Monday, October 13, 2008

Kimpira Gobo

Burdock is a widely used Asian vegetable; its humble appearance hides an excellent source food source. With its long thin woody root and bark like skin, it is crunchy and filled with fibre and nutrition. Burdock can be prepared in a variety of ways including soups, stir fries, curries, stews, salads, and marinades. This recipe is a favorite Japanese side dish, steeped in tradition, that is usually served at wedding celebrations.

Kimpira Gobo (Sauteed Burdock and Carrot) - serves 4


1 medium burdock root

1 medium carrot

1 ½ tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp sake

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ tbsp white sesame seeds

dried Japanese red chili pepper


Scrub skin of burdock root.
Cut into julienne strips and soak in water for 10 minutes.

Cut carrot into julienne strips.

Saute carrot and burdock in sesame oil for 3-4 minutes til tender.

Add sake, sugar, soy sauce – cook over medium heat til most of liquid has been absorbed. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chili pepper.

Variation: Try adding lotus root or celery. Can add leftover beef or chicken Рjust chop into small bits and saut̩ with carrot and burdock.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mizutaki Hot Pot

Mizutaki Hot Pot

It's a blustery rainy day, and I have a bad cough and cold, so my husband is making Japan's favourite version of "chicken soup" to help me feel better. Brimming with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, a steaming hot bowl of Mizutaki is perfect for strengthening the immunity system and clearing the sinuses. Served often during the chilly days of autumn and winter, this comforting chicken, tofu and cabbage soup is typically served as a communal hot pot. Its health giving benefits are re-enforced with a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi (7 spice chili pepper) or a dab of kanzouri (a citrus flavoured chili paste) – chili is said to relieve muscle aches and provide extra vitamin C.

Mizutaki (Chicken Hot Pot) -(serves 4)

2 lb chicken thighs
1/2 chinese cabbage
2 leeks, sliced thinly and rinsed thouroughly
2 carrots, sliced in flower shapes
1 bunch spinach/chrysanthemum leaves
8 shitake mushrooms
2 cups dashi stock
5 inch piece of konbu kelp
1/4 cup sake
one inch slice of ginger
1 block of Tofu, rinsed

Individual Dipping Sauces:
1/2 cup soy sauce/1/2 lemon juice/1/4 cup broth from pot/small dab of kanzouri chili paste

Cut first six ingredients into bite-sized pieces and place on large plate.
Make dipping sauce according to taste.
Add stock/kelp/ginger and chicken to communal pot and bring to boil.
Add sake and simmer gently until cooked.
Remove kelp. Add other ingredients and simmer.
Tofu may also be added if desired.
When cooked, dip ingredients into individual dipping sauce and eat with rice.

*After all the ingredients are eaten, rice can be cooked in leftover broth to make a delicious and nutritious rice porridge.

*Kanzouri paste is a refreshing spice made from chili and seasoned with uzu (Japanese citrus).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kaki Fry

I was first introduced to Kaki Fry in Miyajima, which is a world famous heritage park outside of Hiroshima. It is also an area famous for its delicious oysters. It was November and the weather was sunny and cold. My husband and I were starving after having taken the ferry across the bay to tour the beautifully preserved shrine and park. We had fed the deer and dutifully looked for the wild monkeys, and now it was time to eat lunch.
When I ordered Kaki Fry I had no idea what to expect. Two enormous deep fried oysters, drizzled in tonkatsu sauce, were balanced on top of a shredded cabbage garnish: crisp and crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth taste sensations. I am now a kaki fry addict. Every September, as soon as summer is over, my husband rescues our deep fryer from the bottom of our storage tansu (chest of drawers) and races out to our favourite fish market to buy fresh delicious oysters. We gorge on them for several weeks and then put away the deep fryer until the New Year.

Deep Fried Oysters (serves 4)

2 dozen fresh shucked oysters
3-4 eggs
tempura flour
panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
tonkatsu sauce
shredded cabbage salad
cooked rice
lemon wedges


-rinse oysters in running water, pat dry

-season oysters with salt and pepper

-dredge in tempura flour

-dip in beaten egg

-dredge in panko crumbs

-deep fry until golden brown

-serve with rice and cabbage salad and lemon wedges

-drizzle tonkatsu sauce over oysters

*I mix shredded cabbage with slivered carrot, chopped green onion, and cooked corn, and dress with vinaigrette dressing

*I don't cook white rice anymore because of my husband's high sugar levels (borderline diabetic). Instead I mix 1/3 white rice, 1/3 brown rice, and 1/3 barley and cook together in rice cooker