麻辣凉拌笋子 [Spicy Bamboo Shoot Salad]


Spring in Kyoto is not only about sakura, but also the delicious spring vegetables. Bamboo shoot is considered as one of the local products/vegetables from Kyoto and it is now in season. We have received five batches of bamboo shoot so far, and expecting more to come in following weeks.  We were invited to the bamboo farm for the harvest last year, looking forward to this year's outing.

For the last three years we lived here, we always received home-grown rice, vegetables and fruits of season. It is really a privilege of living in a small town surrounded by mother of nature and friendly people,  I am loving this neighborhood more now.

Now, talk about bamboo shoot. Chinese and Japanese both love to eat bamboo shoot, but I found that Japanese is more passioned in this unique ingredient and use it in many dishes. I remember when I was little, we only eat bamboo shoot during Chinese New year. Japanese prepared bamboo shoot in many ways, including this bamboo shoot condiment called "menma" (麺麻/麺碼 ) that is commonly used as topping for ramen.

Fresh bamboo shoot has to be boiled before turning into delicious dishes, here is how I prepared my bamboo shoot Japanese way. Kind ojicyan even included a pack of ground rice hulls when he brought us some bamboo shoots. Oh yes, the good news is you do not have to peel the bamboo shoot layer by layer. Fast and saving space in the rubbish bin too.


How to prepare fresh bamboo shoot:
  1. Peel the bamboo shoot as shown in the picture above.
  2. Put it in a pot, fill in enough water to submerge the bamboo shoot. Fill a tea bag with 2 tablespoons ground rice hulls and drop into the pot. If you do not have it, use the water from washing the rice.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour. Turn the heat off and let it stay in the pot for another 30 minutes.
  4. Remove water, rinse and ready to eat.
  5. To store:Put boiled bamboo shoot in a container, fill with enough water to submerge it and keep in the refrigerator. It can be kept in the refrigerator for a week, but need to change the water daily.
I have prepared this sort-of salad dish twice, hubby and friends loved it. My Japanese friends simply called it "kimchi" as it looks like one to them. Stuff mix with chili is often referred to as kimchi. I corrected them a few times, it is Chinese style "salad", or similar to Japanese “あえ物” but did not insisted. Most important, everyone enjoyed it.

Ingredients (2-3 servings):
200 g boiled bamboo shoot
2-3 prigs coriander
2-3 tbsp seasoned chili oil (调味入麻辣油)
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt to taste

  1. Submerge bamboo shoot in iced water for about 10 minutes, pat dry with paper towel then cut into thin slices.
  2. Cut coriander into 2-3 cm in length.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Add extra salt to adjust the taste if necessary. Mix well.
  4. Transfer to serving plate and serve immediately.

* * * * *

Here, few photos of Sakura 2015 I took last month. This year, the whole week of sakura season in our area was hit by bad weather days. Cloudy, and rainy.In fact, I had to bring our laundry to coin laundry three times in a week to use the dryer there.





Pumpkin Dumpling (かぼちゃ団子)

Pumpkin Dango 

Japanese love to eat pumpkin not only for its nutrition but also to add colour to dishes, especially in the bento. A small cut of pumpkin in bento can really have the brighten up effect and make it looks more appealing. Hence, pumpkin is available on the shelves all year round. This time, I added pumpkin in traditional Japanese sweet called shirotama dango (白玉団子). Shirotama (literally means white ball), original version is white in colour (plain) but green tea (matcha) flavour is also popular.

Dango (dumpling) is often served with sweet red bean paste, brown sugar syrup, and kinako (soy bean powder). It is delicious too, to serve it western way with icecream (eg: parfait). My elder son loves them all, but younger boy votes for western sweet. 

Ingredients (3-4 servings):
100 g pumpkin (without peel and seed)
100 g glutinous rice flour (I used Japanese type)
Warm water

4-5 tbsp Sweet red bean
Kinako (optional)
Green to garnish

  1. Steam and mash the pumpkin.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together mash pumpkin and glutinous rice flour. Add in warm water slowly to form pliable soft dough.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, divide and shape dough into small balls.
  4. Drop dumplings into boiling water, once they are floated remove and put them in a bowl of iced water.
  5. Drain well. Arrange a few dumplings on a serving plate, serve with a heap tablespoon of sweet red bean. 

*  *  *  *  *

Next, sharing few photos of Mount Hiei (比叡山) covering in snow I took during Japanese new year holiday.  We went there by public transports, train + bus + cable car. Boys were excited to see such thick snow, it was our main purpose there actually. 




Star covered in snow


Fried Squid II [Beer's Companion]

Fried Squid 

Fried Squid's Tentacles or イカのげそ揚げ (Ika-no-geso-age) is one of the popular side dishes offered at many Izakaya (居酒屋), it goes very well with a glass of cold beer. In Japan, squid tentacles and body is often served in different way unlike in Malaysia, the whole squid is cooked/served together in one dish. 

Not only squid, chicken is also sold by properly prepared parts and deboned except for the wings. It is hard to find the whole chicken, whole legs and drumsticks with bone in the supermarket except during Christmas season. Hence, my boys always excited whenever they find the drumlets/drumstick with bone on.

Back to squid, tentacles are often served at Izakaya or restaurants in two major ways - fried or grilled with salt. Yes, both are good for drinkers but non-drinkers like my boys and I love geso too. Here is my replicated izakaya-style geso-age, be warned, it is addictive!

Fried Squid's Tentacles [Print Recipe]

Ingredients (2-3 serves):

  • 200 g squid tentacles
  • 3-4 tbsp katakuriko
  • Oil for deep-frying
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp syoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tbsp sake
  • 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • A pinch of sugar
  • A pinch of black pepper

  1. Cut squid tentacles into halves if too long, marinate for 30 minutes. 
  2. Use a sieve, drain all the liquid. Then, coat with katakuriko evenly. 
  3. Heat oil, add in sesame oil and fry squid till golden brown.
  4. Drain and serve immediately with mayonnaise or a wedge of lemon at the side. 


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