Recently I've been thinking of how to make what I’m about clearer and more precise. What recipes I create, what my message is, how I say it and present it visually.
There's so many flavours and colours out there, I feel the need to refine and sharpen mine so when people see 'me' (Shiso Delicious), they immediately know what may come if they dig deeper. Makes sense? I'm not just trying to grab attention or get maximum likes. No, I burn to share what I experience and know about creativity, food, us and this planet. Things that inspire me and may you too, (and hopefully on a deeper, more sustained level). Simply: I need meaning. To create something useful as well as beautiful!
So, for the last couple of months I’ve been testing, sketching, brain-storming and scratching my chin. I’ve played with new photo editing techniques – thank you Kati of Black White Vivid for inspiring me to go deeper. I’ve tried some new visual concepts on my Instagram feed. I’ve written long lists of what I’m all about – here’s a wonderful exercise by creative coach Jen Carrington to get you going.
A method I feel a strong need to share is something I call '#REDUCE'.
#Reduce can be applied to anything which takes steps to complete.
When it comes to creating with my hands, I’ve always been obsessed with shortcuts: finding the most efficient energy use to get to an end result. ‘You're always taking the way of least resistance’ my mum would tease me as a child. Turns out it is some sort of talent (although she didn't make it out like that) and recently it gives me satisfaction to explore it :)
In my cooking, #reduce means recipes that may be inspired by say Japanese, Swedish, whole or raw food but have:
- Reduced number of ingredients - and wholesome ones only
- Reduced steps/time to make
- Reduced sugar (+ I use coconut palm sugar which has a much gentler effect on our bodies and environment, or dates to sweeten)
- Reduced fried and boiled, instead raw, semi-raw or gently cooked
- Reduced waste: both ingredient and packaging
- Reduced energy used (gas, electricity, water etc)
- MORE veggies and power foods like seaweeds, seeds and pulses!
#reduce recipes full of power!
Iron Power Salad and Savoury Sesame Beans – Goma-ae are 'component dishes' which are typical of traditional Japanese meals, including bento (portable lunch). Many little dishes of different texture, colour, taste, and nutritional effect, are eaten with rice.
Both recipes here are favourite Japanese dishes of mine, #reduced :)
Each recipe last a few days in the fridge, for a couple of people. Portion them out as you go: into bento, buddha bowls and salads. If you still have some left after a few days, pop them in a stir fry or omelet, or mix with warm rice or pasta to refresh.
I eat these with rice or greens with a few other component dishes, for example avocado, a handful of toasted or soaked nuts or seeds, egg, tofu, beans, sauerkraut, gomashio, quick pickles, seaweeds, steamed or roasted veggies, olives, and some fresh or dry fruit and seasoning like chili pepper, vinegar and oils.
Iron Power Salad
A savoury-sweet, mineral-boosting (seaweed, coconut palm sugar), grounding (carrots) salad based on ‘Hijiki no Nimono’ a Japanese side dish I love. Search ひじきの煮物 to see typical versions.
My version has much less sugar and lots more carrot than the original (and I use it raw). Eating large amounts of seaweeds if you are not used to it can cause your body to take up too much iodine which should be avoided. This recipe could be a way of gently and deliciously introducing some seaweeds in your meals.
Hijiki is a seaweed you can buy dry in many health food shops or online. Try to buy the biggest bag you can to save on packaging waste. Seaweed lasts for years if stored in an airtight glass or metal container.
Recipe: Iron Power Salad
4-6 portions / bentos, lasts up to 5 days in the fridge
10g dry hijiki seaweed
200g carrot (2-3 medium)
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, washed, medium grated (with a normal box grater) and its juice squeezed with your hand straight into the marinade
- Soak the hijiki in water for 15 minutes. It will expand 2-3 times in volume.
- While the seaweed soaks, julienne (matchstick) the carrots.
- Gently heat the marinade in a small pot over lowest heat.
- Drain the soaked seaweed, squeeze the water out and add it to the hot marinade. Keep at low heat and let it bubble till the seaweed has soaked up most liquid. Remove from heat.
- Add the raw carrots and combine.
Ready to eat straight away but taste best after it’s marinated for at least half an hour.
Savoury Sesame Beans – Goma-ae
Sesame is one of my favourite seeds. Packed with minerals, good oils and protein, they're tiny and cute, and toasted and mixed with something salty they must be one of THE most savoury, mouthwatering things on the planet!
This recipe is based on a Japanese side dish I love, ‘Goma-ae’. I’ve made it with beans here but it can be made with broccoli, spinach, greens, even okra. Search ごまあえ to see typical versions.
Recipe: Savoury Sesame Beans – Goma-ae
2-4 portions / bentos, lasts up to 3 days in the fridge
100g green beans
4 tablespoons toasted or raw sesame seed
1 tablespoon tamari or shoyu soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
- Without trimming or cutting the beans, quick-blanch by covering in boiling water for 5 minutes.
- If your seeds are not already toasted, toast in a dry frying pan for a few minutes.
- Crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar or use a small blender. Take care not to over-blend.
- Drain and cool the beans under a cold tap. Remove their string end (but keep the other end, it’s totally edible, and cute!), and cut in 2-3 cm lengths.
- Pour soy and vinegar in a bowl. Add beans and sesame and combine.
Ready to eat straight away but will taste best after it has marinated for at least half an hour.