Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Stewed rolled daikon and deep fried tofu 大根と油揚の砧の煮物

This is another high-labor simple ingredient dish (it is a value added item and "you can charge more for this dish than for a simple nimono or simmered dish" is what I remember it said in the cookbook from which I got this recipe). Although I cannot charge more for this dish, I decided to make it because my wife found several Ziploc bags of half used packages of deep fried tofu pouches or "obraage" 油揚げ in our freezer, apparently representing different vintages. Since these things do not improve with age, I tried to use up the older vintage aburaage.  I made this dish a few times before and I remember that it tastes pretty good. I made this at the same time I made "Kanpyo with checkered daikon and carrot" カンピョウの市松 and the original recipe came from the same cookbook ("Appetizers and a la carte small dishes for Izakaya" by Tadashi Shinojima.)

(This is the way I served it the day I made this dish)

First, I soaked 6 "Inari" 稲荷 or "koage" 小揚げ type (i.e. small) aburaage in boiling water to thaw and remove excess oil.  While taking care not to burn my hands, I squeezed out any water it may have absorbed by pressing it between my palms. I then cut three edges of the aburaage and opened it up into a flat rectangular sheet (about 3 by 5 inches). I repeated this process with the rest of the abraage and set aside.

(The next day, with sugar snap)

I happened to have a rather large good daikon. I cut about a 5 inch-long (corresponding to the width of the aburaage sheets) segment of daikon. Using "Katsura-muki" 桂剝き, after peeling off the skin, I made a long thin sheet of daikon (it should be thicker -about 3mm- than when you make a daikon garnish for sashimi).  I managed to make 3 sheets, each about 13-14 inch long. I blanched the diakon sheets for 5 minutes so that it would be more pliable. When it cooled enough to handle, I layered the aburage on top of the dakon sheet. You need two abuaage sheets to cover 80% of the diakon sheet leaving about 3-4 inches at the end (which makes the outer most layer). I rolled up both together and tied the upper and lower portions of the resulting cylinder with Kanpyo 干瓢 (I cut the width of the Kanpyo ribbon in half since this one happened to be rather wide). I made three rolls (each will be cut in half when served yielding 6 pieces). I placed the rolls on their ends in a small deep pot containing dashi broth (abut 2-3 cups--enough to just cover the daikon cylinder), mirin (3 tbs), "usukuchi" 薄口 soy sauce (3 tbs). The original recipe calls for dashi, mirin and sugar without any soy sauce but this does not make sense to me, so I omitted the sugar and added soy sauce. With "otoshibuta" 落とし蓋, gently simmer for 30-40 minutes. Before serving, I cut the cylinder in half between two Kanpyo ties to make two disks. Serve with the cut end up (looks much nicer) with a dab of Japanese hot mustard and a bit of the broth. The combination of texture (still slightly crunchy daikon and gentle softness of obraage), subtle and gentle sweetness from daikon and the broth, all produced a sublime experience punctuated by loud wake-up calls from the Japanese hot mustard. Sake is definitely called for.

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