Living in Japan means living with limited refrigerator and pantry space. This necessitates regular visits to the grocery store to keep the kitchen stocked with a balance of fruits, veggies, and protein. But life being life, there are times when we don't have a chance to hit the store for a few days, and things run out.
Such was the case on Thursday, and after rummaging through the freezer, I managed to find a bag of chikuwa, along with a huge Japanese scallion (a.k.a. Tokyo negi). Chikuwa is a type of fish cake shaped on a thick skewer and grilled until it's golden brown. Because of the large hole in the center, it's often stuffed with ingredients like cucumbers or cheese and eaten as a canapé, but I also like to work it into stir-fries and soups.
This one is about as simple as it gets, but the combination of the savory chikuwa with the sweet scallions and spicy chili oil makes for a delicious side dish along with a glass of beer, and it's also delicious served with rice. This makes for a fantastic addition to bento, so if you happen to end up with leftovers, try packing them for lunch the next day with rice and some fresh vegetables or fruit.
- 160 grams chikuwa
- 140 grams Tokyo negi scallions will work
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 1 teaspoon rayu chili oil
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds toasted
- Cut the Chikuwa and negi into ½-inch thick slices at a 30° angle.
- Add the sesame oil and negi slices into a frying pan over medium heat and fry on one side until browned, and flip and brown the second side.
- Add the Chikuwa and stir fry until the negi is tender and the chikuwa starts to brown.
- Drizzle on the soy sauce, mirin, and rayu, and continue stir-frying until the liquid has caramelized around the other ingredients.
- Toss in the black sesame seeds and serve with rice.