Fresh or dry food ? The vegetables. Frais ou seches, les legumes ?

Fresh and dry daikon radish leaves. Feuilles de radis daikon, fraiches et sechees.

Fresh and dry daikon radish root. Racine de radis daikon.

Fresh tofu, “Koya” tofu and Koya-dofu (for miso soup, etc).
Koya-dofu, it is freeze-dried tofu, a process invented by the bonzes of Koya-san, a Buddhist mountain temple city near Nara, Japan. The Koya-dofu has a very different texture, more sponge-like, firmer. It absorbs the sauce you cook it in.
Tofu frais et tofu de Koya, sec. Le Koya-dofu est seche par congelation, ce sont les bonzes de la cite bouddhiste du Mont Koya pres de Nara, Japon, qui ont invente ce procede. La texture est plus ferme et plus spongieuse que le tofu frais.

Fresh (when I took it from the ground) and dry bamboo shoot. Pousses de bambou quand je les cueille et sechees.

Fresh and dry garlic. It is very well known and very convenient. You can roast it in your oven-toaster too and use it as a topping. Ail frais et seche.

Dry and rehydrated kombu seaweed. Algue kombu sechee et rehydratee.
There are other dry seaweeds (nori flakes or sheets, hijiki, etc). We can find them fresh here in Japan, but not all sorts are available year round and I didn’t do the shopping for the photo shoot… (lazy me)
D’autres algues sechees existent. On les trouves fraiches au Japon, cela depend de la saison, mais je ne suis pas allee en chercher pour faire ces photos aujourd’hui.

There exist dried sweet potatoes, but they tend to be sweetened, so even if I’m addicted to that root I won’t buy them.

Why ?

Don’t assume it is “the same” as fresh. If you have the opportunity, rehydrate shiitake mushrooms and compare them to cooked fresh shiitake. Also try to make stock with both. You will notice clear differences in texture and flavor. Which is best ? That depends on your taste. I find both interesting.

Ne croyez pas que frais ou rehydrate soient equivalents. Faites le test, si vous pouvez, de rehydrater des champignons shiitake, par exemple et de comparer avec des frais. La texture et le gout seront different, le bouillon obtenu quand on les cuit aussi. Que choisir ? C’est une affaire de gout. Les 2 sont interessants, on peut meme les combiner.

A good thing is we find lots of convenient dry ingredients in Japan.
There is an obsession about ultra-fresh food, even raw food these days. I am not part of it. I surely eat more raw fruits, veggies, seafood than the average. But I don’t see the point of getting fresh tomatoes shipped from thousands of km away, to over-cook them yourself in the middle of Winter… I saw a TV show in December that was showing people how to make their strawberry jam. Crazy !
Today, I show you a few vegetables.

L’un des avantages du Japon est que l’on peut acheter une tres grande variete d’ingredients seches. Actuellement, certains sont obsedes par l’idee que l’ultra-frais, et le meme le cru serait meilleur dans tous les cas. C’est ridicule. Je mange beaucoup de choses crues, en saison. Mais c’est vraiment stupide de vouloir des tomates crues qui ont voyage des milliers de km depuis une serre en hiver, pour en fait les cuire et recuire soi-meme.
Aujourd’hui, je presente des legumes seches. On verra d’autres aliments plus tard.

Use :
+Instant stock : instead of buying “not very natural” cubes of stock, fill a teabag or a tea ball with a mix of dried vegetables. Let it simmer in hot water during 5 minutes. You have a flavory and natural stock.
+Vegetables to add to a soup, a pasta sauce, a stir-fry… Small side dishes.
Rehydrate dried veggies, then use the liquid as stock and prepare the vegetables as you like.
To get softer and better result, place the dry vegetable in a bowl, add a little amount of brown sugar or honey and cover with 4 times the volume of very hot water. Let about 5 minutes (for leaves, seaweeds), 20 minutes for bigger pieces like mushrooms.
Utilisation :
+Cela permet de faire des bouillons instantanes plus naturels que les bouillons cubes. Il suffit de remplir une boule a the ou une mousseline d’un melange de legumes seches et de faire infuser quelques minutes.
+On peut ajouter ces legumes a des soupes, des sauces, les faire sauter, preparer des petits hors-d’oeuvre.
Rheydratez les ces legumes, garde le liquide comme bouillon et preparez-les comme vous voulez. Pour un resultat optimal, mettez les legumes secs dans un bol, ajouter un peu de cassonade ou de miel et couvrez de 4 volume d’eau tres chaude. Laissez 5 minutes pour des feuilles ou algues, 20 minutes pour de gros morceaux comme des champignons

Buying tips :
Always check the labels. All the products I show year contain no additives. Sometimes I buy some that are salted, which is not so good. Be careful as not all dry products are that good. Many contain a long list of additives, preservatives, fongicides, color preservatives (sulfites), flavoring products (monoglutamate…). The color of natural dry products is not so vivid, often darker and they are not as soft. They tend to be more expensive than those with additives. But that’s not a good saving, as the additives are really known to be unhealthy. And the best organic dry vegetables are still a bargain compared to the price of fresh, or even frozen, products out of season.
Achat :
Evitez ceux qui contiennent des produits chimiques. Sans sulfites la couleur est moins jolie et les legumes sont plus durs lorsqu’ils sont secs, ce n’est pas un probleme.

Make yourself :
You cannot freeze-dry easily. For some products, you would need a drying equipment, the good weather or electric drying device (dehydrator).
+But you can easily dry herbs like rosemary or thyme in your fridge : place them in a slightly opened box a few days. Then let them one day at room temperature. After you can keep them in a box, make your own herb mix.
+Dying left-overs of vegetables is easy too. They will be very convenient to make stock later. You have to shred them, or mince them in thin slices. If you cook organic vegetables, for instance carrots, you can brush them under hot water before peeling them. Keep the peels and display them on a basket (or a grill, or a big colander, or a net…), return after a few hours. They dry in 1 or 2 days.
+Herb salt : that can be done with all your leftovers of fresh herbs. Cut the herbs and put them in a frying pan or a wok (without any oil) with natural sea salt (the one that seems to be wet). Cook together while stirring, till the mix seems dry. You can also add spices. Use in small amount for cooking or as table salt.

My own :
I often dry the feet of the shiitake mushrooms. They are too hard in texture to be eaten, but their flavor is ideal for stock.
I dry peel of mikan (Japanese mandarin oranges), that I use in lieu of dried orange peel to flavor the Provencal daube stew.

5 thoughts on “Fresh or dry food ? The vegetables. Frais ou seches, les legumes ?

  1. Pingback: Dry Sweet Potato (Yeah !) « Healthy Daily Meals

  2. Pingback: Fresh or dry food ? The vegetables. Frais ou seches, les legumes ? (via Gourmande in Osaka) | Gourmande in Osaka

  3. Excellent post…so much valuable information and I love it. I prefer fresh when available but that is not always so.

  4. Pingback: Koya-dofu soup. Reviving dry food. « GOURMANDE in OSAKA

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