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
It’s very tasty, and something that I now enjoy each night before bed. In ayurveda, this golden milk is helpful for calming vata and clearing mucus from kapha. Milk increases our ojas, or immunity, and we want all the ojas we can get! It keeps away coughs and sniffles during the winter months and between seasonal shifts. We enjoyed the cherry blossom festival last weekend on Okinawa, so spring has already sprung and it’s not even yet February (try telling that to the trapped motorists on snowy Atlanta roads last night or anyone who survived the 2014 “polar vortex”). 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
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!
So many names for this guy! So, is it really a gourd or a melon? When ripe, it’s used as a vegetable, but the unripe “fruit” is very sweet, and is used as a fruit. Interesting? I think so too! At least the Japanese could decide on one name. It’s called a Tougan (冬瓜). The kanji in this word is for winter 冬and melon瓜. Yay for fun with kanji! Why did this winter melon show up at the farmers market last month and not in December? It actually ripens during the summer, but because of the waxy exterior, it lasts long through the winter.
This vegetable is useful in ayurveda for both pitta and kapha. It’s very cooling for pitta during the summertime. It helps balance acidity for those with pitta issues like ulcers. It is also useful for diabetics and those desiring to lose weight. It’s also a diuretic so it will support in detoxification. Continue reading
My friend came to visit last month. We had an amazing time traveling around Okinawa, Osaka and Kyoto. That probably goes without saying though. We found ourselves on an ice cream kick in Okinawa, before heading to Osaka and Kyoto. It all started with ube ice cream then we moved on to green tea ice cream. There was some Okinawan sugar cookie, pistachio, vanilla and beni imo ice cream mixed in there as well. I’m addicted to the ube ice cream which is a type of purple potato. It tastes like carnivals and magic. I know you want some now, but it’s not what this post is about! Gomennasai. Seriously, we probably ate 14 ice cream scoops each in the 2 weeks she was here. We may, or may not have had double ice cream on some days. What can I say? It was really hot!! Continue reading