Buri-zanmai: Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)

Buri-zanmai Series: Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish) ぶり大根

Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)

Buri-zanmai Series (Part 2): Winter is the time for buri, or yellowtail. The meat is laden with oil and rich flavor. Here we make a classic, Buri Daikon.

Buri-daikon
is a much loved winter dish in Japan. It combines chopped yellowtail (buri) heads with daikon radish and ginger, slowly simmered in water, sugar, sake and shoyu. Simmering the buri heads produces an unbelievably gelatinous saucy dashi. Everything is covered in this delectable sauce and the chunks of slow simmered buri meat that is teased away from the bone is creamy soft and sweet and the daikon is impregnated through-and-through with buri-dashi.

About Buri-daikon
Actually, this dish isn’t gross. There is lots of meat in there and it is very tender and tasty. It is a lot of fun to make, serve and eat. This dish could be the life of a foodie dinner party. If you can obtain buri head and yuzu, definitely give this dish a try. This dish might change how you think about food.

Buri-no-ara (chunks of yellowtail head), like tai-no-ara (chunks of red snapper head) is popular among Japanese for simmering in sweetened sake-shoyu broth. We procure ours down at Nishiki Market. Hon-buri (wild yellowtail) is the real deal.

The density and rich taste of the gelatin produced from the fish heads is astounding.

This is a classic Japanese dish, a few seasonal and fresh ingredients are combined in a novel way producing a juxtaposition of flavors for not just the palette, but the eyes too. Even the mind!

You’ve got to try this dish!

Ingredients:

  • buri (yellowtail) heads chopped into large chunks. About two heads, one head should yield 6 to 8 chunks. (Similar large fish head may be substituted. Salmon will work too. Consult your fish monger.)
  • daikon radish (big one)
  • shoga (ginger)
  • sugar 3 tablespoons
  • sake 1 cup
  • mirin 3 tablespoons
  • shoyu (soy sauce) 1/2 – 3/4 cup
  • yuzu

*As with all home cooking recipes here on KyotoFoodie, we trust that our readers are fellow foodies and will be able to ‘wing’ the recipe and even alter and improve it.

Preparation:
Buri: If you cannot obtain buri-no-ara you can easily chop the some yellowtail heads yourself, or better yet, ask your fish monger to do it for you. It does take a great, big knife! *BE CAREFUL!!*

Scald: Take the chunks and give them a good rinsing down in a colander then pour on a large pot of boiled water. In Japan, where fish is usually extremely fresh, buri-no-ara sometimes isn’t quite as fresh, so this scalding washes away any yucky bits and fishiness.

Veggies: This is all going to be simmered for an hour or so, at least. So the daikon and ginger have to hold up to a lot of cooking, so chop the pieces accordingly. The ginger should be about 5mm thick and the daikon about 3cm.

Simmer: Places the scalded buri-no-ara chunks, daikon slices and chopped ginger in a large pot, cover with water and begin to heat. Bring to a brisk boil and after 15 minutes reduce to simmer and add sugar, mirin and sake.

Cover and gently simmer for about 45 minutes. If you have a otoshibuta (wooden cover/weight) as seen in the photo below, place that over the ingredients to keep them covered in the soup.

Add the shoyu. Shoyu varies in strength and thickness. Adjust amount accordingly and to your taste.

After adding shoyu, cook for approximately 15 minutes more. Test daikon to be sure that it is cooked thoroughly. This can be done by piercing with a chopstick or slicing open with a knife.

Again, you are all foodies, so cook according to your taste and judgment.

Note: ‘Modern vs. Traditional’
Peko says that Japanese cook vegetables ‘to death’ and thinks that in this recipe the center half of daikon chunks should be cook thoroughly, but not yet be impregnated with dashi. The outer half is well steeped in shoyu-based dashi (brown), yet the center is still ‘daikon‘ (white). Paku now says that she agrees that this is also really good, but she had to be convinced. Japanese love daikon to have completely absorbed the dashi stock, like a sponge. Daikon also releases it’s own juices that further flavor dashi. The more you cook, the more daikon flavor into the dashi. You decide and tell us what you think!

Serving: Another Dilema Cold or Hot?
Like any stewed dish, buri-daikon tastes even better the next day. You may want to make this dish the day before you are going to serve it.

Buri-daikon can be served cold or hot. At about room temperature though the dashi-sauce ‘melts’ loosing it’s wonderful gelatinous quality. Served hot or warm, the dashi is a wonderful soup. Served a bit cold, or just below room temperature, it is thick and jelly-like. We both like the thick gelatinous quality of the dashi-sauce, but if it is served too cold, the full flavor of the fish doesn’t come out. Kyoto houses are cold and we are on celicius here, but in the US probably about 55-60° F might be about right.
This recipe yields leftovers so you can surely try both.

When we have cooked this dish for guests, we prepare it the day before and let it sit in a unheated room in the house until about an hour or two before serving. Then, bring it into the kitchen to take the chill off. (Don’t set it on the stove though if you are cooking other dishes as the radiant heat may completely melt the dashi.)

Add the yuzu peel and serve (see photo below). Lemon zest is a fine substitute. Peko likes to add some yuzu peel to the broth AFTER it has cooled down and let it ‘stew’ with the ingredients then add some fresh peel to garnish when serving. Lemon peel is probably too bitter to add to the broth.

Enjoy!
Buri-no-ara (roughly chopped yellowtail heads)
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
Start with chopped yellowtail heads (buri-no-ara), we procure ours down at Nishiki Market. Hon-buri (wild yellowtail) is the real deal.

Step 1: Pour on Boiled Water
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
Pour boiled water over the buri-no-ara.

Step 1: Pour on Boiled Water
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
This step washes away the clots of blood and any other yucky stuff.

Step 2: Simmer
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
Place buri-no-ara in a large pot with water and add rough sliced ginger and hit the gas.

Step 2: Simmer
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
Peel and cut the daikon radish into large pieces.

Step 2: Simmer
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
After the buri has started to boil, reduce heat a bit and add the daikon radish.

Step 2: Simmer
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
After the daikon radish has begun to cook and soften-up add sugar.

Step 2: Simmer — The Wooden Cover DilemmaBuri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
Paku: “Need wooden cover to keep everything submerged in the broth.”
Peko: “Oh, come on! Just put the cover on the pot. It will cook down just fine. ”

Step 2: Simmer
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
Simmer 20 to 30 minutes. The water content of the daikon radish is drawn out and deepens and complexifies flavor for the broth.

Then, add the shoyu mixture (sorry, not photo from cooking process).

Step 3: Garnish and Serve
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
This is the gelatinous broth after cooling. It is jelly when cool.

Step 3: Garnish and Serve
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
If you can obtain yuzu, thinly slice the mildly flavored peel from the fruit.

*Actually, this photo is bad reference. There is too much white pith remaining. Slice it in narrower strips and a bit thinner. Unlike lemon peel, yuzu peel is very mild. If well cooked, the full thickness of the peel is fine, however we like it sprinkled on after being removed from the heat, so it is about half cooked, so you might prefer more thinly sliced yuzu peel.

Step 3: Garnish and Serve
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
The dashi has melted in this picture due to the bright lights.

Step 4: Eat and Enjoy!
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
This is a dish probably most efficiently enjoyed with chopsticks (o-hashi). The tender bits of sweet buri meat are gently removed, bit-by-bit and enjoyed with well stewed chucks of daikon radish. The ginger chucks are well cooked and can be eaten too.

Step 4: Eat and Enjoy!
Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)
There is actually much more meat here than you might expect! And very tasty!

We didn’t eat the skin and did remove the eyes from the cooked buri before serving. Large fish eyes are highly nutritious and enjoyed by some, mostly older Japanese. Paku and Peko love Japanese food, and some of the more challenging dishes, but we think that we will never eat fish eyes.

The cartilage (even the lips) is melted away into the broth — hence the gelatin. Yum! Super yummy, actually!

What do you think, foodies? Gross?

9 Responses to “Buri-zanmai: Buri Daikon (Fatty Yellowtail Head Simmered with Daikon Radish)”

  1. momo says:

    wow… I’m craving for fish now!
    I’m definitely going to have to try this recipe! … fish is so expensive lately though!! and yes I probably would do the same and remove the eyes haha!! but I do come from a fishing family- doing the traditional “eating-a-live-tuna-heart” :D!

  2. cakewardrobe says:

    I’m not a big fan of heads and eyeballs and such but this dish looks so delicate. I’d try the recipe – maybe with another part :)

  3. PekoPeko says:

    Hello Momo
    Tell us how this recipe goes! I am REALLY interested to see what some of our readers do with these recipes.
    You eat ‘live’ tuna heart? That is REALLY hardcore!
    What is the recipe like for that one?

  4. PekoPeko says:

    Hi cakewardrobe,
    Don’t be afraid. You can just pull out the eyes before serving.
    This can definitely be made with other parts of the fish. The ‘steak’ chunks work just fine, as does the kama (collar).
    Try it out!!

  5. Jin says:

    Oooh, I just made butaniku daikon ni the other day. I think it might be time for buri daikon. すごくおいしそうですね!

    Not sure if they sell buri here though…

  6. PekoPeko says:

    Hi there Jin,
    うん、おいしいですよ!
    Yes, very tasty and you definitely ought to make it!

  7. Jin says:

    Just reporting back. They only sell the frozen buri fillets at my Asian supermarket, but they DID have salmon no ara, so I figured 作ってみよう!

    うまかった! I put it in the slow cooker and left it on all day while at work, and the smell of it upon returning was heavenly (I guess the daikon would be cooked more than Peko likes though). The bones had softened a bit from simmering all day, so I only took out the big bines and we ate the rest of them. I added some yuba as well, and it sucked up the dashi very nicely. Delicious.

  8. PekoPeko says:

    Hi Jin,
    うまかった。。よかった!!
    Oh great, glad to hear it was delish! Wow, with yuba? Now that sounds delish too!! I think that you may be helping this recipe to evolve!
    P

  9. ila says:

    うまそー!
    I am so jealous of you. It’s 寒ブリ season right now, isn’t it? ooooh, the fattiest buri must be out in the market right now…

    I can’t even find a decent piece of hamachi at the local mitsuwa, let alone a buri!!!

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