Izayoi chirashi, what's that pink sugar?
Had chirashi for lunch today at Izayoi.
Mixed with the rice was a pinkish shugary substance, didn't blend at all with the rest of the dish.
I asked the server what it was, she didn't know but would ask, she never came back with the answer.
I assume it was just some kind of pink sugar.
Chubbypanda -- thanks for the freezer tip for "denbu." It did not do well in my spice cupboard. I think it was still good, but it seemed to grow more pungent as it sat. One day it blew me over with its "fishiness" and I tossed it. I think the freezer is a great idea. Does it remain powdery so that it can be used right out of the freezer, or does it harden like an ice cube?
Unless you put it in on a really warm day (condensation), it stays nice and powdery. Even if it does seize up a little, a few stiff raps to the side will break it up again. I store shredded or powdered hard cheeses, like Parmesan, the same way.
It can't stay in there indefinitely, though, or you risk the funky flavor of feezer burn. But, it'll buy you another month or so.
I have always heard it called OBORO and I can't stand it. Places like MORI SUSHI never use it, but when I went to NOMA I always had to ask them to omit it. I thought it was a ginger sugar powder, but looking it up on the Internet it is apparently it is some kind of dried fish powder.
In addition to its use in chirashi, 'denbu' is also used in making vegetarian futomaki (the one with the Japanese gourd and omelette).
I purchased some at the Nijiya market on Sawtelle with the intention of using it liberally on everything; I really thought it might kick up a rice dish. However, it has a very "fishy" edge which grew stronger with time, and I wasn't sure how long I could safely use it. I don't have it anymore.
One of my Japanese cook books has a recipe of 'lunch box rice with 3 toppings', a bento box for children. It has yellow, pink, and beige toppings.
The pink topping is 'denbu', consisting of cooked cod, caster (fine) sugar, salt, sake, and red food coloring. The result is supposed to be 'very fluffy and fibrous' pink cod flakes.