SATOIMO no NIMONO ( how to cook taro)

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Japanese people love O IMO.

We collectively call starchy root vegetables such as regular potatoes, sweet potatoes (not like the one here, ours are purple outside and golden inside), yam (yamaimo), and taro(satoimo) as IMO.

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Other than regular potatoes, it is difficult to get here, but fortunately thanks to the Suzuki farm, I could get satoimo, which is one of my husband favorite vegetables.

What should I cook with them, then?

Japanese like simple dish, taking advantage of vegetables’ freshness and flavors.

My husband and I also like simple dishes.

OK.

Let’s make SATOIMO no NIMONO, the very basic Japanese dish!

It is SATOIMO version of KABOCHA no NIMONO.

Here are the ingredients.

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  • 6-7 of medium size of satoimo (taro)
  • 1.5 cup of dashi
  • 1.5 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce

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By the way, what beautiful satoimo!

Usually they are covered with dirt, but this time I didn’t need to wash them vigorously with vegetable brush.

Let’s start cooking!

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Peel the skin thick.

Be careful!  They are very slippery!

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Cut into bite sizes.

Then,,,

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cook them for about 2-3 minutes in the boiling water to take their sliminess.

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Drain the water, and then wash them well.  (you can do this under the running water. )

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Drain, and we need to prepare dashi stock.

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I have a secret weapon.

This is dashi pack, and there are 30 packs which has bonito flakes and dried powdered sardine.

I know you don’t have this, so you can use instant dashi you could get at any Asian grocery store.

If you use instant dashi, prepare 1.5 cup.

When we cook potatoes, we always need to cook them from the water, so,,,,

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I put one pack in the water, and then,,,

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heat with prepared satoimo until it boils, and cook them for 3-4 minutes under medium flame.

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After 3-4 minutes, put sugar.

Remember!  Always sweet agent goes first.

Then add salt.

I added ,,,,

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shiro dashi (concentrate dashi stock with saltiness) instead of salt to enhance dashi flavor.

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Cook them with lid ,or  you can put  UCHIBUTA (literally inside lid.  You could cut parchment paper into circle, and poke it several spots, and then you could put it directly onto the satoimo.).

The UCHIBUTA method is traditional way, but since my pan does a great job, I didn’t do UCHIBUTA.

Cook 7-8 minutes.

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Then add mirin and

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soy sauce and ,,

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cook extra 7-8 minutes until the satoimo absorb most of the soup.

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Not yet.

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Almost there!

THEN,,,,

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They are waiting for my  husband to enjoy.

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They soaked up all dashi flavor, so they are good in OBENTO  like KABOCHA no NIMONO!

As soon as my husband came back home from work, he peeked the table and found SATOIMO on NIMONO, and,,,

OF COURSE!

He danced!

Anniversary OBENTO!

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We celebrated our 19th anniversary a few weeks ago.

Time flies so fast, and I could still remember our first date like yesterday.

My husband and I were in the same tennis club, and our first date was at the tennis court.

We decided to enter for the tennis tournament as mix doubles.

Everybody in the club was excited, thinking who they should ask as a partner.

Luckily my husband asked me to go to the tournament as a partner! BUT,,,there was one problem.

This is very Japanese, but girls were supposed to prepare OBENTO for boys.

It was like MUST.

ME?

NO!!!

I was living with my parents at that time and my mom was a really good cook, so I had never prepared meals for my family…

SHAME ON ME!!!!

So, when I was asked from my future husband to entry the tournament, I warned that I couldn’t and wouldn’t prepare OBENTO.

I didn’t have confidence to make a good OBENTO.

On the day, even though I warned I was not going to bring OBENTO, he expected I brought OBENTO.

He was so shocked when he found out there was no OBENTO, and we went to Seven Eleven to get pastries and rice balls….

However still he chose me as his wife, so I have to thank him!

Now I prepare OBENTO almost every day with strong confidence that I could please him with my food.

Even though I have to wake up early at 5AM, I really enjoy and love preparing OBENTO for him.

What should I make for him on our 19th anniversary?

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When I make OBENTO on his birthdays or anniversaries, I decorate with some surprise or put number or alphabet made from carrot on rice, but for this time, I wanted to  make really ordinary OBENTO, remembering ordinary but happy  each day of our life.

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I didn’t want please him with letters for this time, instead I wanted him to feel relaxed with my comfort OBENTO.

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Very Japanese.

I put grilled sword fish marinated with UMEBOSHI (I will show you how to prepare at the end), KABOCHA NO NIMONO, sautéed Japanese green pepper, sautéed snap peas with KATSUOBUSHI (bonito flakes), and ,,,

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TAMAGOYAKI (Japanese style omelet)!  The black thing in the egg is HIJIKI, a kind of sea weeds.

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When I close the lid of the box, I always wish he loves it.

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I wish he loves this ordinary OBENTO.\

YES!  He enjoyed it!

He expected the numbers “19” on the rice, but he couldn’t find them.

He said It surprised him.

I explained my intention after his coming back home, and he told me that he could feel my heart.

That’s why I love to make OBENTO.

In such a  small space, I could put all my heart, and he could feel it!

The best thing is I couldn’t see him eating.

I have to use my imagination, hoping he is enjoying it.

That was an ordinary OBENTO, but very special OBENTO.

Thank you very much for praising me I am a good cook for 19 years with saying GOCHISOSAMA!

Thanks to you, now I have a strong confidence in me.

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HAPPY OUR 19TH ANNIVERSAY!!!


UMEBOSHI flavored sword fish

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Since the OBENTO box is small, I purchased a small slice of sword fish.

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small but a little bit thick, so,,,,

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I butterflied into two pieces.

I only use one piece for OBENTO.

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Prepare about 1 Tb spoon of soy sauce and sake in a bowl, then dip the fish.

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If you have time, you could do it overnight.

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This is UMEBOSHI.

UMEBOSHI is a really sour pickle, and I think this flavor is similar to rhubarb.

Don’t you think?

Of course, UMEBOSHI is a pickle, so it is sour and salty.

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Then prepare the finishing sauce.

1Tb spoon of soy sauce, 1Tb spoon of SAKE, 1Tb spoon of MIRIN, and 1/2 Tb spoon of sugar.

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UMEBOSHI has a pit in the middle, so take it off, and chop the pulp, then,,,

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add into the prepared sauce.

UMEBOSHI has very refreshing flavor, so it really goes well with  fish.

It kills the smell of fish!  Besides it has antibacterial effect, so it is good for OBENTO.

After a while, take the fish from the soy sauce and sake mixture, and wipe it with paper towel.

Then heat the pan with medium flame, and grill the fish 2 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the fish).

Then pour the prepared UMEBOSHI mixture into the pan and saute until most of the sauce evaporates.

THAT’S IT!

Japanese Curry from RINTARO recipe

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I have already introduced Japanese curry rice  here.

I could repeat saying that CURRY RICE is one of our national foods, and many of us love it.

My husband is not an exception.

As I showed how to prepare before, it is very easy and simple to make CURRY RICE.

I believe many mothers rely on this magical food which every body loves when they can’t come up with any dinner ideas.

One day when I browsed magazines, I happened to find Japanese curry rice recipe.

To be honest, I have never made CURRY RICE from scratch since we have so many varieties of good curry roux.

The recipe was from a restaurant in San Fransisco, Izakaya Rintaro, and the restaurant was selected as one of the best new restaurants this  year.

When I find any JAPANESE LIKE recipes, I don’t buy it, but I though I could trust this recipe.

I read the recipe, and I decided to try it.

Here is the recipe from Rintaro.

Looks so delicious, don’t you think?

Even though we have many brands’ curry roux,  I believe this one is more Japanese, that’s why I wanted to make it.

What makes this curry recipe very Japanese then?

In Japan, some soba noodle restaurants serve curry rice, and their curry rice is very Japanese because in the most cases, they use DASHI ( fish stock ).

Then is this recipe using dashi?

NO.

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This recipe doesn’t require dashi, but they use very Japanese ingredients such as mirin, soy sauce, kuro sato ( picture above), and it is obvious they are the key.

Also they use a specific curry powder from S&B.

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I usually stock MY CURRY POWDER, but to make this curry very Japanese, I followed the recipe, and used this S&B curry powder.

S&B is a Japanese spice company, and this red tin curry powder was made in 1923!!

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The left is my powder and the right is from S&B.

When I smelled, even though they both are curry powders, they are distinctively different!

I love unique spices, so mine has more cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, fennel.

The powder from S&B is milder.

Their basic ingredients are turmeric, cumin, black pepper, orange peel, fenugreek,and coriander.

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About this recipe, I would like to mention one more thing.

They use potato starch to thicken the soup.

I thought I had to make roux with white flour at first like making gumbo.

Instead I made flour and potato starch mixture paste and put that at the end.

This method is very easy and very Japanese.

The curry gets lighter texture.

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Looks good!

Then let’s eat!

WAIT!

Sorry, I forgot to tell you one more important thing!

Rintaro put RAITA with this curry as relish.  I also made it and loved it, but that is not Japanese style.

What is Japanese style?

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RAKKYO and FUKUZINZUKE!

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Rakkyo is small onion pickles, and it is sweet rather than sour.

Somehow we always have this rakkyo with curry rice.

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Fukuzinzuke is also one of the Japanese pickles, and commonly used as a relish for curry rice.

t has daikon radish, cucumber, and lotus root and it also has sweet flavor rather than sour.

I think we only have fukuzinzuke when we have curry rice.

OK, so much for the information.

Then let’s eat!

HOW WAS IT?

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Of course, my husband enjoyed this very Japanese curry rice.

This is sweeter than the one using store-bought roux.

Next time I could add more spices in here. Maybe shichimi?

If you are interested in making very Japanese curry rice from scratch, try that recipe!

My advice?

I used extra lean meat for our health, but of course some fat makes this curry more delicious.

KABOCHA SQUASH! -KABOCHA NO NIMONO-

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In Japan, we often use the word “MIKAKU NO AKI” for describing the autumn , literally means “the season of the flavor”.

YES! 

The autumn is the season of the pleasure of the table!

I am sure nobody won’t disagree with that.

We have  sweet potatoes, chestnuts, matsutake (expensive flavorful mushrooms), ginkgo, grapes, pears,,,,

I repeat saying every season has its special flavor, but  I think the food of the autumn has more smell of its own ,and besides their warm colors make me nostalgic.

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I could say the same thing here in the US.

I think people’s minds might already go to Thanksgiving, but before that we have a fun event, Halloween!

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PUMPUKIN TIME!!

I was so amazed when I saw all the varaieties of winter squashes in front of grocery stores several years ago.

We don’t have that many varaieties in Japan.

However, I couldn’t find winter squash for me ,KABOCHA , in regular grocery stores 5 years ago.

I had to go to Asian grocery store to get one.

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Nowadays thankfully KABOCHA squashes are well-known, and I can find them everywhere!

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In Japan the word PUMPKIN indicates KABOCHA, and KABOCHA is the only winter squash we could purchase easily.

That is why they often appear on the table.

Today I will introduce very basic Japanese dish, using KABOCHA.

It is called KABOCHA NO NIMONO, simmered KABOCHA squash.

This is my mom’s regular, and hers is the BEST.

When I came back to Japan, I peeked of my mom’s cooking KABOCHA, and tried to steal her technique.

This is very simple dish, that is why a little technique matters.

I will try to reach her level.

Here are the ingredients and instruction!

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  • 1/4 medium size of KABOCHA squash
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of sake
  • 1 teaspoon of shiro dashi* (or salt)
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin

*what is shiro dashi?

Shiro dashi is a clear dashi soup stock concentration, made from light soy sauce.

The taste is more subtle than soy sauce, and since it usually made with dried bonito, round scad, sardine, and kelp, it has complete UMAMI flavor.  This is very convenient if you have one in your fridge.

You could dilute this with water, and you can have soup stock for udon noodle instantly, or you could use for variety dishes as an accent.

Now let’s cooking KABOCHA NO NIMONO!

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Oh, I didn’t like cutting KABOCHA.

It is so hard, and requires lots of power, don’t you think?

However, now I am excited in front of this hard skin vegetable because my friend introduces me KABO CHO!

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I purchased this special knife for KABOCHA in Japan.

The handle has soft grip and it fits my hand.

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According to the instruction, it is built for us not to need to use full power.

To make the most of it, I have to practice more, but ,,,

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it is much easier!

Thank you, KABO CHO!

OK. Keep going.

Today I only use 1/4 of a whole KABOCHA, but…

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scrape the all seeds.

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Even if you are not going to use a whole, it is better to take all the seeds once you cut because seeds are the reason the left gets spoiled fast.

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You could rinse the seeds and roast them for healthy snack,but today I say good-bye to them.

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Wrap tight with plastic warp (I double wrapped), and  keep it in the fridge.

You can use this in other time.  ( I like them in miso soup!  )

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Here is 1/4 KABOCHA.

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Cut off the head and the bottom, and,,,

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peel the skin , but not all of it.

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Like this.

I like the skin, and it has more vitamin and carotene.

However for KABOCHA to absorb the soup well, I need to peel part of it.

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Like this.

Each family has their own KABOCHA NO NIMONO recipe, and if you want very clear soup or you don’t like the inner soft part, you may want to wash, but I like that part because it absorb dashi soup well and tastes really good.

Besides like skins and seeds, it has more nutrient than the body.

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Then cut lengthwise by 2 inches thick.

Then,,,

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Dice them by 2 inches.

OK, we prepared them, let’s cooking!

NO!

There is one important thing left before cooking.

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Can you see the sharp edge?

We have to take this edge.

WHY?

Because when we simmer, the sharp part cooks fast and softens easily.

It makes soup thick and cloudy.

We say that NIKUZURE.

To prevent NIKUZURE, we need to cut the edges.

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Like this.

Of course,

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all the edges!

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This is a trivial work, but very important.

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All done!

Now we put them,

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in the shallow pot, skin side down.

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Then add water, just it covers 80-90% of each dice.

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Cook this in the medium heat, and when it starts boiling,

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add the sugar.

I use brown sugar, but you could use granulated sugar here.

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When we simmer anything, we need to add sweetness first.

If you add salty staff first, they don’t absorb the sweetness.

So add the sugar, and,

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sake first.

Then,if you have shiro dashi,

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add shiro dashi.

If you don’t have this, add salt.

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Close the lid, and simmer about 7~8 minutes until KABOCHA gets soft (insert the pick and make sure the softness).

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I think they are ready for the next step.

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Add mirin, and then,

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add soy sauce.

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Simmer without the lid, trying for KABOCHA to absorb all the soup.

As I mentioned above, each family has their own recipes.

Some of them like to leave some soup with KABOCHA, but my mom’s one doesn’t leave any soup.

That’s way they have strong flavor, and also even if they get cold, they are delicious.

Besides they are really good in a lunch box!

So, I take my mom’s way.

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I  used to be afraid of getting them scorched, but we have to be patient here.

A little more,,,,,

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A little more,,,,

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Almost there!

When you could see just a little bit liquid, turn off the heat.

The pot has residue heat, so the liquid will go.

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Smell so good!

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Simple and delicious!

This is the AUTUMN.

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Mom, I think I am reaching you a little bit.

I wish I bring this to my mom now.

Instead someone enjoyed this a lot.

OISHI!!  (DELICIOUS!)

I am going to put some in your lunch box then!