Do you celebrate Valentines day? Whether you’re cooking something special for your loved one or spending the night alone to comfort eat, we’ve enlisted Izumi Anthony, local business owner of Authentic Japanese foods to give us a great Valentine’s recipe idea from her native Japan. 

Hi Izumi, Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. We wanted to give our readers a bit of background about you, so to start, where in Japan are you from?

Saitama prefecture 15 – 30 kilometres north of central Tokyo,

And what is the speciality dish of that region?

There is lots of speciality dishes but the most well know food product is Green tea. It called Sayama green tea. It is one of Japan’s three major refined tea.

What was your favourite food as a child?

My mum was a very good cook! My favourite food was Soba.It is synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour. Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup.

How did you end up living and working in Britain?

I met my Welsh husband in Bristol about 14 years ago, we had 2 sons and lived in Bristol for 2 years. We moved to Fukushima in Japan for 5 years where he taught English and then came back to UK to settle in beautiful Wales!

Well we’re very happy you decided to come to Wales and cook us delicious and Authentic Japanese food! What do you think of British food? Do you have a favourite?

Oh yes! I love the British breakfast, especially the tomatoes and mushrooms. Also beef casserole is very tasty!

Do you have Valentines day in Japan?

Yes, but this is something we have borrowed from Western culture.

So in the UK we say ‘The way to a man’s heart is his through his stomach.’ Is this a saying in Japan too? What kind of food would you cook for a romantic evening in Japan?”

Yes, we do celebrate Valentines day. Our version of that saying is “OTOKO wo tsukamitakereba IBUKURO wo tsukame” I think most of Japanese ladies cook western foods like steak, stew and hamburgers without bread on Valentine’s day. Or lots of couples go to a restaurant for a special dinner.

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Japanese food always looks so pretty, how long does it take to learn to cut the vegetables into shapes?

We often say it takes 10 years to become a sushi chef, but I think this is only the case for someone who has never cooked in their life. However in Japanese culture, anyone who works in traditional or famous restaurants have to learn how to do everything,  even washing rice when you already know how to do it, you have to start from the bottom.

In my case, I learnt cooking skills and about nutrition in primary school and I always helped and watched my mum’s cooking. (She is very good!) I learnt a lot from her. I have to say I am still learning somethings and I use a paper punch or die-cut for some small shapes.

You’ve had Authentic Japanese Foods open for 18 months now, how well would you say it’s been received in South Wales area?”

The reception so far has been great! Our regular customers base keeps us very busy has grown and we receive lots of invitations to attend various food festivals in Swansea area. People are sometimes reluctant to eat Japanese food because they think it is all raw fish. It’s a great feeling when you introduce people to new food and convert them! Japanese food has a lot to offer. We’re looking forward to expanding the business further in 2014 so look out for us!

So if someone who had never been to a Japanese restaurant (and who was scared of Sushi!) asked you what dish to try, what would you recommend?

I think it would definitely have to be Tonkatsu  which is a Pork cutlet would be the best for a first timer as everyone I’ve given this to loves it!

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Does Authentic Japanese Food offer any type of cooking lessons? Is this something you would consider in the future?”

We don’t yet but this is something we’re definitely considering for the future.

Here at Lingua Translations we’re very passionate about language. Your English is very good and fluent, what would be your top tip to give someone who’s learning English?

I love English, it’s an amazing language! My top tip,  I guess don’t pretend to be a perfect English speaker, and I’m not afraid to ask if I don’t know the meaning of words. Keep learning and finally find fab and fun friends who are patient to listen your English! Friends, partner and family always help you.  

What have you found to be the hardest thing about learning English?

What is the hardest thing? For me it’s pronunciation! My hubby was teaching me to say shiverling. I can’t say V and s…. c lots!

OK, so back to Valentines Day! For all of us who are not so good in the kitchen, what  Japanese recipe would you recommend to cook on Valentine’s day?”

Well, I’ve thought long and hard about this and have decided to infuse elements of both the East and the West with this recipe of Rice cooked with cockles or chicken, decorated like a cake. It’s easy to make, just follow the simple steps and enjoy!

So there we have it, Authentic Japanese Foods, Valentine style

Rice cooked with cockles or chicken

Ingredients for 2-3 people

Cockles 150g-200g/cooked cockles ( if you don’t fancy cockles, you  can change to chicken. Cut into very small pieces. In that case it is better to use thigh not breast)

Rice: 2 cups

Carrot ( cut into fine pieces)  1 small carrot


Water: 2 cups

Soy sauce 3 tablespoons

Mirin (sweet sake) 2 table spoons

If you do not have mirin you can use honey or sugar. I recommend honey more than sugar.

If you use sugar 2 table spoons, if you use honey 1 tablespoon.

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And if you can add 1 table spoon of Japanese sake it would be great, if you don’t have please don’t worry.

Ginger 1 tiny piece

Honndashi (fish stock) 2 teaspoons

If you cook with chicken instead of cockles, you don’t need hondashi, because chicken has good stock.

If you r going to use cockles  and if you do not have Honndashi you can use konnbu(sea tangle). If you don’t have any of them, rinse cockles twice and put them into a colander. You have to put the colander on to a bowl  and leave 20 minutes. All cockles stock is in the bowl and use them for stock. 4 teaspoons.

1: Wash and rinse rice and put into a colander.

2: Cut carrot and ginger into fine pieces

3: Put all seasoning and ginger into a small saucepan and after boiled adding cockles, and cook 30 seconds.

If you use chicken doing the same and adding chicken and cook 5 minutes

4: Put rice and carrot in a rice cooker and add all seasoning which boiled the sauce pan except cockles.  If you use chicken you can pour together with all seasoning at the same time. And then add water till cup 2 levels.( if you do not have a rice cooker you can cook with a sauce pan.

5:After rice cooked you can add cockles.


You can use a round shape cookie mould to make a perfect shape.

And decorating salmon, egg (a thin omelette) and cucumber.

What are you cooking this evening for Valentines? We’re interested to know what other world foods are cooking up a (love) storm in the kitchen tonight so let us know.

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