The cherry blossom this year lasted just one week. With rain and cool seasonal weather and some wind, by Saturday, our deck and backyard were carpeted with cherry blossom petals.
My wife took these pictures.
Here is one more dish which may be good for hanami. I wonder why Japanese are into Burdock or gobou 牛蒡, which is not one of the best looking or best tasting root vegetables. I have to admit, though, it has a nice uniquely nutty flavor and pleasing texture. I am guilty of posting few burdock dishes.
Gobou: I used half of the gobou root. The way I prepare gobou (for this dish and Kinpira) is shown below. Gobou is very slender and long (3-3.5 feet) and a bit unwieldy. So, I cut gobou in 10 inch segments (#1). Under running water, I scraped off the dark skin using the back of my “nakiri” knife 菜切り包丁 or vegetable cleaver. Then I sliced it rather thinly on a slant and lined them up overlapping (#2). Depending on if you are right or left handed, the direction of layering had to be changed.
While I was holding (with pressure) the burdock slices at the 1 inch or so on the left side of the blade (since the slices are properly layered, the portion the knife was cutting would stay put. When the knife blade came very close to my fingers holding the slices of burdock, I stopped and moved my fingers to one inch further to the left and continues (#3, I did not have a photographer – my wife- available, so I could not take a picture in action). The julienned burdock was promptly soaked in acidulated water (#4). I soaked it or 5-10 minutes and washed it in cold running water and drained.
Carrot: I sliced and julienned carrot similar to the way I prepared burdock (1 small).
First dressing: I cooked burdock and carrot in salted boiling water with a dash of rice vinegar for 3-4 minutes. I then drained and mixed in the first dressing while it was hot (to add “shita-aji” 下味 or base flavor) consisting of rice vinegar (1 tbs), olive oil (1.5 tbs) seasoned with salt and pepper. I let it cool in the dressing to room temperature.
Meanwhile I prepared the pork and cucumber.
Actually, we were having this with an excellent and very unusual red from Douro, Portugal called Quinta Do Crasto 2009. The grapes used in this wine are supposedly from 70 year old low yielding vines of many different grape varietals. WA gave 94 and WE 93. It is difficult to describe this wine but it is the likes of Orin Swift approach of everything but kitchen sink. I don’t know how they can manage “field” selection of “20-30 different grapes” to come up with this well balanced red.