Vegan(!!) Miso Veggie Stew

27 01 2010

I know I know, I’m cracking up. I’ve gone bonkers over here… second day of no meat and tonight it was completely vegan! I think I might have to have a steak or some ribs tomorrow…

A lot of the time, especially when I’m just cooking for myself, I have a lot more than I need of something for a meal and lots leftover. Tonight I used some of the same stuff that went into my dinner last night and added a few other things I had around. I made sortof a vegetable stew with a miso soup base – except I didn’t add the bonito. This soup was super simple and actually really tasty and surprisingly filling.

It went a little something like this… First, I sliced sunchokes and boiled them for 15 minutes, according to the reccomendation in my Vegetable Book, by Colin Spencer. It’s a pretty nice reference about vegetables organized by species that I picked up at a thrift store years ago for like a dollar… very informative.

I wasn’t super familiar with sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) but I did know they had a flavor and texture similar to artichokes. They almost look like little balls of ginger root, but when cooked they taste like artichokes. Weird shit… Apparently they can make you pretty gassy and boiling them ahead of time can reduce that.

So I boiled the sunchokes and then set them aside. Drained the water (to avoid the fart fest) and refilled with some new water that I simmered a couple of small pieces of kombu in. Kombu, if you don’t know, is the hard, thick, dried seaweed that’s one of the main ingredients in the broth used to make miso soup. Usually that broth, called dashi, also has bonito (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna) flakes in it but I opted to leave them out.

So I basically just started with a mildly seaweedy broth and added to that some diced carrots first that simmered for a bit and then a pile of chopped kale, some of which I chopped a little more finely to add some color and texture to the broth. After that simmered for a couple of minutes I turned down the heat and added some miso paste. You don’t ever want to boil after you’ve added the miso because you don’t want to kill all that good bacteria. After that I tossed in my leftover cooked quinoa from last night (which wasn’t much and I could have used more), the cooked sunchokes and some finely diced jalapeno. The result, topped with some sliced scallions, was pretty damn good…

My idea with the sunchokes was that they’d add sortof a firm-ish potato-y texture to the soup without totally starching it out and mucking up the miso. You could try potato if sunchokes aren’t around but honestly I think it would have been just as good without em… they didn’t really bring anything amazing to the soup, just helped fill it up. I think they’re probably better to just eat on their own so you can enjoy the flavor.

Vegan Miso Vegetable Stew
In order of appearance:

2-3″ of kombu (not the end of the world if you can’t get it, just leave it out)
6 cups water
4 carrots
4 cups chopped kale
3/4 cup miso paste* (more or less to taste – treat it like your salt seasoning for the soup…)
1 cup cooked quinoa (I’d use more if you have it… 2 cups probably would have been perfect)
6-8 cooked sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes)
1 small jalapeno pepper

Chop it however you want, stew it all together, and rest easy knowing that no animals were hurt or even consulted about this meal.**

*When you’re adding miso paste it helps a ton to thin it out with a little bit of hot water in a small bowl before pouring it in – you’ll avoid fat chunks of undissolved miso in your soup.

Vegetarians/vegans stop reading here.


**I’m sorry I just can’t resist – this would have been awesome if it was started with bacon… I’d simmer the water with the kombu in a separate pot. While that was going on, I’d sautee some chopped bacon in the soup pot. You could leave it in to really flavor the broth or remove it to use later as a topping. I’d then sautee the carrots with the fat (and bacon if you leave it in) for a minute before adding the hot broth and continuing from there.



12 12 2009

Last weekend while I was in New York, we somehow got ahold of impossible-to-get reservations at Momofuku Ko. It was amazing. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. It wasn’t blow-me-away quality in every course but the combination of the food, the atmosphere and the few that did blow me away… it was pretty awesome. One thing there wasn’t much of there, but there is a lot of at the noodle bar, is pickles.

I’ve had mixed success with pickles in the past – both vinegar and naturally fermented. I decided to try out Chang’s recipe from Momofuku Noodle Bar to see how it would stand up to my past experiments. They’re pretty sweet and not quite as sour as I’d like but I think they may still need a couple of days. For as quick and easy as they are, it’s a nice way to use up extra vegetables instead of letting them go bad in the bottom drawer of your fridge… you can just just about anything.

I found the recipe in the book to be a little less vinegary than I wanted to I upped it a little bit. I also just use plain white vingear but rice wine or cider vinegar work great.

Adapted from Momofuku:

– 1 cup hot water
– 3/4 cup vinegar
– 6 tablespoons sugar
– 2.25 teaspoons kosher salt

You can eat them right away but they definitely benefit from sitting around in the brine for a bit. At least a day or two.

I used Persian cucumbers, serrano chilies, baby carrots, radishes and cauliflower.

I think this brine might be even better on sweet stuff. Chang suggests asian pears in the book and I think I might have to try that next…