Konichiwa and greetings! Here we have a lovely Japanese dish to tickle your taste buds; the ingredients are subtle and revitalising, perfect for a light spring lunch, also great chilled as a noodle salad.
We have paid a visit to our brilliant little Asian supermarket in Bangor recently and stocked up on the staples for tasty Japanese and Chinese fare. Noodles are of course a mainstay here, but the dried kelp is something not so easy to find, but well worth getting hold of.
Dried kelp adds a strong vegetal flavour to soups and stocks and, along with the mirin, really makes this salad tick and fizz with flavour. The jerusalem artichokes add nice crunch and sweetness and are plentiful in our area of Wales at the moment. Think of them as a water chestnut substitute of Welsh origin.
The rest of the flavours found here are classically Japanese and the sauce is vaguely Teriyaki. I had a friend as a child, Kenji, and my first most amazing cooking experience (I’ve only remembered this because of this dish, how cool is that!) was at his house with his Mum. We had to cook in front of our school class, I have no idea why, so I went around Kenji’s house one Sunday and we got straight into the kitchen and whipped up a Teriyaki Noodles as I recall. I remember it being another world of flavour’s and techniques and like absolutely nothing I’d seen before or tasted before. The way Kenji’s Mum approached cooking was so different. I was then a major Japanese food fan, 10 years old, and still am to this day.
The dish would be best garnished with some toasted sesame seeds, but we seem to have ran out! We finished it with some dried sea salad, but you can hardly see it on the pics, but it’s there and the flavour is wonderfully oceanic and salty. Sea salad is very similar to seaweed, which would also make a great topping here. Anything edible, green and living in the sea is bound to be amazing for you and taste like seaside rocks (you know that flavour!).
THE LAND OF MUSHROOMS
In this part of Wales we are blessed with the finest grower of shiitake and other mushroom varities in the UK, The Mushroom Garden. Being nice and damp and misty, Wales in the perfect place for mushroom cultivation and their shiitake’s and mushrooms in general are some of the finest I’ve tasted. I have been trying to track down a hedgehog mushroom for a while now, they are elusive little critters! The Mushroom Garden are also doing an ‘Umami’ seasoning, which sounds interesting and will be sprinkled on things in the BHK very soon. It’s great to have such wonderful, passionate producers locally.
Here in North Wales, good Japanese food is quite rare, homegrown is best. This salad turned out very well and I’d hope Kenji’s Mum would be happy with my progress!
Sayonara & Peacex
Makes two decent bowls.
15og shiitake mushrooms
6 medium jerusalem artichokes (sliced into 1cm discs)
2 spring onion (finely chopped)
1/2 teas chilli flakes
1 tbs minced ginger
1 cup of dried kelp
150g fine wheat noodles
2 tbs light soya sauce
2 teas rice vinegar
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs mirin
1 cup noodle/ kelp cooking broth
1 teas brown sugar (if needed)
2 teas cooking oil
Sprinkle dried sea salad/ sea weed, chopped fresh coriander, toasted sesame seeds
In a saucepan, warm 2 teas of oil and fry your shiitake for a few minutes then add your artichokes and ginger, fry for five minutes and add your vinegar first (allow it to evaporate a little) then add chilli, sesame oil, soya sauce and mirin. Keep your eye on the mushrooms, shiitake will absorb alot of liquid and can go a little soggy. They will release this liquid after a few minutes more of cooking.
Continue to cook on a high heat and reduce the sauce a little, check seasoning, it may need a little more sugar. Cover and keep warm.
Have some boiling water ready in another sauce pan, pop in your kelp and cook for 3 minutes, then add your fine noodles and cook for a minute. That’s all it should take. Seive the noodles and kelp and keep the stock. Run under cold water to cool the noodles down. This salad is best served warm. Reserve any leftover stock for other soups and stews, even freeze it, the flavour is well worth it.
Add your noodles to your mushroom mix and pop in your spring onions. Stir gently together, combine well.
In warm bowls with chopsticks, extra mirin and soya sauce available. Make sure everyone gets a decent amount of mushroom and artichoke, they tend to sink to the the bottom. Sprinkle on your toppings and enjoy.
We Love It!
Full of the flavours of classic Japanese cuisine and is nice and easy to get together and great served hot or cold. Great quick bite material and something that keeps nicely.
Shiitake Mushrooms (or Wood Mushroom in Japanese) have been used by the Chinese for over 6,000 years medicinally and are burting with health giving properties. Brilliant for voth the immune and cardiovascular system, the Shiitake is also full of iron.
Although the Shiitake may seem like an iconic Japanese ingredient, China now produces 80% of the worlds Shiitakes. No great surprises there though.
All this nutrition talk is all well and good, but the best way to feel healthy, is to feel healthy! Enjoy your cookingx