I’m enamored with the array of purple vegetables that I find in Okinawan farmer’s markets. One such delight is the fujimame, but it is also known by several other names including hyacinth bean, dolichos lab-lab, pharaoh bean, Egyptian bean, Indian bean, and Chinese flowering bean. It’s no surprise that this bean gets around, considering its beautiful appearance and crisp texture. Continue reading
Our garden is overflowing with lettuce, so I brought salad to a recent bbq. People suspiciously eyed the flowers on top, but this salad was a hit! Expressions of doubt were replaced with delight, thanks to the edible nasturtium flower.
Nasturtium imparts a spicy flavor to a dish, similar to watercress. It best complements a sweet lettuce, and contrasts nicely with the bright citrus notes of yuzu. Let’s get real though, nasturtiums are here to look pretty; they make salad sexy. Continue reading
Body scrubs are ridiculously cheap and easy to make. You can use all sorts of things to make a body scrub: beans, grains, salt, sugar, herbs, flowers, or spices. A body scrub should be edible. If you can’t put it in your mouth, you probably shouldn’t put it on your skin. Continue reading
Gobo (ゴボウ) is the Japanese name for burdock. It’s a root vegetable that has a very pleasant and earthy taste. Kinpira (きんぴら) is a Japanese cooking style that employs two cooking methods in one pot: sauté and simmer. Hurray, for one less dish to wash!
I had been taking burdock medicinally for a while before we moved to Okinawa to treat inflammation and eczema. Burdock supports the liver, acts as a mild diuretic, and is well-known as a blood purifier. It’s particularly good for treating the pitta dosha. When we arrived on island I saw lots of fresh burdock; I was excited to try cooking with it. I chopped it up and threw it into a soup. It was ok, nothing great though. I tried it a few more times because it was local, and good for me. I just wanted to like it better. Continue reading
Furry cakey? What the heck is furikake?! It’s delicious Japanese seasoning mix! Furikake can be added to onigiri (rice balls), or sprinkled over rice and vegetables to jazz things up. Generally, it’s got some seaweed, fish, and sesame seeds. Then there are other flavorings like umeboshi, clam, shiso, bonito, egg, miso, or vegetables.
Some of the furikake packages contain MSG and other ingredients I’d rather skip. My favorite kind is the umeboshi, or pickled plum. As with most things, the fresher the ingredient, the better the taste. Feel free to add whatever you like into your furikake mix. So, on to the makings of DIY furikake! Continue reading
Kitchari is like the Ayurvedic version of chicken noodle soup. It’s great for cleansing, resting the digestive system, and for when you’re feeling under the weather. Also, it’s a nourishing and comforting food. I especially like kitchari when I notice that my digestion is off from eating too many meals away from home.
The basics of kitchari are basmati rice, mung dhal, and plenty of water. This can be cooked into a watery soup or a thick porridge. The mung (or moong) dhal are split and de-hulled mung beans. Instead of the whole green mung bean, look for the split yellow type. They cook faster and are easier to digest. Mung beans are balancing for all the doshas. White basmati is also easier to digest than brown basmati. Continue reading
I made some steamed beni imo and was feeling ho-hum about mashed beni imo or a soup. I wanted something crunchy, like roasted beni imo or beni imo chips, but I don’t have a real oven. We only have a fish grill, which works great for… um… fish. And nothing else. So, I made sweet potato cakes in a pan.
These can be made with any ol’ variety of sweet potato. Beni imo is my fav, it’s local, and that’s what I had in my pantry. I went with Indian spices, but it’s a pretty flexible recipe, so use whatever strikes your fancy. Garam Masala is a combination of roasted spices. If you don’t have this on hand, I have a recipe for it here! It will only take a few extra minutes and is totally worth it. Plus you can store it for several months. Continue reading
Beautiful. Simple. Fresh. I always make this salad when I have dragon fruit. It’s eye-popping and delicious. To me it tastes like a soft mix of kiwi, pear, and chia seed. Continue reading
There’s an old saying in Okinawa that says, “When life hands you shikuwasas… celebrate with shikuwasa-ade.” Ok, they don’t say that, but they should. I was thrilled to find shikuwasa at the market this week. I’ve been eagerly waiting for them to show up this year.
Dainty little shikuwasa. Oh, how I love thee. It’s called an Okinawan lime, but I think it’s much tastier than lime. If lime and tangerine had a teeny tiny little baby, it would be named shikuwasa. Continue reading
Kabocha is a winter squash, but it’s often called Japanese Pumpkin. I remember seeing it occasionally in the states. Additionally, a kabochayarou is a man with an unattractive, unusually-shaped face. Yay! Fun Japanese words!