After enjoying akebi as a fruit, I couldn’t wait to try it as a vegetable. Again, if you missed this article, the inner flesh of the akebi is eaten as fruit and the outer pod is prepared and eaten like a vegetable, mostly in the Tohoku (North Honshu) region of Japan.
There are a number of ways that the pod may be cooked and eaten including grilled, sauteed and tempura. The pod is pleasantly bitter and cooking takes the bite off the bitterness. We sauteed ours in miso which is a perfect contrast to the bitterness of the pod. (This is not Kyoto cuisine.)
Miso Sauteed Akebi (Miso Itame) あけび みそ炒め
Miso itame is a common way to saute vegetables in Japan. First the vegetable is sauteed with oil then a mixture of ryorishu (cooking sake), shoyu, mirin, sugar and miso is added and sauteed for a few more minutes. Miso itame is a very tasty, quick and versatile dish that combines the taste of sweet, pungent (miso) and salty.
Recipe for Akebi Miso Itame あけび みそ炒め
- 1 akebi pod (inner fruit removed)
- 2 tablespoons oil (sesame oil is nice)
- 1-2 teaspoon miso paste (same as for miso soup)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons of ryorishu (cooking sake or sake)
- shiso leaf (fresh green shiso leaf) optional
I used at least 2 teaspoons of Kansai-style sweet miso paste which is light in color. Tohoku style miso is red and saltier and you might want to go easy on the amount if you are using that style of miso. Adjust amount based on the kind of miso you are using and of course your taste.
If you would like to remove some of the bitterness you can soak the pod halves or slices in warm water for 30 to 60 minutes. Pat dry before sauteing.
Mix all the liquid ingredients together in a bowl, dissolving the miso paste and sugar.
Heat a fry pan and add several tablespoons of oil. Once hot, add sliced akebi pod and saute covered until akebi softens, this should take about 2 minutes.
Pour in liquid ingredients, reduce heat and simmer down until little liquid remains. This should take 1 to 2 minutes. Due to the high sugar content, the mixture will quickly burn – don’t allow that to happen. Once the liquid has been reduced, serve on a plate and garnish with chopped shiso leaf.
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