Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shojin Sake-kasu Root Vegetables Gratin

Since I love both root vegetables and sake-kasu (sake lees), I created a dish using both ingredients. I made sake-kasu gratin sauce, by mixing sake-kasu, tofu, etc. (so it's naturally non-dairy), and baked with root vegetables. The dish was sensational!

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Making the sauce is super easy. You only assemble all the ingredients on a food processor. They are sake-kasu, tofu, saikyo-miso (sweet white miso), salt, yuzu rind, kuzuko (arrowroot powder). As I blended them in the food processor, I added soymilk to make the mixture creamy and smooth.

Rot vegetables and mushrooms were cooked in a pan until tender. They are gobo (burdock root), lotus root, Okinawa purple yam, and eryingi (king oyster) mushrooms.

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The ingredients were assembled and baked in the 450F oven for about 25 minutes. Here’s the non-vegan version with a lot of Gruyere cheese on top. Also, instead of purple yam, I used sato-imo (taro...which also great in this dish). So gooey and nice.

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This is the lighter less cheese version. Also very nice.

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And, voila, here is the complete shojin (Buddhist-style vegan) version, with no cheese (or garlic - because we don't use garlic in shojin cooking). The surface looks almost like baked soufflé. The inside is so creamy and packed with umami flavors from sake, miso, etc. The vegetables were so hearty and tasty. Honestly, I didn't miss the cheese in this dish at all. The flavor was so pure. So, this is my favorite version. WOW.

Here’s my recipe:

Sake-kasu Root Vegetables Gratin

2 oz sake-kasu (hard paste)
¼ cup saikyo miso (sweet white miso)
10-12 oz medium-hard tofu, drained
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yuzu rind
1 tablespoon each kuzuko (arrowroot powder) and water, combined
1-1.5C pure soymilk (I like very rich kind from Meiji Tofu)

7-8 oz gobo (burdock root), cut into small pieces, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained
7-8 oz lotus root, peeled and sliced into 1/3” discs and quartered, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained
7-8 oz Okinawa purple yam, peeled and sliced into 1/3” disks, soaked in water drain when ready to use
5-6 oz eryingi mushrooms, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, thinly-sliced (you can omit this if you want to make it strict “shojin” style)
some olive oil
salt and pepper
some cheese (you can omit this if you want to make it vegan/ shojin style)

1. In a food processor, combine the ingredients for the sauce, except for the soy milk. Puree the ingredients.
2. Add 1 cup soymilk and continue to puree. Add more soymilk if necessary. Set aside.
3. Sauté the burdock root and lotus root in some olive oil in a pan until they are lightly browned over medium-high heat.
4. Add about ½ cup water and cover. Turn down the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
5. Add the yam and a little more water if necessary. Cover again and cook until the yam is tender and the water is evaporated (about 5 minutes).
6. Add the mushrooms and garlic (optional) and sauté until the mushrooms are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
7. In a large enough baking dish, drizzle some olive oil to coat the inner bottom. Spread the cooked vegetables and pour the sauce over them. Spread some shredded Gruyere cheese on the surface if you like.
8. Bake in the 450F oven for about 25 minutes or until the surface is nicely browned.