Miso Grilling Sauce: Dengaku

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grilled eggplantThe Farmers’ Market had lovely eggplants to remind me of this tasty grilling sauce called dengaku, made with miso, saké, mmirin, and sugar, and in this recipe, thickened with eggs. It’s a traditional Japanese grilling sauce for tofu, but one can use this grilling sauce with other vegetables, seafood, and fish. This style of grilling is very popular with home cooks. It’s easy to make, and with soup, rice, and pickles makes a filling meal.
The various vegetables that are grilled with dengaku sauce include sliced eggplant, large mushrooms, green pepper strips, and sliced sweet potatoes. More modern variations include scallops or small fish such as sardines, smelt, ayu, or trout. Some recipes include deep-frying the food before grilling and caramelizing the sauce. Simpler recipes use charcoal broiling, oven broiling, or pan-frying.

Sugar Snap Peas, Shrimp, Somen

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peas-and-nasturtium_2675Spring in the garden begins with hope; planting seeds is an act of faith, anticipating a bountiful harvest to share. In May, I planted a short row of sugar snap peas in the window box outside the dining room window. The picture in my mind was of green vines shading the meals we’d share together from the hot summer sun.
I also planted some nasturtiums at the front edge of the window box because they have brilliant peppery edible flowers and leaves. I anticipated that they would provide color once the spring/early crop of peas needed to be removed.

These fruits of my labor inspired this very seasonal meal.

Korean Vegetable Pancake

hanuka-candles
It’s Hanuka and we have been eating pancakes. These were pancakes made by Mr. Tess some time ago, yet they deserve some space on my blog.
I bought a bag of Korean pancake mix, thinking it would have some special secret ingredient. I’d made them from scratch with vegetables and seafood but they were not quite the same as the pancakes served at our favorite Korean restaurant. But no, just ordinary flour, baking powder, spices… I hate wasting food, and the minor convenience of one measuring cup, one bowl, a knife, and a frying pan means we’ll eat them at least a couple of more times…

Korean Cold Noodle Soup with Radish Water Kimchi

eating Korean noodles with a fork
Eating cold noodles in winter, preferably in front of a great big fire, is a way of enjoying the best of two seasons.

We made a meal of this when Mr. Tess returned from Philly after working there for nearly two months. As a dyed-in-the-wool noodle-lover it was the best thing I could think of to welcome him home.

I don’t think he was disappointed in the menu; at any rate he was happier than the cats were.

Korean Radish Water Kimchi

water kimchi cut for dinner

Making kimchi seemed a wonderful idea. I spent a lot of deep-in-the-night sleepless hours roving the internet while Mr. Tess was working in Philadelphia. Radish water kimchi made me laugh, especially when I heard about a cold noodle soup made with this pickle. The weather was beginning to be chilly in October, and I wanted to hold on to summer if only in my dining room.
These pickles are absolutely delicious, especially the water which can only be called addictive: sour, salty, sweet, and popping good…

Shioyaki Trout with Shoyu-Beurre Noisette Beans


Nothing looked prettier on ice at the fish counter than some pale pink and silver trout fillets to accompany the new potatoes and really ripe tomato from the farmers’ market. The green beans were so fresh they really did snap!

This post outlines how to “salt-grill” fish, and how to prepare green vegetables so they retain their bright color. Both are valuable techniques to add you your cooking repertoire.

A Shiso Watch—telling time in the garden


A garden, if only a few pots of plants, follows its own pace. In spite of the very hot dry weather during this past week, my herbs have produced a growth spurt. It was time to pinch the top growth of leaf pairs to encourage the plants to become bushy, and to stop early flowering. I look on this event as the first small harvest. And at least a simple lunch…

Wafu Spaghetti:
Shiso, Miso,
Tomato Pasto
with Cheese

Shiso Watch 2012

While I have been studying Japanese cooking, shiso has become a significant summer flavor. It’s easy to grow, and has a role in lots of recipes. I think it will be of interest to see how well they grow over this season and what use I can make of the leaves.
I’ll add to this post as the plants grow.
In the meantime, click the thumbnails for links to recipes.




















Skewered Scallops


Scallops are fast food!

These sweet, succulent, toothsome tidbits smelling of the ocean are too delicious to eat only on special occasions.

Scallops are fast food. If you cook them too long they will become rubbery and inedible.

Bay scallops must be very fast. Smaller bay scallops are usually quickly cooked in a fast stir-fry, or in a sauce for pasta, or in a soup.

This recipe is unusual in that the little scallops are skewered, sauced, and broiled.

The scallops are fine served at room temperature so would make a nice appetizer or snack with drinks.