Cooking Challenge: Fuki (Japanese Butterbur) Aoni

Japanese Cooking: Fuki (Japanese butterbur) featured

Japanese Cooking: fresh fuki (Japanese butterbur)

How’s your week so far? This week started with a rainy day. Rainy season is coming up. Speaking of season, I got fresh fuki (Japanese butterbur) from a friend, which is now in season. Maybe I had one before but I haven’t tried cooking it. My friend gave me a rough instruction how to prepare it. So before I forget and waste it, I immediately took the challenge to cook it!

Here’s how it went.

Ingredients

– fuki (Japanese butterbur stalks)
– 1 cup of dashi (I made dashi from katsuoboshi (bonito flakes))
– 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon of mirin
– salt

Directions

*Aoni (青煮) is a Japanese method of cooking green vegetables without losing their color.

Boiling the Japanese Butterbur (Fuki)

1. Wash the Japanese butterbur and cut to a size that will fit in a pot. (I was told to use the stalks only since the leaves are already hard.)
2. Sprinkle some salt on it and rub by rolling over on a board. You’ll see more dirt coming off.
3. Boil water in a pot and throw in the Japanese butterbur with the salt, thicker ones first.
4. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then strain and soak in cold water.
6. Dry it clean and peel off the outer layer. (This will require time and patience. Since my nail isn’t that long, I used knife to make small cut at the edge.)
7. Once done, cut it into smaller size and set aside.

Preparing the Stock

Now let’s prepare the stock for marinating.

1. Mix the ingredients and pour into a pot.
2. Turn on the heat. Once it starts boiling immediately turn off the heat.
3. Pour the stock into the boiled Japanese butterbur while it’s still hot.
4. Let it cool down, marinate and it’s done!

japanese_cooking_fuki_closeup

I had it as it is. Crunchy with a tangy taste. You can add some bonito flakes on top, add it to miso soup, etc.

Ah! I think what I had before was celery not this Japanese butterbur, fuki. Maybe they have similar taste and smell? Maybe… I can’t really say for sure since I seldom have celery. Anyway, that’s my Japanese cooking challenge! Good thing, it didn’t go to waste. 🙂

And oh, I just happened to see Japanese butterbur plant nearby the road this morning. Now I can recognize you fuki when I see you. 🙂


Pre-cooking Bamboo Shoots For The First Time

Bamboo Shoots: Ready for pre-cooking

When you think of the words “bamboo” and “Japan”, what are the things you imagine first? I’d guess it would be “Kaguya-hime no Monogatari” (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya) or the famous bamboo forest in Sagano, Kyoto (usually featured on travel guide books).

In Japan, I often see bamboo trees (one reason probably because I live in the rural area). During spring, you can find raw bamboo shoots on display at supermarkets. Just the other day, I got one bag of bamboo shoots from work for free! At first I was hesitant to take it since it requires pre-cooking which can be a hassle. But I really like bamboo shoots plus it’s free, so I took the challenge.

I immediately checked on Cookpad website for a simple recipe on pre-cooking bamboo shoots.

Ingredients

– raw bamboo shoots
– water
– rice bran or water from rinsing rice
– dried chili pepper

In Japan, you can get rice bran for free at rice polishing stations.

How to Pre-cook Bamboo Shoots

Remove the outer layers.

Wash off the dirt and cut the tip in diagonal just like in the picture below. Cut through the outer layer to peel off easily. Make sure not to cut too deep.

Bamboo Shoots: Cut-off the tip
It will look like this.

Bamboo Shoots: Peeled off

Boil with rice bran for about 1 hour until tender.

Boil water in a pot and add the rice bran (kome-nuka in Japanese), chili and bamboo shoots.

Bamboo Shoots: Add rice bran

Bamboo Shoots: Add dried chili pepper

Cook for 1 hour or until it’s tender. I used pressure cooker for faster cooking (takes about 30 minutes). After boiling, turn off the heat and leave the bamboo shoots still in water until it’s cooled down.

Bamboo Shoots: Cooling down

Keep in a closed container with water.

Wash the bamboo shoots clean and keep in a closed container with water. Replace water once a day, although it’s best to consume it immediately.

Recipe suggestions

Now, we are done with pre-cooking. You can use this pre-cooked bamboo shoots in different recipes. I think the common recipe here in Japan for this is to cook with rice called “takenoko-gohan.” It is usually seasoned with soy sauce, rice wine and dashi. Another recipe would be tempura.

Bamboo Shoots: Tempura (deep-fried)

Deep-fried bamboo shoots and chicken

By the way, you can also have the tip of the bamboo shoots with just soy sauce. I did tried it and not bad at all. Have you tried eating bamboo shoots? How was it cooked or prepared? Did you like it? Share it to us!