cabbage

Salmon-Mushroom Udon Ankake

 

鮭茸うどんあんかけ Shake Kinoko Udon Ankake

Ankake is a generic term for a starchy, savory sauce that is served atop rice or noodles. It is considered a Chinese-style dish, and its variations are endless. Throughout Japan, different cities are known for different types of ankake. For example, Nagoya is known for ankake pasta or spaghetti, while Nagasaki is known for an anakake variant called sara udon. Most often ankake includes seafood, Napa cabbage and some type of fish cake. Our ankake features salmon, an autumn fish, and mushrooms—ingredients associated with the season. The Japanese word for salmon is sake, and is believed to originate from the verb sakeru, or “to tear.” Before its popularity grew as a sushi ingredient, salmon was always cooked. (Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

Cooking spray
½ pound salmon steak
Cooking oil
½ medium carrot, medium julienned
½ medium onion, medium julienned
¼ small napa cabbage, medium julienned
1 3.5 oz package maitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped into bite-size pieces
1 3.5 oz package shimeji mushrooms, ends cut off
1 14 oz. package udon noodles
1 3/4 cups water, divided
1 teaspoon dashi granules
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sake
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Black pepper to taste
Chopped green onions to taste 

Cookware:

Large frying pan, bowl, medium saucepan, small bowl

Instructions: :

1.       Heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a piece of aluminum foil big enough to hold the salmon and any run-off juices with cooking spray. Salt the salmon generously on both sides, and place on the foil on a baking sheet.

2.        Bake the salmon for 10 minutes or until the meat is almost cooked through (a little raw in places won’t hurt it, as it will be getting sautéed again in the vegetable mixture).

3.       Meanwhile, heat a small amount of cooking oil in a large frying pan, and sauté the carrot, onion and cabbage until slightly softened. Then, add both mushrooms, and continue to sauté until tender. (Avoid browning.)

4.       Once the salmon is cooked through, remove the skin (if there is any), and gingerly cut the salmon into bite-size pieces. Transfer to the frying pan with the vegetables ,and gently stir to incorporate.

5.       Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, and cook the udon noodles according to the instructions. (If they are fresh, their cooking time will be marginal. If they are dried, I recommend beginning the boiling process after step 1. It’s okay if they are drained and cool slightly before serving —the sauce will add moisture.)

6.       Add the 1 1/2 cups water, dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sake to the salmon-vegetable mixture, and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer the fish and vegetables for a few minutes to allow them to soak up the flavors.

7.       In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup water, and add to the frying pan. Continue to simmer, stirring the mixture gently.

8.       Drain the udon, and serve in a wide bowl. Top the udon with hot fish and vegetables, being sure to spoon generous amounts of the ankake sauce on top.

Garnish with black pepper and onions.

Late Winter Vegetable Soup

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In Japan, soups are more of an accompaniment, warming the body and helping to add a feeling of fullness to the other components of the meal. This simple soup utilizes daikon, carrot, and cabbage. We gently boil them until they are just cooked – so that they retain their freshness and vibrancy. Incidentally, the Japanese have a surprising love of bouillon cubes – as cans of broth are usually not cheaply or readily available in the grocery market. I suggest using good-quality bouillon, as the flavors to this dish are so light and simple we do not want them ruined by poor-quality broth. These three vegetables work well together, and are good for a warm pick-me-up on a cool day. (Serves 2-3)

 

Ingredients:

 

3 inch piece of daikon, peeled, and thinly sliced into quarter rounds
1 carrot, peeled, and thinly sliced into quarter rounds

¼ (or less) green cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 heaping tablespoon bouillon paste, or 2 bouillon cubes

Green onions to garnish (recommended)

 

Cookware:

 

Saucepan

 

Instructions: 

 

1.       Add all ingredients to the saucepan, and bring to a boil with 2 cups of water. Skim off any scum that may appear on the surface. Simmer until daikon, and carrot are just cooked and the color of the cabbage has not faded.

2.     Serve with a generous portion of green onions.

 

*Serving suggestion: This soup is eaten more easily with chopsticks – pick out the vegetables and sip the broth.