LY : the first step of Japanese cooking
Japanese chestnut, roasted, shelled but with their underskin. Re-roast them a little.
Add handful of kuri to a go (a cup of 280 ml) of genmai (brown rice), the normal amount of water, 2 tbs of mirin, a wedge of kombu seaweed, a chili. Switch the “takikomi program” on.
If you don’t have a rice-cooker with brown rice programs, cook it in a small terracotta or cast-iron pot. For water, use 1,5 times the volume of rice. Bring to a boil, then cook it slowly, with the lid on.
Fish flakes… I am cheating, I could start with a block of dried fish and shave it, but I don’t do that. You can buy this “kezuri katsuo”, bonito flakes in Asian grocery stores.
Dashi is the stock. It will take 2 minutes of your time to do it. That’s a basic for decent Japanese cooking.
What’s wrong with instant dashi ? Not much, only MSG, preservatives, flavoring and higher price.
This is one recipe, among others. I use a combo of 3 ingredients, each one could be used alone.
If your Asian grocery is sophisticated, or if you are in Japan, there is a choice of different fish flakes. The taste varies. Usually, the dark color and thicker flakes give a dashi with a stronger taste. The nearly transparent flakes give a delicate flavor.
Kombu seaweed. It’s dry too. The full name is “dashi kombu” as it is so regularly used for dashi.
The white dust is salt, pass a humid cloth on it to clean it off before using.
Niboshi, iriko… whole dry fish. They are very small (2 cm). Some are a little larger, in that case, you can see a black part in the tummy, it’s a little bitter, take it away before using. No need here as you can see. They give stronger taste than the flakes. Well, it’s different. That’s why I use a mix.
1 : In a sauce pan, put 1 hand-full of flakes, 1/2 of dry fish and one small piece of kombu seaweed. Add 4 cups of water. Program your stove for 5 minutes on 2/3 of power. Forget it 20 minutes.
2 : Pass it. The fish and seaweed can be eaten (see below) or not (that’s called wasting).
Here you have dashi, Japanese all purpose stock.
Quicker trick : You can buy empty paper dashi bags (like paper tea bags, which you can use too), and fill them with the ingredients. Store them in the box, so whenever you need dashi, you throw one in a pan of water, or even in the pitcher of your electric coffee maker.
Another easy Japanese recipe of this season. Nikomi is a stew. Sansho is Japan’s species of Sichuan pepper. It’s the season for the green peppercorns. Actually, you can do a version of this recipe using “sansho no tsukudani” sold in jars instead of the fresh product.
Sansho no nikomi
Take fish… sorry, they have no name. Oh, I forgot the Japanese one, I’m not sure I’ll hear it again. White flesh local seafish. Clean them, take off the scales, the heads, the inside. Cut them in a few chunks.
Sauce : 1/4th low-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 mirin, 1/4 sake, 1/4. Depending the quantity of fish and size of the pan, you need more or less. The sauce should arrive at half the height of the pieces of fish.
Rinse 2 leaves of kombu seaweeds. Add them to the sauce. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the fish, a fistfull of fresh sansho peppercorns. Cover. Simmer on low heat 10 minutes, return the fish. Cover. A few more minutes.
Diluate 1 tbs of cornstarch in a little water, add it to the sauce. Brings it to a boil.
Then, you can take off the fish, and let the sauce reduce 10 minutes, reheat the fish. Or serve with only 1/2 of the more liquid sauce.
Simple Akita-komachi rice. With sesame.
Steamed green beans. Tomato. Japanese black vinegar.
2 servings of fish and rice:
Cal 633 F2.4g C93.4g P 49.8g