Coconut Spice Mochi Brownies

Enjoy this mash-up of brownies, gingerbread, and Hawaiian butter mochi. This is a super simple holiday dessert recipe that packs a ton of tropical flavor.

1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.

2. Mix wet ingredients in a bowl:
* 6 eggs (beaten)
* 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
* 1 can (400 ml) of coconut milk
* 400 ml of cow’s milk (use the can of coconut milk to measure)
* 1 stick of butter (melted)

3. In another big bowl, mix the dry ingredients:
* 2 cups of mochiko (glutinous or “sweet” rice flour)
* 1 cup of unsweetened dry shredded coconut
* 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1.5 cups of coconut (or brown) sugar
* 1 teaspoon of baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
* Optional: since this is the holiday season, I kicked things up by adding1/4 teaspoon of each of the following dried powdered spices: cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger. If you really want to live on the edge, you can put some cayenne pepper in this too.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix well and pour into a 9 x 13 inch (33 x 23 cm) baking tray. Bake for 1 hour. Enjoy!

These brownies are great by themselves or warm with some ice cream, or you can always reheat them in the microwave or a toaster oven to serve later. If you want a drink pairing, port wine works well. Or a not-too-smoky whisky.


Spanish-Japanese Eggs

Today for brunch, I created a mash-up of two of my favorite egg dishes: Spanish tortilla, a thick omelet with potatoes, and Japanese tamagoyaki, a rolled omelet infused with a slightly sweet soy and dashi broth.

In place of regular potatoes, I use satsumaimo, a kind of Japanese sweet potato that is whiter and a bit firmer than American sweet potatoes. Of course, you can use whatever sweet potato you can find. I pre-cook the satsumaimo with a kind of delicate simmering technique called nimono before incorporating it into the omelet.

The recipe takes a bit of time to make from scratch, but the techniques are simple. I think it’s worth the effort and the perfect way to impress your family and friends with a fresh take on the usual weekend brunch fare.



  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 4-5 dried shiitake (mushrooms)
  • 1 handful of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 1 satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato), substitute the American kind if you can’t find the Japanese kind
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • sesame oil
  • 8 medium organic eggs
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • yuzukoshō (a kind of Japanese fermented green chili and citrus peel paste)
  • soy sauce
  • mirin (sweet rice wine) and sake
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sesame seeds
  • red chili flakes/cayenne pepper
  • pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • brown sugar, salt and pepper


1. Make Broth

  • Rinse the shiitake, kombu, and ginger and place in a medium saucepan with about a liter of cold water.
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook gently for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  • Pick out the kombu and mushrooms and reserve. Leave in the ginger.
  • Bring to a boil and toss in the katsuobushi. Turn off heat, let cool for 10 minutes and strain. Discard katsuobushi and ginger.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and sugar, 1 tablespoon each of mirin and sake. Add salt to taste. It should be salty and a bit sweet but not too overwhelming.


2. Prepare Satsumaimo

  • While the broth is simmering, cut the satsumaimo into 1/4 inch-thick half moons. Leave the skin on, but trim off any dried-out or dark bits.
  • Soak the satsumaimo slices in cold water until ready to use. This removes some of the extra starch and prevents oxidation, which turns the sweet potato brown.
  • Drain the satsumaimo slices from the cold water and simmer in the broth from the previous step for 15-20 minutes until soft but not falling apart. Remove satsumaimo from cooking liquid, reserving some of the broth.


3. Make Topping

  • While the satsumaimo is simmering in the broth, prepare the crunchy mushroom and kombu topping.
  • Thinly slice the kombu and shiitake reserved from the broth making.
  • Heat about a teaspoon of the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add in the sliced kombu and shiitake along with the sliced garlic.
  • Season with a few pinches of red chili powder and/or cayenne, freshly grated black pepper and sugar. Add a small splash each of sake, mirin, and soy sauce.
  • Cook until liquid is absorbed and mixture looks dark and crunchy. Sprinkle on white sesame seeds.


4. Final Assembly

  • Whisk 1/4 teaspoon of yuzukoshō and the scallion in about 1/4 cup of the reserved simmering liquid. Beat in the eggs.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast iron pan on a medium flame and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the egg mixture, then add a layer of the satsumaimo slices. I had some extra sweet potato that I saved for another use. Then add the kombu and mushroom mixture on top.
  • Continue cooking on low heat until edges look slightly solid. Finish in the broiler (1-2 minutes). The eggs should still be a little runny in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pimentón, and serve. Enjoy!


Japanese-Brazilian Pepper Steak

This is my first foray into cooking here in Rio where I integrate Brazilian and Japanese influences.

Broccoli and cauliflower florets
Thin slice of alcatra (rumpsteak)
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 handful of sliced shiitake
1 garlic clove, minced
Tablespoon of soy sauce
Tablespoon of brandy
Tablespoon of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of French grain mustard
Dash of hot paprika
Hot sauce to taste
Freshly ground mixed pepper (black, white, pink, and green peppercorns) to taste – substitute black pepper if that is all you have
Salt to taste

1. Boil broccoli and cauliflower florets in salted water until tender, set aside and keep warm. Reserve some of the water and set aside.

2. Season both sides of the alcatra with salt and pepper.

3. Heat a saucepan and coat generously with olive oil.

4. Sear the steak on both sides. Since the steak is thin, one minute per side is sufficient for medium rare.

5. Remove steak from saucepan and set aside.

6. Using the same pan and oil, add chopped onions, stir and scrape the meat bits to incorporate into the onion and oil mixture. Sauté until the onions wilt and begin to brown.

7. Add the garlic and shiitake and sauté until the mushrooms cook through. Then add the remaining seasonings. Dilute with some of the vegetable cooking water if the mixture gets too dry.

8. Cook the mixture until it reduces to a saucy consistency. If you want to be really fancy, you can whisk in a bit of cold butter, but that is optional.

9. Serve on a plate with the steak, vegetables and sauce on top.

10. Enjoy!