Erika Nagae, Community coordinator for Manchester and North Trafford, Action for Sustainable Living, www.afsl.org.uk
Action for Sustainable Living is a charity supporting individuals and their communities to make a difference. All of its projects – including Didsbury Dinners – are led by local volunteers. For further information, or to get involved, visit www.afsl.org.uk
“This is an adaptation of Japanese NIKU-JAGA, which literally translates as ‘meat and potatoes’. It uses mainly seasonal spring vegetables available in the Didsbury area. It’s a hearty comfort food dish, with a salty-sweet taste; a cold-weather favourite one-pot dish in Japanese households. It works well as a veggie dish by replacing the meat with a firm tofu.”
Reproduced from Didsbury Dinners: The Low-Carbon Community Cookbook
2½ cups short-grained sushi rice or tapioca rice
2 onions, sliced ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) thick
1 large leek, diagonally sliced ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) thick
3 large carrots, diagonally sliced ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) thick
2 turnips cut into eighths
1 parsnip, cut into ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) rounds
5 potatoes, cut into eighths
1 small swede, cut into 1 inch (2½ cm) cubes
A couple of handfuls of seasonal mushrooms, cut in half
A handful of dried shiitake mushrooms, pre-soaked in warm water for 20 mins (use the water from this as stock)
2 handfuls of coarsely chopped kale
2 small birds eye chillis, cut with scissors as finely as possible
2 vegetable stock cubes (or kelp stock, dashi)
1 level tbsp golden syrup
1½ cups Kikkoman’s Japanese soya sauce (reduced salt if possible)
¾ cup mirin (sweet cooking sake rice wine)
1 large garlic clove, grated
2 slabs of firm tofu, cut in 2 inch (5 cm) blocks
The florettes of 1 broccoli, plus coarsely chopped stalk
1 cup peas
2 inches (5 cm) of ginger, grated
A handful of flat-leaf parsley
A handful of clear thin rice noodles
4 tsp sesame seeds
- Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.
- Meanwhile, in a large deep pan, sauté the onions and leek.
- Add the rest of the veg (except for peas, broccoli and parsley) and add mushroom soaking-water plus just enough water to cover everything.
- Add stock cubes, syrup, soya sauce, mirin and the grated garlic. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer on low until potatoes are parboiled.
- Add tofu, broccoli and peas and grated ginger and parsley. Taste-check at this point – add more water if too salty, or more soya sauce if not salty enough.
- Remove lid and cook over a medium-low heat until the soup has reduced by half. When the potatoes are cooked so that they break when prodded, add rice noodles. Turn off heat after 5 minutes.
- Serve in bowls, accompanied with bowls of sticky short-grain sushi rice. Sprinkle sesame seeds over each portion.
© Amanda Woodvine for Didsbury Dinners, 2o11. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the copyright owner.
Food photography: © Chava Eichner