moving on to the next ingredient. For best results, do vegetables first, then meat, then eggs.

This was super fun to make, and fun to eat! I hope you enjoy it!

Bibimbap

Ingredients:

Cooked White Rice, enough for two people

Fried Eggs (I made three for the two of us)

For the Beef:

Bulgogi marinade (I bought a jar from the store, but you can make your own if you want)

Beef, as much as you want, cut into small, thin strips (we used 100 grams (3.5 oz.) for the two of us)

For the Vegetables:

Carrots, julienned, about 2 cm or 1 inch long, as many as you want ( I used 2 carrots)

Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin (I rehydrated some dry ones by microwaving them in a bowl of water for a few minutes), as many as you want (I used about 4 mushrooms)

Salt, to taste

Small amount of oil, for frying

70 grams or more (2-3 Packed Cups) Spinach, or Baby Spinach

1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds

1/2 Teaspoon Soy Sauce

1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil

For the Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Gochujang

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil

1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Teaspoon Toasted Sesame Seeds

1 Tablespoon Water

Method:

For the Vegetables:

Carrots: Sprinkle carrots with a pinch of salt. Using a little bit of oil cook the carrots on medium high until soft with a slight crunch (or preferred doneness). Remove from heat.

Mushrooms: Sprinkle mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Using a bit oil, cook mushrooms until soft and cooked entirely through.

Spinach: Combine spinach with 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water and cook on high heat until the spinach turns dark green. Immediately drain excess water, and squeeze the spinach with your hand to remove more moisture. Stir in sesame seeds, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

For the Sauce:

Combine all the sauce ingredients, and slowly add water until you like the consistency.

For the Meat:

Marinate meat for at least one hour. Cook on high heat quickly with a small amount of oil. Remove from heat.

Assemble and Eat:

Put eggs in center with sauce, and group the other ingredients around the edges. Contrasting colors next to each other is best. Admire it for a second, then mix it up with a spoon and dig in!

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So good! I’m getting hungry again just looking at this!

Fun fact: Unlike Japanese and Chinese, Koreans eat their rice with a spoon, not chopsticks! Want to learn more about proper utensils and eating etiquette? Check out this fun Reddit thread.

Big thanks to Sue at My Korean Kitchen. My recipe is based on hers. She also has a lot of different vegetable variations! The sauce especially, is almost the same. Here’s the link.