By Laura Stec
Japanese Hot Pot with Tofu and KudzuUploaded: Aug 27, 2019
Anyone make it to Eating Green on the Green last Sunday? Send us a report please!
As requested, here's the recipe of the photo from last weeks post on Eating Green. It comes from my book Cool Cuisine, Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming (Gibbs Smith 2008), and incorporates a tool you may be unfamiliar with, an utoshibuta, or wooded lid. This is used to hasten evaporation from the vegetables and heighten the flavor by achieving a "water-less cooking technique." If you don't have one, but want to experiment with this technique, use a plate that fits inside your pot.
Another new ingredient for you may be kudzu, which is the dried and ground up root of the kudzu plant. Unlike cornstarch or arrowroot, this thickener creates a more silky end result. It's considered a healing food in macrobiotics, good for unsettled stomachs, and calming to the body and spirit.
Japanese Hot Pot with Tofu and Kudzu
A quick, soothing dish, easy enough for any day, interesting enough for a dinner party.
2 cups cooked grain of choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons kudzu (powdered or chunk style, arrowroot or cornstarch may be substituted)
4 teaspoons water
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch rounds
1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
3 cups stock, plus extra for deglazing pan
4 ounces smoked packaged tofu, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Mirin, toasted sesame oil, brown rice vinegar (or lemon juice) to taste (optional)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger and or garlic
Salt to taste
Green onions or nori, sliced thin, for garnish
Soak utoshibuta in water ½ hour before.
Prepare 2 cups of cooked grain as you choose, or use the “Grain Cooking Chart” on page 181 in chapter 10 of Cool Cuisine to find a new way to cook grain.
While grain is cooking, heat a medium-size, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add oil and onion, stir and top with utoshibuta. Cover pot and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. While onions cook, dissolve kudzu in a small bowl with 4 teaspoons water. Set aside. After 5 minutes, move onions to one side of the pot; add half of the carrots. Spread onions on top of the carrots, and then add the remaining half of the carrots on top of the onions. Add a little stock if needed. Cover with utoshibuta and lid for pot, cook over medium heat about 7 minutes. Add cauliflower florets on top of the carrots. Add a little stock if needed. Cover with both lids again and cook an additional 7 minutes or so, until vegetables are tender. Add tofu and stir.
Combine stock with soy sauce, mirin, toasted sesame oil, vinegar/juice (start with 1/2 -1 teaspoon of each) and ginger/garlic. Bring to a simmer. By now the kudzu/water mixture will have hardened in your bowl, so stir well and add the mix into the pot, bring to a boil, stirring until sauce thickens. Check consistency; add more kudzu (diluted in water) or stock if needed.
Garnish with green onions, sliced nori, and Condiment Plate (see page 183 – Cool Cuisine).
-photos by LSIC