Kazunoko (herring roe)
Part of the traditional Oshogatsu menu of preserved osechi-ryori items, this dish can keep almost indefinately. However, the sweet, sticky and slightly crunchy tiny fish are usually quickly gobbled up, Dried sardines are simmered in mirin and sprinkled with sesame seeds. They symbolize a bountiful harvest, (sardines were once used as fertilizer) and literally translates as “making rice fields”. Full of calcium, this dish is great for strong bones.
Soak the kazunoko for 7-9 hours in a large bowl full of fresh water. Change the water two to three times to get rid of excess salt. In the meantime, prepare the soaking liquid: Simmer the dashi, soy sauce and mirin for three minutes. Remove from heat to cool.
After the kazunoko is finished soaking, break off a piece to taste. If it is still too salty, continue to soak for another hour in fresh water. Wash the kazunoko under fresh running water while peeling off the thin outer membrane. This is almost invisible to the naked eye, but iit turns whitish after soaking, and you can feel it coming loose as you rub the pieces of kazunoko. Make sure you remove all the membrane. Wash the kazunoko thoroughly, and pat dry.
Soak the kazunoko in the soaking liquid for at least a few hours, and preferably, overnight.
Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and serve in a bowl with some of the soaking liquid.Serves 6-8