How to simmer Kanpyo

How to simmer Kanpyo

Have you ever seen this food that looks like a ribbon?  This is “kanpyo”. It’s a shaved and dried edible gourd called “Yugao”. It becomes swollen after soaking in and absorbing water, and then ready for use.
Kanpyo is a common ingredient for sushi. It’s especially often used for makizushi/ sushi rolls and in this case, it’s flavored with soy sauce, sugar and mirin.

Kanpyo is an uncommon ingredient for home cooking, at least here in Tokyo. I bet it’s more commonly cooked in Tochigi prefecture (No.9 on the map). According to the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture over 99% of kanpyo is produced there.

There are two types of  kanpyo in the market here in Japan.

One of them is bleached by fumigation with sulfur dioxide to prevent mold and pests. It also keeps the white color from becoming brownish. It’s kind of elastic and not easy to tear apart even if you simmer it. When opening a package of bleached kanpyo, you may notice a sour smell. Although it’s said that the amount of sulfur dioxide in it doesn’t affect your health, you should massage it with salt to remove all residual preservatives.

The other one is additive-free. It’s more brownish and sold in vacuum packaging. The taste is the same as the bleached kanpyo but the texture of the additive-free one is softer. You don’t need to use salt for preparing it and the water that is used for soaking it can be used as vegetable broth. 

When kanpyo is still dry, it might be difficult to distinguish the differences in color between them.

It becomes obvious once they are boiled. 

I looked around several super markets and I realized that the package of additive-free kanpyo is written 無漂白/ unbleached, 無添加/ additive-free, or 天然/ natural.

The package of bleached kanpyo doesn’t show you if it’s bleached, but the name of the preservatives is written on the back. 

If you have a chance to buy either one at a Japanese grocery store, please refer to the above information. 

I prefer the additive-free, but I’m going to show you how to prepare both types of kanpyo in my recipe. Let’s move on to the recipe.

How to simmer Kanpyo

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Recipe by Mika
Prep timeminutes
Cooking timeminutes


  • 20g dried kanpyo

  • 100 ml water

  • 2 tablespoons sugar (kibizatou/ light brown sugar)

  • 2 tablespoons mirin

  • 2.5 tablespoons soy sauce


  • Wash kanpyo lightly.
  • Soke the kanpyo in fresh water for about 3 minutes. I recommend using an otoshibuta if you have one. It is convenient to prevent the kampyo from floating up. 
  • Take the kanpyo out of the water and massage it till it becomes soft.
    If your kanpyo is bleached, add one teaspoon of salt and massage to remove all residual preservatives.
  • Rinse the kanpyo well and squeeze it.
  • Boil the kanpyo for about 10 minutes.
  • Take the kanpyo out of the pot.
    Cool it on the colander.
  • You can cut the kanpyo to adapt to the dish you’re going to make.
    You can also tear it easily after cooking it.
  • In a pot, combine sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and heat it over medium high heat. Mix it well.
  • When the sauce is heated up, add the boiled kanpyo to the pot and simmer it. 
    Otoshibuta also works well when evenly simmering kanpyo with a small amount of liquid.
  •  Once the sauce is boiled down, turn off the heat. Let the kanpyo cool down in the pan. The sauce soaks into kanpyo as it is cooling.

Thank you for allowing me to share my recipe with you. I hope to see you again soon.