December 1, 2011
I usually make a vat of potato salad before I leave for a trip, leaving my husband poor and defenseless against the elements of bachelorhood. But this time I didn’t have time before the trip and figured he’d be able to fend for himself…
It turns out that while I was gone for three weeks in Japan last month, my husband lived off of canned food and bottled condiments. Seeing the contents of the pantry diminished and a “family size” umeboshi container gone upon my return, I replayed the numerous meals that took place without me in our kitchen. I was hit with flashes of instant ramen and lonely bowls of rice with MSG-laden Japanese bottled condiments.
One of the items that seemed to get a lot of love during my time away was the nametake jar.
Nametake is a condiment for rice consisting of enoki mushrooms.
Its sweet, slimy quality is a hit amongst the Pikachu crowd (i.e. children).
Ironically, across the Pacific Ocean, I was admiring another nametake jar in Nagano, Japan.
Two weeks ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about how my husband was subsisting off of nametake jars and canned tuna fish, and she told me about how she makes her own nametake. She described the easy process. It was no surprise that making enoki involved the same old Japanese ingredients: soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and vinegar. I followed the easy-to-follow recipe on her blog, Imakoko Life, and in 20 minutes I had a bottle full of glistening homemade nametake.
Make about 1.5 cups
2 packs of enoki
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1. Cut enoki stems off. Discard stems. Cut enoki into thirds.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the enoki for 2 minutes. Strain the enoki.
3. Put the pot back onto the stove top and combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, vinegar and sugar into the pot. Bring these ingredients to a gentle rolling boil.
4. Add the enoki back into the pot and keep on medium or low heat until the liquid reduces to 1/2 its original volume.
5. Jar it!
In a taste comparison test, the store bought enoki was much saltier than mine. It probably used more soy sauce (by the looks of it too). The store bought one also looked a little bit shiner.
Store bought enoki
The umami quotient for the homemade nametake blew the store bought one away. It also had a nice springy texture that the store bought kind doesn’t.
The downside to the homemade one is that it will only last for about 10 days versus a few months for the store bought kind (thank you, preservatives). I guess that means the next time I leave my husband in bachelor-land, it’ll have to be for 10 days or less, with a freezer full of pre-steamed rice to microwave.