Thursday, October 30, 2014

Celebrating Halloween-Japanese Style

Who would have thought that Japanese food could be fun and themed to a Western holiday?! To celebrate this coming Halloween, my friend Satoshi (who runs and maintains the TabiEats Japanese blog) came up with some pretty awesome ideas for a Japanese Halloween dinner.

At first I was skeptical to say the least. He started telling me about his plans to make sushi mummies, Halloween-colored sushi and jack-o-lantern simmered vegetables. As I listened to him go on for a few minutes, my mind started to wander to other things. What should go into my Rocky Road? What about a Halloween Pancake? As you can tell by now, I was far from excited.

As we got the kitchen set up for this, I realized how labor-intensive this could be. Choosing just one of these items to make doesn't take long. However making multiple items pretty much took up most of the afternoon.

Still, the results were so much better than I expected. In fact, I now love the entire concept. The dishes are festive and just looking at them puts a silly grin on my face.

So the entire spread consists of a savory custard, simmered vegetables and sushi. Doesn't that sound utterly boring? You can see why i started falling asleep during the explanation process. But one look at the photos below and you'll most likely agree with me that they are far from boring.

As the sushi is pretty complicated to make, today I'm going to share two of the recipes here. I promise to share with you a proper sushi recipe in the near future.

Just to let you know, these are very traditional Japanese dishes and call for Japanese ingredients so make sure you can have them before you attempt this recipe. For example, you can substitute the dashi broth with another broth of your choice, but it will result in something more akin to a Western dish.

So if you're ready to get started, here are the recipes.


Ingredients ( Serves 2 )

3/4 cup broth
1 egg, beaten well
Salt to taste

Pumpkin soup
1/4 small pumpkin, cut into small blocks
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup water

1. First, microwave the pumpkin until soft. ( about 5 minutes ) repeat if necessary.
2. Peel the pumpkins and set aside.
3. Sauté the onions with butter until translucent.
4. Add pumpkins and water to the mixture. Simmer until soft. (About 20 minutes)
5. Using a hand blender, purée until smooth.
6. Add milk and heat under medium-low heat until warm. Turn off heat and set aside.

Making the custard:
1. Add beaten egg and broth into bowl and mix until well incorporated.
2. Pour mixture into heatproof cups and cover with aluminum foil.
3. Put a metal colander into a pot with just enough water to fill bottom of colander.
4. Put the cups into the colander, cover and steam on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the custard is soft set.
5. Carefully remove the custards and pour 1 tablespoon of pumpkin soup on the top.
6. Decorate to make a jack-o-lantern face if desired. I cut up pieces from a sheet of nori, but you can use anything you have such as black olives instead.


Ingredients ( Serves 2-4 )

2 medium-sized carrots
1/2 daikon radish
6 shiitake mushrooms (optional)
1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce ( regular soy sauce is fine if you can't find light soy sauce )
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sake
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup dashi ( made with Japanese instant soup stock )

1. Cut carrots into 1/2 inch slices. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.
2. Slice and cut out the daikon in the same way.
3. Put all ingredients into a large saucepan including the shiitake. Bring to a boil.
4. Simmer on medium heat until vegetables are just tender. About 10-15 minutes.
5. Take cooked vegetables out of broth and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
6. Place face parts onto the cooked vegetables. Serve.

Helpful Tips and Notes:

For the Nimono, I would suggest using light-colored soy sauce rather than the typical dark version. However if you can't find any, the regular kind is fine.

We've used cookie cutters for this recipe, one in the shape of a jack-o-lantern and one in the shape of a ghost. They are small enough to cut out shapes from the carrots and daikon radishes so please make sure yours does too.

For the carrots and daikon, I've cut out shapes from a sheet of nori with scissors. For the shiitake, I piped mayonnaise onto them for the eyes. I simply put some mayonnaise into a plastic bag, snipped the corner with scissors and piped it on. Please feel free to substitute these things with what you wish to use and have on hand.

If you enjoy Japanese food and have access to Japanese ingredients in your area, I hope you try these out this Halloween. Remember that you can simply skip all the halloween theming by simply skipping over all the tedious face-making steps and cutting things into ghosts and stuff. In the end, you'll still be able to enjoy traditional Chawanmushi and Nimono. Make a bowl of miso soup and steamed rice and you have the perfect Japanese meal.

To make it easier, we've created a video for you. Check it out below.

If you've been following this blog, you probably already know about these too-cute-to-eat corn dog mummies. The best of all is that they are made from scratch and what makes them better is that they were actually easy to make. Aren't they just absolutely adorable? 

Check out the video on how to make these adorable corn dog mummies below. 

Now if you need a cool dessert for your Halloween party, check out my Rocky Road Video by clicking right here.

Make sure to subscribe to my blog for regular updates plus a free copy of my 10 favorite recipes! If there is something you'd like me to make in the future, let me know in the comments below. As always thanks so much for reading.

Happy Halloween!


  1. I love everything on the page, but I especially love the corn dog mummies. Probably because that's the only thing I could probably make. I'm so inept in the kitchen. I love these ideas!

    1. Aww thanks so much for commenting Dawn. I have to say, those are my favorite as well. They were easy and fun to make as well as delicious!


As always, your comments are appreciated. Thanks!