Corn & Cabbage Buttered Miso Soup

The Japanese love corn:
on pizza, pasta, at McDonald’s, in gyoza, in soup, …so why not add it to miso soup?
As for cabbage in Japan, it is used in one of their most famous dishes: okonomiyaki, the cabbage-stuffed “as you like it” pizza.

Cabbage is also popular in soups, pickles, and as a side dish for deep-fried foods.

So why not enjoy it in miso soup?

Add a pat of butter, and you’ll experience sweetness and richness if only in a meal.

Another Thousand Leaf Cabbage

Cabbage does not bring to mind Japanese cuisine! But home cooks have a repertoire of recipes to take advantage of the humble inexpensive tender-sweet cabbages which come to market in autumn and winter. These meals are homely and comforting, warm and rich, and as you can see: they are not necessarily beautiful to the eye. Don’t be deceived. One cannot “judge a book by its cover.”
The “thousand leaves” (mille-feuille in French) in this casserole are layered horizontally with a pork stuffing. The casserole in my previous post involved layering the cabbage leaves vertically. The flavor of this version is also very different from the other. Enjoy!

Thousand Leaves Stuffed Cabbage

I can’t explain why I’ve been craving stuffed cabbage, but there it is. My mother never made it while we were growing up. The only time I ate it as a child was when I went to my friend Joan’s house for dinner. Her family owned the local funeral home, and they lived upstairs. Her mother made stuffed cabbage the evening I visited, and after dinner Joan invited me to go downstairs to comb the hair of their latest “guests.” I declined. But ever since then, I’ve really enjoyed stuffed cabbage in the fall and winter. There are variations of stuffed vegetables, especially stuffed cabbage, all over the world. This recipe is one I made two years ago. The umeboshi adds such a lovely flavor to the rich pork and sweet cabbage that I hope you will try this recipe.

Yukina Savoy

Mr. Tess’ jaws clench at the sight of green and crunchy vegetables: green cabbage, red cabbage, nappa cabbage, savoy cabbage, bok choi, kale, shinguku, brassicaceae of any sort, chard, turnip, dandelion, mustard greens and so on. He was delighted to find this bunch of leafy stuff at the Farmers’ Market.
It’s called “yukina savoy.” Very pretty, yes? And something we will be planting in our garden next year? I think so!

Coleslaw á la Japonaise
I was making chili—warm red and fragrant on a snowy afternoon. As a side dish, I wanted something tangy and fresh for contrast. There is a recipe in Hiroko Shimbo’s book, The Japanese Kitchen, for kyabetsu no sokuseki zuke: quick salt-pickled cabbage. Quick means five hours, and because of the snow it had taken two hours to shop so the recipe was out of the question. My solution comes from making other tsukemono: I salted the finely shredded cabbage and carrots in a plastic bag with a weight on top for two hours—long enough to remove excess water from the vegetables leaving them tender-crisp. The result: coleslaw colorful enough for a Japanese bento!

A Favorite: Okonomiyaki! お好み焼き

Over the years, I’ve tried different versions of this dish. There are some things I’d still like to try: squid, kimchi, mochi, cheese…
In the past, I’ve made Chinese green onion pancakes, but it will be interesting to try negiyaki (a version of okonomiyaki made with onions), or the Korean pancakes called pajeon.
I’d also like to try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki where the ingredients are layered rather than mixed, and also often topped with yakisoba or udon and a fried egg.

Kimchi Udon
As often happens, I was sidetracked
    by noticing something I was not looking for.

Home cooks take some thing from here, another from there, adapting a dish to suit specific tastes… a loving evolution of adding and changing, and making food that is delicious especially for the diner!
Not in a million years would I have thought of combining kimchi and udon. But you know, it is a delicious combination!

Napa Cabbage Millefeuille with Pork Belly

Mille–feuille (pronunciation: \mēl-ˈfwē, mēl-ˈfœ-ē\) is an interesting word, coming from French, means a thousand leaves. It is usually a dish composed of puff pastry layered with a filling (as salmon or cream). In this case however, cabbage leaves are layered with the sliced pork, mashed umiboshi, and kombu. Then they are arranged edgewise in a heavy pot: the layers look like petals of ruffly flower. Like many casseroles, it is not so beautiful on the plate, but the rich and savory flavor is more than enough compensation…