Thanks to Atsuko’s Kitchen, which specialises in Japanese homestyle cookery classes, for our new monthly Japanese food feature.
On a sunny day, why not make a bento (lunch box) and have a picnic in the park.
Kinpira is a style of Japanese dish, using crunchy vegetables and basic Japanese seasonings. It’s commonly found in bento boxes, as it’s quick and simple to make.
Renkon is also know as lotus root and can be found fresh, vacuum packed, or frozen, from Asian supermarkets (see the directory for a list). It is full of fibre and vitamin B12, which helps absorb iron. It’s important not to cook it too long as it ruins the crunchy texture.
You could also make this dish with other types of root vegetables such as parsnips, salad potatoes or celery.
300g renkon (lotus root)
1 age (friend tofu)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)
3 tbsp shoyu (dark soy sauce)
1 taka no tsume (chili pepper)
A small pinch of ground sesame seeds
1. Slice the renkon and carrots into thin round slices. *If you use fresh renkon you need to soak it in water and a dash of vinegar for 10 mins then strain it. This will remove any bitter taste and stop it from darkening.
2. Wash the age in boiling water. Squeeze the excess water from the age and dice.
3. Remove the seeds from the chili and slice as thinly as possible.
4. Heat the frying pan, add the sesame oil.
5. Fry the renkon and carrots. When the oil has coated all the vegetables, then add the sugar, mirin and 2tbsp of shoyu. Sprinkle the chili over the ingredients in the pan evenly.
6. Add 1/3 of a cup of water and bring it to the boil. Cover pan with a lid.
7. Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 4 mins.
8. Take the lid off, add 1tbsp of shoyu and increase the heat until the liquid has evapourated.
9. Finish by serving sprinkled with ground sesame.
10. Serve in a bento box or as a side dish.
More to come next month…