Friday, April 10, 2009

Agebitashi (Deep-fried Vegetables in Soy and Mirin Broth)

Sometimes, when we're too busy or tired to go all-out on a meal, we like to head to a Japanese grocery in Honolulu called Marukai and buy sashimi. Once we return home it's easy to whip up a pot of miso soup, some boiled spinach, and of course rice. Easy, quick, and healthy. But today, once we found ourselves at Marukai, we decided we wanted a lot of vegetables. Japanese vegetables. And we wanted them so that we could make agebitashi, which we haven't had in a long time.

Agebitashi is simple to make, and the ingredients for the dish are hardly exotic. If you can find Mirin, dashi, daikon, and Japanese eggplant, you'll have no problem making this dish. And the daikon, while nice to use, isn't what I'd call essential.

Here's what you need to make agebitashi:

1 cup Mirin
1 cup soy sauce
3 cups water
2 teaspoons dashi
Vegetable oil for frying
4 Japanese eggplants, halved and sliced lengthwise
2 zucchinis, cut diagonally into 1-inch wedges
4 sweet peppers, quartered and seeds removed
1 lb or more of green beans, the ends snipped
1/2 daikon, grated

Got all of it? Good. Now here's what to do with it:

For the broth
1. Pour Mirin into pot or pan and bring to a boil.
2. Add soy sauce, water, and dashi. Stir to mix and let sit on high heat for about 5 minutes (don't let it reach a boil).
3. Pour broth into a large container and leave until your deep frying is completed.

For the veggies
1. Put a sufficient amount of vegetable oil into a deep pan for deep frying and heat on high.
2. After cutting all your vegetables as described above, pat dry with a towel. (This cuts down on hot oil popping when you introduce your washed veggies.)

Halve the eggplants and then cut lengthwise

Cut the zucchini diagonally into 1-inch wedges

Quarter your sweet peppers and snip the ends off your green beans

And make sure to pat your veggies dry after washing and cutting them

3. When oil is hot enough, add veggies a handful at a time. Make sure to turn them over halfway through.

4. Whenever a batch is done, drain on newspaper or paper towels.
5. After draining, add veggies to the container holding your broth.

6. After ladling your agebitashi into serving bowls, top with a generous pinch of grated daikon and mix it.

Grate half a daikon

Agebitashi is best served with rice. Regular steamed rice goes nicely, but if you want to add some nutrition to your normal rice, try making it into takikomi gohan (one version of Japanese "mixed rice") like this:

1. Into a pot of uncooked rice and water add chopped aburage (packaged slices of fried tofu), konnyaku (a gelatinous substance derived from a type of sweet potato), and chopped carrots.
2. Add a mixture of 1 teaspoon of dashi with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of Mirin.
3. Add the chopped leaves (about 1 cup) from one daikon radish.
4. Cook as you would normal rice.

Before cooking it, the takikomi gohan should look something like this:

And when cooked, you can expect this:

When all of this was done we included miso soup and simmered Japanese pumpkin (kabocha no nimono).

Miso soup with aburage, konnyaku, sliced daikon, and homemade red-and-white miso paste

Simmered Japanese pumpkin (kabocha no nimono)

And then it was time to eat. We broke open some Tiger beer and stuffed ourselves full to bursting.

Note: Agebitashi is delicious when served hot, but I guarantee that it'll knock your socks off after you've refrigerated it long enough (i.e., overnight) to let all the flavors of the broth absorb into your vegetables.

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  1. That entire spread sounds magnificent. If you fry anything, it's already going to be good. The pumpkin sounds interesting too. What does it taste like?

  2. The beer in the back of the last photo is a nice touch :)

  3. I love those flavour combinations, Sapuche!! healthy & yummie!!
    Happy easter to you & your wife!

  4. You also do have the most fantastic recipes. I love it!

  5. Looks great - we have some Japanese eggplant AND bell peppers - will use your idea this weekend! :)

  6. This sounds so delicious! I bet we have each one of those ingredients at the Japanese market here. My problem is figuring out what they call it in Portuguese! Sometimes it is the same or close and sometimes to different. I may take the challenge for a dish like that though! :)

  7. Sounds extremely delicious. I am bookmarking this.

  8. Duo Dishes: Ah, it was magnifique! We fried my shoe after that, and in the soy-mirin broth it, too, was excellent. As for the pumpkin, it’s quite sweet, and my wife actually eats it for dessert sometimes. It’s a “Japanese” pumpkin, which means that it’s smaller than what one normally finds in the U.S., and it has a dark green rind that can be eaten once it’s been boiled down. It’s quite creamy with a bit of fibrousness to it, but even that’s not bothersome because it’s so soft. I’ll try to post a recipe for it soon.

    Jenn: Ah, it was!

    Erica: Thanks! I hope you give it a try!

    Maggie: Thanks! It’s amazing, actually, that beer doesn’t feature more in the backgrounds of my photos.

    Sophie: Give it a try and let me know what you think, Sophie! And Happy Easter to you and yours, too!

    A Girl Has to Eat: Haha, thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying the recipes and hope you’re able to try some!

    NutritiontoKitchen: Thanks! I’m not that pleased with the photos myself, but a dish like this can’t help but appear colorful. I’ll be curious to hear what you think of the recipe. Good luck with it and enjoy!

    Lori: I used to have the same problem in Vietnam, so I sympathize with you! The nice thing about your situation is that, if you’re trying to learn Portuguese, food is a great jumping-off point for it. My foreign language acquisition always starts with food because I’m always eating! In any case, if you decide to try this dish I wish you luck finding all the right ingredients.

    Elra: It really hits the spot! I hope you give this a try soon, Elra, and thanks for your comment!

  9. *drool* I love cooking veggies with miso. Your pictures look delicious.

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog :) You've now given me a new one to follow!

  10. Having lots of veggies in a dish gets my attention. I am not familiar with mirin. I may have had it in a dish at a restaurant, but I am not sure how it looks like. It sounds like a simple, yet tasty dish. I truely enjoy all these ethnic recipes you share. Thanks!

  11. You are wowing me with your Japanese food knowledge! I am determined to add these flavors to my repetoire and am thrilled to have found a mentor! GREG

  12. Ahh...such glorious colours, and so simple to make!

    You know, this post makes me feel very, very guilty of the fatty things I ingest!

  13. That spread in the last picture looks like something from a restaurant. Great job!

  14. If Hawaii wasn't quite so far away from me, I would be dropping in to help you eat some of this (and wash it down with Tiger beer, of course). I guess I'm just going to have to make some of this myself instead!

  15. Delicious recipe Sapuche!
    By the way, thanks for your comments about my place in "as minhas mãos verdes".
    Infortunately is only my weekend and holiday house located in Algarve,a place named Moncarapacho where I go to "smell" the "green" and to ear the sounds of the Nature.
    The rest of the year I live in Lisbon.
    A medronho is not a lichie. If you eat to many medronhos perhaps you became a little dizzy...
    However I have planted a Lichie tree to.
    I don't know the word in english for medronho.

  16. This looks so delicious! I would love to tuck into that last photo.

  17. I just finished commenting on another blog about how deluded I am in thinking that the menus of ethnic restaurants in the US are accurate representations of a cuisine. Your post simply reinforces it. I have eaten at some wonderful Japanese restaurants in nearly every city I've lived or visited in the US but as you've constantly demonstrated, what I've consumed thus far is a mere fraction of that cuisine! When I declare my love for Japanese food, I should clarify that I love sushi because, really, that's really my entire point of reference. I seriously need to get out more!

    This is the first I have heard of agebitashi and what a wonderful meal it is. The preparation is simple and straightforward but the end result looks to be a delicious interplay of flavor, nutrition and visual appeal. This deserves immediate printing out, not just bookmarking! 8-)

  18. Looks really good, Sapuche. The combination of soy and mirin is hard to beat. Please keep ideas on what to do with konnyaku coming. The thing is, for some strange reason, I always buy them and they end up sitting in the fridge for weeks. Good thing they last quite a while. But it annoys me that I don't always know what to do with them. I have five blocks in the vegetable bin right now. They look so forlorn and sad. :)

  19. Delicious!!
    I wonder if I can get this at any of the Japanese restaurants around here... will have to check it out next time I go for supper. Or I guess I could just make it- everything is pretty easy to find here. Love kobacha squash!!
    Also I'm kinda confused- I thought dashi was a broth made with water, kombu and bonito flakes, and then seasoned with soy and mirin... Have I been misguided??

  20. These vegetables sound excellent - I would love to try the Mirin broth!

  21. yummm, what a great way to detox, just what i need! I'll be trying the mixed rice very soon, if only i could find some konnyaku and good tofu here :( , it would make it so much better. Love how the table's full of dishes in the last picture!

  22. Okay, I think I may have to admit defeat on this one. But Friday, on my bi-weekly sushi quest, I can order something like this. Isn't it funny how when you read recipes and see yummy photographs that you just secretly crave something and then you find yourself seeking it out before you are even consciously aware of it? See what you've done!? :)

  23. Mel: “Mmm” is for miso. I could eat it from a spoon, except it’s better when spooned on a carrot or piece of celery. And of course, it’s amazing in soup. And I like your blog a lot, so I’m sure I’ll be commenting more soon (though I’ve been quite busy as of late and have had to let my blog-commenting slide). Thanks for your comment!

    Mediterranean Turkish Cook: I’m attracted by lots of veggies, too, especially when they’re really colorful! Mirin is pretty easy to find, especially in NYC, as it’s used in many Japanese dishes. To show you what it is, here’s a URL of the brand we often use:

    And yes, it’s really quite simple and tasty. I’m glad you like the recipes I’ve been sharing!

    Greg: Ah, I know far more about eating than cooking, especially when it comes to Japanese food. But I’m trying. It’s a slow process! I’m convinced you could do some amazing things with mirin, soy sauce, a single vegetable, and some heat. All I can really do at this point, unfortunately, is damage.

    Bangsar-bAbE: Haha! I wouldn’t worry about the fatty things you eat. Well, maybe I would, but remember, all these veggies were deep-fried! It’s nice to eat colorful food sometimes!

    Sugarlens: Thanks! Luckily for us, our meals are much cheaper than what we’d have to pay at a restaurant!

    Daily Spud: Heh! We always have more than we can finish in one sitting, so you’re welcome to join us. But I’ll require, of course, that you bring some of the amazing dishes you put together over in Ireland! We love our spuds, you know! (Not to plug myself here, but have you checked out the excerpt of my story “Spud”? :) It’s under food fiction…) And yes, the Tiger beer is a necessity at the table.

    Borboleta Africana: Ah, I’m glad you like this recipe! I’m not sure how easy it is to find these ingredients in Lisbon, but I’d guess there are some good Asian grocery stores there. And it was my pleasure to comment on your post; your photos are always very lovely. It’s great that you have a second home that you can use for weekends and holidays. Algarve looks like a magical place where the seasons are truly distinct and nature is evident even in what you can smell! Wow. I’ve never heard of a medronho, but their effect sounds like fun! And I can’t believe you also have a litchi tree. So fortunate!

    Su-Lin: Actually, right now I’d love to tuck into that last photo, too, even though I just finished a bowl of salmon soup and a broiled sardine covered with sea salt. If food like that is in front of me, I’ll eat it…even if I’m full. I hope you give this recipe a try soon. Thanks for your comment!

    Tangled Noodle: It’s funny, because I think that a lot of restaurants underestimate the public’s interest in different foods and also the sophistication of its collective palate. Going to Vietnamese restaurants is always a little bittersweet for me; I love the chance to dig into great food, but I find the limited menus frustrating and the recipe adaptations can be underwhelming. I’m with you, by the way, on the love of all things sushi. It’s funny, because in Japan one rarely finds all the crazy rolls that make up the sushi landscape here. You’ll never find spider rolls, volcano rolls, or dragon rolls, and a Philadelphia roll would probably cause a riot among customers. I have, however, come across a California roll in Japan. But who really likes California rolls, anyway? :)

    Leela: Yeah, konnyaku is a toughie. I can only handle so much of it at a time. I had hot, milky konnyaku with sake before, in case you also have some extra rice wine lying around! I, too, have various Japanese ingredients hiding inside my fridge. I know they’re there, but I’m a little afraid of seeing what they’ve become. Although, as you said, some things, like umeboshi, tend to keep forever. I’ll see what other ways I can recommend for you to use konnyaku!

    Sweet Charity: I generally don’t see this dish on Japanese menus in the U.S., though I may not be going to the right Japanese restaurants. It really is easy to make if you find yourself inspired, and in possession of all the ingredients. And you’re right about dashi being a broth, but it’s also available in powdered form (it looks like fish-food pellets), and we use that a lot in our cooking. Here’s a URL with a photo of it, in case you’re interested in it.

    It’s definitely a time-saver!

    5 Star Foodie: The broth is perhaps better described as a marinade. We don’t really drink the broth because of the high soy sauce content, but it really absorbs into the veggies after being refrigerated overnight. I hope you try it!

    Anjelikuh: A great way to detox, ha! I never thought of it in those terms, but I’m sure it is. :) Sorry to hear about the dearth of Asian groceries in Poland. I guess konnyaku isn’t exactly a staple of Polish cuisine, huh! The tofu really helps with the mixed rice, though I could take or leave the konnyaku myself. And yeah, we use lots of small Japanese bowls and dishes when we eat. I guess it makes us feel like we’re eating more than we actually are!

    Kim: Don’t admit defeat! Just…don’t! If anything, you should double the frequency of your sushi quests and triple your search for agebitashi. Actually, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, agebitashi doesn’t usually feature on Japanese restaurant menus, though it never hurts to make a special request to the chef. Or call beforehand and request it. At many Japanese restaurants there are unadvertised menus, in Japanese only, that have truly authentic offerings. So they may have this even if it isn’t on their English language menu. And yes, I find myself craving things in the same way as you! And after visiting several blogs all at once my cravings can get really confusing. Thanks for the comment!

  24. I am with Greg @ Sippity Sup...Wow...had some blog catching up to do on here, and so many things. This recipe is going to be book marked!

  25. Nice recipe! It looks yummy.. =)