Skip to main content

New Takenoko Recipe

We just returned from a quick weekend trip to Chiba with a small group of friends. Just north of Tokyo, the prefecture is known for both farming and surfing, and we were able to taste a bit of both this weekend. (This is the same place where we met the motorcycle-vegetable-delivering-grandmother last year.)

A lazy morning with coffee on the deck while birds and butterflies filled the air around us was followed by a pleasant bike ride along the river to the village and through valleys filled with rice fields and pear orchards. Everything seems to be in fruit, flower, and leafing out like mad. The rainy season must feel like heaven for these plants, and they show their pleasure in no uncertain terms of green.

And as we biked we came across a nice handful of vegetable stands offering up their seasonal wares of edamame, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and cucumbers. Vegetable otaku that I am I couldn't resist stopping to check each one out, and we therefore came away with quite a selection of treats for our evening festivities.

The surprise of the day, though, was takenoko. Coming to the end of it's season, a woman we met outside Ichinomiya's shrine had big, beautiful bags of the stalks. Wakatake, a slightly different variety than that that used to grow at the farm, these were smaller in circumference (about an inch or so) and about a foot long. Our hostess snapped them up and later that evening served them up as part of a fantastic round of appetizers.

Atsuko's Scrumptious Wakatake
1 kg wakatake
3 pkgs. Bonito flakes
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Dash of sake

Boil the bamboo shoots until they soften a bit. Atsuko did the roots first for a bit and then tipped the whole shoot over in the pan to ensure cooking consistency. Drain and chop into one centimeter pieces. Toss in a bowl with bonito flakes, soy sauce, and sake, and serve.


Anjuli said…
Your description of the day sounded wonderful. I used to live in Chiba-ken- but in the more 'developed' part (Urayasu-shi...right near Tokyo Disneyland).
Oh I'm hungry looking at the picture of the delicious Takenoko!
You'll just have to come back for a visit, Anjuli! ;)

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro