Chef Koji Yamada has been working with the local supermarket Tsuruya in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, to create healthy recipes for home cooking, which are distributed at all 33 stores of the supermarket in the prefecture.
Yamada, chef of Weisshorn, a restaurant located in Maruko Central Hospital in Ueda, comes up with three or four low-sodium recipes a month that feature in-season ingredients.
When Tsuruya approached him with the project, Yamada readily agreed to help, hoping to "be of use to the health and happiness of the local people." The distribution of the recipes called "Ikiiki reshipi" (full-of-life recipes) began in the spring of 2015.
To date, the cooking procedures of around 140 dishes have been introduced on a postcard-size sheet along with the nutrient content, Yamada’s advice on cooking and comments by the nutritionists.
About 20,000 cards are printed each month, and all are said to be picked up by customers.
This month’s lineup includes such dishes as "Tomato sauce with clams and webfoot octopus cooked in a rice cooker" and "Japanese plum-flavored ice candy."
Yamada takes the nutrition and sense of the season into consideration to create dishes that make up balanced meals.
The number of ingredients, seasonings and cooking utensils that are available for use has jumped during the past several decades. Yamada utilizes them and tries to restructure "home cooking of our time" by creating the recipes.
This week’s "sardines cooked with escargot butter" was also offered as a monthly recipe and proved popular with the shoppers. Since the sardines become steamed and roasted by the water contained in the newly harvested onion and the tomato, they turn out tender even without the use of a steam oven. The recipe also works with mackerel and horse mackerel.
Escargot butter is not butter that contains edible snails, but a kind mixed with herb vegetables that is used when cooking the escargot. The strong flavor goes well with the sardine innards.
"Have some baguette ready since it tastes delicious when soaked in the juice in the gratin dish," says Yamada.
If you have an aversion to fish innards, remove them before cooking.
Ingredient A (100 grams salt-free butter, 10 grams anchovy paste or anchovy, 1 clove garlic, 40 grams onion, 10 grams parsley)
※This is an easy-to-make amount. (About half is used in this recipe.)
2 large sardines
1 ripe tomato
1 new onion (shin-tamanegi)
40 grams mushroom
1 Tbsp breadcrumbs
Make escargot butter by grating garlic, chopping onion and parsley. Warm butter to room temperature until soft. Mix Ingredient A well.
Remove gills and scales from sardines and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.
Cut tomato and eggplant in 1-cm round slices. Slice new onion in rounds that are 7-mm thick. Cut mushrooms in half.
In a gratin dish that fits the sardines, lay vegetables and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Top with sardines and coat with half of escargot butter. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and cook in oven preheated to 200 degrees for about 20 minutes until done.
※Remaining escargot butter may be kept in the fridge or freezer and be used in many ways, such as applying on bread to be toasted or placing on mushrooms and shellfish and cooked in the oven.
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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Watashi no Ryori column