Sansai. Japanese mountain vegetables in a meal

Here is the meal that completes the black tofu and agedashi taro in the previous post.

Let’s talk a little about 山菜 sansai mean litterally mountain vegetables. That’s a generic name for many plants wild or cultivated in small amounts that are used in Japan, but also in Korea and China. The hermit Buddhist monks were counting on them to diversify their dishes, and they are often used in the shojin ryori (monk fasting meals) and kaiseki ryori (refined meal before tea ceremony). You can go and gather yours if you live in the countryside. I’m not sure that what I’d pick up near Osaka would be edible particularly with the current level of air pollution. So I usually find mines in the store, and they are cultivated.
There is no complete list of the varieties of sansai. It’s whatever you can eat.  

I had a mix containing nameko (orange mushrooms), enoki (white long mushrooms), warabi (in green, it’s fern sprouts), zenmai (in brown), small takenoko (bamboo sprouts, slices), kikurage (in dark brown, wood ear mushrooms). And I had renkon (lotus root).

They were boiled. So I rinsed and reheated them with dashi (fish broth), a little mirin and soy sauce.

Grilled komochi shishamo fish, with yuzu-kosho citrus pepper condiment.

Pastel salad : cabbage, kabu turnip and vinegar pickled ginger.

And genmai (brown rice). Well, that makes a nice Japanese meal. That’s not so long to prepare as the tofu was made in advance, the rice is done in the cooker, the veggies were pre-cooked.

Just a sauce changes it all. Yuzu-kosho kimizu.

Steaming is a convenient way to cook your food. Then you just need a sauce. Something that would go with meat, with veggies…
A mayonnaise, maybe. Or a kimizu.
It’s a classic Japanese sauce, the name means “vinegar and egg yolk”. It’s Japan’s mayonnaise or hollandaise, but there is a difference, you will see.
Recipes vary, the principle is always the same : egg yolk and vinegar, but no oil nor butter.

Kimizu sauce, recipe

Basic :
1 egg yolk, 1 tbs of rice vinegar, 3 tbs of liquid. A little sugar and salt.
What I call liquid can be water, dashi stock, a mix of both. This time :
I have added 1 ts of mirin to 3 tbs of water.
I have not used salt nor soy sauce because the yuzu-koshio is very salty.

It’s very simple, like a sabayon.
Mix the ingredients in a bowl, put on pot of hot (not boiling) water, whisk until it doubles of volume and becomes thick.
You can serve it room temperature or chilled.

I have added 1 ts of yuzu-kosho paste at the end. You can buy this condiment in a Japanese grocery store or make it (click here to see how).
That brings a taste of green, citrus and some heat.

The sauce is a sort of foam.

Another dish with the same sauce (click on text) :

ebi to snappy beans no kimizu-ae

Steamed chicken with pink pepper.

Okra, favas and rice noodles. These noodles need only soaking. Then everything was steamed together.
Add the sauce and enjoy :

Unaju, ritzy unagi box

Unagi, Japanese eel. Jubako, the nice lacquer boxes. Una-ju. It’s the dressed up eel on rice meal. It’s very chic to eat in those boxes… compared to your plastic bento. That’s a dish served by the high end unagi restaurants. Well, surely theirs are often better…

Eel is often eaten in hot season because it’s very nutritive and still easy to eat and digest. Having some helps you feel better in hot humidity.

Koshikari rice, flavored with kabayaki sauce.

Flambeed reheated kabayaki unagi.

With sansho


Suimono, broth with fresh wakame seaweed and sesame.

Tsukemono, salted turnip.

Home-made duo : zaru-doufu and yuzu koshio.

Making yuzu kosho
making zaru tofu

A full menu for a hot day. Really delicious.

Yuzu koshio, the green spice

If you like it spicy, if you like green, if you like lemon flavor… this is for you. This green condiment is called yuzu koshio, yuzu pepper.
You can buy it but is very salty and not so tasty as home-made.

Green yuzu citrus, green chili peppers and salt.

Grate the green part of the rind of yuzu.

The chilis, emptied and pasted too. I mix sweet and hot to get a good balance.

Mix and add salt. If you want to keep a year in the fridge, you should add 10% of weight of salt. That’s a lot. I put much less. I store it only a few days.

And I freeze small servings (1 tbs). You can alo make cubes in a tray for ice cubes.