Posts Tagged daikon

Harusame + squash


Another harusame creation!

Here are the component parts that Yusuke assembled:

  • Boiled harusame
  • Microwaved squash
  • Raw daikon (thinly sliced)
  • Raw baby spinach (well, I added that bit on my portion)

Chinese style dressing

  • Chicken broth
  • Nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Water

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Shocking pink tonjiru

Tonjiru with beets #1

We’ve been blessed in our weekly csa basket with beets. It’s amazing how such rough little buggers become so magically sweet and tender. We’ve also frequently used the greens as a substitute for spinach. Very tasty.

Tonjiru is a popular type of miso soup characterized by pork and root vegetables, usually potatoes, carrots, daikon, etc. and onions. It’s definitely one of Yusuke’s favourites.

He decided to put our beet bounty to good use by making tonjiru with a twist. The iteration above includes daikon, carrots, white onions, and of course beets. The pink effect is somewhat startling, but it’s incredibly tasty. He also used chicken instead of pork.

The second batch included carrots and leeks in addition to chicken and beets.

He typically begins the soup by sauteing the onions, followed by the other veggies, before adding water, miso paste, and dashi.

Tonjiru with beets #2

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Miso soup with konnyaku

We ate miso soup with konnyaku, carrots, daikon, white onions, and green onions.

We also had asparagus with balsamic vinegar.

It was good.

That’s all.

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New Year’s Soba

We had a nice, quiet family New Year’s Eve, made special by traditional New Year’s soba (thin buckwheat noodles).

Yusuke put together his usual soba sauce:

  • soy sauce
  • mirin
  • sake
  • sugar
  • dashi
  • water

The “toppings” were boiled daikon, spinach, and carrots, along with raw white mushrooms. We also had some leftover teriyaki chicken that my mom had prepared. Finally, we had fortuitously procured a nagaimo from a nifty Japanese grocery store in Denver.

“Nagaimo” is literally translated as “thin potato.” I watched a video once about how they are grown; their long shape and tendency to grow straight down makes them quite labour-intensive to harvest. It’s very rare to come across them in Montreal, and they’re usually from China. But we’ve found Japanese-grown specimens a few times in Colorado. Nagaimo is frequently eaten raw. When grated, it becomes incredibly sticky (ネバネバ !) and can be poured over or mixed with noodles or rice. In this state, it’s called tororo. It can also be eaten with things like tuna (check out a description mid-way down this page) or veggies.

The soba-eating procedure is to pour broth in a bowl, add noodles, pile in veggies, mix everything up, and slurp.

Apparently the long, thin shape of soba is lucky for long life, and of course, a happy new year.

Bonne Année, あけましておめでとうございます, Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhuit.

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Kare soba

This dish wasn’t as healthy as our typical fare, but it was very filling, warming, and satisfying.

Yusuke said that this dish could be drawn right off a soba shop menu. カレー南蛮 (kare nanban) is a typical Japanese noodle dish that usually has udon (thick noodles), chicken or duck, and a curry-based broth. It often calls for katakuriko (potato starch), too.

Fun facts: Apparently the “なん” (“nan”) part of the name refers to the word for south, a reference to the fact the dish originated from the Portuguese from the Meiji era. According to Yusuke’s reference (dictionary? encyclopedia? I forget.), it was originally pronounced なんば (nanba), but it later become なんばん (nanban). Yup. 

For the main body of the stew, in our version, Yusuke boiled firm tofu, carrots, potatoes, and white onions and then added packaged Japanese curry cubes (soooo convenient).

Lacking udon, we used regular soba—thin buckwheat noodles. They only take about 5 minutes to cook in boiling water.

The cooked noodles were stirred into the curry stew and the soba sauce was added:

  • dashi powder
  • soy sauce
  • sugar
  • tiny chunks of daikon (cooked in the sauce)

Last came the garnish of chopped green onions.

See Google image search for more examples of カレー南蛮 here and here.

As I wrote in a previous post, curry (カレ or “kare”) dishes are extremely popular in Japan: there’s even a wikipedia article on the subject, naturally. The pre-made cubes vary in spiciness, and I think we usually have a medium one. The curry is not hot at all in the way it would be in Indian cuisine, but there’s a sweetness mixed with the spice that I find lick-the-bowl addictive.

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Daikon is a key winter staple in Japan, highly praised for its warming qualities. It’s included in many stews, especially oden.

This simple dish combined daikon with abura-age (deep fried tofu sheets). They were boiled together in a mixture of:

  • water
  • dashi
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • a tiny bit of salt
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • a tiny bit of sugar

It’s important to note that daikon-based stews always taste better the next day, as it takes time for the soup and seasonings to soak in. It’s tasty right away, but even tastier later.

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Modified wafuu quinoa

This meal was inspired from a post on the always-fabulous Just Bento blog.

We followed the principles in the original recipe:

First, a cup of quinoa was cooked in our rice cooker (normal rice setting) with a cup of water and a sprinkling of dashi.

While the quinoa was cooking, Yusuke stir fried a selection of veggies in sesame oil and ginger:

  • daikon
  • shitake
  • white onions
  • dried wakame (soaked first)
  • green onions (added very last)

He added the cooked quinoa to the frying pan, and then flavoured everything with soy sauce, dashi, sake, and sea salt.

The truly excellent results were accompanied by asparagus miso soup on the side.

Here are some choice excerpts from the original post:

…Quinoa is one of my grains (as an alternative to rice) for bentos, since it maintains its distinct, poppy texture even when cooled. As it happens, quinoa (written キヌア and pronounced as ki-nu-wa) is getting quite popular in Japan as it seems to be all over the world, and it’s sold at regular supermarkets…

…You could just pack this alone in a bento box, and you’ll get all the major nutrition groups – carbs, protein, a little fat and vegetables, plus fiber – in one go.

…“Wafuu” means “traditional Japanese style” by the way. Quinoa is not at all Japanese, but the flavors in this are.

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Grilled eggplant

We usually select baby eggplants at the grocery store, but in their absence, we picked up some Chinese eggplants instead. They are longer, thinner, and lighter in colour than the baby variety, but the taste turned out to be pretty similar.

So, for this dish, Yusuke sliced up the eggplant and scored the skin in a fancy criss-cross pattern. Then he fried the slices in canola oil in a frying pan.

To dress the aubergines, he made a ponzu-ish sauce by combining lime juice, sake, mirin, and soy sauce.

He poured the sauce over the eggplants and topped them with grated raw daikon (which becomes nearly a liquid, in fact), alfalfa sprouts, minced ginger, and a sprinkle of shichimi seasoning.

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Izakaya-style veggies

This meal was inspired by a trip to a new restaurant in our neighbourhood called Kazu. See menu here; reviews here and here.

It’s a tiny izakaya (pub-style restaurant), a bit of a dive at first glance. It’s run by a family that happens to be a friend of my current Japanese teacher. They clearly work very hard; the place is always packed with lines out the door, even though they just opened a few weeks ago.

There is a little menu that you can flip through, but most of the dishes are hand-written on pieces of paper taped up on the walls, all in English. The mostly-Japanese staff and customers crammed into the cozy space made us feel like we were back in Japan. It was a chilly day, so I was happy to snuggle up at the bar in front of the large open grills. This was also a good vantage point to see all of the day’s offering being prepared—and to get ideas for the next trip.

Most of the food seemed to have some salad + dressing component. I ordered what I expected to be yudofu, but it turned out to be a salad with large cubes of tofu topped with some type of lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, long, thin puffed rice thingies, and the aforementioned dressing. Unfortunately, it seems that they frequently don’t have certain things on the menu, so flexibility in decision-making is required. I also had extremely tasty mixed-rice onigiri. Yusuke had a tuna and salmon bowl, with turned out to be sliced raw fish on top of rice, then further topped with the same salad greens and dressing. Also extremely tasty. We shared grilled okra, which, to cut off my tangential story, inspired the dinner pictured in this post.

Hot oven

So, back at home: lacking an open-flame grill, Yusuke grilled our okra, green onions, and mushrooms on tin foil in our oven.

He drizzled them with an improvised yakitori sauce of mirin, soy sauce, sake, and sugar. The ingredients were heated in a small saucepan to dissolve the sugar.

grilled 'shrooms

We also had these lovely daikon medallions which were leftover from another meal. First Yusuke microwaved the sliced daikon for 3 minutes to soften them. Then he sauteed them in sesame oil. Last, he prepared a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and chili flakes, which he dumped in the frying pan with the daikon and let simmer until the liquid was absorbed or evaporated. We sprinkled some bonito flakes on the daikon when served.

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Succulent fried tofu

This was a very special dish that Yusuke created for my enjoyment, and enjoyed it was, believe you me.

First, he cut firm tofu (Soyarie brand, bien sûr) into cubes. He coated the outside in katakuriko (Japanese potato starch) and fried them in a pan, since we don’t have a deep fryer.

Next, he assembled a sauce made from hot water, soy sauce, mirin, and a pinch of salt. The coup de grâce was a few packets of ume-kombu (plum-seaweed) tea that I swiped from our ryokan in Kyoto. He added a bit of katakuriko to thicken the sauce.

He boiled bean sprouts separately—very briefly to maintain crunchiness—and added them to the sauce along with enoki mushrooms. Finally, the sauce was poured over the tofu and topped with chopped green onions and grated daikon.

This is a perfect example of how Japanese cuisine perfectly harmonizes textures and flavours: tofu crispy on the outside and soft inside, crunchy bean sprouts, slippery mushrooms, cool grated daikon, sharp onions, and gentle kombu.

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