I've long been a fan of bagna càuda, that magical Italian elixir of anchovies, garlic, and olive oil. I figure that almost any ingredient can be made better by dragging it through the potent sauce. But seeing its name in a Japanese cookbook was, frankly, a bit of a shock. Japanese plus Italian? I had to try it.
The recipe, in Hiroko Shimbo's new cookbook, Hiroko's American Kitchen, melds the traditional bagna cauda elements with her sumiso sauce—a mixture of white miso, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, mirin, vinegar, and sake. These two elemental sauces then unite to form a delightfully potent base for a healthy pile of steamed vegetables. And while steamed vegetables may not be the most exciting item on your culinary radar, they make for an excellent vehicle for the bagna càuda—anything more flavorful would simply overwhelm.
Why I picked this recipe: A twist on bagna càuda? Sign me up.
What worked: Miso, anchovy, and garlic effortlessly meld together for a serious umami-bomb. Delicately poached vegetables are the perfect mild vehicle for sopping up all that sauce.
What didn't: My sauce turned thick a little quicker than directed. Be sure to keep a watchful eye and a spatula handy to prevent scorching.
Suggested tweaks: Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables are in season for the mix listed here. I swapped in asparagus for the Brussels sprouts and used little Hakurei turnips in place of the larger winter variety. As written, the dish is scaled for appetizer portions, but you can increase the amount of vegetables and serve it with rice if you want a main dish.
Reprinted with permission from Hiroko's American Kitchen: Cooking with Japanese Flavors by Hiroko Shimbo, copyright 2013. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- White Sumiso Sauce
- 1 cup medium-aged light brown miso
- 1/4 cup sake
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
- Steamed Vegetables and Bagna Cauda
- 1 small clove garlic
- 4 salt-packed anchovy fillets
- 5 tablespoons Kelp Stock or water
- 1/4 cup White Sumiso Sauce (above)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
- 4 large Brussels sprouts (3 ounces)
- 4 medium red radishes (5 1/2 ounces)
- 2 medium turnips (5 ounces), peeled
- 1 large carrot (5 ounces), peeled
- 8 string beans
- 8 large cauliflower florets (regular or Romanesco; 6 ounces)
For the sumiso sauce: Place the miso, sake, mirin, and sugar in a medium pot and stir until smooth. Cook the mixture over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Add the rice vinegar and the juices and cook until the miso sauce is no longer watery, about 8 minutes. (Extra sauce can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.)
For the bagna cauda: Press the garlic through a garlic press and add it to a small saucepan. Add the anchovy fillets, stock, White Sumiso Sauce, and olive oil, and place the saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk the sauce until all ingredients are fully blended and the sauce is no longer watery. Divide the sauce among bowls.
For the vegetables: Halve the Brussels sprouts and radishes. Cut each turnip into 4 wedges. Cut the carrot into 4 diagonal slices. Remove the stems of the string beans, leaving the bottom needle-like tips if they are not damaged. Place the turnips, radishes, and carrots in a medium pot. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by 2 inches. Add salt, and bring to a boil. Cook the vegetables for 3 minutes. Without removing the vegetables in the pot, add the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and string beans and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Drain all of the vegetables in a colander, shake to remove excess water, and allow the vegetables to air-dry. Divide the vegetables into each bowl of sauce, and serve.