Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Wonderful Little Ume

I have a few food posts floating around my head, so here's a start.

I want to talk about the wonderful food known as ume-boshi (梅干し). This is one of my favorite Japanese foods. This shocks most Japanese people because it's very sour and often used as a food to torture unsuspecting guests. Many Japanese people also don't like it.

Ume is a great vegan food. Just be sure to check it doesn't contain honey (はちみつ) or fish stock (かつお). You can of course pickle it yourself. もちろん、自分で作れる!I'm currently helping my boyfriend's family pickle their ume. Traditionally, each family has their own recipe for making ume boshi, so I can't vouch for the ones I've given, but the Japanese one has loads of pictures so you can see the whole process. I also can't divulge his families secret recipe that will hopefully be passed down to me someday in a ceremony that involved me bowing at the alter of the ume boshi god.*

Now the pickling season is well underway, I think all the raw ume have disappeared from the supermarkets, so you might have to wait until next year to do your own pickeling, but trust me, its so worth it. Even if you just make a small batch on your tiny balcony.

I thought it would also be cool if I taught you some ways to use the magical fruit. I wish I had more recipes, but really once you get a tast for it, you can do anything with it.
  • There's the traditional eat it with your rice method (which I enjoy most mornings). Just eat a little bit of Ume with each bite of rice.

  • Another fravorite method of mine is to just add one to any bowl of udon your eating. The heat of the broth sort of helps to break apart the ume-boshi and then gives the broth a hint of sourness.

  • Another is with pasta. Chop up a few of them, add some thinly sliced aojiso leaves, oil, and then maybe add some fish free ponzu. It kind of works like a pesto. This ones really flexible, you can add tomatoes or garlic too. Mix it all with some spaghetti.

  • Of course, you can always make your own ume-shu (a very sweet liquer).

Ok, those are my favorite ways to eat ume-boshi. One we finish pickling them, I tend to have at least one a day. Do you have any other suggestions?

Here's a look at the Ume-boshi we've got in the works.

Oh yeah, that might last me for like half a year.

Here they are being dried in the sunshine for the first day, two more days of this until I can stuff my face.
The money shot!

*Just kidding, as far as I know there is no ume boshi god, but it sounds better than saying his mom's gonna teach me the recipe.



Joe said...

And here I thought this would be a post about your boyfriend...How convenient your boyfriend and your favorite food share the same name.

Pamela said...

zHaha! I was wondering if other people knew that...My inside joke to myself.

Miss Kris Dove said...

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herbivore said...

Mmm. I have never had ume boshi plums. Well, I think I have had some dehydrated kind with salt that you sprinkle over rice. SO GOOD.

I will have to go get some of the pickled kind next time I go to the store. No chance I will be finding my own to pickle in wisconsin. :)

vegnz said...

I've also made umeboshi by myself.
I was lazy and skipped to put shiso into.
without shiso umeboshi is called "shiroboshi".
umeboshi is complete vegan food!
DIY is more cool!

Karin said...

Aaah, Ume = LOVE!
Umeboshi, Ume-shu... sweet life... my tounge makes little jumps of joy just by thinking of them.
I too made umeboshi when I lived in Japan, it looked just like yours, natsukashii... (made ume-shu too, I'm so jealous that you both live there...).