Try a Kinpira Style for Adding Vegetables to Your Menu
Ever heard of kinpira style cooking? It is a Japanese method of sauteing and then simmering foods that need a little bit more cooking, such as carrot, or burdock root. It is used so that the vegetables are cooked in a minimum amount of water or sauce so that the vitamins in the food are not thrown away with the cooking water. It is often used in carrot, seaweed, and some of the more exotic produce that is included in sushi rolls, to introduce flavor into what would otherwise be a bland preparation, but again, is meant to retain nutritional value. Vegetables are cut into matchstick portions, stir fried in a little oil, seasoned with pepper or red pepper flakes, nigella seeds, or sesame oil and sesame seeds, and then cooked the rest of the way in a small amount of water, with soy sauce added at the end.
Burdock root, broccoli stalks, carrots, cabbage ribs and stalk, celery, daikon radish, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, peppers, kohlrabi, lotus root, and Swiss chard stalks can all be cooked with this method, and made into a wondrous array of salads and side dishes, all of which complement Japanese food in particular, but Asian food in general. This method concentrates the flavors of the vegetables, cooks them until they are pleasantly soft, and full of umami, that is, the fifth flavor of food, savory.
While not Mediterranean in origin, this method offers another way of introducing more vegetable matter into a healthy diet. It certainly changes things up from what is typically served in the western world, and highlights the importance of vegetables and nutrition in an Asian diet. Kinpira style vegetables, particularly carrot and burdock root kinpira, are a common side dish in more authentic bento boxes.
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