Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Renkon Nimono

I feel kinda bad that my last Japanese food post was so long ago.

So here’s a little simple something that is close to my heart! What my dad calls “wagon wheels”, aka: renkon (lotus root) is just about one of my most favorite root veggies ever. I love the texture, & it’s simple, delicate flavor. The shape is just plain old fun & it’s famous in Japan for being a “beauty food” for women & good for your skin. Regardless, of it's health properties I really like it simmered or fried like chips or in tempura.
This is a super duper simple way to simmer it. And to be honest I use this nimono mix to simmer a whole slew of root veggies together. My favorites being: Renkon, gobo, carrot, sato-imo & konyaku. (Oooh Brotha’ that’s some good winter food) but you can do other stuff like, daikon, potatoes & shitake too, whatever floats your boat.

So here’s how:

4 to 5 renkon roots (about 6” in length each, that’s what I used this day, but you can grab enough root veggies to fill half a 4L heavy bottom pot.)

1 c dashi (you can use instant dashi powder @ 2 tsp for 1 c, of boiling water) or of course traditional (but we won't get into that)
½ tsp goma oil (or vegetable oil)
1 ½ tbsp sugar
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
3 tbsp soy sauce

Mix these ingredients in a bowl, I usually just use my glass measuring cup.

Peel & slice the renkon into 1cm slices (leave to soak in water, if you don’t, it’ll discolor quickly) heat goma oil, drain renkon & saute, mixing for a few minutes. Pour dashi mix into pot & bring to a boil. Turn heat to low & cover with a tin foil covering/drop lid.
(This is a traditional Japanese method of covering simmering food, so it allows the steam to escape slowly. If you're using tin foil, try to make sure you make the “drop lid” just a bit smaller than the pot so the steam can go up around the sides of the pot) Now cook till the dashi is GREATLY reduced (like, nearly gone, but watch out for sensationally bad taste if you burn the dashi right out! Arrgh!) Stir every once in awhile. It should take up to ½ hr or more if you do it right.

NOTE to impatient cooks: Nimono is really no good if the heat is too high, the point is to get the veggies to completely absorb the flavor of the dashi, so that won’t happen if you try to hurry things along, will it? Nuff said?
And you’re done.

Well, that's it I guess. As always, it's better hot. But nothing to wink at cold either. Great for a bento or lunch.

Generally, my kids can’t get enough of renkon or pretty much all root veggies & it’s a very simple method for such a rewarding flavor. :)
PS: Dear gaijins, please use cooking hashi when you make this. You'll feel better about yourself, I promise!


象さん said...

Renkon is definitely one of our favourites too! Keep warm.

Nina said...

Thanx for clarifying about the dashi = dashi powder + water. I'm afraid I would've assumed I was actually supposed to dump an ungodly amount of dashi powder in there (yes, I am ashamed)!