RECIPE: Mom’s Carrot-tofu Dish (Vegan)

Mom's Carrot and Tofu Dish

This carrot-tofu mixture is one of my favorite dishes. It’s my mother’s unique creation and was a star side dish in my lunch box at high school. While I often eat it hot with freshly cooked rice, it tastes wonderful when cold, especially on toasted wholegrain bread. Delicious!


Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Add two rectangles of usu-age tofu (thin fried tofuand gently simmer over medium heat, turning occasionally, for 1 minute; drain (this will remove excess oil). Cut the usu-age tofu into thin strips.

Carrot Match Sticks

Cut 600g / 20 oz / about 5 medium carrots into matchsticks.  

Carrots and tofu in a pan

Heat 1 tablespoon canola/olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the carrots and usu-age tofu strips and sauté until the carrots are crisp and tender, about 3 minutes.  

Sauteed carrots and tofu with seasoning

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons vinegar2 teaspoons sake2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook the carrots and tofu for 2 more minutes, or until tender (but not too soft).

Turn off heat, stir in the sesame seeds and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Serve.

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We’re on a roll! “TRẺ LÂU ĐẸP DÁNG”, the Vietnamese Edition of “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat” has been published by Nhà Xuất Bản Trẻ (Tre Publishing House).  Thank you who helped us write and publish this book! If you know anyone who reads Vietnamese and may be interested in the topic, please share the link!

『TRẺ LÂU ĐẸP DÁNG』(“Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen” のベトナム語版)がNhà Xuất Bản Trẻ (Tre 出版社)から発売されました。この本にご協力いただいた方々ありがとうございます!ベトナム語を読まれるお友達でご興味ある方にどうぞご紹介くださいね。

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“Japonki nie tyją i się nie starzeją” from Wydawnictwo MUZA S.A., Poland


I am extremely thrilled to share Japonki nie tyją i się nie starzeją, the  of “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat” published by Wydawnictwo MUZA S.A., Poland.  If you know anyone who reads Polish and may be interested in the topic, please share the link!

嬉しいお知らせです:『Japonki nie tyją i się nie starzeją』(“Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen” のポーランド語版)が MUSA出版社から発売されました。この本にご協力いただいた方々ありがとうございます!ポーランド語を読まれるお友達でご興味ある方にどうぞご紹介ください。

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RECIPE: Homemade Breaded Tofu Bean Vegetable Burger (‪vegetarian‬)

Having tried and not satisfied with most of the pre-made frozen veggie burgers, I decided to make my own variations. The first one: Tofu Bean Vegetable Burgers.

Tofu Beans Vegetable Burger


First, press a block of firm tofu between two flat surfaces with a weight (I use a dutch oven) on top for one hour, or more if time allows, to squeeze water out as much as possible.

While the tofu is pressed, mince one medium size onion, and sautée in a small amount of non-MGO canola oil in a frying pan, until translucent and tender. Set aside.

Puree cooked cannellini beans and chick peas. Set aside.

Pureed beans

Crumble the pressed tofu block.

Crumbled Tofu

Mix the sautéed onions, grated carrots, pureed beans, crumbled tofu and creamy corns in a large bowl. Add the Japanese breadcrumbs (Panko), soy flour, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt to the tofu-bean-corn mixture, and combine well.

Tofu Bean Mixture

Preheat the oven to 425℉.

In three separate shallow containers, spread the whole wheat flour, crack and stir the eggs, and spread the Japanese breadcrumbs.

Whole wheat flour in shallow container

Eggs in shallow container

Bread crumbs in shallow container

Shape the mixture into desired sizes/shapes (burger patties, balls, cylinders, cubes). Coat them with whole wheat flour.

Tofu Beans Various Sizes Shapes

Dredge the flour-coated patties/balls in the eggs (for vegan, use egg alternative).

Tofu Bean in eggs

Coat the egg-dredged-flour-coated patty in baked breadcrumbs.

Tofu bean ball in breadcrumbs

Arrange breaded patties on on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.   Add buns to the rack for the last 5 minutes.

Breaded burger patty on wire rack

Assemble burgers with toppings like arugula, sliced heirloom tomatoes, sautéed onions, shiitake.


1 tofu, 14 oz 396g (non-GMO)

1 medium onion

1 medium carrot, finely grated

1 tablespoon canola oil (non-GMO)

1/2 cupcannellini beans

1/2 cup chick peas

1/2 cup creamy corns

2/3 cup Japanese breadcrumbs (Panko)

2/3 cup soy flour

1 tablespoon toasted ground flaxseeds

1/4 cup toasted ground white sesame seeds

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Pinch of salt

1 cup whole wheat flour

3 eggs

3 cups baked Japanese breadcrumbs (Panko) (see recipe)


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“Bí quyết phụ nữ Nhật – Nuôi con khỏe” from Nhà Xuất Bản Trẻ (Tre Publishing House)

Secrets of the World's Healthiest Children Vietnamese Edition

I am so thrilled to share “Bí quyết phụ nữ Nhật – Nuôi con khỏe”, the Vietnamese Edition of “Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Children” published by Nhà Xuất Bản Trẻ (Tre Publishing House). I LOVE the cover illustration! A vegetable-fruit bike! And what is the helmet made of? Edamame? So cute! Please share if you have friends in Vietnam.
嬉しいお知らせです:『Bí quyết phụ nữ Nhật – Nuôi con khỏe』(”Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Children” のベトナム語版)がNhà Xuất Bản Trẻ (Tre 出版社)から発売されました。カバーのイラスト大大大好き!お野菜と果物の自電車なんて!そしてヘルメットは何?もしかして枝豆?きゃあ可愛い!

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Crazy about Tempeh!

TempehDelicious Pan-fried and Dashi-simmered Tempeh Strips.

TempehA Tempeh.

Tempeh slicedSlice it into Strips (or any shape of your choice like bite-sized-cubes).

Olives garlic lemonOlives with garlic and lemon (I bought them from Whole Foods). 

 Chopped OlivesChop up the olives.

Tempeh in a skilletPan-fry the tempeh with a small amount of oil until golden brown on both sides.  Add the chopped olives.

Shoyu MirinSeason with Dashi, Sugar, Mirin, Salt and Soy Sauce.

TempehGarnish with Shiso Leaves (alt. parsley, cilantro) and Serve. Yum!

Tempeh PackagesVarious Tempeh Brands and Varieties (Find them near tofu, or in a vegetarian/vegan meat substitute product section.)

My Rating:
5 stars

What is Tempeh? 

Think of Tempeh (/ˈtɛmp/; Javanese: témpé) as an super-easy-to-use, delicious plant-based protein source for you and your family.

Tempeh, originally developed in Indonesia, is cooked and hulled soybeans fermented in block shapes.  Ingredients can also include grains and/or seeds. 

You don’t have to be a vegetarian/vegan to enjoy it.  You can introduce a small amount of tempeh and reduce meat quantity in a recipe. Once you and your family like it, you can increase the quantity and add more to your meals in variety of dishes. 

Versatile, Delicious and Easy-to-Cook

I am crazy about tempeh because it’s versatile, delicious and easy-to-cook. As someone who is always looking for a short-cut to energy-boosting meals, Tempeh is ideal.  I use tempeh instead of meat in variety of dishes: in addition to pan-fried and simmered in dashi (see photos), I use them in soups, salads, and sandwiches.

I like to either pan-fry crisp on the edges like sausages/bacons, or simmer in a small amount of dashi, Japanese cooking stock, to soften the beans/grains a bit.

I like a “plain/original” (soybeans only) variety, because I can flavor it anyway I like, and mix it with any ingredients.  I sometimes use multi-grain/seed varieties for a change of textures/flavors.

High in Protein and Iron, Low Sodium, No Trans Fat nor Cholesterol

Just eat it and feel fantastic.

Organic and Non-GMO

The brands I’ve seen in stores such as SoyBoy and Lightlife are typically organic and non-GMO, making tempeh an even more attractive choice for my family.

Fiscally Fit

I usually spend $2-3 for a block of tempeh (8 oz) in Manhattan. Compared to meat that’s organic, locally sourced, raised without antibiotics, and low-fat, the tempeh option is not only physically, but also definitely fiscally fit.

SoyBoy Story

I love the SoyBoy brand because they’re local (for me, located in Rochester, NY) and they use locally-sourced quality ingredients. Their website says, in 1977, Norman Holland and Andrew Schecter started making organic tofu to promote vegetarian lifestyle. Perhaps, few people had heard of “organic” or “tofu” back then. I was curious to find out how in the world these two Americans in Upstate New York started making organic tofu and later tempeh, of all the things. So I sent them an e-mail.

A co-founder, Andrew Schecter, told me in his reply, “Norman and I were both vegetarians when we started Northern Soy (the company that makes SoyBoy products). We were students at the Rochester Zen Center where we were introduced to tofu.”

Ah ha! Tofu is a main source of protein in zen vegetarian cuisine called “Shojin”.

Andy continued, “We learned to make both tofu and tempeh partly through the writings of William Shurtleff, ‘The Book of Tofu’ and ‘The Book of Tempeh’, and also through years of trial and error. Mostly error….”

I can imagine.  And I admire their dream, ambition, perseverance and achievement!  I am mostly grateful that I can just buy these delicious hearty blocks from stores near me and enjoy them daily.

Andy also told me, “I love tempeh for a variety of reasons: super high in protein, great hearty texture, and unique nutty/yeasty flavor. I tend to eat tempeh flavored in a lot of different ways, but I also am somewhat addicted to eating it plain out of the package.”

Try tempeh with your favorite cooking method and let me know what you think!

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Musings: Tokyo Kitchen Starter-Kit (Part 1)

Miracle Product: The Amazing Rice Cooker

How do Japanese women stay so healthy?

One big reason is that they are world-champion rice eaters. In Japan, rice often takes the place that bread, donuts, or even less healthy belly-fillers occupy in Western diets.

And how do so many Japanese women cook fluffy, perfect rice every day for themselves and their family?  Like my mother and myself, they use a magical invention called an automatic electric rice cooker.  Here is the particular model I currently use:

Zojirushi NS-TSC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer, 1.0-Liter

I love Zojirushi rice cookers for three main reasons, besides it cooks perfect rice every single time:

  • Timer: Want fluffy rice for a power breakfast?  Just set it for your wakeup time the night before.
  • Brown Rice Setting:  Typically brown rice takes a long time to cook, and hard to adjust water amount.  With a Zojirushi rice cooker, having brown rice routinely in your daily diet becomes so easy.
  • Keep Warm: After the rice is cooked, the machine keeps it warm without scorching the bottom.

Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA Micom 3-Cup(Uncooked) Rice Cooker and Warmer

Premium Japanese Short-grain Rice (Gluten-free)

Short-grain rice is standard for Japanese home cooking.  It is moister and sticker (but not gummy) than medium- and long-grain rice.  Short-grain brown rice, or genmai, is a high-fiber alternative.  A third interesting option, haiga-mai (literally, rice-germ rice), is partially polished, so it still contains the nutritious rice germ (usually removed in the milling process for white rice).  I find haiga-mai tastes more nutty than polished white rice, but not quite as hearty as brown.  It is a perfect choice for families with young children.  Yes, my family eats lots of haiga-mai.

Tamaki – Haiga (Signature Quality Short Grain Haiga-mai) 5 lb Bag

Tamaki Gold (Signature Quality California Koshihikari Short Grain Rice) 5 lb Bag

Do you have a question, or a request for a product review?  Please send me a quick email: feedback at

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Musings: New Food Review, GemWraps ‘Carrot’ Flavor

GemWraps ReadyDelicious Vegan Wraps.

GemWrapsPackageFrontClean, Eye-catching Packaging.

GemWrapsSheetGemWraps’ Individual Sheet.

GemWrapsPeelingEasy-to-Peel Protective Sheet.

GemWrapIngridentsLayer ingredients of your choice.

Version 2Roll it up.

GemWraps ReadySlice and Serve. Yum!

GemWrapsPackageBackEasy-to-understand explanations/data on the back.

My Rating:


Tip: Try a new food everyday.

Always looking for a new way to eat more vegetables and make a fun meal, I tried this “GemWraps Sandwich Wraps: Made from fruits and vegetables – Carrot Flavor.”

First Impressions.

At my local Whole Foods, these GemWraps Packages caught my eye. On the top of the front package, I read the slogan “Changing America’s eating habits one sandwich at a time.”  I said to myself I love that!!  I like the bright orange color of the sheets. Plus these wraps seem quite versatile. If they work, they’d be a lovely addition to casual parties, and a quick lunch. And children would enjoy making their own rolls/wraps just as they do with sushi rolls. So there it went into my shopping cart.

Let’s Roll.

First you need to peel off the protective sheet. Then place ingredients of our choice. I layered:

  • cooked premium Japanese short-grain rice,
  • baby kale,
  • green shiso (Perilla frutescens) leaves,
  • sliced tomato,
  • chopped green olives with garlic & lemon,
  • nori (Pyropia tenera) & dulse (Palmaria palmata) sea vegetable flakes, and
  • sesame seeds.

Then roll it. Moisten one end of the sheet to fasten the roll. I used a small food brush with a tiny amount of water for this. Slice the roll and arrange pieces on a plate.

How did I like It?

Easy to Use.

I found that it’s easy to handle this product. Each sheet comes with a protective sheet to ensure that they don’t stick with each other. A sheet is slightly thicker than a nori sea vegetable sheet which we often use for sushi rolls, and thinner than a burrito wrap.  It is also easy to roll and close the wrap since the sheet, thought thin, has enough weight to support the ingredients you layer. Unlike rolling sushi rolls, you don’t need a mat. I also love the jolly orange color.  It looks appetizing. It brightens a plate.  By adding few bright colored ingredients such as multi-colored grape tomatoes, bell peppers, and leafy greens, the final dish looks so festive and delicious.

Strange Texture.

The texture, on the other hand, is a shock at first. It feels like a plastic sheet on your lips, tongue and teeth. It’s slightly hard and strange to bite off a piece. If you’re quick to judge, this might be the end of your new product trial.  If not, stay with it for a few more bites, which I did.  The smooth, plasticky external texture felt similar to that of Twizzlers.

Flavor. Slowly Grows on You. 

After chewing for a while, a subtly sweet juicy flavor started flowing  in my mouth. It reminded me of fruit roll-up snacks.  It was delicious!  The flavor then mixed with those of the other ingredients well.  It worked.  I really liked it.  I will use it again.

Organic Carrots Just Harvested

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Welcome to My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen: A Delicious Way to Live Healthy and Long!



I’m so happy that you’ve come to My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen. Here I will share with you an idea, a news, a product, a trick and a discovery, as I experiment in my kitchen, explore a farmer’s market, shop in a supermarket, talk with a foodie, a chef, or a mom, dine at a fabulous restaurant/cafe, volunteer at an organic farm, visit a food manufacturer, go fishing, and more.

I hope your visit to My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen will help you lead a delicious way to live healthy and long. Of course, not over night, but one day at a time, one bite at a time …..

Write and let me know what you think, what you discover, and what you’re cooking in Your Tokyo Kitchen.



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© 2015 Naomi Moriyama & William Doyle. All rights reserved | Credits