Mr. Tess made a lovely garbonzo bean soup with potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and some “secret” ingredients. It was luxurious with a dollop of sour cream.
His soup got me thinking about the humble hardiness of beans and how they satisfy a desire for homey comfort. They are easy to cook, soaking and simmering without much attention from the cook, and yet they can be seasoned in all the variety of cuisines around the world.
I found a recipe for simmered soybeans, Japanese style, online and began to gather the ingredients. I found hijiki, a dramatic black sea-vegetable (allright, it’s seaweed), carrots, dried shiitake, and the usual suspects: saké, mirin, shoyu, and sugar.
My bag of soybeans was missing! Had I simply left them at the old place? (yes, we are still moving house…) Was my memory slipping?
Well, this was an opportunity to pop over the huge pan Asian store down the street. Hua Xing Asian Market was a car-dealership before it opened in 2004 as the giant supermarket of Asian groceries in S.E.Michigan. Where once sparkling new cars were spotlit on shining black granite floors, there are now aisles of nearly floor to ceiling shelves of such a variety of canned, dried, and preserved foods that the mind boggles. I saw a 20 pound bag of dried shiitake: consider how big that bag was, what with dried mushrooms being so lightweight. There were huge dried lotus leaves, more noodle varieties than one could try in a lifetime, fish swimming in big tanks (in the past I’ve seen turtles and frogs as well), huge cases of frozen fish, dumplings, cakes, fruit, and a whole refrigerated room with some nice looking fresh vegetables, including fresh lotus root which is difficult to find. If you want to check ingredients in a package, bring a flashlight (and a magnifying glass) because the light from the spotlights is blocked by the shelves…
Anyway, I found a package of soybeans, and a package of shirataki noodles and escaped without buying any of the other tempting goods—it’s one of three Asian markets I pass going to and from work.
Oh, and that package of soybeans I couldn’t find? My memory is slipping. I’d used them only a little bit ago to make simmered soybeans! he he! proves that this is a meal I really enjoy even if I forget that I’ve cooked it recently…
|———Hijiki: a sea vegetable———
Stewed Soybeans with Shiritaki
Nimame no Shirataki
- 1 cup dry soybeans, rinsed and soaked in 1 quart of water overnight (12 hours), drained and rinsed
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- ¼ cup carrot, cut into small dice
- ½ oz dry hijiki seaweed, rehydrated and rinsed
- ½ pound shirataki (konnyaku) noodles, rinsed and cut into bite-size length
- 4 dry shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated, stems removed, cut into small dice
- 1 cup of the water used for rehydrating the dried shiitake
- ¼ cup sake
- 2 Tablespoons mirin
- ½ tablespoons sugar
- 2 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce
Bring the soybeans and water to a boil over high heat in a pot. As soon as the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to simmer. Skim any floating bean shells and scum as necessary. Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beans are tender crisp. (This actually took more like 1½ hours, but my soybeans may have been very dry.)
Drain and rinse the beans with warm water.
In a big pot, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. (if you have a nabe, this recipe is an opportunity to use it)
Add the cooked soybeans, carrot, hijiki, shrataki, and shiitake mushrooms. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the dashi stock, sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce.
Bring to boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Use an otoshi buta (落し蓋), a Japanese cedar pot lid which floats on the contents of your pot. Or line the inside of a well fitting pot-lid with a piece of crumpled parchment paper or aluminum foil so that condensing steam drips back into the pot.
Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beans are very tender.
Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes.
These beans are even better if you can make them the day before to allow the flavors to meld. Reheat to serve.