Kinpira is the name of a character in a traditional Japanese puppet theatre play dating back to the 1600s. Kinpira, the son of the character Kintaro who was well-known for his superhuman strength, was supposedly even mightier than his father, and went on to become a hero with great military prowess.
All this to say that kinpira dishes, which now refer to ingredients (most often vegetables) stir-fried and simmered in a sweet-savoury sauce, have this very strong character as their namesake because they supposedly make you strong! Eat your vegetables and you too can become a Kinpira!
Kinpira is usually made with root vegetables, the most common being gobo, or burdock root. In this version we use renkon, or lotus root, a vegetable rich in phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and dietary fibre. Other alternatives include carrots, peppers and daikon skin.
- 75 g lotus root
- dried red pepper to taste
- white sesame seeds to taste
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- ½ tbsp sake
- ½ tbsp mirin
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- Peel the lotus root, quarter it lengthwise and slice it. Soak in vinegar water for about 10 minutes.If you don’t like your red peppers too spicy, remove the seeds, then finely chop. (If you’d prefer a spicy dish, don’t remove the seeds!)
- Heat the frying pan over medium high and add the sesame oil. Add the dried red pepper and stir fry until fragrant.
- Add the lotus root and stir fry until it becomes translucent. Add the sake and stir, then add the mirin and sugar and stir.
- Add the soy sauce and reduce to medium heat. Cook until the liquid has evaporated.