Wednesday, June 27, 2012


                                       Sanbiki's popular "Ebi Sunomono" with shrimp
Ah summer! The temperature rises, and so too does demand for cool and refreshing food. SUNOMONO fits the bill. Outside of Japan it is best known as a noodle salad in a vinagrette dressing. "Harusame" noodles made from yam are used. Rice noodles may be popular with westerners, but are rare in Japanese dishes. The most popular sunomono salads include cucumber, shrimp, seaweed and octopus or other seafood.

                     Crunchy octopus is a favourite sunomono item everywhere!
 In Japan, noodles are not usually involved, and sunomono is usually served as a small side dish with many other foods. The name "sunomono" refers simply to the food ("mono") and the fact that it is served with vinegar ("su") Any number of sunomono dishes exist depending on the season, the region, and the mood of the Chef. Vegetables are particularly popular and taste lightly "pickled" from the vinegar in the dressing.

Tosazu from Kochi in Japan

 Certain seafoods lend themselves well to sunomono style preparations. Octopus, squid and shrimp are common. Some areas use seasonal fish. Sardines are used in "tosazu", pictured above. This style of presentation is traditional. "Tosazu" is a specialty of Kochi in southern Japan. The area enjoys a good supply of katsuo (bonito). The tuna is dried and used to flavour the stock added to the vinegar dressing.

                        Seaweed and cucumber make healthy, tasty additions to sunomono
Two very basic recipes are the starting points for sunomono dressings. NI-HAIZU mixes two ingredients ("ni"=2) soy sauce and rice vinegar. SAN-BAIZU adds a third ingredient, sugar ("san"=3). Dashi (a Japanese stock made from dried tuna and seaweed) can be added, as with the "tosazu".

Sunomono is an excellent option for vegans and vegetarians as neither meat nor seafood is necessary as the main ingredient, nor  in the dressing.

Another popular Japanese salad is "GOMA AE". Outside Japan this is almost always served as a blanched spinach with a sweet sesame or peanut dressing. Actually, "goma" means sesame and "ae" means dressing. Other green vegetables such as asparagus, green beans or rapini are commonly served as "goma ae" dishes in Japan. Crushed sesame seeds, soy sauce and sugar are the main ingredients. Peanut sauce and creamy, overly sweet dressings overpower the veggies and are not preferred in Japan.

                  A prepared dressing (gomaae) mix. Mori Mori Grocery has similar products

Heard of soba, somen and/or unagi? They are a few Japanese summer favourites! Stay tuned for more, have a great week!

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