Photos of Japan

January 6, 2010

One of the writers of this blog has just been back to Japan.  If you are feeling a bit natsukashi or just want to drool over Japaness then check out her flickr page to see lots of her fab photos.

She also has some great sets on japanese street fashion.


Japanese Food: Okonomiyaki Recipe

November 2, 2009

This month’s recipe provided by Atsuko, of Atsuko’s Kitchen, London.


Okonomi means ‘favourite’, as you can choose your favourite toppings to put onto the pancake. ‘Yaki’ means ‘grilled’.

It is a well known regional speciality of the Kansai area, which includes Kyoto and Osaka.  It is a very popular Japanese street food, commonly eaten at festivals as well as restaurants. Here the customers can cook their own okonomiyaki at their table, and eat it straight away from the hot
The ingredients are very simple and one of my friends named it “economy
yaki”… That make sense! But you can always select a good quality
topping if you make at it at home.

Make a small size so that it is easy to turn over, and add a variety of
toppings. Serve it while it is hot, to watch the katsuobushi (bonito
flakes) dancing on the top of okonomiyaki!  This is fun at the party.

400g white cabbage
4 spring onions
4 eggs
For frying:
4 tbsp  vegetable oil
For the mixture:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
300ml dashi (Japanese stock – you can buy powder in Oriental supermarkets)
20g yamaimo (fresh Japanese yam potato available in the Japanese grocery
shop in London)
For toppings:
4 thin sliced pork belly
4 prawns
1 squid (sliced)
200g grated cheese
A cup of sweetcorn
For the sauce:
okonomiyaki sauce
ainori ( green nori powder )
katsuobushi ( bonito flakes )

1. To make the mixture, mix flour and baking powder in a bowl and add
dashi slowly to break any lumps of flour, and blend well. * don’t stir
too much as it will become a doughy texture.
2. Grate yama imo finely ( or use powdered yama imo ) and add to the
mixture. It will be very slimy to touch, but gives it a soft texture.
3. Chop cabbage and spring onion finely.

1. Add the eggs to the cabbage and spring onion in a large bowl, mix
2. Add the pancake mixture to the cabbage mixture then mix gently.
3. Heat the large frying pan with high heat. When hot, spread the pan
with oil. Spoon the mixture into the frying pan.
* make small portions, so it is easy to turn over. Repeat to make about
12 okonomiyaki. (3 per person)
Okonomiyaki 4. Reduce the heat to medium, put your favourite toppings on the surface
of the mixture then wait until the bottom turns brown.
* don’t press down on the okonomiyaki or they will become hard and may
not cook well.
5. Turn the okonomiyaki, and cook for a further 4-6 mins.
6. When the topping is cooked well, turn it over again.
7. Spread the top with okonomiyaki sauce, and mayonnaise, then sprinkle
with katsuobushi and watch it ‘dancing’ in the heat.  Add aonori for extra flavour

Japanese Festival (London)

August 29, 2009
Japanese Festival London

Japanese Festival London

A celebration of Japan and its rich culture, arts & crafts at one of London’s most vibrant markets. Situated in the heart of the city, Spitalfields offers a unique spot for East to meet West. Whether you are a londoner, missing home or have a bit of curiosity, this will be a fantastic opportunity for you to experience some of the most exciting entertainment in London, delight in exquisite Wa-shoku (Japanese cuisine) and get involved in as many interactive arts & crafts events as you can think of throughout the day.

If you are a Japanese business or performer who would like to get involved, you can contact the organisers:

When: Saturday, 19th September 2009, 10am – 8pm.

Where: Spitalfields Market, nearest tube Liverpool Street Station.

For more information: visit the Japan Festival website.

Japanese Recipe – kinpira Renkon

August 23, 2009

Thanks to Atsuko’s Kitchen, which specialises in Japanese homestyle cookery classes, for our new monthly Japanese food feature.

Kinpira Renkon

Kinpira Renkon

On a sunny day, why not make a bento (lunch box) and have a picnic in the park.

Kinpira is a style of Japanese dish, using crunchy vegetables and basic Japanese seasonings.  It’s commonly found in bento boxes, as it’s quick and simple to make.

Renkon is also know as lotus root and can be found fresh, vacuum packed, or frozen, from Asian supermarkets (see the directory for a list).  It is full of fibre and vitamin B12, which helps absorb iron.  It’s important not to cook it too long as it ruins the crunchy texture.

You could also make this dish with other types of root vegetables such as parsnips, salad potatoes or celery.


300g renkon (lotus root)

1 carrot

1 age (friend tofu)


1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)

3 tbsp shoyu (dark soy sauce)

1 taka no tsume (chili pepper)

A small pinch of ground sesame seeds


1. Slice the renkon and carrots into thin round slices. *If you use fresh renkon you need to soak it in water and a dash of vinegar for 10 mins then strain it. This will remove any bitter taste and stop it from darkening.

2. Wash the age in boiling water.  Squeeze the excess water from the age and dice.

3. Remove the seeds from the chili and slice as thinly as possible.

4. Heat the frying pan, add the sesame oil.

5. Fry the renkon and carrots.  When the oil has coated all the vegetables, then add the sugar, mirin and 2tbsp of shoyu.  Sprinkle the chili over the ingredients in the pan evenly.

6. Add 1/3 of a cup of water and bring it to the boil.  Cover pan with a lid.

7. Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 4 mins.

8. Take the lid off, add 1tbsp of shoyu and increase the heat until the liquid has evapourated.

9. Finish by serving sprinkled with ground sesame.

10. Serve in a bento box or as a side dish.

More to come next month…

Atsuko’s Kitchen: Japanese Cooking Classes (London)

July 27, 2009
Atsuko - Japanese Cookery London

Atsuko - Japanese Cookery London

Atsuko is a very lovely lady from the Kyushyuu region of Japan.  She regularly holds Japanese cookery classes for beginners and advanced students at the Grocery, Dalston.  The classes focus on homestyle Japanese cooking and show how Japanese cusine is more than just sushi (and so delicious too!).

All ingredients are provided for these very hands on classes  and you get to eat the food after you have cooked it.

Beginners learn the basics such as perfect rice and miso soup, teriyaki and nikujaga and some other lesser know gems and tips.

Atsuko is also holding some ‘advanced’ classes during August for those who have completed the beginners course.



When: Starts 4th August for 3 weeks.

Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Where: The Grocery, 54 -56 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DP.

Cost: £99.00 for 3 classes including all ingredients.