Japan Eats

Tokyo Bites: 2010 Thai Festival

Rachael White reports from the 2010 Thai Festival in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo.

Tokyo Bites: 2010 Thai Festival from Japan Eats on Vimeo.

Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi is the perfect thing for your next party or celebration. It’s best known as a dish with which to celebrate momo no sekku or hinamatsuri (the Japanese Doll Festival).

Every year on the 3rd of March, Japanese parents display dolls for their daughters – a tradition dating back to the Heian period (1200 years ago). At that time the (then) paper dolls were viewed as a talisman – evil spirits were thought to possess the dolls and they would be destroyed in order to protect the health of young girls. The tradition continues to this day, although Japanese now display dolls in their homes, no longer watching them float out to sea.

Here, maguro (tuna) can be used instead of salmon. You can also add ikura (salmon roe) or cubed cucumber as a garnish.

Sushi

Party food: chirashizushi

Ingredients

Sushi rice (learn how to prepare this here)

Egg garnish

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • vegetable oil

Mushroom garnish

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dashi soup
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce

Gourd garnish

  • 10g dried gourd (kanpyo)
  • water
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1 cup dashi soup
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin

Burdock garnish

  • 1/3 burdock
  • 1/3 cup dashi soup
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • a small bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar

Lotus root garnish

  • 40g lotus root
  • 3 tablespoons dashi soup
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • a small bowl of water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar

The part about the snow peas

  • 8-10 snow peas
  • Hot water
  • 1 pinch of salt

And the salmon

  • 100g salmon (sashimi-grade raw fish)

Method

Cook sushi rice according to the inarizushi recipe.

Egg garnish: beat the eggs with cutting strokes and add the sugar and the salt. Coat a frypan with a mall amount of vegetable oil. Warm the pan on a medium heat.
Pour 1/4 of the beaten egg into the pan and cook it like a crepe. Repeat the process 3 more times. When the sheets of egg have cooled down, fold them and cut them into very thin strips.

Mushroom garnish: soak the dried shiitake mushrooms into a small bowl of cold water to soften them. Once they have become soft, cut the stems off. Put 1/2 cup of dashi soup, sugar and the mushrooms into a pan and place it over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add mirin and soy sauce, then simmer until the sauce has almost evaporated. When they cool down, cut the mushrooms into thin (2-3mm) strips.

Gourd garnish: briefly wash the dried strip of gourd (kanpyo) in cold water and rub it with salted hands. There’s no need to be gentle, and you should have about 2 pinches of salt in your hands. Once this has been done, wash away the salt in cold water. Next, put the strip into a pot with plenty of water and boil it. When the strip becomes soft (you should be able to leave an impression with your fingernails) wash them again in cold water. Next, put the dashi soup, sugar and gourd into a pot and cook it on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mirin and the soy, simmering until the sauce has almost evaporated. When it has cooled down, cut it into 1 cm lengths.

Burdock garnish: scrape off the skin of the burdock using the back of a knife. Make a lengthwise cross-shaped incision about 5cm deep at one end, and cut it from that end (as if you were sharpening a pencil). Bleach them in a bowl of cold water with a tablespoon of vinegar for 5 minutes and drain them. Place the dashi soup, sugar and burdock into a pot and cook them over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mirin and soy sauce, simmering until the sauce has almost evaporated.

Lotus root garnish: peel the lotus root and slice thinly. Cut the slices into quarters. Bleach them in a bowl of cold water with a tablespoon of vinegar for 5 minutes and drain them. Boil them in hot water for 1 minute and drain them. While hot, soak them in the sauce made of dashi, vinegar sugar and salt. Submerge them in the sauce then let them stand until they cool.

String the snow peas, boil them in hot water for 30 seconds and put them in cold water (so as to maintain the color). Cut them diagonally into pieces 1-2mm thick.

When the sushi rice has cooled to room temperature, mix it with the toasted sesame seeds, followed by the mushrooms, gourd, burdock and lotus root.

Sprinkle the snow peas and the salmon (cut into 1cm cubes) onto the rice. Finally decorate with the egg and serve.