Recipes: Miso pork | Sticky rice | Chilli tofu

Makiko Sano author of Shoku-Iku! Japanese conscious eating for a long and healthy life. Picture: Contributed
Makiko Sano author of Shoku-Iku! Japanese conscious eating for a long and healthy life. Picture: Contributed
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YOUR choice of food should be based on its impact on your body, says chef and author Makiko Sano

Shoku-Iku is about a brand new relationship with food. It is conscious eating: ditching that “just grab something” attitude and believing that you need to be a bit more mindful about the relationship between what you eat and your body.

It is about choosing foods based on their power to invigorate, enliven, energise, fuel and give you true nutrition. When you do this you simply feel better, lighter and in control and – though you initially will have to put some thought into it – over time it will become a way of life.

My family instilled this mindful attitude to food in me as a child in Japan. Every morning my grandfather had a pint of water mixed with the juice of two squeezed lemons. I had to drink it with him (and I thought it was disgusting as a child), but I still do the same to this day. We ate a selection of fish, vegetables, beans and miso soup at every meal. My grandfather played tennis until he was 97; my uncle lived to be 100. Growing up, my memories are of my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, all of whom lived nearby, eating their evening meal together.

Sagen Ishizuka initiated the Shoku-Iku concept. This famous Japanese military doctor was a pioneer of the macrobiotic diet. The philosophy is built on acquiring knowledge about what we eat, how we prepare it and how we put different foods together. The rules of Shoku-Iku are not strict or hard to follow, but truly common sense.


I usually marinate this before I go to bed to cook the next day. Serve with steamed broccoli and rice.

Serves two to three

1 Put the pork in a plastic bag and add all the other ingredients except the orange and salad leaves. Seal the bag, while pushing out all the air you can, then massage it for one minute to really help the marinade to penetrate the meat.

2 Leave the bag in fridge overnight.

3 Preheat the grill on its highest setting, or heat a griddle pan. Lightly grill or griddle both sides of the pork until it is dark brown, then serve with the orange slices and leaves.


If I’m making this at home with my children, I need to double the recipe, because they love it so much. It is pretty addictive. Leave out the chicken for a vegetarian version.

Serves four to six

1 Heat the rapeseed oil in a sauté pan set over a medium heat and cook the chicken, turning, until lightly brown.

2 Add all the vegetables and seasonings and continue to cook, stirring well, until the vegetables are tender.

3 Meanwhile, line a steamer with a muslin cloth, add the rice and steam over a high heat for 30-35 minutes.

4 When the rice is ready, put it in a bowl with the vegetables and mix well.

5 Return the mixture to the cloth-lined steamer and cook for another 15 minutes over a high heat. Now turn off the heat and leave, still covered, for a final 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with either spring onion or sesame seeds.


You can eat this as a side dish or as a snack. I like to eat it with rice, but Westerners may find it a bit dry that way.

Serves two

1 Preheat the grill on its highest setting, or heat a griddle pan if you want to get griddle marks. Pat the tofu with kitchen paper to get rid of any water, then grill it and the leek on both sides for three minutes each, until brown.

2 At the same time, grill the dried chillies for three minutes. This should be just enough to bring out their flavours, but don’t blacken or scorch them. You can griddle all the components instead, if you prefer.

3 Meanwhile, make the sauce. Mix the miso with the sake and place into a small saucepan. Add the chillies and cook for a few minutes until flavoured.

4 Add the soy sauce, sugar and 50ml of water and bring to a simmer. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the balsamic vinegar.

5 Add the tofu and leek and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.



2 pork fillets (400-500g), sliced into 5mm slices

2 tbsp white miso

1 tbsp sake or white wine

1 tsp honey

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp mirin

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp grated garlic

1 orange, peeled and sliced

2 handfuls of salad leaves


1 tbsp rapeseed oil

100g skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1cm cubes

4 shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced

60g carrots, sliced into julienne

50g frozen burdock root, finely sliced or shredded

4 oyster mushrooms, finely sliced

1 head of enoki mushrooms, broken into pieces

4 tbsp sake

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp kelp flakes

450g Japanese glutinous rice (mochigome)

1 spring onion, finely chopped (optional)

sprinkling of white sesame seeds (optional)


350g block of tofu, cut into 2cm cubes

½ leek, cut into 1cm slices

6 dried red chillies

2 tbsp white miso

2 tbsp sake

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp caster sugar

50ml water

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

• Shoku-Iku! Japanese conscious eating for a long and healthy life by Makiko Sano (Quadrille, £14.99)