Sake
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I am a huge fan of spice, and finding a dish that I can make that delivers the spice is always a welcome affair.

This renkon (lotus root) kinpira is a recipe I made out of an awesome book that Kayoko got me during her nine-hour layover in Japan. It was luck that I had a lotus root rolling around in my fridge as I explored the pages of the book.

In addition to being spicy, this dish is crunchy, thanks to the lotus root. Come to think of it, crunch and spice are the two things that this dish and the Dorito Taco at Taco Bell have in common. But rest assured, you are not going to feel gross after eating this (I ate a Dorito Taco a few weeks back and I regretted it by the third bite).

INGREDIENTS

3-4 cups of lotus root, sliced (preferably with a mandolin)
1 tbsp sugar
1.5 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup dashi
1 tsp of roasted white sesame seeds
1 dried red chili pepper

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METHOD

1. Most of the prep work involves peeling and slicing the lotus root. Peel the lotus root with a peeler. Lotus root holes should be clean (not moldy) and evenly spaced.

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Then cut in half lengthwise. This dish will be a breeze if you have a mandolin. Slice each half with the mandolin.

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2. Soak the sliced in water for 10 minutes. This eliminates some sliminess of the lotus root.

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3. Tear the red chili pepper into pieces. Discard the seeds if you aren't a fan of the spice. Keep them if you are. Mix the soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes (and seeds if you dare) and dashi in a small bowl.

4. Heat up the sesame oil in a pan on med-hi.

5. Once it's hot, add in the lotus root slices. Keep on med-hi for two minutes and mix occasionally.

6. Add the sauce and bring down the heat to med or med-low.

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Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the lotus has cooked down about 1/3 of its original volume.

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7. Plate and sprinkle sesame seed over it. I garnished with some yuzu rinds -- if you don't have yuzu, lemon zest is fine.

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Enjoy with a glass of ice-cold shochu. This is way better than a Dorito Taco and Dr. Pepper.