Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There's a reason why gruel went out of style!

Yesterday my friend Serena came over to pick tomatoes with her two little girls. The girls brought their Easter baskets and filled them up with pretty, multicolored cherry tomatoes--it was so cute! Theresa gave them some eggs from our chickens to take home in their baskets too.

The porridge never did get to a point that I would call appetizing, but then, I really dislike oatmeal and all hot cereals, so I don't know what gave me the idea that I would start liking it now. However, I am determined, so I made pan-fried porridge-cakes with kinpira-style vegetables for breakfast. I won't give the recipe for the cakes, because they were not so good that they should be repeated. But Kinpira vegetables are delicious. When I lived in Japan, Kinpira Gobo was one of my favorite foods...and I was in love with the Kinpira Gobo Burger from Mos Burger. It had two toasted cakes of rice for a bun, and a pile of warm Kinpira Gobo in the middle.

Here is my simple formula for making Kinpira vegetables at home. The usual vegetables are gobo (burdock root) and carrots, but I like to add shiitake mushrooms too. And today I also included small batons of turnip and a handful of cauliflower florets. (And left out the can find it here, but it's not exactly readily available. I got some last spring from Winter Green Farm at the farmer's market.)

Stir-fry about three cups of mixed vegetables, preferably including burdock, carrot, and shiitake mushrooms, all cut into slivers or strips, over high heat, in 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, with a light sprinkle of salt. (The traditional way of cutting vegetables for kinpira is to cut the roots as if you are sharpening a pencil, so you get sort of diamond-shaped slivers.) Add a few shakes of hot red pepper flakes. When vegetables are nearly done, add a generous tablespoon each of sake and soy sauce, and cook until there is almost no liquid left. Serve with toasted sesame seeds on top. (If you don't have sake, that's ok, just leave it out; sometimes I also add a teaspoon of sugar; and sometimes I leave out the sugar and add a clove of garlic.)

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