MAKE IT YOURSELF: SIMMERED LOTUS ROOT
1 20x10cm piece konbu (right)
1.2 litres water
30g bonito flakes (below right)
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar,
white vinegar or lemon juice
1kg lotus root (above)
250g streaky bacon
3 Tbs mirin
Shoyu (Japanese soya sauce) to taste
Sliced scallions for garnish (optional)
1. Make the dashi: Wipe the konbu with a damp paper towel. Pour the water into a medium pot, add the konbu and let soak for one hour.
2. Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and let the water heat up until small bubbles appear. Remove the konbu. Discard or reserve to make tsukudani. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the bonito flakes. Turn off the heat. Allow the fish flakes to sink to the bottom. Strain the dashi into a measuring jug. You should have about 1 litre of dashi. Set aside.
3. Fill a large glass mixing bowl with water. Add the vinegar and give it a stir.
4. Rinse the lotus root under water. Scrape off the mud if needed. Peel off the skin using a vegetable peeler, slice off and discard both ends. After each root has been peeled, place in the acidulated water immediately to prevent browning.
5. Cut each root crosswise into 3cm-thick rounds and cut each round into quarters. Place the lotus root back in the water after cutting. Set aside.
6. Stack the slices of bacon up and cut crosswise into 2cm pieces.
7. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Fry until some of the fat renders. The bacon should not become crisp or brown.
8. Drain the lotus root and add to the pot. Stir fry 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mirin and just enough dashi to cover the lotus root. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.
9. Add shoyu to taste.
10. Allow the lotus root to simmer until all the dashi has been absorbed, about one hour. Serve at room temperature, topped with sliced scallions if using.
Serves six to eight as a side dish