I think March is probably the most memorable month in a year for me and my husband as it reminds us of many important episodes of our lives. For now I`m not going to talk further about the personal sides, but Japanese academic and fiscal years start in April and end in March, so March is kind of the year-end month where people usually get busier to finish their works and anticipate the upcoming schedules for April as the New Year. And climately speaking, March is also the month when people prepare to welcome the beginning of spring where the snow melts quicker and the trees start to seem alive again.
Now, to celebrate the end of the frosty winter, I`m going to share one Indonesian-ish dish that I usually cook when I feel the urge to consume fibrous meal and one fish dish to make them as a beautiful set.
Let`s start with the soup first.
Heat a bit of oil on medium heat and saute onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, chili, and chili powder until fragrant.
Stir in shrimp paste. For whatever reason you have, you can substitute it for dried shrimp or anchovies (I sometimes do this) or omit it (sometimes I do this too), although it will slightly alter the final taste.
Pour in water-preferably hot-, stir in coconut powder until completely dissolved, and let it simmer.
If you use liquid coconut milk, pour in the coconut milk first, and add water until the liquid volume reach about 2 cups in total. You can even add water in the last step instead. We are going to add quite a lot of stuff to the pot after this, so you don`t want to overfill the pot with liquid right now.
I believe I don`t have many recipes here that include this bamboo shoot despite how frequent I use it. The only bamboo shoots sold in the our nearest store is the one that is ready to use packed in bag filled with water. According to the pack, that white powdery stuff sticking on the bamboo shoots is a kind of amino acid and thus no need to remove it. I hope you can find this bamboo shoots at the stores in your area. Too bad that I never buy fresh bamboo shoots so I have no idea how to handle it.
Anyway, cut the bamboo shoots-in random shapes, as you can see- and add to the simmering liquid in the pot.
Have you met nameko? My husband dislikes this mushroom for its sliminess, but I LOVE it for the same reason. The mushroom is covered with a slimy gelatinous layer, but crunchiness stays even after cooking. It kind of has a distinctive smell that some people probably are not fond of, so you might want to check it first before adding to the whole dish. I usually quickly rinse them with hot water and add them to whatever I`m cooking. Nameko work nicely in stir-fried dishes, but when you add them to soups, they will make the liquid thicker.
So, here is the soup already with nameko and bamboo shoots in it. Oh, I added shimeji mushrooms too but I didn`t have the picture.
Next is konnyaku. If you`ve been following my blog, you probably noticed how I often have konnyaku in my soups. It is recommended to blanch the konnyaku in hot water for a few minutes to remove unpleasant odor, but I usually dice it up, rinse under hot water, and add the cubes to the pot.
Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar while keeping the soup simmering.
When you`re done with the seasoning, put frozen long beans on top, remove from heat, and cover with lid for 5-10 mins until the green beans are softened.If you are using fresh long beans, cook it on low heat with the lid on for 5-10 mins depending on your liking of mushiness or crunchiness.
The soup is done! If you have omitted the shrimp paste or dried shrimp, it means your soup is a vegan version. But if you`re like me who still can`t fully commit to 100% vegan lifestyle, you can continue prepare this side dish.
I used shishamo fish, but you can use your own choice of fish. I use this turmeric seasoning recipe for many kinds of fish, or even chicken, and it always worked in our house. My husband especially is a fan of this turmeric seasoning. It`s quick and simple, but the result is very rewarding.
Wash whatever fish you use and pat dry before starting the seasoning.
Then, if you use small fish like these shishamo, just dump them in a bowl, add olive oil, turmeric, ginger powder-or grated ginger, even better!- pepper, and salt. Mix together everything until each fish is evenly coated with the seasoning.
Line a baking tray with aluminium foil and arrange the turmeric-coated fish onto it. Grill it for 20-30 mins or until the skin has crisped up.
Ah, look at this pair. If you`re an Indonesian, I`m 200% sure you`ll remember about sayur lodeh and ikan asin. But if you`re not, it means you need to give these dishes a try and see if you enjoy them as much as we do.
SPICY VEGETABLE SOUP
Serves 3-4 persons
5 cloves garlic, minced/chopped
1/2 cut onion, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp coriander, minced/milled
3 chilies (remove seeds for milder heat)
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 cups hot water*
1/2 cup coconut milk powder*
150 g bamboo shoot, chopped
100 g shimeji mushroom
80 g nameko mushroom
100 g konnyaku, diced
100 g frozen long beans
A pinch of sugar
*Note: If using liquid coconut milk instead of powder, adjust the volume into 2 cups
1. Heat a bit of oil on medium heat and saute onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, chili, and chili powder until fragrant.
2. Stir in shrimp paste.
3. Pour in water and stir in coconut powder until completely dissolved.
4. Stir in the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and konnyaku.
5. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and sugar while simmering.
6. When finished with seasoning, put green beans on top, remove from heat, and cover with lid for 5-10 mins until the green beans has softened.
GRILLED TURMERIC SHISHAMO
Makes 12 grilled shishamo
12 shishamo, washed and patted dry
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1. In a bowl, mix together shishamo with the remaining ingredients until the fish is evenly coated.
2. Grill for 20 mins or until the skin has crisped up.