Friday, December 4, 2015

Best Newlywed Recipes: Winter

In our house, I do the cooking. I didn't really start cooking until we got married, because before then I had very simple tastes. And by simple I mean things like rice topped with a fried egg and soy sauce (still pretty much the best lunch!) but it turns out my husband is not so easily satisfied. And we have been a lot healthier since I've tried to cook every day and do as much as I can from scratch. It's been a little difficult learning how to cook in Japan, where foods are priced differently and there are different things available that I'm not used to cooking with--and at least when it comes to veggies, I think Japanese supermarkets have more variety than U.S. ones! The problem is learning how to use them. 

In this post, I list some favorite summer recipes. Now it's at least 20C cooler outside than when I wrote that post, and different foods are in season. Colder temps are for snuggling up with root vegetables! Here are some of my favorite go-to recipes:

This recipe forever changed the way I make chicken soup. I don't know if I've made it exactly like the recipe says except for the first time I tried it (I like to use chicken drummies for soup because I think the bones make it taste richer) and it works great of course with any soup-ish veggies you may have on hand, but now I never make a chicken soup without the secret ingredient: a squeeze of fresh lemon juice! So good. And I love any recipe that gets me eating citrus in winter. 

Tonjiru (Pork Miso Soup) Now for a soup of root veggies, Japanese-style! This recipe uses winter vegetables like daikon (giant white radish), gobo (burdock root), and hakusai (Chinese white cabbage), all of which are so cheap this time of year! The thin-cut pork cooked in sesame oil and ginger beforehand is just melt-in-your-mouth delicious. I must admit konnyaku never finds its way into my version of this soup; that's like the one Japanese food I really don't like.  

Japan has a thing for this kind of white, creamy Western-style stew. You can get the instant bouillon sauce mix for it at any supermarket (just add water!) but in my efforts to make things from scratch, I found this perfect recipe. I like it because it's light on dairy (no cream and only a little butter) which is pretty expensive here. The cream sauce is so easy to make and doesn't really require any more effort or time than the instant version. I often spice it up a bit with paprika and pepper. The photo shows the time I got some round rolls and made us bread bowls! 

Beef and Bok-Choy Stir-Fry Now finally one that's not a soup. I've been making a lot of stir-fries these days, because they're so easy and flexible, and with bowls of steaming rice the meal is complete. I don't think I've used beef in this recipe yet (in case you've not picked up on it yet, I'm pinching pennies where I can) but bok-choy is a great veggie and also very cheap in the winter season, and the sauce became my base for all stir-fries. I like to use soy sauce, an alcohol--usually sake--dried jalapenos cut up, and honey for sweetener instead of sugar. It's great! 

I think I enjoy eating in winter more than in the summer. I'm a fan of quick, easy, warming recipes that get me eating winter superfoods like lemon, garlic and ginger. Do you know any good winter recipes?


  1. Hi there,
    I'm enjoying reading your blog posts. It comforts me in a way to read about people living normal lives in Japan like I did before moving back home. I really miss it there, and can't wait to go back. In the meantime, thanks for updating your blog (even though I only just discovered it!)

    1. Well thank YOU for your comment! It made my morning^^
      I post about 2-4 times a month.
      I hope you can get back to the Japan you love!


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