Skip to main content

Side Effects of Umeboshi: Furikake














While this year's batch of umeboshi are dried and stored, I'm still working away at the shiso leaves. What I didn't know last year was that the red shiso (aka shiso in Japanese a.k.a. perilla) leaves that stew along with the ume (Japanese plums) also have a use. I knew the vinegar leavings made excellent quick pickles (daikon for sure and at the moment I'm experimenting with a few thin slices of zucchini since now is not daikon's time), but the leaves were a mystery. I kept them for a bit, but then added them to the compost heap with feelings of regret. It didn't seem logical that this great salted edible should have no purpose, but I couldn't find information any where.

What I learned upon visiting a farmer's market and talking with a vendor there selling ume jam and umeboshi (made by his mother and all organic) is that the leaves are indeed kept. Dried and then crushed they become furikake. Furikake, a garnish sprinkled on rice, comes in a wide variety of shapes and flavors, but an umeshiso one seems pretty common given what I see on supermarket shelves.

Setting the leaves to dry is not necessarily difficult but it is mildly tedious. The leaves, of course, are wilted and wet. This makes them a little difficult to unfold and spread on the zaru (round basket) for drying. Invariably some tear or remain in clumps. As I've mentioned before I'm a bit lazy, so I let the really difficult ones remain clumpy. I'm going to eat them anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

The first round I left to dry as long as the plums, which was about four days. A heat wave blasted the city during that time, which helped the process along rather nicely. It's cooler today, but the second round seems to be coming along just as nicely. Once I'm satisfied with their level of 'crispiness' I'll hand shred the leaves, cut up the stems and put them in an airtight jar. For now I'm keeping it in the refrigerator since a bout with food poisoning last year still has me paranoid. I imagine as dried and salty as they are they would be just fine in an airtight jar on the counter, too.

The flavor, by the way, is amazing. Tart, salty, and a little sweet with that zing that only shiso has I am pathetically happy with this experiment. So happy, in fact, that I may do a double batch next year!

Got a cool experiment in the kitchen that went well? Let's hear it!

Comments

Lindsay-Jean said…
This sounds so good!
It's crazy tasty, which I'm pleasantly surprised about. I thought it might be too salty at first, but I love it. Although this latest round does NOT love the typhoon weather and humidity. Not crispy any more, I'm afraid. We'll both just have to wait it out.

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