Friday, May 22, 2009

Buri To Daikon No Nimono (Simmered Japanese Yellowtail and Daikon)

Japanese yellowtail (buri) and daikon simmered in mirin, soy sauce, sake, and sugar. The garnishings are Japanese parsley (mitsuba) and slivered ginger.

After a bit of a hiatus from the blogosphere, which may be extended due to other commitments, I want to share a really tasty recipe that brings back to me vivid memories of Japan. In Japan there is a kind of yellowtail fish called buri, which, oddly enough, I seem to remember being introduced to in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, about fifteen years ago -- impossible, probably, and yet whenever I have buri I flash back to the Vietnamese countryside and the woman at the campus canteen with whom I had a meal plan of sorts. Maybe I'm finally losing it...

In any case, buri to daikon no nimono is a great recipe for any time of the year, but it's particularly an excellent wintertime dish. Perhaps I say this because I remember having it in Japan as snow drifted past the windows like pure white macaroons, and to keep warm everyone huddled around the kotatsu surrounded by cups of hot sake. There's really no better atmosphere for this dish, but hey, we can't always be so lucky, right?

This is truly an amazing dish. The daikon becomes tender with cooking, absorbing the mix of flavors like nothing else can, and pairs extraordinarily with the sweet, deeply flavorful yellowtail. This is also one of those dishes that tastes even better on the second day, after the daikon has had additional time to be transformed by absorbing more of the sauces and yellowtail juices.


3 yellowtail (buri) fillets

2 medium daikon

4 slices ginger root


Water from washed rice

Ginger, cut into long strips

Mitsuba leaves (Japanese parsley), chopped

This dish uses two sauces, which are similar to each other but not identical.

Sauce #1

1 teaspoon dashi powder

1/2 cup sake

3 tablespoons mirin

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

Sauce #2

1/2 cup sake
2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoons sugar


1. Cut fish into large bite-sized pieces. Salt pieces lightly on both sides and let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Pour boiling water over fish, then rinse with cold water.

3. Peel daikon. Cut into 1 or 2 cm wedges. Boil in enough water (from the washed rice, preferably) to cover daikon, adding a tablespoon of rice if you'd like, for 15 minutes. After boiling, drain daikon. Let it cool, then pat dry with paper towel.

4. Pour into a pot the sliced ginger and sauce #1 and bring to a boil. Add fish and cook for 15 minutes.

5. Add sauce #2 and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Add daikon. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until light brown. (At this point, taste the daikon to make sure it has absorbed the cooking flavors.)
7. Serve with ginger strips and chopped mitsuba.

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  1. Ok, I always read through the ingredient list real fast to see if a recipe is immediately do-able, but started to pout when I saw mirin. I'll just have to save this one for later until I can replenish my stash. On the other hand, I got excited when I read about mitsuba leaves -- never heard of it, and immediately googled for a seed source. Sapuche, thanks for turning me onto this, I found seeds at Kitazawa's!

  2. Wow, this look really delicious Sapuche. Perfect for the week end!

  3. Yellowtail=yum. Daikon=yum. We love the soy sauce-ginger marinade. Nice flavors! But what is dashi???

  4. Sapuche, this dish sounds so good - full of flavor and substance. I can imagine eating it without that heavy feeling you sometimes get. Too bad, I just made my trip to the market, I see I'll be needing some ingredients to try this dish. Thanks for sharing!

    Sounds like life is busy. Don't want to hear about you waking up and not knowing where you are :)

  5. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe! I've been exploring Japanese flavors, so this is wonderful to learn about. I am looking forward to cooking with daikon soon.

  6. Sounds so yummy! I like daikon and looks that people have been cooking a lot of daikon lately which is great :)

  7. Hello Sapuche, do you have a picture of what this fish looks like?
    This meal sounds so lovely! Yummie indeed!

  8. This dish is amazing for its simplicity of ingredients and methods, and yet I don't doubt that it has such deep flavor! I've used daikon only sparingly in other recipes but not yet as a major component of a dish. I'm bookmarking this recipe immediately!

    Your food flashback with buri is really interesting - it's so specific to person and place, and yet you're not sure of the connection. That must have been some fish . . . !

  9. I love to learn more about Japanese Cuisine!
    I don't know some of the ingredients you used, but sounds very good and interesting.

  10. Good to see you back and with another lovely recipe! Amazing how something as simple as daikon can taste so yummy. And you said it tastes better on the second day? Sounds a bit like stew, no? ;)

  11. Rowena: I can’t believe you don’t have mirin where you live, but at least you discovered a seed source for mitsuba! This dish definitely won’t fly without the mirin, though, so I hope you can replenish your stash soon! And when you make this, let me know how it turns out – it’s one of my favorite comfort foods, even though I didn’t grow up eating it.

    Elra: It’s perfect for the weekend, or any day for that matter! :) I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do!

    Duodishes: I love how you do math with food, even though this means that yellowtail=daikon. :) You’re absolutely right that the soy sauce-ginger-mirin marinade really packs in the flavor. Oh, and dashi (I use the powdered kind, which comes in a small jar and looks like fish pellets) is basically just stock made from fish and kelp. We use it all the time in our Japanese cooking!

    Oysterculture: I find that yellowfish, because it’s on the oily side, can sometimes feel a little heavy, but that’s not the case with this dish. I hope you’re able to find the ingredients for this recipe – it’s really simple, and yet the end flavors are surprising and unique. And yes, life’s a little crazy at the moment, but unless someone drugs and then kidnaps me, I don’t foresee myself waking up and not knowing where I am. Although I’d be curious as to where kidnappers might take me. :)

    5 Star Foodie: You’re most welcome! I’m impressed with your exploration of Japanese flavors, I must say, and I look forward to your adventures with daikon soon!

    Selba: I wonder if there’s a daikon season? If so, maybe it’s now! Daikon is one of those surprisingly versatile veggies that goes great with so many other things. Thanks for the comment!

    Sophie: Sorry that my photo was rather poor. I knew that it was, but I forgot to take one of the fish before I started cooking! Here’s a link to buri if you’re interested: and also

    Tangled Noodle: I agree with you about the dish’s simple ingredients and methods. If it weren’t simple, I’m sure I wouldn’t have tried it. Or maybe I would have, but to disastrous results. I think the deep flavor is due to the interaction of the ingredients with the yellowtail – another fish, I’m sure, wouldn’t be nearly so successful. If you’re interested, here’s another interesting-looking recipe that uses daikon: I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks great! And I really can’t explain that flashback. In Bien Hoa, I was told the fish was a dozen different things, but I don’t recall anyone ever saying it was yellowtail. And yet the taste, if my memory is accurate, is very much the same. Sensory memory triggers are always wild. I get them a lot, in the most random situations, and they stop me dead in my tracks as I try to match whatever I’m tasting or smelling to past experience. In this case, however, the remembrance was clear and immediate. Weird, huh?

    Erica: The ingredients in Japanese cooking can really be confusing, all the more so if the items appear in stores with only Japanese on the packaging! It’s a slow learning process for me, but definitely worth the effort. I hope you’re able to give this recipe a try sometime!

    Bangsar-bAbE: Thank you! I agree with you 100% that daikon can be transformed in amazing ways through cooking. It absorbs flavors like a sponge! And it is a bit like a stew, you’re right!

  12. Hi sapuche, You have being cooking a lot of Japanese food lately, It sounds very health, My last visit to a japanese restaurant I had fry oyster roll and it was amazing. I don't eat raw fish so I always get around with shrimp tempura rolls or california roll. I feel a bit bummed that I don't like raw fish. But what to do? But your dish sounds yummy.

  13. very interesting site you have here and i thank you for sharing your finds and cooking experiences here... this recipe looks really good & healthy, just what we all need... :)

  14. No nimono is the only Japanese food I have ever attempted. I simmered pumpkin. Yours is closer to what I have enjoyed in restaurants. GREG

  15. Anna: I’ve actually been cooking more Vietnamese than Japanese lately, but I’ve been blogging more Japanese recipes than anything else! Most Japanese dishes I know tend to be pretty healthy…except for the fried stuff, like fried oysters – I have a recipe for that, too, but it’s similar enough to other things I’ve posted that I’m saving it for later. And yeah, raw fish isn’t for everyone – neither of my parents will eat it. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it! Fortunately, Japanese food offers such an impressive range of dishes that you shouldn’t feel like you’re stuck. And who knows? Maybe little by little your tastes will change!

    Mikky: Thanks for stopping by my blog and offering your nice comment! I love this dish and hope you’re able to give it a try sometime. And you’ve got a great site of your own – I was amazed by your post about the ostrich egg!

    Greg: Simmered pumpkin (kabucha no nimono) is one of my favorites. And I’m sure the restaurants do a much better job with their buri dishes, but I was impressed by my ability to pull this off. The more I do it, the better I get, which is all the encouragement I need to keep at things!

  16. You are totally making me miss my mom's cooking. I love yellowtail...I sometimes simmer chicken in similar flavors. A meal like this just makes you feel good, not sluggish.

  17. This looks delicious! I hope you don't stay away from us for too long...

  18. Hope things get back to normal soon. Thanks for another great Japanese recipe. One of those days I will go to a Japanese store to purchase some ingredients. The problem is when I cook ethnic food, I buy many ingredients (sauces, spices) that I cannot finish and they hang out in the fridge for a long time. I would hate them to go to waste. As soon as I finish what I have on hand, I'll start Japanese cooking. Then, I'll have to get really creative to finish off the ingredients. I got to do this country by country if I want available space in the fridge :)

  19. Hi!
    You've gave me a great idea...please check my post about Tofu and soy milk...and the other about my new solar oven.

  20. Sapuche,
    You always entertain me with your wonderful descriptions of food and remembrances past. This looks delicious! I think everyone needs a little hiatus/vacation every now and then..I just hope yours involves lots of good food!

  21. Love yellowtail and daikon. My mom taught me a trick to put a peeled daikon into your pho broth and let it simmer with everything before serving - it imparts another depth of flavor, slightly sweet but clean-tasting, to the broth and I'll even cut it up and eat it with my pho too! :)


    I think this was the blog I was thinking of.

  23. I could not resist sending you this. This is back in the infancy of this blog! GREG

  24. Gastroanthropologist: Haha. No, wait, I should maybe apologize for making you miss your mom’s cooking. I’m with you about yellowtail – I love it, but I wish it were less expensive! I’m interested in your use of chicken in a dish like this. To save time, our normal way of cooking chicken Japanese-style (shoyu chicken) is to cook it in its own fat with soy sauce and brown sugar. Ultra-simple, and super-delicious. But maybe I should look into simmering chicken in a similar way to the yellowtail…

    Wicked Noodle: Ah, thank you! I’ll try not to be away for too long, but it looks like I may be gone longer than I originally planned. :( When I’m back, though – fully back – I hope to make up for lost time! Thanks again, WN.

    Mediterranean Turkish Cook: Thank you for the well wishes; I hope so, too. I hope you make it to a Japanese store soon. I have the same trouble with using up all the ingredients for various ethnic dishes I want to try (I can’t even begin to tell you how much garam masala I have sitting around). The nice thing about this recipe is that mirin, soy sauce, sake, and dashi powder don’t need to be refrigerated, as they keep for a long time in a cupboard. The only thing you need to worry about is the fish, mitsuba, and ginger, but that’s easy – you’ll eat them all in this one recipe, I assure you!

    Borboleta Africana: I tried to translate your blog but my program isn’t very good! Anyway, it looks like you did a great job making your own tofu, and I can’t help admiring your soymilk machine! As for your solar oven, I’m amazed! I think it’s great what you’re doing, and also inspiring. I’m going to check your site again soon to see what other interesting things you’re doing in Portugal!

    Kim: Thank you for the nice words. :) And it’s nice to hear your support of my necessary hiatus right now. In any case, if you think this recipe looks delicious I really hope you can give it a try sometime. I promise that it won’t let you down!

    Nutritiontokitchen: Wow, peeled daikon in pho broth! It sounds super interesting and I’d love to try that out. I tend not to make my own pho just because it’s time consuming and I always manage to overlook some step in the preparation and ruin everything. But next time I make it I’ll definitely remember to try this! Thanks!

    Oysterculture: I appreciate the foraging URL! That’s sweet of you to remember to get back to me with the link. :) I’ve bookmarked it and will comb through it soon, I hope. Thanks again!

    Greg: Thank you for the link to your nimono recipe! As always, you did a great job with the video, and the Japanese instruction gave me a chance to practice my listening comprehension skills! Kabocha no nimono is one of my favorite Japanese foods. It’s amazing how sweet it turns out. Yours looks like it turned out spectacularly!

  25. This reads like a truly amazing dish!

  26. Amazing! I love the addition of the ginger - I know this has got to be really good! Thanks for sharing. Just FYI to let you know my latest post is about Tucson, AZ. Stop by and have a read. Thanks!

  27. I remember being really pleasantly surprised the first time I cooked with daikon - I'm not sure what I was expecting (perhaps something hotter like horseradish) but I absolutely loved it. I've only cooked occasionally with it since, but I've been feeling need to go in an Asian direction lately, so I think I'll be picking some up again soon. As for yellowtail, not sure if I can get that in these parts but maybe I'll think of a variation to try...

  28. Hi Sapuche! How are you? Long time no see. Hope you doing great. It's amazing comment here. I never see this recipe or try before. I don't know if I can order from Japanese restaurant?
    Always enjoy reading your blog.

  29. David、元気ですか。

  30. Chi chao em !
    Khoe khong ?
    Tai sao em khong lam cai moi?????

  31. A Girl Has to Eat: Thanks! It truly is!

    Desmone007: Ah, it’s so good. In fact, maybe I’ll make it again tomorrow… :) Thanks for letting me know about your Tucson post! That quadrunner looked like fun. Seeing you standing beside that saguaro cactus brought back good memories!

    Daily Spud: I have the same memory of daikon as you – I thought it would be hotter, like horseradish...and was glad that it wasn't! I hope you can find yellowtail so you can make this dish. Unfortunately, I can’t think of an alternative to “buri.” :( If you come up with a successful variation, I'd love to hear about it!

    Tan.wiratchada: Hi Tan! I’m okay, just really busy. How are you? I’m not sure you’ll be able to find this in a Japanese restaurant, but if you can find “buri” and the other ingredients in Thailand then it should be easy to make at home! You may be able to find other “buri” dishes in Japanese restaurants, however. Thanks for your comment, Tan!

    Takami: Em chao chi! Khoe lam, cam on! Em khong lam cai moi boi vi ban qua. Cho den thang 9 nhe! もう  小説 の  デッドライン が ある から、あまり 更新 できない。 ごめん!How is life in Hanoi?

  32. Buri daikon is a great dish, and thanks for putting up a recipe. One word of caution to those who eat out though . . .

    I was in a restaurant with a friend over the weekend and we ordered this. What we got in no way resembled your photo. Instead, it was an entire fish head (and yeah, buri is pretty sizeable fish, by the way), with few chunks of daikon arrayed around it. It tasted great, of course, but it was a little unsettling to eat the meat off the fish head while this one big eye was looking up at us.

    But that's just life in Japan, I guess.

  33. Hi JapaneseRuleof7: Thanks for your comment, and for warning readers about potential presentation issues (i.e., cooked, glaring fish eyes) when ordering buri daikon in a Japanese restaurant. I had a similar experience myself in Kanazawa. Like you, I was given a giant fish head, could barely uncover any daikon, and the taste was much bitterer than in my recipe. I try not to play with my food (much) in public, but that big fish head gave me ample opportunities.

    You have a great blog, by the way.