Saturday, 27 July 2013


I have a slight intolerance to dishes with added cream or butter so when cooking at home I try to avoid adding these when possible. Some people find it hard to believe that you can make carbonara without cream however once you have good quality eggs and Parmesan cheese the sauce will be nice and creamy.

I love cooking Italian food at home. My favourite Italian cookbooks are from Jamie Oliver and Catherine Fulvio. Italian food is very popular in Japan, you'll find Italian restaurants in every town across Japan and Italian dishes on the menus in their family restaurants. The dishes are influenced by local Japanese tastes by adding some favourite Japanese ingredients such as seaweed.

Here's my carbonara recipe with a Japanese twist and no added cream.

Serves 2-3

300g spaghetti pasta
4 slices of bacon (cut into small square pieces)
Olive oil (for frying)
4 egg yolks (preferably free range or organic eggs)
50g Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
Salt & pepper (to season)
Nori - roasted seaweed (to garnish)

1. Boil the pasta as per the packet instructions until it is cooked to your liking.
2. Fry the bacon pieces on a frying pan with olive oil until they are nice and crisp (but not overcooked and black in colour).
3. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. 
4. Before draining the pasta make sure you have the whisked egg yolks, grated Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper and nori at hand. Also set the table in advance as this dish should be served immediately.
4. Drain the cooked pasta leaving some water at the bottom of the saucepan. 
5. Quickly add the bacon to the pasta and stir. Immediately pour the egg yolk over the pasta and stir completely covering the pasta in the egg yolk. Now toss the grated Parmesan over the pasta and mix well.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Serve on a place and garnish with some nori.

- When you mix the raw egg yolk into the pasta it's important that the saucepan is removed from the heat to avoid the egg scrambling. 
- The hot pasta will cook the raw egg yolk.
- To make the perfect creamy sauce you need to work quickly through the instructions from point 4 to 7.

Nori is a type of roasted seaweed which can be found in Asian supermarkets and also supermarkets such as Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn. If you can't find nori sprinkles, then get a sheet of nori and using a grater make nori sprinkles. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013


This week I received a lovely present for my little boy's 2nd birthday from my friend in Japan. She sent a Japanese character bento box with lots of bento accessories. This inspired me to create my own bento and share it with you. As always I've tried to make it as simple as possible so you'll try it at home. You can use a basic lunch box for this but if you like the Japanese style bento boxes and accessories you can buy these online.

I mentioned in a previous post that bento is an important part of Japanese culture. In Japan they believe that when a mother makes a bento for her children it's an expression of her love. Japanese mothers get up quite early to prepare bento for their children which are animated, colourful and nutritionally balanced. Leftovers from the previous night's dinner are usually used for bento so it's a good idea to make a little extra. Bento can be used for a school or work lunch but it's also great at this time of year for a summer picnic. 

1 x portion of boiled rice
Chicken teriyaki
- 1 x chicken breast (preferable organic or free range)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
Vegetable oil (for frying) 
Piece of steamed brocolli
2 x cherry tomatoes (halved)
2 x strawberries 

1. If you want to use Japanese rice, click here to see how to prepare and cook Japanese rice. You can use any type of rice for a bento box. 

2. Cut the chicken breast into bite size cubes.

3. Put the soy sauce, sake and sugar in a bowl and mix well. 

4. Then add the chicken pieces and stir so the chicken pieces are completely covered in the marinade. 

5. Place in the fridge for 15-30 minutes or a few hours if you have time. 

6. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium heat. 

7. Place the chicken pieces on the frying pan and pour all of the remaining teriyaki marinade onto the pan. 

8. Turn the chicken pieces after a few minutes then continue to cook turning a few times until the teriyaki sauce becomes thick and sticky.

9. In a lunchbox, arrange the rice, chicken teriyaki pieces, brocolli, tomatoes and strawberries as shown in the picture. You can use paper cupcake cases for the chicken and strawberries and toothpicks for the cherry tomatoes.

Bento and food safety
- there's a fantastic website dedicated to bento recipes called justbento. Click here to go straight to a post on this site called "keeping your bento lunch safe". It gives practical tips and advice on how to store and reheat food for bento lunch.

Monday, 15 July 2013


If you feel like you've had enough burgers and sausages on the BBQ and need a break from meat here is the perfect recipe that will help you detox. Kale is growing in popularity and is a well known superfood with detox properties. I eat meat but there are times when I like to take a break from it and eat vegetarian dishes like this.

Serves 2


2 x portions of boiled rice 
100g kale, washed
2 cloves of garlic (peeled and finely diced)
Juice of half a lemon
Vegetable oil and olive oil (to fry)
Salt & pepper (to season)


  1. Cut the thick part of the stem from the leaves.
  2. Roll the leaves into a bunch and cut into thin ribbons.
  3. Pour 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of olive oil onto a frying pan.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and toss the garlic on the pan cooking until you start to get a nice aroma from the garlic (do not brown). 
  5. Season the garlic infused oil with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the chopped kale and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  7. Pour the lemon juice over the kale.
  8. Stir and fry until the kale is bright green all over. 
  9. At this point, take the kale off the hot pan as it will continue to cook. 
  10. Serve on top of a bowl of rice or as a side to a main dish.
  • Strong cancer protection properties. 
  • Helps the body detox and lower cholesterol.
  • Contains high levels of vitamin A, C, K & B6.
  • Also contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, fibre & iron.
  • Do not overcook the kale in order to retain the nutritional value.
  • Adding lemon juice to the kale enhances its nutritional value.
  • Garnish with pine nuts or almonds.
  • Serve with a fried egg, bacon or frozen prawns. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013


In an article in The Grocer, top chef Michael Roux Jr said that Kikkoman soy sauce is one of his store cupboard essential ingredients and that he sometimes puts a few drops in vanilla ice-cream. It's also one of my key store cupboard ingredients and you can see that I use it in most of the recipes that I post on this blog. 

The weather in Ireland is unpredictable so when the sun shines we tend to make the most of it by doing things like having barbecues. I find this dessert perfect to serve at a barbecue when you're entertaining people at home at the last minute as it's quick and most people love ice-cream.

Vanilla ice-cream
Mixed summer berries
Soy sauce (optional)

1. If you'd like to be adventurous mix a few drops of soy sauce with the vanilla ice-cream.
2. Using an ice-cream scoop or spoon put 2 scoops of ice-cream into a wine glass. 
3. Toss a handful of washed mixed berries into the glass.
4. Sprinkle matcha over the ice-cream and berries.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Like most Irish people I love eating crisps. These homemade lotus root crisps are a healthy substitute. I've even convinced my toddler that they're just as tasty as crisps. You can find lotus root in most Asian markets.

A mix of vegetable oil and sesame oil at ratio of 3:1 (for frying)
1 large fresh lotus root (about 1lb)
1 tsp vinegar or a generous squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper (to season)

1. Peel the lotus root and finely slice using a sharp knife or mandolin.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to a bowl of water.
3. Place the sliced lotus root in the bowl of vinegar water for about 5 minutes. This will stop the lotus root from browning.
4. Pat dry the lotus root using paper towel.
5. Heat the oil to 170 degrees Celsius in a saucepan on medium to heat. To check if the oil is at the right temperature just place one of the lotus root slices in the oil and if it pops to the top of the oil then it's at the right temperature.
6. Fry the lotus root in the oil until they turn a nice golden brown colour.
7. Place on kitchen towel to absorb excess oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

Serve as a side with steak or fish.
Goes really well with beer or wine.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Japanese style hot dog with wasabi mayo & shredded nori


More than half of the views on my blog are from America so I wanted to post a recipe for all my  American followers to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th. 

While I was researching a recipe that fused American and Japanese cusine I came across an amazing street food vendor based in Canada that sells Japanese style hot dogs called JAPADOG.

There is an inspirational story behind this successful company. When a Japanese couple moved to Canada with limited funds they set up a hot dog stand and over the years with hard work and creative ideas the business has grown to four JAPADOG stands and a JAPADOG store in five locations including one outside of Canada in New York.

Today I created my own JAPADOG to celebrate Independence Day.

Serves 2 

2 hot dogs
2 hot dog buns
Red onion (finely diced)
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp wasabi
Half sheet of nori (finely shred with kitchen scissors or sharp knife)
Vegetable oil (for frying)


1. Slowly fry the red onion on low heat until it becomes tender and sweet. 

2. Pour the soya sauce over the red onion and stir for a minute or so. Take off the heat and set aside.

3. Fry, grill, oven cook or BBQ the hot dogs until cooked. 

4. Cut the hot dog bun down the middle and place the hot dog in the centre of the bun.

5. Put the red onion and wasabi mayo over the hot dog.

6. Top with shredded nori. 

  • Depending on how much of a kick you want in the wasabi mayo add more or less wasabi. 
  • For nice presentation if you don't have a piping bag, use a small plastic sandwich bag as a pump to squirt the wasabi mayo on the hot dog. Just make a small cut in one of the bottom corners of the bag.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Fiona's Japanese Cooking - winner of the cookbook giveaway

First of all I want to say a big thanks to everyone who took the time to enter the competition and share their favourite recipe from my blog on Facebook and Twitter. It was great to see such a variety of favourites from my recipe collection.

The winner of the competition is Barbare Palermo from Italy whose favourite recipe is my MIXED VEG IN A LIGHT AND CRISPY TEMPURA BATTER. 

Clodagh McKenna's cookbook "Fresh from the Sea" will be sent to Barbare by post this week once I get her address.

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