it wiggles, smells like fish, and is grayish purple. yes, if you have the slightest bit of common sense, you are probably thinking that anything with those three qualities is questionably food and certainly a far cry from being delicious. but suspend your disbelief and trust me. konnyaku , when prepared correctly, is the bee’s knees. this dish is tricky, but it is one that can truly impress even the most skeptical dinner guests.
and to add to its merits further, it contains almost no carbs to speak of, no sugars except for the trace amounts present in the onion, is so rife with vitamins and minerals you won’t even know what to do with yourself, and is 100% meat free.
get ready, because here we go.
- 150g of konnyaku
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 stalks of nira
- half an onion
- Chinese hot pepper
- soy sauce
- dark sesame oil
- a handful mung bean sprouts
- two handfuls of snow pea shoots
- drain the konnyaku. you will notice a fishy, somewhat unpleasant smell. one of your goals in preparing this dish is to remove that smell and the fishy flavor from which it results.
- boil some water. it doesn’t need to be a whole pot, just enough to cover your konnyaku. while the water is boiling, prep your other vegetables.
- peel the garlic, remove the ends, and slice thinly. set it aside. wash the nira and mung bean sprouts, and put them in a colander to remove any excess water. remove the base of the nira and cut them into one inch lengths. remove the core of the onion if you haven’t already, and then slice into relatively fat pieces. if your onions end up to thin, they will lose their texture. wash the snow pea shoots, drain excess water, and cut off the ends.
- once your water has boiled, kill the heat and add the konnyaku, immediately covering the pot. remember, you aren’t cooking it. you are unmusking and softening it. give it three minutes or so, drain and rinse with cold water. set aside.
- add some vegetable oil or butter to a frying pan and bring to medium heat. add the well-drained konnyaku. you might hear some squeaking.
- once your konnyaku starts to sear (you may need to kick up the heat a little bit), add your garlic and saute them together for just a bit. once the oils of the garlic starts to brown, add the rest of your veggies and stir them nice and quick over your high heat.
- after a minute or two, add Chinese hot pepper to taste and a good splash of sesame oil.
- last, add two or three splashes of soy sauce. this step is the trickiest for two reasons. first, keep in mind that the balance of seasoning is crucial. don’t overdo the soy sauce. saltiness can absolutely ruin an excellent dish, as can spiciness. second, heat and moisture must be constantly monitored. be vigilant, and be swift. if you work fast, you will have negligible problems. your nira are the most susceptable to heat, and your goal is to wilt them without them becoming soggy. this means that your soy sauce must be added before you observe your desired level of wilt. once the soy sauce has been added, you will only want to cook the whole dish for at most another minute or so.
- plate immediately, and garnish with a healthy pinch of katsuo-bushi for a tiny boost in smoky flavor.
serves 1 as a main dish, or 2 as an appetizer