Igisu tofu: イギス豆腐

イギス豆腐 Igisu Tofu is known as the local diet of people living in the islands of the Seto Inland Sea and it is also said to be the food of longevity. This version of the dish comes from 向島 Mukoujima, located in Hiroshima. This one more recipe from the Island Mama’s homemade cooking news article (part 1 is here).

Igisu is a kind of red seaweed that grows on reefs along the shoreline. It is harvested and dried. To make this “tofu” it is then mixed with soy bean powder (or rice bran depending on the recipe) and liquid, then pressed into a mold and chilled to solidify.

Igisu tofu イギス豆腐 recipe: most of the recipes I was able to find from Mukoujima called to mix with rice bran, however some from Ehime called to mix with soy bean powder instead of rice bran; if you decide to do this, you mix 100 g of soybean powder with 7 c of liquid and no straining bag is needed, just add the soybean powder directly to the liquid, otherwise the directions are basically the same.

Igisu, dried, 30g
rice bran, 40g
vinegar, 1 tbsp
soup stock (dashi + water), 6 c.
salt, to taste
mirin, 1 tbsp

**Sauce for topping:
mustard powder, 3 g
white miso, 3 tbsp
sugar, 3 tbsp
mirin, 2 tbsp

Wash the igisu well repeatedly until the water is clean. Put the rice bran in the cloth bag over a bowl; to make the juice of rice bran, strain the soup stock through the bag with the rice bran, gently massaging. Add the rice bran juice and igisu to a pot. Turn on heat and add the vinegar. Over low heat, boil, cook until igisu dissolves. Strain in a colander (if needed), put back in the pot, adjust the seasoning with salt and mirin. Put into mold, and chill to solidify.

Sauce: Put the mustard in a bowl and mix with hot water. Then mix with miso, sugar, mirin. Serve over the igisu tofu.

Other regions that make igisu tofu also add in small shrimp, edamame, black sesame seeds, shredded carrot to the “tofu” while cooking. I prefer the simplicity, but sometimes it might be nice to spice it up a bit.


Mochikibi Onigiri: もちきびおにぎり

More of Island mama’s home-cooking (part 1). This time another recipe from one of the islands in Okinawa prefecture, Tonaki-jima 渡名喜島.

Mochikibi もちきび: millet.

Onigiri おにぎり: rice ball.

So mochikibi onigiri is rice ball with millet mixed in; it is very healthy! This recipe is from Tonaki-jima, off the coast of Okinawa main island, but it is seen everywhere (and perhaps some places on the mainland of Japan!). Mochikibi is one of the specialty products from Tonaki-jima.

Recipe? Well… I mean, it is just onigiri! There really are not any tricks to this recipe. What you need:

-rice (white, but you could use other types)
-mochikibi, 1.5 tbsp
-a little salt (to taste)

Wash rice, add to rice cooker with mochikibi and add required amount of water for you rice cooker (note: if you are Hawaiian, you just do the first knuckle test for adding water). Cook according to rice cooker. Mix in a little salt, make sure the mochikibi is evenly distributed in the rice, let cool for a bit, and form your onigiri. Finished. Usually this is served a bit chilled or room temperature, perfect for bento or quick snacks.


Yashirojima (Suooshima) recipe: kenchou けんちょう

Yashiro-jima (also known as Suooshima) is located off the coast in Yamaguchi prefecture, known for its mikan みかん (oranges). I have heard there is even such a thing as mikan nabe みかん鍋, which is hotpot with oranges…! I would like to try this one day. It sounds like a refreshing taste to me.

Today we have a winter dish, called kenchou けんちょう. This is another installment of “Island Mama’s homemade cooking” from the news pullout section (refer to here).

This dish is made with Japanese radish called daikon 大根. It was originally vegetarian food, only seasoned with shoyu and sake, with just fried daikon and tofu. But then evolved to adding carrots, shiitake mushrooms, lotus root, gobou (burdock root), konnyaku; and then even ingredients like chicken or other seasonal variety.

Nowadays, it might be made in a dried sardine soup; I choose not to do this and stick to a vegetarian version. Vegetable combinations such as daikon, carrot, konnyaku, gobou (burdock root), fried fish cake (satsuma-age), shiitake, lotus root, etc, can be used, depending on what is available to you.

Kenchou けんちょう: This recipe is courtesy of the island’s school meal program, and is vegetarian, however, it can easily be modified to accommodate your tastes. For instance, simmering in a stock of sardines, sort of like an oden おでん style dish would definitely add some winter flavors to the dish.

-tofu 1 block (~300g), drained and cut into chunks or slightly crumbled
-daikon, ~600g, cut into slices and quartered
-carrot, ~ 30g, cut into slices (or strips is okay too)
-konnyaku, 1/2 package (120g), cut into strips
-aburaage (fried tofu)  (25g), cut into strips **other recipes suggest fried fishcake
-oil for frying, ~3 tablespoons
-Sugar, 2 tsp
-salt, 1 tsp
-shoyu, 4 tablespoons
-sake or cooking mirin, to taste

Heat oil in a pan, and stir-fry well daikon, carrot, konnyaku, and aburaage, mix and add seasoning, simmer about 5-6 minutes. Add tofu, simmer over low heat. Enjoy.


Tanegashima recipe: Karaimosen からいもせん

Today we will try something from Tanegashima 種子島, an island off the southern coast of Kagoshima prefecture. This is a continuation of “Island Mama’s homemade cooking” section.

I will introduce karaimo-sen: karaimo からいも is the name for satsuma-imo さつま芋 in Tanegashima, which is a type of sweet potato. Karaimosen からいもせん is the name for the starch that is made from these satsuma-imo (in Japanese, starch is でん粉 denko). From this, they are turned into starchy fried dumplings. A hearty and simple snack or even turn it into a meal, this is a nice dish easily made at home.

There are different ways you can make a traditional dish of Tanegashima; one option is completely from scratch, and the other is using already processed potato starch from the bag at the grocery store. I will introduce both ways, thanks to a website that described the process in Japanese, but I have only made from the powder before. Looks like I will need to do some experimenting in the kitchen soon and try making this from scratch.

First the easy way!

Karaimosen からいもせん:

sweet potato starch, 1 cup
Water, 1.2 cup
Peanut sauce: peanuts, shoyu, vinegar, sugar in equal amounts (or to taste)

Mix the starch and water. Put a little oil in a frying pan and heat, add the starch-water mixture. Cook until transparent (flipping over to cook both sides), let it become a little grilled (I love having some crispy little edges if possible). When all the way cooked, cut into bite sized pieces, top with some peanut sauce and enjoy. You could also use ginger instead of peanuts.

If you want to make something a little fancier, perhaps more of a main dish, you can serve with some some boiled (or maybe even fried if you so desire) vegetables such as kabocha, bamboo shoots, konnyaku, shiitake, or other Asian vegetarian favorites, and instead of peanut sauce, some sort of shoyu and ginger mixture. The article also mentions using it in a sukiyaki or other soup stock sort of dish.


If you find yourself in possession of some satsuma-imo and want to try making this from scratch…

From scratch:

It may be helpful to refer to this website (in Japanese), there are pictures. When I get around to making this, I will take some pictures of the process.

English Instructions:

Take satsuma-imo, clean and peel. Cut into smallish chip-size pieces and add along with water to a blender/juicer (you can hand grate this instead). Strain the liquid into a bowl using a cloth (such as cheesecloth with fine mesh to separate the solids from the liquid). This liquid is what precipitates the starch; this takes a few hours. Once you have the starch, discard the liquid, and dry the starch in the sun. Now it is ready to use.

Previous recipes of “Island Mama’s homemade cooking” news article:

Ojiki-jima recipe: bouburazouse ぼうぶらぞうせ

Yonaguni-jima recipe: Sakuna shiraae サクナの白和え

Ojiki-jima recipe: bouburazouse ぼうぶらぞうせ

This is a continuation of the Japanese newspaper section entitled “Island mama’s homemade cooking.” I am really enjoying this special section on local dishes of the various islands of Japan. Last time I introduced special dish from Yonaguni-jima.

小値賀島 Ojiki-jima is an island in Nagasaki prefecture (長崎県). There is a local cuisine called 「ぼうぶらぞうせ」Bouburazouse in the local dialect. It is a porridge made with kabocha かぼちゃ(pumpkin), red beans (小豆 azuki) and millet (きび kibi). The ratios are not exact, so use what you feel is reasonable. I think like me, island mamas do not measure much and just go by what looks right, so I apologize if the recipes seem a little vague. These are not the type of recipes that are found in English resources, or that many Japanese resources for that matter, since while the recipes may be famous locally, it is not widespread throughout Japan. And it seems that each mama has her own version!

ぼうぶらぞうせ Bouburazouse:

kabocha (pumpkin), peeled and cut into bite size pieces, then steamed
azuki beans, to taste
millet, to taste **probably any sort of grain will do, if you have a preference
sugar, salt, to taste

Steam the kabocha in water (maybe ~ 1 L); when the kabocha is soft, add the azuki beans (with the juice/water) and the millet. Boil until the kabocha is completely fallen apart soft (doesn’t hold shape), and add a little flour to thicken (making it not so sticky), and some salt/sugar to taste. Once it is well-steamed/boiled, it is ready to eat. This is a hearty porridge, and tastes just as good chilled the next day. Itadakimasu いただきます!



Yonaguni-jima recipe: Sakuna shiraae サクナの白和え

This showcases Okinawa grandma’s cooking. Below is a simple Okinawan recipe which includes tofu, peanut butter, miso, some type of leafy green of your choosing, as well as canned tuna (optional). It might sound strange, but is quite delicious.

白和え shira-ae is basically a Japanese “salad” dressed with tofu and white miso; in Okinawa, usually island peanuts are included as well. It is a type of 和え物 aemono, which just means “dressed salad” dish.

サクナ sakuna, the Okinawan name, is better known by its Japanese name, choumeisou 長命草 (also pronounced botanboufu, so I am not sure which is more common), which basically means something like long-life grass or herb; it is known for its herbal medicinal properties and is supposed to be very healthy for you. It grows in the wild on the rock outcroppings of Yonaguni-jima in the Okinawa prefecture. Choumeisou contains abundant polyphenols to prevent arteriosclerosis, cancer, blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. The plant grows on wave-battered, sun-drenched cliffs exposed to the salty ocean air; the hardiness of the plant to survive such a harsh environment is astounding and it has long been a favorite of people as longevity food. The scientific name is Peucedanum japonicum; I have seen it used in diet/health drinks and smoothies. The herb, as well as products made from the leaves, is easily available in Okinawa.

Sakuna sold in the farmers market

Anyway, I recently found a really interesting periodical, “ritokei,” about the islands of Japan, with a fold-out sections talking about “mama’s island homemade cooking” with featured dishes around the many islands. Today I will introduce a dish from Yonaguni-jima made from sakuna and island tofu, called サクナの和えもの (sakuna no aemono). Aemono basically just means “seasoned/dressed dish” and in this case, it is referring to shira-ae 白和え, so with tofu and white miso. I suppose you could also call this dish sakuna no shira-ae サクナの白和え.

サクナ(長命草)の和えもの Sakuna no Aemono: 

sakuna (choumeisou 長命草), as much as desired– washed and shredded
island tofu (shima-doufu 島豆腐), 1/2 block– drained, “mashed” or crumbled
roasted sesame, 3 tbsp
white miso 1 tbsp
sugar, a pinch
peanut butter, small amount to taste

Grind sesame with mortar. Next add in miso, sugar, island tofu, peanut butter and mix. Add shredded sakuna, mix well.

Optionally, you can add a little canned tuna. Another option could be to add a tablespoon of dashi if you prefer a bit of fish flavor. Or if you wanted to go all out Okinawan, a third option is to add some mimigaa ミミガー, which is thinly cut boiled pig’s ear sold in supermarkets everywhere here. Not my cup of tea since I do not eat pork, but some people really enjoy mimigaa. There are many variations on this dish, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit. You can even use a darker miso, just keep in mind, it will make the dish a bit saltier and more pungent, changing the flavor a bit.

Sakuna is fairly common to find here in Okinawa, but you can even use other green leafy vegetables in addition to or instead of sakuna; nigana and handama are also popular in Okinawa, or if you cannot find this, just regular spinach will work as well. You could blanch the leaves in boiling water quickly (~1 minute or less) to get them soft, especially if you decide to try this type of recipe with a more hardy leafy green, such as komatsuna, karashina or other mustard greens.

This is a very simple, yet healthful and flavorful dish, to give you the feeling of Okinawan mother’s home-cooking.

If you enjoyed this, try the second in the series, a special dish from Ojiki-jima in Nagasaki prefecture.

BONUS: Oddly enough, I saw these sakuna-flavored chinsukou cookies the other day at one of the farmers markets. Somehow I doubt these will help extend your life, though…


**For anyone who was directed here looking for more info on “Bizarre Foods in Okinawa,” I have created a special post: here.