japanese

1) Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu 2) Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

We’ve finally moved into our little apartment in Milan.  The entire place is still a mess, full of boxes waiting to be unpacked.  From the way I see it, it’s gonna take another whole month to get this home sorted.  Never knew my other half is such a hoarder.  

I’m just glad that we’ve finally got internet here so I can start my rant.  ;)  Lately, I’m a little obsessed with roasted vegetables because I’ve also got my awesome oven installed finally.  I don’t even have a fan in the kitchen yet I must have my oven first.  Those guys who installed it must’ve thought I was weird though; not to mention those awkward lost in translation moments we got there.  I kept asking if I could start using the oven right away with my broken Italian.      

So roasting vegetables has become my new forte and the best sauce to go with that, in my opinion, is the wonderfully nutty great old tahini.  I have two simplest and healthiest recipes to go with my easy tahini dressing here.  Hope you’ll like them.  Happy roasting! :D

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu - this is one delicious hearty salad 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 small bowl broccoli florets

1/2 avocado, cut into finger-sized strips

1/2 package hard tofu, cut into finger-sized strips

1 bowl fresh salad greens

1 bowl cooked soba, rinsed and drained

1 fresh lemon, juiced

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp chopped fresh spring onion

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1 small garlic, finely chopped 

2-3 tbsp sesame oil/extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for tahini dressing: 

1/2 cup tahini sauce

1/2 cup water 

1 small garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp vinegar 

1 tbsp honey

1/2 lemon juice and zest

1 tsp grated ginger

1-2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1-2 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions:

1)  Preheat the oven at 180-200ºC.  

2)  Marinate the tofu with chopped garlic and soy sauce for 10-15 minutes.

3)  To make tahini dressing, add tahini, garlic, vinegar, honey, ginger, lemon juice, tamari, sesame oil and add water to thin until smooth.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  

3)  On a baking tray, mix broccoli, avocado, tofu, dried chilli flakes, oil, and season. Roast for about 10 minutes or less.  

4)  On a large dish, assemble the salad, soba, and roasted vegetables with some toasted sesame seeds, nuts, spring onions, and tahini dressing.  Add a twist of fresh lemon before serving. 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Here are the simplest and healthiest ingredients for my second recipe: Roasted Purple Carrots & Avocado Salad

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Servings: 1-2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 lb fresh purple salad

1 avocado, cut into slices

1 lemon zest 

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 handful chopped walnuts

1/4 cup tahini dressing (recipe is above)

handful chopped fresh parsley (you can use mint and others; they are just as good)

extra-virgin olive oil/sesame oil 

On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.

Add avocado after 15 minutes of roasting the carrots.  

Instructions: 

1) Preheat the oven at 200ºC.  

2) On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.  

3) Roast for another 5-10 minutes.  I usually toss in the walnuts in the last few minutes of roasting for an extra nutty flavor.  

4) Garnish with fresh parsley, sesame seeds, tahini dressing and a drizzle of oil.  

5) Add a twist of fresh lemon juice to give the refreshness of this warm salad before serving.  

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Fennel & Ginger Miso Soup Udon

The best soup udon I’ve ever had was in Fukushima, Japan.  It must’ve been 8 or 9 years ago.  I really wish I could remember the name of the restaurant though.  All I vaguely remember was seeing a chef making fresh udon on the spot in the kitchen.  The kitchen was built with one side of a big see-through glass, which had a resemblance of a fish tank.  And the view at my table was very much like one of those Japanese landscape paintings with a few cranes strolling along the river stream looking for food.   

Honestly, I don’t have a good memory and you know how memory tends to fade as you age.  These images inside my head could be half imagined or half mistaken for another restaurant in Japan.  But what I could remember a little more precisely was the taste of the clean broth and the chewy texture of those fresh udon.  It’s almost like I was eating gummy bear except those were noodles.  Plus that udon complemented so well by a bowl of such simple broth.  It was something like a minimalist art form that spoke very loudly.  

I’m sorry if my words aren't convincing enough but that’s the thing with food; you are better off to taste it instead of to chew on it.  ;)

This simple soup udon recipe I have here for joining Culinary Travel Week is nowhere close to be considered as a replicate of that bowl of udon from Fukushima.  However, it certainly is a comforting bowl to have in the winter. 

Fennel & Ginger Miso Soup Udon

This is the only photo of Fukushima that I could find in my hard drive.  It really was a beautiful place.  

This is the only photo of Fukushima that I could find in my hard drive.  It really was a beautiful place.  

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1/2 small fennel, thinly sliced

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

1/2 thumb sized ginger, thinly sliced

400 ml vegetable soup stock or dashi stock

1 small bunch dried wakame (seaweed)

1 tbsp genmai miso 

100g cooked udon

1 tbsp chopped spring onion

1-2 tbsp sesame oil/extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1.  Drizzle 1-2 tbsp sesame or olive oil to a small pot on medium heat, cook onion and ginger 1-2 minutes.   On the other stove, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the udon noodles according to its packaging label.  

2.  Add fennel and soup stock; bring the pot to boil.  Reduce heat to low and add the dried wakame; let the pot simmer with a lid on for 5-8 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  

3.  Whisk a tablespoon of the genmai miso in a ladle to the soup with chopsticks.  

4.  Transfer the cooked udon to a bowl and add the miso soup after.  Garnish with some freshly chopped spring onions.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy! :D

Fennel & Ginger Miso Soup Udon