Monday, May 29, 2006

Konnyaku Day!

Jason of Pursuing my passions kindly invited me to join a blog event, “Konnyaku Day” which falls onto May 29th. To celebrate this day and bring the lovely gray food into the spotlight, participants post about konnyaku dish on his/her own blog and send URL to Jason so that he can do a roundup. OK. Here’s my konnyaku post ;)

If you are not familiar with konnyaku, wikipedia tells you what it is. It certainly is considered as a diet food today, but when I was a child, it was known for a different health benefit; it was said to prevent urethral calculus. I heard this from our elementary school teacher, and I’ve met several people who said, “Oh, yeah! I’ve heard of that, too!” And none of them knew why and how konnyaku could prevent that disease. I don’t, either. :P

BTW, I wonder how many of the participants decided to join this Konnyaku Day event because they really love this gelatinous food. To be honest, I have never been too crazy about konnyaku. Yes, there were a couple of times that I truly enjoyed delicate and tasty sashimi konnyaku from Kyoto or somewhere. But usually I don’t feel so happy when I find that gray stuff in simmered dishes. Nevertheless, I always include konnyaku in the ingredients when I make oden (Japanese hotchpotch) for a particular reason that I mentioned in my previous post.

Now, for this post, I chose something I have heard of but never tried making before.

Konnyaku no miso ni (konnyaku simmered with miso)

Here's the recipe.

Konnyaku no miso ni
1 block konnyaku
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp miso
1 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp mirin (rice wine)
2 tsp soy sauce
40 mL dashi stock
1 Tbsp roasted white sesame seeds
A little ginger juice – optional
Some salt

Sprinkle salt over konnyaku block and pound with a pestle or a rolling pin.* Wash and tear konnyaku into small chunks.** Put them in a saucepan, add water just to cover them, heat and bring to boil. Drain. In a pot (or a frying pan), heat vegetable oil. Add konnyaku chunks and fry for a few minutes. Add miso and heat until the miso is browned and gives out good aroma. Add sake, sugar, mirin, soy sauce and dashi stock. Simmer until the soup is thickened, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat to high and coat konnyaku with miso glaze, shaking the pot. (Add ginger juice, if desired.) Transfer to plate and sprinkle with roasted white sesame seeds.

* I didn’t know this until recently, but this preparation is supposed to let excess water ooze out and make konnyaku suitable for simmering.

** Torn konnyaku chunks have ragged surface which allows better absorption of liquid seasonings.

I came up with this recipe after combining a couple of recipes and adding my own twists, but still I was not totally happy with the taste. It will taste a lot differently if I use a different type of miso.

These are sashimi konnyaku blocks that are meant to be sliced and eaten raw like sashimi (sliced raw fish). They say this type of konnyaku contains more water and less calcium hydroxide. Sashimi konnyaku is often flavored with things like green laver or yuzu citrus. (Like so many other food products here in Kochi, deep sea water is added to these sashimi konnyaku in the photo.)

Sashimi Konnyaku --- Green Laver(Aonori) and Yuzu flavor

Some people eat sashimi konnyaku with wasabi and soy sauce just like they eat sashimi, but for me sumiso (miso-vinegar dressing) is “the must.”

The way sumiso brings out the flavor of green laver or yuzu is so delightful and refreshing, and it is something particularly enjoyable on a hot summer day. I guess you could make the same kind of food out of gelatin, but I would definitely prefer the firmer and somewhat chewy texture of sashimi konnyaku in order to fully appreciate this very wafoo (Japanese-style) combination of flavors.

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Anonymous said...

A very interesting post, obachan. I like your blog cos it tells us why japanese people like or eat the food they do. It's fascinating, thank you!! - May

purplecupcake said...

I love konnyaku. My mother uses it in soups. I think I wanna try out your recipe..thanks.

Kristi said...


That looks delicious. I'm gonna try your recipe next time.

Anonymous said...

Wow, now I'm immensely jealous. I wish I could find yuzu or other flavored konnyaku where I live!

obachan said...

Oh, thank you. I’m glad that you are enjoying my blog that way. :)

Yeah, konnyaku must be nice in soups. For some reason my mom is not too crazy about konnyaku in soup, but I love konnyaku in kasu-jiru (Japanese soup seasoned with sake lees).

Thanks. I guess the taste of this dish would be very different depending on the taste of miso you use, so you might need to make major adjustments. Hope you enjoy this dish.

I wish I could make an attachment file of our sashimi konnyaku and email it to you!

obachan said...

Thanks Melissa!

Anonymous said...

I always serve konnyaku sashimi to vegetarians, they are usually suprised! I have a block of yuzu miso konnyaku in the fridge that I bought in Nagano last month ...