December 30, 2009

Yatsugashira and Renkon Dishes as Osechi/御節(おせち)としての八頭とレンコンの料理

Yatsugashira (lit. eight heads) is a type of taro, and is often used as part of osechi ryori (or simply osechi).

I first peeled the yatsugashira, cut them into manageable sizes, and put them in a bowl of water with some vinegar in it to prevent discoloration. While so doing, I occasionally put my hands in the vinegar water to prevent them from getting itchy from the calcium oxalate contained in the yatsugashira. (Even so, my hands got itchy after I peeled them, and I put some vinegar on my hands, but the itchiness remained for an hour or so.) Other types of taro and yamaimo (yams) also contain this substance, and will cause itchiness to your hands. To avoid this from happening, you are recommended to boil the taro before peeling; heat them in a microwave before peeling; wear rubber gloves while peeling; or take other appropriate measures.
I then put them in a pot of water and some vinegar, brought them to a boil, simmered for 2-3 minutes, and drained the water. This process (boiling and then draining the water) is called yudekoboshi (< yudekobosu (verb)). The purpose of yudekoboshi for yatsugashira (and other types of taro) is to remove sliminess and aku (harshness). I usually omit this process when I make satoimono nikkorogashi, because I like the sliminess.
Then, I put water to cover half the height of the yatsugashira, and brought to a boil again, added 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of instant dashi, and put the lid on. Five minutes later, I added some soy sauce. I continued to simmer for 15-20 min. with the lid on, until tender.

Renkon (lotus root) is another ingredient often used in osechi ryori.

I cut the renkon into thin slices, and put them in a bowl of water with some vinegar to prevent discoloration. I drained and fried them in oil (sesame seed oil, this time), and added 30 ml soy sauce and 30 ml mirin. I kept simmering, with the lid on, until done.
Note that for osechi, renkon is usually seasoned with vinegar, not fried.

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