All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Fuki no ha to jako no mazegohan / steamed rice with Japanese butterbur leaves and dried young sardines

A distinctive rice dish on the bitter end of the spectrum for adults (and kids who have acquired the taste). The bitterness in this rice dish offers another dimension to the meal while masking the lower sodium content that you might otherwise notice.

1/2 of recipe with 150 g steamed rice:
288 calories; 5.0 g protein; 2.6 g fat; 57.7 g carbohydrate; 57.1 g net carbs; 84 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce; 163 mg with regular soy sauce); 11 mg cholesterol; 0.6 g fiber


2 servings of steamed rice (not in photo)

3 medium fuki Japanese butterbur leaves (22 g in photo)
1 1/2 tbsp (9-10 g) chirimen jako or shirasu dried young sardines
1 tsp sake
1 tsp mirin
1/4 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil


Boil fuki leaves for 1-2 minutes.
Make sure to submerge entire leaves in boiling water (sections that are not soaked in boiling water turn brownish).

Transfer to ice water to stop cooking.
Soak in water for 1+ hours (until bitterness is reduced to the desired degree) while changing water a few times.


Meanwhile, soak chirimen jako in hot water (microwaved 30-60 seconds), and let sit for 10 minutes to desalinate.



Squeeze out excess water from fuki leaves, and finely chop.


Heat sesame oil, and saute fuki leaves on medium low heat.


When fuki leaves are coated with oil, add sake, mirin, rice vinegar and soy sauce, stir, and continue cooking until liquid is almost gone.

Add chirimen jako, and mix well.


Add to steamed rice, and gently turn.
Ready to serve.

  • Fuki leaf prep can be done ahead of time, even a day in advance.
  • Soaking boiled leaves in water for some time, changing water while soaking, and sauteing with oil softens the bitterness of fuki leaves.
  • Taste the fuki leaves while soaking to ascertain how much the bitterness has been reduced.  
  • If you don't have enough time to soak boiled fuki leaves, use more sesame oil or add some nuts.  It might not solve the bitterness issue but should help. Adding some egg (even only 1/3 or 1/2 of one egg) also softens the bitterness.
  • First soaking chirimen jako or shirasu in hot water basically eliminates all sodium added to the young sardines. Cold water works fine too, but it takes a bit longer to desalinate.
  • Jako is a shorter term for chirimen jako. For me, chirimen jako is drier than shirasu, but the difference or definition varies by region in Japan.
  • In the top photo, the rice is topped with roasted white sesame seeds and is accompanied by tamagoyaki omelet with grated carrot, sauteed fuki butterbur with shrimp, simmered konnyaku yam cake, and smoked salmon, hakusai napa cabbage and arugula soaked in light broth -- a yummy picnic lunch! 

(Last updated: August 22, 2016)

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