Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My Japanese cooking & sushi class - part II

Last Saturday I welcomed another group of friends from the Irish Food Blogging Community into my home to teach them the basics of Japanese cooking and sushi making.

Fiona Dillon from Hunters Lodge Living arrived a little early to interview me for her radio show "The Food Files" which airs every Friday on CRKC88.7fm. If you'd like to hear the interview it'll be aired this Friday August 30th between 5 and 6pm.
Kristin from Edible Ireland and co-founder of The Irish Food Bloggers Association arrived next giving me a chance to listen to her thoughts on Japanese food and the wonderful health benefits of the Japanese diet. 
Lily from A Mexican Cook and Kate from The Wild Flour Bakery came straight from their stalls at the H2G market in Glasnevin (Dublin) and Nessa from Nessa's Family Kitchen came after her cooking demo in Glenisk's pop-up store on Dawson Street to join the class.
Before we started sushi rolling, we sat down and enjoyed an informal Japanese style tea ceremony using matcha (green powder tea) and chatted about everything Japanese from Lily's experience at a formal Japanese tea ceremony while she lived in Japan to Kate's adventures with matcha in her baking at The Wild Flour Bakery.
I had so much fun holding these Japanese classes for the Irish Food Blogging Community. I want to thank everyone who attended for making it such a great success.
For more details on my cooking classes and demos please email me at
Click here to see my Japanese cooking & sushi class - part I

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Pandan Swiss roll cake recipe

Apologies for posting this recipe a little late. I've been busy running a series of basic Japanese cooking and sushi classes for the Irish Food Blogging Community. I'm also offering cooking classes from September to the public. If you're interested in attending one of my classes you can contact me on I'm really enjoying this new venture and all the new challenges that come with it.

4 eggs (preferably free range or organic) at room temperature
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour (sieved)
1 tbsp pandan extract
1 large pot of Avonmore whipped cream (add a few teaspoons of icing sugar and mix well)
Icing sugar for dusting

You'll need a Swiss roll tin (10" x 15"or 13" x 9")

  1. Preheat a fan oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar in an electric mixer for about 10 minutes until nice and fluffy.
  3. Add a tablespoon of pandan extract and whisk again for less than a minute.
  4. Using a large spoon fold the sieved flour into the mix. Make sure that the flour is completely mixed into the egg and sugar mix. 
  5. Carefully line a baking tin with grease proof paper (I grease this lightly with butter).
  6. Pour the batter onto the baking tin (using a spatula gently even out the batter).
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the baking tin. 
  9. Turn the cake over onto a clean tea towel. Now carefully tear away the greaseproof paper from the cake.
  10. Roll the cake in a clean tea towel and allow to cool (this will avoid it breaking later).
  11. Unfold the cake when it is cool and spread the whipped cream mix evenly on the cake. 
  12. Roll again and dust with icing sugar.
  13. Put in the fridge until ready to eat. 

Monday, 19 August 2013

My Japanese cooking & sushi class

Since I started my blog in early 2012 I've met a wonderful circle of friends in the Irish Food Blogging Community. Last Sunday, I held a class in my home to teach them the basics of Japanese home cooking and sushi making.

Here's a picture of Marian from making a cup of matcha tea using matcha powder and a bamboo whisk.

During the class the group practised rolling different types of sushi. We prepared gluten free and vegan ingredients for Marian from

Once we were finished sushi rolling we sat down to enjoy a home cooked authentic Japanese meal. We also had miso soup made from homemade fish stock (dashi) that we made during the class and some lotus root pickle that I had in the fridge.

My next cooking class which is on August 24th is fully booked but if you're interested in attending one of my cooking classes or to check when the next one is available please email me on

I want to say a special thanks to the Asia Market in Dublin who provided goodie bags to support my cooking class.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Have you ever heard of pandan?

I didn't really know anything about pandan until I met a Chinese lady at a party my sister was hosting last week. She brought a pandan swiss roll cake to the party so we got talking about what pandan is and how it is used in cooking and baking in Southeast Asia. Although it isn't really used in Japan I was very interested to learn about pandan and thought you'd find this post interesting.

Pandan is a leaf that's often called the vanilla of Southeast Asia. It has a beautiful smell and adds flavour and colour to dishes. 

Fresh pandan leaves are available in the Asian market in Dublin however depending on where you live it may be difficult to find them so you could use bottled pandan extract instead. I have to mention that it's not as nice as the homemade version and it contains some ingredients that I couldn't even attempt to pronounce!

I will post a recipe for pandan Swiss roll cake in the next few days. Here's my instructions for making homemade pandan extract.

You will need:
- Fresh pandan leaves
- Blender or a pestle and mortar
- Sieve
- Large bowl
- Water 
- Small container or jar with a lid

1. Wash the pandan leaves and cut off any parts that don't look fresh.

2. Chop the pandan leaves as finely as you can because the leaf is very tough and the blender will struggle with large pieces. 

3. Place the chopped pandan in a blender.

4. Pour some water into the blender to help blend the leaves together to form a paste (the water content should not go above the level of the chopped leaves.).

5. Blend until the chopped leaves are like a stringy green paste.  

6. Place a sieve over a large bowl and strain the pandan leaves through the sieve by pressing on the leaves or squeezing them. 

7. You'll see the dark green pandan extract sitting in the bowl below the sieve. Pour this into clean jam jars or any type of small container you can seal. 

8. Store in the fridge and stir before using as the most concentrated liquid will sink to the bottom.

These are just some of the health benefits associated with the pandan leaf:
- contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties
- soothes and heals various skin related problems
- chewing the leaf helps bad breath and improves the health of your gums
- helps with headaches, arthritis and stomach spasms
- heals various wounds
- helps women after giving birth with cramps and weakness 

The pandan will lose some of its flavour if it's frozen so try to use fresh pandan extract.
Store in the fridge for a few days or a little more. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Japanese street food recipe - chicken karaage

There are lots of festivals (known as matsuri) celebrated in Japan throughout the year and at each festival you'll find popular Japanese street food including takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), yakisoba (fried noodles), okonomiyaki (Japanese style pancake), ikayaki (fried squid) and chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken). At this time of year, the Obon festival takes place which is celebrated to honor the spirits of the dead. Here is my simple chicken karaage recipe to celebrate the Obon festival.

You can use chicken breast or chicken leg and thigh for this recipe. I prefer using chicken leg and thigh as it's much cheaper and tastier. Ask your butcher to remove the skin and bone and then just cut into bite size pieces.

2 chicken leg and thigh or 2 chicken breast (boneless, skinless and cut into bite size pieces)
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
Potato starch or cornflour (to coat the chicken pieces)
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Black or white sesame seeds (optional to decorate)
Few wedges of lemon (optional to garnish)


  1. Mix the sake, soy sauce and grated ginger in a medium size bowl. 
  2. Put the chicken pieces in the marinade and stir to make sure the chicken pieces are evenly covered in the marinade. 
  3. Leave in the fridge for about 20 minutes or a few hours (the longer the chicken is left in the marinade the tastier and more tender the meat will be). 
  4. Drain the marinade from the chicken pieces and pat with kitchen towel to remove the excess marinade.
  5. Place the potato starch or corn flour on a large plate and generously coat the chicken pieces.
  6. Heat the oil to 170 degrees Celsius and fry for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and a nice golden brown colour. 
  7. Arrange the chicken pieces on kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.
  8. Serve with lemon wedges, wasabi mayo or sesame seeds.

- If you like you can leave the skin on the chicken pieces.
- To check the oil temp drop a bit of potato starch into the saucepan if it drops to the bottom and immediately rises then the oil is hot enough. If you notice that the chicken pieces are starting to brown too fast then the oil temp is probably too hot.
- Do not overcrowd the saucepan or the temp of the oil will reduce.

- Check to see what Japanese festivals are in your area every year to get a chance to try Japanese street food. There is a Hanami festival in Dublin every year with a great selection of Japanese street food. Click here for more details.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


Nikujaga was one of my favourite Japanese dishes when I first moved to Japan as it reminded me a little of an Irish stew at home. This traditional Japanese stew has a sweet and salty flavour. It can be too sweet for some people so it might be best to add less sugar to the recipe and then add more at the end if you think the dish needs it. My Japanese friends tell me that Japanese people don't crave sugary desserts after their meals because sugar is added to most of their savoury dishes.

I've taken this recipe from one of my favourite Japanese chefs "Harumi Kunihara". Harumi has written several cookbooks in English and this particular recipe was taken from her book "Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking".

Thinly sliced beef is usually used for this recipe however sometimes I use steak mince instead as my little boy finds this easier to eat. Also I like to add a tablespoon of grated ginger to give a little kick to the dish and also enhance the nutritional value.

11/3 cups of potatoes (about 3 medium size potatoes)
1 large onion
Half lb (230g) finely sliced beef or steak mince meat
1 tablespoon of finely grated fresh ginger (optional)
1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil (for frying)
2 cups (about 500ml) dashi stock/ light fish stock  (to make instant dashi stock add 1 tsp of instant dashi granules to 500ml of water)
1/3 cup (80ml) soy sauce
3 tablespoon superfine/caster sugar
2 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sake

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop them evenly as you would for roast potatoes. Soak in water for 5-6 minutes to remove any excess starch, then drain. 
  2. Cut the onion into 6 wedge-shape pieces, then chop the beef into bite size pieces. 
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir-fry the potatoes, add the onions and beef and cook for a few minutes. Add the grated ginger at this stage if you are using it.
  4. Add the dashi stock, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake to the saucepan and simmer. Skim the surface and then place a wooden drop lid (or a circular piece of greaseproof paper slightly smaller than the saucepan with a hole in the center to allow steam to escape) on top. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked. 
  5. Taste before serving. If you want a richer flavour, add some soy sauce and extra sugar. Serve in bowls.  
- Like all one pot dishes this dish tastes even better the next day
- Carrots and daikon go really well in this recipe also.
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