Japanese Winter Stew
Last week was a bit of a tease.I was lamenting how it would be months before I could take my bike out. I was shocked when the weather turned around completely, with a few gorgeous spring days with highs around 15C. I quickly brought my bike into the shop to get its annual tune up, and was commuting to work earlier this week. Only to have snow come again the following day. It was such a slap in the face to have spring yanked out from under my bicycle tires!
No use sulking, as there are still lots of great things winter provides, like hearty soups and stews. There are many dishes to warm up the soul when outside is so cold.
Like this Japanese Stew. While I am usually leery of making Japanese recipes from a non-Japanese cookbook, I still ventured to make a Japanese Winter Stew I found in Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. I swapped the veggies around, though, for a more authentic feel (power to random purchases from Chinatown!), but really, you could throw in any seasonal vegetable. I kept the sweet potato and tofu, but I substituted daikon for the turnip, added in 100g of chopped enoki mushrooms and used 4 oz baby spinach instead of mustard greens. I then topped each serving with chopped green onions and drizzled with a touch of toasted sesame oil. This is a powerhouse of a winter stew, overflowing with vegetables, yet with the comforting miso taste but zippy from the chili flakes and ginger. It balances out so nicely, which is what Japanese cuisine is all about.
Japanese Winter Stew
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups diced onions
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 tbsp grated, peeled ginger
4 cups water
2 pieces kombu (I used a total of 24 square inches (6×4″))
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups peeled, chopped daikon (could substitute turnip)
3 cups diced sweet potatoes
100g enoki mushrooms, chopped (optional, this could also be increased)
4 oz baby spinach
420g firm tofu (1 pack), chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup light miso
1-2 green onions, finely chopped (or more, to taste)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1. In a large soup pot, on medium heat, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions, chili flakes, and ginger and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the water, kombu and shiitake mushrooms. Cover, turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, add in daikon and sweet potatoes, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered for 5 minutes. Add in enoki mushrooms, and continue to simmer, covered, for an additional 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
3. Remove the kombu and discard. Remove the shiitake mushrooms and set aside to cool. Add the tofu to the pot. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out liquid back into pot. Remove stems and finely chop the remainder of the mushroom and return to pot.
4. Remove 1 cup of the broth from the pot and stir in miso until dissolved. You may need to add more broth.
5. Once you have removed all the broth you need to dissolve the miso, add the spinach to the pot. Stir until the spinach wilts. Return miso to pot. After adding the miso, don’t let the stew boil. Drizzle in sesame oil.
6. When serving, top each bowl with green onions.