is this really happening? could the poor man be losing his pork-obsessed mind? is the title of this post just a clever ploy to entice naive and starry-eyed vegetarians to read my blog? who is to blame for this sudden and terrifying turn of events?
take a deep breath, and count backwards from ten. i’ll explain everything.
i assure you, this is really happening. don’t worry, i am not throwing in my bacon grease stained apron. i still love meat and i will continue to love meat. that being said, i am happy to inform you that i made a tasty dish without meat the other day, and i have no regrets. i have my purplish-grey, stinky, rubbery friend konnyaku to thank for that.
all it took to take konnyaku from a weird wiggly block of tuber jelly to a beautiful, savory, low-calorie treat was a flash boil, a quick marinade, and a few minutes spent over a frying pan. if any of that sounds interesting to you vegetarians out there, keep reading. i promise you won’t regret it.
- a large block of konnyaku (about 300 grams)
- half a thumb of fresh ginger
- a few cloves of garlic
- black pepper
- soy sauce
- hot pepper flake
- slice the konnyaku package open and drain the water inside. it’ll stink, so don’t be put off by it. our goal is to eliminate that intrinsic smelliness. put some water in a pan, and bring it to a boil. pop in the konnyaku and boil for three to four minutes. the color will change a little bit, but this basically just to soften it up and remove the smell you had the pleasure of savoring a few minutes ago.
- drain the water and place the konnyaku on a cutting board. using a super sharp knife, slice the konnyaku on both sides to create a wide latticework pattern. make sure not to slice too far or you’ll end up dicing the konnyaku, which is not what you want to do.
- peel the garlic and ginger. mince them both as fine as you possibly can. put the mince into a small, tightly-sealing bag or container.
- add a few generous splashes of soy sauce and mirin, and a spoonful of sugar to the bag. last, add your black pepper and hot pepper flake in whatever amount you choose. close the bag, and give it a good shake to make sure all the ingredients are dissolved.
- add the konnyaku, squeeze out any air in the bag, and seal tightly. place it in the fridge for twenty to thirty minutes.
- flip the bag. wait another twenty to thirty minutes.
- put some oil or butter in a pan and get it to medium-high heat. remove the konnyaku from its marinade and place it in the pan. the marinade will simmer and the konnyaku might shriek. yes, i did say shriek. do not be alarmed.
- once you start to get a good sear on one side, flip the konnyaku and allow the other side to become slightly browned. mind your heat. because you marinade uses both mirin and sugar, make sure not to let it get to hot or it will become burned and bitter.
- when the konnyaku is done, kill the heat and let it sit on a plate or cutting board for a few minutes to reabsorb some of the juices.
- use a super sharp knife to cut the block extra thin, sort of like flank steak. the color should be a pleasant brown and the texture should still be slightly jiggly.
- this stuff is great on its own, but it is also really good as a chicken substitute once chilled. pop a few slices of this stuff on a salad, and you’ll have people asking what exactly it is they are eating. in a good way, of course.