Thursday, June 20, 2013

Braised Turnips - Simple Japanese Style

Braised Turnips is a dish that you will probably not get in a restaurant as it is classic Japanese home cooking.  I grew up with this dish and find it a wonderful side dish to an Asian meal.  It is very simple and yet it is one of those dishes that all Japanese housewives are supposed to master. In other Asian cuisines, turnips or often Daikon Radishes are braised with pork belly or beef, however, the mark of a good Japanese cook is to be able to make the simplest of dishes with the simplest ingredients taste good.  So, I was inspired to make this dish as it reminds me of my early childhood in Japan.  I saw some lovely turnips at the farmer's market and came home to cook them this way.  Now fresh, young turnips don't take very long to cook in this simple broth of water, mirin and soy sauce - only about 20 minutes. Older and bigger turnips will take longer. But, if you are going to use Daikon, it takes a lot longer - up to an hour or more until they are tender.  And, be sure to use Mirin as it is a sweet version of Rice wine.  Chinese Rice Wine is simply not sweet enough and you will need to add sugar. In any case, these turnips are very good as a side dish, but I love them with rice and some other green vegetables.  Turnips cooked this way have a smooth and tender texture and are simply delicious. Besides that, turnips are considered very good for the immune system and are called Qi movers in Chinese Medicine.  They are full of phytonutrients and are high in fiber and low in calories. So they are good for you and also taste good!

Braised Turnips Simple Japanese Style

6 small turnips, ends trimmed - peeled and cut into 2’ chunks (can also use Daikon)
2 cups water
½ cup Mirin
¼ cup Tamari ( or Soy Sauce)
2 Tablespoons Sugar

Mix together water, Mirin, soy sauce and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Drop in turnip pieces and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the turnips can be pierced with a fork.  Serve warm.

Five Element Analysis

Turnips are a root vegetable so they naturally belong to the Earth Element.  The Mirin adds the Fire Element and the Tamari or Soy Sauce contributes the Water Element and so does the cooking method.  The Metal Element is missing unless you use the Daikon Radish so that's why it is good served with rice and be sure to add some food from the Wood Element, like green vegetables or chicken to create a balanced meal the Five Element way.  

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