I recently came across a lovely new recipe book – The Friendly Japanese Cookbook.
The Friendly Japanese Cookbook is “not only a good recipe book, but also a good way to help Japan”, it says on the cover – and it’s true. The book costs £5, and all proceeds go to the charity Seven Beach Aid. Seven Beach Aid was set up to support grass-roots projects around the town Shichigahama and the coast of the Tohoku region affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Although very simply put together, the book is a marvelous bargain for only £5, and contains lots of interesting recipes and information about Japanese food and ingredients. Everything in the book is in English, but there are also some words in Japanese which I found very helpful.
The recipes in the book range from classics, like tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) and yakiniku (a meat dish) to unusual Scottish/Japanese hybrid recipes, such as Japanese Stovies (known as ‘nikujaga’ in Japanese) and green tea scones.
The book includes one traditional recipe from Tohoku, and I thought I would try it out for my recipe this month. The recipe is called Tohoku Traditional Soup. Here’s an extract from the book:
As we are thinking about the Tohoku region, here is one of their traditional dishes, commonly known as Hittsumijiru (ひつみ汁) or Hattojiru (はっと汁) in Tohoku, or as Suiton (すいとん) in other parts of Japan. Hittsumijiru is a kind of dumpling soup, but its taste varies from one family to another family, from one village to another village. Ingredients are also different regionally. The recipe uses only vegetables, but you may add meat or fish as you wish.
I can see why this recipe would be popular in Tohoku, which gets very cold in the winter, as it was a very hearty, filling dish, and absolutely delicious!
I should note that I changed the recipe a little bit, using powdered dashi (stock) instead of making my own, and using a variety of mushrooms instead of shitake and shimeji. I also used whole vegetables where the recipe called for halves, as I didn’t want to waste anything.
Tohoku Traditional Soup
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 litres dashi
- 160g plain flour
- 130ml water
- pinch of salt
- 1 parsnip
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 4 baby leeks
- 4 shitake mushrooms and 2 bunches of shimeji mushrooms (or a variety of mushrooms)
- 30-40ml soy sauce
- 30ml sake (I used mirin instead)
If you’re making dashi from scratch, it’s best to do this first. If not, you can do it later and start with the dough.
Put the flour, water, and a pinch of salt into a bowl.
Mix them into a dough and knead it will on a floured surface.
Leave the dough for at least 1 hour.
Chop all of the vegetables.
Put all the vegetables and the dashi into a large saucepan. Bring the dashi to the boil.
Remove any scum from the surface.
Stretch the dough. Tear it off and put it into the soup piece by piece.
Add soy sauce, sake/mirin, and a pinch of salt.
Simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes.
Serve, and enjoy!
I’ll be back in April with a new recipe. If you have any suggestions, or perhaps you would like me to try one of your recipes from a book or website, please leave a comment below or get in touch! All the recipes I try on this blog have some connection to Japan and, because I don’t eat meat, they need to be vegetarian or pescetarian. I’m particularly interested in helping to promote Japanese recipe books, so do let me know if you have one I might like!