Okinawa Tourism Information:Series/IslandBlessing,IslandTastePart16Shibui

Series / Island Blessing, Island Taste Part 16 Shibui

post : 2014.11.09 21:00

During a severe hot summer, vegetable harvest extremely decreases in Okinawa.
“Shibui” is an excellent vegetable for such a situation.

“Shibui” is an Okinawan word meaning “Tougan (winter melon).” That is what people call in mainland Japan.  You may have not heard of the name before, but it does not mean it tastes “shibui (astringent).” 

In Okinawa, the harvest time for shibui is long, from May to September.  The vegetable can be stored until winter, so it is a great vegetable in summer season when we have a small harvest of vegetables.  You can see lines of shibui sold at a market.

It is said that since the melon can be stored until winter, it was named “tougan (winter melon).”

We have been calling it shibui in Okinawa and the vegetable is relatively easy to grow in a home garden.  If you follow vines growing around the wall of a private house, you might find fresh green ripen shibui.

A variety of health benefits of the vegetable are expected.  It is also a diuretic, so it is good to eat it in a season when our feet get swollen easily. 

If you drink brewed dried shibui skins, you can clear your throat of phlegm easily.  My family also try to drink it.
The food we eat gives our bodies the "information" and materials they need to function properly.
It is good to know the characteristics of an ingredient to take it to keep our physical shape up.

Today I would like to introduce you “nimono (simmered dish)” using shibui.

【Shibui no Ebi Ankake (Shibui with Thickened Prawn Sauce】


* 1/2 Shibui

* 6 prawns (finely chopped)

* 1 clove ginger

* 1 Tbsp sake

* 2 Tbsp Nam Pla

* 2 cup katsuobushi*

* A pinch of salt

* 2 Tbsp water-dissolved katakuriko starch

* katsuobushi: a kind of Japanese soup stock made from bonito flakes


  1. Cut shibui in half lengthwise and cut the halves lengthwise again.  After peeling them, slice them into 3cm wide so that they look fan-shaped. 
  2. Boil the katsuodashi and salt in a pot at the medium heat, and put the shibui.  Bring it up to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. 
  3. Cook until soft enough for a skewer to go through with ease.  Take the shibui out of the pot and into a container. (Please do not throw the boil soup away as you need it for the sauce.)
  4. Reheat the 3. soup again, add the chopped ginger, sake, Nam Pla to the pot, and bring it up to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, add the finely chopped prawns.  While stirring the soup with chopsticks, bring it up to a boil again.  Add the katakuriko slurry to thicken while stirring the soup to keep lumps from forming.
  5. Serve the simmered shibui to each dish and pour the 4. thickened prawn sauce to finish.

When I was living in Tokyo, I cooked with soy sauce, but since I moved to Okinawa, I have been enjoying simmering shibui with Nam Pla. 

When you cram juicy shibui into your mouth, the flavor of prawn and the plain aroma of Nam Pla spread in your mouth.
For a summer refreshing recipe, simmered shibui with ground seafood or white-meat fish is recommended.
From autumn to winter, a recipe of simmered shibui with ground chicken or pork would be nice for a rich taste.

In summer I would recommend that you keep the simmered shibui in a dish in the refrigerator before serving in order to cool your hot body down while in winter I would recommend that you add ginger to serve it as a hot dish.

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kono)