How to Prep and Store Island Shallots 'Shima-rakkyo'

Shima Rakkyo

What you see on the label at the Farmer's Market:
Kanji: 島らっきょう
Hiragana: しまらっきょう
Katakana: シマラッキョウ
Seasonal Harvesting Period: Spring to Summer

The Basics:

Shima rakkyo, or island shallots, is one of the representative vegetables of Okinawa next to goya. It is a scallion native to Okinawa, Japan. It is thought to be one of the many vegetables that contribute to Okinawan longevity. One piece is only 6 calories so the perfect diet/health food.

Shima rakkyo is a type of scallion that have been eaten in Okinawa for centuries. It has a strong aroma and spiciness similar to ordinary scallions. However, unlike ordinary scallions that have to be pickled in sweet vinegar or soy sauce, they have been eaten raw, salted or lightly pickled.

The characteristic of Shima Rakkyo is that it is slimmer and smaller than ordinary scallions, but it has a very strong scent and a spicy flavor.

Nutritional Info:

100 grams: 6kcal (1 bulb), carbohydrates(29.3g), iron (0.8g), dietary fiber (21.0g), vitamin E (0.8mg), vitamin C (23.0g)

Common ailments it is helpful towards (with reference to traditional Chinese medicine): improvement of hypertension, prevention of cancer, prevention of arteriosclerosis, prevention of heart disease, prevention of blurring, promotes blood circulation, helps prevent the formation of blood clots

Shima rakkyo contains large amounts of allicin. Allicin ​​is a very strong antioxidant and has a preventive effect on various adult diseases. Aged garlic is attracting attention because it contains this same component. Until now, it has been said that this allicin ​​is contained only in aged garlic, but has been discovered to also be contained in the concentrated extract of shima rakkyo.

Allicin combines with vitamin B1 in the body to make a component called allithiamine, which works to convert sugar into energy. This leads to fatigue recovery and nutritional tonic effects. Vitamin B1 also has the function of producing energy from sugar, but when combined with allicin the effect is enhanced.

Allithiamine is also said to be a "source of energy," and is an ingredient that is highly effective in relieving fatigue and nourishing tonic so that it can be added to energy drinks. It is considered good for nutritional support during summer heat. 

How to Wash and Cut:

Cut the shima rakkyo in half. 

The top pieces that are green and lively looking can be used in dishes that use leeks or onions, but the brown, wilted pieces are thrown away.

Peel the outer layer...

...and wash away any remaining dirt.

Cut off the ends with the roots and they are ready to cook!

How To Store:

Once cleaned and cut, shima rakkyo can be stored in the vegetable compartment or cool section in the fridge. It can be stored for a month if kept in vinegar with some sugar. 

Whole bulbs can be stored in the vegetable compartment, as well, and also will need moisture to keep fresh. Bulbs are stored a long time this way by gardeners to plant later on.

Cook tempura or stir-fry shima rakkyo. Divide the tempura and stir fry into small pieces and wrap them in saran wrap. Place in a storage bag, deflate, close the bag, and place in the freezer. Can be stored in the freezer for 3-4 weeks.

[How to Unthaw]
For tempura shima rakkyo, remove the wrap and bake in a preheated oven/toaster while frozen until the center warms (200°C for about 1 minute 30 seconds).
For stir-fry shima rakkyo, heat the stir-fry in a microwave oven (500W) for 1 minute (*per 60g).

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