Hyakka no Sekka (Kagawa-style Greens with Tofu)
A classic, country-style recipe from Kagawa, Japan! If you had a grandma in Kagawa, she would probably make this :) Hyakka or manba greens are a local veggie from Kagawa. It's similar to takana (think oversized mustard greens) The greens are cooked with tofu, iriko and flavored with soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Some people add satoimo (taro roots) too! Nice with rice and with other Japanese dishes.
Background: The dishes name changes depending on where you're at in Kagawa - "Mamba no Kenchan" (マンバのけんちゃん) or "Hyakka no Sekka" (ひゃっかのせっか). As for the name, "Hyakka" is a type of flour and "sekka" means snow - the tofu supposedly looks like snow flakes scattered in flowers!
- Hyakka/Manba Greens (you can also use Takana greens) (1 bunch (about 8-10 big leaves))
- Firm tofu (1/2 block)
- Abura-age/fried tofu (1 sheet)
- Iriko or niboshi (small dried fish used fro stock) (about 5)
- Vegetable or sesame oil (1 Tablespoon)
- Soy sauce (2 Tablespoon, plus more to taste)
- Sugar (2-3 Tablespoon, plus more to taste)
- Mirin or cooking sake (1 Tablespoon)
- Salt (to taste)
Boil the hyakka/manba/takana greens briefly about 1-2 minutes, until bright green (cut into smaller pieces if necessary). Dunk in cold water and drain. Let soak in cold water for a couple of hours. This process helps get rid of any unpleasant bitter taste.
Drain the greens and squeeze out the excess water. Cut into smaller pieces.
Cut the abura-age into 1 cm strips. Let the firm tofu drain for ten minutes.
Remove the the head, the stomach (the little black part) and back bone from the iriko/niboshi fish. (These parts are a little bitter)
Heat about 1 tablespoon of vegetable or sesame oil in a large pot. Stir-fry the iriko/niboshi for a few minutes until fragrant.
Add the abura-age and the greens to the pot. Stir-fry to coat in oil.
Break apart the tofu into chunks with your hands and add to the pot.
Add in 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of mirin or sake. Bring to a boil, cover with lid and simmer on medium for 5-10 minutes.
Once the greens are soft, taste and add more sugar, soy sauce and/or salt to taste. You can make it on the sweeter side by adding more sugar or more savory by adding more soy sauce. Let cook briefly and then serve.
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