Inspired by a dish from Episode 1 of Samurai Gourmet, this vegetarian cauliflower with miso sesame sauce bursts with umami flavor.
We almost always have a tub of miso paste in the pantry. We use it mostly for making soup. I remember making a miso glaze once which I brushed on a rack of ribs but that was the only non-soup recipe I used miso paste for. Today, I cooked cauliflower miso sesame sauce for Sam. Not exactly because I woke up and the inspiration just struck. On the contrary, I dreamed of vegetables with miso all night because of something I saw on Netflix.
Late at night, after all the chores are done and the kitchen had been scrubbed clean, we watch TV. When there’s a nice horror movie on, all four of us watch together. There are shows that only Speedy, Alex and I watch together (“The Good Fight”; “The Catch”), there are those that only Speedy and I like (“Designated Survivor”; “Scandal”; “House of Cards”), and there are some that only Alex and I obsess with (“Into the Badlands”). Then, we go to sleep after TV time.
But, sometimes, sleep is elusive. On those occasions, Alex and I browse Netflix for anything that can help us relax. Last night, we decided to try “Samurai Gourmet” about a 60-year-old man who recently retired from corporate life after 38 years. Unsure about what to do on his first day of retirement, he steps out of his house and starts walking around. Out of habit, he takes the path that he traversed everyday through a park and to the train station. Going back, he passes a diner. He goes in and his gourmet adventure begins. He orders eggplants, bell peppers and pork in spicy miso, rice and pickled cucumber. Mustering the courage to do something he had never done before—drink beer in the middle of a weekday—he downs two bottles of beer.
Samurai Gourmet is a Netflix original. What a delightful show. Fantasy, humor… And those scenes of food being cooked and relished were so visceral. I could almost taste the creamy sweetness of the eggplant and the light crunch of the bell peppers. We ended up watching two successive episodes of Samurai Gourmet. Personally, I would have watched the third episode were I not worried that I wouldn’t be able to wake up early enough to prepare lunch.
When my head finally hit the pillow, the miso sauce that glazed the eggplants, bell pepper and pork was still vivid in my mind. It was my last thought before I fell asleep. I knew what the following day’s lunch was going to be. It won’t be exactly like what was cooked in Episode 1 of Samurai Gourmet but lunch was going to be vegetables with miso sauce.
When I woke up, my first thought was locating the tub of miso paste in the fridge. When I found it, I discovered that it was past its expiry date. I was sure, however, that I bought a new one just recently. I was right. On the bottom shelf of one of the cabinets beneath the kitchen island, I found the tub of brown miso.
For us omnivores, I tossed flash fried eggplant and sliced salmon in miso sesame sauce. I’ll post the recipe for that another time.
And, for Sam, I cooked cauliflower with miso sesame sauce.
- Rinse the cauliflower florets and drain well.
- Whisk together the starch, flour, salt and pepper. Add two to three tablespoons of ice-cold water to make a paste. Not too thick but just thick enough to coat the cauliflower florets.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Dump the cauliflower florets in the starch-flour paste and mix to coat each floret thoroughly.
- Fry the cauliflower florets until lightly golden and crisp, about three to four minutes. Scoop out and move to a plate.
- Pour off the oil from the pan.
- Reheat the pan.
- Dilute the miso paste in 1/4 cup of hot water. Pour into the hot pan and cook for a minute or two until bubbly. Turn off the heat. Stir in the sesame seed oil.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the sauce and toss well.
- Transfer the glazed cauliflower to a plate. Optionally garnish with sesame seeds and scallions before serving.
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