Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Japanese Spaghetti Napolitan

I was five years old when I moved to Hawaii with my mother. By that age, I had already become somewhat of a foodie. My love affair with food had already started and my chubby frame made that quite obvious. I could also remember tastes.

The first time I had spaghetti was when my mother cooked for me in Japan. I was probably 3 or 4 years old, but I don't remember exactly. I'm bad when it comes to numbers. But like I said, I remember tastes. My mother used to make me a dish called Spaghetti Napolitan. It was the only pasta dish I knew. No surprised there because back then, Italian food wasn't widely know yet in Japan and the closest thing was Spaghetti Napolitan. It's far from authentic Italian cuisine and everyone knows. In fact, this dish is considered Yoshoku, which loosely traslates to Japanized Western Cuisine. I'm sure many of you are quite familiar with other Yoshoku dishes. Curry Rice, Tonkatsu and Omurice belong in the Yoshoku caterogy to name a few. 

Spaghetti Napolitan is simply comfort food for the Japanese. We used to eat it as kids and Yoshoku is making a comeback. Napolitan is once again, all the rage, at least here in Japan. My mother's recipe was simple and it's the one that I still make even in my adulthood.


INGREDIENTS (makes 1 serving)

1 clove garlic
1/2 onion
1 small bell pepper (or half a large one)
2 mushrooms
3 mini sausages
1 serving spaghetti
1-2 tbsp ketchup
salt and pepper to taste


Chop the garlic. Slice onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and mini sausages into small pieces. Add pinch of salt to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain well and set aside. Pour olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic until fragrant. Add onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in mushrooms, bell pepper and sausages and cook until onions are translucent. Add in spaghetti and toss together. Season with pepper and salt to taste. Add 1-2 tbsp ketchup and toss to combine over low heat. Serve immediately. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to Make Gyoza-Japanese Dumplings

Today I'm sharing with you my mother's recipe for those delicious dumplings called Gyoza. Everybody in our family loves gyoza and we used to enjoy them at least once a week when we were kids. My mother always made a whole bunch of them and froze them for later so we could enjoy them anytime.

You can enjoy gyoza pan-fried, steamed, boiled and deep-fried. I sometimes like to add a few into a nice bowl of egg drop soup for a light and easy one-bowl meal when I don't feel like eating much.

INGREDIENTS: (makes approximately 30 gyoza dumplings)

1 bunch chives, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cabbage, finely chopped
1/3 pound / 100grams ground pork
1 teaspoon salt

Gyoza Sauce:
1 part soy sauce
1 part rice vinegar
dash of Layu chili oil or sesame oil


Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix with hands until mixture becomes sticky. Take a gyoza wrapper into the palm of your hand. Put one teaspoon of filling and put it in the center of the wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper with some water. Fold the wrapper in half. start making pleats on the top part of the wrapper. Continue until you're done with all of the ingredients.

Pour a little oil into a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, place the gyoza flat side down. Cook until the bottom turns golden brown about 2-3 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup water and cover. Cook for 6 minutes on medium-high. Uncover and cook to evaporate any remaining water. Pour a little sesame oil to add shine and flavor and cook until bottom is nicely brown and crispy. Transfer to a plate and serve with gyoza sauce.

To make the sauce, simply combine 1 part soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar and a dash of Layu, which is Japanese chili oil. If you don't have any, you can use sesame oil instead. For a bit of a kick, add a little sriracha sauce if you like.

To make boiled gyoza, simply boil in a pot of boiling water with a pinch of salt for 3-4 minutes. Drain well and enjoy!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Easy Shoyu Chicken Recipe (Mother's Recipe)

Although Shoyu Chicken is popular in Hawaii, as well as in Japan, they are a little different in taste. Both versions are good in their own way and I am a fan of both. My mother's version is more Japanese in taste. However what makes her version unique is how she makes it. You will NOT believe how easy it is! I mean, I can't imagine it getting any easier than this.



1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup sake
1 stub ginger, sliced
1-2 chicken breasts or thighs


First combine all ingredients in a pan and cook for 5 minutes on high heat covered. Lower the heat and cook covered for another 15 minutes. And that's it! The Shoyu Chicken is done!

Because it's so easy to make, we'll be showing you how to make two more dishes using the chicken.

Somen with Shoyu Chicken
First boil a serving of somen noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a bowl. Add in 1 part leftover shoyu chicken sauce to 1 part boiling water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of instant dashi for extra umami. Place shoyu chicken slices on top along with sliced green onions. Serve immediately.

Shoyu Chicken Salad
Shred chicken with hands. Place shredded chicken on top of a bed of greens. Pour a little sauce over the chicken. My mothers likes it just like this. However I think adding a drizzle of sesame oil really jazzes up this salad.

The leftover sauce freezes well in a tupperware container. When you want to use it, just scoop some out with a spoon and add it as a base to your Japanese dishes. This sauce can stand in place of soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake in your dishes such as Nishime and Nikujaga. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tonkatsu-Japanese Pork Cutlet

Tonkatsu is a deep-fried pork cutlet that's light and crispy on the outside and if done right, juicy and tender on the inside. In fact, this is one of those dishes that almost everyone loves, including first-time visitors to Japan.

You almost always eat it with tonkatsu sauce, which can be purchased at every store across the country. If you live outside Japan, tonkatsu sauce can be found at most Asian or Japanese grocery stores. You can even get it online these days! Gotta love that technology!

Shredded cabbage is always served with this dish and adding a bowl of steamed rice and miso soup makes for a very satisfying meal.


1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 pork fillets
oil for frying
tonkatsu sauce
shredded cabbage


First, beat the egg in a bowl. In another bowl or plate, pour panko bread crumbs in. Make shallow cuts along the edges of the pork to prevent curling. Then pound the meat using the blunt side of the knife to make it more tender. Season with salt and pepper. Coat the entire meat with flour and shake excess off. 

Next, dip the meat in the beaten egg. Then coat with panko making sure to coat all sides well. Gently press down to help the bread crumbs stick to the meat. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Heat oil to 340F/170C. Place meat inside. Cook until the pork floats to the top of the oil. Flip over and cook for 4-5 minutes more or until meat is fully cooked. Drain well on paper towels and serve immediately with shredded cabbage and tonkatsu sauce