One of my go to side dishes this time of year is Yamagata Dashi, a classic kyōdo ryōri (regional dish) from where my family is from. I didn’t eat it growing up, and only came upon it once I lived in Japan. It’s the perfect dish for summer as the vegetables for Yamagata Dashi are at the peak of their season.
Yamagata Dashi smells like you are in the garden. It has a crunchy texture and depending on how much nattō kombu and okra you use, it can be very slippery. I love the aromatics from the shiso and myōga, the crunch from the cucumbers, and it took a while for me to get used to eating raw eggplant, but I love it now.
The main ingredients are cucumbers, eggplant, myōga (ginger buds), okra, and shiso. Nattō kombu, finely minced dried kombu, is another key ingredient. I picked up this pack of nattō kombu なっとう昆布 or 納豆昆布 at the Yamagata antenna shop in Ginza.
Soak a small amount of the nattō kombu in water while prepping the vegetables.
I like to blanch the okra and remove the seeds, but if you are in a hurry or don’t want to be bothered with turning on the stove, you could mince the okra while raw.
Finely chop the cucumbers, eggplant, and okra. Mince the myōga and shiso.
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and season with either soy sauce or tsuyu (seasoned soy sauce used for soba or udon noodles). Serve over rice. If you can’t be bothered cooking rice, use the precooked rice that only needs to be microwaved.
Serve immediately. Best to make only what you can eat as the texture changes if it sits overnight in the refrigerator.
Yamagata Dashi 山形だし
kyōdo ryōri 郷土料理
cucumbers – kyūri 胡瓜
eggplant – nasu 茄子
ginger buds – myōga 茗荷
nattō kombu 納豆昆布
Do let me know if you try making this dish. Curious what your reactions are.