White Asparagus in Miso with Oysters, Cucumber Oil, and Small Fish

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Umami

Umami

By Ole Mouritsen

Published 2014

  • About

On account of its abundance of proteins, minerals, and vitamins, miso has been, and continues to be, an important nutritional resource in Japan. It is most often used to make miso soup. The soybean paste contributes additional umami to the soup, which is already loaded with savory taste substances from the dashi on which it is based. Miso can also be used to season oven-roasted or deep-fried vegetables. Deep-fried eggplants with miso (nasu dengaku) (page 115)

A type of pickle, miso-zuke, can be made by placing vegetables (for example, daikon, marrow, and garlic) in a mixture of miso and sake. As part of the conservation process, some of the characteristic taste of the miso, especially umami, is transferred to the vegetables. The umami in vegetables with moderate amounts of glutamate (for example, white asparagus) can be intensified by combining them with miso and fish. White asparagus in miso with oysters, cucumber oil, and small fish

Ingredients

  • 4โ€“6 thick white asparagus spears
  • 1 dL (โ…– c) white miso paste
  • 2 large firm cucumbers
  • 4 oysters in their shells
  • 4 Tbsp dried baby sardines
  • 1 dL (โ…– c) neutral-tasting oil

Method

  1. Peel the asparagus carefully and place the spears in a sealed plastic bag with the miso paste; refrigerate for 3 days.
  2. Peel the cucumbers to make about 50 g (1โ…” oz) peel. Place the peel in a thermo mixer or blender together with the oil.
  3. If possible, blend at 70ยบC (160ยบF) for 8 minutes. Strain to remove any solid bits. The resulting liquid is cucumber oil, which can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks.
  4. Dry the marinated asparagus and cut them into thin slices lengthwise. Cut the slices again lengthwise, so that they look like noodles.
  5. Open the oysters, drain their liquid into a little bowl, chop the oyster flesh coarsely, and mix it into the oyster water.
  6. Mix the oysters with the asparagus, vacuum-pack the mixture, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. To serve: Arrange the asparagus and oysters in pasta bowls and pour any remaining liquid over them. Add a drizzle of cucumber oil and crumble the dried baby sardines over the top.