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Posts Tagged ‘Japanese pickles’

This soup uses Japanese ingredients, but I don’t know if one can call it authentic – I pretty much made the recipe up. It is a good example of  “cheating”, cooking with instant this and canned that. Of course one could make their own dashi from scratch, and braise the tofu, but this is comfort food, not penance.

Ingredients
5g instant dashi powder
1.5 tbls Clearspring Organic Japanese Brown Rice Miso paste
500 ml boiling water
1 tin Marigold Braised Tofu (drained, cubed)
a pinch or two of wakame, soaked in cold water and squeezed dry
sprinkling of dried negi or fresh chopped spring onions

Measure the dashi powder in a pot, add water. Measure the miso in a small sieve, immerse, but not fully, in the liquid, press the miso through the sieve using a spoon. Discard the grains. Add the tofu, bring to a boil and let simmer for a minute or two. Add the rehydrated wakame and negi, or spring onions.

Serves 2 as light lunch, 4 as small starter or side dish.

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Japan is one of my favourite places I have visited, and one of my favourite places in Japan is Kyoto’s Nishiki market – a narrow shopping street, lined by more than one hundred shops selling anything from finest Japanese cooking utensils to fresh and processed foods.

We were lucky to arrive at the market just after it had opened, before the hordes of other tourists descended. It was a treat to wander leisurely along the street, stopping at the stalls, tasting the goods. The sights and smells were overwhelming  – the selection of different of pickles alone was amazing.

Tsukemono

Japanese pickles, or tsukemono, were a true revelation. If you are thinking about those soggy, vinegary things you are used to having with your burgers and wondering what on earth I am on about – think again.  Tsukemono are always crisp, full of flavour and aroma, and they come in infinite varieties, as almost any vegetable can be pickled. And it is all you need to transform a bowl of perfectly cooked rice into a meal.

I have tried making tsukemono at home, but although they are simple to prepare in principle, my attempts have been nothing like the offerings at Nishiki. Which is no surprise, considering that the tsukemono stalls there have been operated by the same families for generations. I need a little bit more practise!

Fortunately, there is a cheater’s option. E.g. Japan Centre sell ready-made pickle marinade bases that are heaven-sent when you don’t know what to do with the courgettes that were in your Abel&Cole box third week in a row.

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