Lunch, May 13, 2018

Multiple experiments in one meal.

  • Gobo to satsumaage no donburi / burdock root, deep-fried fishcake and enoki mushrooms over steamed rice
  • Kabu to usuage no misoshiru / miso soup with Japanese turnips and thin deep-fried tofu
  • Fuki no amazuzuke / Japanese butterbur in sweetened vinegar
  • Yaki-papurika no shoga-zoe / roasted red bell pepper with grated ginger

Relatively speaking, we eat lots of rice. When cooked plain, rice is virtually sodium free, and it is a safe choice for Tom to eat in order to feel full. Yet its high net carbs and glycemic index (73 ± 4) are concerns in terms of long-term blood vessel health for both of us. Brown rice or mixing in other grains is one way to lower these numbers, but it is always nice to have the option to keep the original texture and taste of white rice. I heard some people partially replace white rice with chopped shirataki (konnyaku noodles), mainly for weight loss. There is even a konnyaku product in rice grain shape for serious dieters and those on a restricted net carb diet for health reasons. Konnyaku is mostly water and not typically filling but does not affect taste much and safely adds volume to appearance. To try the method, I made gobo to satsuaage no donburi. The topping would hide what is underneath, and burdock root would provide substantial texture. Tom did not notice any difference in the steamed rice itself. Taste-wise, chopped shirataki can be used in even more inconspicuous ways in the rice mix. I’ll try some other possible methods next time.

Also added to this gobo donburi are sun-dried enoki mushrooms. Guanylic acid, one of the elements in umami, is found in dried mushrooms. I wanted to see the umami boosting effect of dried enoki, and these mushrooms really do work. Naturally thin enoki dry relatively quickly, are easily stored, and add deep flavor to dishes.

Gobo donburi tastes strong, and no other strong-flavored dish is wanted. Kabu turnip is gentle on the stomach, and the root’s tender texture is pleasant in miso soup. Oil from usuage deep-fried tofu adds just enough richness and enhances overall flavor.

The gobo donburi and miso soup here total about 600 mg sodium. Something providing more vegetables would be good but only a little more sodium is desirable. Amazuzuke has been a useful solution in this situation. I soaked leftover prep-boiled fuki stalks in sweetened vinegar for a quick fix. Taka no tsume red chili pepper slices were also added to the marinade, as a taste that is simply sweet and sour lacks the punch to pair with other dishes. Fuki was marinated for only one hour and tasted very sharp. The taste would mellow if marinated longer. We will find out next time.

One more vegetable dish. A red bell pepper was roasted (without oil, of course), skinned, and served with grated ginger. What a contrast these two vegetables make! For people who love a saltier taste, pouring over a tiny amount of soy sauce diluted with dashi might be a good solution. The recipe for this dish is from Chinami Hamauchi’s ”Enbun 1/2 demo Konna ni Oishii! [Delicious at Half Sodium Content],” the same cookbook where I learned about avocado saute with lemon. 

Fuki no amazuzuke and red bell pepper dishes add virtually zero sodium to the meal.
Our meals are as tasty as before, and our meal choices are expanding.

A reference from Umami Information Center:
The page says “sample download”; all pages of a leaflet (in English or Spanish) can be downloaded.