Last Sunday, while visiting my favourite supermarket inside the Shizuoka JR Station in search of unusual vegetables I had the pleasure to re-discover that increasingly popular Japanese vegetable, namely urui.
Its Latin name id Hosta Montana. If someone knows the English name, I would be very grateful to be enlightened!
Now, originally this vegetable was a “sansai/wild vegetable” until it has been successfully grown almost all over Japan.
The real name of this mountain plant is Oobagibooshi, too long a name to be marketed, hence the “new” name “urui” for the cultivated species.
At full maturity it can reach imposing height and width.
Like asparaguses, it is harvested early before it extends over a foot/30 cm height.
The leaves are still small, thin and tender then.
The whole plant, unless cooked as tenpura or fried, needs to be lightly boiled in lightly salted water beforehand.
To prepare the plant for the evening snack I had in mind for the Missus (Natasha, Tangled Noodle, do you remember? LOL) I cut the plant into 3 equal lengths and boiled the two bottom ones first as they would take longer. Once boiled to satsifaction I took theme out and cooled them under cold water, cut them lengthwise to thin enough strips and laid them onto a sheet of kitchen paper.
I boiled the leaves just long enough to make them tender, cooled them under cold water and spread them on a sheet of kitchen paper.
I had cooked a fine ratatouille beforehand, let it cool completely and added a dressing of my making with soft Dijon mustard, tarragon white wine vinegar, walnut oil, pepper and salt.
Now vegan and vegetarian friends should proceed directly to the dish I created as the rest ill not suit them!
Next I lightly fried small scallops (after marinating then in lemon juice for a couple of minutes) just enough to keep them almost raw inside and put them aside to cool. I did the same, marinade included with some white shrimps.
Note: to attain their “standing shape” is very easy. First “peel” them leaving the tail ends for better “handling”, make a shallow cut along their back, take out the innards and fry just enough to cok both sides to a nice color and keep them almost hlf raw inside. This way they will be firm but extremely tender.
As for the dish itself, vegan and vegetarian friends can forget the seafood and replace it with more ratatouille and edible flowers for example.
I built an “enclosure” with the cut urui stem, filled it with ratatouille. I placed the seafood geomatrically above the ratatouille. Around it I alternately placed urui leaves, trevise with edible flowers and watercress.
I made a point to take a pic before we sprinkled the lot with dressing (I leave the choice to you!)
Great with a Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wine!