These are two typical dishes I used to eat in Izakaya (Japanese pub/reastaurants) when I lived in Japan. Excellent as nibbles to wash down with decent Japanese beer! Now that I’ve mastered the mandoline I thought I’d try my hand at renkon chips. Renkon is usually translated as Lotus Root but it is actually a rhizome. Either way it tastes good and is an incredibly versatile food and it looks fantastic too! Tofu is generally thought of as a health food and even deep fried I think it’s still probably quite healthy and it tastes great with spring onions and soy sauce. In summer I wouldn’t bother deep frying it but just eat it as it is with soy sauce and spring onions but in winter it’s nicer cooked and warm! These hardly count as recipes but I thought that it was worth posting as guidance if nothing else.
1 smallish lotus rhizome
– Heat up the deep fat frier.
– Slice the renkon finely on a mandoline and blot dry with kitchen paper.
– Scatter into the basket of the deep fat frier, don’t try to do them all at once cook them in batches.
– Deep fry for 2-3 minutes then tip onto kitchen paper to drain while you cook the rest.
– Return them all to the deep fat frier for a further 1-2 minutes. Watch VERY CAREFULLY as it only takes a short amount of time for them to burn as mine started to do.
– Again place on kitchen paper to dry then serve hot with a pinch of salt sprinkled over.
Deep Fried Tofu
1 or 2 spring onions, chopped
– Cut the tofu into chunks and heat the deep fat frier.
– Scatter the tofu into the basket and deep fry for about 3-5 minutes until golden on the outside.
– Drain on kitchen paper then serve scattered with spring onions with soy sauce.
I love Japanese food and I enjoy cooking it now and again. The rest of my family aren’t quite so enamoured of it I’m afraid. I think they find it rather bland and boring but I love the simplicity of it and how the ingredients are allowed to speak for themselves rather than being overwhelmed by seasoning and sauces. Tonight I made Nabe with Renkon Chips and Deep Fried Tofu.
Nabe, or Nabemono, is essentially a one pot stew, traditionally cooked at the table in a particulat dish, the nabe, but I did it on the stove in a large casserole dish. You don’t have to stick to this recipe in the least, just adapt to what you have in stock. Shitake mushrooms make an excellent addition. The dashi and konbu and renkon (the dashi is a powder that you add to water to make dashi stock, the konbu is dried seaweed and renkon is lotus root) are the only speciality ingredients and you can get them at any decent chinese supermarket or japancentre.com have all three in stock at the minute . I actually got my konbu in Sainsburys originally.
2 sachets dashi powder
1 strip konbu, wiped with a damp cloth
3 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
1/4 head white cabbage, cut into thin strips
1 small tin water chestnuts
a small handful of thinly sliced lotus root
1 leek, chopped
1/2 a block silken tofu, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
– Add the dashi powder and konbu to a large pot of boiling water.
– Bring to the boil and add the chicken breast.
– After 5 minutes add the carrot, cabbage, water chestnuts and lotus root to the pot.
– After 20 minutes add the leek and tofu.
– Continue to heat until all of the vegetables are cooked, about another 5 minutes.
– Sprinkle the spring onion on top before serving.
When varying the contents adjust when you add things dependent on how long they take to cook: meat, root veg, soft veg and take care with the size of your chunks.