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Fuku Bukuro May 6, 2008

Filed under: Cooking,Japan,recipes,Travel — laurel @ 5:50 pm
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age-fuku bukuro arranged in the pan before simmering

The first dish from my tofu cooking class that I tried at home was age fuku-bukuro, simmered tofu pouches stuffed with vegetables and chicken. This recipe uses the long, rectangular abura-age that are more common at my market than the square ones that I am used to using for inari sushi.

In class, we learned some interesting tips for pressing the air out of the pouches to make them easier to open: after cutting them in half, you can roll a cooking chopstick over the age from the closed end to the cut end to force out the air, or you can place the age half on your palm and slap it, bringing your hands together from the closed end first. I preferred the slapping method since it’s quick, but it is a bit messier too.

long abura-age whole (bottom) and cut in half (top) – simmering the fuku-bukuro beneath a parchment lid

Another tip that I put to use was to give the dried kampyo a salt scrub if they haven’t had as long a time to soak as you’d like (the salt scrub is unnecessary if you use the chemical-free kampyo and you let them soak for a long time).

I don’t have an otoshi-buta (drop-lid, a wooden lid that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the pan), so I used a parchment circle instead to help keep the simmering pouches moist.

I made a double batch of the fuku bukuro so that we could have some for dinner and enough leftover for my bento the next day. Alex loved them, so I think that these will become a regular in my meal planning. I imagine these slightly sweet and salty pouches might be popular with kids who won’t eat their vegetables too.

the finished fuku-bukuro with our dinner: rice, nuka-zuke, namul salad, cabbage salad with creamy sesame dressing, and miso soup with mushrooms and kamaboko (not pictured

Age Fuku-Bukuro (Treasure Bags)
by Elizabeth Andoh, copyright 2008, all rights reserved
3 to 4 servings (makes 10 pouches)

2 long ribbons of kampyo (dried gourd), each about 2 yards long, soaked in warm water
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 slices fried tofu sheets (abura-age)
filling:

1 small package (about 6 ounces) shirataki, drained, and coarsely chopped
2 small fresh shiitake mushrooms or 2 ounces other wild mushrooms
1 small (about 1/2 ounce) chunk carrot; scraped and minced or cut in thin julienne
1 small chunk gobo (burdock root), scraped and minced or cut in thin julienne; optional
1 small chunk renkon (lotus root), peeled and minced or cut in thin julienne; optional
scant 100 grams (about 3 ounces) ground raw chicken meat
2 tablespoons fresh (or defrosted frozen) green peas (about 1/2 ounce) or edamame
simmering liquid:
3/4 to 1 cup dashi (basic stock) and/or liquid from soaking kampyo (if kampyo is chemical-free)
1 tablespoon sake
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

Remove the dried gourd ribbons from the warm water in which they were soaking; reserve this liquid to use as additional stock when simmering the pouches. Squeeze out excess liquid. Rub with salt, kneading the gourd until soft and velvety. Rinse under cold water. Remove, and set aside to cool.

In a pot of boiling water, blanch the shirataki noodles for 1 minute. Remove them with a fine-meshed skimmer, or a small-hole slotted spoon, and let them cool to room temperature naturally. Use scissors to cut into approximately 1-inch lengths.

In the same boiling water, blanch the fried tofu sheets (abura-age). Cut each in half across the (narrow) center and gently pry the fried tofu sheets open with your fingertips to make pouches.

Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms (these can be saved to enhance a soup stock) and wipe the caps clean before thinly slicing.

In a small bowl, combine the blanched shirataki noodles, shiitake or other mushrooms, carrot and any other root vegetables (if using them). Add the ground chicken and blend well before adding the drained peas. Mix well, and divide into 10 portions. Stuff each pouch with a portion of the vegetable and chicken mixture. Close each pouch by pressing down on one open edge, tucking it in slightly to enclose the filling. Fold in the right and left sides (it will look somewhat like an envelope flap), and roll the stuffed bean curd over so that the “seam” will be on the bottom.

Lay one of the uncut gourd ribbons on a flat surface. Place a stuffed pouch, folded edge facing down, on top near one end of the gourd ribbon. Tie the gourd, making a knot on top. Snip the gourd with scissors, or cut with a knife to separate. Repeat, tying up all the stuffed pouches in a similar fashion.

In a wide, shallow pot, combine the simmering liquid ingredients. Bring the liquid rapidly to a boil over high heat. Then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer and add the stuffed pouches, knots facing down. Simmer them for 10 minutes, skimming away any froth as it appears. Use an otoshi-buta (dropped lid) for superior results; without one, check the level of liquid often, adding more stock as needed to prevent scorching. Flip the pouches (to position the knots on top) half way through the simmering process to ensure even cooking and coloration. When finished cooking, the pouches should be firm with almost no liquid remaining in the pot.

Serve immediately: Place 2 or 3 stuffed pouches in a shallow bowl or deep-rimmed plate. Spoon any remaining broth over the pouches to moisten them.

NOTE: If you wish, make the pouches to serve at a future time. Let them cool completely in the pot before transferring them to a lidded container and refrigerating. The pouches do not freeze well – they become tough and spongy.

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8 Responses to “Fuku Bukuro”

  1. toranosuke Says:

    This looks like a good fun food. Hopefully not too hard to make, what with the “blanching” and other cooking terms I’m not familiar with.

    But I’m excited to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. laurel Says:

    Hi Toranosuke, blanching just means to boil briefly. In this case, the purpose is to remove the excess oil from the abura-age and also to puff the air inside to make it easier to open the pocket later. The shirataki are blanched to remove the stinky smell that they get from being in the package.

  3. toranosuke Says:

    Thanks. As long as you’re answering questions and being so helpful, is there a difference between shirataki and konnyaku which has been cut into noodle-like strips? i.e. do I have to be on the lookout for shirataki specifically?

  4. laurel Says:

    I use shirataki and konnyaku interchangeably. I buy shirataki if I can find it to save the trouble of cutting it up, but if all you can find is the block konnyaku, that should work too. It looks like there is a step missing from the recipe to cut the noodles into 1 inch lengths also. I’ll add that.

  5. Tess Says:

    I often see tofu shirataki even in my regular supermarkets in the U.S. Haven’t tried it, but it’s kannyaku and tofu noodles. I might like it better because for me kannyaku has a weird texture.

  6. Jonathan Says:

    Have you tried the Miracle Noodle Shirataki orzo?

  7. laurel Says:

    Tess and Jonathan,
    I haven’t tried either of those products, but I think the recipe really lends itself to substituting with the ingredients you have or the ingredients you like. Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

  8. Judith Says:

    I tried your recipe on Monday. I didn’t use carrots or renkon. I couldn’t find ground chicken either so I used chicken breast chunks. It turned out to be surprisingly edible. Yay! K ate some on his hike yesterday.

    I also tried your lemon sunburst cookies and they turned out lovely!

    Keep up the great work!


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