Japan Eats

Recipe: Kajiki to natsuyasai no ponzu sarada (swordfish with summer vegetables)

A light dish, perfect for the last days of summer.

Swordfish has a delicate flavor and works well tomato, mustard or teriyaki sauces.

Here we’re going to coat the swordfish with a sauce blending the refreshing citrus of ponzu and the spiciness of wholegrain mustard.

In order to reduce the smell of the fish, sauté with garlic and rosemary. You can add any vegetables you like, but take into account the overall texture and the vegetable’s affinity with the dressing. Personally, I prefer mild-flavored vegetables such as zucchini. It’s also important to cut the ingredients into pieces of the same shape and size.

Swordfish with summer vegetables and ponzu

Swordfish with summer vegetables and ponzu

Ingredients (serves 2 – 4 people)

  • 150 g of swordfish (two slices of swordfish )
  • 50-70 g of red pepper (red paprika )
  • 50-70 g of yellow pepper (yellow paprika)
  • 50-70 g of string bean
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 branch of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salad dressing

  • 3 tablespoons of ponzu
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons of mustard (with seeds)
  • ½ tablespoon of olive oil


Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a bowl.

Cut the string beans into 5 cm lengths and boil them for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and allow them to come to room temperature.

Next, slice both the red and yellow peppers into strips roughly 5 cm long.

Now cut the swordfish into 1 x 5 cm slices.

Peal the garlic and then squash it. Together with the rosemary and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, gently heat the garlic in a frying pan.

When they begin to give off a strong fragrance, increase the heat to medium and sauté the swordfish until it becomes lightly brown then add the fish (except garlic, rosemary and extra olive oil) to the dressing bowl.

Use a sheet of kitchen paper to clean up the oil in the frying pan then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the string beans, red pepper, yellow pepper on high heat for 1 minute. Add to the bowl.

Mix all the ingredients in the bowl carefully and cool them down in the refrigerator for 30 – 60 minutes. Serve.

Recipe: Marinated zucchini in ponzu sauce

This citrus-flavored side salad is the perfect accompaniment to a summer barbeque.

Ponzu is a well balanced sauce, but you can add other flavors to suit your own taste. Here, tobanjan has been added to produce a Chinese-style spiciness. You could also add 1 or 2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard, a few teaspoons of sesame oil or a pinch of chopped garlic.

Japanese supermarkets stock a wide variety of ponzu, and a bottle makes an ideal souvenir for overseas visitors.

Marinated zucchini in ponzu sauce

Marinated zucchini in ponzu sauce

Ingredients (serves 3 – 4 people)

  • 350 – 400 g green and yellow zucchini
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Ponzu sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of ponzu
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tobanjan
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil


Mix the ingredients of the ponzu sauce in a bowl. Slice the zucchini into 1 cm thick rounds. Place a fry pan in the gas table with one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Warm it on a medium heat then saute the zucchini until they’re browned.

While they’re still hot, pour the zucchini into the bowl containing the ponzu sauce. Mix thoroughly.

Finally, place the bowl in the fridge and cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe: Piman no butabaramaki (peppers wrapped in pork)

A simple hors d’oeuvre that’s bound to disappear quickly.

Cocktail parties are a rarity in Japan. When entertaining family or friends, most Japanese elect to host the event at a local izakaya rather than in their own houses or apartments – there simply isn’t enough space at home. When Japanese do have people over, the numbers are usually small and the meal something relatively simple and easy to share – nabe (hotpot) or gyoza (Chinese dumplings) are particularly popular.

Red and green peppers wrapped in pork

Red and green peppers wrapped in pork

If you have the space for a larger number of guests, however, this dish of red and green peppers wrapped in pork makes for the perfect finger food. The citrus of the ponzu cuts through any oiliness in the pork, and the still-crispy vegetables add a crunchy texture to each mouthful.

They also make an excellent side dish and can be combined with other otsumami to make a delicious izakaya-style meal. Better, they don’t have to be served right away – the pepper and pork rolls can be served either hot or after they have cooled down.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 50 g of green pepper
  • 50 g of red pepper
  • 100 g of thinly sliced pork belly
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of ponzu
  • 1 tablespoon of yuzukosho


First, cut off the top and bottom of the green and red peppers. Next, cut into halves and remove the seeds. Slice them into strips 5 mm thick.

Put them into a bowl of cold water and rinse them for 2-3 minutes and drain (when you prepare salads or other vegetable dishes, you should put the vegetables – especially leaf vegetables – into a bowl of cold water to enliven them).

Remove the water with a paper towel, then divide into 6 portions. The green peppers and the red peppers should be mixed almost half and half.

Place a thinly sliced pork belly on a cutting board, then sprinkle a pinch of salt. Place one portion of the peppers in the center and roll them. Repeat another 5 times.

Pour the vegetable oil into a frying pan and warm it on a low heat. Once the pan has heated up, lay down the pork rolls so that the ‘seam’ (where the end of the pork meets the rest of the roll) is face down – think of the nori around sushi rolls. As the side of the roll cooks, it will bind itself to the rest of the pork.

Turn the heat up to medium and sauté that side for 2-3 minutes till it becomes brown and perfectly bonded, then sauté the rest of the roll so it is cooked evenly.

Place the rolls on to a dish with a pinch of yuzukosho on a top of each. Pour 2 tablespoons of ponzu gently from side over the finished dish and serve.