Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chard Gomae - Less Heat, More Yum

NorthWest Hipster Cooking Word of the Day - Osouzai

"You've probably never heard of it."
A phrase so obnoxious it has become its own joke.  It only happens because we live in the "Google it" age.  The person who said that to you only knows because they Googled it anyway.  (I was looking up something else - but yes, I only know because of Google too.)

Anyway, back to the "too hot to cook" problem.
One thing I have noticed over the years through cookbooks, videos, living and eating in Seattle, and travel - Japanese home cooks often work with:

ONE (1) burner!
And, Yes.  It is one of these portable babies,
with a can of compressed gas.
And they only seem to use  a sauce pan and a small fry pan.  Quickly.  OK... I know there is editing, but still - sheesh - I think I can get out of the kitchen FASTER with out sweating to death. And as I face WARM (for Seattle) weather, I continue to search for better ways to get out of the kitchen faster.

One answer for an "everyday" side dish of greens is the Japanese "sesame sauce" or in Japanese Goma-ae.  This is a pretty easy sesame topping for any ol' tasty, fresh, blanched green vegetable.
Spinach is the classic, but green beans, asparagus, cucumbers, broccoli, gai-lan, Napa cabbage, beet greens, mustard greens, etc. etc. etc....

And thus you get Osouzai - a cold vegetable side dish.

As you can see, I've got some cold pickles as well.
(On any self-respecting Japanese table,
these would be in 4 different bowls/plates.)
Recipes for the quick pickles are the next entry.

Add the sesame sauce and you have Osouzai Goma-ae (cold vegetable side dish with sesame sauce).

Since spinach is such a commodity, and a delicate fragile thing, it usually is not one of the things that shows up in my local Farmers Market or in my CSA box.  The Oxbow Box provided me with both chard and kale.  

I used the chard in my Oxbow Box for this.

And guess what? A light blanch - in that small sauce pan of water, plus a gentle squeeze turns out to be enough.  

Even better news - these blanched greens are good for a few days in the fridge
So you can blanch all your greens when you get the box, and then use them
during the week.

I roughly chopped it

And gave it a quick toss with the delicious sesame topping. 

And I am out of the kitchen lickety-split.

Less heat & more flavor - just what I was after.  Check out the recipe.  Well - there are 2 recipes.  I'll give you the traditional one, and then the one more US cooks have the ingredients to pull off.  They are both very tasty, just different tasting.

Traditional Goma-ae ( or Gomae) - double this if you want 
(enough to dress a vegetable side dish for about 4 people)

sesame seeds (white & black are both fine) - 3Tbs
dashi (or water)  - 2 tsp
sugar (brown) - 1 tsp
soy sauce - 1 tsp

small sauté pan
spice grinder/small food processor or Japanese suribachi mortar* (yeah - I don't have one either)
small bowl 
spoon or fork

Put the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium high heat.  

Keep an eye on the temp - well a hand.  When you can feel heat coming up through the pan by hovering your hand over it (about 3-4 min) start stirring the seeds.  When you start to smell toasty sesame seeds, pull them off the heat.

When the seeds are cool enough to handle, pour them into your grinding apparatus.  
Grind until they look like ground pepper (stop before you get paste!)

Then stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Ready!
*my thanks to for their fabulous catalogue of Japanese cooking utensils

Peanut Butter based Goma-ae
(If you have tahini, that'll get you even closer, OR heck, use any nut-butter you have handy.)

smooth peanut butter - 2 Tbs 
soy sauce  - 2-4 tsp (depends on the saltiness of your peanut butter) 
sugar - 1-2 tsp (depends on the sweetness of your p.b.)
water or dashi - 1 Tbs 
sesame oil - 1 tsp

small bowl
for for mixing
microwave or very small pan

Heat the soy sauce, sugar, water and sesame oil in the small bowl/pan.  It should be very hot to the touch, but need not be boiling.

Smash and stir the peanut butter into the hot liquid.  Keep working at it until it is smooth.  This can take several minutes, so keep at it and don't despair.
Ta Da!  Delicious sesame peanut dressing.

Toss with your delicious greens.

1 comment:

LGBT Senior Living said...

You're the best! Perfect for San Diego's hotter than Seattle's weather. And as Mom, I wonder where you came from! Love you. Mom & Marty