Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leftovers, Japanese style

Over the last several days I've accumulated a number of bits and scraps that really needed to be used, so today I made a stir fry, but in the spirit of my Japanese 2009 VeganMoFo challenge, I did it in a way that I, at least, think of by now as quintessentially Japanese.

In the past, a stir fry meant adding one thing to the common wok after the other, attempting to time everything right so every ingredient was cooked just right. Japanese style, however, means not only that it's cooked right and tastes good, but that it looks beautiful and harmonious.

So I stir fried all of the vegetables separately, except for a very few like the shiitake mushrooms, recycled from making dashi and fried with garlic, ginger, green onions, and chive buds because they all compliment one another. My ingredients today were:

1 Japanese eggplant
1/3 giant Chinese carrot, shredded with a vegetable peeler (I am ashamed that I have been buying carrots imported all the way from China, but I have needed them really big for various purposes)
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted for dashi, then saved and finely sliced
2 green onions
5 chive buds
1 cup chopped watercress
1 medium bok choy
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tbsp kimchee
1 tbsp chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup Soy Curls, reconstituted
1 portion soba noodles

And, finally, the piece de resistance, a mixture of several tablespoons of miscellaneous leftover dipping sauces, mixed with water to taste plus a little cornstarch (make sure the mixture is not too salty).

I left enough for tomorrow's lunch, so this "recipe" would serve two, or one person for two meals.

Fry each ingredient except the greens separately until perfectly done, and set aside.

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water, adding a cup of cold water each time the pot threatens to boil over, up to three times, until the noodles are tender. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse.

Mix together approximately 3 tbsp dipping sauces (depending on their strength) with enough water or dashi to make one cup, then add 1 tbsp cornstarch and mix well. Put the greens and bean sprouts into a hot skillet, and add the sauce immediately; cook over medium-high heat until the greens are wilted and the sauce is translucent.

Now scoop up some of the soba noodles and arrange them in an attractive pattern in the bowl. Add the other stir-fried vegetables and the Soy Curls, arranging them as pleasingly as you can over the noodles. Finally, pour on some of the sauce and greens, top with sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Now I've vented the fridge of its musty superfluity; tomorrow we begin a new mini-series: Japanese vegetables you may never have tried. First up: renkon (lotus root).

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