FYI: Shio-Koji


Shio-Koji is a Japanese condiment made from salt, and rice inoculated by koji, the mold used to make sake and miso.  It is a “live” food which is rich in enzymes which brings out the flavour in foods ; it works particularly well with fish and meats (chicken/pork).  The saltiness is actually mild and sweet, it can be used in place of salt in any dish or sauces. Saveur magazine recently included shio-koji in their 2014 Top 100 list (

As recommended, the golden ratio is 1:10 (shio-koji weight : weight of ingredient).

A couple of months ago I went on a grocery shopping trip with my Twin and picked up my shio-koji from Izumi-ya, a Japanese food store in Richmond, BC. Last weekend her husband Shin showed me how to use it as a marinade for the grilled mackerel, I will be posting the simple delicious recipe shortly.

To my “Twin” and Shin, thank you very much for sharing and expanding my culinary knowledge (OO).

February 19th, 2014 Radio Show RECAP

IMG_8884Hi everyone, thank you very much for tuning in this morning! Here are the links to the information which I mentioned on Ms. Deborah Moore’s “Modern Deborah” on AM 1470; I have already posted the restaurant review and Soba / Mackerel (Saba) recipes!

If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me at  ENJOY (OO)

Food events around Vancouver:

Information on Sustainable seafood:

Vendors visited at Granville Island for seafood:  (this is where we bought the mackerel)

Miku Restaurant: (my review posted under Sunday lunch @ Miku)

Other Resources: (Japanese food store/delicatessen)

Sunday Lunch @ Miku

IMG_0886Avid Japanese food lovers are no strangers to Miku and its sister restaurant, Minami, which both specialize in aburi sushi (lightly seared nigiri sushi that has been torched with open flame).

During the holiday season, I decided to try Miku (new location at 70-200 Granville Street, next to Canada Place) with my friend Helene, who was visiting from Hong Kong for an early Sunday lunch.  I made the reservations through OpenTable (it’s so convenient!); although it was an early lunch, the restaurant was already fairly busy, the coveted window seats (with waterfront view) were all occupied and we were seated very close to the bar in the mid-section.

We had to wait much longer than expected to place our orders; I do appreciate the efforts of another server(who was working at the bar), who jumped in and provided us with attentive service, ensuring things were moving along smoothly and our dishes were delivered promptly.

We decided to share three courses and dessert:

IMG_0885Kaiso Seaweed Salad – a medley of organic baby greens, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, radish, crunchy arare (bite-size Japanese cracker) with sesame ponzu vinaigrette – it was a nicely dressed salad with balanced flavours, I would definitely order this again.

Aburi Sushi Lunch (Picture shown in Header) – consists of 8 pieces from their selection of their aburi, oshi and roll sushi, served with miso soup, each piece is paired with their own special sauce. This is definitely an excellent introductory “course for anyone who doesn’t have any previous experience with aburi sushi; my favourites were the salmon oshi (with jalapeño and special Miku Sauce) and the ebi oshi (pressed prawn with lime zest and ume (Japanese plum) sauce). 

Kaisen Soba Peperoncino – Soba noodles “stir fried” with soy, garlic, olive oil, shrimp, squid, baby Bok choy, sweet peppers, shiitake mushrooms and tempura bits. It has all the elements of a great tasting “fusion” dish and the spiciness was just right; however we found the noodles a bit greasy.

IMG_0891Lemon Cream – poached pears, gingerbread cookie, kaffir lime sauce. The dessert exceeded my expectations; the “tartness’ of the cream was balanced nicely with the sweetness of pears and mixed fruits. Overall it was very pleasing to the palate.

I’ve been to Minami a few times before and this was my first visit to Miku; I guess I may have gone with slightly high expectations. Although the initial slow service was a bit disappointing, I must say the oshi sushi was still exceptional; it is still on balance worth a second try.


Miku – #70 – 200 Granville Street (by Canada Place)

Authentic Japanese flavours with fusion twists; high price point; reservations recommended (available through Indoor public parking available close by (next to Waterfront Sky train station); better yet, take the sky train on a nice day and enjoy a walk by the waterfront after lunch (OO).

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

RECIPE: Mushroom Soba Salad with Yuzu Ponzu Dressing

Mushroom Soba Salad with Ponzu Dressing

This is my friend’s own recipe, inspired by the different types of soba salads she has had; this light and tasty salad has become a staple on my menu.  I also made this for our New Year family gathering, and most recently for my friend’s birthday potluck party.

We made this dish together a few months ago when sea asparagus was in season; it was an excellent addition and added a different texture and taste (“sea-salt”) . As this is a homemade recipe, the quantities and ingredients can be changed according to your taste and dietary needs.

“Poached Pear Queen”, thank you very much for sharing (OO).

Ingredients: (Serves 4 – as light meal)

1 package 100% buckwheat noodles (200g), 1 Tablespoon grape seed oil, 6 to 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms (thinly sliced), 1 package white organic shimeji mushrooms (approx. 100g), 1 package organic buna shimeji (beech) mushrooms (approx. 100g), 1 to 2 cloves of garlic (finely minced), sugar snap peas 250 g (lightly blanched and sliced on the bias), 1 large red (or orange) pepper (thinly sliced), 2 pieces satsuma age (Japanese already cooked fried fish cake) thinly sliced, 1 medium onion (thinly sliced), green scallions (chopped for garnish), 1 Meyer (or regular) lemon zest (for garnish), 1 to 2 teaspoons of Japanese mirin, juice of half a Meyer lemon (or regular lemon), sake (just a dash for mushrooms), kosher salt (a little for seasoning mushrooms), drizzle of sesame oil (optional).

Dressing: 4 to 6 Tablespoon yuzu ponzu sauce, 1 to 2 Tablespoon Japanese soy sauce, 1 small red chilli peppers (thinly sliced), 1 to 2 Tablespoon rice vinegar, black pepper for seasoning to taste.


– Prepare ponzu dressing (Yuzu ponzu to soy sauce – 3 to 1), add sliced red chilli pepper and mix well.

– Lightly blanched sugar snap peas, peel and slice on the bias.

– Separate the white and beech shimeji mushrooms into individual stalks, slice shiitake mushrooms, onion, red pepper and fish cakes, set aside.

– In large saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat.

– Add onions, sautéed until lightly browned, add mushrooms, garlic, Japanese sake, mirin and season with kosher salt (a pinch to lightly season the mushrooms) and black pepper, stirring occasionally until they begin to wilt, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.

– Add red pepper slices, cook for another minute, then fold in snap peas and fish cake, add Meyer lemon juice, mix well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Keep in mind you would like to keep the vegetables “crunchy”. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

– Cook the Soba noodles in boiling water according to package instructions;  cook until they are al dente (treat it as pasta). This step requires your full attention as soba noodles can be overcooked easily.  When they are done, rinse under cold water (until water is no longer murky), toss and drain the noodles thoroughly.

Soba noodles rinsed, tossed and drained thoroughly.

– In large mixing bowl, (by hand using plastic disposable food prep gloves or tongs) toss mushroom mixture with soba noodles, the lemon zest and green scallions, slowly drizzle dressing and toss well with all ingredients.

– Taste and adjust with your choice of seasonings (soy sauce, yuzu ponzu, black pepper) according to your own preference.

– Lightly drizzle with sesame oil or garnish with toasted sesame seeds (optional).- Served immediately or chill until ready to serve.


– Meyer lemon has a very distinctive flavour which is slightly resembles yuzu.  It is not as sharp as regular lemons which work just as well and adds a different flavour.

– When adding the dressing, do it slowly; some of you may prefer a even lighter or heavier dressed noodle salad, you may not use all (or you require more) dressing. Be prepared!  If you choose to chill the salad before serving, it’s best to have more dressing available as noodles may become a little dry after refrigeration.

– The small red chilli pepper is spicy; so beware! if you want “kick”, add another one (OO).

– You can make this entirely vegetarian by omitting the fish cakes.  Back in September 2013, we made this dish with sea asparagus, maitake and crimini mushrooms, be adventurous and change the ingredients!

– Here’s a picture of some ingredients: organic soy sauce (top left), Yuzu Ponzu (top right) and 100% buckwheat noodles (bottom).  In Vancouver, you can purchased all ingredients at Fujiya Japanese food store (912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC).  The organic packaged mushrooms are also available at T & T Asian supermarket (various locations).


RECIPE: Saba Soboro (Flaked Mackerel) with Scrambled Egg, Nori (toasted seaweed) and Green Onion

My Saba Soboro Donburi (leftovers next day assembled at home) – Itadakimasu!

I had the most wonderful time cooking with my “Twin” Green Apron and her husband Shin; they welcomed us to their house for a family style dinner and I spent the entire afternoon learning from Shin how to prepare Mackerel three ways.

This simple and delicious Japanese dish is served with rice, scrambled egg, chopped green onion and toasted nori (Japanese dried packaged seaweed); the combination of flavors and texture is perfect! Shin-san adapted this recipe from Gochisosama ga Kikitakute” by Harumi Kurihara (English version is Harumi’s Japanese home Cooking); she is one of the best known cookery writers in Japan.  Enjoy (OO)!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

Saba Fillet (2-3 slices), 1 medium carrot (finely diced), 1 medium onion (finely diced), 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil (2 if necessary), 4 Tablespoon Japanese soy sauce, 2 Tablespoon Sake, 2 Tablespoon Mirin, 1/2 Tablespoon Miso (brown), 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger.

For serving: Japanese Rice, 3 eggs, green onions (green part only – thinly sliced) and Japanese dried toasted seaweed (shredded)


– Check and remove any visible bones from the mackerel fillet.

– Using a spoon, scoop the fish meat from the skin from head to tail, pulling away from the skin.  Set fish meat aside.

– Peel the carrot and onion, chop into very fine pieces, and grate (or chop) the ginger finely.

– Prepare sauce: Mix soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar in measuring cup, set aside.

– Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat, add ginger and mackerel, let them brown lightly.  When fish meat starts to flake, add onion and carrot, sautéed for 2 to 3 minutes.

Saba, onion, carrot and sauce cooked together until very liquid is left.

– Stir in sauce and mix well with ingredients.  At Medium low simmer, slowly cook until there is very little liquid left in the pan. Stir occasionally to keep ingredients from burning.

– While fish is cooking; prepare scramble eggs (seasoning not required), green onion (thinly sliced) and toasted seaweed (cut in small pieces).

Scrambled eggs, Toasted Seaweed and Saba Soboro – ready to assemble!

To serve: On fluffy Japanese rice, add scrambled egg on top, sprinkle with green onion and toasted seaweed then you’re ready to go! It’s best served as family style (see picture on left) and everyone can assemble their own “donburi” to taste.


Mackerel are now readily available at Asian supermarkets or local fish store. In Vancouver, you can find mackerel at H-Mart (various locations), or Seafood City ( Granville Island.  All Japanese “staples” can be purchased at Fujiya (912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC). 

Mackerel usually comes in whole, you can ask fishmonger to fillet them. For the more adventurous home cooks, you can fillet them at home; there are many instructional videos available through Youtube.

– The ratio of mackerel meat to vegetables can be adjusted according to your own preference.

– We had a carrot salad (recipe will be posted) as side dish; when I had my leftovers, I prepared a seaweed and wild greens salad on the side.

my “original” donburi at Shin and Twin’s.