Appetizers, Dinner, Fish, Japanese, Lactose Free, Recipes

Tuna Tartare with Avocado & Radish

June 17, 2016

Tuna Tartare with Avocado & Radish

Over the years, we have enjoyed many different versions of tuna tartare.  The best have been at favorite restaurants (those from Plouf in San Francisco and BLT in Honolulu come to mind).  However, with this recipe, we are making a version at home which rivals or even surpasses our previous favorites.  It’s hard not to love this tuna tartare.  There’s something about the rich and creamy avocado, silky fish, and delightful ponzu-like dressing.  It all goes together so very well.  And, it’s really the perfect summer meal for a warm day when cooking over the stove or turning on the oven just seems out of the question.  This dish relies on using the best quality sashimi grade tuna. Fresh, well chilled, and cut just this morning type-of-tuna from a reliable source is what you are looking for.  I can’t wait to make it again.

Sashimi Grade Ahi (yellowfin tuna)

Though I usually pay a dear price for the tuna at Whole Foods, I find the quality to be superb.  I always ask the staff at the counter whether the fish was cut that morning.  If it has been sitting around for more than a day, I skip it, and try again the following week. I find it most satisfying when the fish is very well chilled before serving.  Keep the fish in the refrigerator until you are ready to plate and serve the tartare.


I didn’t eat radishes when I was a child, except for the long and slender daikon variety that is commonly used to make Japanese pickled takuan.  These days I enjoy these pretty red radishes in salads as well as in this ahi tartare preparation.  The secret is to slice them ever so thinly and soak them in an ice water bath for a half hour to really crisp them up.

Chili Oil

Tuna Tartare with Avocado & Radish + Taro Chips

Serve the tartare with taro chips as an appetizer or as an entrée with rice and a side of crispy vegetable tempura.

Tuna Tartare with Rice & Vegetable Tempura

Tuna Tartare with Avocado & Radish
A lovely appetizer for a warm summer evening. Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.
Serves: 4 as an appetizer
  • Dressing:
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest (from two small or one large lime)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • Tuna:
  • 10 ounces sashimi grade tuna, very finely diced and well chilled
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced seeded serrano chile
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • kosher salt
  • 1 large avocado, halved, pitted and finely diced
  • 2 radishes very thinly sliced, chilled in an ice water bath for 30 minutes
  • chili oil
  1. Combine lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil (this will happen in no time at all). Transfer liquid to a small glass bowl, cover and let cool completely. Strain cooled liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Whisk in soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger. The dressing can be made 2 days in advance. Cover and chill.
  2. Toss tuna with 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Add chile and shallot, season lightly with salt.
  3. Mix diced avocado with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt.
  4. To assemble the tuna tartare, you may use a round mold or gently shape the avocado with your hands as I do, onto a serving platter. Arrange tuna over the avocado keeping a circular shape. Spoon some of dressing over the tuna and around the avocado. Top with radish slices and more dressing. Drizzle with chili oil. Serve right away.


Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Korean, Lactose Free, Pork, Recipes, Rice Dishes

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice

June 7, 2016

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice Kimchi and Spam are staples in many households here in Hawaii.  Crunchy, pungent, spicy, kimchi pairs perfectly with a bowl of steaming rice and Korean hamburger patties.  And Spam?  Well, there are lovers and haters, just as there are for cilantro, Marmite, and anchovies…. Everyone I know loves a bowl of homemade fried rice and most would not turn down this version with kimchi, Spam and a perfectly  fried egg.  Spam may look unappealing straight out of the can, but once fried up into crispy little Spam croutons, it pairs perfectly with rice of any kind.  You ought to give it a try!

KimchiThere is an abundance of kimchi choices at the markets.  Use your favorite brand, but choose one that has a medium heat level rather than mild.

Glorious SPAM!Glorious SPAM!  I always chuckle when I see this little guy on the can.

Crispy Fried SpamFrying the Spam until each piece is perfectly crisp makes all the difference.  You won’t be able to avoid nibbling on them before they make it into the fried rice.

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice
Adapted from Kenji's Serious Eats recipe.
Serves: 6
  • 5 cups cooked jasmine rice (I use my rice cooker and the measuring cup that came with it - 2 cups uncooked rice)
  • 1½ cups finely chopped kimchi, about 325g (kimchi drained with 3 tablespoons liquid reserved)
  • canola oil
  • 1 12-ounce can Spam, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 cups finely diced onion
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • fried eggs, for serving
  • 1 Fresno chili thinly sliced (optional)
  • Sriracha hot sauce, for serving
  1. Cook rice and let cool completely. I cook my rice in the morning and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. For this dish it is better to use day old rice.
  2. Place kimchi in a mesh strainer set over a bowl. Squeeze out excess liquid (reserve 3 tablespoons liquid). Finely chop kimchi.
  3. Heat a few teaspoons of canola oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add Spam cubes and cook, tossing frequently, until well browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Wipe out wok.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons canola oil over medium heat and sauté onions until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add ½ tablespoon canola oil to wok. Increase heat to medium high and heat until oil just begins to smoke. Add the rice and cook, stirring and tossing, until rice is warmed. Press rice against the sides of the wok to crisp up (like bibimbap and tag dig). Add onion and garlic mixture, kimchi, Spam, and ⅓ cup scallions tossing with rice to combine. Pour in reserved kimchi juice and season generously with black pepper. Add sesame oil, fish sauce and cilantro. Toss to combine.
  6. Serve fried rice in ceramic bowls, topped with a fried egg, reserved 1 tablespoon scallions, Fresno peppers and sriracha sauce.


Japanese, Lactose Free, Recipes, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Miso Turmeric Dressing

May 26, 2016

Miso Turmeric DressingThis is a beautiful and versatile dressing.  It’s delicious with chopped iceberg lettuce and cucumbers, or drizzled over a crisp watercress salad.   It’s the perfect match for a cool summer soba salad with finely shredded red cabbage and pan-fried tofu.

White MisoThis Hawaiian Style Mellow White Miso is perfect for this dressing.  It has a semi-sweet flavor that compliments the rest of the ingredients.

White Miso

Ground Turmeric

Shredded Ginger & CarrotThe dressing can be prepared in less than 10 minutes.  All the ingredients are whisked together in a small bowl.  That’s it!  It will keep nicely in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.

Miso Turmeric Dressing with Soba Salad

Miso Turmeric Dressing
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Serves: about 1 cup
  • ⅓ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2½ tablespoons finely grated carrot
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve over crisp salad greens such as iceberg lettuce, watercress, chopped cabbage or use as a dressing for soba salad.


Dinner, Japanese, Lactose Free, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies

Crunchy Cabbage & Ramen Noodle Salad

May 15, 2016

Crunchy Cabbage & Ramen Noodle Salad

This is the perfect salad to take on a summer picnic or potluck party.  Everything can be prepared in advance and put together in one bowl just before serving.  I love the crunchy texture of the cabbage, ramen and almonds.  Sometimes I’ll add leftover shredded rotisserie chicken to the salad.  You could also add baked or pan-fried tofu for a tasty vegetarian lunch.  This is a salad, with its refreshing ingredients and delicious dressing, that I will never get tired of eating.

Ramen Noodles

Though the ramen is already baked, I prefer to enhance it just a bit to make it very crisp. I toast the crushed ramen in my toaster oven for 4 minutes before adding it to the salad.

Slaw Mix

Crunchy Cabbage & Ramen Noodle Salad


Crunchy Cabbage & Ramen Noodle Salad
Adapted from the kitchn blog recipe
Serves: 4
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot (about 3 ounces)
  • ¼ cup shelled edamame
  • ¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil (Kadoya brand recommended)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds, white, black or a combination of both
  • 1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles, crushed and toasted (discard seasoning packet)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Place shredded cabbage, carrot and edamame in a large bowl.
  2. Combine seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil, canola oil, honey, and sesame seeds in a jar. Shake to combine ingredients.
  3. Preheat toaster oven (or oven) to 325 degrees. Spread crushed ramen noodles on a foil lined baking sheet and toast for about 4 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn't burn.
  4. Toast sliced almonds for 4 -5 minutes. If you use your oven, you'll have enough space to toast the ramen and almonds at the same time (on separate pans). The ramen and almonds should be slightly toasted with just a hint of golden color.
  5. Add dressing to the cabbage mixture by the spoonful. Toss, then fold in ramen, green onions and almonds. Toss again and serve right away.










Dinner, Japanese, Lactose Free, Pork, Recipes, Sauces

Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

May 5, 2016

Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

Virtually anything grilled with Granny’s teriyaki sauce is terrific.  Sometimes we grill tofu, sometimes chicken, occasionally fish, or in this case for the first time, pork tenderloin.  It’s such an easy meal to whip up on a week night and leftovers are more than welcome the following day.  Pork tenderloin is lean and because of its compact size, it cooks quickly which means dinner is on the table in no time.  A side of Japanese rice and baby bok choy makes the perfect meal.

Pork Tenderloin Marinating

Place the sauce and pork in a bowl, or even better, a Ziplock bag.  Refrigerate for a few hours, turning occasionally.

Grilling Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

Use a gas or charcoal grill.  This time we used our gas grill and started cooking over indirect heat (to about 95 – 100 degrees internal temperature) then finished over direct heat to 145 degrees, basting occasionally with sauce. Our favorite digital thermometer the Thermapen is essential for perfect doneness. This cooking technique is also known as the reverse sear.  The traditional method is to sear the meat first and finish in the oven or on the grill over indirect heat.  The reverse sear method prevents an over done “gray” rind and the meat cooks more evenly with  a consistent  doneness and color from edge to center. Voila!  In less than half an hour our pork tenderloin is ready.

Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin


Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin
Serves: 2 generous servings
  • 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
  • Granny's teriyaki sauce
  • Reserve ¼ cup sauce for basting pork
  • Save remainder for finishing as described below
  1. Trim pork tenderloin removing any visible fat and silver skin. Trim off the ends if they are very thin so that the pork tenderloin is of uniform size. The trimmings can be frozen for another meal (tacos!).
  2. Place pork tenderloin in a Ziplock bag with ½ cup of teriyaki sauce. Seal bag and place in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 hours. Turn bag occasionally so the pork is well marinated.
  3. When you are ready to grill the pork, remove it from the bag and discard marinade. Grill the pork by reverse sear method, basting occasionally with the reserved ¼ cup sauce, until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees on a digital thermometer.
  4. Meanwhile, simmer the reserved teriyaki sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the sauce becomes a bit thick and syrupy. Set aside.
  5. Let pork rest for 5 minutes then slice into ½ inch pieces. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce and serve with rice and steamed boy choy.







Japanese, Lactose Free, Potato Salad, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes

Japanese Potato Salad

April 23, 2016

Japanese Potato SaladJapanese potato salad has much in common with the American version however it does have a few unique twists.  The potatoes are crushed instead of cubed, and an assortment of vegetables are added such as cucumbers, carrots, onions, corn. Finely chopped ham and hardboiled eggs can also be combined in this wonderful potato salad.  Occasionally I will add a handful of green peas.  Many recipes call for Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise however my personal preference is to use regular mayonnaise. Either way, this is a delicious salad that everyone loves.

Japanese Cucumber

Japanese cucumbers are readily available at our local markets in Hawaii, however, if you don’t have access to them, any small, seedless cucumber works.  Slice them very thin. I use my favorite Benriner mandoline.

Japanese Cucumber & Onion

I have made this salad without ham (top photo) and with ham below. Both are equally delicious.

Japanese Potato Salad

Japanese Potato Salad


Japanese Potato Salad
Serves: 6 - 8
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" cubes
  • 1 small carrot, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into thin half moons (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium Japanese or other seedless cucumber very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, finely chopped
  • ½ cup thinly sliced ham, optional
  • ¼ cup green peas, optional
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put the potatoes in a saucepan of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, and easily pierced with a fork, 10 - 15 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the thinly sliced cucumber and onion with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside for 10 minutes, then rinse gently and press out the liquid using a clean dish cloth or paper towels. This is an important step that will prevent your potato salad from becoming soggy.
  3. Blanch carrots in boiling water for just a minute or two. The carrots should be al dente and still have a slight crunch. You may microwave the carrots in water if you prefer. Drain, pat dry and set aside.
  4. Whisk rice vinegar with the sugar until it dissolves. Whisk in mayonnaise.
  5. Place potatoes in a large, wide bowl and crush with a wooden spoon leaving a few small chunks for texture. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise mixture, vegetables, chopped egg, ham, and peas if using. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Chill for an hour before serving.



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