Thursday, 5 February 2015

Tell Them About the Umami, Mammy!

Riso con Ceriali Miste, Zenzero, Miso & Bok Choy
Miso and Ginger Mixed Grains & Rice with Bok Choy


Miso- a rich and delicious, "umami"-packed paste that is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen! This is powerful stuff- in every possible good way!

Umami is a word that has been totally over-used of late- and sadly it is not always used in a good way. Many foods that are described as having a wonderful umami flavor, are simply packed full of MSG, which of course none of us considers a good thing. Marketing re-packages the stuff to the masses, hidden in inferior and unhealthy fast food products... Burgers with umami flavor, anybody? Pizza? Oh come on!


Nope- the real flavor comes from the real deal- Japanese, fermented soy-bean paste. It has a flavor that is both hard to describe, whilst being undeniably rich and delicious.

It has such a strong and complex flavor, that it needs little else to transform the simplest of ingredients into something sublime- case in point... this evenings supper!


2 little bok choy, 2 cups of mixed rices and grains from my local Asian supermarket- likewise the 2 tablespoons of miso paste, a little fresh ginger, a Spring onion and pinch of chili flakes before serving- that's all that was needed to make 3 bowls of rich, soupy and delicious rice.


You can find these mixtures of rices and grains at almost every Asian supermarket, a combination of white, red and wild rice, with mung beans, lentils, seeds, millet and more, in any number of variations, they always make for wonderfully rich and earthy good eating! Good, simple, honest food!


There is very little fuss or prep-work involved here, you will be pleased to find out! Finely chop 2" of ginger, finely slice the Spring onion and cut the bok choy into nice, bite-sized pieces... simple!


Boil the mixed grains and rice, together with half of the ginger and half the Spring onion, in 4 cups of water, for around 15 minutes, until the rice has soaked all of the water up. With rice, you always need twice the amount of water as you have rice remember- and in this case, with the wild rice, the red rice and the grains, you will need even more water... which you will add in just a few minutes!


Add the chopped bok choy, 2 tablespoons of miso paste and the rest of the ginger. Stir everything together and cover well with more water, but no other seasoning... the miso packs a "salty" punch all of it's own, with it's rich, fermented flavor!


See how rich that broth is there? You have absolutely no need for any more flavor- in fact, go easy on that miso and add only as much as you need. Reduce to a gentle simmer and allow it to bubble away for a further 10-15 minutes, until the water has again been absorbed and the rice is fluffy and the broth has thickened to a rich, saucy consistency.


Serve with a few thinly sliced shavings of Spring onion and a sprinkle of chili flakes- if you are that way inclined (and I am!)- and be prepared to have you socks knocked off by how wonderful and rich that flavor is!


It's simple stuff, but it's good stuff! And that's both a good thing... and the only thing that matters!


Perfect on a cold Winter's night! And now that I have opened that package of miso paste... I sense a few more great miso coming up in the near future! And look forward to every last one of them!

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