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.

1 Comment

  1. […] vast majority of their offerings don’t exactly suit my tastes, I discovered the fantabulous kinpira burger on a rice bun. The veggies in that instance were carrots, mushrooms, and gobo. At Mos […]

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