This month’s Washoku Warriors Challenge is a little different. Instead of one or two recipes, we’ve been assigned a challenge ingredient – by the book’s author, Elizabeth Andoh herself. Unlike the Japanese TV program Iron Chefs, however, we have not one hour, but a whole month to explore miso in all its different flavours.
As recommended I started out with a light sweet Saikyo miso and a dark Sendai miso. I decided to start by making the creamy sesame miso sauce and using it for Chilled Chinese Noodle Salad (hiyashi chuka) (two recipes in one!) and the pungent red miso and citrusy miso sauces that Ando pairs with fall fruits (three recipes there!) for desert to take to a friend's place.
My boyfriend, U, who lives in a company-provided dormitory without kitchen facilities, doesn’t cook but has long been keen to join me in the kitchen. Since he also wants me to teach him English I figured that using an English recipe would be a good way to combine two different lessons and have a bit of fun in the process. Turns out that while he needs help with bagging groceries (“Don’t put a litre carton of milk on top of the package of fresh figs!... No not the bread either!... Eeek! Not the eggs either!") but the whole making sauces thing was a cinch. He’s a scientist of the chemical experiment doing type – so measuring out ingredients, stirring, and heating over a gas burner is just up his alley. Of course being able to actually eat the end result is a new experience for him!
We made all three sauces in advance, refridgerating them overnight. Lunch the next day was hiyashi chuka. I must admit I’m not a ramen fan and so have never much liked this dish. Notice I'm using the past tense here! The sweet/savoury and incredibly flavourful mushrooms were delicious and the sesame dressing – wow! WOW! I’m glad we had made up a double recipe of the creamy sesame miso sauce, I’m guessing its going to turn into a regular inhabitant of my fridge and I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to buy my old standby of commercial sesame salad dressing again. (I also LOVED the flavour of the white sesame paste, and am going to have to look into other ways of using it or the black sesame version... mmmm...)
As I carefully placed my toppings on my noodles, camera at the ready, U made a comment about not caring how his would look as he was just going to eat it – not photograph it. Of course, I couldn’t help but respond by including his in the photo shoot too! So, I give you a tale of two bowls: