Peeler makes slicing easy
The kinpira peeler is a tool that makes cutting vegetable strips ultra easy. It was developed for the Japanese side dish, kinpira gobo, where burdock is cut into long thin strips. But this handy tool can easily turn any hard vegetable, such as carrots, daikon or potato, into fancy thin strips.
The vegetable needs to be peeled with a standard peeler first. It should also be left whole, not cut into pieces. Place the peeled vegetable on a cutting board -- never hold it in your hand because you could easily strip away the skin on your fingers.
Hold the vegetable firmly against the cutting board, then use the jagged edge of the tool in a scraping motion to cut away perfect strips. Use short jerks for short strips or long pulls for longer strips.
The strips can be used raw in salads or as garnish, or they can be cooked in stir-fries or braised dishes such as kinpira gobo.
Find the tool at Daiei. It is a rather expensive at around $13, but it's sturdy, handy and timesaving.
Tarako is a Japanese luxury
The Japanese go crazy over a variety of seafood roe from ikura (salmon) to tobiko (flying fish). A particular delicacy is tarako, or codfish roe, which is enjoyed both raw and cooked. These delicate pink egg sacks, harvested from codfish or pollack, are immediately salted to preserve their flavor. The sacks average 3 to 5 inches in length and house tiny, bead-like eggs.
A spicy tarako -- mentaiko -- adds togarashi (a Japanese spice mixture) for flavoring.
A popular way of cooking tarako is to grill it over a hibachi and serve it with hot rice. Tarako spaghetti is the way to go, however. The eggs are removed from the casing, sautéed in olive oil, mixed with noodles and topped with strips of nori. The eggs can also be mixed with mayonnaise to make a dip similar to Greek taramasalata.
Tarako is quite expensive so it's definitely a treat. Just two egg sacks could cost $5 to $10, depending on size. Fortunately, you don't need a lot to be satisfied. Tarako and mentaiko are generally available at Asian markets such as Daiei and Marukai in the fresh seafood section next to other fish roe.
Send items to Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga at the Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org