Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mmmm...Japanese!



One of the things I love about cooking is that just when you think you've exhausted every option for making something interesting with a particular ingredient, you'll find a recipe or eat a meal that surprises you and puts that ingredient in a whole new light.

This is one of those meals. Not only does it have fun with such healthy staples as brown rice and salmon, it uses green tea -- who'd have thought of that? -- and eggplant, in a veggie-packed side dish.

The first dish is one that traditionally was served to guests "as a polite way of saying the party was over," according to the beautiful book "Japanese Cooking," by Emi Kazuko and Yasuko Fukuoka. It's a very basic dish but with a little soy sauce sprinkled on top -- and a tiny dot of wasabi, too -- it's super tasty. It's more of a snack than a meal, but with a generous side of vegetables, it will fill you up. And don't worry, the green tea is very subtle.

Both of the following recipes are from the book mentioned above, but adapted to suit my needs (i.e. I used a little more salmon and rice, I couldn't find shimeji mushrooms, etc.) The eggplant dish is extra tasty, and it would be great as a main dish, served over rice.

Rice in green tea with salmon (serves 4)

8 ounces of salmon fillet, 1 inch thick

salt

1/4 nori sheet (that's the dried seaweed that comes in sheets), sliced in 2-inch-by-3/4-inch strips

4 cups cooked short-grain brown rice

1 tablespoon sencha (green tea) leaves, brewed for about a minute in 2-1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon -- or more -- of wasabi paste

4 teaspoons soy sauce

1.) Put salt on the salmon and let it sit for 30 minutes. Wipe the salt off, and broil or grill the fish until cooked through. I broiled it on high for about 8 minutes. Remove the skin and flake into chunks with a fork.

2.) Put equal amounts of hot rice in bowls. Divide the salmon on top. Pour evenly over the rice and salmon. Top with the nori slices and wasabi, then drizzle with soy sauce.



Steamed eggplant with sesame sauce (serves 4 -- and would be even better as a main dish over rice than as a side!)

2 large aubergines (eggplant -- the long, light purple ones you can find at Asian markets)

about 2-1/2 cups dashi stock (that amount of water mixed with dashi-no-moto, also found at Asian markets), divided

3 tablespoons extra fine sugar, divided

1 tablespoon plus one dash of soy sauce, divided

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, ground with a mortar and pestle

2 tablespoons sake, divided (sake is Japanese wine; I bought cooking sake)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed

1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in half

1/4 teaspoons salt

1.) Peel the aubergines and cut in quarters, lengthwise. Prick with a skewer or fork and put in salted water for a half-hour. Drain them, cut them in half, and steam them until tender.

2.) Mix 1-2/3 cups dashi stock, half the sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large pan. Carefully put the eggplants into the mixture, and cook at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

3.) Take 3 tablespoons of that stock and mix it with the ground sesames. Pour that back into the pan with the veggies.

4.) Mix 1 tablespoon sake and the cornstarch together, and add that to the pan, stirring quickly to mix it in. When it starts to become very thick, remove the pan from the heat. (I don't think I let my sauce get quite thick enough.)

5.) Mix the remaining dashi stock, sugar, sake, salt and soy sauce in a large, shallow pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

6.) Serve the aubergines in sauce, with the mushrooms and beans on top.


2 comments:

Kara said...

I think John may try to move in with you. He wants to eat at your house everyday! QUICK! Post a red meat recipe!

Nicole said...

Does he do dishes?? :)