Snow Peas Shira-ae (白和え)

When I saw Green Bean Shira – ae recipe at Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook) I knew I would love the dish. Miso, tofu and sesame seeds are my beloved Japanese cuisine ingredients, and shira-ae (白和え) is a dish of vegetables mixed with these ingredients. How could I resist? Instead of the green beans I used blanched snow peas, now in season, and the result was even better than I thought: delicate and light, but very filling at the same time. A perfect side-dish and maybe even a main dish for vegetarians? Thank you, Nami, for sharing this fabulous recipe!

Shira-ae means more or less “mixed/dressed with white” and belongs to the “aemono “, or “dressed dishes” category, which could be compared to the Western salads or side dishes, since it includes vegetables with a sauce without vinegar. Shira-ae is for me a double discovery: not only is it the first aemono dish I have ever made, but also the first one I have ever tasted. “Sunomono” is another, very close category  including vinegared dishes, but I haven’t explored it yet.

Even though my dish looks different from Nami’s one, I have followed her instructions to the letter, apart from substituting the sugar with mirin. I have also adjusted the amounts to make an individual dish (I am the only tofu fan at home). At the time I prepared it I didn’t have the Japanese mortar (now I do and intend using it very often!), but the Western type of mortar was very efficient in grinding sesame seeds too. You may use also an electric grinder, but the smell gradually created during the process of manual sesame grinding is incredible and worth the tiny effort.

Special equipment:

a mortar or a spice grinder

Preparation: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

100 g snow peas (trimmed and cut in two)

50 g tofu

2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds

1 teaspoon miso

1 teaspoon mirin (or sugar)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Drain the tofu.

Grind the sesame seeds in a Japanese mortar (suribachi), a standard European mortar or in a spice grinder.

Add the remaining ingredients.

Blanch the snow peas.

Put the snow peas in a bowl and combine with all the above ingredients and the crumbled tofu.

Serve warm or cold.

19 Replies to “Snow Peas Shira-ae (白和え)”

  1. Oh my! What a surprise Sissi! I’m so excited to find your food here today! Whoohoooo! You did a wonderful job! Blanched snow pea sounds wonderful Sissi. That’s a good pick. And I’m so happy to hear you are using the Japanese suribachi often. =) Please let me share your post on my facebook page… 😉 Thank you again for making this, and not only that, I’m so glad to hear you liked it!!

    1. Hi Nami, thank you for such en enthusiastic reaction. I am so flattered! I was worried my dish wouldn’t live up to your expectations. Your instructions were perfect! Of course do share it wherever you want! It would be an honour. Thank you again for sharing this delicious recipe and for being such a good teacher 🙂

  2. I’ve never seen nor heard of this dish previously. I sometimes wonder what planet I live in! I love tofu and sesame – I will try this, probably with another vege. Thanks for enlightening me:)

    1. I must assure you, before visiting Nami’s blog, I have never heard of it either. The Japanese cuisine is so rich, I imagine we can learn new dishes all our lives… Let me know how it turned out!

  3. This looks and sounds delicious Sissi..What an authentic dish..I love Nami and her site..she is my inspiration too!
    Fantastic photo, very pretty and delicious looking!!!!
    Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Thank you Sandra for the kind comment and welcome to my blog! I am so flattered you like my photo (I still need to improve my photos a lot…). I see we will soon create Nami’s fan club 🙂

  4. Oh yum…! This sounds so simple but l really love the sound of the ingredients. One reason why I like Japanese cuisine so much is because a lot of their dishes are quite simple to make but taste absolutely great! I am sure you have made Nami proud by making this dish ;)!

    1. Thank you! You are absolutely right! If I have the basic Japanese ingredients at home, I always know a new, surprisingly simple and good dish is waiting somewhere for me to discover…

  5. Well done again dear Sissi!
    Snow peas are ever so popular in Japan!
    They call them “snap endou/snap peas”!
    About tea: tea containing stems is called “ara-cha/coarse tea”. It contains only the soft stems of the tea!

    1. Thank you Robert-Gilles! I am as always really flattered by your appreciation. I didn’t know snow peas were very popular in Japan. I simply have been eating snow peas and asparagus for the last month!
      The tea I have bought was gyokuro and I believed my book, which stated it should be 100% leaves. In fact it was 30% stems. However it was very good, much better than the sencha I usually buy. Thank you for this information. I have never heard of ara-cha. As usually, you make me discover incredible things!

        1. Thank you once more, Robert-Gilles! (The melons on the page look funny, packed like precious dolls 😉 and I didn’t know the Japanese drink also black tea!)
          It’s strange since in my book (Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji) the author says gyokuro is the most expensive type of leaf tea and he says it means ” jewel dew”… Then there is the medium quality, sencha (infused tea?), and bancha, the lowest grade… Maybe, however, since he wrote the book in the 80s a lot has changed in the tea grading?

          1. Dear Sissi!
            玉露/gyokuro is in fact “jewel dew”, but it tends to be a misnomer these days.
            It is indeed supposed to be the best tea. Sorry for the vagueness of my reply.
            Now there are a lot of classifications!
            Please check: as this is basically correct!
            Even in Shizuoka which produces more than 45% of the green tea in Japan (Tea was first grown there as well as black tea!), you must include quite a few tea trees hybrids as well as regional names!
            But saying that bancha is the lowest grade is also a misnomer as bancha in Shizuoka is comparatively extravagant!
            It might be time I run an informative article!LOL
            Best regards,

            1. Dear Robert-Gilles, thank you again! You are a neverending source of information! Thank you also for the link. The green tea classification does seem very complicated if bancha is, as you say, extravagant in Shizuoka… (And I thought sake’s classification was complicated ;-)) I didn’t know Shizuoka was such an important tea producer!

                1. Thank you Robert-Gilles! Wonderful idea. It’s so kind to think about me (or us). I will have even more problems with the space for miso in my fridge 😉

    1. Thank you! I am happy you like it. I find it addictive. It is even good as a bread spread 🙂

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