Ask Maki Almost Anything

Mushrooms

I want to make some soup, and it calls for shiitake mushrooms. However, my mother is allergic to them, and so I can't use them. I was wondering if there is anything you could suggest for a substitute? Not for taste or anything, but volume and yumminess.

Thanks so much,
Ista

Rice selection?

Okay, so I've finally decided to venture into proper japanese rice. (Yes, until now I've been eaten long grain, non sticky rice. Blasphemy!). I have bought it in the past, but that was about 3 years ago when I made sushi in Foods class, so needless to say I don't remember much. I did read the rice posts on here, so I had some idea of what to look for, but I'm not sure which of these are actually japanese rice and are going to give me that nice stickyness necessary in order to make things like onigiri.
Choices:
1. Labeled as: "Kohuko Rose". continue reading...

what is it?

Today at the Asian market I picked up an interesting package of food. There are 3 logs that look like mochi or fish paste rolled out flat (about 1/8 inch thick), sprinkled with slivers of green onion and tiny dried shrimp and then rolled up into thin logs. They were in the refrigerated section on a white styrofoam tray with saran wrap over them - no label of any kind. They were only $2.49 and when I asked the cashier what they were she had no idea. I bought them anyway because they looked fun! continue reading...

Sesame salad dressing

Hi Maki,

I bought a really delicious salad dressing here in Japan, called "goma dressing," and I wonder if you know how to make it. It's light brown in color from the ground roasted sesame seeds. My children only eat salad if it has this sesame dressing on it! Thank you so much for your help.

Mirin and Sake

Why are mirin and sake used together in recipes? What does each ingredient add to a recipe that the other can't?

nagaimo and dashi questions

Maki,
I have just come upon your site for the first time today, when I was googling 'nagaimo.' I quickly read a number of your informative pieces and recipes, and I am soooo impressed by your articulate well infomed writing style and your very helpful user-friendly attitude. I have a few questions and so appreciate your help. continue reading...

Umepaste

I got myself some Umepaste a while ago. I only recently gave it a try straight up and I must say the flavour hit me. It's unussual but quite nice.

So my main issue is... How to use it. I can more or less incorporate various things into meals but this one is giving me problems. It's not just salty. It's more or less everything and then some.

I'm not talking only Japanese foods but general anything.

Thanks for any tips.

eggs

How safe is it to use cooked egg in bento. I'd like to try a frittata recipe but I'm worried it could spoil. Also what are some guidelines for using egg safely and if it can be properly reheating egg.

Thanks for the help : )