Archive for November, 2009

Green bean + carrot kinpira


Spicy kinpira

This lovely kinpira pairs fresh green beans with crunchy carrots. Yusuke sliced the vegetables and began to sauté them in a splash of sesame oil. Next, 2 tablespoons each of mirin, cooking sake, and soy sauce were added to veggies, which were simmered until cooked (but NOT mushy). The dish was completed with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a few liberal shakes of shichimi togarashi to get the requisite spiciness.

Yusuke called this a kinpira dish, and although I had heard the term before, it wasn’t clear to me what makes this kinpira as opposed to something else. In other words, what is the platonic form of kinpira? What is it’s essential form? Apparently this question isn’t easy to answer. Yusuke went to the reference shelf to help me out.

According to a Japanese encyclopedia, it seems that the term originated in the Edo period (aka Tokugawa period). There was a popular puppet show in which the main character was named Kinpira. Kinpira was extremely strong; a true “wild warrior” who would undertake all manner of superhuman feats (more about Kinpira is here.) Hence, the name came to refer to strong taste. Kinpira dishes often have red pepper or are very spicy to match the character’s strength. It is believed that eating this food will give you extra energy.

So the standard form of kinpira seems to be crunchy veggies cut into very thin slices and cooked with sugar, soy sauce, sake, and red pepper (Yusuke used mirin instead of sugar). The most common veggies are gobo (burdock root) or carrot, but more options can be seen on Just Hungry for example.

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Stewed mackerel


Hmm, that picture isn’t so attractive. Alas, it’s hard to make fish look pretty… So please accept my assurances that it was very yummy.

The technique is so simple that it’s hardly worth detailing a recipe. Yusuke boiled pieces of mackerel for about 30-40 minutes in a broth of sugar, mirin, and sake (1 tbsp each), soy sauce (5 tbsp), and a bit of dashi powder. Then we ate the fish. After being boiled, the skin could be peeled away easily with chopsticks.

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Tofu, broccoli, shrimp stir-fry


This was an especially lovely stir fry with a nice colour contrast of tofu, broccoli, and shrimp. Firm tofu was used here, as silken breaks apart too easily. The fresh broccoli was especially tasty; it’s much better than frozen despite the mess the florets tend to make. The stir fry seasoning was very simple:a few tbsps of chicken broth, potato starch (1 tbsp dissolved in 1 tbsp water), and salt & pepper to taste.

Comme d’habitude, we also had miso soup (with more tofu and green onions).


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Tofu-egg domburi


This is another fantastic domburi. So easy, so filling. This is good comfort food, especially if you don’t feel well.


1 package (300 g) silken tofu
5 eggs
1/2 tsp dashi powder
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sake
4 green onions
Bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
Shichimi togarashi (7 spices seasoning)
*quantities are approximate! Yusuke doesn’t usually measure.

Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes, boil it in water for 5-10 minutes, then drain. Break the eggs in a mixing bowl and stir in the dashi powder, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sake. Then pour the egg mixture into a hot frying pan using a circular motion. Cook until the eggs are set. Gently add the tofu to the eggs, stirring lightly. Serve the mixture over rice and top with raw green onions, a sprinkle of bonito flakes, and a dash of shichimi togarashi.

Silken tofu is required for this recipe; firm wouldn’t be right at all. We had a few anxious weeks recently during which our grocery store suddenly stopped having the tofu that we like: Blue Menu/President’s Choice brand at Provigo/Loblaw’s/Atlantic Superstore. This is the only brand that Yusuke has found so far that is adequately similar to Japanese tofu. We kept checking the store again and again, but alas, there was no silken tofu. We were very afraid. Finally, though, it reappeared again with a redesigned package. Phew.

(To help with my search results: domburi is also transliterated as donburi. Easier: 丼 or どんぶり)

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