Day 5, dinner at Mukune-tei
Photo: Dinner at Mukune-tei, the restaurant at Daimon shuzo (sake brewery) in Osaka.

January 2008: I’m at the John Gauntner Sake Seminar, it’s the last dinner of the week. We’re upstairs in the restaurant in the impossibly gorgeous old farmhouse and Daimon-san is giving a lecture about sake. I’m trying to focus, but the junmai daiginjo is making the table glow and I get distracted by the crispy coating on the little pink and white fried taro balls. I ask the waitress and she tells me, “mijinko.” I write it down on the menu and put it aside. I figure I’ll look it up later. I do, and I can’t find anything about it.

Sushi Taro kaiseki
Photo: Fried stuffed lotus root with “Japanese rice crispie” coating at Sushi Taro, Washington, D.C.

November 2009: I’m in Washington, D.C. at Sushi Taro, and the waitress brings course 8 of 10, fried lotus root that has been stuffed with kamaboko (fishcake) and she says, offhandedly, “Coated with Japanese rice crispies.” Ah, mijinko!

All I can find about mijinko is that it is glutinous rice flour (related to or the same as kanbaiko). On some Web sites, I find info that mijinko is part of rakugan, somewhat hard Japanese sweets, but this doesn’t seem to fit the characteristics of the crispy popped rice texture of the coatings in the photos. Maybe it isn’t mijinko at all. My ongoing investigation to continue…