Macrobiotic Kinpira Root Vegetables

photo of kinpira root vegetable dish

With so much emphasis on knife skills lately, I’ve been thinking about sharing this recipe for Macrobiotic Kinpira Root Vegetables– one of my all-time favorite vegetable side dishes. It’s s a classic Japanese dish that I learned how to make years ago when studying macrobiotics in culinary school. Named for the legendary Japanese “superhero” Sakata Kinpira, kinpira root vegetables is high in minerals, supports internal alkalinity, and is strengthening to the body.

Why the emphasis on knife skills? Yesterday I taught a kids knife skills class with my friend Monica of Cook Like An Italian. We had 8 bright and enthusiastic children and 2 assistants (my daughter Isabel and my former student Maria), and the children learned about knife safety and how slice and dice a wide variety of vegetables that we used to make a delicious minestrone soup. We used some brand new 5-inch chef knives that seemed to be the perfect size for little hands. It was a great success! I could actually see a big improvement in the technique of each child from the start of class to the end of class. Everyone said they had fun, and seemed to LOVE the soup. And no one got hurt, which was my #1 goal!

Knife Skills Class Dream Team- Isabel, Rachel, Monica, and Maria

Now back to kinpira… the main idea is that you cut root vegetables into evenly sliced matchsticks, sauté in a heavy-bottomed skillet with a little oil and sea salt, then add a little water to steam, and cover to simmer until vegetables are al dente. The recipe is very versatile– any root vegetable can be used in various combinations, including parsnip, carrot, onion, rutabaga, turnip, burdock or salsify, lotus root, or sunchoke. Some classic combinations are: carrot, burdock, and lotus root; carrot and parsnip; carrot and rutabaga; carrot, turnip, and rutabaga; and carrot, parsnip, and sunchoke. You can even add some sea vegetable, like arame or hijiki, or little pieces of meat to make even heartier if you wish.

Macrobiotic Kinpira Root Vegetables
 
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Hearty root vegetables are sauteed and steamed to make a savory, satisfying side dish that is a perfect accompaniment for sushi or other Japanese dishes.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable Side Dish
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon untoasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup organic burdock or salsify, cut in matchsticks
  • unrefined sea salt
  • 1 cup organic carrots, cut in matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon shoyu or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon mirin (optional)
  • 2 scallions, green parts, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat and add oil. When oil is shimmery, add burdock and a pinch of salt and sauté 5 minutes. Add another pinch of salt and sauté one minute more.
  2. Add carrots and another pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add shoyu, mirin (if using), and ¼ to ½ cup water. Steam, covered, for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from skillet to prevent burning. Garnish with scallions and serve warm or at room temperature.
Variations
  1. Substitute other root vegetables for carrot and/or burdock such as turnip, rutabaga, lotus root, and/or parsnip. Carrot and parsnip, Carrot, rutabaga, and turnip, carrot, burdock, and lotus root, and carrot and turnip are good combinations. If not using burdock or lotus root, reduce cooking time so that vegetables do not get mushy.
  2. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds instead of scallions.

photo of burdock, carrot, and lotus root kinpira

Burdock, carrot, and lotus root kinpira with scallion garnish

photo of carrot and rutabaga kinpira vegetable dish

Carrot and rutabaga kinpira with black and white sesame seeds

 

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Macrobiotic Nishime Style Vegetables with Crispy Tempeh

Most of us know we should eat more vegetables. Macrobiotic niishime style vegetables are slowly steamed or braised until the cooking liquid has evaporated, leaving the vegetables sweet, flavorful, and creamy, but not overcooked or mushy. Here, we take it up a notch by adding some crispy pan-fried tempeh. Traditionally, this dish is a Japanese dish served at New Year’s or to people healing from an illness.

There is an art to making this dish– you must use the minimum amount of water so that you don’t lose nutrients or flavor into the steaming liquid, you avoid burning the bottom of the pot. Ideally, you will steam the vegetables just long enough that no liquid remains. This can be achieved with patience– you must slowly bring the pot to a boil, covered, until you see steam coming out the sides of the pot. Do not lift the lid when you see the steam, simply turn the burner down as low as it will go, and let steam for about 20 minutes before checking for doneness.

I used Flying Tempeh Bros. tempeh available at Wheatsville Coop in their freezer section.

Tempeh should be a nice golden brown on at least 2 sides before seasoning with shoyu or tamari.

crispy pan-fried tempeh

Dried lotus root is a specialty ingredient in this recipe. You can substitute another vegetable such as green cabbage, but lotus root has a delicious and unique flavor (almost like a very flavorful, less starchy potato) that you’ll want to try sometime. In Austin, you can buy this at Central Market. For an extra special touch, try pan frying the lotus root (after it has rehydrated) before putting into the pot with the other vegetables.

Another specialty ingredient used in this recipe is kombu sea vegetable. It adds flavor and minerals to the vegetables and also helps prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pot. You can find Atlantic varieties of kombu at Wheatsville Coop such as the Ironbound Island or Maine Coast Sea Vegetables brands.

kombu

Macrobiotic Nishime Style Vegetables with Crispy Tempeh
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable Side Dish
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cubed
  • 2 teaspoon untoasted sesame oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • shoyu or tamari, to taste
  • 2 small squares kombu
  • 1 cup kabocha, butternut, or delicata squash, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into ½-inch chunks or roll cut
  • 1 cup yellow onion, large dice
  • 1 cup daikon, cut into ½-inch rounds
  • ½ cup dried lotus root slices, rehydrated (soak in water overnight)
  • spring or filtered water
Instructions
  1. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat and add oil. Pan fry tempeh for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate and sprinkle generously with shoyu or tamari. Set aside.
  2. Place kombu in bottom of heavy pot with lid (such as a Le Creuset round oven) and cover the bottom with about ¼-inch water. Layer vegetables on top of kombu and sprinkle evenly with a few pinches sea salt. Add pan-fried tempeh.
  3. Cover pot and place on medium heat until it comes to a boil and a good steam is generated (you will see the steam coming out of the sides of the pot). Do not open lid at this point.
  4. Lower the flame and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables become soft. Check for doneness by piercing a carrot or daikon chunk with a fork to see if it is tender.
  5. Season lightly with shoyu or tamari, turn off flame, and cover for a few minutes (or simmer for a few more minutes if needed).
  6. Toss pot gently with the lid on (do not stir) to distribute juices and serve.

Mmmm… Now eat your veggies!

Nishime style vegetables with crispy tempeh

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans and Pomegranate

Yesterday, I was part of a “Friendsgiving” photo shoot for Austin Food Magazine with amazingly talented Austin caterer Suzanne Court. “Friendsgiving” is the term for getting together with all of your friends for a potluck Thanksgiving meal. In this case, many local chefs, restauranteurs, food bloggers, and wine folks gathered at our friends’ beautiful house in Rollingwood. It was one of most delicious meals I’ve ever had, and I met so many friendly people in the local food scene. The article will come out in Austin Food Magazine on Monday, November 23rd.

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans and Pomegranate
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable Side Dish
Cuisine: Holiday
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
Toasted Pecans
  • ⅓ cup pecans, broken into pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon tamari
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar reduction
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pecans on sheet pan and toast in the oven for 6-8 minutes. When fully toasted, remove from the oven into a mixing bowl. Drizzle with tamari and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Trim brussels sprouts and cut in half (or in quarters if very large). Place in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper.
  4. Spread brussels sprouts out onto large sheet pan (or two smaller sheet pans) and roast in the oven for 12 minutes.
  5. While roasting the brussels sprouts, combine maple syrup and garlic. After 12 minutes, give the brussels sprouts a stir and add maple syrup and garlic mixture. Continue to roast until golden brown, about 15 minutes more.
  6. Remove brussels sprouts to a platter. Sprinkle with toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.
Note:
  1. For this large platter mounded with brussels sprouts, I used 5 pounds of brussels sprouts.

This recipe is fairly simple, but does require knowing how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate. I use the method presented in this video (cut the pomegranate in half and tap one half at a time with a wooden spoon or hammer until all seeds pop out).

roasted brussels sprouts

Here are some of the dishes from our Friendsgiving feast:

IMG_5552

This salad from Suzanne Court Catering was so wild and fresh!

thanksgiving tableIMG_5547

Beautiful pork dish with roasted squash, toasted pecans, and arugula by Chef David Garrido of Dine Raddison Austin.

IMG_5553

I highly recommend putting a dinner like this together with your friends. Just set up a shared google spreadsheet so everyone can sign up for a dish, or just take your chances that you will have a varied meal! I made maple-roasted brussels sprouts for the event. Try them this holiday season, as they are simple to make and have the perfect colors for a festive side dish!

Roasted Brussels Sproutsphoto of maple roasted brussels sprouts

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Join the Cook Love Heal Community!

Join the Cook Love Heal Community, and I’ll send you my Natural Health Starter Kit for free and you’ll find out about the online course as soon as it is available. I’ll also keep you updated with amazing recipes, yoga ideas and tips for how to live a balanced life. Look forward to meeting you!

Also, I’m so excited to share this… my new online course, Cook Naturally Without A Recipe, is up and open for enrollment! Learn more here (opens a new window) and share with your friends!

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