Cooking with Japanese Vegetables

A Meal for Four

Recipes by Yukiko Kennedy • Photography by D. Lucas Landis
 

Beautiful produce, clean flavors, the excitement and energy of trying new and unfamiliar recipes—all of this went into the testing of these great recipes. What follows is a wonderful foray into Japanese cuisine inspired by the Japanese vegetables grown at White Yarrow Farm. Forget everything you know about fast-food sushi and enjoy this celebration of simple ingredients and seasonal produce. —Tara Swartzendruber-Landis, recipe editor JapVeg

Ingredients

• Dashi: A broth made from kombu (dried kelp) and dried tuna shavings (bonito or katsuobushi). Dashi is the base flavor of many Japanese recipes, providing a rich umami taste. Pre-made dashi, often sold in granules like an instant soup base, can be hard to find in the Michiana area. If you cannot buy it at your local Asian grocery, you can make your own dashi by soaking and then simmering a couple of pieces of kombu, reducing the mixture by boiling for about 10 minutes, then adding about 2 cups of tuna shavings, simmering another 10 minutes and straining. (Kombu and dried tuna flakes are available at Whole Foods Market in Mishawaka, Indiana). • Kokabu: These tender, sweet turnips appear in three different forms in these recipes. You will end up using the leaves, flesh and peel of the turnips. • Mirin: A sweet rice wine used for cooking. You can substitute white wine with the addition of a pinch (less than ⅛ teaspoon) of sugar. • Red Miso: Miso is a paste of fermented soybeans widely used in Japanese cooking to add a rich and salty taste to soups, sauces and other foods. Red miso is stronger in flavor than white varieties. • Sake (nihonshu in Japan): An alcoholic beverage made of fermented rice. We recommend buying a bottle at your favorite liquor purveyor and serving the remainder after cooking, with your meal. Or you can substitute mirin or sweet sherry to obtain similar results in these recipes. • Shishito peppers: Small, thin-skinned peppers, eaten green or red. Most are mild, but about 1-in-10 shishito peppers is spicy. • Shungiku: Edible chrysanthemum greens from the Aster family. Use spinach as an alternative.

Sources

All vegetables can be purchased from White Yarrow Farm (Marcellus, Michigan) from their booth at the Goshen Farmers Market in Goshen, Indiana. Dashi, kombu, dried tuna shavings, mirin and miso can be found at many Asian groceries or natural foods stores. Sake is available in some groceries and most liquor stores.  

Kinpira 

きんぴら (Turnip and Carrot Salad) Yield: About 1 cup 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 4 ounces kokabu turnip skin (reserved from stuffed turnip recipe on page 44), julienned 4 ounces carrots, julienned ¼ cup dashi (reconstituted with water if using dashi granules) ½ tablespoon sugar ½ tablespoon mirin 2 teaspoons soy sauce ½ tablespoon sake Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Fry the turnip skin and the carrot. Add the dashi and cover the pan. Simmer until the vegetables are tender (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and mirin and blend well with the vegetables. Add the soy sauce and sake; cook until all of the liquid is evaporated. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Shrimp-Stuffed Kokabu Turnips

小かぶの海老しんじょう蒸し 16 kokabu turnips 5–6 ounces shrimp, raw, peeled, tails removed ½ egg white ½ teaspoon salt Cornstarch ½ cup dashi 1 tablespoon mirin 1 tablespoon sake 1 tablespoon soy sauce Cut off the turnip greens and reserve for making Nameshi (rice with turnip greens, page 46). Peel the turnips and reserve the skin for making Kinpira (turnip and carrot salad, page 43). Slice across the bottom of each turnip to make a flat base. Carefully use a melon baller or a teaspoon to scoop out the turnip. Mince this and set it aside. Take out one shrimp and coarsely chop. Put the remaining shrimp into a container and puree with a hand blender. Add the egg white and the salt and blend well. Mix in the minced turnip. Coat the inside of the turnip cup with cornstarch. Stuff the turnip and place a pinch of the coarsely chopped shrimp on top. Place the stuffed turnips side-by-side in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Mix together the dashi, mirin, sake, soy sauce and pour it over the turnips in the pan. Steam the turnips over medium-high heat until tender (about 10–12 minutes). Serve warm.

Shungiku Goma-ae 

春菊のごま和え (Edible Chrysanthemum Greens with Sesame Dressing) Yield: about ⅓-½ cup 5–6 ounces shungiku (edible chrysanthemum greens) 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 2 teaspoons soy sauce 2 teaspoons mirin (Place mirin in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to evaporate some of the alcohol.) ½ teaspoon sugar In a pot of boiling water, cook the shungiku for 3–7 minutes, until tender crisp (not mushy). Drain and squeeze tightly to remove the excess water. Cut the shungiku into ¾-inch lengths. Set aside. Toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until the seeds begin to pop. Put about 80% of the seeds into a clean coffee grinder or small food processor. (Set aside remaining seeds.) Pulse seeds in grinder 3–5 times for 1 second each pulse. Pour the whole and ground sesame seeds into a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, mirin and sugar and mix well. Mix the sauce with the shungiku immediately before serving so that the mixture does not become soggy.

Nameshi 

菜飯 (Rice with Turnip Greens) Yield: About 2 cups 1½ cup short-grain white rice ¼ teaspoon dashi granules or dried tuna flakes (bonito or katsuobushi) 3 tablespoons sake 6 ounces kokabu turnip greens ½ teaspoon salt Prepare rice according to your usual method. Before cooking, add the dashi granules or tuna flakes and 1 tablespoon sake. Blanch the turnip greens. Squeeze them well to remove the excess water, then chop the greens. In a pan, cook the greens with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sake until tender, and then add the salt. Cook until all of the liquid is evaporated. Mix the greens with the rice before serving.

Beef and Shishito Stir-Fry with Miso Sauce

牛肉とししとうのみそ炒め

Serves 4

20–25 green shishito peppers 12 ounces sirloin beef steaks 2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons red miso 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons sesame oil 2 small or 1 large white onion, sliced Cut the top (stem end) off the shishito peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and cut peppers lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide strips. Place the beef steaks between two sheets of plastic wrap. With a meat pounder, pound the steaks into a ¼-inch thickness. Then cut them across the grain in ¼-inch-wide strips. In a separate bowl whisk the sugar, red miso and soy sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of this mixture to the beef and set aside. In a skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat and brown the meat. Remove the meat from the skillet. Then cook the peppers and onions until softened. Add the beef back into the skillet and pour the remaining sauce over the top. Mix well and serve immediately. Yukiko Kennedy lives in South Bend, Indiana. She was born in Tokyo, Japan, and earned a degree in engineering from the University of Delaware. She is also a crafter, home cook and the mother of two boys. You can find her handmade jewelry on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/SakuraPink?ref=si_shop.

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