Sweet Simmered Gourd Ribbons

Kampyō no Umani

The Japanese often use dried gourd strips to tie up packets of food. The simmered strips are also a popular filling for rolled sushi. Since the cooked gourd ribbon keeps well (for a week to 10 days, refrigerated), I suggest you make an entire package and save any leftovers for future use.

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (about 1 ounce) kampyō (gourd strips)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Method

  1. Soak the gourd strips in warm water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain, and rub with the salt to soften the fibrous strips. Rinse off the salt, and blanch the strips in boiling water to cover for 8—10 minutes. Drain, but do not refesh under cold water.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the sea stock, sugar, and soy sauce. Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the gourd strips and cook, adjusting the heat if necessary to maintain a steady but gentle bubbling. Cook the gourd, preferably using an otoshi-buta, for 8-10 minutes or until the simmering liquid is nearly gone. Stir and turn over the gourd strips occasionally to ensure even coloration while cooking (especially important if you do not have a dropped lid). Allow the gourd strips to cool in the cooking pot. Before using, drain the strips of excess liquid. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

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