Count Broccula's veg-head ramblings

My home experiments with vegetarian cooking. Focused on seasonal produce with some vegan stuff thrown in for good measure. I may include random other food-related stuff as I please.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Embarrassingly easy Japanese dinner for two

I hate making something really impressive, then having someone ask how I did it and having to admit it was really simple and easy. I feel like that lady from the commercial that makes the rice krispies, then dusts herself in flour to make it look like she was working hard. Anyway, tonight's dinner was one of those.

Buy bag of frozen edamame. Boil water (with salt in it), add edamame. Boil for 2-3 minutes (until the pods are mostly floating), then drain and salt. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

1/2 cucumber
approx 2 Tbs Rice vinegar
pinch sugar
1/2 Tbs soy sauce
pinch salt

Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Salt it, and let it sit for about ten minutes. Then rinse it and pour everything else on top and stir it around.

Miso soup
Your favorite brand vegetable broth -- 1 can
2 scallions
1/3 cup miso paste (I use white)
firm tofu (but not extra firm)

Heat the broth in a saucepan over medium heat (or hell, in the microwave if you want). Cut about 1/8 of a block of tofu into cubes and add them to two bowls. Slice the green onions (whites and greens) and add them to the bowls. Add the miso paste to the hot broth and stir until it's mixed in completely. Pour the broth over the tofu and onions in the bowls and serve.

Note -- you need a bamboo sushi rolling mat for this recipe. If you don't have one, this may require a trip to the nearest Asian grocery, which is probably a good place to pick up nori, wasabi, pickled ginger, and sushi rice, too.

Nori (sheets of seaweed)
sushi rice (or if you can't find it, the shortest grain of rice you can find)
rice vingear (or cider vinegar)
honey or sugar
wasabi powder or paste
1 avocado
1 mango
1 carrot
1 cucumber
pickled ginger
(or whatever you like to put in your sushi -- the choices are endless, but consider enoki mushrooms, scrambled egg, peppers, wakame...)

Make the rice as you usually would -- I use a rice cooker and put in two cups of rice and about 3 cups of water. When it's done, spread it out in a big bowl or pan. Mix about 4 Tbs of vinegar, 2 Tbs of honey (or sugar) and a pinch of salt, and pour the mixture over the rice. Mix it thoroughly. (If you have read recipes that involve cooking the rice with kombu or turning the rice with a paddle and fanning it until it's shiny, don't bother; my sushi chefs laughed at me when I described the process. They make it this easy way.)

Next - cut the cucumber, avocado, and mango into long, slender pieces. I would finely shred the carrot (if you use a coarser shred, you might want to parboil it.) Once you have your ingredients set up, you're ready to roll! (Pardon the pun.)

Lay a piece of nori dull side up on the bamboo mat. Wet your hands and pat rice all over the sheet. [Try to get it thin, if possible -- if you don't, you'll have HUGE rolls, which are harder to eat. I'm not good at this.] Then arrange your fillings across the rice on the side closest to you. Pick up the edge of the mat and roll the very end of the sushi toward the middle of the sheet and press it firmly into place, then continue rolling until you have rolled it all the way up. Give it another firm press with the mat to make it solid. To cut it, you'll need a REALLY SHARP knife. Wet the knife, and gently saw straight through the roll.

Serve with soy, ginger, and wasabi available (if you've bought the powder, you'll need to mix it with water until it becomes a paste).

My personal favorite roll with these ingredients is mango, avocado and pickled ginger.

Happy rolling!


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