Editor’s Note: The theme of Gohan Lab is to help people prepare simple and tasty “gohan” (meals).
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Miso can also play a role in Western-style dishes. To crown the series on miso, Kuniaki Arima, Italian chef, presents “simmered chicken in tomato sauce”.
The umami and the sweetness of the miso generated by the fermentation and aging process blend into the dish and impart a depth that salt alone cannot provide.
Use whatever miso is available at home.
“The difference in miso stands out as the flavor of each family,” says Arima.
One key is to slowly grill the chicken on the skin side until it turns golden and aromatic. Before adding the tomato, the chicken is simmered in water and wine to concentrate the umami of the chicken, onion and mushrooms. If wine is not available, it can be substituted with sake, beer, or shochu liquor.
The arranged version is creamy salmon pasta. The lumberjack-style boscaiola sauce that contains mushrooms is made with sour cream and miso. When the cream is well boiled and reduced, it becomes less fatty and the sauce will acquire a nice edge.
BASIC COOKING METHOD
(Supervised by Kuniaki Arima in the cooking aspect and Midori Kasai in the culinary science aspect)
* Ingredients (For two people)
1 chicken thigh (300 grams), 100 grams of onions, 100 grams of maitake mushrooms, 100 grams of eryngii, 1/2 clove of garlic, 300 grams of canned tomatoes, 100 ml of water, 100 ml white wine, 1 tablespoon of miso, a little sugar, salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, a clove of chilli pepper (about the size of the tip of your little finger)
About 450 kcal and 2.6 grams of salt per serving.
1. Crush the garlic, cut the onion into slices 5 mm thick. Cut the eryngii and separate the maitake into appropriate sizes. Cut the chicken into large pieces and season with sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Pour olive oil into the pan, add the garlic and turn on the heat. Cook over low heat until the aroma rises. Cook the chicken skin side down over low heat (PHOTO A). When it turns golden, turn and push to the end of the frying pan. Go up to medium heat and brown the onion, then the mushrooms in the empty space (PHOTO B).
3. Add wine and water and bring to a boil. Heat until the liquid is reduced to 1/3. Add the miso and dissolve. Add the tomato and mix. Place the lid with a small opening and simmer over low heat until the liquid is reduced by about half (PHOTO C). Add chili as a final touch. The dish is ready when the sauce thickens and acquires a glaze.
Pay attention to the heat level as the contents are more likely to burn once the sauce thickens. Keep the sauce bubbling lightly instead of strongly. (Video by Masahiro Goda)
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Kuniaki Arima is the chef-owner of Passo a Passo, an Italian restaurant in Tokyo’s Fukagawa district.
Midori Kasai is professor emeritus at Ochanomizu University and former president of the Japan Society of Cookery Science.
Creamy salmon pasta (for two people)
Thinly slice 100 grams of onion. Remove the hard end of 100 grams of shimeji mushrooms and separate. Chop 1/4 of a salted salmon fillet (“shio-zake”). Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and put on the heat. Add 1/2 garlic clove, onion and shimeji and cook.
Add the salmon, 200 ml of crème fraîche and 1 teaspoon of miso and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is reduced to 1/4. Cook 200 grams of short pasta in boiling water with 1 percent salinity. When finished, mix with the sauce. If available, add a little Italian parsley and mix.
The amino acids and sugar in miso even react to storage and generate brown pigments. As the reaction progresses faster if miso is stored at room temperature in the heat of summer, it is best to store it in the refrigerator before you even open it. Once the miso is opened, the surface should be covered with plastic wrap to prevent exposure to air.
43 selected articles compiled in a book
The articles from the Gohan Lab have been compiled into a book.
It includes 43 recipes and arranged dishes such as the chewy shaomai made with grated pork and tofu as well as the lotus root in a fair and crispy vinegar.
The book comes with a bonus that gives readers access to five videos of popular recipes, including spaghetti carbonara.
The book in Japanese and titled “Chorikagaku-de Motto Oishiku Teiban-ryori 1” (Basic dishes made tastier with culinary science 1) is in A4 size and has 100 pages.
Priced at 980 yen ($ 8.6) including tax, it’s available at bookstores and ASA (Asahi-Shimbun Service Anchor) delivery points nationwide.
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Extract from the Gohan Lab section of the Asahi Shimbun