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Yaki Udon (Stir Fried Udon Noodles)

By: Yumiko

Yaki Udon (焼きうどん) is a Japanese udon noodles stir-fried with your choice of protein and vegetables. Protein can be thinly sliced meat or any seafood suitable for stir-fry. This is a very quick and simple udon recipe but so delicious.

Hero shot of Yaki Udon with condiments on the side.

Yaki Udon is similar to Yakisoba but the noodles are udon. You can say that the dish becomes Yaki Udon if you make Yakisoba with udon noodles instead of egg noodles. But there are also a couple of differences.

Firstly, the flavour can either be sauce flavour like Yakisoba or soy sauce flavour. Secondly, it is almost a ‘must’ to top Yaki Udon with a plenty of bonito flakes.

My Yaki Udon has a soy-based flavour with plenty of bonito flakes on top. This gives so much umami to the stir-fried udon noodles and takes the flavour to the next level.

What’s in My Yaki Udon

Ingredients of Yaki Udon.

I made two different Yaki Udon dishes using pork slices and prawns. In both dishes, I used the same combinations of vegetables. They are:

  • Cabbage – cut into large bit-size pieces
  • Carrot – thinly sliced
  • Shallots/scallions – cut into 5cm/2” long pieces
  • Shiitake mushrooms – sliced thinly

Instead of/in addition to the above, you can consider the following vegetables:

  • Onion
  • Bean sprouts
  • Capsicum – any colour
  • Asian mushrooms such as shimeji, King oyster, enoki, oyster.

You can stir-fry almost any meat/seafood and vegetables with the udon noodles as long as they are suited for stir-fry, however, in Japan beef is not often used in Yaki Udon.

About the Flavouring SauceYaki Udon picked up with chopsticks.

My sauce is quite simple. It is a mixture of soy sauce, sake, mirin and sesame oil. Blow are the qantities of each ingredient for 2 servings:

Soy Sauce: 2½ Tbsp
Sake: 2½ Tbsp
Mirin: 1 Tsp
Sesame Oil: 1 Tbsp

Just mix them and pour the sauce over the stir-fried udon noodles at the end.

As I mentioned earlier, you can use the same sauce as yakisoba sauce. But I think that the sauce in my Yakisoba recipe is a bit too heavy for Yaki Udon. If you prefer the yakisoba-style sauce to my soy-based flavouring, I would recommend using Worcestershire sauce instead. It is not as thick as my Yakisoba sauce and it’s not sweet either.

How to Make Yaki Udon

The method of making Yaki Udon is very similar to that of Yakisoba. Well, actually, it’s almost the same except that the sauce is different.

  1. Mix the flavouring sauce
  2. Stir-fry the pork slices/seafood pieces
  3. Add the vegetables and stir-fry
  4. Add the udon noodles and stir-fry
  5. Pour the sauce and mix

Yaki Udon in stir-fried in a wok.

Here are some notes to help you to make a perfect Yaki Udon:

  • If you are using seafood instead of meat, put aside the cooked seafood while stir-frying the vegetables. Then put them back in at the same time as the udon noodles.
  • When cooking the vegetables, stagger the addition of the vegetables by starting with the vegetable that takes longest time to cook. In this way, all the vegetables will be cooked just right at the same time.
  • Quickly rinse the udon noodles under running water to untangle the strands before stir-frying. Fresh undon noodles are usually vacuum sealed in a plastic bag. They are stuck together and hard to untangle while stir-frying.
  • If the udon noodles are straight from the fridge, use hot water to warm them up to rinse. Cold udon noodles take time to warm up while stir-frying, and the other ingredients get overcooked.

Toppings

What makes today’s noodle dish so tasty is a generous amount of katsuobushi (鰹節, bonito flakes). It is also called ‘kezuribushi’ (削り節).

Bonito flakes add umami to the dish and make the noodles so flavoursome. In my view, bonito flakes are a ‘must’ for Yaki Udon.

Yaki Udon with bonito flakes on top.

Another common topping is a red pickled ginger called ‘benishōga’ (紅生姜). You can find more details about benishōga and a photo in my post Yakisoba. You only need a small amount of benishōga. It can be placed on top of the pile of the Stir-fried Udon Noodles or on the side.

In the recipe, I included the ingredients and instructions to make either Pork Yaki Udon or Prawn Yaki Udon. The only differences are the choice of protein, i.e. pork slices or prawns, and the way the prawns are stir-fried with other ingredients.

Here is the photo of Prawn Yaki Udon. I split the prawns in half as whole prawns were too large for Yaki Udon. Split prawn meat twisted and curled when cooked and I thought it was fancy.

Zoomed-in photo of picking up some noodles.

Perhaps because of the difference in flavouring, Yaki Udon tastes lighter than Yakisoba and a little bit more authentic.

I hope you try this tasty noodle dish!

YumikoYM_Signature

Yaki Udon (Stir-fried Udon Noodles)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
7 mins
Total Time
17 mins
 

Yaki Udon (焼きうどん) is a Japanese undon noodles stir-fried with your choice of protein and vegetables. Your protein can be thinly sliced meat or any seafood suitable for stir-frying. This is a very quick and simple udon recipe and so delicious.

The recipe is written to make either Pork Yaki Udon or Prawn Yaki Udon. The only differences are the choice of protein, i.e. pork slices or prawns, and the way the prawns are stir-fried with other ingredients.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: stir fry, Tempura Udon, udon noodles, yaki udon
Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 2 servings udon noodles (360g/0.8lb, note 1)
Pick one of the two proteins
  • 200g/7oz pork , thinly sliced into bite size pieces (note 2)
  • 200g/7oz fresh prawns (small to medium size) , peeled and deveined
Stir-frying
  • 100g/3.5oz cabbage , cut into large bite size pieces
  • 60g/2.1oz carrot , thinly sliced diagonally (note 3)
  • 25g/0.9oz each shiitake and king oyster mushrooms , thinly sliced (note 4)
  • 2 stalks shallots/scallions , cut to 5cm/2" long
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
Flavouring Sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp cooking sake
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
Toppings
  • 6g/0.2oz bonito flakes (note 5)
  • 1 tbsp benishōga (pickled red ginger) (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add all the Flavouring Sauce ingredients into a measuring cup or a small bowl and mix well. Set aside until required.
  2. Transfer the udon noodles to a sieve and untangle noodles quickly under running water. Drain.

  3. Heat oil and sesame oil in a wok or a large frying pan over medium high heat.

  4. If making Pork Yaki Udon, add the pork slices to the frying pan and sauté until the pork is almost cooked through (less than a minute if very thin, about 1-2 minutes if thicker).

  5. If making Prawn Yaki Udon, add the prawns to the frying pan and sauté until the prawns curl up to form a 'C' shape and the surface starts browning a little bit (about a minute). Put the prawns aside on a plate. Add a bit more ooil to the frying pan if too dry.

  6. Add the carrots to the frying pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the cabbage and the mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until the cabbage is half cooked, then add the shallots.

  7. After mixing the shallots with the meat and vegetables, add the noodles and prawns, including the juice (if making Prawn Yaki Udon). Stir-fry, mixing all the ingredients well until some noodles start browning a little bit.

  8. Add the Flavouring Sauce mixture and mix quickly to ensure that all the noodles are coated with the sauce and the sauce has almost evaporated. Turn the heat off.

  9. Transfer the noodles onto serving plates, pile it into a mound, and topped with bonito flakes. Put the benishōga on the top or the side of the noodles, if using.

  10. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

1. I used 2 packs of fresh udon noodles that I bought from an Asian grocery store. They were slightly more expensive than those you find in supermarkets, but the quality of noodles is better. They do not easily break into short pieces when stir fried.

Instead of using fresh udon noodles, you can cook dried udon noodles and use them. The dried udon noodles are much thinner than the fresh ones in general so the Yaki Udon will look a bit different from my photos.

2. I used very thinly sliced pork belly strips that I cut to short bite-size strips. But you can of course use sliced pork with less fat.

3. If the carrot is thick, halve it vertically, then slice diagonally.

4. You can also use other Asian mushrooms such as shimeji mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, or pearl mushrooms. They are better suited to this dish than button mushrooms or swiss mushrooms.

5. A small pack usually contains 3g of bonito flakes which means 1 pack per serving.

6. Nutrition per serving.

serving: 489g calories: 618kcal fat: 33g (51%) saturated fat: 7.4g (37%) trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 7.4g monounsaturated fat: 16g cholesterol: 72mg (24%) sodium: 1411mg (59%) potassium: 970mg (28%) carbohydrates: 45g (15%) dietary fibre: 5.4g (22%) sugar: 9g protein: 30g vitamin a: 102% vitamin c: 40% calcium: 6.9% iron: 19%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Yaki Udon contains a sufficient amount of carbohydrates so you don’t need a bowl of rice. It also contains quite a bit of vegetables but I added two side vegetable dishes that have different textures and flavours.

If you feel that you need more protein, replace Hijiki Seaweed Salad with something like Squid with Cucumber and Wakame Nuta. Nuta (vinegary miso dressing) brings a totally different flavour to the meal.

Dinner idea with Yaki Udon.

Related

Bonito Kakuni (Simmered Bonito Cubes)

By: Yumiko

Bonito Kakuni (Simmered Bonito Cubes) is a diced bonito fillet cooked in sweet soy flavoured sauce with shredded ginger. It has a strong, sweet soy flavour and goes so well with rice.  It is also great as nibbles for drinking sake and beers. Bonito Kakuni is very easy to make and keeps well in the fridge and freezer.

Hero shot of Bonito Kakuni served as a side.

It is said in Japan that bonito caught in spring, which is called ‘hatsugatsuo’ (初鰹), has the best taste. The word hatsugatsuo means season’s first bonito. Because hatsugatsuo is associated with spring, this word is even used in Haiku (俳句, Japanese short poetry).

A Haiku traditionally contains a word or a phrase that symbolises a season and hatsigatsuo is listed as the word for spring. The most famous Haiku using this word is here.

目に青葉 山ほととぎす 初鰹  (Meni aoba  Yama hototogisu  Hatsugatsuo)

It says that we can see a lot of green leaves (青葉) outside, lesser cuckoo (ほととぎす) chirps in mountains and bonito is in season (初鰹).

This poem is written by Sodō Yamaguchi in the Edo period. Sodō composed a list of things that the Edo people favoured in spring to early summer. Apparently since then, eating hatsugatsuo in this season became chic and trendy among the people in Edo.

Zoomed-in photo of Bonito Kakuni.

Now let’s talk about food.

About Kakuni (角煮)

If you Google search images of ‘kakuni’, it displays images of pork kakuni just like the photo in my recipe Pork Kakuni (Japanese Simmered Pork Belly). Wikipedia also says that kakuni is a Japanese pork dish. It is not wrong but not 100% right either.

Kakuni is a simmered dish with cubed meat or fish. The word ‘kaku‘ (角) in this context means diced or cubed and ‘ni‘ (煮) means simmered.

Because the word kakuni became a synonym for pork kakuni, it is better to use the ingredient name in other meat/fish kakuni. Hence, it’s Bonito Kakuni (Simmered Bonito Cubes).  If you substitute bonito with tuna, you call it tuna kakuni.

What’s in Bonito Kakuni

Ingredients of Bonito Kakuni.

It only consists of bonito, julienned ginger and typical Japanese seasonings:

  • Bonito fillet (no skin) cut to 2cm/¾”cubes
  • Julienned ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Mirin
  • Cooking sake
  • Sugar
  • Water

If you are not familiar with bonito, please visit my post Bonito Tataki (Seard Bonito).

Other fish fillets usually used to make kakuni like this are tuna and king fish. The bonito flesh is close to mackerel but I think that mackerel flesh is too soft for this dish.

The amount of sweetness can be adjusted to suit to your palate. I would not reduce the quantity of mirin. Reduce the sugar if you prefer the sauce to be less sweet.

How to Make Bonito Kakuni

Bonito flesh is reddish like mackerel, which has a stronger fish smell than the white flesh fish such as snapper.

To remove the fishy smell from the flesh, the cubed meat needs to be blanched quickly. You only need to boil them a minute or so until the surface of the fish pieces becomes completely white.

Drain and cook them in the seasoned sauce with ginger.

Bonito cooked in a saucepan.

The fish cubes are cooked through very quickly as the size of the cubes is small. But you need to cook them for 10-15 minutes over medium heat until the liquid almost evaporates.

Make sure you roll the diced fish pieces in the sauce so that the sauce coats all sides of the cubes. You can shake the pan to do that or use a spatula to gently turn the cubes over.

As the liquid condenses, you will see the surface of the bonito cubes becomes shiny, which looks so appetising!

Great Pre-cooked Non-Perishable Food

Bonito Kakuni keeps a long time in the fridge – about 1 week. It is also good to freeze it.

Because of the sweet soy flavour coated around the bonito cubes, it goes so well with rice. But it is also wonderful as nibbles with drinks such as sake, shōchū (distilled Japanese spirit) and beer, in my view.

Bonito Kakuni as nibbles served with sake.

As a pre-cooked non-perishable dish, Bonito Kakuni is also perfect to put in a bento box.

YumikoYM_Signature

Bonito Kakuni (Simmered Diced Bonito)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Bonito Kakuni (Simmered Diced Bonito) is a diced bonito fillet cooked in sweet soy-flavoured sauce with shredded ginger. It goes so well with rice. Bonito Kakuni is also a great as nibbles to go with sake, beer and other non-sweet drinks. It is very easy to make and keeps well in the fridge.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Appetiser, Sides
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Bonito, kakuni
Serves: 6 as a side
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 250g/0.6lb bonito fillets , cut into 2cm/¾” cubes (note 1)
  • 1 tbsp julienned ginger
Sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 ½ tbsp sake
  • ½-1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 ½ tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Boil water (not in ingredients) in a saucepan. Add bonito pieces and cook for about 30 seconds or so until until the surface of the fish pieces becomes completely white. Drain.

  2. Add the Sauce ingredients, blanched bonito pieces and ginger in a saucepan and cook over medium heat.

  3. Cook for 10–15 minutes until the sauce almost evaporates.

  4. While cooking, occasionally shake the pan so that the sauce coats bonito pieces evenly. If necessary, use a spatula to turn the bonito cubes over to get the sauce coating on all sides of the cubes.

  5. Turn the heat off. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

1. Bonito is a seasonal fish and you may not find it at fish shops all year round. If you can’t find bonito, you can substitute it with tuna or king fish.

2. You can keep Bonito Kakuni in the fridge for about a week. It is also OK to freeze it.

3. Nutrition per serving as a side. Sodium is high as it is assumed that all of the sauce is consumed.

serving: 67g calories: 149kcal fat: 1g (2%) saturated fat: 0.2g (1%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.3g monounsaturated fat: 0.1g cholesterol: 63mg (21%) sodium: 3222mg (134%) potassium: 639mg (18%) carbohydrates: 4.2g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.1g (0%) sugar: 3.3g protein: 27g vitamin a: 1.2% vitamin c: 2.5% calcium: 5.3% iron: 6.3%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Bonito Kakuni has a strong sweet soy flavour so I picked the other dishes that have a quite different flavour bases – the Main with sour flavour, the Side dishes with sweet flavour, and mayonnaise flavour.

Pairing Bonito Kakuni with Zaru Soba is also perfect as the soba noodles have neutral flavours.

Dinner idea with Bonito Kakuni.

Related

Crystal Chicken with Shallot and Ginger Dressing

By: Yumiko

Moist and soft chicken is the hero of today’s dish, Crystal Chicken with Shallot and Ginger Dressing. By boiling the chicken pieces after coating them with cornflour/corn starch and quickly cooling them down, you can get a mass of shining, slippery chicken pieces.

Hero shot ofd Crystal chicken with Shallot Finger Dressing.

Crystal Chicken with Shallot and Ginger Dressing is a cold dish that is perfect on a hot summer day. But even if it is winter, I don’t mind eating this dish because it is so tasty.

There is a Chinese dish called ‘crystal chicken’ (水晶雞), but it is quite different from the Japanese Crystal Chicken. The method of cooking and the appearance of the dish is different.

Crystal Chicken – Japanese version and Chinese version

Japanese Crystal Chicken is called ‘suishōdori’ (水晶鶏). The word ‘suishō’ (水晶) means crystal and ‘dori’ (鶏) is the same thing as ‘tori’, which means chicken. The sound is changed for easier pronunciation. It is named so because the coating on the chicken pieces shines and looks like crystal.

Zoomed-in photo of Chrystal Chicken.

The Chinese version is a steamed whole chicken,  without coating in cornflour. Before steaming the chicken, it is marinated in a special marinade. Dissect/slice the cooked chicken and serve it.

If you Google search images on ’水晶雞’, you will see how different they are from my Crystal Chicken. It’s almost like Hainanese Chicken. You need to Google search ‘水晶鶏’ to see the images of Japanese Crystal Chicken. Note that the Chinese characters for chicken are different between the two.

And if you Google search images on the English word ‘crystal chicken’, you will never find the one like the Japanese version. I wonder if my interpretation is somewhat incorrect…

What’s in my Crystal Chicken and Dressing

It is a very simple and quick chicken dish. The main ingredients are just chicken and few seasonings.

  • Chicken breast – sliced to bite size pieces (see the photos in the subsequent sections). You can substitute it with chicken tenderloin, but I do not recommend chicken thigh.
  • Sake, salt and pepper – to give a bit of flavour to the chicken before cooking.
  • Cornflour/corn starch – to coat the chicken pieces before boiling.

The dressing is a sesame flavoured salty and sour sauce with plenty of shallots/scallions and ginger. You just mix these ingredients together. The sesame flavoured Shallots and Ginger Dressing makes the dish so tasty:

Dry ingredients of Shallot and Ginger Dressing.

  • Finely chopped shallots/scallions – this is the key ingredient of the dressing.
  • Very finely chopped ginger – if you are not good at chopping very finely, you can grate it.
  • Soy sauce – I used normal soy sauce but light soy sauce is OK too.
  • Rice wine vinegar – in Japanese cooking, I always use rice wine vinegar as it has milder acidity. But you can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead.
  • Sesame oil – any kind of sesame oil, black or white, is OK.
  • Grated roasted white sesame seeds – to give extra sesame flavour and a different texture to the dressing.

Shallots and Ginger Dressing.

Slicing chicken breast for Crystal Chicken

There is a specific way of slicing the chicken pieces for today’s dish. It is called ‘sogigiri’ (そぎ切り, shaving cut). I introduced sogigiri in my post Sashimi (Sliced Raw Fish) with some photos, but here is how I made the chicken pieces using sogigiri (refer to the step-by-step photo below).

Halve the chicken breast lengthwise to make two narrow pieces (photo 1). Place a chicken piece lengthwise on a cutting board with the thinner end to the left (for a right hander).

Starting from the left end of the chicken piece (for a right hander), place a knife perpendicular to the length of the meat and tilt it diagonally, say 45 degrees from the vertical position of the knife (photo 2). Slice the chicken at an angle into 1cm/⅜” thick pieces (photo 3, 4).

The greater angle the knife is tilted at, the wider piece of sliced chicken you get.

When you are slicing the thickest and widest part of the chicken piece, position the knife on a diagonal angle against the direction of the meat instead of perpendicular to it. This way you will be able to cut a smaller piece of chicken (photo 5).

Stp-by-step photo of how to slice chicken.

Making Japanese Crystal Chicken

The shiny texture around the chicken pieces comes from cornflour/corn starch. When cornflour is heated with moisture, it becomes sticky and transparent. By coating the chicken pieces with cornflour and boiling them, the transparent film covers the chicken and it shines in the light.

Coating the chicken pieces with cornflour also encloses the good flavour and moisture of the chicken inside when boiled, resulting in moisture tasty chicken.

There is nothing difficult about cooking Crystal Chicken as you can see in the steps below:

  1. Slice chicken into 1cm thick bite size pieces
  2. Pound the chicken pieces lightly to tenderise
  3. Marinate the chicken in sake, salt and pepper for 10 minutes
  4. Pat dry the chicken pieces and coat them with cornflour
  5. Boil the chicken for a couple of minutes
  6. Transfer the chicken to ice water and cool them down quickly

Preparing chicken slices to make Chrystal Chicken.

The only tricky thing is picking up the chicken pieces from the boiling water. They are slippery. I was using cooking chopsticks and boy, it was difficult to pick them up with the round bamboo chopsticks. You can of course use tongs or a small sieve with a handle to pick them up.

Serving Crystal Chicken

Crystal chicken does not have a vivid colour, so I serve it on green vegetables. In today’s recipe, there are two options – cucumber ribbons and bok choy.

The length of the cucumber ribbons is about 12-15cm/4¾-6″. I use a vegetable peeler to make the ribbons.

Bok choy leaves need to be blanched. Cut off the end of the stem to remove most of the outer leaves. If the leaves are very wide, I halve them. Cool down the blanched bok choy quickly in cold water. Make sure you squeeze as much water out  as possible when plating.

Here is the example of how I plate the greens.

Two examples of serving Chrystal Chicken - one with cucumber ribbons, one with bak choy.

Crystal Chicken with Shallots Ginger Dressing is an easy but tasty dish. You will be amazed to find that the chicken is so tender.

The chicken can be kept in the fridge for a day but the coating loses the clarity and becomes a bit sticky and cloudy. The flavour will still be good.

YumikoYM_Signature

5 from 1 vote
Hero shot ofd Crystal chicken with Shallot Finger Dressing.
Crystal Chicken with Shallot and Ginger Dressing

Moist and soft chicken is the hero of Crystal Chicken with Shallot and Ginger Dressing. By boiling the chicken pieces after coating them with cornflour/corn starch and quickly cooling them down, you can get a mass of shining slippery chicken pieces.

The dish is served cold, which is perfect on a hot summer day.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 1 chicken breast (about 300g/0.7lb, note 1)
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Finely ground white pepper (optional)
  • tbsp cornflour/corn starch
  • Ice water in a bowl
Shallot and Ginger Dressing
  • ½ cup shallots/scallions , finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger , very finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar, apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ roasted white sesame seeds , grated
Serving (pick one of these)
  • Thin ribbons of cucumber (about 15cm/6" long, note 2)
  • Blanched bok choy (I used 1 stalk per serving, 3)
Instructions
Preparing Chicken (See the photo is the post)
  1. Cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise. Place a chicken piece on a cutting board lengthwise with the thinner end to the left (for a right hander).

  2. Starting from the left end of the chicken piece (for the right hander), position a knife perpendicular to the length of the meat and tilt it diagonally. Slice the chicken at an angle to 1cm/⅜” thick.
  3. When you are slicing the thickest and widest part of the chicken piece, position the knife with an angle against the direction of the meat instead of perpendicular to it so that you will be able to cut a smaller piece of chicken (note 4).

  4. Spread the chicken slices on the cutting board without overlapping, cover with a piece of baking paper, then gently pound the chicken to tenderise.
  5. Put the chicken pieces in a bowl, add sake and salt. Massage the chicken ensuring that every chicken piece is coated with the seasoning. Leave for 10 minutes.

Making Crystal Chicken and Dressing
  1. While marinating the chicken, prepare and mix all the ingredients of Shallot and Ginger Dressing.

  2. Pat dry chicken pieces with kitchen paper.
  3. Boil sufficient amount of water in a medium-size pot.
  4. Put cornflour on a plate, coat chicken pieces thoroughly with the cornflour, then gently drop the chicken pieces in one at a time. Do not overcrowd the pot with too many chicken pieces. I did it in few batches (note 5).

  5. Boil the chicken pieces for about 2 minutes. Do not mix or fiddle with the chicken pieces while boiling as the coating may come off.
  6. Using chopsticks or a sieve pick up the chicken pieces from the boiling water and transfer them to the ice water.

  7. Repeat steps 4 - 6 for the remaining chicken pieces.

  8. When the last batch is cooled down, drain the water using a sieve.

  9. Fold each cucumber ribbon in half and place it around the plate with the folded side outward. If using bok choy, make a circle on a plate with the bok choy stems by laying each of them in the same direction.

  10. Pile the chicken pieces in the centre, then pour the Shallot and Ginger Dressing over the chicken.

Recipe Notes

1. Instead of chicken breast, you can use chicken tenderloin. You will be surprised how tender and juicy the chicken pieces are.

2. I use a vegetable peeler to make cucumber ribbons. Trim the both ends. Run a peeler from one end to the other end straight down, pressing the blade of the peeler against the cucumber so that the thickness of the ribbon becomes consistent. If you don’t press the blade, you tend to finish peeling half-way.
When the cucumber becomes thin, place the cucumber on your palm after catching the end with the blade and move the peeler along the flesh, pressing the blade against the cucumber on your palm.

The quantity of cucumber ribbons you make is up to you. I used a long cucumber cut to 15cm/6" long ribbons.

3. I cut the end of the stem to remove most of the outer leaves. If the white part of the leaf is very wide, I halve the entire leaf vertically. I also halve or quarter the inner leaves attached to the stem.

After blanching the bok choy, quickly cool it down in cold water. Squeeze out as much  water as possible when plating it.

4. If you don’t do this, you will end up with a very wide piece of chicken. Alternatively, slice large, wide pieces and cut them into smaller size pieces.

5. It is better to coat the chicken pieces with flour batch by batch immediately before boiling. If the cornflour is on the chicken for a while, it absorbs the moisture from the chicken and loses the crystal look when boiled.

6. The chicken can be kept in the fridge for a day but the coating loses the clarity and becomes a bit sticky and cloudy. The flavour will still be good.

7. Nutrition per serving. It does not include greens.

serving: 486g calories: 406kcal fat: 18g (28%) saturated fat: 2.8g (14%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 6.5g monounsaturated fat: 6.3g cholesterol: 110mg (37%) sodium: 1106mg (46%) potassium: 757mg (22%) carbohydrates: 21g (7%) dietary fibre: 3.5g (14%) sugar: 3.3g protein: 38g vitamin a: 1% vitamin c: 5.7% calcium: 13% iron: 19%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

I tried to match Crystal Chicken with dishes that can be served cold or at room temperature. Those two side dishes are perfect for it. These can also be made ahead.

Another reason for choosing Dashimaki Tamago is that Japanese often match chicken with eggs in a dish, e.g. Oyako-don (Chicken and Egg on Rice). And having a chicken dish and an egg dish in a meal is a common practice.

Dinner idea with Crystal Chicken.

Related

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon (Dried Shredded Daikon)

By: Yumiko

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon (Dried Shredded Daikon) is a dish of rehydrated dried daikon strips cooked with carrots and aburaage (thin fried tofu), in a lightly flavoured broth. It is a make-ahead dish and one of the very popular side dishes in Japan.

Hero shot of Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon.

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon is often served when you want one more dish to complete a meal set in Japan, but it can also be served as a warm salad. It is a perfect dish for a bento box too.

What is Kiriboshi Daikon

Kiriboshi daikon (切り干し大根) has been around since the Edo period (1603-1868) and eaten as a preserved food.

Kiriboshi daikon is made by cutting daikon into thick match sticks and drying them under the sun until the moisture is removed. It is  cut (切り), dried (干し) daikon (大根), hence the name.

Kiriboshi Daikon in a pack and some pieces on a small plate.

Sun-dried daikon is packed with umami and nutrition as the water within the daikon reduces to about 16%. About 95% of daikon is water so you can imagine how the nutrition within daikon is condensed. It is a good source of calcium, fibre, iron and some other nutrients. Dried daikon pieces become 5 times as heavy as their original weight.

If you compare it against the same quantity of fresh daikon, kiriboshi daikon contains 23 times more calcium, 10 times more vitamin B1 & B2, 14 times more potassium, and 16 times more fibre. Only a small amount of dried daikon is included in each serving, but it still comes in ahead of fresh daikon when you compare the nutrition.

You can buy kiriboshi daikon in a pack at Japanese grocery stores. You might also find a Korean version of kiriboshi daikon at Asian grocery stores. It is labelled as ‘dried radish’.

How to rehydrate kiriboshi daikon

You need to rehydrate kiriboshi daikon before using them. Prior to rehydrating them, you should rinse the dried daikon pieces in a bowl, changing the water a couple of times.

Rehydrated kiriboshi Daikon in a sieve.

Put the dried daikon pieces in a sufficient amount of water (3 times or more of dried daikon quantity) for 10-20 minutes. The length of time you leave the dried daikon in the water varies depending on how you will cook.

If you are simmering it like today’s dish, you only need to rehydrate for 10 minutes as it will be softened further while cooking.

But for a stir-fry or salad (I need to post these dishes one day), you need to leave the dried daikon in the water until it is fully softened (about 15-20 minutes).  But do not leave them in the water too long as the good flavour and nutrition will be lost into the water.

What’s in my Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon

There are many variations of Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon but the most commonly used ingredients cooked with kiriboshi daikon are carrot and aburaage (fried thin tofu).

  • Carrot – cut into thick matchsticks just like rehydrated kiriboshi daikon.
  • Aburaage – remove excess oil by pouring boiling water over it, then cut it to 5mm wide short strips.

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon ingredients - kiriboshi daikon, carrots, aburaage.

I sometimes add sliced shiitake mushrooms to my kiriboshi daikon. I tend to use fresh shiitake mushrooms rather than rehydrated ones, because I fear that the flavour of the dried mushrooms overpowers the kiriboshi daikon.

To add more colour to the dish, I sometimes use snow peas. I think that adding hijiki seaweed would work well too, but I have not made this yet . See my post Hijiki Seaweed Salad (Hijiki no Nimono) for more details about hijiki and sample photos of dried hijiki.

Simple Simmering Broth

When it comes to simmering broth, I usually use several Japanese seasonings in addition to dashi stock. The most commonly used seasonings are soy sauce, cooking sake, mirin, salt and sugar.

But in the case of Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon, I only add soy sauce and mirin to the dashi stock. I think the kiriboshi daikon itself has great flavour and you don’t need to fiddle with the flavour of the broth a lot.

For 400ml/0.8pt of dashi stock, I add 4 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoon mirin. If you think about it, it is an easy formula to remember, i.e. 4 (hundred ml) + 4 (tbsp) + 2 (tbsp) or 0.8 (pt) + 4 (tbsp) + 2 (tbsp).

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon cooked in a pot.

Golden Ratio in cooking

This kind of easy-to-remember ratio is called ‘ōgonhi’ (黄金比) which translates to golden ratio. I know in mathematics the golden ratio means a special number that is applied in geometry, art, architecture and it is believed to make a pleasing/beautiful shape.

But in cooking, an easy-to-remember ratio is the golden ratio. For example, the dipping sauce for Tempura in my recipe has the golden ratio. The portion of dashi stock, mirin and soy sauce is 4:1:1 respectively. This golden ratio is even more perfect as the unit of the portions is all the same!

Zoomed-in photo of Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon.

I used the entire bag of kiriboshi daikon today. It weighed 60g/2.1oz and became about 300g/0.7lb when it was rehydrated and the water was squeezed out. The total quantity of Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon can easily serve 4 as a warm salad.

It is a great dish not only as a salad but as an appetiser and a side dish. It is also a great dish to go into a bento box because you can freeze it.

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Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon (Dried Shredded Daikon)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon (Shredded Dried Daikon) is a dish of rehydrated dried daikon strips cooked with carrots and aburaage (thin fried tofu) in a lightly flavoured broth. It is a make-ahead dish and one of the very popular side dishes in Japan.

Prep Time includes the time to rehydrate kiroboshi daikon.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Appetiser, Salad, Sides
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: dried daikon, kiriboshi daikon, Simmered Daikon
Serves: 4 servings as salad
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 60g/2.1oz kiriboshi daikon (note 1)
  • 100g/3.5oz carrot (note 2)
  • 2 sheets aburaage
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp oil
Simmering Broth
  • 400ml/0.8pt dashi stock (note 3)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
Instructions
  1. Put kiriboshi daikon in a bowl, fill with water and rinse daikon pieces well, changing water a couple of times.

  2. Put the washed daikon pieces into a bowl with about 200ml/6.8oz of water and rehydrate for 10 minutes (it expands to 4-5 times in volume). Squeeze water out.

  3. Cut carrot into 5cm/2” long, 3mm/⅛" wide match sticks.
  4. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over aburaage to remove excess oil, then squeeze water out. Cut the aburaage in half lengthwise, then cut into 5mm/3/16" wide strips crosswise.
  5. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots and kiriboshi daikon to the suacepan and sauté for 1 minute, untangling the daikon strips.

  6. Add aburaage strips and stir. Add the Simmering Broth ingredients to the saucepan, mix and bring it to a boil.

  7. Reduce the heat to low, place a drop lid on (note 4) and simmer for about 10-12 minutes until only a small amount of liquid remains (note 5).

  8. Serve in a small bowl as an appetiser or mid-size bowl as a side or a warm salad (note 6).
Recipe Notes

1. Kiriboshi daikon is dried daikon strips. It is sold at Japanese grocery stores. The net weight of my kiriboshi daikon pack was 60g/2.1oz. Please see more details about kiriboshi daikon in the post.

2. I used carrot but you could also add sliced shiitake mushrooms. Make sure that the total weight is 100g/3.5oz.

3. Some recipes utilise the liquid from the rehydrated kiriboshi daikon and mix with dashi stock. It does add a stronger kiriboshi daikon flavour but it lacks the dashi stock flavour. I prefer it without the liquid from the daikon.

If you use knob dash stock, it becomes a vegetarian dish.

4. A drop lid is called ‘otoshi buta’ (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a pot. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless lid as well.

It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the food cooks faster, the heat is evenly distributed, and the ingredients stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.

If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with aluminium foil or baking paper. Cut a square foil/paper, fold/cut the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil/paper with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.

5. Taste test a strip of daikon and see if you need to cook it a bit longer. If the daikon strips become a semi-transparent light brown, then they are usually ready.

6. If you want to add a colour to the dish, you can use blanched snow peas. I sometimes blanch a few snow peas, diagonally slice them thinly and sprinkle them over the Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon.

7. You can freeze Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon. Cool it and drain the liquid using a sieve before storing it in a zip lock bag. Remove air as much as possible and freeze. It can keep up to 1 month. Microwave to defrost and warm up.

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

When I think of Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon, grilled fish comes to mind automatically. I don’t know why but I think that they go perfectly well together. Lightly salted grilled fish is perfect and I decided to serve Grilled Whiting Fillets. But you can serve any grilled fish as the Main.

I now have a salty dish and sweet soy flavour from the Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon. I needed something sour so I picked Lotus Root and Mizuna Salad add some more vegetables to the meal.

Dinner idea with Simmered Kiriboshi Daikon

Related

Mentaiko Pasta (Cod Roe Pasta)

By: Yumiko

A Japanese-invented pasta, Mentaiko Pasta is a spaghetti coated with brined spicy cod roe with Japanese seasonings and butter. It is a very quick and simple pasta, and so tasty. Mentaiko Pasta is a must-try yōshoku (Japanese-style Western food)!

Hero shot of Mentaiko Pasta in a black bowl.

In September, Nagi published her Tokyo Guide in RecipeTin Eats. One of the recommended yōshoku (Japanese-style Western food) restaurants in Shinjuku was Spaghetti Hashiya which serves numerous Japanese-Italian spaghetti dishes.

Most of their dishes are nothing like usual Italian pasta dishes. When I went there, I ordered ‘tarako, uni & ika pasta’, which is a pasta with salted cod roe, sea urchin and squid. It was really delicious.

Tarako vs Mentaiko

Tarako (たらこ or 鱈子) and mentaiko (明太子) are both made from cod roe / pollock roe. The only difference is the way the roe sacks are marinated. They also look the same except for the colour and are often served/cooked in the similar way. You can eat them without cooking too.

Tarako is a salted cod roe so you taste saltiness in addition to the great flavour of the fish roe.  Mentaiko is brined in chilli and other seasonings. The degree of chilli hotness varies.

I don’t have a photo of fresh tarako with me unfortunately but imagine the mentaiko below with lighter pinkish colour without chilli bits. Tarako looks like that.

Mentaiko - cured whole roe sack of pollock roe.

The Japanese word ‘tarako’ means child (こ or 子) of cod (たら or 鱈). On the other hand, the word ‘mentaiko’ means child of pollock. But the word ‘mentai’ (明太) is borrowed from the Korean word for pollock.

I talked about mentaiko in my post Chilled Tofu (Hiyayakko) 4 ways and mentioned that I buy mentaiko from a Korean shop in Eastwood. Their mentaiko, which I used today, is not very hot.

Origin of Mentaiko Pasta

Mentaiko Pasta originated from tarako spaghetti which was invented in the mid-1960s by the chef at a spaghetti restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo.

One of their regular customers brought caviar and asked the chef to make a caviar spaghetti. Caviar spaghetti is delicious, but because caviar is very expensive, the chef substituted it with tarako and added it to the menu.

Since then, variations to the tarako spaghetti were created, e.g. add cream, cheese, mayonnaise, etc. Mentaiko pasta was created by simply replacing tarako with mentaiko.

Zoomed-in photo of mentaiko pasta rolled around a fork.

What’s in My Mentaiko Pasta

You only need a few ingredients to make Mentaiko Pasta and the main ingredients are just pasta and mentaiko.

Spaghetti – I used standard thickness spaghetti but you can have thinner ones or slightly thicker ones. Fettuccini is also good.

Olive oil – because it’s a pasta dish.

Mentaiko – you can buy frozen mentaiko at Japanese grocery stores. If you live not far from Eastwood in Sydney, you can buy fresh ones from the Korean side dish store called Hwa Gae Buncahn near Eastwood station. You can substitute mentaiko with tarako.

Melted Butter – unsalted is preferred as mantaiko is already salty but normal butter is OK too.

Shiro Dashi – refer to the second recipe of my post Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu for home-made Shiro Dashi. This post also tells you where you can buy a pack of Shiro Dashi with a sample photo.

Shredded Nori (Roasted Seaweed Sheet) – you only need a small nori sheet. Shredded shiso (Japanese perilla) also goes well as an alternative.

Ingredients of Mentaiko Pasta.

From top left clockwise: shredded nori, mentaiko, melted butter, shiro dash.

So simple and quick to Make!

Mentaiko Pasta is so quick to make. Cooking the pasta to al-dente takes the longest amount of time. Once the pasta is cooked, the dish is ready in less than a minute.

While bringing water to a boil and cooking the pasta (per the instructions on the spaghetti pack), prepare a mentaiko mixture (mentaiko + butter + shiro dashi) and shredded nori sheet.

When the spaghetti is done, drain and put it back into the pot. Add the mentaiko mixture and olive oil and mix well. Pile the spaghetti on a serving plate, sprinkle shredded nori and voila!

Mentaiko comes in a sack. You need to remove the roe from the sack and discard the sack. If the sack is quite strong and does not easily break, you can open the end of the sack and squeeze the roe out of the sack, just like you squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube.

My sack was quite fragile, so I placed the sack on a cutting board, cut it open lengthwise, then gently scraped off the roe. Because the sack was so thin and sticky, it stuck to the cutting board and made the removal of the roe easy.

Step-by-step photo of how to remove roe from the sack.

Alternatives to homemade mentaiko pasta

I hope you can find mentaiko or tarako from Japanese/Asian grocery stores because Mentiako Pasta (or tarako pasta for that matter) is so delicious and it is worth trying. I got thumbs up from Nagi!

But if you can’t find them, I would suggest that you try a store-bought mentaiko pasta sauce or tarako pasta sauce. All you need is boil spaghetti and mix with the store-bought sauce.

Store-bought mentaiko pasta sauce and tarako pasta sauce in pack.

S&B and Nisshin brands sell these sauces. The above packets are Nisshin brand mentaiko pasta sauce (left) and tarako pasta sauce (right). You can buy them from Japanese/Asian grocery stores as well as online shops such as Amazon.

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Mentaiko Pasta (Cod Roe Pasta)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

A Japanese-invented pasta, Mentaiko Pasta is a spaghetti coated with marinated spicy cod roe with Japanese seasonings and butter. It is a very quick and simple pasta, and so tasty. Mentaiko Pasta is a must-try yōshoku (Japanese-style Western food)!

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: cod roe, karashi mentaiko, mentaiko, pollock roe, tarako
Serves: 1
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 80g/2.8oz dried spaghetti
  • 1 tsp olive oil
Mentaiko Mixture
  • 30g/1oz mentaiko (1 small sack, note 1)
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter , melted (note 2)
  • ½ tsp shiro dashi (note 3)
Garnish
  • Julienned nori (roasted seaweed sheet, note 4)
Instructions
  1. Boil water in a pot and cook spaghetti to al-dente. I cook for a slightly shorter duration than recommended on the pack of the spaghetti as I like firm textured pasta.

  2. In the meantime, remove the roe out of the sack (note 5) and place it in a small bowl.

  3. Add the rest of the Mentaiko Mixture ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
  4. When the pasta is done, drain it through a sieve, then return it to the pot.

  5. Add the mentaiko mixture and olive oil to the spaghetti and toss to coat the pasta evenly. You can leave a little bit of small chunky mentaiko, if you prefer.

  6. Transfer the pasta to a serving plate, piling up like a tall mound, then top with shredded nori. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

1. Mentiako is a spicy brined cod roe. Non-spicy salted cod roe is called ‘tarako’ and you can substitute mentaiko with tarako. See the post for more details.

2. I used unsalted butter as mentaiko is salty. But you can get away with salted butter.

3. Shiro dashi is a condensed seasoning mixture. You can make it at home or buy a pack from Japanese/some Asian grocery stores. Please visit my post Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu for more details about shiro dashi including the homemade shiro dashi recipe.

Instead of shiro dashi, you can add ½ teaspoon each of soy sauce and mirin.

4. You only need a small nori sheet of about 3cm x 5cm/1¼" x 2". I use scissors to cut it into thin strips.

5. If the sack is thick and strong, you can cut one end of the sack and squeeze the roe out of the sack, just like you squeeze the tooth paste from the tube. My sack was very fragile so I cut the sack open lengthwise and scraped off the roe. See the step-by-step photo in the post.

6. Nutrition per serving.

serving: 120g calories: 372kcal fat: 5.4g (8%) saturated fat: 1g (5%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 1.5g monounsaturated fat: 2.3g cholesterol: 113mg (38%) sodium: 79mg (3%) potassium: 253mg (7%) carbohydrates: 62g (21%) dietary fibre: 2.6g (10%) sugar: 3.2g protein: 17g vitamin a: 2.2% vitamin c: 8.3% calcium: 1.9% iron: 16%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Mentaiko Pasta contains only 30g/1oz of fish roe so I need a meaty dish served as a side. Chicken Patties Wrapped in Perilla is a perfect choice. If you prefer a bit heavier meat dish, try Karaage Chicken or Menchi Katsu. These meat dishes are suited to eating with a fork, which you will need to eat the pasta.

Salad needs to be added to supplement the vegetables. I picked the mixed vegetable dressing with any fresh or boiled vegetables salad. But you can pick almost any kind of salad as long as it contains a few different vegetables.

I thought a clear soup would make the overall meal lighter than miso soup. But even a miso soup can go well with it since Mentaiko Pasta is a Japanese-style pasta.

Dinner idea with mentaiko pasta.

Related

Bento Box – Shigureni Bento (Beef and Burdock)

By: Yumiko

In today’s bento, the rice is covered with Braised Beef and Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni) which makes the rice so tasty. Shigureni Bento is accompanied by simmered pumpkin, pickled daikon, blanched asparagus and tomato wedges. It is a balanced colourful bento box.

Hero shot of Shigureni Bento.

Because Shigureni comes with a tiny amount of braising sauce, it is best placed on top of the rice just like the Japanese Beef Bowl (Gyū-don). Shigureni can be made ahead so today’s bento is not hard to make.

What’s in Shigureni Bento

Here are the ingredients of today’s bento box.

Shigureni Bento ingredients.

Cooked Rice – please refer to How to Cook Rice the Japanese Way. It is best to cook rice for bento fresh in the morning if possible, but it can be made ahead. Pack the cooked rice in a bento box while the rice is still hot or warm as it is easier to shape. Let it cool down before adding other ingredients. Do not add too much rice as you will put the Shigureni on top of it. If you prefer not to place Shigureni on the rice, you could replace plain rice with mixed rice such as Rice with White Radish (Daikon Tamikomi Gohan).

Braised Beef and Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni) – leftover from dinner or make ahead. The Shigureni in this bento is about a quarter of the quantity in the Shigureni recipe, which contains about 50g of sliced beef. You can increase the proportion of meat to burdock if you need more protein.

Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no Nimono) – leftover from dinner or make ahead. I packed only two pieces as my bento compartment can only take two. It depends on the size of the pumpkin pieces and your bento compartment.

Senmai-zuke Daikon – this is a modified version of Pickled Turnip (Senmai-zuke). Instead of turnip, I used daikon. Daikon Senmai-zuke takes less time to marinate. This is also a make ahead dish.

Blanched Asparagus – I needed to add green to the bento box as the major part of it is brown. When blanching green vegetables, you add a pinch of salt to keep the fresh green colour of the vegetables, but in this case I added an extra pinch to give a subtle salty flavour to the asparagus. Any other green vegetables are OK as a substitute, e.g. broccoli, green beans, snow peas, etc.

Tomato Wedges – I also add tomatoes to give a bright colour to the bento. I used wedges here but of course, you can use baby tomatoes instead.

Zoomed-in photo of Shigureni Bento box.

Substitute for Braised Beef and Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni) on Rice

In the introductory paragraph above, I mentioned Gyū-don. Both Shigureni and the topping for Gyū-don are very similar in flavour, and the texture of the beef. They also come with a small amount of sauce.

Instead of placing Shigureni on the rice, you can make it a Gyū-don Bento if you pack the rice and the topping just like the way I serve Gyū-don in my recipe Japanese Beef Bowl (Gyū-don).

Another dish to similar Shigureni and Gyū-don topping is Sukiyaki.  Sukiyaki contains more ingredients but if you put aside some meat and a few other ingredients cooked in Sukiyaki with some sauce and place them on the rice in a bento box, you can make a Sukiyaki Bento.

Reheating Bento

Most traditional Japanese bento are meant to be eaten at room temperature and you shouldn’t have any need to reheat it. Even if the bento box has a piece of grilled fish in it, you don’t reheat.

I think that reheating grilled fish in the microwave increases the fishy smell and I don’t enjoy the fish as much as when it is at room temperature.  But this is just my preference.

Zoomed-in photo of rpicking up the rice with beef with chopsticks.

There are exceptions, though. Today’s is much nicer if you reheat the bento, particularly if the meat is slightly marbled like wagyu beef.

When you reheat a bento box, make sure that you remove uncooked vegetables, tomato wedges and senmai-zuke in the case of today’s bento. In anticipation of reheating the bento, I placed the senmai-zuke in a little paper cup.

The tomato wedges are easy to just pick up and remove from the bento box before reheating. But for a dish like senmai-zuke, which is wet and a little bit slimy with konbu strips, it is better to place it in a small container for easy handling.

It is just to show a little consideration for the person reheating and eating the bento.

YumikoYM_Signature

 

Bento Box - Shigureni Bento (Beef and Burdock)
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

The rice is covered with Braised Beef and Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni). Shigureni Bento consists of rice with Shigureni, Simmered Pumpkin and some vegetables, all of which contribute to making the bento box so colourful.
Because bento is usually made mostly from left-over dishes or make-ahead dishes, the time indicated in this recipe only shows the time to pack the bento box.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: beef mince, bento, bento box, Burdock, Shigureni
Serves: 1
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
Instructions
  1. While the rice is still hot or warm, place it in the largest compartment of the bento box (note 6), allowing for the Shigureni to be placed on top. Let it cool.
  2. Boil water in a pot, add a couple of pinches of salt. Blanch asparagus spears for a minute or so. Drain and rinse under running water to cool them down quickly, then cut them to about 4-5cm long pieces (note 6).
  3. Place the Shigureni on the rice so that the rice is completely covered. If there is sauce left in the container of the Shigureni, pour the sauce over it.

  4. Put Simmered Pumpkin pieces in one of the empty compartments. If your bento box does not have compartments, you may want to use a paper cupcake liner to put it in. Since the pumpkin does not come with sauce, having a partition is not so critical.
  5. In the other empty compartment, place tomato wedges and asparagus.
  6. Put the Senmai-zuke Daikon in a foil or paper cup and place the cup next to the asparagus.
Recipe Notes

1. It is best to pack cooked rice in a bento box while hot or warm as it is easier to shape the rice into the bento box.

2. The amount of beef is about 50g if you use a quarter of the recipe ingredients. If you prefer more meat, adjust it by reducing the quantity of burdock and increasing the beef. Alternatively, you can simply increase the total amount of the dish.

3. My bento compartment only allowed for two pumpkin pieces. Depending on the size of the bento space and the pumpkin pieces, you may want to adjust the quantity.

4. Please refer to my recipe Pickled Turnip (Senmai-zuke). The recipe uses turnip but you can also make Zenmai-zuke with daikon (white radish). The recipe includes how to make it with daikon.

5. Broccoli, green beans and snow peas are good alternatives.

6. The length can be a bit shorter or longer. It’s more important to cut them to the same length and not waste them. My asparagus was quite long and I quartered each spear.

7. Putting a dish like pickled vegetables in is handy especially if you want to reheat the main dish. But if you don’t have a cup, you can use baking paper to separate different dishes.

Related

Tempura Udon

By: Yumiko

Tempura Udon is a popular Japanese noodle soup with thick wheat noodles. It is topped with crunchy prawn tempura, fish cake and chopped shallots/scallions. Dashi-based broth has saltiness and a hint of sweetness that goes so well with tempura.

Hero shot of Tempura Udon.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted Tempura Udon before now! I was focussing on ramen so much that I forgot one of the most traditional noodle dishes, udon noodle soup.

I posted 6 ramen recipes – Easy Japanese Ramen Noodles, Home-made Ramen Broth Recipe, Home-made Miso Ramen, Home-made Shio Ramen, Okinawa Soba (Sōki Soba), Hiyashi Chūka (Cold Ramen). But I only posted one udon noodle recipe, Curry Udon (Udon Noodles with Curry Flavoured Broth). It’s about time!

Udon vs Soba

Udon is made from flour and water with a small amount of salt. The noodles must have a minimum thickness of 1.7mm/1/16″ in diameter. Noodles thinner than that are called hiyamugi or Sōmen. I talked more about Udon in my post Curry Udon (Udon Noodle with Curry Flavoured Broth) with sample photos of udon noodles.

Udon is often compared to Soba. It’s because they are both noodles and cooked in the same way in many different noodle dishes. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and the appearance of soba is quite different from that of udon. However, the noodles in the most noodle dishes are interchangeable.

For example, Tempura Udon can become tempura soba by replacing udon noodles with soba. My Curry Udon (Udon Noodle with Curry Flavoured Broth) can become curry soba if you use soba instead.

In Japan, people are often segregated into their noodle preferences – udon or soba. There are even Twitter groups called Udon party and Soba party where all they talk about is the respective noodles with photos of noodle dishes.

I prefer soba in general, but in certain dishes, I prefer udon noodles. I like Curry Udo better than curry soba. But I think soba is the best of all the different kinds of noodles when chilled and eaten just as they are.

Which party do you belong to?

Tempura Udon Toppings

My Tempura Udon is made with two large prawn tempura pieces as one of the toppings. This, I believe, is the most traditional Tempura Udon because when I was young Tempura Udon always came with prawn tempura.

Ingredients of Tempura Udon.

But these days, you can call it Tempura Udon as long as the main toppings are tempura (and they don’t have to be prawns). Instead of prawn tempura, you can use Kakiage (Mixed Vegetable Tempura) as a topping. You can see Kakiage as a topping in the photo below. This is actually a Tempura Soba as I used soba noodles.

top-down photo of Tempura Soba.

Serving Tempura for Tempura Udon

I placed the prawn tempura pieces on the noodle soup. This is a rather controversial matter in the Maehashi family.

My son says that tempura should not be placed on top of the noodle soup because it loses the crunchiness of the tempura batter.

I say it should be on top because that’s how the traditional Tempura Udon/Saba is served. And the soaked tempura batter is quite tasty in my view.

Perhaps because some diners are just like my son, some noodle shops in Japan serve tempura on a separate plate with a bowl of udon noodle soup.

Frozen Prawn Tempura for Tempura Udon

I cheated a bit in my Tempura Udon today. I did not make prawn tempura from scratch and used frozen tempura. You can buy a bag of frozen tempura at Japanese (possibly Asian too) grocery stores.

They are perfectly battered and ready to be reheated in the oven to make them crunchy on the outside. Here is my frozen tempura. They are neatly placed on a tray without touching each other to maintain the delicate shape of the prawn tempura.

Frozen prawn tempura.

All you need to do is to place the tempura pieces on a rack in a tray and heat them at 150-160C/302-320F for 10 minutes. The frozen prawn tempura keeps quite a while in the freezer and I find it very convenient when I want to use only few prawn tempura pieces for the noodles.

If you make tempura for dinner, then by all means, cook extra for Tempura Udon and freeze them.

About Kamaboko

I talked about other kinds of tempura that can be the topping for Tempura Udon. But when prawn tempura pieces are the main toppings, it is quite common to add a few slices of kamaboko and finely chopped shallots/scallions.

Kamaboko (かまぼこ or 蒲鉾) is a steamed fish paste and it usually comes in a semi-cylinder shape on a wooden plank that is wrapped in a plastic. They come in white as well as a pink-skinned one which is often used to add colour to the dish.

They are sold in the frozen section of Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

Kamaboko in wrapping, white kamaboko & pink kamaboko.

Slice the kamaboko on a plank as you need, then starting from the edge of the plank, run the knife between the kamaboko and the plank up to the point where the slices end. Then you can remove the kamaboko slices while the rest of the kamaboko is still attached to the plank.

Tempura Udon Broth

My broth is made of dashi stock, light soy sauce and mirin. To the 300ml/10oz of dashi stock, I add 1½ tablespoons of light soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of mirin.

The ratio of dashi stock and soy sauce/mirin varies household by household. Sometimes, less mirin is used and sugar is added to compensate the sweetness. Instead of light soy sauce, normal soy sauce might be used. Some recipes add a tiny amount of salt and reduce the amount of soy sauce.

But in general, the broth is made of dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin with or without sugar/salt.

Zoomed-in photo of Tempura Udon showing broth.

There is a notable difference in the colour and flavour of the udon noodle broth between Kansai (the western region of Japan) and Kantō (the eastern region of Japan).

The broth in Kansai has a lighter colour compared to Kantō. The difference of the colour comes from the type of soy sauce used in each region – light soy sauce vs normal soy sauce respectively.

The dashi stock is also made differently. Kansai dashi stock is made from kelp while in Kantō, bonito flakes are used to make dashi stock.

My dashi stock is made from bonito flakes but I used light soy sauce. So, I guess my broth is a hybrid.

Shichimi Tōgarashi

Hot udon noodle soups are almost always accompanied by a little bottle of shichimi tōgarashi (七味唐辛子), Japanese spice mixture with chilli) or simply called shichimi (七味). Just sprinkle shichimi over the noodle soup to give a little accent to the soup.

Shichimi on Tempura Udon

Hot soba noodle soups also come with shichimi. See, I told you soba and udon noodle dishes are interchangeable. Here is a bottle of shichimi tōgarashi and the bowl of Tempura Udon sprinkled with shichimi.

It is so easy to make Tempura Udon when you use frozen prawn tempura. I hope you try it.

YumikoYM_Signature

Tempura Udon
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
 

Tempura Udon is a popular Japanese noodle soup with thick wheat noodles and crunchy prawn tempura, fish cake and chopped shallots/scallions. The dashi-based broth has saltiness and a hint of sweetness that goes so well with tempura.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: kamaboko, tempura, tempura soba, Tempura Udon, udon
Serves: 1
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 60g/2.1oz dried udon noodles (note 1)
  • 2 frozen prawn tempura (note 2)
  • 2 slices kamaboko (steamed fish cakes, note 3)
  • 2 tbsp shallots , finely chopped
Broth
  • 300ml/10oz dashi stock (note 4)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce (note 5)
  • tbsp mirin
Serving (optional)
  • Shichimi tōgarashi (note 6)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 150-160C/302-320F.

  2. Place frozen prawn tempura on a rack in a small tray and reheat in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave them in the oven until required.

  3. Bring sufficient water in a pot to a boil. Add the dried udon noodles to the pot. Mix for about 15 seconds ensuring that each strand is separated.

  4. Boil for the duration recommended on the back of the pack. My udon needed 10 minutes to cook through.
  5. Drain into colander and rinse well under running water. Shake the colander well to remove water at the bottom of the colander and leave until required.
  6. Put the Broth ingredients in a new pot and bring it to a boil.
  7. Place udon noodles in a serving bowl, and pour the broth over the udon noodles (note 7).

  8. Place the prawn tempura, sliced kamaboko and chopped shallots/scallions on top. Serve immediately with shichimi tōgarashi if using.

Recipe Notes

1. The weight of my boiled udon noodles was about 160g/5.6oz. Depending on the softness of the cooked udon noodles, the weight of cooked udon varies.

You can buy a packet of pre-cooked udon if you prefer. I normally don’t use them as I like my udon to be al-dente and pre-cooked udon tends to be too soft for my liking.

If you have access to a freshly made udon, you are lucky and you should us it by all means. They need less time to boil.

2. You can of course freshly cook tempura. Please see the post Tempura for how to cook prawn tempura.

3. Kamaboko (かまぼこ or 蒲鉾) is a steamed fish cake and usually comes in a semi-cylinder shape on a wooden plank that is wrapped in plastic. They come in white as well as pink-skinned, which I used today. (see the post for details).

They are sold in the frozen section of Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
Slice the kamaboko on the plank as you need, then starting from the edge of the plank, run the knife between the kamaboko and the plank up to the point where the slices ends. Remove the kamaboko slices.

4. If you are using granular dashi powder or a dashi pack, check if it contains salt. If it does, reduce amount of soy sauce.

5. I used light soy sauce to maintain the light colour of the broth. You can use normal soy sauce if you don’t have light soy sauce.

6. Shichimi tōgarashi (七味唐辛子) is a Japanese spice mixture with chilli.

7. Even if udon is cold, the soup retains a quite high temperature. But if you prefer super-hot udon noodle soup, you can add the noodles to the broth, bring it to a boil, then transfer to the serving bowl.

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

I have listed Tempura Udon as a Main but it can also be Soup as well as the equivalent of Rice in the menu items below. But the amount of protein included in the Tempura Udon is quite small so pick a side dish with some protein in it. I picked a small quantity of sashimi and also Smoked Salmon Mizore-ae as an alternative.

When you order a Tempura Udon in Japan in a set menu, it sometimes comes with Chawanmushi and pickles as a small side dish. So, I added these.

Menu idea with Tempura Udon.

Related

Japanese Chicken Cream Stew

By: Yumiko

Japanese Chicken Cream Stew has a touch of Japanese flavour, which makes it different from the recipe White Stew (Cream Stew) that I posted 2 years ago. Today’s Cream Stew tastes like the stew made from the store-bought House Cream Stew roux.

Hero shot of Japanese Chicken Cream stew.

White Stew (Cream Stew) was based on the recipe in my very old cookbook.  The creamy sauce was made from béchamel sauce.

The method of making a white creamy sauce for Japanese Chicken Cream Stew is different, but I also tried to make it taste like the stew made from a block of cream stew roux by House Foods (photo below).

Cream Stew Roux

Easier and Faster Way of making white sauce

Instead of making béchamel sauce in the traditional way as per the recipe White Stew (Cream Stew), I sautéed meat and vegetables in butter, then sprinkled flour to mix and cook.  This is equivalent to cooking flour in melted butter to make béchamel sauce.

Add stock, cooked meat and vegetables into it and then add milk to make it white creamy stew.

The challenge of making béchamel sauce in the traditional way is that the sauce becomes lumpy when you add the milk to the flour you’ve cooked in the butter.  You often need to use a whisk to mix the lumpy sauce to make it smooth.

But the method I used in today’s recipe does not create lumpy sauce and it is much quicker to make a thick white sauce.

Copycat of House Cream Stew

I really wanted to mimic the cream stew made with House Foods’ roux because it had a flavour that is somewhat familiar to the Japanese palate.

In addition to the basic flavour of white stew made from béchamel sauce and chicken stock, it certainly has a lot of umami, which is what makes the stew made with House Cream Stew roux so delicious. I could also taste a hint of sweetness. It has a strong flavour of onion too.

The ingredients list on the package of House Cream Stew is not clear but it implies that a lot of umami was added to the roux from soy- based ingredients.

Spooning the stew from the bowl.

What’s in my Japanese Chicken Cream Stew?

The meat and vegetable ingredients are almost identical to those of White Stew (Cream Stew). The diced chicken, diced potatoes, chopped carrots and onions are the same as White Stew. Instead of peas, I added broccoli florets to give a bright green colour to the stew.

The major difference is the white sauce. See the comparison of stewing ingredients between my White Stew and Japanese Chicken Cream Stew.

White Stew (Cream Stew) Japanese Chicken Cream Stew
•   chicken stock •   chicken stock powder + water
•   butter •   butter
•   flour •   flour
•   milk •   milk
•   salt •   salt
•   bay leaves •   dashi stock
•   nutmeg •   shiro miso
•   onion powder

To maintain Japanese flavour with umami, I did not add bay leaves/nutmeg to the stew this time.

By adding dashi stock, the sauce becomes a bit Japanesey with a hint of umami. Shiro miso boosts umami to the sauce and also adds a touch of sweetness to it.

Tips to make a Great Chicken Cream Stew

There are a few tips that I can give you to make the stew look great:

  • Cut your potatoes and carrots into different sizes. Since the potatoes and carrots are sautéed and cooked together, the potato pieces should be a bit larger than the carrots as potatoes cook faster.

Ingredients of Chicken Cream Stew.

  • Ensure the flour is well mixed in butter with the chicken & vegetables. There should be no white powder left.

Zooned-in photo of how the flour is mixed into the butter around the sautéed vegetables.

  • Add broccoli florets later, halfway into the cooking chicken and other vegetables. This will leave crunchiness in the broccoli and maintain its bright green colour. Alternatively, you can blanch broccoli florets separately and add them to the stew towards the end.

Just added broccoli florets to the cooked vegetables in broth.

  • Add milk at the very end after the vegetables are cooked. When the milk gets simmered too much, it starts bubbling and the white sauce becomes grainy.

After adding milk to the cooked meat and vegetables in a pot.

Japanese Chicken Cream Stew takes about the same time to cook as White Stew (Cream Stew) with béchamel. It’s very similar but I just wanted to introduce to you the copycat of House cream stew.

The stew can be kept in the fridge for few days.

Which cream stew is your favourite?

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Japanese Chicken Cream Stew
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

Japanese Chicken Cream Stew has a touch of Japanese flavour which makes it different from the recipe White Stew (Cream Stew) that I posted 2 years ago. It tastes like the stew made from the House Cream Stew roux.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: chicken and tofu, cream stew, creamy chicken stew, stew, white stew
Serves: 4 large serving
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 300g/0.7lb chicken thigh cut into large bite size pieces (note 1)
  • 1 onion (about 160g/5.6oz, note 2), cut into large pieces (note 3)
  • 1 carrot (about 120g/4.2oz, note 2), roll cut into small bite size pieces (note 3)
  • 1 potato (about 170g/6oz, note 2), cut into large bite size pieces
  • 100g/3.5oz broccoli florets (note 4)
  • tbsp butter
  • tbsp flour
  • Pepper
  • 200ml/0.4pt water (note 5)
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder (note 5)
  • 200ml/0.4pt dashi stock (note 6)
  • 1 tsp shiro miso (note 7)
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 300ml/0.6pt milk (low fat or full cream)
  • ¼ tsp salt (note 6)
Instructions
  1. Add butter to a heavy bottomed pot and heat over high heat. As soon as the butter melts, add chicken and a pinch of pepper.
  2. Sauté until the surface of the chicken pieces starts browning (few minutes).
  3. Add onion, carrot and potato pieces to the pot. Mix well ensuring that all vegetables are coated in oil.
  4. Add flour and mix well until flour is well mixed in butter with other ingredients and you don’t see white powder any more.
  5. Add the water, stock powder, dashi stock, miso and onion powder to the pot, mix and place a lid on.
  6. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cook with a lid on for 5 minutes or so until the carrots and potatoes are half cooked through. Mix occasionally ensuring that the vegetables and sauce are not stuck on the bottom (because the sauce thickens).

  7. Add broccoli to the pot and cook further few minutes without a lid (note 8).
  8. When the vegetables are almost cooked through, add milk and salt, mix and bring it to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 seconds or so, mixing to ensure that the thick sauce does not stick to the bottom.

  9. Turn the heat off and serve while hot.
Recipe Notes

1. Can be chicken breast.

2. Total weight of these three vegetables was 450g.

3. Onion: I halve the whole onion vertically first. Place the half onion on the cutting board, flat side down. Cut it horizontally in the middle, then cut vertically into 4, making 8 cuts in total.

Carrot: Roll cut is called ‘rangiri’ (乱切り) in Japanese. Please see my recipe, Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs regarding how to cut rangiri.

4. If florets are large, cut them into bite size pieces.

5. Substitute with 200ml low-sodium chicken stock.

6. You can use dashi powder/bag to make dashi stock. But if your dashi stock contains salt (dashi powder/bags often do), reduce the amount of salt you use. You may not hardly need any. Taste first and adjust the quantity of salt.

7. Shiro miso gives umami and a touch of sweetness without darkening the colour of the stew. If you only have dark miso, you can omit it.

8. Instead of cooking broccoli florets with other ingredients, you can blanch them and add them at the very end after adding milk.

9. Nutrition per serving assuming low-fat milk is used (as I did use low-fat).

serving: 408g calories: 345kcal fat: 20g (31%) saturated fat: 802g (41%) trans fat: 0.3g polyunsaturated fat: 2.9g monounsaturated fat: 6.9g cholesterol: 95mg (32%) sodium: 517mg (22%) potassium: 767mg (22%) carbohydrates: 24g (8%) dietary fibre: 3.5g (14%) sugar: 8.1g protein: 19g vitamin a: 112% vitamin c: 59% calcium: 11% iron: 8.3%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Because today’s Main is yōshoku (Western-style dish), I picked side dishes that go well with yōshoku. The choice of side dishes becomes more relevant if you are serving with bread. Surprisingly though, Japanese do eat white stew with rice.

To supplement a bit more protein, I picked Asparagus Rolls with Pork. The soy flavour complements the white stew. The number of rolls can be adjusted to your appetite.

To match with rich creamy stew, I think that adding a simple vegetable dish is a must. There is no soup today because the stew is a kind of soup, too.

Meal idea with Japanese Chicken Cream Stew.

Related

Home-made Inari Sushi (Inarizushi)

By: Yumiko

Home-made Inari Sushi is not difficult to make at all. All you need to do is cook seasoned aburaage pouches and sushi rice, then wrap the rice in the aburaage pouches. It only takes 10 minutes to cook seasoned aburaage pouches. I’ll also show you how to make a triangle Inarizushi in today’s recipe.

Hero shot of Home-made Inari Sushi (Inarizushi).

In my post Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi), I used store-bought seasoned aburaage pouches to make Inari Sushi (Inarizushi). But today, I will show you how to make seasoned aburaage pouches at home.

A seasoned aburaage pouch for Inarizushi is sometimes called ‘inariage’ (いなり揚げ) because it is aburaage (油揚げ) for Inarizushi (いなり寿司). Home-made Inari Sushi starts from cooking inariage at home.

Inari Sushi is a popular dish in Japan along with nigiri sushi (nigirizushi – hand-pressed sushi that you find at sushi trains). It is particularly popular among children.

I mentioned in my post Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi) that there are two different shapes of Inarizushi – squarish oval shape and triangle shape. In today’s recipe, I made both shapes of inarizushi.

How to Make Seasoned Aburaage Pouches (Inariage)

The basic steps to make seasoned aburaage pouches are as follows.

    1. Halve an aburaage into either squares or triangles.
    2. Make pouches.
    3. Remove excess oil from the aburaage.
    4. Cook aburaage in dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar.
    5. Leave to cool down.

It takes only 5 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to cook.

Making Aburaage Pouches

Depending on the shape of Inarizushi you will be making, the aburaage needs to be cut differently. To make a squarish oval Inarizushi, cut an aburaage in half crosswise and make two square pieces. For a triangle Inarizushi, cut an aburaage in half diagonally, making two right angled triangles.

The photo below shows the two different cuts of aburaage.

Aburaage halved to squares and right angle triangles.

After halving the aburaage, you will need to convert each piece into pouches. The inside of aburaage is usually stuck in many places. You need to put a finger inside at the opening and gently detach where the tofu is stuck.

The bottom and the corners of the pouch may also be stuck. Make sure that you run your finger along the inside edges and detach them as much as you can.

Cooking Aburaage Pouches

Whenever you need to cook aburaage, it is a common practice to pour boiling water over the aburaage or boil them so that excess oil can be removed. Squeeze the water out of the aburaage and they are ready to cook.

Cooking aburaage pouches to make Home-made Inari Sushi.

In a shallow pot, I spread aburaage pouches flat in a uniform manner so that the surface of the aburaage pieces are even and level.

Add dashi stock, soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar to the pot and cook for 10 minutes until the liquid almost evaporates. That is it. Once the aburaage pieces are cooled down, they are ready to fill with sushi rice.

White Sesame Sushi Rice

I mentioned in the previous recipe, Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi), that the sushi rice can be mixed with vegetables etc. Today, I added roasted white sesame seeds to give the rice a slight sesame flavour.

Mixing roasted white sesame seeds to the sushi rice in a bowl.

Make plain sushi rice as per the recipe in the post, Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi), then mix roasted white sesame seed into the sushi rice.

The amount of sesame seeds I added was 1 tablespoon for 240g/8.5oz of sushi rice. It’s quite a lot but you can hardly notice that because of the colour of the sesame seeds.

If you prefer, you can use black sesame seeds but then you would probably want to reduce the amount of sesame seeds by half. Otherwise there would be too many black dots for the amount of white rice.

Before filling the pouch with rice, it is easier to make small oval rice balls, ready to put into the aburaage.

Making oval rice balls to fill inariage with.

Making Triangle Inari Sushi (Inarizushi)

The wrapping method to make a triangle Inarizushi is quite different from that of a squarish oval one. For the oval one, you can find the step-by-step wrapping method in the post Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi).

For a triangle shape, you will use the narrow end of the triangle to wrap the rice first, then cover the first wrap with the other end of the triangle. Here is the step-by-step wrapping process to make a triangle Inarizushi.

  1. Get one triangle inariage and a ball of sushi rice ready – photo (1).
  2. Place the triangle inariage on your hand, with the sharpest angle of the triangle towards you, then open the pouch – photo (2).
  3. Place an oval rice ball in the middle where the pouch is the deepest – photo (3).
  4. Press the rice gently to fill the bottom corner of the pouch and push the rice to both sides shaping the rice into the triangle – photo (4).
  5. Take the narrow end of the inariage, i.e. the end closer to you – photo (5), flip it over the rice and tuck the edge into the bottom corner of the pouch inside – photos (6) & (7). This should shape the inarizushi into a triangle.
  6. Take the other end of the inariage and cover the triangle – photo (8), so that the rice is covered with two layers of aburaage on the side facing up – photo (9).

Step-by-step photos of how to make a triangle Home-made Inari Sushi.

Garnish to go with Home-made Inari Sushi

Even when I was a child, Inarizushi always came with pickled ginger, just like nigiri sushi is served.

The colour of pickled ginger can be bright red, pale pink or light yellow. In the case of nigiri sushi, light yellow pickled ginger is often served. But for Inarizushi, red or pink pickled ginger is usually served. I am not sure why. Maybe because traditional Inarizishi is just brown and a bright colour is needed to brighten the dish.

In my recipe, I only explained how to make a triangle Inari Sushi but if you make different kinds of Inari Sushi and present them on a plate, it looks great. Here is the example of mixed Inari Sushi.

Varieties of Inari Sushi (Inarizushi).

For other types of Inarizushi, please refer to the post Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi).

YumikoYM_Signature

Home-made Inari Sushi (Inarizushi)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

Making Inari Sushi from scratch is not difficult. All you need to do is cook seasoned aburaage pouches (inariage) and sushi rice, then wrap the rice in aburaage pouches. It tastes so good.
In this recipe, you will make 4 triangle Inarizushi and 4 squarish oval Inarizushi.

Cook Time does not include time taken to cook sushi rice.

No 'MEAL IDEAS' today. You can find the meal idea with Inari Sushi in the post Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi).

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: aburaage, inari sushi, Inariage, inarizushi, scattered sushi
Serves: 8 Inari Sushi
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 240g/8.5oz sushi rice (note 1)
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (note 2)
  • 4 aburaage , thawed if frozen
  • 1L/2.1pt boiling water
Inariage Flavouring
  • 200ml/6.8oz dashi stock (note 3)
  • tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • tbsp sugar
Garnish (optional)
  • Pickled ginger
Instructions
Making Inariage
  1. Cut two sheets of aburaage in the middle crosswise to make two square pieces from each sheet. Cut the other two sheets of aburaage diagonally to make two long triangle pieces from each sheet (see the photo in the post).

  2. Place the aburaage pieces in a bowl and add boiling water. Jiggle and drain. Run water over to cool them down.

  3. Take 2-3 pieces of aburaage at a time, spread them on your palm, and stack them up. Place the other hand over the aburaage and press to squeeze the water out of them. This way, you won't break delicate aburaage pouches.

  4. Place the aburaage pieces in a pot, spreading and layering them in a uniform manner so that the surface of the aburaage pieces are even and level.

  5. Mix all the Inariage Flavouring ingredients in a bowl/cup, then pour it over the aburaage pieces.
  6. Place a drop lid (note 4) on the aburaage and bring it to a boil.

  7. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 10 minutes until the liquid almost evaporates. You may turn the aburaage pieces over once or twice but try not to scrunch them. Cooking aburaage in scrunched form may result in inariage with patchy dark and light colours.

Getting Rice Ready
  1. Add roasted white sesame seeds to the sushi rice. Mix well so that the sesame seeds mix with rice evenly.
  2. Divide the rice into 8 equal portions. Take each portion in one hand (note 5), squeeze gently and make an oval shaped ball. Make 8 oval shaped balls.

Making Triangle Inarizushi
  1. Place the triangle inariage on your hand, with the sharpest angle of the triangle towards you, then open the pouch.

  2. Place an oval rice ball in the middle where the pouch is the deepest.

  3. Press the rice gently to fill the bottom corner of the pouch. Push the rice gently to the side and level the surface of the rice so that the rice forms a triangle shape.
  4. Take the narrow end of the inariage, i.e. the end closer to you, flip it over the rice and tuck the edge into the bottom corner of the pouch inside.  This should shape the inarizushi into a triangle.

  5. Take the other end of the inariage and cover the triangle so that the rice is covered with two layers of aburaage on the side facing up.

  6. Repeat with the rest of triangle inariage.

Making Squarish Oval Inarizushi
  1. Follow the recipe instructions for Plain Inarizushi in the post, Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi).

  2. Serve with pickled ginger on the side if using.

Recipe Notes

1. Please refer to the post Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi) to make sushi rice.

2. Instead of white sesame seeds, you can use roasted black sesame seeds. If you do, you should reduce the quantity of sesame seeds as 1 tablespoon would make the rice with too many black dots.

3. If you want, you can use water instead.

4. Drop lid is called ‘otoshi buta’ (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a pot. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless lid as well.

It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, cooks faster, and makes the ingredients stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.

If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with aluminium foil or baking paper. Cut a square foil/paper, fold/cut the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil/paper with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.

5. To prevent the rice from sticking to your hand, wipe your hand with a cooked inariage to wet it.

6. Nutrition per Inari Sushi. It is assumed that 2/3 of the water in dashi stock is evaporated while cooking inariage (only affects the serving weight).

serving: 65g calories: 187kcal fat: 4.9g (8%) saturated fat: 0.8g (4%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 2.4g monounsaturated fat: 14g cholesterol: 0.3mg (0%) sodium: 211mg (9%) potassium: 110mg (3%) carbohydrates: 29g (10%) dietary fibre: 1.1g (4%) sugar: 3.6g protein: 6g vitamin a: 0.1% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 7.3% iron: 8.4%

Related

Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi)

By: Yumiko

Inari Sushi is sushi rice in a pouch made of seasoned aburaage (deep fried thin tofu). It is sweet but it complements the sourness of sushi rice. It is quite simple to make Inari Sushi, particularly when you use store-bought seasoned aburaage.

Hero shot of Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi).

Among the various sushi recipes, Inari Sushi is one of the easiest. Unlike other types of sushi, Inari Sushi is very sweet and some people eat it at tea times.

What is Inari Sushi

I called it ‘Inari Sushi’ so that my readers will know that this is a sushi recipe. But in Japan, it is called ‘Inarizushi’ (いなり寿司 or 稲荷寿司), changing the sound ‘sushi’ to ‘zushi’ for easier pronunciation.

The most common traditional Inarizushi is a very simple rice dish that is basically the oval-shaped or triangle-shaped sushi rice ball wrapped in a seasoned aburaage (deep-fried thin tofu). Sometimes the sushi rice contains roasted sesame seeds, cooked vegetables and/or hijiki seaweed.

Inarizushi with inside-out aburaage pouch.

The modern version of Inarizushi is more decorative with colourful toppings, as you can see some of them in my photos.

The name of this sushi is associated with a type of shrine called ‘Inari Shrine’, which used to worship the deity, Inari. It is said that the favourite food of the fox, the messenger of Inari, was aburaage (deep fried thin tofu) so people offered aburaage to the shrine.

Because the sushi rice is wrapped in aburaage, it is called ‘inarizushi’.

Seasoned Aburaage Pouch

Before filling aburaage with sushi rice, the aburaage needs to be cut in half and cooked in a sweet soy-flavoured broth until the liquid almost evaporates. The aburaage pieces become a bit darker and shiny.

You can make seasoned aburaage pouches at home but today’s recipe is Quick Inari Sushi so I bought a pack of cooked aburaage, ready to fill with rice to make Inari Sushi.

The photo below is the cooked aburaage pouches that I bought from the Japanese grocery store.

Store-bought seasoned inarizushi pouches in a pack.

The aburaage comes in two vacuum sealed bags. Each bag contains 8 cooked aburaage pouches. If the bag is still vacuum sealed, it keeps quite a while and there is no need to refrigerate it. But once opened, you should keep it in the fridge and use it in few days.

They can also be purchased on-line on eBay and some online Asian food sites. You might also find canned cooked aburaage pouches. They are called ‘Inarizushi-no-moto’.

If you can’t get the cooked aburaage pouch, don’t worry. In the next post, I will introduce a recipe for Home-made Inari Sushi which explains how to make seasoned aburaage from scratch.

How to make Inari Sushi

If you are making traditional Inari Sushi, all you need is sushi rice and cooked aburaage pouches.

Make the sushi rice as per my recipe, Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi). Since Inari Sushi does not contain raw fish, the sushi rice does not have to be completely cooled down. It can be slightly warm if you are in a hurry.

To fill an aburaage pouch, you will need about 30-35g of sushi rice (small handful). You can fill with more or less rice but 30-35g would make it the right size, I think.

Step-by-step photo of how to make traditional inarizushi.

Take a handful of rice and squeeze it gently in your hand to shape it into an oval ball.

Store-bought aburaage pouches usually come with a small amount of the liquid the aburaage pouches were cooked in. You need to squeeze the liquid out of the pouches before filling with the sushi rice.

Open the pouch and place the rice ball in it. The rice should fill about half or two thirds of the pouch. Cover the opening by folding one side of the aburaage, then fold both edges inwards. Fold the other side over and place the Inarizushi folded side down.

Inari Sushi Variations

There are different types of Inarizushi depending on the region in Japan. The shape can also be different.

In the northern part of Japan, Inarizushi is made into the squarish oval shape, like my Inarizushi. It represents the rice sack made of straw. But Inarizushi in the southern region is a triangle, which represents the ear of the fox.

Triangle Inari Sushi.

Apart from the shape, there are three variations:

  • Add cooked vegetables to the sushi rice.
  • Use aburaage pouch inside out.
  • Decorate with toppings.

In my photos, you can see the last two variations.

Inarizushi with toppings.

When you turn the pouch inside out, you will get quite a different texture and the colour of the aburaage is lighter. The method of making inside out Inarizushi is the same as the traditional one.

Decorating Inarizushi with Toppings

To decorate Inarizushi with toppings, leave the pouch open without covering and place a couple of toppings on the rice. The toppings can be almost anything as long as they go well with sushi rice.

It’s a bit difficult to eat Inarizushi with toppings compared to the traditional one but they certainly look gorgeous.

For the Inarizushi with toppings, I made cooked prawns with diced avocado and seasoned pork mince (ground pork) with Iri Tamago (finely scrambled egg). You can find how to cook seasoned mince (ground meat) and Iri Tamago in my post, Sanshoku Bento (Tri-coloured Rice Bowl).

Inarizushi toppings - prawn & avocado, seasoned mince & ire tamagotchi's.

In Japan, Inarizushi is sometimes made with fancy toppings on special occasions. It is also packed in lunch boxes for school excursions.

My Inarizushi lunch for school excursions when I was a kid was filled with only simple Inarizushi with no toppings. I am not sure when Inarizushi with toppings was invented, but I am pretty sure it didn’t exist when I was a kid.

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Quick Inari Sushi (Inarizushi)
Prep Time
20 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Inari Sushi is sushi rice in a pouch of seasoned aburaage (deep fried thin tofu). It is sweet but the sourness of the sushi rice makes it easy to eat. It is quite simple to make Inari Sushi, particularly when you use store-bought seasoned aburaage.

Cook Time does not include time taken to cook ingredients, i.e. sushi rice and toppings. Prep time is only to prepare and assemble Inarizushi with prawn/avocado topping which takes longer than making traditional plain Inarizushi.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Recipe Type: Main, Rice
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: aburaage, inari sushi, inarizushi, scattered sushi, sushi recipe
Serves: 8 Inari Sushi
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 280 g sushi rice (note 1)
  • 8 Inarizushi pouches (note 2)
Prawn with Avocado Topping (to make 8 Inari Sushi)
  • 8 medium size prawns , cooked and shelled (note 3)
  • 8 tbsp diced avocado
Seasoned Pork Mince with Iri Tamago Topping (to make 8 Inari Sushi)
  • 8 tbsp seasoned pork mince (note 4)
  • 8 tbsp iri tamago (note 4)
  • julienned blanched snow peas (optional, note 5)
Instructions
  1. Divide sushi rice into 8 equal portions. Take each portion in one hand (note 6), squeeze gently and make an oval shaped ball. Make 8 oval shaped balls.

  2. Take an aburaage pouch and squeeze liquid out. If you are making inside out Inarizushi, turn the inside of the pouch out.
  3. Open the pouch and place a rice ball inside the pouch. Push the rice gently to both sides and fill the corners of the pouch with the rice.

  4. Continue to the instructions below depending on the type of Inarizushi you are making.

Plain Inarizushi
  1. Fold one side of the aburaage to cover the opening, then fold both edges inwards. Fold the other side over and place the folded side of the Inarizushi down.

  2. Repeat for the rest of Inarizushi.
Inarizushi with Prawn with Avocado Topping
  1. Place 1 tablespoon of diced avocado on top of the rice, covering half of the surface.
  2. Place a prawn next to the avocado.
  3. Repeat for the rest of Inarizushi.
Inarizushi with Seasoned Pork Mince with Iri Tamago Topping
  1. Place 1 tablespoon of mince on top of the rice, covering half of the surface.
  2. Place 1 tablespoon of iri tamago on the other half of the rice.
  3. Place a couple of julienned snow pea pieces in the centre.
  4. Repeat for the rest of Inarizushi.
Recipe Notes

1. Please refer to Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi) for how to make sushi rice.

2. I used store-bought seasoned Inarizushi pouches. See the post for details and photo. You can buy them at Japanese grocery stores. You can also purchase them on-line on eBay and some online Asian food sites.

You might also find canned cooked aburaage pouches. They are called ‘Inarizushi-no-moto’.

If you want to make seasoned Inarizushi pouches yourself, please visit my post Home-made Inari Sushi.

3. I used a whole prawn on each Inari Sushi but you can cut it into small pieces if you want.

4. Please refer to Sanshoku Bento (Tri-coloured Rice Bowl) for how to make seasoned pork mince and iri tamago. The recipe uses beef mince but you can replace it with pork or chicken if you prefer.

5. Instead of snow peas, you can use a sliced cucumber as an alternative.

6. Wet your hand with the seasoned aburaage to prevent the rice from sticking to your hand. 

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

For some reason, Inarizushi goes well with deep-fried dish. So, I picked Karaage Chicken. You can adjust the quantity of Karaage Chicken depending on how many Inarizushi your diners may want to eat. If they love Inarizushi, they may become full by having many Inarizushi. Then you can serve Karaage Chicken as a side in a smaller quantity.

Sunomono cleanses the palate which is great to match with fried dishes. I picked clear soup for the same reason.

Dinner idea with Quick Inari Sushi.

Related

Home-made Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)

By: Yumiko

Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu) is a very popular ingredient among Japanese people because it is a cheap source of protein. The outside is puffy and a bit crunchy but inside is a smooth silky tofu. Atsuage is excellent to eat on its own or cook with other vegetables.

Hero shot of Atsuage pieces with chopped shallots/scallions and grated ginger as garnish.

I first introduced atsuage in my post, Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni). In the post, I talked about atsuage with sample photos and explained where the name came from. I also used atsuage in Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu.

In Japan, atsuage is sold not only at tofu specialty shops but also in the tofu section at any supermarket or grocery store.

Until recently, the Asian grocery store near my house was selling fresh atsuage packs but they don’t sell them anymore. I went to many other Asian grocery stores in search of fresh atsuage but could not find it.

I even drove far away and visited the tofu shop that was printed on the container of the atsuage that I used to buy (see the photo below). But the shop was only open until midday and I was too late. When this happened, I thought my luck was not favouring me and decided to make my own atsuage.

Store-bought Atsuage

Store-bought Atsuage that I used when I made Kanazawa-style simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni).

How to make Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)?

It is very simple to make atsuage. Get a tofu block and deep fry it without coating it, ie. su-age (素揚げ). That’s all there is to it.

I explained about su-age in my recent recipe, Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi). My post, Agedashi Tofu also uses deep-fried tofu pieces but it coats the tofu with cornflour/corn starch before frying. This method of frying tofu is the major difference between these dishes and the textures of the tofu pieces are quite different.

When you makeatsuage, you will need to remove the extra moisture before deep-frying it.

  1. Wrap the tofu slice in kitchen paper and place it on a cutting board.
  2. On top of the tofu, place a tray with a small weight or a flat plate upside down.
  3. Lift one end of the cutting board so that the water drains well.
  4. Leave it for 10-15 minutes.
Hoping how to press tofu to drain excess water out of it.

I prepared one momen tofu (the tofu at the back) and silken tofu (the tofu in front).

Pat dry the tofu and deep fry. The temperature of the oil should be about 175C/347F. The hot oil makes a bubbling noise initially due to the water in the tofu, but surprisingly it does not splash any more than Karaage Chicken, which is coated with flour before frying.

I use a flat sieve with a handle to transfer the tofu into the oil as well as turn it over so that the tofu does not break. A slotted metal spatula is also good to use. When both sides of the tofu become light golden brown, it is done. It only takes about 5 minutes.

Tofu suitable for Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)

You can use either silken tofu (kinugoshi-doufu, 絹ごし豆腐) or regular/momentofu (木綿豆腐). Silken tofu is a little bit fiddly due to its soft texture, but you will enjoy a delicate atsuage with very soft tofu inside.

Very hard tofu is not suited for atsuage since the soft texture inside the atsuage contrasted with the deep-fried skin outside is the key to atsuage.

I made atsuage with silken tofu as well as momentofu. The photo below is the atsuage made with silken tofu (left) and momen tofu (right).

Home-made Atsuage comparison between silken tofu and women tofu.

I actually liked momentofu atsuage better because the inside was still soft and was easier to handle. It also kept the shape of the tofu block well.

Thickness of Atsuage

The ideal thickness of atsuageis about 2.5cm/1″. In Australia, the thickness of a standard 300g tofu pack is less than 5cm. So, if you slice the tofu in half horizontally, which is the ideal shape to make atsuage,it becomes a bit thinner than 2.5cm/1″. That’s close enough and from 1 standard pack of tofu, you can make two atsuage pieces.

But if you want to try and see what the ideal thickness of atsuagelooks like, by all means slice it to 2.5cm/1″ thick. The thinner remaining slice can become a very thin atsuage if you deep-fry or can be used in miso soup, etc.

I made atsuage with less than 2cm/¾” thick tofu. It looked OK but when I bit into it, I just didn’t get enough soft tofu inside and it made the atsuage a tiny bit oily. But the flavour and the texture were the same.

Atsuage on a plate with soy sauce over them.

How to eat it?

The list below shows the various ways of eating atsuage. The best way to have freshly made hot atsuage is to simply eat it with soy sauce and toppings (as per today’s recipe). You can enjoy the different texture of the atsuage and the great tofu flavour.

  • Cut freshly made hot atsuage into bite size pieces and dribble with soy sauce. Additional toppings such as finely chopped shallots/scallions, grated ginger and/or bonito flakes would be great to use as well. It is actually exactly the same way of eating as Chilled Tofu.
  • Eat at room temperature with the toppings mentioned above.
  • Grill on the BBQ, grill pan or frying pan to warm it up – great when atsuage is chilled in the fridge. Cook at low heat until the centre of the tofu becomes warm and the outside becomes crispy. Eat with the toppings mentioned above or pour vegetable sauce (refer to Tofu with Vegetable Sauce) or thick sauce (refer to Japanese Meatballs (Niku-dango) with Two Sauces) over it.
  • Stir-fry with other ingredients – see Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu as an example. Use atsuage as a substitute for meat in other stir-fry dishes.
  • Simmer with other ingredients – see Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni).
  • Add to miso soup to give extra volume to it.

Zoomed-in photo of picking up a piece of atsuage.

You can keep atsuage for 2-3 days in the fridge.

It is possible to freeze atsuage but the tofu inside becomes a bit spongy. For this very reason, I would not recommend freezing atsuage unless you are stir-frying or simmering it.

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Home-made Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu)
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

Atsuage (Deep Fried Tofu) is a very popular ingredient among Japanese people as a cheap source of protein. The outside is puffy and crunchy but inside is a smooth, silky tofu. Atsuage is excellent to eat on its own or cook with other vegetables.

Prep Time includes the time to drain the water out of the tofu.

Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.

Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 300g/10.6oz fresh tofu (1pack, note 1)
  • Oil to deep fry
Topping (note 2)
  • Finely chopped shallots/scallions
  • Grated ginger
Instructions
  1. Slice the tofu horizontally into half. It should make 2 pieces of about 2-2.5cm/¾-1" thick block (note 3).

  2. Place a clean kitchen towel or kitchen paper on a cutting board and place the tofu pieces on it. Cover the tofu pieces with another kitchen towel/paper, then on top of it, place a tray with a small weight or a flat large plate upside down.

  3. Place something underneath one end of the cutting board to tilt the board and positon the board so that the excess water drains into the sink. Leave it for 10-15 minutes.

  4. Fill a saucepan or a frying pan with oil and heat to about 175C/347F. The depth of the oil needs to be 3-4cm/1¼-1½“as a minimum.

  5. Pat dry a tofu slice with kitchen paper, place the tofu on a slotted metal spatula or a flat sieve spoon and gently slide it into the oil. Lots of bubbles will rise up because the tofu contains water, but they will settle down.

  6. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the outside of the tofu becomes firm and lightly browned. Turn it over half way using the spatula/sieve spoon.
  7. Using the spatula/sieve spoon, transfer the tofu to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.

  8. Cut the in half lengthwise. Then cut it crosswise into four, making 8 small blocks in total.

  9. Plate the atsuage, topped with shallots and ginger. Serve while hot with soy sauce (note 4).

  10. To eat, pour the soy sauce over the toppings and atsuage.

Recipe Notes

1. Silken tofu or momen tofu is best suited for making atsuage. Silken tofu is slightly more difficult to handle due to the delicate texture of the tofu. If difficult, make smaller blocks of silken tofu but retain 2.5cm/1" thickness.

2. It is OK to eat atsuage without topping but I find that adding at least one topping makes it tastier. Other popular toppings include grated daikon and julienned Japanese perilla.

3. Depending on the brand, the thickness of the tofu block varies. The ideal thickness of the tofu for making atsuage is 2.5cm/1". My tofu was just over 4cm/1⅝" thick, which was a bit too thin to make two slices of ideal thickness.

To show you the ideal atsuage size, I sliced the tofu into a 2.5cm/1" thick. I ate the leftover as chilled tofu.

But you can make two slices of slightly thinner atsuage.

4. Serving options:

a. As per the recipe instruction, eat atsuage while it is hot with toppings such as finely chopped shallots/scallions, grated ginger,  julienned shiso (Japanese perilla) or bonito flakes, etc.
b. At room temperature with the toppings mentioned above.
c. Grill on the BBQ, grill pan or frying pan to warm up – great when atsuage is chilled in the fridge. Cook at low heat until the centre of the tofu becomes warm. Eat with toppings mentioned above.
d. Stir-fry with other ingredients – see Stir-fried Choy Sum with Deep Fried Thick Tofu.
e. Simmer with other ingredients – see Kanazawa-style Simmered Chicken and Tofu (Jibuni).
f. Add to miso soup to give the soup an extra volume.

5. Nutrition per serving, not including toppings and soy sauce. Assumed that oil absorption rate is 3%. 

serving: 155g calories: 164kcal fat: 12g (18%) saturated fat: 1.7g (9%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 4.8g monounsaturated fat: 5.2g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 6mg (0%) potassium: 195mg (6%) carbohydrates: 1.8g (1%) dietary fibre: 1.5g (6%) sugar: 1.1g protein: 15g vitamin a: 0% vitamin c: 0% calcium: 33% iron: 17 %

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Atsuage goes well with a simple stir-fry. Since atsuage is deep-fried, the stir-fry should not be too oily. I think that my choice of Main dish below is perfect for it.

Tofu also goes well with bean sprouts, probably because both are made from soy beans.

Dinner idea with home-made Atsuage.

Related

Root Vegetable Salad with Wasabi Mayonnaise

By: Yumiko

Adding wasabi mayonnaise gives a Japanese touch to salad. Root Vegetable Salad is very simple, consisting of only carrot, burdock and cucumber, but it is quite satisfying with a creamy Wasabi Dressing.

Hero shot of root vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

Most people might know wasabi as a green paste that comes with sushi. But you can use wasabi just like you use mustard in dressings and with mayonnaise. Because wasabi = Japan, salad dressings somewhat become Japanese-style when mixed with wasabi.

About Wasabi

Wasabi is also called Japanese horseradish – a plant that grows in wet fields. The part used for wasabi paste is the base part of the stem. You grate the stem and use it for sushi, sashimi, etc.

I don’t know about your country, but in Australia fresh wasabi stems are impossible to buy unless you are a restauranteur. They are so expensive that even in Japan many restaurants/sushi shops do not use fresh wasabi.

Many restaurants use artificially made wasabi that consists of horseradish and green colouring. The wasabi in tubes that you can buy at Japanese/Asian grocery stores or supermarkets are most likely fake ones. Powdered wasabi is no exception.

Photo of wasabi tube containing real grated wasabi.

If you have access to a fresh wasabi stem, you are a lucky person and I envy you. Freshly grated wasabi is nothing like the fake wasabi paste from both a texture and flavour perspective.

If you are buying wasabi in a tube at a Japanese or Asian grocery store, try to find a wasabi labelled as ‘hon-wasabi’ (本わさび) as these contain about 50% real wasabi (see the photo above). The texture and flavour is much better than the fake ones.

My Wasabi Mayonnaise

Wasabi is used worldwide these days and I see many salads or dips with Wasabi Mayonnaise. But most of them are simply a mixture of wasabi paste and mayonnaise. Sometimes lemon juice or honey is added to them.

My version of Wasabi Mayonnaise is a little more authentic. In addition to wasabi and mayonnaise (preferably Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise), soy sauce, vinegar and mirin are added to it with a pinch of salt to adjust the saltiness.

Root vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise served in small bowls as appetiser.

The soy sauce slightly darkens the colour of the greenish mayonnaise, but when mixed with the vegetables, the colour of the Wasabi Mayonnaise won’t matter at all.

Salad Suited for Wasabi Mayonnaise

I personally think that Wasabi Mayonnaise can be a dressing for all kinds of vegetables, but some vegetables are better dressed with creamy dressing than liquid dressing such as French dressing.

I think that liquid dressings are better suited to salads with lots of leaves while root vegetables and vegetables with stems such as broccoli and asparagus are better off with a creamy dressing.

Today I picked two root vegetables – carrot and burdock. To give a different colour and texture to the salad, I added cucumber, which goes well with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

To get each piece of vegetable well coated with the Wasabi Dressing, I shaved the carrot and burdock. This method of cutting the vegetable is called ‘sasagaki’ (笹がき) cut.

Root vegetables in a bowl before dressing.

Sasagaki Cut (shaved): Step-by-step Photo

I touched on sasagaki cut in my post, Braised Beef & Burdock with Ginger (Shigureni) and described how to do it. But I did not include the step-by-step photos then, so I am adding the photos here. Basically, you shave the root vegetable in a similar way to sharpening a pencil with a knife.

Step-by-step photo of how to do sasagaki cut.

In this photo, I used a very thin carrot and all I needed to do was to shave it from the tip of the root. But if your carrot is thick, halve or quarter it vertically to make thin sticks, then shave each stick.

Fresh burdock can also be shaved in the same way, but the shaved pieces must be soaked in water straight away so that the burdock pieces do not turn brown and the bitterness within the burdock is also removed. You only need to soak them for 5 minutes or so and you will see the water becoming brownish.

If you can’t easily buy a fresh burdock root like me, you can use shaved frozen burdock instead. I use them quite often. They are available at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

Zoomed in photo of Root Vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

Wasabi Mayonnaise goes well with many different vegetables. I’d suggest that you experiment with your favourite vegetables. I sometimes make vegetable sticks such as celery, daikon, cucumber, carrot and serve with Wasabi Mayonnaise on the side.

YumikoYM_Signature

PS: I added a new section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card. It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you!

5 from 3 votes
Hero shot of root vegetables with Wasabi Mayonnaise.
Root Vegetable Salad with Wasabi Mayonnaise
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Adding Wasabi Mayonnaise to a salad gives it a Japanese touch. Root Vegetable Salad is a very simple salad consisting of only carrot, burdock and cucumber, but it’s quite satisfying with a creamy Wasabi Dressing.

Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: root vegetable, wasabi, wasabi mayonnaise
Serves: 2
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients
  • 60g/2.1oz carrot
  • 100g/3.5oz burdock (fresh or shaved frozen, note 1)
  • 60g/2.1oz cucumber
Wasabi Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp wasabi paste (note 2)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • ¼ tsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise (note 3)
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. If your carrot is very thick, halve or quarter vertically to make thin sticks. Make sasagaki cut carrot (shaved carrot) from each stick. See the post for how to do sasagaki cut.

  2. Boil water in a small saucepan and blanch the carrot pieces for 30–60 seconds (note 4). Drain and cool.

  3. If you are using frozen shaved burdock, thaw them and drain excess water if necessary. Skip steps 4 and 5.

  4. If you are using a fresh burdock root, scrape off the skin using the back of the knife, then make sasagaki cut burdock. As you shave the burdock, place the burdock pieces in a bowl filled with water (note 5). Leave them for 5 minutes.
  5. Boil water in a small saucepan and cook the burdock pieces for a couple of minutes (note 4). Drain and cool.
  6. Slice the cucumber thinly diagonally, then julienne the sliced cucumber slices lengthwise.

  7. Mix all the vegetables in a bowl.
  8. Mix wasabi paste, soy sauce, vinegar and mirin in a small bowl, ensuring that there are no lumps of wasabi paste.

  9. Add mayonnaise to the bowl and mix well.
  10. Transfer the wasabi mayonnaise to the bowl of vegetables and mix well to coat every piece of vegetable with the mayonnaise.
  11. Taste test and adjust with salt if required. Serve as a salad, or in small bowls/plates as appetiser.

Recipe Notes

1. You can buy burdock that are already shaved into sasagaki cut. They are sold frozen at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

2. If you are using wasabi powder, mix the powder with water to make wasabi paste. The degree of kick of heat and wasabi flavour depends on the brand of wasabi you use. You can increase the amount of wasabi if you prefer it to be spicier.

3. I used Kewpie mayonnaise, which is available at Japanese/Asian grocery stores as well as supermarkets. The Western style mayonnaise and Kewpie mayonnaise are a bit different in flavour – the former is sweeter. I made wasabi mayonnaise using both types of mayonnaise and both of them came out fine.

4. The time to blanch/cook root vegetables depends on the thickness of sasagaki cut and also how crunchy/soft you want them to be.

5. Fresh burdock becomes brown when exposed to air. Soaking in water, it prevents the burdock pieces from becoming brown. It also removes the bitterness.

6. Nutrition information per serving:

serving: 132g calories: 156kcal  fat: 12g (17%)  saturated fat: 1.7g (9%)  polyunsaturated fat: 6.3g  monounsaturated fat: 2.5g  cholesterol: 5.8mg (2%)  sodium: 666mg (27%) potassium: 321mg (10%)  carbohydrates: 13.7g (5%)  dietary fibre: 4.1g (16%)  sugar: 2.7g  protein: 1.8g  vitamin a: 101%  vitamin c: 5.9%  calcium: 19.4%  iron: 1.8%

 

Meal Ideas

A typical Japanese meal consists of a main dish, a couple of side dishes, a soup and rice. I try to come up with a combination of dishes with a variety of flavours, colours, textures and make-ahead dishes.

Today’s salad is a little bit rich with the wasabi mayonnaise, so I picked a light main (despite being beef). The soup can be any kind, but I thought clear soup would go well with the other dishes selected. If you would like to avoid egg in the soup, as the mayonnaise contains eggs, I would suggest Dried Tofu Skin Soup – Clear Soup.

Dinner idea with Root Vegetable Salad with Wasabi Mayonnaise.

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