Gluten-free Baking in Japan: Classic Rice Flour Pancakes Recipe

June 8th, 2012 yum Posted in Baked Goods, Brown Rice, Dairy, Gluten Free in Japan, Gluten-free Japanese Label Reading, Pancake, Rice, Soy Free, Travel, gluten-free international travel 8 Comments »

Hello from Mutsu City, Aomori Prefecture Japan!

Dear Readers, I’m sure that many of you have wondered what on earth happened to me. Around the end of May I actually got on a plane with the DH and dear Toddler Yum in tow and flew to Japan for a three month fieldwork trip for my dissertation. Preparation kept me quite busy initially, and then once I arrived in Japan I found myself extremely busy going to my field site, doing surveys and interviews, and then trying to keep myself fed and cared for. Not only that, when I’m not actually in the field but come down to our monthly apartment, Toddler Yum has been a busy girl requiring my attention. I started her in a Japanese daycare, and it has been a wonderful, enriching experience but also brought its own difficulties. My dear girl is learning some Japanese and about Japanese culture and loving it- but separating from Mommy in the morning has been a trial. We’ve had to bust out the favorite “Llama Llama Misses Mama” book for some of the bad days, and gone back to drawing Mini Mama and Mini Grandma on her hand to keep her company. She has a little uniform that is so cute, though. And luckily she seems to be doing well on a wheat-diet, so can eat the delicious, healthy, handmade lunches they make at her pre-school. My girl loves Japanese food!

Me in the Field, being Visited by Toddler Yum

I love Japanese food too, but my food options are severely limited. As usual, while living in Japan I consume seafood, but it is quite a challenge to avoid wheat when soy sauce is used to season pretty much all of the convenience prepared foods and flavors most restaurant dishes. I can’t buy any prepared gluten-free baked foods, but I brought things like gluten-free pasta from home, as well as a few baking mixes and brown rice flour. Over the past month, I’ve been experimenting. This morning my Dad (who joined us when the DH had to return home for work) made me these awesome gluten-free pancakes. All you need is one burner, so they are good for the gluten-free girl (or guy) on the road or even in a dorm room. I’ve also been experimenting with baking in the toaster oven (our apartment doesn’t have a regular oven) and have come up with an excellent mini banana bread recipe that I will be sharing soon.

In other Blog News:
I’m sure many of you have given up hope about the Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger Event, but starting this month some dear gluten-free blogger friends are stepping in and helping to host the event.

Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger Event Schedule
June: Shannon of Enjoying Gluten-free Life
Live: Signups for Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger!

July: Sunny of And Love it Too
August: Alta of Tasty Eats at Home

I’ll be back hosting in September! Thanks ladies, you are lifesavers!

Here’s the ingredients I bought in Japan to make this recipe! You can buy all of the ingredients in the States, too, so no worries.

*I brought the Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice flour from home. You may be able to find brown rice flour in Japan, but I haven’t found one that wasn’t packaged in bulk with gluten items yet… If you live in Japan and are frustrated by your inability to find safe brown rice flour, you can substitute more white rice flour for the brown OR grind brown rice with a good mill to make your own gluten-free brown rice flour for this recipe.*
Note the milk in the picture. If you don’t buy lowfat milk in Japan, you’re likely end up with some VERY thick and creamy milk. Delicious if you like cream… and it certainly it makes a delicious latte, but it is quite the figure-buster. lol. I learned early on in my Japanese life to seek out the lowfat stuff for drinking and baking. I’ll be making a dairy-free version for Toddler Yum using the easily available soy-milk or the soy-almond milk, and I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Read Japanese Labels for Gluten-free Shopping in Japan!

White Rice Flour / Kome Ko
I found this in an unusually large bag at a Japanese chain store called Sanwado found in the Tohoku region of Japan and Hokkaido. [English review of Sanwado in Misawa]
I love this store, which is like a combo between Walmart and a very small Costco. I found large, American-size cans of Chickpeas and Red Kidney Beans, neither of which are typically available in Japan, and if they are available are typically expensive and only sold in small quantities. I also can buy thai rice paper wraps, rice noodles, and cans of veggie green curry there. Yay!

Note that this rice flour is NOT mochi rice flour or sweet rice flour, but like the regular rice flour sold by Ener-g Foods or Bob’s Red Mill. It is 100% rice flour (wetland) and doesn’t have a notice about wheat being produced in its factories so should be a pretty pure source.

Almond Flour/ Almond Powder
I was surprised to find Almond flour, aka Almond Powder, in Japan, sold with the cake ingredients. I have seen large bags (I think at Sanwado) but purchased this small bag that was sold next to the cake sprinkles. It also doesn’t have a warning about shared production lines.

The Homemade Cake brand is owned by Kyoritsu Foods. They have many different products including gluten-ones. I’m not sure how the packaging happens, but since they don’t have a warning about wheat production lines, the risk of cross contamination seems fairly low. They do mention that dairy products are produced in the same factory, for any who might be concerned. The quality is similar to Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder
I was surprised to find this baking soda at the “hyakku En Shoppu” Daiso, which is like a Japanese dollar store. It was reasonably priced. I found the baking powder in a regular grocery store, but wouldn’t recommend this particular brand as it has a warning that wheat products are produced in the same factory.

Gluten-free Pancakes in Japan
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. apple vinegar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1 tbsp. almond powder (almond flour)
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 tbsp. melted butter
Combine milk and vinegar in a large bowl and let it sit until it thickens slightly and the milk turns sour.

Combine your dry ingredients (brown rice flour, white rice flour, almond powder, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a medium bowl. Whisk together until ingredients are

Heat a non-stick pan to medium heat (or use your favorite cast iron pan with a little butter or oil as needed).

Add your egg and melted butter to the vinegar-thickened milk and whisk together. Gradually add your combined dry ingredients to the wet (egg, butter, milk, vinegar) and gently fold together.

Using a 1/4 cup measure for each pancake, pour up to 3 pancakes in your pan at a time. When the pancake gets bubbles on the top, after about 30 seconds, turn them over. When the second side is brown, remove from the pan and repeat.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Top 10 Yummiest Gluten-free Foods in Israel

September 28th, 2011 yum Posted in Caesarea, Gluten Free Dining, Gluten Free On the Road, Haifa, Israel, Pescatarian, Tel Aviv, gluten-free international travel 12 Comments »

1. A Limonana, or mint lemonade.
The blistering heat of Israeli summer demands that you stay hydrated, and one of the tastiest way to quench your thirst in Israel is with an ice cold Limonana. According to food blogger Liz, “The name limonana is simply a combination of the word for lemonade, limonada, and the word for spearmint, nana.” Whatever you call it, this mint lemonade really hits the spot. Mercedes tells us “The mint lemonade (limon nana) you find in the Middle East is not like what you find in the States, but rather a mixture of fresh lemon juice, mint leaves, and plenty of sugar whirled in a blender until a thick green concoction is poured into your glass.” (source: Desert Candy) Yes, please! Quality varies, with some only having the mildest hint of mint (see, Aroma Coffeeshop) and with others where it tastes like they ground up an entire mint plant in your drink. I’m a fan of the latter.

Make your own with Liz Steinberg

2. Freshly squeezed juice

Freshly squeezed Pomegranate juice and Orange juice are ubiquitous in Israel. When we visited, persimmons were in season and oranges were out of season, so the ones you saw around the country were not the freshest fruits on the tree, if you get my drift. I was excited to try fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. Imagine my surprise when I found out that I didn’t really like it. Luckily besides the orange juice (actually very tasty), gourmet fruit stands like the one at Shukhanamal gourmet market at the Tel Aviv Port sell an amazing variety of delicious fruit drinks. I think my favorite was a passionfruit concoction with crunchy seeds and a totally unique flavor that Toddler Yum and I shared. I’d never had anything like it before or since. Jamba Juice eat your heart out. PS Looking for Shukhanamal, my favorite spot for organic produce and other gourmet goodies at the port? Walk to Aroma and then scan the horizon for the Sea Horse logo.

3. Meze or Tapas

Besides the breakfasts, my favorite dining experience in Israel was at seaside restaurants serving assorted meze with bread and grilled, salted, or fried seafood. Especially when traveling overseas, I tend towards a pescatarian diet because when you cut out gluten sometimes there aren’t enough vegetarian gluten-free options to keep well-fed and satisfied. I read another blog where they were talking about a gluten-free diet in Israel and listing the options- and halfway through said, the author commented that it would be hard to keep gluten-free and meat-free in Israel. Well, I didn’t feel the need to eat meat persay but consuming seafood really helped make restaurants feasible and satisfying options. Here is one of the nicest meze spreads we enjoyed at a place in Caesarea called Pondak Hatsalbanim (crusaders) that we read about in Frommers. Although I used a gluten-free dining card at some restaurants, after it often seemed to make things more complicated than not, I ended up just telling them “no wheat/bread” and ended up with an amazing assortment of tapas. I skipped one bean sprout dish that I suspected was seasoned with soy sauce, but I enjoyed the eggplant with mayo, baba ghanoush, olives, beets, hummus, tomato salad, and tahina without bread and then we had a grilled fish that Toddler Yum absolutely loved.

4. Roasted Eggplant with Tahina (tahini)

Make that, roasted eggplant with tahina, hummus with tahina, tahina with tahina. One of my favorite things about food in Israel has to be the availability of tahina and tahina enhanced dishes. Barring cross contamination in the kitchen, roasted eggplant with tahina was usually one of the safer things on the menu, and something that I could eat for almost every meal given the opportunity. Keep an eye on the spices, but for the most part, it was served with nothing more suspicious than a little sprinkling of paprika. I loved the eggplant itself, cooked to sweet and silky softness inside the papery charred, smoky skin, but it would have been just another burnt vegetable without that addictive sesame sauce. If you think you don’t like tahini because it is bitter, honey, you aren’t buying the right tahini. I switched from that cheapo version in the metal tin to the real stuff in glass jars available in Middle Eastern markets and wow, the difference is amazing. The un-toasted health food store variety doesn’t cut it either, if you’re wondering. I don’t know what the difference is, but hunt down some REAL stuff at a market. I think you’ll taste the difference.

5. Hummus with Pine Nuts

Speaking of Tahina, another gorgeous dish that I couldn’t get enough of in Israel was the hummus. Served like this with an almost obscene amount of toasted pine nuts, it was a transcendent dish. And I know you are supposed to eat it with lots of gluten bread, but you can ask them to bring it sans bread. The waitor may look at you strangely, but they’ll do it, and then you can just dig in with a spoon. I might have felt awkward about it, but I saw plenty of Israeli’s doing the same thing, even when they had a big mound of bread next to the dish. It is just that tasty. The stuff in the refrigerator case at Whole Foods has nothing on freshly made hummus at a good Israeli restaurant. Or, even a hole in the wall restaurant in a touristy town next to a Mosque. Try it, you’ll be impressed. Again, do watch the spices, because you never know when gluten will creep in.

6. Turkish Coffee

This stuff is thick, rich, and has a layer of coffee sediment on the bottom you could eat with a spoon, if you were so inclined. We drank the smooth coffee on top and left the grit. Very invigorating (and sometimes very necessary) after a morning hiking around events. Probably the best one we had was at a little middle-eastern place in German town in Haifa. Cardamon adds the perfect touch and I like turkish coffee best when it is spiked with the stuff. It is also naturally dairy-free and gluten-free, which is handy.

7. Olives

I could eat olives at every meal, and that option definitely exists in Israel. They are served with breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. Works for me! Toddler Yum liked the green olives, without the pit, but I liked all of them. This photo was taken at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. I didn’t actually buy anything there but enjoyed soaking up the sights and sounds. If I hadn’t gone so late in our trip I probably would have stocked up on fresh produce to prepare in our kitchen.

8. Dairy

I had no idea how central dairy was to the Israeli diet until I sat down for my first breakfast in Tel Aviv. There was an entire section of the buffet dedicated to dairy in various forms, from curdy cottage cheese to soft cuttable cheese, to my favorite, silky smooth labneh which can be enjoyed plain or with diced scallions or even fresh dill. I ate quite a bit of dairy as part of my breakfast and enjoyed it, although towards the end of the trip I felt like I had eaten so much dairy I might start to moo in my sleep. My favorite unexpected dish involving dairy was this roasted pepper stuffed with feta-like semi-soft cheese, but I only came across it once at a hotel in Haifa. It was so good I’m going to have to try to recreate it. And I’m already trying to figure out how to acquire some real Labneh in the Bay Area.

9. Breakfast Salad

I have never been that crazy about salads, but Israel tested that and made me think maybe I just hadn’t been eating the right salads. When we stumbled down to our breakfast buffet on the first morning, there was this amazing salad with fresh arugula and greens, walnuts, fresh slices of plum, and crumbled cheese. I topped it with olive oil and vinegar and dug in. That salad was a great start to the day, and I vowed to recreate it at home after we got back. Unfortunately after that first day, they switched to apples rather than plum, but it was still good, if not divine. I found that rather than olive and vinegar, I loved drizzling my salads with tahini. A hard boiled egg, some soft cheeses and some olives and I had a nutritious breakfast of champions. Later hotels had a do-it-yourself nicoise salad with boiled potatoes, green beans, and eggs, and sometimes there were basil mozzarella salads with either real fresh mozzarella or a local substitute. You won’t miss salads while on vacation in Israel, that’s for sure!

10. Health Food Store Treasures

I found quite a few health food stores in Tel Aviv and surrounding metropolitan areas, and while they were a little difficult to navigate due to my Hebrew illiteracy, they usually had clearly marked gluten-free sections with extensive selections of gluten-free breads, cakes and cookies. I was a little gun-shy after the first gluten-free bread I tried seemed to bother my stomach, but besides the breads, health food stores are full of great gluten-free pastas, cereals, and crackers. After a while I stopped trying to buy the more exotic stuff and went for the imported stuff with labels I could read. Wimpy, but safe, and it was reassuring to have a staple in my suitcase I knew that I could trust. The pictured health food store was inside the Carmel Market, and had all sorts of goodies. I loved being able to combine a tourist adventure with a quick health food store run. I picked up some gluten-free corn cakes, which turned out to be a brilliant move because the international flight home had (soggy) gluten-free rice cakes with tuna and egg sandwich fillings. I swapped out the soggy rice cakes for corn cakes and had a tolerable, if boring, lunch. I acquired one of the famous gluten-free pita pockets from Adittas at the port, and tried it in my hotel kitchen. It wasn’t bad, but tasted a little beany for my taste. If only I had the nerve to chase down one of the falafel stands offering their famous gluten-free falafel. I had some stomach issues while on my trip and was paranoid about cross contamination, so I didn’t pursue it- but if I go back, you can bet that I will get me some real falafel. I have a feeling that if it doesn’t hurt my tummy, it might be the highlight of the trip for me.

I hope you enjoyed my list of the top ten yummiest (naturally) gluten-free foods in Israel. I enjoyed my trip, and I think if I could read hebrew, I would have enjoyed it even more. I was a little surprised at how stressful it ended up being not able to read even the simplest labels. However, having waitpeople generally able to speak fluent English and researching online ahead of time did help quite a bit, and I learned a lot about a cuisine that I started out knowing very little about. Next, I’m going to try to make Shakshouka at home, one of the most popular hot breakfast dishes in Israel. I can’t wait! And never fear, as soon as I come up with a recipe that I enjoy, I’ll share it with you!

PS I know that you may have your own ideas about what you think the yummiest gluten-free foods are in Israel. I only spent two weeks there, and was a bit conservative about what I ate. I’d love to hear your list of the top 10 gluten-free yummies in Israel. Share in the comments!

PS2 While these foods generally worked well for me, there is no guarantee that they will always be gluten-free. Ask your server at every place, every time as ingredients may change and cross contamination risks will differ from kitchen to kitchen.

My Reviews of gluten-free friendly restaurants in Israel:

Fresh Kitchen: Vegetarian Friendly GF Menu
more coming soon

AddThis Social Bookmark Button