‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ My husband yelled as he was running out the door with our daughter on his hip. ‘Washoku’ I muttered, head buried in the cookbook of the same name. I selected 3 recipes that I had to make. One was made, the rest merely fantasy. The one I decided on was the Tonkatsu recipe. There is a wonderful picture that enticed me on the back overleaf and I was compelled to make it. It was far easier to make than I anticipated and absolutely delicious. Tonkatsu is a traditional Japanese dish that consists of a breaded and fried pork cutlet. This version was far more interesting. Instead of a traditional heavy Tonkatsu sauce, the pork loin is sliced very thinly—about 1/8” thick then is divided into two portions and rolled with two very different fillings. One, with umeboshi plum paste and shiso leaves, the other with nori and leek miso. Once the cutlets are rolled, they are given the flour-egg wash-breadcrumb treatment and pan fried. They were both delicious and very different. The leek miso and nori gave an exotic, brooding quality to the Tonkatsu. If these two rolls were sisters, the leek and miso filling would be the brunette while the shiso would be the blonde surfer girl. The shiso and plum paste was my favorite—I found these flavors to be particularly haunting. The Tonkatsu made in this fashion was lovely to look at too. They would be a fantastic hors d’oeurve at a dinner party. It ended up being thumbs up all around. I will definitely make this again.
, adapted from Elizabeth Andoh’s Washoku Cookbook
12 oz. pork loin, cut into 12 very thin slices.
6 shiso leaves, stems trimmed
1 Tbsp. umeboshi paste, available at Whole Foods and Asian Grocery stores.
1 Tbsp. Leek miso (Recipe follows)
2 sheets of Nori, cut or torn to the approximate size of the pork cutlet slices.
½ cup flour
1 egg beaten with a splash of water
1 cup bread crumbs, Panko, Japanese style bread crumbs are preferred but whatever you have will work.
2 cups of oil for frying
Spread the pork slices out on your work surface. Place the shiso leaves over half of the pork slices and spread a little bit of the umeboshi paste over the shiso leaf. Roll up and set aside. Repeat with the nori and leek miso.
Heat the oil.
While the oil is heating, dredge the rolls in flour, dip in the egg wash and roll in the breadcrumbs. (You can do this ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.) Once the oil is hot, fry the tonkatsu rolls to an even golden brown. Drain on paper towels, slice and enjoy!!
*It’s easiest to slice these rolls with a very sharp slicing knife. A bread knife will work, but it will tear the rolls a bit and they won’t be as pretty.
*Makes a great dip for vegetables!
1 small leek, trimmed, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/3 cup mugi miso (Miso made with barley and soybeans. I was surprised and pleased to find it at Whole Foods.)
2 Tbsp. mirin
1 ½ Tbsp. sugar
3 or 4 Tbsp. water
Leek Miso Preparation
Sauté the leek in the sesame oil until it is soft and translucent. Add the miso, mirin and sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the water and continue to cook until it has the consistency of tomato paste.
Remove from the heat and let it cool completely. This will keep in the fridge up to 6 weeks.
I am happy to announce that I am now a Washoku Warrior! The Washoku Warriors are an online cooking group led by Rachel of lafujimama.com. Each month she picks several recipes from Elizabeth Andoh’s beautiful cookbook ‘Washoku, Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen’. I’ve had this book almost since it was first published in 2005 and I am embarrassed to tell you that I haven’t used it at all. Sure, I’ve looked through it and I definitely want to go to Japan and study with Ms. Andoh at her cooking school. But Japanese cuisine is so different—I just didn’t know where to start. This was the perfect opportunity to get up off my butt, out of my comfort zone and start cookin’.
The participants cook and then a roundup of the group’s experiences are posted on the blog. I love this idea and love interacting with other cooking enthusiasts! ‘Cause you know, I learned in cooking school that no two people make the same recipe the same way. It’s true. Give two people the same ingredients, the same recipe, have them cook next to each other and you can have widely different results. I won’t tell you about all three recipes that we are making this month, but I will tell you that the Citrus and Soy Glazed Swordfish was fantastic and quick too—especially on a week night. I will definitely be making this again! The swordfish was extremely moist and tender due to the quick braising process and the flavor of the citrus and soy glaze was great. The lemon zest was a great foil for the richness of the swordfish. I would make this recipe for anyone who enjoys flavorful seafood.
Citrus and Soy Glazed Swordfish
Washoku, Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh
1 Tbsp. fresh lime or grapefruit juice (I used lime.)
2 Tbsp. Sake
1 pound of swordfish or other meaty fish steaks or fillets, cut into 4 to 6 pieces (I would recommend Sablefish, aka Black Cod or Alaskan Halibut.)
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce (I used the Tamari that I had in my pantry.)
3 Tbsp. Mirin
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp fresh lime or grapefruit juice (I used lime here, too.)
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1-2 Tbsp Basic Sea Stock or water if needed (I didn’t need any.)
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
Stir together the citrus juice and sake in a glass or other non reactive dish just large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry. Add the fish to the dish and marinate for 5 to 10 minutes. (I set a timer for 5 minutes.) Add the soy sauce and mirin and marinate the fish for another 5 minutes at room temperature or covered in the fridge for no more than an hour.
Remove the fish from the marinade and blot away excess moisture with paper towels. Heat a non stick or cast iron skillet just large enough to hold the fish in a single layer over high heat. Drizzle in the oil, add the fish and sear for 2 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Flip and sear the second side for a minute or so, until it begins to brown. If the pieces are thick, you may need to lower the heat and cover the pan for a minute to allow the heat to penetrate the fish. (I did this.)
I made the glaze while the fish was marinating. Combine the lime juice, soy sauce and sugar in a small a bowl and stir to mix. Pour this mixture around the edge of the pan and sir or shake the pan vigorously until the sugar is dissolved. If the sauce looks in danger of scorching, add the stock. Flip the fish and continue to braise over high heat for about a minute and a half, or until the fish feels firm and the sauce is very foamy and reduced by half.
To serve, drizzle the glaze over the fish and sprinkle with the lemon zest.
Enjoy!! I served this with steamed brown rice and steamed asparagus. This dish is perfect with medium to full bodied white wines. Try a California chardonnay or a white wine from the Rhone or Languedoc region of France.
I think that just about everyone loves the Miso soup that is ubiquitous to Japanese restaurants around the country. It is also used frequently in other Asian cuisines and is known as Chiang in China and Chao do in Vietnam. Beyond that, I think the general question is ‘What exactly do I do with this?
- Miso for sale in Chinese market
Miso is more than just the base ingredient for soup—it can be used in a multitude of ways to add flavor and nutrients to what you are making. Miso is 13-20% protein and has an amino acid pattern similar to meat. (Vegetarians are you listening?) It is a fermented food and contains lactobacillus (the same good ol’ lactobacillus found in yogurt) that helps digestion. There have been various studies done that suggest miso has cancer fighting properties. In addition, some studies indicate that consuming miso can help reverse the effects of smoking and air pollution. Traditionally miso has been said to encourage good health and a long life. What more do you need to know to start incorporating miso as part of your weekly diet?
There are three basic types of miso—barley (mugi), rice (kome), and soybean (hatcho) and countless variations. It is made by mixing cooked soybeans, grain, mold (koji) and salt and letting this mixture ferment from 6 months to a few years. Frequently you will see miso labeled as white, red or black. The lighter varieties of miso are typically used for soups and are sweeter and less salty than the darker varieties. The best advice that I can give you about miso is to stop thinking about it as an ingredient and more as a condiment.
Miso can keep covered in your fridge for up to a year, so get cooking! Here two recipes—one for your soup and a marinade for fish.
Miso Soup (adapted from Epicurious.com)
½ c. Wakame (a type of dried seaweed. It used to be difficult to find, but even Whole Foods carries it now.)
¼ c. Shiro Miso (white miso)
6 c. Dashi (Japanese Sea Stock) See below for the recipe.
¼ c. scallions, sliced
½ # soft tofu, diced
Prepare the Wakame
Cover the Wakame with 1 inch of warm water. Let stand and soften for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Make the soup
Mix the miso with ½ cup of the Dashi—enough to loosen the miso so that it is pourable. In a saucepan on the stovetop, heat the remaining Dashi until hot then add in the scallions and the tofu. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the miso. Serve and Enjoy!
*I like to add bits of leftover cooked vegetables from my fridge to make a Vegetable miso soup.
6 c. of cold water
1oz Kombu (dried Kelp, also available at WF)
2 pkg. Katsuo Bushi, (dried Bonito flakes) about 1 cup (If you are vegetarian, skip this.)
Place the cold water and komu in a large saucepan and bring to just a boil. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the katsuo bushi flakes over the liquid. Stir and let stand for 3 minutes. Pour the liquid through a fine sieve (use a cheese cloth lined sieve if you have to) and set aside.
Miso Glazed Sablefish
Adapted from ‘Fish Forever’ by Paul Johnson
½ c. mirin
½ c. Sake
¼ c. sugar
1 c. white miso
4 (5 oz) sablefish fillets
In a medium saucepan, bring the mirin and sake to a boil to evaporate the alcohol. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk the miso paste until smooth. Set aside and let cool completely.
Put the sablefish fillets in a nonreactive dish and slather them with the cooled marinade. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days. (Paul points out that sablefish does well with the long marinade time, but if you are using salmon or other fish only marinate for an hour or two.)
Preheat the broiler and set the rack as far from the heat source as possible so that the fish does not brown too quickly. Preheat the oven to 425Fin case it cooks too fast under the broiler.
Wipe off any excess miso clinging to the fillets. Place the fish on the broiler pan, 6 to 8 inches from the heat source and broil for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost opaque through. If the fish browns too quickly and is in danger of burning, finish cooking it in the preheated oven.