Shaved bonito, planed just like wood from a dried, fermented and smoked fillet of skipjack tuna, is a popular garnish in Japan. Known as katsuobushi, the delicate shavings belie a rich, complex flavor that serves as one of the cornerstones of Japanese cuisine. Paired here with sake’s mouth-fullness, bonito flakes deepen the flavor of this simple, quick pickle.
Bean Sprouts with Sake and Bonito Flakes
You could make this easily with a microwave. To blanch the sprouts, simple sprinkle with water, spread on a plate, and then microwave on high, stirring once or twice, just until they wilt and steam. For a vegetarian version, omit the bonito and use the liquid drained from soaking dried mushrooms in place of the plain water.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
2 tablespoons sake
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 inches ginger, cut into thin strips
3/4 cup bonito shavings
8 ounces mung bean sprouts
Stir together the sake, soy sauce, ginger and 1/4 cup water. Bring just to a simmer in a small pan, then remove from the heat. Add the bonito and stir quickly. Leave to cool.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the bean sprouts and blanch for about 1 minute. Take care not to overcook the sprouts. Drain well in a colander, shaking off as much excess water as possible. While they’re still hot, toss the sprouts with the sake-bonito mixture. The pickle can be served immediately, though its flavor improves if allowed to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.