Archives for category: japanese


The main course for our Sunday meal is Kitsune Udon, which is a Japanese style soup traditionally made with aburaage tofu, fish cakes, and dashi. The name Kitsune Udon comes from a folk tale that foxes love aburaage tofu, therefore the soup literally means “fox udon”.

I added peas, carrots, and shrimp to the aburaage to my udon, but the recipe is easily adaptable to your personal taste.

The first step is to make the dashi, which is the same one I used for the Yosenabe recipe. Since Dashi is made from dried bonito flakes, the soup is not truly vegetarian, however, you can try omitting the bonito and just use the seaweed and dried shiitake mushroom to make the broth. It will not have the unique fishy, saltiness that dashi is known for, but some people may not like the bonito taste anyway.

For the vegetables, I blanched sliced carrots and frozen peas in salted, boiling water for a couple of minutes, drained them, and set them aside.



I bought premade fresh udon noodles and aburaage tofu from my local Asian supermarket. You can make you own udon noodles and aburaage tofu, but I felt lazy Sunday. To prep the noodles, a pot of water is brought to a boil, and the noodles are quick cooked for a couple of minutes.


Then the noodles are drained and rinsed in cold water, to stop the cooking process, and set aside.


While you are preparing the veggies and the noodles, the dashi should be brought to a slow simmer. When you are ready to serve, the noodles, veggies, aburaage, and whatever else you want should be arranged neatly in a bowl.


Then the hot broth ladled over each bowl, topped with some scallions and sesame seeds, and the udon is ready!


I also made some cucumber and seaweed Sunomono, which basically means a variety of vinegar based dishes, and “su” means vinegar in Japanese.

My parents were visiting last week and brought with them a ton of Chinese cucumbers from their garden. Chinese cucumbers are longer and crispier than the cucumbers you buy at your local markets. Sometimes they are sold as English or Japanese cucumbers, while I’ve never seen them grow in Japan or England, it’s the only cucumbers I’ve seen in China.


My Sunomono also consists of hijiki and wakame seaweed. Hijiki seaweed are short skinny things, with a dark red tint to them. Wakame is the more popular type used in miso soup, with a deep green tint. Both seaweeds need to be soaked before eating.


Wakame takes about 5 minutes or less of soaking in cold water, while hijiki takes about 30 minutes to get fully hydrated. The seaweed should be drained and set aside after it rehydrates.

While the seaweed is soaking, I very thinly sliced my cucumber, then sprinkled the slices with some kosher salt, and set the cucumbers aside to drain for a few minutes.


The slices should be squeezed of all excess water, then tossed with both seaweeds, and a vinaigrette made from rice vinegar, sugar, and light soy sauce. The Sunomono should be set aside to marinate for about 5 minutes, and finished with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.


Kitsune udon recipe
Sunomono recipe


One of our favorite restaurants in Dallas was Tei Tei’s Robata, a Japanese sushi and Robata grill restaurant. Since moving to Austin, we have not found a comparable restaurant. Robata, translated as “around the fire place”, is a style of grilling where food is cooked on a charcoal hearth available in the traditional Japanese home. Today, the hearth is replaced by small hibachi grills. In the US, “hibachi style” is often confused with what is actually teppanyaki cooking, where 1 chef cooks on a large hot plate with lots of theatrical flair.

For Sunday dinner, I wanted to make Udon noodle soup, and I thought that some grilled baby octopus and shrimp would be a good addition to the meal. After purchasing my Webber charcoal grill, I also bought charcoal tray inserts so I can easily create heating zones. I thought that using 1 tray would be a good substitute for a smaller hibachi. In effect, only 1/3 of the grill surface will be utilized.

To prepare the baby octopus, you need cleaned, whole, patted dry baby octopuses, which should be available at Asian supermarkets, and water soaked bamboo skewers. When cleaning the octopus, make sure you check for the beak like mouth of the octopus, which is located in the center of the octopus where all the tentacles meet. The beak is a little brown, fish scale like thing that comes apart in two pieces, so be sure to get both pieces. It’s probably edible, but who likes eating fish scales?

The octopus is carefully threaded on the skewers, so that the tentacles won’t fall through the grill grates.


I think I will invest in some metal grilling skewers after this experience because it took some effort to get the octopus on the bamboo skewers.


To prep the shrimp, I made a yukukosho pesto. Yuzukosho literally means ” yuzu pepper” in Japanese. It’s made from pounding together yuzu zest, salt, and hot chile peppers. Since I didn’t have access to yuzu citrus, I substituted limes and lime zest.


To make the Yuzukosho pesto, I added lemongrass, cilantro, garlic, and ginger to the Yuzukosho and pounded them together in a mortar.


I used head on shrimp because the head and shell are great at retaining moisture and adding flavor. To marinate the shrimp, I butterflied the shrimp from the leg side, leaving the shell and head on, then rubbed the Yuzukosho pesto on the inside and outside of the shell.


The shrimp should be marinated for 10 minutes before grilling.

I prepped the fire using a chimney starter, and used real wood charcoals. After about 20 minutes of burning, the coals where ashed over and ready to be used in the grill. Since the shrimp and octopus will cook quickly, the heat should be high, and direct.

The shrimp is added to the grill, directly over the coals, with the lid on, turning after 2 minutes.


The shrimp will be ready in 4 minutes total, to avoid over cooking. The shrimp should be slightly charred on the outside and juicy in the middle.


The baby octopus also takes about 2 minutes per side, but I decided to cook it after the shrimp because of the Tare glaze I used at the end of the cooking process. Tare is a Japanese dipping sauce used on grilled dishes made out of sake, sugar, and light soy sauce. The Tare is usually used as a finishing sauce , and brushed on the grilled food when it has almost completed cooking, then grilled over high heat for the sauce to caramelize.


This process may sometimes leave a sugary residue on the grill grates, and since the shrimp had a different marinade, I didn’t want to mix the favors, so I grilled the octopus second.

Overall it was a great learning experience. Next time I think I will use both charcoal trays to increase the heat.


Grilled shrimp with Yuzukosho pesto