Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Harumi's autumnal Japan 3: Spinachi and shimeji shiroae

Here's another of Kurihara Harumi's autumn delights from Haru-mi magazine. It is a kind of spinach and fungi salad dressed with tofu and sesame. Packing two veggies, a protein and sesame, this is the kind of cooking which earned Japanese cuisine its sometimes undeserved ;) reputation for healthiness.

Note, though, that this one dish does not dinner make. I would suggest a meat dish and another veggie side or soup, maybe even from this "autumnal Japan" series, plus steamed rice if you want an authentic Japanese restaurant "set menu" effect.

If you can't get hold of shimeji mushrooms, try any other variety. As before, usukuchi soy sauce is preferred here for its lighter color (shiroae literally means "white-dressed", after all). It is not essential, though, so use regular Japanese soy sauce if that is what you have.

Spinach and shimeji shiroae

Serves 4 as a side dish with other Japanese foods and rice

1 block of silken tofu (320 g)
1 pack shimeji mushrooms
1/2 tbsp cooking sake
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp usukuchi soy sauce
1 buch spinach (200 g)
2 tbsp sesame paste [S: tahini will do]
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

1 Wrap tofu in a paper towel and weigh it down for 10 min to remove the water. Aim to have the tofu weigh about 40% less after this process.

2 Remove the base of the shimeji, separate the fungi and slice in half across the middle.

3 In a small saucepan, bring the cooking sake, mirin and usukuchi soy sauce to the boil. Add the shimeji and cook until all the liquid is gone, stirring constantly.

4 Divide the spinach into leaves and stems and slice into 2 cm lengths. Blanch quickly in boiling water, stems first, drain then revive in cold water. Wring out as much water as possible.

5 Pat the tofu dry and blend it to a pulp in a bowl. Add the sesame paste, sugar and salt, and blend well.

6 Add the shimeji and spinach and mix thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.


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