Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Monday, January 25, 2016



Simmered foods, one of the basic cooking techniques in Japan. 煮物.

Simmered food is part of every meal except breakfast. It is the principal way of serving vegetables and also one of the popular ways for serving fish. The ingredients are simmered in stock over a long period of time, until the liquid has been absorbed by the ingredients or evaporated. The stock used is a general dashi plus soy sauce, and it can be further flavored with sake, mirin, sugar and other condiments.

[Tai no kabutoni - Simmered head of sea bream]

The simmering is done in a pan with straight sides. A wooden drop-lid called otoshibuta is used in order to spread the heat evenly throughout the ingredients during the simmering process.

Before simmering, there is often a preliminary step in the form of parboiling (blanching), which is done in water.

Depending on the seasoning used, the sort of flavored stock, various types of simmering are recognized. Some important ones are:
    • Misoni, also misodaki: fish, but sometimes vegetables, simmered in a mixture of miso and dashi, with soy sauce and freshly chopped ginger. Masks the fishy smell of mackerel and other fish.
    • Nitsuke: A mixture of sake, mirin (or sugar) and soy sauce. Also called "sake simmered." Mainly used for simmering fish. 
    • Shigureni: simmered in dashi heavily seasoned with soy sauce. 
    • Karani: simmered in sake and soy sauce.
    As dashi, top restaurants use ichiban dashi, but at home often niban dashi or even instant dashi is used. Seasonings are added to the stock in the following order: sake, mirin (or sugar), salt, soy sauce, miso.

    Here are some examples from the huge repertory of simmered dishes:
    • Saba no misoni: simmered mackerel in miso.
    • Nishin no nitsuke: sake-simmered herring.
    • Buri daikon: simmered yelowtail and rettich.
    • Furofuki daikon: rettich with white miso sauce.
    • Buta no kakuni: braised pork.
    • Satoimo no nimono: simmered taro.
    • Kabocha no nimono: simmered pumpkin.
    • Nikujaga: braised meat and potatoes.
    • Oden.