Thursday, July 2, 2009

Asian Crab Salad, Soba Noodles, and Eggplant with Shitakes

We had a crab hankering. The season is all but over, so we opted for frozen lump meat. I know, I know, not the best compared to fresh crab, but we had a hankering we had to humor. Honestly, it wasn't all that bad. Soba noodles were also on the list of things to be eaten, so I decided to face the east whilst preparing this feast, with a nod in particular to the Japanese tradition. Ginger, soy, miso, rice vinegar, sake...all of these distinguished guests would be invited to dinner tonight.

For the soba noodles, I prepared them simply. Once boiled and drained (5 minutes), I sautéed some sliced shallots in toasted sesame oil, and added a splash of soy sauce before adding the noodles to coat. (Some roughly chopped cilantro garnishes nicely.) やすやす (I think that says very easy in Japanese). Soba noodles are delicious, nutritious and simple to prepare. Also, for those of you whose bodies do not get along well with gluten, 100% buckwheat flour soba noodles are available, known as Towari soba or Juwari soba. Though you might think buckwheat is related to wheat, 'tis not. What we're dealing with a pseudocereal here, folks. Buckwheat (this link takes you to World's Healthiest Foods site, with lots of nutritional information on buckwheat) is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. Hmpf!?

I also sautéed some Japanese eggplant and shitake mushrooms with minced ginger. First I cut the eggplant lengthwise, then in 1-inch segments at an angle. Then they get tossed in a pan with some sliced shitake mushrooms and some safflower oil. A mixture of 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce and 1 tablespoon soy sauce gets added once the eggplant has browned nicely and the mushrooms are soft. Turn heat to low as the sauce reduces. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

I tossed the crab in a light miso dressing. Sliced green onions, light miso, rice vinegar, mayonnaise, salt and sugar. I would probably use a little less vinegar next time, as it turned out a bit 'liquidy.' Then I oiled up some rocks glasses, layered some diced avocado, and filled with the crab. Turn out the towers on to a bed of sliced cucumber, and dinner is served.

I have two good friends who have been teaching English in Japan this past year, but the opportunity to visit them has not presented itself. One day, though, I look forward to making a journey to Nippon, 'sun-origin land.'

('thank you for your continued patronage')

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