Saturday, May 18, 2013

Donabe "Wakatake-ni"...Classic Simmered Bamboo Shoot

Pre-cooked packaged bamboo shoots are available all year round. But, they are nothing compared to freshly-foraged bamboo shoots, which are only available in the short window of the spring time.

So, now is the time...with Penryn Orchard's bamboo shoots...fresh from their farm in California.

 photo file_zps4a26f80e.jpg  photo file_zps19e14fc6.jpg
I decided to make "Wakatake-ni", which is an extremely classic bamboo shoot dish. To best showcase the fresh and pure flavor of bamboo shoot, making the rich pure broth is extremely crucial. So, I shaved a generous amount of my special "honkare-bushi" dry bonito to make dashi stock. It was the end of this piece, so shaving a little piece was quite tough and time consuming (because you don't want to shave off your skin!). At the end, instead of cutting my finger with the bonito shaver's blade, I had a small blister in my finger and a part of skin peeled. I've been through so many dry bonito pieces over years and it happens every time I deal with a last leftover piece. But, it's worth it.

Once you make nice dashi stock. Making "Wakatake-ni" is very easy.

 photo file_zpsb5f5d88c.jpg  photo file_zps55a648a8.jpg
Combine the ingredients for the broth with cut bamboo shoot (and abura-age). Simmer with additional shaved bonito flakes ("katsuobushi"). This process is called "Oi-gatsuo", or literal translation is "chasing with more bonito". When cooking ingredients with very clean or less strong flavor, dashi stock is further fortified with additional bonito flakes for more umami flavors and most importantly for the aroma. I used a large tea bag and put freshly-shaved bonito flakes to infuse in the broth.

 photo file_zpsf25e4486.jpg
Once the bamboo is simmered and seasoned long enough, "katsuobushi" bag is removed and wakame seaweed is added to finish.

 photo file_zpsc1cb4434.jpg
The simple and classic "Wakatake-ni" is ready. Traditionally, the dish is garnished with "kinome" leaves, but it's hard to find them in Los Angeles. So, no garnish:-)

For this dish, I used a mini-size classic-style donabe, "Yu Kizeto". Here's my recipe.

Simmered Bamboo Shoot in Dashi Broth ("Wakatake-ni")

8 oz (240 g) bamboo shoot, cut into smaller pieces
1 rectangular piece fried tofu pouch ("abura-age") blanched and cut into strips
1 3/4 cups (420 ml) dashi stock
1 tablespoon sake
1/2 tablespoon raw brown sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon light color soy sauce ("usukuchi shoyu")
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/6 oz (5 g) dry bonito flakes ("katsuobushi")
2 oz (60 g) fresh wakame seaweed, cut into bite-size pieces (or you can use rehydrated dry wakame)

  1. In the donabe, combine the bamboo shoot, "abura-age", dashi stock, sake, sugar, and mirin. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the soy sauce and salt. Put "katsuobushi" in a sachet and add. Put a drop lid ("otoshibuta") on the surface, cover with lid, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the sachet of "katsuobushi". Add the wakame seaweed. Simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15-30 minutes. You can enjoy it at a hot, warm or cool temperatures. 
Happy donabe life.