Ask Maki Almost Anything


I just saw some shiso oil for the first time in our local Japanese grocery store in the olive oil section. I was tempted to buy a bottle, but I wanted to learn more about its use and shelf life before plunking down 1100 yen. Would it be just as easy to make my own? Thanks!

Shoyu vs. Soy Sauce

Is there any real difference? I see recipes calling for shoyu and wonder if soy sauce can be substituted if I don't have shoyu? Is there really any taste difference? I assume no texture difference. I no longer purchase tamari because I can't tell any difference from that and regular good soy sauce in cooked items. Is it the same with shoyu?

Salad Dressings

Hi Maki,

I've tried a couple (and seen several others) of Japanese-style salad dressings I've bought from a Japanese grocery store that is not conveniently reachable for me... I have to travel over an hour just to get there. Might you be coaxed into suggesting a few recipes for dressings like Wasabi dressing, Sesame Dressing, Shoyu dressing etc that can be made at home?

Thanks in advance
Bell ^_^

Sweetness help? >.<

Hi, I have a couple of questions:
1 - I saw a recipe on justhungry for spicy crunchy roasted chick peas, besides sugar, what else should I put on if I wanted a sweet version? I'm afraid sugar isnt enough to get the sweetness.
2 - I'm not a fan of red bean, what other sweet things can I put in onigiri?
Thanks! -mdu

What to make of taro?

I bought Taro Root drink the other day from Chinatown, and loved it. I was thinking of buying the taro root but not sure what to make. Any ideas?

What's the name of this?

I have a feeling this will get long, sorry in advance.

Maki, I'm looking for the name of a certain type of soup.
I work (and live) in Japan and my boss made me a soup of potato, carrot, sausage, a generous hunk of ham, daikon, and some other vegetables in hearty chunks. It was a simple taste but I enjoyed it.
A few weeks later my Japanese mom e-mailed me this recipe for "Vegetable Potof" (WARNING: After living in America for over 30 years, my mom still cannot speak or write in English) continue reading...

Lotus Root

I think I need a "what to do now that you've purchased a whole lotus root" tutorial. Sure, I could google it, but why not go to the master? ^_^

I've never had lotus root, so I've certainly never cooked with it or prepared it. I just bought one at the market (it was two sections, one fat one and one that tapers at the end).

To put this into context, I want to make Maki's recent root veg & tofu stew.


Your site introduced me to mirin and I love it and the flavor it gives to food. The first bottle of mirin that I found (at an upscale grocery store - not asian) was very dark brown. Not as dark as soy sauce but almost. I'm almost out and went looking again (my upscale store is out of it). I found Kikkoman Aji-Mirin which looks like white wine. Is there any difference in the light vs. the dark or is all mirin basically the same? I haven't used the light stuff yet so don't know if there is flavor difference or not. continue reading...