Tag Archives: Miso

Asparagus and Chicken Stir-Fried with Miso Sauce

aspchickmisop

As you might have guessed by this second appearance of asparagus in one week, this is one of my favourite vegetables. Its season is quite short, so I try to profit from its presence as much as I can and cannot promise this will be the last time I talk about it this year. Green variety, especially when not too thick, is in my opinion the most versatile asparagus. Most of my experiments prove it is excellent in both Western and Asian dishes and pairs well even with unexpected products, such as miso (Japanese fermented soybean paste; see below). The stir-fry you see above was a part of one of the quick and simple, improvised “donburi”, or Japanese-style rice bowls dish I prepare quite often (thank you, Nami!). The crunchy blanched asparagus, the creamy miso sauce and tender chicken breast created a pleasant spring topping for rice and will probably be my staple until asparagus is in season. /UPDATE: I have just learnt that a stir-fried dish with miso sauce is called “miso itame”. Thank you, Hiroyuki!/

Miso (味噌), a thick paste made by fermenting soybeans and/or barley or rice, is one of the most important ingredients of the Japanese cuisine (Korean and Chinese cuisines use very similar pastes too). Miso is healthy; it is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals and some people claim it even helps to fight the radiation sickness. In Japan miso has three main colour types: white (shiromiso), red (akamiso), black (kuromiso), and there is also mixed miso (awasemiso). In general, the lighter the colour, the more delicate the taste, but it’s not always the case, so it’s worth asking the shop assistant or reading the label before buying it. The only downside of miso is that is can be very high in sodium, so watch out for special “low sodium” misos (some high quality misos don’t even have this mention, but are less salty). Whatever the salt content, white miso has always a milder taste, so it’s a good idea to start one’s adventure with light coloured miso. Apart from the three basic colours, there are myriads of different misos, depending on the brand or producer, the ingredients, the region…

Miso soup is usually the first dish in which foreigners discover this Japanese staple, but it’s also used in simmered dishes, as a seasoning for grilled fish and meat, in sauces, pickles… Its complex flavour is an excellent taste booster in stir-fries and I love the creaminess it adds to sauces. Miso is, at least for me, highly addictive, probably because it is rich in the umami, or fifth taste, made famous by a Japanese professor.

If you are still hesitating if you should invest in a package of miso, here are some other ways to use it:

Garlic Miso Chicken Breast

Aubergine with Ponzu, Miso and Sesame Sauce

Miso Soup with Tofu

-Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu

-Mackerel Simmered in Miso

-Chicken and Potatoes in Miso Stew

-Chicken and Aubergine in Garlic Miso Sauce

TIP: The less you boil/cook miso, the more you preserve its precious nutrients, so it’s best just to heat it at the end.

The garlic’s presence is not obligatory in this sauce, but since I discovered garlic and miso combination thanks to Nami’s Garlic Miso Chicken Wings (Just One Cookbook blog), I have fallen in love with it. I adapted Nami’s recipe in Garlic Miso Chicken Breast and used miso and garlic sauce in Chicken and Aubergine in Garlic Miso Sauce).

Preparation: about 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

12-14 green, medium thick or thin asparagus stalks

1 chicken breast

1 tablespoon sake

1/8 teaspoon salt

Sauce:

2 tablespoons miso

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon syrup (I used agave syrup) or 2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more if using low-sodium soy sauce)

1 clove garlic, grated or crushed (the garlic is not obligatory)

(toasted white sesame seeds)

Bring to a boil one litre of water in a big pan.

Cut up the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, combine with sake and sprinkle with a bit of salt.

Cut off the toughest part of the the asparagus stalks’ (I usually cut off 1/4 if I use the above-mentioned, medium thick asparagus).

Blanch the asparagus for one minute (or even less if the stalks are very thin) and quickly put into very cold water to stop the cooking process.

Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Combine all the sauce ingredients. Put aside.

Heat two tablespoons oil in a pan or wok.

Drain the chicken, pat it fry.

Stir-fry the chicken until it is cooked.

Than add the asparagus and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Add add the miso sauce and heat for about 30 seconds, stirring, until everything is well heated.

Serve with rice and, if you wish, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

 

Chicken and Aubergine in Garlic Miso Sauce

chickenaubmisop

Miso has made me fall in love with the aubergine. For long years I used to associate the aubergine with, certainly good, but fat dripping and soaked in oil dishes. Then I started to explore the Japanese cuisine, discovering miso /see below/ and pairing it with the aubergine. The first time I tasted this combination, it blew me away. Since then I kept on playing with it in different stir-fried, grilled or simmered dishes and it has always confirmed my first impression of miso as the perfect aubergine flavours’ enhancer.

This simple stir-fry is only an example of my frequent use of aubergine these days. The slightly sweetish miso and garlic sauce proved a successful experiment (inspired by the excellent Garlic Miso Chicken Breasts, a modified version of Nami’s Garlic Miso Chicken Wings). I usually add garlic earlier, but I have recently learnt from Korean cuisine, how different and refreshing it tastes is when added crushed at the end of the cooking process. It worked perfectly well here too, slightly spicing up the mellow aubergine, creamy miso and the delicate chicken breast.

For those who don’t know miso (味噌), it is a thick fermented soybean paste and it has three main colour types: white (shiromiso), red (akamiso), black (kuromiso), and also mixed miso (awasemiso). In general, the lighter the colour, the more delicate the taste. There are myriads of different misos, depending on the brand, the ingredients, the region…  Miso is very healthy, packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. It is however important to choose it with a lesser amount of salt, otherwise it is no longer very healthy and may be difficult to cook (the miso’s coulour doesn’t have anything to to with its saltiness, my black miso being the least salty of all). Miso soup is usually the first dish in which foreigners discover this Japanese staple, but it can be used in different simmered and stir-fried dishes. Korean doenjang is similar to miso and Chinese cuisine also has its fermented soybean paste versions. I find miso’s flavour highly addictive, probably because it is rich in the umami, or fifth taste, made famous by a Japanese professor.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

1 big chicken breast (or two small)

2 medium aubergines (they shrink while fried)

salt, pepper

Sauce:

2 tablespoons miso

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon syrup (I used agave syrup)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more if using low-sodium soy sauce)

2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed

Cut up the chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Slice the aubergines and then cut the slices into quarters.

Combine all the sauce ingredients. Put aside.

Heat two tablespoons oil in a pan.

Fry the chicken until it is half cooked.
Than add the aubergine and stir-fry until the aubergine is cooked.

At the end add the miso sauce and heat for about 30 seconds.

Serve with rice.

 

Chicken and Potatoes in Miso Stew

As I have recently mentioned, I start getting bored with Winter vegetables. On the other hand, as much as I enjoy cucumber kimchi or refreshing citrus drinks, they will never feed me or keep me warm as much as a hearty, thick, potato and carrot soup. A couple of days ago I had some leftover chicken stock and decided to make a quick soup with what I had in the fridge at the moment. I tasted it and felt something was missing. I opened the fridge, took a big tablespoon of miso and was thrilled to discover that this simple gesture gave my basic soup a sophisticated, fusion twist. As a big fan of miso, I have always found its complexity amazing, but I would have never suspected a tablespoon of this condiment can transform such a simple dish into something worth writing about.

For those who still haven’t used miso (味噌), this thick paste made by fermenting soybeans and/or barley or rice, is one of the most important ingredients of the Japanese cuisine. Miso has three main colour types: white (shiromiso), red (akamiso), black (kuromiso), and also mixed miso (awasemiso). In general, the lighter the colour, the more delicate the taste. There are myriads of different misos, depending on the brand, the ingredients, the region… Miso is very healthy, packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. Miso soup is usually the first dish in which foreigners discover this Japanese staple, but it’s also used in simmered dishes, as a seasoning for grilled fish and meat, in sauces, pickles…

Here are some other miso use ideas:

Garlic Miso Chicken Breast

Aubergine with Ponzu, Miso and Sesame Sauce

Miso Soup with Tofu

-Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu

-Mackerel Simmered in Miso

TIP: Adding the miso just before serving (not boiling it) preserves its precious nutrients.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

200 ml chicken stock

1/2 chicken breast, sliced

1 small carrot, chopped

1 small potato, peeled and cubed

1 tablespoon miso (or more)

(soy sauce if the soup is not salty enough)

Put the stock, the carrot, the potato and the chicken into a small pan. Cook it for about 20 minutes until the potato cubes are cooked.

Put the pan aside and stir one tablespoon miso, making sure it is well dissolved.

Serve.

 

 

 

 

Stir Fried Aubergine, Mushroom, Chicken and Cashew Nuts

Stir fried meat or seafood with vegetables is probably my most frequent dish category, but since ingredients change every time I cook (depending on what I find in the fridge), I hardly ever post about it. However, my first combination of aubergine, mushroom, chicken and cashew nuts proved so good, I decided to put down the exact ingredients, write about it and, thus, share this easy Autumn recipe with you.

Aubergine season is over and the ones I buy grow in green houses, so strictly speaking this is not a seasonal recipe. In spite of that, the mushroom flavour of the aubergine combined with simple button mushrooms and crunchy cashew nuts created a definitely comforting, warming dish, ideal for cold days. Even the dark brown colours seemed seasonal. As I have lately told Kelly from Inspired Edibles, seeing her cashew butter, I love cashew nuts in savoury dishes. They have a delicate taste, which goes well with almost everything, and they add a pleasant crunch. Grilled sesame seeds are my huge addiction. I sprinkle them on the majority of my meals now, hence their presence on the photo (of course they are not obligatory here). Chopped shiso proved once more ideal with aubergine (I have discovered it in the Aubergine with Ponzu, Miso and Sesame Sauce), but it can easily be skipped. I served this stir-fry “donburi” style, i.e. on top of a bowl with rice, but it can of course be served separately and not necessarily with rice.

Before I pass to the recipe I would like to say I am particularly happy today  because Mr. Three-Cookies (from Three-Cookies an Easily Good East blogs) has posted a modified version of my Easiest Apple Cake recipe, substituting bananas for apples. His cake looks absolutely luscious and original. Have a look at his beautiful Layered Banana Semolina Cake recipe. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies, for improving my awful Monday mood!

Preparation: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

100 g aubergine

100 g button mushrooms

50-70 g chicken breast

10-15 cashew nuts

1 clove garlic

oil

(3 chopped shiso leaves)

Sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or more if using low-sodium)

1 heaped tablespoon miso

2 tablespoons mirin

1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Chop the garlic clove.

Cut the aubergine into thin, bite-sized pieces.

Slice the mushrooms.

Cut the chicken breast into strips or bite-sized pieces and season it slightly with salt.

Combine the sauce ingredients.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and grill slightly the cashew nuts. Put them aside.

Add some oil if needed and stir fry the aubergine for about 10 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, the chicken, the garlic and stir fry for at least ten more minutes (the aubergine has to be very soft and the chicken thoroughly cooked).

Pour the sauce, throw the cashew nuts into the pan, stir well for about one minute and serve (sprinkled with shiso if you have it).

Miso Soup with Shrimp and Tofu

I usually drink only a big coffee for breakfast and don’t start being hungry before 10 am. If I happen to work at home, this is the moment when I have my late breakfast and my absolute favourite meal is miso soup (miso shiru 味噌汁). It is quick, healthy, full of proteins, low in carbs and quick to prepare. In short, a perfect breakfast. However, by soup miso I don’t mean the tiny bowl which is a part of traditional Japanese meals. I have my miso soup in a bigger bowl and the ingredients I add are often more then unorthodox.

For those who have never had or made a miso soup, it is composed of dashi (Japanese stock) and miso (fermented soybean paste). The most popular dashi version seems to be made with dried bonito flakes and konbu (a type of seaweed). It can be bought ready-to-use, but making dashi at home is very easy and in some countries (like in Switzerland) it is simply cheaper. I make my dashi stock every other week, in big batches, and then store it in the fridge, ready to be reheated. For me the biggest advantage of a home-made dashi is the lack of salt (present in instant dashi). It means I can add more of the delicious miso paste or soy sauce when using my stock. (Click here to see Primary and Secondary Dashi recipes.) Apart from the miso soup, dashi is necessary in many Japanese dishes, such as Fish in Barbarian-Style Marinade, Oyakodon or Udon Soup.

Going back to the miso soup, I always make sure it is packed with proteins, which keep my hunger away for much longer than anything rich in carbs. Tofu is the most frequent ingredient I add, but I also like to use leftover cooked vegetables, mushrooms, seafood or meat. Shrimps are among my favourites; I often have them in my freezer and they are very quick to cook. Today, apart from the shrimps, I have also added some of my beloved firm tofu and sprinkled everything with frozen dill, which is not only ideal for shrimps, but, strangely, goes perfectly well with miso soup on its own. If someone had told me a year ago that dill is the ideal seasoning in miso soup, I wouldn’t believe it, but now I keep it chopped and frozen all year especially for my regular shrimp soups.

Preparation: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

300 ml dashi stock

6 medium cooked shrimps

60 g tofu cut into cubes (I prefer the firm one here)

1/2 teaspoon fresh or frozen chopped dill

1 heaped tablespoon miso

Combine the dashi with miso.

Add the shrimps and the tofu and heat in a small pan, stirring from time to time.

(Do not let it boil!).

When the soup acquires the desired temperature (I prefer it warm, not hot), pour it into a bowl and sprinkle with chopped dill.