Friday, 23 May 2014

Sesame-Miso Asparagus or Green Beans (...or Broccoli?)

Add a taste of the Orient to your green vegetables, with this delicious dressing, full of nutty, toasty, umami flavours

You can serve this hot, warm, or cool. It's fantastic as a side to Japanese dishes such as Teriyaki, Yakitori or Kushiyaki, or as part of a vegetarian spread or a Bento box and there's really nothing to it other than cooking your vegetables, and giving the dressing ingredients a stir before tossing them all together.

I love to have asparagus served this way with Teriyaki salmon (well, I'm always after different ways to eat salmon and asparagus together - they're two of my favourite things!); or make it with steamed green beans if we're having Teriyaki chicken, both served with my cucumber-radish pickles and some rice (or cauliflower rice) tossed with sliced spring onions, and maybe a splash of toasted sesame oil...

I have a little recipe plan for making Teriyaki chicken/salmon/tofu with rice, the above and cucumber-radish pickles all in under half an hour including preparation time, which I'll post, as it's great to be able to make something tasty, varied and a little bit exotic in a short amount of time if you organise how you do it!

Serves two, 59 calories per serving.
200g asparagus, woody ends snapped off [56]
200g fine/French green beans, topped – and if wanted, tailed* [55]
(would also go really well with broccoli, or other non-leafy green vegetables, so feel free to experiement)

For the dressing
2 tsp sesame seeds [38]
½ tsp (golden) caster sugar [8]
½ tsp mirin [6]
1 tsp sake (or you could substitute Chinese Shaoxing wine, or dry sherry - check ingredients for gluten free cooking as brands vary) [7]
1 tsp miso paste (for gluten free, use Clearspring organic white miso, or similar - check ingredients) [4]

Optional toasted sesame oil

Put the sesame seeds into a dry pan and toss lightly over a low to medium heat until turning golden – immediately take out of pan and set aside to cool. Once cool, you can choose whether to leave them whole, or to crush them lightly in a pestle and mortar. I like them both ways, and really couldn't choose!

Make the dressing – put the sugar, mirin, sake, miso paste, and sesame seeds in a dish large enough to hold the vegetables and combine thoroughly (a fork, or small whisk is sufficient for this).

Cook your asparagus or beans (or green vegetable of choice!):

For green beans, steam or boil for 3 to 7 minutes until cooked to your preferred level of tenderness.

For asparagus, steam or boil for 3 go 6 minutes until cooked to your liking, or if you're going for a nice toasty flavour, you could griddle (or barbecue) them instead. I find this easiest to do, by pushing one wide flat skewer through the middle of each asparagus stalk (or use two round skewers, one near the top and one near the bottom if you don't have any flat skewers), spraying with a couple of quick mists of oil, then cooking for a couple of minutes on each side until just tender and a little charred, for flavour.

If you are cooking them on a griddle with a skewer through them, you can rest two or three ramekins on the top, to make sure that they have even contact with the griddle and cook evenly.

Once your vegetables are cooked, immediately toss them in the dressing and then serve, or set aside to eat when warm or cool (not chilled).

If you cook your vegetables very lightly, you could prepare this dish ahead, and then briefly re-heat before serving (either by steaming in a bowl with the dressing, or microwaving for 30 seconds to a minute).

For extra toasted sesame flavour, you could add a little to the dressing, or drizzle lightly over just before serving.

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