The Club at The Ivy launches my New Cookbook!

reiko-low-resIt’s now been two weeks since we launched my new book, ‘Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Longer‘ at The Club at The Ivy in London’s Covent Garden. I’m so thrilled to say that we had a full house of Japanese food enthusiasts and people who I have worked closely with over the years.

Guests sipped sake, kindly provided by Oliver Hilton-Johnson of Tengu Sake, ate a selection of my canapés (all in the book!) and tasted fresh wasabi from Nick Russel of The Wasabi Company. Oliver and Nick then joined me in presenting the health benefits of Japanese ingredients – the high antioxidant levels of wasabi, and powerful amino acids and selenium of sake, among others.

The night was a great success with every copy of the book selling out, so I just thought I’d take the chance to share a few photos with you and to say thank you to The Ivy, Absolute Press, The Wasabi Company, Tengu Sake, Yutaka, Kikkoman and Clearspring for making the evening such a special event!

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Launching ‘Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Longer’ by Reiko Hashimoto!

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My new book, Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Longer, is out now (and currently has an exclusive online price with Bloomsbury)!

This 100-recipe Japanese cookbook provides a healthy balance of filling, delicious dishes which contain the naturally nutritious ingredients that make the Japanese population to be one of the world’s healthiest.

Not a weight-loss book but instead an aid to a healthy and, most importantly, tasty diet, this book will also explain how Japan has come to have one of the lowest obesity rates and longest life expectancies in the world, as well as giving you an insight into the food culture of Japan, and why it has remained such a passion of mine.

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First of all, this book will take you through cooking equipment and basic ingredients, then teach you how to make the sauces, stocks and dressings which form the building blocks of Japanese cooking – not to mention sushi rice as well!
We then follow with small bites, to rice, fish, vegetarian and meat dishes, soups and one-pot meals, and even small, beautifully presented desserts – everything in moderation, I have always said.

Throughout the book, I explain why and how each main ingredient will benefit your health, and so I hope it keeps you inspired to take care of yourself while enjoying fantastic food.

Japanese meals have an array of textures and flavours which are enjoyed slowly – we ‘eat with our eyes’ – and rather than meat or dairy, include protein mostly from from seeds, soya beans, and of course fish. Another ingredient that the Japanese eat a lot of is rice, so the Japanese population is living proof that unrefined carbohydrates are not bad for you but instead maintain steady blood sugar and keep cravings at bay.

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While traditional ingredients such as seaweed and tofu are lean proteins with all sorts of vitamins and minerals to promote excellent health, oily fish is what keeps our hair, nails and bones strong, our joints healthy and our waistlines slim – as we can exercise right into old age.

To find out all about the health benefits of Japanese ingredients, you’ll have to read the book, but for now, let me provide you with one exclusive recipe from Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Longer!

Sweet Ginger Meatballs 

Here is another traditional Japanese-Western dish. Meatballs may not sound Japanese but it’s all about the sauce – perfect for chilly January evenings!

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1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
20g grated ginger
1 egg
2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon corn flour, plus extra for dusting
vegetable, sunflower or corn oil, for shallow frying
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds salt and ground white pepper

For the sweet ginger sauce 

30g grated ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
125ml dashi stock (page 28) or 1 teaspoon instant dashi powder mixed with water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons rice vinegar 1 teaspoon corn our

Put the chopped spring onions (reserve a handful of the green part for the garnish) in a bowl with the beef and pork mince, grated ginger, egg, sesame oil and pinch of salt and white pepper. Start adding the corn our, little by little, kneading the mixture well for a few minutes until doughy and elastic.

Scoop portions of the meat mixture with a teaspoon to make bite-sized balls. Make sure all the meatballs are the same size to ensure consistent cooking times. Dust them lightly in corn our.

Pour enough oil to come up to about 1cm deep in a large frying pan and set over medium heat. Once the oil reaches about 160°C/320°F, drop the meatballs carefully into the pan. Shallow-fry them by turning them in the oil until they are just cooked, 3–4 minutes depending on the size of the meatballs. Alternatively, for a healthier option, bake the meatballs with a drizzle of oil in an oven preheated to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 12–15 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, squeeze the juice from the grated ginger into a small bowl along with the other ingredients for the sauce and mix well until there are no lumps.

Heat a large frying pan and add the cooked meatballs. Once the pan becomes very hot, pour in the sauce mixture, shake the pan from side to side to coat
the meatballs well and let the sauce thicken, about 1 minute. Transfer to large shallow bowls, sprinkle with the finely chopped spring onion greens and finish with the toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on the top.

Nabemono: Japan’s answer to wintertime Fondue

nabeWinter is a time for long evenings tucked up inside, dining together. One thing that can often put most of us off holding a dinner party is the prospect of being stuck in the kitchen and missing out on all of the fun with our guests – and often a communal dish such as fondue makes a great solution.

Although rich cheese fondue is surely delicious, you can only eat it so often and it’s really best eaten after an exhausting day skiing or taking a brisk winter walk. So, what is the alternative if you’re looking for a stress-free evening cooking and eating with friends, when you can’t be out all day working up a serious appetite?

Nabemono, or nabe, is a hearty hot pot dish made with seafood, meat or vegetables, cooked in a bubbling broth, which sits in a clay cauldron on your table. Nabe is eaten at home and served in restaurants, where diners are given serving trays piled with raw ingredients which they add to the pot, piece by piece, with meat, seafood, mushrooms and crisp vegetables added first, before delicate bites such as tofu and chrysanthemum leaves.

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While the broth stays simmering in the pot, ingredients are dipped in and cooked quickly, staying fresh, nutritious and al dente, plucked out by diners with oversized chopsticks. By the end of the meal, the stock is enriched with all of the delicious flavours of each ingredient, and so the pot is filled with noodles or rice to absorb this aromatic taste and finish the meal.

If you’re local to London and you’d rather go out to nabe then there are a couple of brilliant places to try: firstly Tokyo Sukiyaki-Tei which represents a more traditional, homely style of Japanese food still relatively unknown in the west, and has beef and shrimp nabe dishes on the menu; and secondly, Ribon Restaurant serves five different types of Nabe from minced chicken to pork loin and sirloin beef.

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Or, if you’d like to prepare nabe at home then why not try this recipe for four!

3 1/2 cup dashi stock
4 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon salt
4 or 8 hard shell clams, cleaned
2 salmon steaks, or salmon fillets, cut into 2 inch lengths and bones removed
1/4 head Chinese (or European) cabbage, washed and cut into 2-3 inch lengths
1 leek, rinsed and cut diagonally
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
8 shiitake mushrooms, stem removed
1 enoki mushrooms, trimmed
1 shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), washed and cut into 2-3 inch lengths *optional
Udon noodles *optional

  1. Add the dashi stock to a heavy earthenware pot or a clay donabe if you have one
  2. Heat and bring to a boil
  3. Season with sake, soy sauce, mirin, and salt.
  4. Turn down the heat to low. Add salmon and clams in the pot at first.
  5. Add other ingredients and simmer until softened and cooked through.
  6. Prepare individual serving bowls for diners and have them take the simmered ingredients into their own bowl as they eat.
  7. At the end of the dinner, you may add udon noodles to fill the remaining stock and enjoy!

 

Try My Kabocha Pumpkin Recipe this Halloween!

Dark green with bright orange flesh, Kabocha pumpkins are sweeter, smaller and softer than the variety that we often use for Halloween Lanterns, as well as pumpkin pie and pumpkin soups in the UK.trick-to-opening-kaboch-squash-easily-astigvegan

Luckily, you can now very easily get hold of these in supermarkets and some farmers’ markets over here, and their fluffy texture, and taste (a bit like butternut squash mixed with sweet potato) makes them perfect for warm winter roasts, stews, and even tempura!

Another reason why these are so great to eat in winter is that they are filled with vitamins to ward off any ugly colds: vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium, B vitamins, folic acid and beta carotene – which, so they say, will also help you to see a bit better during these dark nights!

One of my favourite winter recipes is roasted Kabocha with okra and almond. This is a little bit of a twist on a traditional Japanese Kabocha recipe, still drizzling with a rich sauce, but adding crunchy almonds and fresh green, aromatic okra.

(And, if you can’t get hold of Kabocha, this dish does work just as well with butternut squash! And, if you don’t have any almonds, just wash the seeds, and roast as you would the almonds! )

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Roasted Kabocha Pumpkin with Okra and Almond

1 Kabocha pumpkin or butternut squash
4 tbsp sunflower or/and pumpkin seed oil
½ tsp sea salt
200g okra
3 cups of dashi stock
3 tbsp  mirin
3 tbsp  soy sauce
30g  ginger, thinly sliced
1 tsp  konbu sprinkles
1 tsp corn flour with 2 tbsp of water
4 tbsp almond flakes

  1. Heat your oven to 180C. Cut the pumpkin or squash into two halves, then remove skin. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Roughly cut pumpkin or squash into 3-4cm chunks.
  1. In an oven tray, toss pumpkin or squash chunks with the oil and salt and then bake them in the oven for about 15 minutes, turn the pieces over, then bake for another 10 minutes.
  2. Place the almond flakes into another small baking tray (or even on a sheet of tin foil) and oven cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat dashi stock in a saucepan. Once it comes to boil, add mirin, soy sauce, thinly sliced ginger, konbu sprinkles, and simmer for few minutes.
  1. Cut okra into two diagonally and add to the stock, cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  1. Once butternut squash is cooked and almonds are lightly roasted, take both trays out from the oven and transfer butternut squash into a large serving bowl.
  1. Quickly turn the heat up to boil your stock with okra, and add your corn flour and water mixture, make sure to mix all the time until the stock becomes thicker.
  1. Pour the okra and stock mixture over the butternut squash and then lastly sprinkle almonds over the whole dish and serve.

 

 

Does Autumn have a negative effect on your skin, hair and nails? Eat seaweed for a healthy cold season!

In Autumn and Winter we can have problems getting hold of not just enough Vitamin D, usually reaching us as sunlight, but also Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin A and Selenium. All of these contribute to immunity as well as strong hair, nails and vibrant skin.

Although you can take multivitamins, studies have shown that these are less effective than consuming vitamins naturally through food! Luckily, sea vegetables have a wealth of vitamins and I can show you how to transform them into a delicious dish.

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Dulse (rhymes with “pulse”) is a red-colored seaweed that can be eaten fresh or dried, and while its savoury, salty flavor might even remind you of bacon, it is incredibly rich in vitamins! In fact, this nutrient-rich form of red alga has been an important food for more than a thousand years in various parts of the world. While dulse has its own unique qualities, these are very similar to many other seaweeds, so you can exchange one for the other and still retain healthy skin, hair, nails and even bones and teeth!

I pick up dulse from Clearspring and Yutaka, either in selected supermarkets such as Waitrose or Whole Foods, or online here.


Dulse helps you to….

Build strong bone density: The minerals found in pulse include calcium, magnesium and iron to keep bones, hair, teeth and nails strong – and protect joints and tissues into old age.

Retain Collagen: Vitamin C is also very important in building collagen for healthy skin.

Maintain strong nails and hair: With its strong selenium and iron levels.

Digest Well: Like most seaweeds, pulse is rich in fibre so it helps you to digest – something that can be problematic in winter with central heating and when we drink less water, and good digestion is also important for avoiding bloating as well as staying slim.

See in the dark: Well, not quite – although in winter light levels are lower! The vitamin A found in dulse makes it an ideal solution for vision problems. This vitamin acts as an antioxidant and prevents free radicals from damaging the tissues of the eye, and can even slow the development of cataracts.

Maintain normal thyroid gland health: Best to keep an eye on all year round, people can forget about the thyroid gland which – when acting up – can cause tiredness as well as a stream of more serious problems. A lack of coding can often be the explanation for this, and dulse (and all other seaweeds) are unique vegetables in that they are incredibly rich in this mineral. 

Improve circulation: Do you ever experience cold extremities, or even blood loss in your fingers and toes? This is common in winter, but the vast amount of iron in dulse  maintains the production of haemoglobin for circulation, and also staves off anaemia. 

Keep your mind sharp: The polyunsaturated fats in dulse are great for heart health and even help your brain and nervous system to stay strong – great for a winter-time tiredness.

Keep up your antioxidants: Many of the vitamins and minerals found in dulse protect against free radicals, preventing of chronic disease and even cancer.

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Try out dulse in my nutrient rich, Dulse & Avocado Salad with Ume Dressing!

Here, I’m using dulse with rich & creamy avocado and tangy Umeboshi for a balanced and beautiful dish.

Ingredients:

50g dried dulse
100g sugar snap peas
2 avocado
1 white onion
1 tbsp salt for rubbing onion
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 sheet of deep fried tofu

Ume Dressing

2-3 tbsp Umeboshi puree
4 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp
clear honey
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce

1. Soak dulse in cold water for 10-15 minutes and then squeeze water out.
2. Blanch sugar snap peas in salted boiling water for 1 minute then drain under cold running water until cold. Cut peas down the middle lengthways.
3. Cut avocado into half first then take the stone out and peel. Cut into segments.
4. Slice onion into half first and then slice them very thinly along the fibre. Place in a large bowl and add salt and rub vigorously until very soft and wet. Rinse it very well until salty taste has gone. Squeeze water out.
5. Thinly slice the deep fried tofu and quickly fry in a dry pan until dry and crispy.
6. Mix all the ingredients for Umeboshi sauce in a large mixing bowl, until sticky and shiny.
7. Add dulse and sugar snap peas to Umeboshi sauce bowl and mix well, add the avocado, onion and sesame seeds and gently toss.
8. Dish up the whole salad and sprinkle with your crispy tofu ribbons.

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London’s Best Japanese Afternoon Teas

Afternoon Tea is a very British pursuit, but why not try an alternative to the traditional scones with cream and jam!?

London is filled with alternative afternoon tea spots, and I’ve picked out  a few favourites…

Silk at The Courthouse Hotel

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Located in the heart of Soho, just a 4-minute walk from Oxford Circus, Silk restaurant still features the original judge’s bench, dock and witness stand from its days as the Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court. A pan-Asian restaurant, Silk takes diners down a culinary journey along the ‘Silk Road’ with seasonally inspired menus of locally and internationally sourced ingredients.

Served from 1pm to 5pm Tuesday – Saturday, the Japanese afternoon tea here is a must-book affair, with dishes including sweet Japanese omelette or Tamago, sushi rolls such as California Maki, vegetarian dishes with steamed vegetable gyoza and vegetable futomaki roll, and even a glass of Japanese plum wine!

Scandal Water in Punch Room at The London Edition

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This is an afternoon tea like no other, modelled on the 19th Century slang for tea – “Scandal Water” – where the high society would entertain themselves with a cuppa and an afternoon of salacious gossip!

This afternoon tea pairs five teas or five tea-based cocktails from the Rare Tea Co. with five fusion dishes, including miso cured Salmon with Caviar served with Japanese Sencha tea, salted chocolate tart enhanced by the citrusy house punch and an “iced Gem” Shortbread biscuit served with Mezcal!

Scandal Water is served in the reservations-only Punch Room, Friday to Sunday from 3-4pm.

Afternoon Tea in Ichi Sushi at the Park Plaza Hotel

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This tea is light, fresh and will not weigh you down with heavy bread and butter of its counterparts!

Rather than cakes and sandwiches, here you’ll fill up on seafood, small desserts and delicate teas such as white apricot, cherry blossom or even chocolate tea. Start with a range of prawn, okra and salmon nigiris, chicken and californian sushi rolls and finish with rich but light desserts such as green tea opera or passion delice.

Wash these down with a sparkling Sawa Sawa sake and you’ll head out feeling content and ready for the afternoon!

Booking is essential, and afternoon tea is served from 12-5pm every day.

Afternoon Tea at Teanamu Chaya Teahouse

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Teanamu Chaya Teahouse is listed as one of Five of the Best Teahouses in the UK, and afternoon teas are served using the Chinese Gongfu Cha tea ceremony. There are two sets of fresh, vegetarian teas to choose from – “ichi-go ichi-e” and “wabi sabi“ – with dishes including dim sum, wake seaweed open sandwiches and patisserie, served with tea or tisane. Favourites of ours are the garlic miso-pickled cream cheese with cucumber and shichimi pepper sandwich, vegetarian dumplings with sze chuan chilli oil and of course the the olive oil lemon cake with mango curd.

You needn’t book, payments are made in cash, and its a relaxed but truly authentic and delicious affair!

Summer in Japan: Street Food Festivals

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Yakitori sticks

Famous for its bite-sized dishes, you might be surprised that Japan does not have a strong street food culture – but it has not always been this way!

Until the 1950s, Japan’s cities were busy with street food stalls or yatai, serving old 20th century dishes such as grilled or baked seafoods on sticks and yaki imo, an ancient snack of wood fire-baked sweet potatoes. However, when Japan hosted the Olympics in 1964 a great movement was made to clean up the streets and the yatai had to fight hard to keep their trade.

Only recently has street food begun popular again in the main Japanese cities as it is still seen to be quite unreserved to eat on the move, so the yatai tend to follow Japan’s annual 100 000 festival calendar to sell their sweet and savoury snacks.

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Okonomiyaki on the grill

Summer is the busiest time for festivals and you’re sure to find okonomiyaki pancakes fried with cabbage, egg and vegetables or meat, yakitori chicken skewers grilled over charcoal,  takoyaki fried battered octopus on a stick, and yakisoba stands serving their fried noodles with cabbage and meat.

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Making takoyaki

Finally make sure to leave space for the sweets on offer, including mochi (glutinous rice cake) or fruit on a stick – in fact, the use of a stick is one way to transform anything into street food!

In the humidity of Japan in August you’ll also be reaching for kakigori shaved ice, a refreshing fruity drink. This comes in all sorts of flavours such as matcha green tea and lemon, and can be topped with traditional sweet red beans or even jelly and whipped cream.

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Green tea and cherry blossom kakigori

This week I reached for my own matcha ice cream recipe as it’s been so hot in London! This dish is crisp and revitalising, inspired by this taste of frozen green tea kakigori.

To help my readers feel refreshed during this heatwave, I’ve provided the recipe below – enjoy!

Green Tea Ice Cream (served below with cherry blossom ice cream and biscuit crumb)

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Ingredients:

350ml double cream
350ml soya milk or full fat milk
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
150g caster sugar
1 tbsp green tea powder
3 tbsp boiling water ( to melt green tea powder )

Method:

  1. Heat the double cream & milk in a sauce pan until hot, but not boiling.
  2. Whisk an egg & egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In a small cup, melt the green tea powder with boiling water until it is smooth.
  4. Add the green tea puree to the pan of milk & cream mixture and whisk well until dissolved.
  5. Pour this hot mixture into the egg & sugar mixture in the bowl and whisk well until mixed completely.
  6. Pour all back to the pan and re-heat with the lowest heat for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Be careful not to scramble. In case if it starts to scramble, “Don’t panic!” quickly take the pan off the heat and whisk it vigorously over the cold water.
  7. Pour the mixture back into the bowl and cool by dipping the bowl in cold water in the sink. Stir and change the water occasionally.
  8. When the mixture becomes room temperature, transfer to the freezer for 30 min in your ice cream machine. Then churn for 30 minutes. Serve.
  9. If you do not have an ice cream machine, transfer to the freezer in a plastic tube and mix by hand every 30 minutes until frozen and smooth. Serve.

 

 

The Italian answer to Sashimi: Pesce Crudo!

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I recently travelled to Puglia, the southern tip of Italy, and it really was a foodie’s paradise. I’m always amazed by the quality of ingredients in Italy – the tomatoes in the supermarket, the cheeses and meats in the tiny village delicatessen, and the fresh seafood on the coast of course! During this trip, my favourite discovery was pesce crudo – raw fish dressed with salt, olive oil and lemon and served by the simplest beachside restaurants (I did spot a few bottles of soy sauce dotted around too!)

Italians have been eating raw fish for centuries, with fisherman filleting their fresh catch for a quick and healthy lunch after a morning out on the boat. In this way if differs from Japanese sashimi quite dramatically as sashimi has always been a delicacy, with many different types of fish eaten in small quantities – which makes it expensive to eat regularly as families would have to buy many types of fish. Still, both pesce crudo and sashimi rely on the freshest of fish and luckily there is plenty of that on the tip of the Italian boot in Puglia!

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We weren’t quite as adventurous as the family sitting beside us with their raw oysters and clams, but we did indulge in deliciously rich raw red prawns and tried raw langoustine for the first time. The taste of pesce crudo langoustine is incredible, so buttery and creamy with a texture similar to burrata, the Italian fresh mozzarella – quite different from the salty taste of lobster or crayfish.

Italian and Japanese cuisines are the two that I really enjoy fusing together as I understand both very well, especially since working with Italian chef Valentina De Palma this time last year in Gustodivino, Puglia. You’ll find a hint of Italian-Japanese fusion in my new book with Bloomsbury Cooks which hits the shelves in January 2017, and in the meantime try a Canapes of The East class to learn how to make my miso arancini…

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Miso Arancini photographed during a recent Canapes of The East class by The Edible Angel

 

 

 

Sushi at Shoreditch House

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I recently had the pleasure of holding a sushi workshop at Shoreditch House in East London, with a group of their members. Although I haven’t been able to hold Hashi classes in my kitchen  during the summer as it has been closed for refurbishment (images to come soon!) it has provided such a brilliant opportunity to take my classes to new members clubs, event spaces and cookery schools across London.

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During the two hour class, I taught the group to make both thin sushi rolls and inside out rolls. First I demonstrated how to prepare, cook and cool sushi rice with a hangiri fan and then we moved onto the rolling. Each member had their own rolling mat station with sheets of nori and a platter of smoked mackerel, salmon mayonnaise, vegetarian filling of cream cheese with roasted red pepper, avocado, peppers, green vegetables and black and white sesame seeds to create their rolls – we steered clear of raw fish as it’s been so hot recently.

As always we used ingredients that are easy to get hold of locally, and I provided each guest with a recipe and ingredients card to take home. After we had prepared the rolls, we sat down for the tasting and enjoyed a few more glasses of delicious chilled rose together.

The members were all lovely and Shoreditch House were fantastic to work with, so I must say thank you to them for hosting Hashi and I look forward visiting again soon!

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Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Long!

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Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Long photoshoot dream-team!
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Beautiful tableware from Doki, my absolute favourite

As some of you may know, my next cookery book will be on the shelves soon!

The manuscript has been submitted and we have just finished a very busy two-week shoot, luckily I had the wonderful food photographer Jodi, Absolute Press Editor, Emily, and my food economist, Elaine, on hand to make sure that it all went smoothly!

To be released in January 2017, Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Long follows my first cookery book, Hashi: A Japanese Cookery Course which received great reviews at the time – even shortlisted by the Telegraph as one of the ‘Best Cookery Books for Christmas’ that year!

My new book will look into the health benefits of the Japanese diet in over 100 clear, detailed recipes – all suitable for the Western kitchen! This is not a weight loss book and readers might be surprised by the range of recipes and that it is not low carb, however it will give readers a sustainable, nourishing and delicious range of recipes – for dining alone, cooking for the family and even dinner parties!

Through the book we look into all sorts of areas, like the life-lengthening benefits of oily fish (arthritis, no more!) and why seaweed not only keeps cancers at bay but keeps hair shiny and nails strong too. We explore why the Japanese attitude to meat and soy leads to a slim physique, and how very tiny changes can be made to keep us looking and feeling good throughout our youth and even into old age.

I hope you enjoy these few short snaps, and I can’t wait to share this new book with you all!

Reiko

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Ready to pour hot broth onto this rice dish…
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Tweaking my Kamo Hoba Yaki, grilled duck with plum miso