Thursday 5 October 2017

Cupboard essentials – Japanese all-day breakfast

Some days I just wish to find a meal ready on the table waiting for me. Especially when I have to cook for myself. Last week I had some days like that - I got home tired, uninspired and hungry. 
But what I have learnt over the years is to have very good cupboard/fridge essentials, and Ms Marmite Lover came to my rescue. 

About a month ago I went to a supper club at her house in North London (she’s the queen of supper clubs). I remembered some of the dishes she served that would solve my problem with lack of energy. The theme of the evening was food for a healthy gut microbiome – that’s essential for general wellbeing. 

Kirsten Rodgers, aka Ms Marmite Lover, hosted the dinner with the presence of Tim Spector, whom I had already met at some of his lectures. Tim Spector is a professor of Genetic Epidemiology and is leading a Gut Microbiome project at King’s College London.

One of the most important things to remember when cooking for our gut-health is diversity when choosing ingredients. On Ms Marmite Lover’s menu, we could see 110 ingredients she used for our meals - that included herbs and spices. I enjoyed trying some things that I never tasted before, like: Icelandic moss, pickled fennel seeds and Alaskan bladderwrack. 

Japanese food, which also featured that evening, has several elements to help feed and nourish our gut microbiome, such as fermented and pickled dishes.   

With all that in mind, inspiration came back and I put together a meal for myself that came almost entirely from the fridge/freezer and cupboard, without much effort. It’s a sort of all-day Japanese breakfast. And there were leftovers for the rest of the family.


Back in my kitchen

Some of my essential Japanese products.
The frozen natto beans...
...when thawed they looks like this: slimey and slightly smelly.
Miso ingredients.
Adding the dashi.
My Japanese all-day breakfast.

I prepared a quick dashi (stock) adding 2 big strips of dried kombu in a saucepan with water and letting it simmer for 30 minutes (ideally one would make dashi overnight), skimming the surface of any impurity. I removed the kombu and let the liquid cool down slightly, added the bonito flakes and brought it back to boil (skimming any impurity). I reduce the temperature and simmered it for 1 more minute. Took the pan off the heat and let the bonito flakes sink to the bottom. Strained the dashi using a sieve lined with a paper towel.

In the meantime, I put some dried lotus root in a bowl to hydrate. When they were done, I sautéed them with garlic and olive oil.

I had some Japanese rice in the fridge which I had cooked with a piece of dried Kombu the previous night. I layed a small portion of it on top of a shiso leaf, and topped it with defrosted natto beans that I mixed with some tamari sauce and mustard.

I plated all the above with some leftover roasted cabbage (also from the night before) with a single umeboshi. In a small bowl, I put some tofu pieces, sliced spring onions, wakame sheets and one generous teaspoon of miso. When the dashi was done I poured it into the bowl.

I was very happy with my nutritious and satisfying meal.

A healthy note: Natto – fermented soya beans – has an acquired earthy taste, a smelly cheesy aroma and a slimy texture. But it's a powerhouse of a dish. Natto is rich in protein and a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and vitamin K (helps with formation of bone and teeth structure). Eating natto beans can help the body regulate blood pressure. Natto beans contain an enzyme called nattokinase - this enzyme can help reduce and prevent blood clots. 

Kombu (Laminaria genus) contains a big range of minerals, such as calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc. It has anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, antithrombotic, and antiviral properties. 

Miso is a good source of fiber and protein.

*you can find natto and all the other products I mentioned above at the new Japan Centre in Panton Street. 

Till next week!


  1. I am impressed, you know a lot about Japanese ingredients! You kept that quiet last Friday.... Luiz x

  2. Dearest Luiz, hahaha, I am still learning... You are the knowledgeable one! I learnt lots from you last Friday. xx


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