Wednesday, May 7, 2008
bento, minus the box
For dinner tonight, I assembled a bento box meal of shiozake (salted salmon), asparagus in dashi broth with egg, and steamed rice topped with furikake (rice seasoning). Of course it would have been more authentic if everything had been nicely compartmentalized within a cute bento box, but alas, none to be found in my kitchen amidst all the packing.
I salted the salmon yesterday, a fresh wild-caught piece from Whole Foods, with a generous rub of sea salt. I prefer it not overly salted, so instead of letting it sit any longer than 24 hours, I cooked it up tonight. The skin was delightfully crispy and the flesh was subtly salted and somewhat sweet. I rinsed off the rest of the pieces, patted them dry, and wrapped them in wax paper and a freezer bag to be frozen and eaten later on.
The asparagus is my take on a vegetarian donburi, steamed rice covered in a pork/rice/shrimp and simmered egg mixture. The ultimate comfort food. I flavored the broth with a mix of dashi, mirin, soy, sake and sugar. The combination of all these ingredients make a umami experience that's mind-blowing. Like a savory flavor explosion in your mouth. Good dish to down rice with.
The furikake, that I bought from the asian store. If you aren't familiar with this flavoring, it's a dry mix of seaweed, bonito flakes, sesame, soy and sugar. It adds another level to the taste and texture of just plain rice. Furikake comes in all sorts of fun flavors, like salmon, nori, wasabi, or nuts, and is sometimes even colored a pale pastel of green (wasabi) or pink (salmon).
It was really the perfect dinner for one. Just me tonight, as Mr.S is off far far away in new-job-training-land. So I kind of stunk up my small apartment with the smell of pan-fried fish, but it was worth it for a meal that really hit the spot, and was even well-balanced and quite healthy!
Asparagus-Don (Asparagus simmered in dashi with egg)
1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed and cleaned
1 small onion, slivered
3 stalks scallion, chopped on the bias, green and white parts both
1 Tbsp slivered ginger
1/3 cup dashi broth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp sake
1 Tbsp sugar
1 egg, beaten
1. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a wok, and add scallion, ginger and onion. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the asparagus, cooking for another 2 minutes or so until they become slightly tender and bright green.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the dashi, soy, mirin, sake, and sugar. Add this mixture to the asparagus. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes to thicken the broth.
3. Stir in the beaten egg to incorporate into the broth. It will start to curdle, and look like egg drop soup. Cook for another minute, until the strings of egg have set up and somewhat solidified. Serve over steamed rice.