Saturday, January 5, 2008

Asian Influenced


I ate a lot over the holidays. I ate too many sweet rich foods. It's time to cut back on the carbohydrates and fat and fill in with flavor. There is no better way to do this than with Asian food. You'll be seeing a lot if low fat low carb meals from me in the near future. Tonight I made a mushroom and seaweed soup served with a soy/mirin marinated grilled chicken served on a salad with a ginger soy dressing. It was delicious, low fat, low carb and absolutely satisfying.

I used two kinds of dried mushrooms. One was already shredded into thin strips and the package simply called it "dried black fungus". The other is my favorite dried mushroom, a dried shitake. These were soaked in water for a good 4-5 hours before cooking. I like to soak my mushrooms in zip-lock bags. It's easy and convenient.


If you haven't had soup made with dried seaweed you are missing out. I am inspired by many of the Korean soups (masters of soup if I may add) that use seaweed as a base. The Japanese also use dried seaweed as a soup and flavor base. I have two kinds in my soup this evening. One is Japanese - dashi kombu. This comes in wide sheets and hydrates to give a chewy thick seaweed in the end. I broke this up into small pieces. The other is a shredded seaweed. This one is much thinner and opens up into sort of very thin seaweed leaves as it hydrates and cooks. Both have a wonderful salty sea-like taste. It really is wonderful.


Here are everything combined together. The seaweed has been broken up into small pieces. The shitakes were sliced thinly. The mushroom soaking water was added to add all that wonderful color and flavor. To this I added some salt, lots of fresh ground pepper, lots of chopped garlic, a splash of soy sauce, and about 4 cups more water. This was heated to boiling and then simmered for two hours. This picture was taken before adding the water and cooking.


I made a simple salad of finely shredded romaine lettuce, green cabbage and carrots. This was eventually tossed with a dressing made from grated ginger, a splash of soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil and olive oil.


Here is the salad with the grilled chicken on top. The chicken was marinated for two hours with a mixture of sesame oil, mirin, and soy sauce. It was grilled and allowed to rest for a few minutes before slicing.


The soup! It was delicious! I could eat this every day. The flavor of the shitake was most pronounced and it mingled with the seaweed flavor. I enjoyed dinner tonight!

13 comments:

missbliss said...

Yum yum yum! Going to Wing Yip today (local Asian superstore) to stock up, I'll keep an eye out for fungi and seaweed!

Antonia said...

This looks great - healthy yet so flavoursome, as you say. Just what is needed in the New Year.

Kevin said...

This meal looks really good and sounds tasty!

Astra Libris said...

Greg, this is GORGEOUS!! I'm so impressed! You've inspired me to start adding seaweed to soups - I've wanted to work seaweed into my kitchen more often, since it's soooo healthy, just as you said...
Your plating is amazing! Wow! The whole ensemble looks like it's straight out of Gourmet magazine - actually, even better!

maybahay said...

just my kind of meal. fresh and tasty. loving your site, i came here via kalofagas.

Nora B. said...

That looks like a fabulous meal! Especially the soup. Thanks for the ideas about the mushroom.

I haven't made dashi for ages. I'll have to do that again soon. Luckily I just had Japanese for lunch, your post is very tempting.

Bix said...

I really like the idea of hydrating the mushrooms in a zip-lock bag. I usually pour heated water over them and let them soak for 30 minutes, but I like your idea better.

Greg said...

Astra, you are way too kind. It's the dishes, not me. I need to work on my photography skills too. I probably should do lighting better.

Bix, I always had trouble submerging the dried mushrooms under the liquid. In the bag you can remove all the air and I think they hydrate better.

Nilmandra said...

The pre-sliced fungus is 'wood ear fungus', usually found in vegetarian Chinese dishes. They do add a nice crunch and different texture compared to the shitake mushrooms.

Dashi kombu is seaweed that is used for making dashi stock (the base ingredient for many Japanese recipes). Those type of seaweed are often discarded after making stock because they are more tough and less pleasing to the palate compared to the finer one that you have in the other pack. But I don't like to waste it and tend to cut it into smaller pieces and serve in soups like you do.

Little Corner of Mine said...

Hi Greg,
The wood ear fungus is not a mushroom. It's a fungus that grows on tree and since it looks like big ear when not sliced, thus the name wood ear fungus. BTW, your dishes look delicious!

Nilmandra said...

Actually mushrooms belong to the fungus family too, they just look very different from wood ear fungus or snow fungus :)

Greg said...

Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate the information about the fungus. I wasn't sure exactly what it was. I just knew it tasted good! I like the texture of the wood ear fungus.

Lotus Flower said...

Top notch food preparation and mighty healthy too. I just had dinner but wonder why I am I think, salivating :-)

Cheers!