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.
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.
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!
1 bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
20g grated ginger
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.