We chose two items to make from Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. (Well, three or six items, if you count the different types of dashi.)
Coincidentally, both are in the "simmered dishes" category called nimono. I guess we figured simmered dishes were "easier" to make? ;)
Again, I've copied out the recipe and it can be found at the end of the post.
Miso softened in dashi, straining through a sieve.
First, I prepped the potatoes and tried to cut them in nice shapes, making up what I think would conform to the Japanese aesthetic. Making up, because I have no clue. Oh, we used mostly yukon golds, then threw in a couple or so of nugget potatoes.
Then, parboiling the potatoes.
(Of course, in my lazy mind, I was already thinking: "Why, oh, why am I parboiling the potatoes when they're going to be cooked in the flavored liquid anyway?!")
While that was going on, I added a little bit of dashi to some miso and strained the mixture.
(Lazy Mind: "You don't need to strain it!")
As you know, I share the same lazy mind as TS and proceeded to voice out numerous objections to the many specific and seemingly endless instructions the recipe contained. Isn't it strange that my lazy mind didn't come with a lazily silent mouth?
Unfortunately, my lazy mind only came with a lazy bottom -- hence, I didn't lift my seat out of my comfy chair while TS was preparing this dish.
To start the simmering, I placed the parboiled potatoes in some dashi. This had to be cooked first without the miso yet(!). That is, the pot was brought up to temperature first, from cold to simmering.
Then, the strained miso mixture was added and mixed in.
Traditionally, a wooden drop-lid (otoshi-buta) is used. I don't have that, so I took the suggestion of making a parchment paper lid with a vent in the middle.
(Lazy Mind: "Wow, I never thought I would ever once again make a parchment paper lid!")
I placed the lid and simmered the potatoes for about 20 minutes. The dish was done.
simmering potatoes with vented parchment paper lid
Oh yes, the recipe called for blanching 4 pods of okra and using cut rounds as garnish. Finally, my Lazy Mind revolted! We actually had all the main ingredients for the dish on hand, so I definitely didn't want to go out and buy 4 pods of okra! So, no okra rounds for garnish. Sorry.
Or, that could be my excuse seeing as I wouldn't really have known how to use the okra rounds as garnish in a Japanese way. ;)
The recipe called for using a slotted spoon to place 5 pieces of potato in a deep individual dish per serving, then spooning over a few tablespoons of the miso liquid. I told you, very specific instructions. So, I found this deep Japanese bowl. For garnish, I placed a few slices of green onion with a restrained hand.
(Lazy Mind: "Can we not just serve it family-style?")
Well, I did just that. I made one individual serving for the photo, then served the rest in one big dish.
At this point, another aspect of my mind came forward.
(Gluttonous Mind: "One serving is ONLY five pieces?!")
When all was said and done, even Lazy Mind had to agree that these were absolutely delicious. I guess when great care is taken to prepare such simple ingredients, great things can result. Who would've thunk it.
The entire potato's being had been infused with miso. The texture of the potato was light, smooth, yet creamy. It was satisfying but not heavy.
I guess there is a reason those judges in the Japanese Iron Chef use this phrase often (or at least, they were always dubbed as saying this):
"It was subtle... yet profound."
I'll be darned, because these potatoes tasted quite unlike other potatoes I've ever had before. I don't think I've had potatoes this smooth and -- for lack of a better term --harmonious.
It was potato to the power of potato.
Certainly, biting into the potato, one can taste the miso but it seems that the miso also highlighted the very essence of the potato. In short, I have never tasted a potato tasting so very like a potato -- and gosh darn it! I really, really, really do love potatoes.
But, I think perhaps Lazy Mind will win over someday. So I'll try making this with some "shortcuts" and see what happens. ;)
Nope, this still isn't our Regional Recipes entry.
Dashi, Three Types
Potatoes Simmered in Miso (Jaga-imo Miso-ni)
Simmered Saba Mackerel with Daikon Radish (Saba Oroshi-ni)
Steelhead Trout and Enoki Mushrooms with Wasabi Cream Sauce
Grilled Brats à la Japadog
Warm Wakame Cucumber Salad
Grilled Eggplant with Sweet Miso
Potatoes Simmered in Miso
from Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art
5 medium potatoes
2 cups dashi
6 Tbsp white miso (or 4 Tbsp red miso)
4 pods okra, washed and trimmed (or 12 pods snow peas; tender green peas, or French-cut green beans)
Peel potatoes and cut into quarters (into 6ths, if large Idaho potatoes). Parboil in slightly salted water until tender but not flaky, then drain well.
In 1/2 cup of the dashi, soften the miso and strain through a sieve.
To cook and serve:
Into a medium-sized pot, put the remaining 1 1/2 cups dashi and the parboiled potatoes. Heat over medium heat until simmering.
Add the strained, softened miso. Mix. Cover with a drop-lid (otoshi-buta) or circle of baking paper with a vent and simmer or *gently* boil for 20 minutes.
Parboil okra in lightly salted water for 2 to 3 minutes, rinse in cold water, then cut into 1/4-inch rounds. (Parboil substitutes in lightly salted water until almost tender, then rinse in cold water.)
To serve, use a slotted spoon to transfer portions (5 potato pieces per serving) to deep individual dishes, then top with a few Tbsps pf the hot miso liquid. Garnish with okra rounds (or substitute) and serve immediately.
Sherli Hon Dory is submitting this to Potato Ho-Down, hosted this month by Baking Delights.
The round-up should appear sometime after November 19.
Our previous Potato Ho-Down dishes:
Duck Fat Potatoes
Potato Cornmeal Foccacia
Potatoes Simmered in Miso
Moroccan Chicken Tagine