Kayoko let me borrow Japanese homecooking maven Elizabeth Andoh's new book "Kansha: Celebrating Japanese Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions" and for that, I am brimming with kansha (thanks).
I had always wanted to try my hand at making shira-ae (sesame tofu dressing) after playing the goma-ae (sesame dressing) card one too many times. So while I read through Andoh's book, I slapped a large post-it note on page 99: Chrysanthemum Green in Nutty Tofu Sauce (shungiku no shira-e).
With pumped up ratios of saikyo miso (white miso) and freshly ground sesame seeds, this recipe had a depth that is appropriately described as nutty. This week's Japanify is an interpretation of Andoh's shira-ae recipe.
1 bunch of chrysanthemum greens/shungiku or spinach
4 ounces of tofu (drained)
1 tsp of white sesame paste
2 tsp of Saikyo white miso (see this Just Hungry article on all the varieties of miso)
1 tbsp of dashi
1 tbsp of freshly roasted sesame seeds
Pinch of salt
1. Drain the tofu and squeeze excess water out of block by wrapping it in a paper towel and placing a heavy object on top of it.
2. Soak greens in large tub of fresh, cold water. The ends might be kind of rough, please cut and shave them off if necessary.
3. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and add greens. Wait until the greens come up to a boil again and keep them in the pot for 30 to 40 seconds.
4. With tongs or chopsticks, transfer the greens into cold water. Squeeze out the water.
5. If you have a mortar and pestle or suribachi, use these tools to mash up the tofu. If you don't have either, mash tofu with the back of a spoon or fork.
6. Add the salt, miso, dashi and sesame paste and mix well.
7. Toss the greens with the sauce and serve.
8. Mix in roasted sesame seeds.
*Every Thursday, Japanify aims to make Japanese cooking at home easy, accessible and affordable. For questions, please email Yoko directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply comment below!