Saturday, December 17, 2011

Potato with nori "Tsukudani" and butter  小芋のバターと海苔の佃煮添え

In Japan, raw nori 生海苔 can be had as a seasonal item (I think it is in winter and early spring). I only remember that we had this a few times--it is not a very common item even in Japan. One of the famous dishes made from raw nori is "Tsukuda-ni"  海苔の佃煮. I do remember one commercial product called "Edo-murasaki" 江戸むらさき which came in a glass jar. It is very salty and had an almost chemical taste to me and I did not like it then. It has been a very popular condiment (for breakfast) and goes well with a white rice.

When I made a nori wrapped cod roe omelet, I had excess nori sheets and made this instant "Nori Tsukudani". I read this recipe a long time ago in one of the drinking snack cook books and made it once or twice in the past but until now, I completely forgot about this dish.
Here is what it looks like (below left) and it is very simple to make. I just tore a dried nori sheet into small pieces (by hand) and place the pieces in a frying pan. I then added enough sake that the nori just absorbed the moisture and became "slushy". I kept stirring the mixture with a pair of cooking chop sticks on low heat (left image). When the nori became a loose paste, I added soy sauce in stages as I tasted to monitor the saltiness and kept cooking until a nice paste-like consistency was reached (image below left).
I first served this as an accompaniment for sake. You just lick a small amount of this stuff on the tips of chopsticks as you sip sake. My wife thought this was a bit too salty to eat alone and suggested I use it to top boiled potatoes. I thought this was a good idea. 

I quickly microwaved  small red potatoes and added pats of butter when it was hot. As the butter was melting (above right), I topped it with my instant nori tsukudani.

To eat the dish we smashed the potatoes and mixed in the nori. This was a very good comforting dish, although this was the first time I made this and tasted it.

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