Sunday, 13 April 2014

Avoca Ireland - new food market in the Rathcoole store

Avoca is a successful Irish family run business with stores dotted around the country from Wicklow to Galway. The Avoca store in Rathcoole, Co Dublin (just off the N7 and near Citywest) is the nearest one to me and it's one of my favourite places to visit for a special treat or to meet up with family or friends. 

In late 2013 an exciting new food market was added to Avoca's flagship store in Rathcoole. Here's an insight into the new food market and other random things that I love about this store!

Michie Sushi Bar (Michie Sushi has two other restaurants in Dublin).

Lunch deal for €10 and a sushi take-away service. 

As a Tipperary girl I'm delighted to see the well-known James Whelan Butcher Shop from Tipperary who recently wrote his own book along with Katy McGuinness called "The Irish Beef Book".

Rotisserie Cooked Chicken with a sandwich bar (voted best sandwich by LovinDublin).

Fresh fruit and vegetables supporting local Irish producers such as The Happy Pear

Bakery with freshly baked scones, danish pasteries and white/ brown breads. 

Great selection of cakes and buns. On a recent visit I got this custard bun for just over €1 which reminded me of my honeymoon in Lisbon, Portugal. 

You can have something to eat and/ or a coffee in either the self-service Birdcage Cafe or the Egg Cafe. I'd recommend the Egg Cafe for brunch facing the window looking onto Rathcoole's beautiful park. 

Avoca has a decent selection of Japanese ingredients including different types of Irish seaweed packed in a user-friendly manner. They also stock stylish bento boxes. 

Local Irish producers are featured throughout the store including Irish seaweed skin-care and beauty products such as Green Angel and Voya. They also stock organic fake tan!

Click here to find out more about Avoca.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Home-cooked Chirashi Zushi Recipe

Chirashi-zushi is often made by Japanese people when entertaining at home and celebrating special occasions, it translates as scattered sushi. It's a bowl of sushi rice with different toppings scattered on top including shredded egg crepe.

I love making this recipe for family picnics and call it "chirashi-zushi bento". If you want to use raw fish then ask your fishmonger for sashimi/ sushi grade fish and take care that you eat it as soon as possible once prepared. 

For the sushi rice
2 cups of Japanese rice (320g)
100ml rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
Half tsp salt

For the sushi fillings and toppings
2 eggs (preferably free range or organic), beaten
2 handfuls of edamame beans or petit pois
2 handfuls of sweetcorn
1 tin of tuna in brine (or cooked prawns/ crabmeat/ smoked salmon)
Goatsbridge trout caviar (optional to garnish)

Sesame oil and vegetable oil


1. Click here to see how to make sushi rice.

2. To make the egg crepe, lightly oil a non-stick frying pan on medium to high heat. Depending on the size of your pan place about half the egg mix on the frying pan so you have a very thin layer of egg like a crepe. Now adjust the heat to low and leave the egg on the pan until the edges of the egg crepe start to break away from the pan. Set aside on a large plate. Continue to do this until all the egg mix is cooked. Place the egg crepes on top of each other as you cook them. When you're finishe roll the pile of egg crepes together. Then using a sharp knife cut into thin stripes to get shredded egg crepe.

3. Once the sushi rice is ready mix half of the tuna, petit pois and sweetcorn into the rice.

4. Place the rice mix in a large serving dish. 

5. Scatter the remaining tuna, petite pot and sweetcorn over the rice mix and toss the shredded egg crepe all over. For extra flavour lightly drizzle sesame oil.

6. If you are using fish eggs to garnish place them over the rice mix in clusters as shown in the picture. 

This recipe allows you to add whatever ingredients you like including vegetables only or cooked chicken, meat or fish (raw or cooked).

Friday, 21 March 2014

Fiona's Japanese recipes featured in Food & Wine magazine

I've been working on a few projects over the last few months and I'm really excited to be able to share one of them with you.

A few weeks ago one of my recipes was featured on the front cover of one of Ireland's leading food magazines called "Food &Wine Magazine". A special 8 page feature was also included inside including a collection of my favourite Japanese recipes (traditional and fusion).

I'm attaching some pictures for my followers living outside of Ireland who probably won't get a chance to see the magainze.

I'd love to hear what you think of it.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake

"Okonomi" means favourite or as you like it and "yaki" means grilled so you can really add whatever you like to this savoury pancake recipe (i.e. vegetables, seafood, meat etc). This is a popular Japanese street food and I remember eating it at Japanese festivals with ingredients like octopus and shrimp in it.

I'm sharing this basic okonomiyaki recipe with you but please add your favourite ingredients or whatever you have at home in the fridge!

100g plain flour
250g savoy cabbage (finely shredded)
2 spring onions/ scallions (finely cut diagnolly)
200ml dashi stock or 200ml water with 1 tsp of hondashi (instant fish stock granules)
4 eggs (preferably free range or organic)
6-8 slices of bacon/ rashers (depending on size)

For the okonomiyaki sauce/ tonkatsu sauce
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
4 tbsp water

3 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sake or red wine
1 tbsp soya sauce

1 tsp sugar

To garnish
Okonomiyaki sauce/ tonkatsu sauce
Milled nori or dillisk seaweed, optional
Beni shoga (pickled red ginger), optional
Katsuobushi (dried fish flakes), optional

Vegetable oil (for frying)


1. Put all the ingredients for the tonkatsu sauce in a saucepan and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes until it thickens to the same consistency as tomato ketchup. Then set aside and allow to cool.

2. Place the shredded cabbage and spring onion in a large bowl and completely coat in flour.

3. Whisk the eggs and dashi together in a jug. Pour over the cabbage and mix well together.

4. Heat vegetable oil in a non stick frying pan on medium to high heat.

5. When the pan is hot completely cover the base of the frying pan in one single layer of bacon slices and fry for a few minutes.

6. Carefully place the cabbage mix on top of the layer of bacon until completely covered (depending on the size of your pan you may use most of the cabbage mix or only half).

7. Fry for a few more minutes then if you are not confident to flip the pancake do the following. Place a large plate over the frying pan and turn the pancake onto the plate. Now, slide the pancake with the uncooked part facing down onto the frying pan.

9. Continue to fry for less than 5 minutes on medium to low heat. When ready place on a serving plate with the bacon side of the pancake facing up.

10. To garnish, using a spoon/ brush cover the top of the pancake with tonkatsu sauce. Decorate with lines of mayonnaise and milled seaweed as shown in the picture on the left below. Finally top with katsuobushi and beni shoga (optional ingredients) as shown in the picture on the right below. 

Mini okonomiyaki pancakes:
You can make mini pancakes if you prefer. Simply place one slice of bacon on the frying pan and after frying for a few minutes carefully place a few tablespoons of cabbage mix on top of the bacon. Fry and garnish in the same way as the instructions for the large pancake above. 

Traditionally a Japanese type of potato called nagaimo is grated and added to the batter to help make it lighter. This vegetable can be found in Asian stores.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Cucumber, carrot & wakame (seaweed) salad

This is a refreshing Japanese salad with a pickled dressing that can be served on the side with other dishes. 

1 cucumber
2 large carrots (peeled)
2 tbsp dried wakame seaweed

For the dressing
100ml rice vinegar
3 tsp sugar
Half tsp salt

1. Put all the ingredients for the dressing in a clean empty jam jar or a small lunch box. Secure with a lid and shake the dressing a few times to allow the sugar to dissolve into the rice vinegar. Set aside.

2. Place the dried wakame seaweed in water for about 10 minutes and then drain on kitchen towel.
3. Cut the cucumber in half. Use a tablespoon to take the seeds out of the middle of the cucumber. Slice the cucumber into bite size pieces.
4. Use a peeler or grater to finely slice the carrots.
5. Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl.

6. Pour the dressing over the ingredients and mix well. Leave in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Easy Japanese Meals - my Japanese Cooking Demos

I had my first Japanese cooking demo focusing on "Easy Japanese Meals" on February 13th in Miele Gallery Citywest Dublin. I was really pleased to kick off my 2014 series of cooking demos with a full house. Hopefully this will continue for the rest of the year. Thanks to all who attended and gave me such positive feedback on facebook and via email. 
My next demos are on March 6th and April 14th, I'm currently taking bookings with places still available. If you'd like to book a place send an email to or comment here. 

Here is a sneak preview of the recipes covered in the Easy Japanese Meals class:

- Refreshing Japanese salad
- Poached fish in a teriyaki sauce
- And lots more.........

I'm attaching the article that Marie Claire Digby from the Irish Times wrote about my classes. I received an overwhelming response from the Irish public after the publication of this article. It looks like people living in Ireland have a real interest in Japanese food and culture. 

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