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Posts Tagged ‘miso’

Miso Horny

I’ve been waiting for that joke for so long you guys. Anyway…

The Greek philosopher Democritus claimed that, when chewed, food broke into four distinct shapes, with the size and shape of the pieces determining the taste: Large, round pieces were sweet, while small, round pieces were bitter. Salt was given by small, angular bits, and larger angular chunks were sour.

Until the late 19th century, it was assumed that these were the four basic tastes. Then along came chef Georges Auguste Escoffier. Known as the ‘king of chefs and the chef of kings’ Escoffier developed nearly in its entirety what we now know as classical French cuisine. By developing rich sauces and deeply roasted meat dishes, he made food that didn’t just taste good, but was the best food anyone had tasted; A flavor that wasn’t simply a combination of sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Just a few years after the publication of Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire, Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda noticed that dashi made with kombu, a type of seaweed, was especially more delicious or ‘yummy’ (in Japanese, umami) that those made without. By studying the chemical makeup of the kombu, Ikeda pinpointed the fifth taste.

Glutamic acid, known now as Umami, create the flavor of savory-ness “common to asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat” as Ikeda described. Think about the crust of freshly baked bread. Crispy, roasted mushrooms. Soy sauce. Steak, seared in a ripping-hot cast-iron skillet. It’s why brown food tastes so great. However, it’s difficult to create a dish that’s strictly tastes of umami. As with the other tastes, balance is the key.

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I find that one of the more interesting ways to utilize umami is in largely sweet products. In the same way that salt makes chocolate and caramel taste extraordinary, umami ingredients provide a truly unique contrast.

This week, I wanted to take a page from friend and queen of doughnuts Ren Weiner. Miso, a Japanese seasoning of fermented soy beans or other grains, is jam-packed with umami goodness, and plays quite well with rich, eggy doughnuts. The dough itself carries a smattering of white miso (also called yellow), which has a mild, smooth taste (I swear this isn’t a cigarette ad). Red miso, with a more intense, aggressive flavor gets blended with plain ol’ sugar to make a nice topping. My miso sugar didn’t really dry out like I had hoped it would, but was spectacular tasting nonetheless.

Miso Doughnuts, adapted from Bon Appetit

makes about 10 doughnuts

  • Red Miso, 1 tablespoon
  • Granulated Sugar, 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • Active Dry Yeast, 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • Egg, whole, 1 each
  • Egg Yolk, 1 each
  • Butter, unsalted, melted, 3 tablespoons
  • Whole Milk, 3 tablespoons
  • White or Yellow Miso, 3 tablespoons
  • All-Purpose Flour, 2 cups, plus more as needed
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying

Pulse red miso and 1/2 cup sugar in a food processor until mixture resembles brown sugar. Spread out evenly on a parchment-lined  baking sheet and let sit until dry, 2−2 ½ hours. Pulse in food processor until no clumps remain. Transfer miso sugar to a bowl and set aside.

Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over and let sit until foamy, 5−10 minutes.

Beat egg, egg yolk, butter, milk, white miso, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment until smooth. Add yeast mixture and flour and mix until a loose ball forms.

Switch to dough hook and mix on medium until dough is smooth,  5−7 minutes. If dough is wet, add more all-purpose flour as needed.

Place dough in a large bowl lightly coated with nonstick spray. Cover and let sit in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, 1−2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly flour. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat out to 1″ thick. Punch out rounds with biscuit cutter. Repeat with scraps. Transfer rounds to prepared baking sheet, cover loosely, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, 45−60 minutes.

Pour 2 inches of oil into a large heavy saucepan. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 325°. Working in batches, fry doughnuts until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels and let cool slightly before tossing in miso sugar.

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Doesn’t it feel like no matter what you do for work., and however many hours you work, money is always tight? Rent, utilities, loans, bills, gas, maybe some groceries, and you’re lucky if you have enough left over to get a cup of coffee in the morning. I’m slowly beginning to bring myself out of a cycle I’ve been in the past year or so where I get a paycheck and then it’s immediately spent paying past due bills. But even with money being tight, eating well is important. Heading for the Golden Arches when you’re short on cash may seem like a good idea at the time, but poor eating habits have been linked to increased problems with depression and countless other health issues. The word cheap is normally associated with quick, lower quality foodstuffs, but at the halfway point of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge, we’ve set out to prove that you can save your wallet and also not eat like shit.

When it comes to cheap meals, I think it really comes down to two major aspects: Being able to utilize what you’be already got on hand in your fridge and pantry, and wise shopping. With that in mind, I set out to the grocery with a crisp $10 bill as my entire budget to feed two people. Last week, I had noticed the fish counter had some nice looking fish heads and I got the itch to make some curry. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I’m not really sure which), when I went back to pick up ingredients they were sold out for the week. Offhandedly, my friend mentioned that I should just get instant ramen since it’, with it’s long standing status as the cheapest of the cheap foods. At first I laughed it off, but after thinking about it for a bit it really didn’t seem like that bad of an idea. With a little ingenuity, it’s actually pretty easy to supe up your instant noodles into something somewhat respectable.

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Total spent: $8.69. Not too shabby. To level up your ramen, you have to look at each component and how you can make it better.

The Noodles: Obviously the most important part of the dish. If you’re starting the instant ramen packs, there really isn’t much you can do to save face here. They are what they are. Treating it like you would regular past goes a long way though: Cook in boiling, well-salted water until just tender, then drain thoroughly and rinse in cold water.

The Broth: Probably the only other crucial aspect of a good ramen bowl. At my work, we actually do really good ramen on Tuesday nights and spend days making a traditional dashi that’ll blow you out of the water. But, working with instant ramen you don’t quite get that luxury.

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Luckily Maruchan has a pretty good variety of flavors at this point, and when they’re three-for-a-dollar, it’s easy to mix and match to suit your tastes. I picked pork, mushroom, and roast beef for this one, but there’s lots to pick from. I feel like shrimp ,vegetable, and spicy chili might be really good too. With the flavor packets in hand, I mixed them in a pot of boiling water, and added in some thin sliced onion and good helping of white miso that I had in my fridge. Simmered for about 20 minutes, the flavors come together pretty nicely, and you don’t quite get the crazy  salt bomb you’d expect from the instant packets.

The Add-In: Noodles and broth are all you really need, but what makes ramen great is all the stuff you can put in it. Traditional toppings include meats, vegetables, herbs, and eggs. I picked up some pork ribs that were on sale and slow cooked them with soy sauce, sriracha, ginger and a little miso. I also grabbed a pack of stir fry veggies from the freezer section, some fresh cilantro, and a lime to give it some nice acid.

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I was actually surprised at how great this came out. The noodles were a bit limp and soft, but that was kind of to be expected. But as far as everything else goes, I would say it’s very nearly comparable to restaurant quality ramen that I’ve had in the past, and at $2.90 a portion, I really cant complain. I think that, ultimately, the best part about a dish like this is that you can really build it however you like. I really enjoy recipes that aren’t actually recipes, that’ll give you a bit more freedom to explore what you want to cook. Super tasty, and incredibly filling; I’m going to have to keep this in mind for the coming months when I’ve got some serious expenses to save up for.

Oh, and with the buck and changI had left over from shopping, I managed to get myself a nice drink

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Super classy, I know.

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