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FEATURE: COOKING LOCAL SPICY SWEET POTATO MISO STEW

April 09, 2009

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"">            Welcome back to the kitchen. This

week the warmer weather is making me think of lighter, quick and easy meals that won’t leave us feeling

winter sluggish. I’m undertaking a mission to cut down on the amount of meat I eat, while also cooking for

myself more often.

"">            This means finding simple, creative

recipes that are truly delicious and satisfying. Here on cooking local we often cook in large quantities for a

crowd, but more often than not we are preparing food for just a few. So today I want to share with you a hearty

miso stew with tofu, veggie, and egg.

"">            This recipe is super easy to adapt

based on what ingredients you have handy, and can be easily expanded to feed as many as you need. Miso is a thick,

fermented soy bean paste with a dark, salty flavor that adds an almost a meaty richness to the broth.

class="MsoNormal">            The

very basic version of this stew is just to sauté some chopped onion and garlic, add some veggies like

carrots and cabbage, add a few cups of water, chopped tofu, some seasoning, and a few tablespoons of miso paste.

Bring to a simmer for five minutes and serve.

"">            But over the past few days

I’ve been playing around with some variations on this soup that I really like. Let’s try a shitake

mushroom, sweet potato, and leek variety with napa cabbage and eggs. Oh, and some tofu in there for good measure

as well. Better yet, here’s what you’ll need more or less exactly to make this soup for two:

class="MsoNormal"> 

-1 tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon dark

sesame oil

-2 leek whites, chopped into thin half-moon slices (I also tend to use most

of the leek greens as well, just make sure you slice them in half the long way and carefully wash out all the grit

between the leaves. If you don’t have leeks, just substitute one thin sliced regular onion instead)

class="MsoNormal">-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine

-roughly 1 teaspoon

of minced fresh ginger

-a handful of fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced and stems

removed, or use dried mushrooms, reconstituted in some warm water (and save that water for the broth)

class="MsoNormal">-1 small sweet potato or yam, ideally sliced into thin matchsticks (or you can just grate it

up), carrots also work well in the sweet, orange root veggie category

-2 large

handfuls of napa cabbage or bok choy, whites and greens both, chopped into inch long pieces. Alternatively you can

use conventional cabbage cut into long, super thin slices.

-about 1/3-1/2 of a block

of extra firm tofu, chopped into small cubes

-2 eggs, whisked and set aside

class="MsoNormal">-2-3 tablespoons red miso paste

-about 5 cups of water or

vegetable stock

-a dash of fish sauce or oyster sauce

-1/2

teaspoon sriracha hot sauce or dried red pepper flakes (to taste, depending on your spicy foods tolerance)

class="MsoNormal">-a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime

-some chopped green onions for

topping (or even bean sprouts or chopped cilantro)

 

"MsoNormal">           

That’s basically what we’ll need, so let’s get started with the miso stew. Take out a

medium saucepot and heat up the olive and sesame oils to medium high. When the oil is almost smoking, toss in the

sliced leeks or onions and let them sauté for a couple of minutes before lowering the heat to medium.

           

Now add the garlic and minced ginger, along with the thin sliced sweet potatoes and shitake mushrooms. At

various times I’ve also tried adding broccoli, zucchini, sweet peppers, carrots, and really any veggie I can

get my hands on in this soup. Saute for a few minutes, stirring, until the veggies get a bit tender, especially

the sweet potatoes. But don’t worry about cooking them all the way, because we are also going to simmer the

soup as well.

"">            Add the water or vegetable stock,

the tofu, the hot sauce and the fish sauce (obviously leave this out if you want it to be purely vegetarian).

Squeeze in the lemon and add in the bok choy to wilt. Finally, stir in the three tablespoons of miso paste as

well.

"">            Bring the soup to a boil, then

bring it back down to a simmer. Pour in the whisked eggs and stir, they will cook up into delicious, feathery

wisps of egg. Simmer the soup for about 5 minutes, then serve. Top each bowl with the fresh green onions and bean

sprouts, and serve with a side of cold quinoa salad. Delicious!

"">            The miso stew is tangy and

pleasingly salty, and sweet because of the sweet potatoes and veggies. There is lots of protein from the eggs and

tofu, so a bowl of this soup is sure to satisfy. I love shitake mushrooms, and the tofu just adds a nice texture.

Add a splash of soy sauce or a bit more miso if you think the soup needs more salt.

            Oh, and to make that

quinoa salad, just cook two cups of quinoa with four cups of water and set it aside to cool. Chop ½ a

cucumber and some green onions and diced fresh parsley. Slice some cherry tomatoes in half and also dice up some

sweet peppers. Make a dressing of sesame and olive oil, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, a little honey, and a

dash of mustard, plus a little salt and pepper.

"">            Mix this all up together in a bowl,

add the veggies and quinoa, and ideally chill for an hour or so before serving. This salad makes a perfect side

for the spicy miso stew. Well, there you have it. But remember, both of today’s recipes are meant to

personalized and played with.

So see what veggies you

can find locally and try making your own miso soup. It can be done in about 15 minutes start to finish, it’s

delicious, and quite healthy as well. If you are a hesitant vegetarian, or not familiar with tofu, I think this

soup is a great place to start. I swear when I make this stew I don’t miss the meat.

Let me know what you are creating in your kitchen, and write in if you have

any questions about today’s recipe. Cooking local in the KOHO kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.