JAPANESE HOME COOKING: Boiled and seasoned spinach warms you up
Boiled and seasoned spinach in gravylike sauce (Provided by Katsumi Oyama)
A simple way to enjoy vegetables is "ohitashi" style, in which the ingredients are boiled and then drenched in a seasoned stock. This dish warms even more when made with a thickened gravylike sauce.
"Ohitashi should taste crisp in the summer, but chewy and soft in winter. The desired texture changes according to the season," says cuisine expert Tatsuo Saito, who selected spinach for this recipe because it is in season.
A key to making a delicious sauce is to stir-fry the "chirimenjako" (tiny salted and dried baby fish) until they sizzle. The dish may be served with "yakimochi" grilled rice cakes.
INGREDIENTS (serves four)
1 bunch spinach
1 pack enoki mushrooms
20 grams chirimenjako
2 Tbsp katakuriko starch
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Pinch of chili powder (ichimi-togarashi)
Sauce ingredients: (200 cc water, 1 Tbsp sake, 2 Tbsp sweet mirin sake, 1 Tbsp light soy sauce)
Trim off spinach roots, then wash leaves thoroughly. Make an incision in the circular base so it cooks quickly. Cut to 5 cm lengths. Separate stems and leaves. Trim off enoki base, cut in half and loosen mushroom parts.
Bring a generous amount of water to a boil, adding 2 tsp salt per liter of water. Add spinach stems first, then leaves. Stir. When the spinach turns bright green, add enoki mushrooms. Once the vegetables become soft, quickly remove and place on a sieve. Drain off water.
Heat sesame oil in a frying pan and stir-fry chirimenjako until aroma rises. Add sauce ingredients. Boil about 2 minutes, and then add vegetables.
Skim off scum when the mixture comes to a boil again. Make space in the center of the pan with a ladle; slowly pour in starch that has been mixed with 2 Tbsp water. Boil thoroughly until sauce thickens.
Sprinkle with chili powder to taste.
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From The Asahi Shimbun's Okazu Renshucho column