Chicory Itame: Chicory Topping for White Rice
Here’s a home favorite that comes with its own story. When I was growing up in Shiga Prefecture, our next door neighbor was a keen gardner. Inoue-san loved to grow these big, delicious daikon radishes, and he was so successful at it that he would often end up with more than his family could eat.
At first, he would politely knock on our door to offer some of the surplus. After a while, we realized we could just knock on his door and ask: during the season, he always used to have some around. Come to think of it, I can’t remember my mom ever buying daikon from the store during daikon season: if she wanted some, she would just send us next door to fetch some.
Of course, when Mr. Inoue gave us a plant, he would give us the whole plant, not just the root. The recipe below is the one my mom developed as a way of using up the bitter leaves we got on top of the pulpy tuber.
Now that I live in Canada, I can’t get daikon leaves so easily. Luckily, I’ve found that chicory – which doesn’t exist in Japan – makes a very good substitute for them. (Dirty little secret: I actually like this recipe better than the daikon-leaf version!)
Tonight, I’m falling back on this old family favorite, and getting all nostalgic about my dear neighbor Inoue-san in the process.
Ingredients (for five)
- Chicory – one big bunch
- Sesame oil – four tablespoons
Frying in sesame oil this is the key to getting this recipe right – I once tried to make this recipe using normal oil and it was a disaster!
- Katsuobushi fish flakes – one packet
- Soy sauce -three tablespoons
- Chop the chicory small – you’ll end up with a big pile, but never fear, it will reduce dramatically when you stir fry it.
- Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan over high heat.
- Add in all the chicory, stir-frying for about three minutes
- Once the chicory has shrunk considerably, add the soy sauce all at once around the periphery of the pan.
- Soon after the soy sauce comes evapolated (in about five seconds), take pan off the heat source
- Add in katsuobushi fish flakes, stir
click to enlarge
This is perfect as a topping, something you use to flavor plain white rice. Serve over rice at the table.
Yesterday we had tomato based stew, which my husband made, white rice and chicory itame.