Simmered Daikon with citrus miso ふろふき大根柚子味噌かけ
Kelp condiment 昆布の佃煮
This is another classic Izakaya food especially in winter. Since it is getting cooler, I made this classic Daikon dish. (Mark’s book has a similar dish with pork Miso sauce, p20). I made this with a more classic citrus flavored miso sauce. It is best to use ripe yellow “yuzu” citrus, but I used a combination of lemon and lime zest. The quality of daikon we can get here is not great. It tends to be more fibrous than good quality daikon in Japan.
Again, preparation for this dish requires some work. Peel the daikon and cut the peeled daikon into 1 inch or so thick rounds. Shave off or bevel the sharp edge of the round 面取り and make several shallow cross cuts 隠し包丁 on the side which will become the bottom when served. This is, I think, how I was taught by my mother and it appears to be authentic since similar steps are described in Mark’s book. Simmer the daikon in water with a pinch of uncooked rice grains or in the turbid rinsing liquid 米のとぎ汁 from washed uncooked rice, for 10-20 minutes. (I am not sure what this step does but it certainly removes some of the smell, common in cruciferous vegetables such as daikon.) Discard the water and rinse the daikon in cold running water, add a square of dried kelp 昆布 in the bottom of the pan (wipe the surface of the dried kelp with a dump paper towel before using to remove surface dirt) and add fresh water to cover the daikon. Simmer until daikon is soft (probably at least another 1-2 hours). You may want to pull out the kelp after 30-40 minutes if you like the daikon to be very white otherwise, the kelp will slightly discolor the diakon as you can see in our photo. Meanwhile, make the miso sauce. In a small pan mix together 1 tbs of white miso, 2 tsp of sugar. Add mirin and dashi (2 tsp each) (I use the simmering liquid instead of dashi since it is now a kelp broth). I eyeball everything and taste and adjust accordingly rather than measure the ingredients. Put the pan on a low flame, stir and reduce to a saucy consistency. Let it cool down a bit (5 minutes) and add citrus zest (Here, I used 80% lime and 20% lemon since I did not have yellow “yuzu”).
To plate, place the kelp square, put the diakon uncut side up on top of the kelp, top the daikon with the miso sauce. Serve while the daikon is hot. The daikon should be soft enough so that it can be cut using chopsticks (may require some chopstick skill).
The sake glass shown in the picture is part of a “husband and wife” めおと set. The “husband” glass is blue and “wife” glass is red. These are hand-cut crystal by Hoya. The chopstick pillow 箸置き is Hagi-ware 萩焼 which is shaped like a sand dab. We purchased this when we visited one of the numerous Hagi kilns in the city of Hagi. The chopsticks are, again, part of “husband and wife” set and, I believe, are Wakasa-nuri 若狭塗り which were a gift.
Kelp condiment 昆布の佃煮
The kelp used to cook the daikon can be transformed into a condiment “tsukudani” 昆布の佃煮 which goes very well with sake or white rice. Julienne the left-over kelp, simmer with soy sauce and mirin and sake (the proportion is again up to you depending on your taste) until only small amount of liquid remains. Add shaved and dried bonito flakes 鰹節, stir until incorporated. Final product should not have any excess liquid. The above is the one I made after I finished making this diakon dish. This one is not as salty as some of commercial “tsukudani” and go well with Sake as is.