Japanese Kitchen Knives by Hiromitsu Nozaki, teaches knife cutting techniques like Ken Needle Cut: Cutting Daikon Needle Strips, Chasen-giri Tea-whisk Cut (for Eggplant), and Dividing Fish Heads; and includes recipes like Needle-cut Vegetable Salad with Sesame Dressing, Simmered Eggplant and Chicken Breast, and Braised Tai Sea Bream Head with Turnips.
Needle-cut vegetables, in addition to being a lovely garnish for sashimi, are great as a salad on their own. This sesame dressing goes well with such a salad.
Combine dashi, mirin and soy sauce in a saucepan over low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer. Immediately remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, combine the sesame paste, garlic and hot chili oil and blend well with a whisk. Pour the dashi mixture into the bowl little by little, whisking continuously until the consistency is fluid but still somewhat thick. Serve as a dressing alongside a colorful arrangement of various ken-cut vegetables.
This recipe makes about 2 cups (480 ml) of dashi.
If hand-forged knives are a pillar of Japanese cuisine, dashi, the Japanese chef's ubiquitous cooking stock, is another. There are many variations on dashi, from a simple umami-rich broth made only with kombu kelp to elaborate versions containing several ingredients. The most common dashi, however, is made with kombu and katsuobushi, finely shaved flakes of dried and smoked bonito.
A number of quick and easy dashi options are available, including instant powdered dashi and ready-made dashi-packs—teabag-type sachets that are placed in hot water and simmered with other ingredients. These can be found at many Asian grocery stores. It is best, however, to make dashi from scratch, using high-quality dried kombu and katsuobushi shavings. (In fact, dashi purists insist on shaving their own from the dried block of fish.)
Dashi keeps for a day or two if refrigerated; for longer periods, a good trick is to freeze leftover dashi in an ice-cube tray, then place the frozen cubes in a sealed freezer bag to be used as needed. (Ice-cube trays in the U.S. generally hold about 1/8 cup (30 ml) of fluid per cube, but it's best to confirm the volume before using the frozen dashi in a recipe.)
Lightly wipe the surface of the kombu clean with a damp lint-free cloth. Place the kombu in a medium saucepan, add water and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat. When the liquid comes to a bare simmer (small bubbles form on the sides and bottom of the pan) and the kombu begins to rise to the top, turn off the heat and add the katsuobushi. Let steep uncovered for 1 or 2 minutes until the flakes have sunk to the bottom of the pan. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. The kombu and katsuobushi can be discarded or used again to make a less refined dashi. Use immediately, refrigerate, or freeze.
More about Japan and Japanese Recipes
This page created September 2009
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