Tofu may be one of the most unfairly maligned foods in the world. But it’s such an economical and nutritional powerhouse! It’s packed with protein and calcium, it’s low carb (if that’s your thing), and it just needs a little love to really make it read more
Tag: healthy eating
Sunomono are light, vinegar based salads frequently enjoyed in Japan as side dishes or starters. The recipe I’m sharing today is a choose your own adventure sunomono; you choose the seafood- be it crab, shrimp, octopus, or anchovies, or you could make a vegan sunomono and just prepare the classic Japanese combo of cucumbers and wakame. Sunomono is a perfect warm weather dish, as it is served cold and the vinegar dressing is super refreshing.
If the phrase “vinegar based dish” gave you pause, don’t worry. Sunomono uses rice vinegar, which is very mild. A little sweet and a little tangy without the harsh bitterness you might associate with vinegar. Whipping up the dressing is so easy-you just stir the ingredients together until the sugar dissolves. That’s it! Making a double batch is a good idea because it’s a great way to add a little oomph to rice.
While the vegan version of this is delicious, I like to add seafood to make this a heartier dish. I’ve included instructions for the four types I use most often so choose your favorite. Or set them all out and let people choose!
The only one that requires cooking is the shrimp. Just bring water to a boil, add the shrimp, turn off the heat and let them sit for 3 minutes.
Then remove them from the heat and drain. Once they are cool enough to handle, slice them in half and keep chilled until ready to serve.
If you’ve chosen the (imitation) crab legs, just cut them into bite sized chunks.
Once the seafood is prepped it’s time to get the veggies ready. First I bloom the wakame in water. The seaweed will unfurl in about 10 minutes, and then I drain it.
Now that the veggies, seafood, and dressing are all ready, it’s time to combine them and serve! I add the dressing to the wakame and cucumbers first so it can be thoroughly combined, and then gently add the seafood.
This salad is so bright and refreshing, (and easy!) I know you’re going to enjoy it too! Please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. And tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen.com, we love to see what you create!
- 1 european cucumber
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon dried wakame seaweed
- 8 pieces imitation crab or shrimp, or 4 ounces of boiled octopus, or 4 tablespoons shirasu (boiled baby anchovies)
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dashi powder (optional)
Make the dressing:
- Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, salt, and dashi powder if using.
- Stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
For the Seafood:
- If using the shrimp, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the shrimp. Then stir the shrimp in the pot, turn off the heat, and cover the pot with a lid. Let the shrimp sit for 3 minutes. Drain the shrimp and set aside until cool enough to handle. Slice the shrimp in half and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
- If using octopus, slice the octopus on an angle in very thin slices. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
- Unwrap the crab sticks if they are wrapped in plastic and cut into thirds. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
- Put the wakame in a bowl and cover with 1 cup of water to bloom, about 10 minutes. Once the wakame is soft, drain and set aside.
- Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Slice the cucumber into thin half moon pieces. Put the cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with the salt and mix. Set the colander in a bowl or in the sink and set aside for 10 minutes, mixing once more while it sits.
- Squeeze the cucumbers lightly to remove excess water and then place in the bowl with the wakame. Add the dressing and toss lightly to mix. Add whichever seafood you’ve chosen and gently mix to combine.
- Split the cucumber salad into 4 serving bowls or one larger bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Unless you have a Japanese mother, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ve ever had Kinpira Gobo. It’s the kind of Japanese home cooking that isn’t well known outside of Japan. In fact, I rarely see burdock root prepared in the states at all, and that’s a real shame. It is packed with health benefits, credited with everything from aiding digestion to preventing cancer.
Burdock root is a quintessential Japanese vegetable and features prominently in many traditional dishes. One of the reasons why is that it is incredibly versatile. It works well in soups and stews, braised dishes, fried in fritters, or blanched and eaten like a salad. Moreover, it plays nicely with other vegetables as wells as different kinds of meats. Burdock root has a very crunchy texture that softens the longer it cooks and an earthy, almost sweet and smoky flavor. Sounds intriguing, right? Well it’s also delicious and I think it’s time you got to try this very easy Japanese dish.
Kinpira Gobo takes only 5 simple ingredients, and cooks in about 10 minutes. But don’t be fooled, it’s intensely flavorful thanks to heavy hitters like togarashi and toasted sesame oil. It’s a perfect side to a variety of meats and fish, or combine it with a couple other veggie dishes and enjoy a meatless meal.
What is Burdock Root?
Burdock is a thin, long root vegetable grown throughout Asia. It is a cousin to the artichoke, but it’s really not that similar in flavor or texture. I cut it into pieces for easier storage, but when you purchase it in the Asian grocery stores, they will look like long skinny branches. Look for burdock that is plump and stiff, not shriveled or pliant.
When young and more tender, it can be eaten raw. Older roots though are generally cooked. Since it is a root vegetable, it can be pretty dirty; make sure to wash and scrub thoroughly. I use a clean scrub pad that’s only for vegetables, which I find more thorough than a vegetable brush.
I typically use a knife to pare off slices of the burdock root, sort of like whittling a piece of wood. The pieces need to be soaked in water immediately and kept there until you’re ready to cook them. This keeps the burdock from oxidizing and turning brown. Alternately you could julienne it. (Either way, you will need a very sharp knife. Have you subscribed yet? Not only will you never miss a recipe, but you will also receive my tutorial on proper knife sharpening.) If you have left over burdock root, try it in Sukiyaki Noodles.
Cooking Kinpira Gobo
Once the burdock root is prepped this dish comes together very quickly. First the burdock is stir fried with the togarashi, and then it is briefly braised in a mix of soy sauce, mirin, and water.
Finally to plate, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and/or extra togarashi. If you want to make an Asian inspired plant based feast, pair my Kinpira Gobo with this Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Dipping Sauce, and Funky Spicy Green Beans. There will be so many exciting flavors and textures, no one will miss the meat.
When you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag us in your photos, @funkyasiankitchen. Show us the goods!
- burdock root, about 9 ounces
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 teaspoon Shichimi pepper mix
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds or a little more shichimi pepper (optional)
Prep the Burdock:
- Scrub the outside of the burdock root with a vegetable brush or a clean scrub pad.
- Put a bowl of water next to you and then cut the burdock root by holding it with one hand and then scraping the knife along the burdock, kind of how you would sharpen a pencil. Put the burdock immediately into the bowl of water as you cut it to keep the burdock from oxidizing.
- You can also julienne the burdock by first cutting it into 2 inch pieces. Then cut it into thin slices lengthwise. Stack the pieces and then cut through them so you have thin julienned pieces. Put the burdock root into the water so it doesn’t oxidize and continue cutting the rest of the burdock in the same way.
- Once all of the burdock is in the water, swish it around and drain the water. Refill the bowl with fresh water and set aside until ready to use. You will drain it right before cooking it.
- Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the neutral oil and sesame oil and then the drained burdock root. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the shichimi pepper. Cook for an additional minute and then add the soy sauce, mirin, and water.
- Cover partially, lower heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 3-4 mins until the liquid has evaporated and the gobo looks shiny and slick. It should still be a little crunchy. Taste it and add a little salt if needed.
- Plate the burdock root and sprinkle with the sesame seeds or additional shichimi pepper. Serve immediately.