Saturday, 26 April 2014

Japanese stir-fried okra vegetable recipe

My husband's grandparents are from Okinawa, Japan so he grew up on an Okinawan/ Japanese influenced diet. Okra is a green vegetable that is grown and popular in the Okinawan diet. I remember eating okra the first time I visited my husband's parents and couldn't believe how tasty it was in his mother's homemade Japanese seasoning. I haven't got her original recipe yet but here's my version of Japanese stir-fried okra, I hope you like it as much as we do in our house!

Few handfuls of okra
1 tbsp sake (Japanese rice wine)
Half tsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
Shichimi-togarashi (Japanese seven spice)

1. Wash the fresh okra under cold water and drain.

2. Using a sharp knife cut off the top and end of the okra. Then, slice about half an inch thick to allow the flavour to completely absorb into the okra pieces when stir-frying (see pic below).

3. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil on high heat on a non-stick frying pan.

4. Toss the okra pieces into the frying pan and after frying for about a minute add the sake and mix using a large spoon. Continue to fry for another minute. Then, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the okra and fry for another minute continuing to mix.

5. Finally pour the soy sauce over the okra. Take off the heat after one minute or less.

6. Season with shichimi-togarashi (Japanese seven spice).

- Okra can be found in Asian stores. 

- This dish can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container and eaten hot or cold.
- Leftovers are perfect for a bento box (Japanese lunchbox).

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Avoca Ireland - new food market in the Rathcoole store

Avoca is a successful Irish family run business with stores dotted around the country from Wicklow to Galway. The Avoca store in Rathcoole, Co Dublin (just off the N7 and near Citywest) is the nearest one to me and it's one of my favourite places to visit for a special treat or to meet up with family or friends. 

In late 2013 an exciting new food market was added to Avoca's flagship store in Rathcoole. Here's an insight into the new food market and other random things that I love about this store!

Michie Sushi Bar (Michie Sushi has two other restaurants in Dublin).

Lunch deal for €10 and a sushi take-away service. 

As a Tipperary girl I'm delighted to see the well-known James Whelan Butcher Shop from Tipperary who recently wrote his own book along with Katy McGuinness called "The Irish Beef Book".

Rotisserie Cooked Chicken with a sandwich bar (voted best sandwich by LovinDublin).

Fresh fruit and vegetables supporting local Irish producers such as The Happy Pear

Bakery with freshly baked scones, danish pasteries and white/ brown breads. 

Great selection of cakes and buns. On a recent visit I got this custard bun for just over €1 which reminded me of my honeymoon in Lisbon, Portugal. 

You can have something to eat and/ or a coffee in either the self-service Birdcage Cafe or the Egg Cafe. I'd recommend the Egg Cafe for brunch facing the window looking onto Rathcoole's beautiful park. 

Avoca has a decent selection of Japanese ingredients including different types of Irish seaweed packed in a user-friendly manner. They also stock stylish bento boxes. 

Local Irish producers are featured throughout the store including Irish seaweed skin-care and beauty products such as Green Angel and Voya. They also stock organic fake tan!

Click here to find out more about Avoca.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Home-cooked Chirashi Zushi Recipe

Chirashi-zushi is often made by Japanese people when entertaining at home and celebrating special occasions, it translates as scattered sushi. It's a bowl of sushi rice with different toppings scattered on top including shredded egg crepe.

I love making this recipe for family picnics and call it "chirashi-zushi bento". If you want to use raw fish then ask your fishmonger for sashimi/ sushi grade fish and take care that you eat it as soon as possible once prepared. 

For the sushi rice
2 cups of Japanese rice (320g)
100ml rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
Half tsp salt

For the sushi fillings and toppings
2 eggs (preferably free range or organic), beaten
2 handfuls of edamame beans or petit pois
2 handfuls of sweetcorn
1 tin of tuna in brine (or cooked prawns/ crabmeat/ smoked salmon)
Goatsbridge trout caviar (optional to garnish)

Sesame oil and vegetable oil


1. Click here to see how to make sushi rice.

2. To make the egg crepe, lightly oil a non-stick frying pan on medium to high heat. Depending on the size of your pan place about half the egg mix on the frying pan so you have a very thin layer of egg like a crepe. Now adjust the heat to low and leave the egg on the pan until the edges of the egg crepe start to break away from the pan. Set aside on a large plate. Continue to do this until all the egg mix is cooked. Place the egg crepes on top of each other as you cook them. When you're finished roll the pile of egg crepes together. Then using a sharp knife cut into thin stripes to get shredded egg crepe.

3. Once the sushi rice is ready mix half of the tuna, petit pois and sweetcorn into the rice.

4. Place the rice mix in a large serving dish. 

5. Scatter the remaining tuna, petite pot and sweetcorn over the rice mix and toss the shredded egg crepe all over. For extra flavour lightly drizzle sesame oil.

6. If you are using fish eggs to garnish place them over the rice mix in clusters as shown in the picture. 

This recipe allows you to add whatever ingredients you like including vegetables only or cooked chicken, meat or fish (raw or cooked).
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