As a household, we have a couple of recipes we eventually like to fall back on, when we need the warmth and safety of something familiar. These are not necessarily recipes that bring us back to our youth, or anything our mothers (separately) cooked or cookies our grandmothers slipped in our pockets when no-one was watching. No, in fact most of these recipes have been recently added to our repertoires, but still have a soul-warming effect.
This is one of those recipes. Taken out of the book by Master Chef Murata called Japanese Home Cooking with Master Chef Murata: Sixty Quick and Healthy Recipes, Potato Kimpira with Bacon seems to be the obvious answer to the question «so, what are we cooking today, that the weather is bad and we need something to cheer us up before going to work/babysitting/class?».
In general, this book is one of my favorites. I didn’t really know Yoshihiro Murata until I bought this book. Oh, yes, I’m guilty of buying cookbooks by cooks I don’t really know, judging only by the cover, or by the contents’ page. So, one day I decided I wanted a couple of books on Japanese cooking. One of the books I bought was this one. Boy was I happy with it!
The photos, the tastes, AND the fact that I can actually cook most of the recipes, without having to travel to an exotic country to find the ingredients. Most of the exotic ingredients, like mirin, bonito flakes and I don’t know what else, have not yet reached my town. Now, you will find recipes that require some of these ingredients. But they are mostly optional – and I found out that whole wheat spaghetti can be a great substitute to buckwheat noodles, thanks to Master Chef Murata.
Kimpira actually means «sauté and simmer» according to Wikipedia, and is used for cooking vegetables, such as carrot and other roots I would never find in Greece. We will be doing that with potatoes, but I might try it with carrots one day, it sounds pretty interesting!
What we’ll need
2 medium all – purpose potatoes (I used to big ones – hey, we are eaters!)
2 slices of bacon (again, eaters, I used 4. It changes nothing, other than, you know, more bacon!)
1 Tb vegetable oil (the more bacon you use, the less oil you need – that said, I used 1 Tb, despite using more bacon)
½ tsp crushed chili flakes (I know this is becoming annoying, but I like things HOT. So, I actually used ½ Tb of that. Maybe more!)
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb sugar
1 Tb water (funny story: the larger the potatoes, the more liquid you need. Adjust – I used what the book said and then added a little bit more of both)
½ tsp sesame seeds
1 scallion, chopped
Ground black pepper
What to do
Start by cutting the potatoes into really small sticks. The book says 7mm thick and 7cm long, but I didn’t really count. I just cut them up as thin as I could, because the thinner they are, the faster they cook. This will also take you a loooooooooooong time – unless you are a chef or something. I realized how long this took when my boyfr… eh… husband (wow, I’ll never get used to that!) left to go to the store and then returned and put everything away and then sat to watch a game while I was still chopping up potatoes. Still, it’s a great meditation game, emptying your mind and just chopping potatoes. Try it!
Ok, when you’re done with the potatoes, chop up the bacon and add it in a large pan – or a wok – along with the oil and the chili flakes over medium heat. Let them cook until the fat of the bacon is done and your kitchen smells amazing. (I bet we could add garlic, too, why didn’t I think of trying that? Or would it complicate the taste? I need to think about this…).
When your bacon is cooked, add the potatoes, the water, the soy sauce and the sugar, stir and let it cook until all the liquids are gone. I cover it because my pan is large and shallow and I fear that the humidity won’t circulate around the potatoes enough. But that’s just me, you know how your cutlery works better than I do.
Now is the time to start tasting it. When you see that your liquids are gone and you really want to try it, well, go ahead. If the potato doneness is to your liking, add the sesame seeds. Stir once, ONCE, and remove from heat.
Arrange your kimpira in a dish or a bowl and garnish it with the scallion. Add some black pepper and serve.
This makes enough for two people. Now, sometimes we may only need to have the potato kimpira and we are good to go. I must confess, though, that this time we had it alongside a burger – a burger, not a burger in a bun with everything that accompanies a burger, just the burger! – but it was a cold day and it was our only meal of the day, so hopefully we weren’t just being pigs!
So, there you have it. Potato bacon kimpira for everyone. I hope you enjoy it!
PS. This is how I cook. With a black cat staring at me, sniffing every time I bat my eyelashes, meowing every time I move towards the fridge. She begs for food even in her sleep sometimes. Of course I always give her a little treat, which, I guess, means I’m to blame. But who can say “no” to these eyes?
(She’s actually “eying” the bacon)