April 18, 2017

Removing Aku (Harshness) from Warabi (Bracken Fern)/蕨(わらび、ワラビ)の灰汁(あく)抜き

While talking with my parents about warabi (young shoots of bracken fern), I realized that they did not know a proper way to remove aku from warabi. They said they boiled warabi in a pot of water plus baking soda for some time.
Well, recipes for removing aku (harshess) from warabi vary. Some recipes do say to boil warabi, but only for ten to twenty seconds. I, for one, do not boil warabi. I made a mistake of boiling warabi for aku removal once, and the warabi ended up being pulpy, losing all of its flavor.

Here are the warabi my father picked up today from two places.
Much shorter and thinner than the ones I used to pick up in the Snow Country.

0. Wash warabi.
1. Bring water (about 2 liters in the photo) to a boil. Turn off the heat.
2. Add 1-2 tsp baking soda per liter water.
3. Add warabi and leave them overnight.
0. ワラビを洗う。
1. お湯を沸かし(写真では2リットル程度)、火を止める。
2. 重曹をお湯1ℓにつき小さじ1、2杯入れる。
3. ワラビを入れ、一晩置く。

Last night:
This morning:
4. Rinse with several changes of water.
4. 水を何回か換えて、洗う。
My parents like to have them with mayonnaise.
I am no big fan of warabi. Besides, the warabi here in Chiba cannot be compared with the ones in the Snow Country.


Sissi said...

I have never tasted warabi.... though I know this plants grows here too because I once stumbled on internet upon an association of Korean (Swiss residents) who, among other activities, organised a trip to the forest to pick warabi!
You have reminded me of warabi mochi... It's the only Japanese dessert I'm crazy for, especially with matcha powder. It's so astringent and I love the texture... but I also like the soybean flour traditional version.
Though I think that nowadays it's rare to use the real warabi flour to make it....

Hiroyuki said...

Sissi: Warabi is a spring delicacy, and just like fukinoto, seri, and other sansai, you'd feel you are missing something if you didn't have the delicacy once or twice when it's in season.

My father says he likes warabi mochi, and I will make some warabi mochi soon, using kakakuriko (potato starch). Real warabi ko (flour) can cost 1,500 yen or higher per 100 g, and it's gray not white.