I’ve been making variations of this salad for a while. It’s simple and not. Kinda like life. I try not to make a big deal about it…using what is on hand in the fridge. It’s just a chopped salad. There are a few things that make it the salad I like.

A few days ago I made a version to share…just because I happened to take a photo.

Basically you chop the veggies you have in the fridge. I like to use cruciferous veggies – like cabbage and broccoli as a base. Here I used broccoli and red cabbage. Add some salt then so that it breaks them down a bit. Then add grated carrots, radishes. Finely chop some herbs. In this one I used dry land watercress and Italian parsley. Nuts or seeds are essential – doesn’t matter what kind – almonds, sunflower seeds, flax, pecans. Chop them up and add them to the salad.
Then add raisins or dried cranberries for a bit of sweetness. Squeeze a few lemons. Drizzle a bit of honey or agave…not too much. I like a bit of it to balance the flavors.
Mix it well and taste it…and look at it. If you like the way it tastes and the way it looks you’ve got yourself a great crazy chopped salad. Yimmy!

Bara Sushi

I believe this was the first thing I ever made. At the time I was living in Portland, Oregon and it was my first time away from home. More than anything, I missed the food. One of my aunts told me that if I could read, I could cook and mom sent me a copy of the Honpa Hongwanji Cookbook. I’ve modified the su (vinegar mixture for the rice) and simplified the preparation of the veggies.

This is dish I make often – it’s portable and great to take to potlucks. For New Year’s lunch, I used matsutake mushrooms that I bought from a paper-making factor in Bhutan – strange place to find them!

6 cups rice
6 cups water

Sugar – 3/8 cup
Salt – 2 1/2 T.
Rice vinegar – 1 cup

Carrots – 2 medium
Beans – 15 beans (I like the Blue Lake beans)
Shiitake mushrooms – 8 (rehydrated)

Cook the rice. While the rice is cooking, make the su by combining the  ingredients in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and then bring to room temperature.

Cut the beans and carrots into small cubes. Parboil beans, carrots, and mushrooms in a small amount of water (about 3 T) with salt.

When rice is done, let stir the rice. Let is sit for about 20 minutes.
Then add the su mixture a little at a time until rice is flavored the way you like it. Taste it as you go.

Then add the veggies and mix gently. Garnish with furikake or ao nori.

In Hawaii, and especially Hilo, December is tangerine season. Tangerine laden trees are all over town and friends with trees gift you with these fragrant, sweet fruit. The other night I sliced some fennel thinly and added supremes and juice from the tangerines to make a fantastic salad. Just a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt and pepper was all it needed.


Mapo Tofu is one of my favorite tofu dishes. I think the dish is really forgiving so don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients. The essentials are tofu (of course), black beans, green onions, ginger, broth and cornstarch. I love Marc’s photography – check out his food blog, No Recipes.

This story with photos will make you hungry. Beware!

Discover the Story Behind Mapo Tofu | Fresh Tastes Blog | PBS Food.

photo by Marc Matsumoto

My Mom’s cucumber namasu was a favorite food in our family. It had the best balance of sweet and sour…it was fresh and crunchy. I’ve tried to recreate it as I knew the ingredients that went into it. I could never get the proportions quite right. Kris loved Mom’s namasu and she often made it just for him so he was a good judge of how it should taste.

I decided to let Mom’s namasu be a memory and create a recipe of my own. I have one now that I’m happy with. Kris approves, too!

Here it is:

1 seedless Japanese cucumber
1 small carrot (I really like the yellow, but only orange was available)
1 t. kosher salt
1/4 c.  juice from a Meyer lemon
1 T. honey
1/8 c. rice vinegar (preferrably Mitsukan)

Slice the cucumber and carrot as thinly as possible.
The Japanese type of slicer creates too thin a slice so use a knife.
Toss the cucumber in the salt and let sit while making the dressing.
Combine the other ingredients and pour over the cucumber.
Add the carrots and mix well. Let the dish sit for an hour before eating.

2011! How did that happen?

I love New Year’s Day…there’s something so great about getting a fresh start with a New Year.

In Hawaii, we’ve kept some Japanese traditions and one is the making of ozoni, mochi soup. Mochi is pounded glutinous rice. A mochitsuki is a gathering of family, neighbors, and friends where rice is pounded in a wooden tub with mallets until it’s smooth and pliable. Everyone who wants to be lucky in the New Year takes his/her turn at pounding. The mochitsuki is schedule between Christmas and New Year’s. This year it was the day after Christmas for our friends in Hilo. Here’s a link to photos from this year’s mochitsuki:




A good luck offering called kagami mochi is put up in our house. I think some lucky gods come to eat it or something like that.

Kagami mochi

This morning, I made the ozoni. Mine is based on a recipe from June Kuramoto from the band, Hiroshima. I use shrimp instead of kamaboko (fish cake) and chicken broth instead of making it with the chicken for the soup. The shrimp and chicken are poached in their own broth so that the soup broth remains clear. Then I put the toasted mochi in each bowl before adding the soup. Again, this helps to keep the broth clear. I like this soup really clean looking.

Toasting mochi (this can be done in a toaster oven).

Daikon (Japanese turnip)

Carrots in matchstick pieces


Ozoni - yum!

So what's a girl in Hawaii doing making Southern food? Not sure how I started this, but I've been making black-eyed peas on New Year's Day in some form forever.

Two cups cooked black-eyed peas
Two bunches mustard greens – look for young ones
Ham hock or ham bone
Celery – three stalks

Boil ham hock or ham bone in water with five cloves of garlic, one onion, one carrot and celery stalks.
Boil until meat falls off the bones.
Remove bones and chop ham into bite-size pieces
Chop mustard greens, keeping the stalks and leaves separate.
Put the stalks in first, then add the leaves.
Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.


This is really not my favorite soup, but it's one of those traditional things that I have once a year.

Ozoni – Mochi soup

Five cups of dashi and/or chicken broth
One block of kamaboko (Japanese fish cake – pink and white)
Two bunches mizuna
Four carrots – cut into matchstick pieces
Six small pieces of mochi – Toasted under the broiler
Six large shrimp – peeled and cut into thirds

Add carrots to dashi, cook until tender
Add thicker stems of mizuna
Add shrimp and kamaboko
Add mizuna leaves

To serve:
Put a portion of kamaboko, shrimp, mizuna, carrots and shrimp in each bowl.
Put toasted mochi on top
Ladle broth over all and eat when mochi has softened.

Good luck and Happy New Year!


I'm seriously thinking about making the big commitment to make it New Year's resolution to get back to my blog. I really like checking in. I've made it a point to keep my blog as positive as possible without the usual whining that occurs in my daily life.

One of the BIG things that gives me pleasure is food. I'm passionate about food…I'm a food crazy person. I live for food.

So I thought I'd share this recipe. Williams Sonoma catalog always contains great recipes to entice you to purchase the cookware to make them. I love that. I normally try to stay with a recipe that combines cream, cheese and butter, but it's the holidays and I made this on Christmas Eve.

Leek and potato Gratin (My version)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
Three leeks
One bunch scallions
8 oz. heavy cream
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese – grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese – grated

Slice leeks in half lengthwise. Cut off the roots and dark green parts. Save the thick dark green part for soup stock later. Wash well. Chop the scallions and leeks into 1/4 inch pieces. 

Saute the leeks and white parts of the scallions in a tablespoon of butter. Add the cream and simmer to thicken. In a separate bowl combine the cheeses.
Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch pieces.
Coat the pan with butter. 
Layer beginning with potatoes, then the leek/scallion/cream mixture, and last the cheese. I did two layers.

Bake the gratin for 40 minutes. Yummy! I promise!!!