TheGreenTurnip Score: 8 Yum!
This salad is both savory and sweet, and bursting with flavor! It is especially tasty at room temperature, perfect for MN&EL. (It is not bad hot either. Both K and I ate piping hot spoonfuls straight from the pan!) This salad earned a solid score of “8” and a pencil note “Yum!” in the cookbook.
The original recipe has a Japanese title that translates to “ample veggies with pork.” “Ample” as in: bursting, plentiful, overflowing beyond measure. K and I both loved this salad but felt like veggies were seriously lacking. Forget “ample”! It was not even sufficient. I seriously cranked up the veggie count (and also reduced the amount of pork). I promise it is still plenty meaty. (Meat-lover K agrees.)
This recipe calls for miso, a staple of Japanese cooking. Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans. You probably have eaten it in “miso soup” in Japanese restaurants. Miso can be used for much more than soup! You can add it to dressings or glazes. It has a rich, salty flavor, and since it is a fermented food (like yogurt), miso is packed with good-for-your-gut enzymes.
Miso on stewed daikon… My first birthday meal in Japan!
When I was living in Japan, I made miso from scratch! (Thus earning me the dubious distinction of being more “Japanese” than most Japanese. Modern cooks in Japan usually buy miso at the grocery store.)
Koji (inoculated rice) to help the soybeans ferment.
Stirring the boiled and smashed soybeans with koji and salt…
Turns out making miso is easy….but long! Like 8 months long.
I did not realize this when I started miso just months from my planned departure from Japan. Fortunately, my very kind and generous friends (who I made the miso with) agreed to take care of it for a year. They tended the miso after I left. Months and months later they shipped me a heavy box packed with miso.
This is now a yearly tradition! I look forward to it every spring.
This recipe makes enough for a week’s worth of medium portions for 1 person (about 10 medium portions). If you cannot find shiitake mushrooms, feel free to substitute any other mushroom. Also I think this would be just as good with ground chicken, turkey, or beef.
Ground Pork, ½ pound
Shiitake Mushrooms, 4-5
Eggplant, 1 small-ish one
Fresh ginger, 2” chunk (finely chopped)
Water, 1/2 cup
Mirin, 1 tablespoon
Soy Sauce, 1 teaspoon
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Cooking Sake, 1 tablespoon
Miso, 2 tablespoon
Vegetable Oil, 2 tablespoons
- Chop the carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and eggplant into small cubes. (The original recipe says “5mm squares.”) No need to be that precise! Just chop it all small and evenly.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Once shimmering, add half the ginger and cook until it smells ginger-y (about 1 minute). Add the veggies and cook until softened. Add the pork and cook until it is no longer pink.
- Add the water, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, sake, miso, and the remaining half of the ginger. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook 2-3 minutes. (It might seem a little soupy.) Let cool. Cover and store.
Adapted from “野菜たっぷりの肉みそサラダ.”