Japan Eats

Recipe: Takenoko no mazegohan (Japanese-style mixed rice)

This typically Japanese mix of textures is an ideal addition to any bento.

Takenoko no mazegohan is a seasonal rice dish which features takenoko (bamboo shoots) mixed with chicken and a selection of Japanese vegetables.

The preparation of the bamboo shoots takes place the day before, and follows the same process as that used in our recipe for Tosa-style bamboo shoots).

For an interesting variation, mix the ingredients with vinegar rice to create gomokuzushi. Detailed directions for vinegar rice can be found here. The dish is also easy to adapt for vegetarians: simply omit the chicken and use kombu dashi rather than the regular kombu and katsuobushi variety.

Takenoko no mazegohan

Takenoko no mazegohan (Japanese style mixed rice). Eat it freshly prepared, or add to a Japanese bento lunch.

Ingredients (serves 6 – 8 people)

  •  100 – 120 g of chicken thigh
  • 70 g of carrots
  • 70 g of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 deep-fried tofu pouch (aburaage)
  • 250 g of boiled bamboo shoots
  • 125 g of konnyaku (aka devils tongue)
  • 10 g of kanpyo (dried gourd strips )
  • 150 ml of dashi soup
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • Several pinches of roughly cut mitsuba (Japanese wild chervil) or ginger pickles as a garnish

Method

The bamboo shoots need to be prepared one day ahead. Wash them and scrape off the tough base of each shoot. Slice off the tips and make a shallow incision the length of the section covered by skin. Next, place the shoots in a pot of water together with 2 handfuls of rice bran and 2 red peppers. Bring to the boil, then cover with a drop-lid (the instructions for which can be found here). The bamboo shoots need to be covered with water the whole time. Keep the pot on a low heat for about 1 and a half to 2 hours, until the hardest parts of the bamboo softens. Take the pot off the heat and allow it to soak and cool overnight.

The rest of the ingredients can be prepared the following day. Ready the chicken by removing the skin and fat, then chop it into bite-sized pieces. Cut the carrot it into strips 4 to 5 cm long, so that they resemble matchsticks. Remove the stems of the shiitake, then cut the mushrooms into slices 2 mm thick.

Next, place the aburaage in a colander and pour 100 ml of hot water over the deep-fried tofu pouch to remove any excess oil. Cut into pieces 5 mm thick, 3 to 4 cm in length.

Now for the takenoko, or bamboo shoots. Rinse theshoots in a bowl of cold water to wash away the bran. Peel the skin of the shoots along the shallow incision you made the day before, so that you have only the soft, fleshy part of the shoot. Cut into slices 3 – 4 mm thick, then again into bite size quarters or squares.

Prepare the konnyaku by cutting it into thin squares 2 – 3 mm across and 1.5 – 2 mm thick, then boil them in a hot water for 2 – 3 minutes.

Wash the kanpyo in a bowl of cold water then squeeze out the water. Put the kanpyo back in a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of salt then rub it with the salt well for 30 seconds. Then wash the salt out with a cold water. Place the kanpyo in a pan containing 1 liter of cold water and bring it briefly to the boil before reducing  to a low heat. Cook the kanpyo for 15 minutes in total. Once cooked, rinse in a bowl of cold water then squeeze out any excess liquid. Cut it into squares 2 cm wide.

Place the casserole with 1 table spoon of the vegetable oil and warm it on medium heat. Once it becomes warm, add chicken and carrot and cook for 2 – 3 minutes till the color change of the chicken. then add deep-fried tofu pouch, shiitake mushrooms, konnyaku, kanpyo. Mix and cook the whole ingredients  for another 2 – 3 minutes then add the bamboo shoot at the end and mix them entirely.

Add 150 ml of dashi soup to the casserole, once its boiled add 4 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of sake, 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of mirin. Mix and place a drop lid on the ingredients. Maintain a medium heat and cook for 20 minutes until the sauce is almost gone.

Prepare Japanese rice using the instructions for your particular rice cooker.

You’re finally ready to mix the rice and ingredients for the dish in a bowl. A good balance is 4 – 5 tablespoons of the ingredients for every 150 grams of cooked rice. As you do this, be sure to remove as much liquid as you can before moving the ingredients from the casserole dish.

Serve with mitsuba as garnish or ginger pickles on the side.

Recipe: Takenoko no tosani (Tosa-style bamboo shoots)

Welcome spring with this healthy dish of bamboo shoots and kinome leaves.

Spring has finally arrived, and what better way to usher in the warmer weather than with a light, seasonal dish of bamboo shoots soaked in dashi and garnished with kinome leaves?

While the dish is relatively easy to prepare, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to get started the day before you plan to serve it to your guests – the bamboo shoots need to soak overnight.

If you are unable to source kinome leaves, there’s no reason to panic. You can still enjoy the rich flavor of the soup combined with dried bonito flakes.

Takenokono

Takenokono

Ingredients (serves 2 – 3 people)

  • 800 g bamboo shoots
  • 400 ml – 500 ml dashi
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of sake
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of mirin
  • 5 g – 10 g dried bonito flakes
  • Kinome (the young leaves of Japanese pepper) as garnish

Method

Begin by washing the bamboo shoots and scraping off the tough base. Slice off the tips and make a shallow incision the length of the section covered by skin. Next, place the bamboo shoots in a pot of water together with 2 handfuls of rice bran and 2 red peppers. Bring to the boil, then cover with a drop-lid (the instructions for which can be found here). Keep the pot on a low heat until the hardest parts of the bamboo soften. Take the pot off the heat and allow it to cool. Now rinse the bamboo shoots in a bowl of cold water and soak overnight to remove any unwanted earthiness.

Soak the bamboo shoots in water overnight.

Soak the bamboo shoots in water overnight.

The next morning, peel the husks and cut the bamboo shoots into 3 sections:

1. The top third of the each shoot should be sliced vertically into 4 equal pieces.

2. Slice the middle section into 2 pieces resembling half moons, 1 cm thick.

3. Cut the bottom section into quarter rounds, 1 cm thick.

Place the bamboo shoots and dashi soup into a pot, cover with a drop-lid and boil over a high heat. When it comes to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, sake, soy sauce, mirin and increase the heat to medium. Continue to simmer for about 45 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced to a level roughly 1 cm from the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and remove the drop-lid. Add the dried bonito flakes and mix well so that the flakes completely cover the bamboo shoots.

Now for the garnish of kinome leaves. Here there’s a special technique: put each pinch of kinome on your palm and quickly clap your hands together before sprinkling the leaves over the bamboo shoots. This maximizes the kinome‘s fragrance.