Summer Udon

Cool foods in summer, simply prepared, and served casually, make it possible for us to survive this extraordinary heat.

Cooking once for two meals, planned leftovers, makes the time spent in the kitchen efficient. Sandwiches come to mind as a second chance meal. And noodles are quick to prepare and easily transform a meat dish into a lovely soup or salad sort of meal very different from the original.

Stuffed Lotus Root
What might be more natural to stuff than a lotus root?
It’s a mostly hollow rhizome (actually a stolon or stem) of the lotus flower that grows in muddy ponds throughout Asia. The air passages that run through the bulb form a lacy pattern that is revealed when the rhizome is peeled and sliced crosswise.
It would be more natural to stuff a fowl.
A turkey, for a tradition holiday meal! In clearing the fridge to make room for the big bird, I came across a lotus root which I’d planned to make karashi renkon—lotus root stuffed with ground shrimp or fish flavored with miso, ginger, and Japanese mustard. That recipe is included in this post, but I used ingredients on hand to make my own interesting version. If you are more adventurous, try my much revised recipe!

Salmon and Lotus

lotus root chipAccording to Ms. Shimbo, “namban” means “southern barbarian.” This word was applied to the Portuguese and Spanish, the first Westerners who came to Japan in the 16th century. Until that time, the Japanese traded mosty with Koreans and Chinese. “Namban” reflects the shock that the Japanese felt upon encountering Europeans with their large noses and eyes, hairy bodies, and height. Among the new foods and cooking techniques were squash, potatoes, corn, watermelons, chile peppers, figs, sugary sweets, and deep-frying.