Simmered Taro (Satoimo no Nimono) 里芋の煮物

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  • Simmered Taro (Satoimo no Nimono) is a classic home cooked recipe that compliments the main dish in a typical Japanese meal. A humble yet wonderful way to appreciate the remarkable texture and pleasant sweetness of this starchy root vegetable.

    A white Japanese bowl containing Japanese-style Simmered Taro garnished with yuzu peel.

    Simmered Taro, is a classic simmered dish in Japan. In Japanese we call this dish Satoimo no Nimono (里芋の煮物) or Satoimo no Nikkorogashi (里芋の煮っころがし).

    Taro

    What’s Taro?

    If you’re unfamiliar with taro, it is a starchy root crop that is known for its nutrition values and essential minerals. The variety of taro vary in sizes and shapes, but the ones we use for Japanese cuisine are often smaller, round, dark in color, and hairy. These unassuming root vegetables are called Satoimo (里芋) in Japanese and you can find them at Japanese or other Asian grocery stores. Simmered Taro is very simple to prepare, which is why it has been a popular home cooked dish.

    How to Prepare Taro for Delicious Simmered Taro

    While the recipe of simmered taro is uncomplicated, there are a few things you want to take note of when preparing taro. If consumed raw, it can cause mild irritation and itchiness and the flesh is slimy. Why then bother cooking with it? Well, aside from its many nutrition values, taro is appreciated for its unique texture and ability to soak up flavors. Give it a try and you’ll discover why it is widely enjoyed in Japanese cuisine.

    I include some tips below on how to prepare taro, especially if this is your first time cooking with taro.

    1. Taro has hairy, tough and thick skin which is hard to peel with a peeler. Make sure to rinse it well under water and remove the hair as much as you can.
    2. Cut off both ends first and peel from one end to the other end. And it’s okay to peel the thick skin off.
    3. To get rid of the sliminess, use salt to rub the taro and rinse under cold water.
    4. Boil the taro to get rid of the bitterness and foam/scum. Drain the water completely and taro is ready to get seasoned!

    A white Japanese bowl containing Japanese-style Simmered Taro garnished with yuzu peel.

    Tips to Make Best Simmered Taro

    1. Blanch taro first to avoid bitterness

    If you start cooking taro directly in a simmering sauce, taro will release bitterness and affects the final taste.  Therefore, it’s best to blanch taro first before coating it with the savory sauce.

    2. Coat the taro with oil after pre-blanching 

    The oil helps lock in all the flavors inside the taro and prevent umami from going away. It also helps to keep the shape without breaking into pieces.

    3. Season with sweet condiments before salty condiments

    When working with an ingredient that requires some time to cook, make sure to season it with sweet condiments such as mirin and sugar.  If you add salt or salty condiment, the natural sweetness of the ingredient will be lost and it requires more sugar/mirin to sweeten again.

    4. Use otoshibuta (drop lid) to keep the taro submerged all times

    Otoshibuta is an essential kitchen tool to make nimono or simmered dishes in Japan.  The drop lid helps the ingredient submerged in simmering sauce all times, while preventing the sauce from evaporating too fast.  It also keeps the taro steady in place so it won’t break down into pieces.  You can buy an adjustable stainless drop lid like mine or you can make your own otoshibuta with aluminum foil.

    5. Drizzle mirin last for luster

    Mirin is known for adding luster to the dish, which is why mirin is an essential ingredient when you make Teriyaki (as Teri means “luster” in Japanese). Not only it adds sweetness, but it adds beautiful and delicious shine to the dish right before you turn off the heat and serve.

    A white Japanese bowl containing Japanese-style Simmered Taro garnished with yuzu peel.

    Just like the other simmered dishes, simmered taro is cooked with the basic Japanese seasonings – dashi, sake, soy sauce, mirin and some sugar. The simplicity of this preparation allows taro to take the center stage while it soaks up the savory flavor of the sauce.

    You can serve the simmered taro in the Ichiju Sansai ‘one soup three dishes’ style, by complimenting it with braised pork belly (kakuni), chawanmushi, steamed rice, pickled cucumber and miso soup.

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    5 from 2 votes
    A white Japanese bowl containing Japanese-style Simmered Taro garnished with yuzu peel.
    Simmered Taro (Satoimo no Nimono)
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    35 mins
    Total Time
    50 mins
     

    Simmered Taro (Satoimo no Nimono) is a classic home cooked recipe that compliments the main dish in a typical Japanese meal. A humble yet wonderful way to appreciate the remarkable texture and pleasant sweetness of this starchy root vegetable.

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: nimono, simmered dish, taro
    Servings: 4 (as side dish)
    Ingredients
    • 10 Taro (800 g will become 700 g after peeling)
    • ½ tsp kosher salt
    • 2 tsp neutral flavor oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • yuzu peel (can be substitute with julienned lemon peel) (optional for garnish)
    Seasonings
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Simmered Taro Ingredients
    2. Wash the taro with water and drain. Cut both ends and peel the skin. Taro will be slimy so be careful when you’re handling with the knife.
      Simmered Taro 1
    3. Sprinkle kosher salt over the taro and rub with your hands. Then rinse under cold water and then drain completely.
      Simmered Taro 2
    4. Place the taro in a large pot and fill up with water to cover the taro. Bring the water to boil.
      Simmered Taro 3
    5. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the skewer goes through. Pre-blanching helps to absorb flavors when you simmer with seasonings. Drain and remove the sliminess under warm water.
      Simmered Taro 4
    6. Heat the oil in the pot. Add the taro and quickly coat with the oil. The oil helps lock in all the flavors inside the taro and prevent umami from going away. It also helps keeping the shape without breaking into pieces.
      Simmered Taro 5
    7. Add dashi, sake and sugar, and bring to boil. Skim if necessary.
      Simmered Taro 6
    8. Lower the heat and place otoshibuta (drop lid) and simmer for 5 minutes.
      Simmered Taro 7
    9. Remove otoshibuta and add soy sauce (adding soy sauce later helps the sweet flavors easily soak in). Place the otoshibuta back and simmer for 20-25 minutes (depends on the size of taro - mine is large). Lastly, add mirin and gently shake the pot to coat the taro with the sauce. Adding mirin toward the end gives a nice luster to the dish.

      Simmered Taro 8
    10. Garnish with julienned yuzu (lemon) peel, if you like.
      Simmered Taro 9
    Recipe Notes

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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