Home-Made Dried Vegetables
There is a long and nutritious tradition in Japan of drying vegetables. Dried vegetables were originally made to provide food during the long winter months after the harvest.
Dried vegetables are easily made at home and thus finding new popularity: just cut up whatever vegetables are at hand—daikon, carrot, eggplant, pumpkin, sweet potato, renkon (lotus root), gobo (burdock root), to name a few—and lay them out on flat bamboo baskets to dry.
Not only does drying make the vegetable a bit crunchy, the process also enhances its umami. Nutrients in some vegetables increase during drying, concentrating fiber and mineral content. Dried vegetables are quite versatile and can be used in various ways, including simmering, sautéing and grilling.
Vegetables spread out on a bamboo basket to dry
Making Dried Vegetables
Select one or more type of vegetable and wash, drain, then cut into desired thickness and size. Lay out on a flat bamboo basket in a well-ventilated place and allow to dry. After half a day, vegetables become semi-dry, and surfaces turn a bit whitish. In one or two days, the drying process is complete, as vegetables become smaller in size and lighter in weight. Drying even for just a few hours improves flavor and creates textures unlike those of fresh vegetables.
Sautéed dried vegetables, including dried
daikon sautéed with soy sauce (left)