Local Challenge
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Challenge #1! Cod from Mark Lobb

Do something with this! Food from the UK, cooked in Japan!

Looking through whatever’s left over in the food cupboard, or the fridge, and wondering what on earth I’m going to make today…

Actually, that’s one of my favourite times!

And seeing a happy face digging into whatever I’ve made makes me want to shout with joy!

For the Local Challenge series, I will take on local produce from farmers, fishermen, food shops, food manufacturers and specialists in the UK, and cook them up into both traditional Japanese dishes, and Japanese arrangements of dishes that are more familiar to people in the UK, too.

(With a big Thank You! to David and Holly Jones from Manna from Devon for all their help!)

So! What on earth am I going to make today!?



Mark Lobb has been selling fish in and around Dartmouth since the 1970s, originally from a market stall and the back of his van. He now has a fish shop in Dartmouth market, piled high with wonderful fresh local fish from Brixham market.

To see Mark beaming his huge grin, with the fish sparkling on the ice trays in front of him – now that’s what I call cool!

Mark has given me my first challenge – a huge cod!

So, here we go!



Satsuma-age with Tofu


No, this isn’t deep-fried satsumas! When I first heard that tangerines are called satsumas in the UK, I was surprised. If you asked for a satsuma in Japan, you’d be given a sweet potato!

But that’s enough of tangerines, let’s talk about Satsuma-age. It’s one of the best known deep-fried dishes in Japan, originating in the Satsuma region – what is now called Kagoshima, in Kyushu.

Satsuma-age is great fresh from the pan, or fried with salt or soy sauce, but we also add them to vegetable dishes and oden. (I’ll tell you how to make great oden another time.)

You don’t usually use tofu in satsuma-age, but I think adding a little that has had the water pressed out of it makes the texture a little better.

This time I mixed in shiso and shredded konbu, but you can use vegetables or squid or octopus, or anything you have left over in the fridge!




  • 300g Cod (skin and bones removed)
  • 150g firm (momen/cotton) tofu
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of potato starch (or corn starch)
  • 1/2 an egg
  • salad oil
  • Shredded konbu, shiso (or anything else you have left over)




1. Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper and heat in a 500w microwave for 3 minutes. Then wrap in new kitchen paper an put a plate on top of it as a weight, and leave for 3 hours or so to press out the liquid.

2. Mince the cod in your food processor.

3. Mix well the tofu from above, sake, juice from the grated ginger, salt, potato starch and egg. Add shiso, shredded konbu (or welsh onions, carrots, burdock, hijiki, sweet corn, pine nuts…. whatever you fancy!) and shape the mix into small patties.

4. Deep-fry the patties in 160C oil, and they’re done. You can fry them in a frying pan with plenty of oil if you prefer. Eat them with a bit of salt or soy sauce.

17338700081_164891d7f7_oSqueezing the water out of tofu makes it this flat! This is a common way to prepare tofu for use in cooking.




White Miso Fish Pie


Fish Pie – now there’s a classic British dish!

In the UK, you usually use a smoked fish, like smoked haddock, but it’s difficult to get smoked fish in Japan so I use himono instead – dried fish, one of the most popular ways of preserving fish in Japan.

There are several methods  used to preserve fish in Japan – himono is dried fish, or you can preserve it in miso, or with the lees from sake (kasu).

Traditionally in Japan, at New Year we give gifts to people who have helped us over the year – called oseibo. One of the most common gifts is miso preserved fish. There are lots of different ways to preserve with miso, but I like white miso (Seikyo miso) preserved fish best. That gave me the idea for this fish pie, and I added some white miso to the sauce.

Miso is one of the prides of Japanese food – the enzymes in the koji used to make miso break down the protein and the amino acids produce umami – and all that is what makes it so delicious!

So, here’s a classic British fish pie, with a traditional Japanese twist!


  • 200 g cod fillet (bones and skin removed)
  • 1 smoked haddock (in Japan you can use hokke or similar sun-dried fish)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 30g butter
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • a handful of parsley
  • (for the mashed potatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • a dash of milk
  • cheddar or similar cheese

1. If you are using hokke or a Japanese dried fish, fry it first and remove the skin and bones.

2. Place the cod and haddock (or hokke) in a frying pan, add the white wine, milk, juice from the lemon and 10g of butter, salt and pepper, cover with a lid and steam fry. Take off the heat when the fish has cooked.

3. Place only the fish from above in a buttered, heat-proof dish. Keep the sauce for later.

4. Put 20g of butter in a different pan on a low heat, and soften the sliced onion.

5. Add the flour to the onions and gently fry, stirring so mixes evenly, then add the sauce from your fish, white miso and mustard powder mixing on a low heat so that it doesn’t become lumpy. (If the sauce is a bit too thick you can add a dash of milk to reduce it)

6. Add chopped parsley to the sauce and pour over the fish.

7. Boil the potatoes till they are soft, pour off the water and mash with butter and milk. If you like your mashed potatoes soft, you can finish them off with a whisk.

8. Cover the fish and sauce evenly with the mashed potato, and use a fork to ensure it is firmly against the sides and corners, and to make a wave pattern on the top. You can also sprinkle the top with cheese if you like.

9. Put in a 180C oven for 30 mins, until the top turns a golden brown.

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