For my March recipe, I decided to try something with a really Japanese flavour. I’ve always been a little bit nervous about cooking Japanese food, as it seems complicated, but I was happy to discover that this recipe was really simple, and tasted fantastic!
A while ago I spotted a new recipe book called Hashi: A Japanese Cookery Course by Reiko Hashimoto:
I haven’t actually got around to buying the book yet, so when I saw that JNTO were running a competition to win a copy, I jumped at the chance to enter.
To enter the competition, all I had to do was follow the recipe for “broccoli with miso and sesame sauce”, and try to make something which looked beautiful. Well, to me, broccoli can only look so good, but I did my best. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it was delicious, and it will definitely be something I try making again.
Here’s the recipe, taken from Hashi: A Japanese Cookery Course by Reiko Hashimoto:
Broccoli with Miso and Sesame Sauce
With this dish, just a humble vegetable such as broccoli can be made into something so interesting and delicious. The florets absorb the miso and sesame sauce and this becomes not only a great vegetable side dish but it also stamps its own mark on a meal.
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons white or normal miso paste
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon tahini paste (optional)
All ingredients were easily found at the Japan Centre or my local supermarket, and things like mirin and rice vinegar will last for a really long time (expect to see them making a regular appearance on this blog!)
Trim the broccoli into large bite-size pieces and wash them thoroughly. Add the salt to a large pan of water and bring to the boil (the salt will help to retain the bright green colour of the broccoli). Cook the broccoli in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again and leave the broccoli in a colander to dry.
Lightly crush the sesame seeds using a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
Combine the miso paste, sugar, mirin, soy sauce and vinegar in a small bowl and mix them together to make a smooth paste. You can stir in the tahini paste if you like (tahini makes the mixture slightly richer and creamier).
Put the broccoli into a large mixing bowl, add the miso sauce and crushed sesame seeds and toss together until the broccoli is well coated.
You can also use white sesame seeds instead of black ones, if you prefer. White miso paste is sweeter. You can mix normal and white miso pastes together, if you prefer. Also, green beans make a great substitute for broccoli in this recipe.
Reiko Hashimoto grew up in Kyoto and runs a widely-acclaimed cookery school from her home in southwest London. With more than twelve years’ experience of teaching cooks of all abilities, Reiko has created recipes that are designed to build confidence, as well as to challenge. Her clear and precise style succeeds in demystifying a cuisine that can sometimes seem somewhat daunting, and she explains how to create delicious and authentic dishes without spending much at all.
The opening chapters of this beautiful and accessible book cover everything you need to get started, with sections on useful equipment and utensils, store cupboard ingredients, and all the basics such as making dashi stock and sushi rice. If you’ve never cooked Japanese food before, the Beginners section will help you become familiar with flavours and techniques, but even accomplished cooks will enjoy trying the recipes, which include everything from an incredibly tasty Prawn, Cucumber and Wakame (seaweed) Salad, to Yakitori (Chicken on Skewers).
The Home Cooks section of the book contains the inexpensive yet delicious dishes that are eaten on a daily basis in homes throughout Japan, for example Nikujaga (Beef and Potato Stew). Recipes such as Yaki-Udon (Stir-fried Noodles) and Takikomi Gohan (a hearty chicken and rice dish) are likely to become firm favourites and are quick and easy to prepare.
Beautiful presentation is an important element of Japanese cooking, and Reiko’s sophisticated Gourmet Dishes are particularly eye-catching, as Mike Cooper’s stunning photographs reveal. Dishes such as Sake-Kasu Black Cod, and Buta-Kakuni (Slow-cooked Pork Belly) are ideal for entertaining and yet are surprisingly simple to make.
Sushi is probably the best-known form of Japanese food in this country and a chapter on Sushi features traditional and modern-fusion recipes, along with easy-to-follow, illustrated step-by-steps.
HASHI is a celebration of the pleasures and delights of cooking and eating Japanese food, and is destined to become the benchmark book on the cuisine for years to come.
For more, please visit Hashi Cooking.