Konnyaku Itame: Stir Fried Konnyaku with Egg
Trying to explain Konnyaku to somebody who has never tried it is a little bit like trying to describe the feeling of walking on sand to somebody who has never been to the beach: you can say all the right words and still fail to convey the experience.
Konnyaku really is a unique substance. When you handle it, it’s easy to imagine you are dealing with some exotic product of food science: this kind of texture just doesn’t seem that “natural” at first glance. And yet there’s nothing artificial about konnyaku, nor is it particularly intensively processed: it’s just a gel made from konjac corm flour, water, and a bit of limewater. In fact, the recipe is essentially unchanged over the last 1450 years.
The gray, glutinous, jelly-like substance that results has only the faintest of tastes, so in the end konnyaku tastes like whatever sauce you add to it. And attention dieters: konnyaku is, essentially, calorie-free. Basically, all you’re eating is dietary fiber suspended in a water-based gel. Not surprisingly, nutritionists are enamored with this stuff.
As for that texture, well, the one thing I can say for sure is that it strikes foreigners as deeply weird. Imagine what would happen if jell-o grew a backbone! Konyaku is much firmer than gelatin, but still soft, slippery and delicious. It’s the kind of thing everybody should try at least once.
In this recipe, we suspend it in some very lightly seasoned scrambled eggs, to produce a delicate side dish you can make in just a few minutes. Serve it to guests and dare them to guess what they’re eating!
Ingredients (for two)
- Konnyaku – half a piece, about 10 cm. by 20 cm.
- Eggs – two
- Sugar – half a teaspoon
- Mirin – one teaspoon
- Sake – one teaspoon
- Soy sauce – two teaspoons
- Cut konnyaku into thin strips.
- Scramble the eggs lightly without quite homogenizing them
- Stir fry the konnyaku over medium fire until it dries a bit (3 minutes or so)
- Stir in the sugar, then stir in the mirin, sake and soy sauce
- When the liquid is largely (but not totally) dried, add the eggs
- Stir for 5 seconds, let the eggs cook for 10 seconds. Keep alternating between stirring and letting cook until eggs are mostly but not totally dry
Serve as a side-dish.
For today’s luch, we had vegetable and beef stir fry, konnyaku itame, white rice and natto.