Broccoli with Ume

Broccoli with Ume

Broccoli with Ume is a very Japanese take on broccoli. Just a few ingredients and a simple cooking method let the broccoli shine. If you’ve been wanting to include more broccoli in your meals but find it a little boring, this is the recipe for you. The umeboshi plums add a salty pucker, while the katsuobushi brings a smoky finish. Broccoli with Ume is great at room temperature or cold, so leftovers make a wonderful lunch.

My mom used to make this dish regularly when we were kids. It’s really so easy, it’s almost a non-recipe! If you’re looking for a new healthy way to serve out broccoli that doesn’t use oil, dairy, or any of the usual yummy but less healthy additions, look no further!

broccoli with ume ingredients

Plums with Broccoli?!

I know that sounds like a strange combo, but umeboshi plums are an ingredient used in an array of Japanese dishes, even sushi! The fruit is pickled and adds a salty and sour punch. It’s an excellent match for a bland canvas that needs a little jolt.

I mash them with a little mirin for sweetness and this super easy paste adds explosive flavor. Generally, I add a little soy sauce too, but the umeboshi plums I had were a bit extreme on the salt meter. In any case, I suggest you add soy sauce to taste at the end, after you’ve dressed the broccoli.

paste broccoli ume

While ume is considered an acquired taste, just like with kimchi, people seem to get pretty addicted to it. If you find yourself craving more ume plums try them in:

Blanch the Broccoli

Now that the ume paste is ready, it’s time to prep the broccoli. A quick blanch retains the color and nutrients of the vegetable while leaving it with a pleasant tender-crisp texture (nothing worse than overcooked, mushy broccoli). Too often I see recipes where only the florets are used. But the stalks have a nice mild flavor and lots of nutrients, so I hate to waste them. Instead I use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer skin. It’s important for all of us to cut down on food waste, not only ethically but also economically, so let’s eat those stalks people!

cutting broccoli with ume

After blanching, I drain the broccoli and run it under cool water to stop it from cooking, and then I mix it with the ume paste. Any residual water clinging to the drained broccoli helps the sauce coat more evenly. I finish it off with a sprinkling of the katsuobushi.

Katsuobushi is shaved smoked and dried bonito. It is the backbone of all major soups and stocks in Japan and adds that hauntingly rich but light smoky flavor. Even though it’s fish, it’s not fishy. And it’s often used as a condiment/topping for such dishes as cold tofu, hot rice, and I especially love it in natto (fermented Japanese soybeans). If you’ve never tried these dried and smoked bonito flakes before, you must! These are such a great item to have in your pantry, and can work their magic in an endless variety of dishes.


Then I pour it into a serving bowl and it’s ready.

This broccoli will change color as the acid from the umeboshi gets absorbed by the broccoli. It taste just as good the next day, but the color suffers. If you’re planning on making this ahead, keep the sauce and broccoli separate until you are ready to serve.

Broccoli with Ume is a perfect side dish with:


Or enjoy a light and easy supper by just enjoying it with some steamed rice.  However you decide to serve this Broccoli with Ume, let me know! Leave a comment below and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you.



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feature broccoli with ume

Broccoli with Ume

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 3-4 1x
  • Category: side
  • Cuisine: Japanese


  • 1 head broccoli
  • 4 ume boshi plums
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 big pinches katsuo bushi (smoked bonito flakes)
  • soy sauce to taste


  1. Take the pits out of the ume boshi plums and add them to a mortar and pestle. Add the mirin to the ume boshi, and grind gently to form a chunky paste. Set aside.
  2. Cut the florets off of the stalk and cut into small bite sizes. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Trim the end off of the stalk and then strip off the tough outer skin off of the stalks. Cut the stalks into bite sized pieces and set on top of the florets.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. 
  5. Add the pieces of broccoli stalk and boil for 1 minute. Next add the florets and boil for another 1-2 minutes. 
  6. Drain in a colander and cool the broccoli under running water. Let the broccoli drain and then add it to the sauce in the mortar.
  7. Gently toss the broccoli, making sure to coat it with all of the sauce. 
  8. Sprinkle the broccoli with the katsuo bushi and toss again. Taste the broccoli and adjust seasoning with a little soy sauce if needed.
  9. Serve broccoli with ume room temperature or cold.


*Umeboshi can differ in levels of saltiness and the Eden umeboshi plums I used were the saltiest ones I’ve had yet. First taste a piece of broccoli once you’ve mixed it with the sauce and then add a little soy sauce if you feel it needs it. 

*This broccoli is best eaten as soon as it is made as the broccoli changes color to an olive green as the acid from the plums soaks into it. 

*If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you can chop up the umeboshi plums with a knife, transfer it to a bowl, and add the mirin to make the sauce. There is not enough to put it into a blender or food processor.

Keywords: broccoli, veggie sides, umeboshi plums, japanese

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