Sunday, March 14, 2010

Little things can mean a lot

There's a lot to be said for a tried-and-true dish that requires no deviation from the method, but a lot of tweaks may go into that recipe beforehand. Take braised hijiki. My original version of this dish was the standard version of frying and braising hijiki (a type of seaweed) in a sweet shoyu broth with abura-age (recipe here). Then I hit on the idea of using somen noodles to sop up the broth rather than abura-age (recipe here).

The other night, I was in the mood for hijiki somen, but wanted to do something a little different. I cooked it in my nonstick wok, with honteri, and noted how the starch from the somen thickened the dish (along with the sugar from the honteri). Then I decided to add a few drops of sesame oil.

This was a winner. Braised hijiki is a sweet dish, but the sesame oil adds a smoky savory undertone. Just a few drops do not permeate the dish with sesame flavor (sesame oil can overwhelm a dish), but still add a certain not-so-sweet undertone that can add depth to a sweet dish like braised hijiki. Tweak, tweak.

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