Jan 11, 2016

From Mr & Mrs Igarashi’s Modern Kitchen: Namasu

Traditionally, the Japanese make Namasu for New Year celebrations on 1 January. This is a dish of vegetables seasoned in rice vinegar, made using carrots and radish. The orange of the carrot is likened to the colour red, and together with white radish, this red and white dish represents celebratory colours in Japan. Namasu is eaten to refresh our palates and to complement the special dishes eaten on celebratory occasions like New Year.

Namasu is sour in flavour, but the taste of vinegar is tempered by the natural sweetness from the sugar and root vegetables. Kombu is added to give the dish an umami flavour. Depending on the region or household, there may be small variations to the dish. Some people add red radish to the dish, or add a peel of yuzu to enhance its aroma. For those who enjoy a bit of a spicy kick, sliced chilli may also be added.

Namasu has numerous health benefits. The radish and carrot are rich in fibre, which aids digestion, relieves constipation, and improves your skin condition. The vegetables are marinated in rice vinegar, which has its own set of health benefits. These include easing tiredness, whetting our appetite, helping our body retain calcium, burning visceral fat, lowering blood glucose level, and reducing blood pressure. To reap all these health benefits, all you need is one small dish of Namasu per day.

Namasu is delicious on its own, but our recipes offer easy ways to include Namasu into your everyday meals. The first recipe is a twist on the traditional Japanese nanbanzuke, or deep-fried fish marinated in vinegar sauce. The second recipe is inspired by the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, which includes radish and carrot – similar to Namasu. We created this as a way to incorporate Southeast Asian influences with the use of Namasu, creating a fusion of Japanese and ethnic food. We added soy sauce in the butter to enhance the umami of the dish. We hope you enjoy it!”

Making Namasu


300g radish
60g carrot
2/3 tsp salt
100ml water
5 cm x 5 cm cut kombu
5 tbsp rice vinegar
3 1/2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt

1. Peel and shred the radish into 5cm long and 2mm thick strips. Peel and shred the carrot into 5cm long and 1mm thick strips. Place the radish and carrot into a bowl and rub them with salt. Leave for 10 minutes and then dry them.
2. Place the water, kombu, rice vinegar, sugar, and 1/3 tsp salt in an air-tight container and mix. Add the radish and carrot.
3. Keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

You should not cut the radish too thinly so that it remains crisp to eat.
The flavour of Namasu will be absorbed into the dish once it is left overnight. Once prepared, consume within one week.

Salmon Namasu(Fried Salmon Seasoned in Vinegar)


200g fresh salmon
2 tsp soy sauce
10g ginger
2 tbsp potato starch
Appropriate quantity of Salad oil
1/8 lemon, peeled
80g Namasu
120cc Namasu marinade
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Peel the ginger and grate it. Shred the peeled lemon.
2. Cut the fresh salmon into bite-sized pieces. Soak them with 2 tsp soy sauce and ginger. Set aside for 20 minutes.
3. Heat the pan at 170°C with salad oil. Fry the salmon for about 5 minutes until brown.
4.Mix the peeled lemon, Namasu, Namasu marinade, 1 tsp soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add the fried salmon. After cooling, place it in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator for at least one hour so that the flavour of Namasu is well-absorbed into the salmon.

Sandwich With Namasu And Thickly Sliced Bacon With Chilli & Butter Soy Sauce


30cm baguette
150g thickly sliced bacon
1 lettuce leaf
10g coriander
80g Namasu
20g butter
½ tsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp chilli powder

1. Incise the baguette crosswise after cutting it in half. Cut the thickly sliced bacon 7mm wide. Tear the lettuce into a size suitable for a sandwich. Cut the coriander 3cm wide.
2. Bring the butter to room temperature and mix till soft. Add soy sauce and chilli powder, and mix well. Spread it over the baguette.
3. Place the lettuce, bacon, Namasu, and coriander between the two pieces of baguette.

(Text Sharifah Nursyafiqah  Photography Foodcreativefactory Recipes Translation Yuichi)


Food consultants Go Igarashi and his wife, Yukari, are both food enthusiasts who eat, breathe, and live everything gourmet. They believe food goes beyond just function, and is an integral part of one’s lifestyle.

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