Shiozakura Dashi Taki Soba Gohan Kumiage Yuba Donburi: Now that is a mouthful! So, what exactly is it? In short, it is a rice dish topped with condensed soy milk and finished with soy sauce and wasabi. This dish is healthy and creamy yummy, it can easily be made vegan.
Soba Gohan: Japanese short grain rice with fresh buckwheat soba kernels. I love how Japanese add a little of another grain to their white and, or brown rice to make it more nutritious and flavorful. Perhaps the most popular is mugi gohan, ‘mugi’ is oats that have been pressed or rolled to facilitate cooking and ‘gohan’ is rice. Soba gohan is much less common but a more rare and complex taste. The whole, unroasted soba kernels give an earthy but slightly astringent, perhaps even Chinese mediciney taste to the rice.
Shiozakura Dashi Taki: Dashi broth, rich in umami. I have added the novel ingredient of cherry blossoms that have been preserved in salt. This is called shiozakura or sakura no shiozuke, in Japanese. It most commonly appears in sakura mochi. Shiozakura is very perfumey, so it is a subtle contrast to the soba. Taku (taki), is the Japanese verb for, to cook or boil rice. Dashi broth is an absolute essential element of Kyoto cuisine. Some Kyoto chefs cook their rice in broth instead of water, this makes for a very luxurious bowl of rice. Kyoto-style sushi that has been made with dashi cooked rice is sublime.
Kumiage Yuba: Yuba is made by simmering a large vat of soy milk, called tonyu in Japanese. As water evaporates, every minute or so, a skin, or film develops on the surface of the tonyu which is carefully lifted off. This is yuba and it can be dried or eaten as is, fresh. If fresh, it is kumiage yuba. If you like the taste of rich tofu and soy milk, you would surely love fresh yuba! Yuba is still mainly made and eaten in Kyoto. As the head temples of the Japanese Buddhist sects are located in Kyoto and priests of centuries past adhered to the teachings of Buddhism (they don’t now), Kyoto culinary culture developed a lot of vegetarian cuisine to feed priests and monks. Yuba, and tofu, are among the ‘temple foods‘ of Japan.
Kumiage yuba donburi is usually finished with wasabi and soy sauce. To accompany the fresh grated wasabi, I used a heavy soy sauce from Sawai Shoyu Honten in which I steeped fresh peach flesh in for about one month. This ‘momo shoyu’ makes for some insanely great kakushi aji. The fragrance is especially fruity, more like honey than peach, actually! This is a favorite of mine for sashimi and yuba donburi. I have also made it with strawberry, which was also really good. I have served this to quite a few Japanese friends who thought that the idea sounded positively weird but the taste was positively great and not at all unnatural.
Donburi: Donburi is a simple Japanese dish consisting of a bowl of rice with some kind of flavorful topping. Perhaps the most common is oyako donburi. Oyako means ‘parent and child’. The topping for this donburi is made with chicken meat and egg, flavored with soy sauce, sugar and scallions. Kumiage yuba and wasabi-shoyu makes for a rich and creamy, but healthy meal. This dish can easily be made vegan by swapping shaved fish for dried shiitake mushrooms in the dashi.
In Japanese, I call this dish, 桜の塩漬け出汁炊きそばご飯汲み上げ湯葉丼. Long names always taste best!
How Did it Taste?
I thought that I might have gone a little overboard on the kakushi aji but, I liked the final result. I did only use two young mint leaves and chopped them very finely. You could go overboard on mint in this dish very easily, so, just a little will be plenty. Mint and wasabi are a very interesting pairing. Despite all the kakushi aji, rice, yuba and wasabi-shoyu are still the prominent flavors. The other flavors are still at the hidden taste level. So, if you don’t know they are there, you might not notice them. If you know they are there, you might be able to pick them out.
How to Make It
This is basically the combination of two recipes that have appeared on KyotoFoodie previously: soba gohan and yuba donburi. However, this dish has the addition of several kakushi aji hidden flavors: mint, sakura and peach. You can skip these or adapt to what you have available. I think the idea of kakushi aji is quite interesting and we should all try to incorporate it our own way into our cuisine with locally available ingredients.
Update: What happened to KyotoFoodie?
I have been concentrating on my consulting work which I am enjoying a whole lot. Originally, I am an architect and designer and in recent years have been fascinated by product and brand development. I am also fascinated by Kyoto’s traditional industries and artisans. I am currently working with several traditional Kyoto companies and artisans, developing products for markets overseas. These projects are in high fashion and luxury goods. I never imagined that I would be working with the kind of legendary companies and brands that I am getting to work with now. KyotoFoodie, back in its hay day, took a whole lot of my time and energy. Yet, I still need to earn a living. Hence, the hiatus.
That said, I am going to try to write an article a month here for the rest of this year. I am active on Facebook and to a lesser degree, Twitter and post a lot of photos of what I am up to and what I eat!
Also, I started a new photoblog, called Kyoto Postcards, at the end of 2011 that gives a peek into my adventures in Kyoto. (I am slowly moving my Tumblelog content to Kyoto Postcards, so there will be posts dated before December 2011.)
If you are interested in seeing what I am up to, Facebook and Kyoto Postcards are the place.
Kyoto Support Topic: Food and Drink in Kyoto