Tsukudani is the umbrella term for seafood, meat, seaweed, or vegetables that have been simmered in soy sauce and mirin. First invented during the Edo period, the tsukudani cooking process uses salt and sugar to preserve ingredients, transforming them into a storable side dish. Accordingly, nori tsukudani is made from seaweed sheets that have been simmered down into a salty, sweet, umami silken paste. Making tsukudani is a popular way to reuse ingredients leftover from making dashi stock as it reintroduces flavor and prevents food waste.
Nori tsukudani can be enjoyed as a topping for steamed rice or used as a flavoring agent in soups, stews, and sauces. Intensely sweet and savory, think of it as a flavor bomb!
In our recipe, we use nori sheets from the brand Isoya located in Saitama prefecture. Founded in the spring of 1953, Isoya captures the subtle art and nostalgic taste of roasted seaweed by carefully grilling each of their nori sheets under the watchful eye of skilled roasting craftsmen. The sheets are then cut into various sizes in a temperature and humidity controlled room, ensuring that optimal conditions and quality are maintained.
To make nori tsukudani, simply soak nori sheets in water for five minutes, then add in sugar and soy sauce and simmer together until all the liquid is absorbed. For a spicy rendition, feel free to add in slices of dried red chili pepper. Nori tsukudani can be enjoyed hot, or refrigerated and served chilled at a later time.
- Tear the nori into small pieces and soak in water for five minutes.
- Loosen with chopsticks and cook over medium heat with sugar and soy sauce until the liquid is almost gone and it turns into a paste.
- Remove from heat and serve scooped atop bowl of rice. Can also be served chilled.
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Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.