Cooking with Asian ingredients, 101?
December 27, 2013 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I recently made Smitten Kitchen's Miso Veggie Bowl for a holiday dinner, and it was incredible. (Seriously, try it.) But now I have quite a bit of leftover miso, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, and sesame seeds. (Oh, and tahini, which isn't Asian, but I still don't know what to do with.) Help?

I had never cooked with Asian ingredients before making the recipe's miso sauce, and didn't have any of it in the house, so I bought all new everything.

It was a blast noodling around with new and different food stuffs.

However, the recipe called for a few mere tablespoons of each ingredient, so now I have what feels like a ton of miso and tahini and ginger. (The sesame sauce and seeds, and the rice vinegar can hang out indefinitely, but the perishable ingredients, I'd like to use relatively soon!)

I have no idea what to do with the rest of it, that isn't just... make more sauce.

The recipes I find online are basically just sauces/glazes/dressing (done that), or a few variants of traditional miso soup (eh).

Anybody got an amazing use for miso, tahini, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and ginger? A few more ingredients I can buy and add to what I have, to change them up? Cool recipes beyond soup or sauce?
posted by ulfberht to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Cold sesame noodles. (Sesame paste = tahini.) These are SO good!
posted by Wordwoman at 11:05 AM on December 27, 2013

You can search by ingredient in Cookpad. It's so awesome.

I'd think that some of the meat or tofu soboro recipes would be easy and would use miso, soy sauce (if you have it) and ginger.
posted by sukeban at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2013

This time of year, a cup of miso soup made in the microwave is pretty perfect. You can add green onions, sea weed, and/or tofu if you want, but miso by itself is lovely.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:23 AM on December 27, 2013

Best answer: Some low key things:

Miso -> chicken thighs (needs sesame oil, rice vinegar and ginger), technically miso goes into the dressing of this slaw
Tahini -> hummus
Sesame seeds -> fruit salad topping
Sesame oil -> fry stuff, here 5 nice recipes (yes, the cold sesame noodles are here as well, the recipe also calls for rice vinegar and ginger :-) )
Rice vinegar -> sushi
Ginger -> tea
posted by travelwithcats at 11:23 AM on December 27, 2013

Miso marinated black cod is incredible.
posted by leitmotif at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Came here to say miso marinated fish.
posted by BibiRose at 11:30 AM on December 27, 2013

Miso is great for all kinds of salad dressings too. Try mixing it with orange juice (seriously!) to desired consistency. Add some of the sesame oil if you want.
posted by BibiRose at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Keep your sesame seeds in the freezer! They have a much higher oil content than standard nuts and seeds and will go rancid quickly otherwise.

Jen of Use Real Butter has an incredible recipe for miso butter roast chicken. You can use the miso butter for other applications too, but man is that chicken tasty. You make a paste with roasted garlic and miso and slather the chicken with it before roasting. It's fantastic with some gremolata potatoes and a raw Brussels sprouts salad. She has several other recipes featuring miso on her site as well that you might be interested in, but try the chicken first! To keep the paste from going bad I would also store it in the fridge under some neutral oil, unless you were planning to use it quickly or it has sufficient protection already.
posted by therewolf at 11:33 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should make Nasu Dengaku with the miso.
posted by O9scar at 11:36 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Flavor Bible is also a great resource for ingredient combinations.
posted by sevenless at 11:39 AM on December 27, 2013

i nth miso marinated fish or chicken thighs.

as far as wanting to use up the perishable ingredients, miso doesn't go bad. you can keep it from drying out by putting it in the freezer if you want, but even in the pantry it'll be good for a long, long while.

ginger also freezes great - just put the root in a ziplock (don't peel it) and then when you're ready to use it, take a microplane to it (you can peel the area you're going to microplane with a paring knife if you want). it'll eventually dry out, but it takes 6 months - a year to stop being as potent. i like ginger in a lot of the things i like garlic in - all stir frys, most soups, some bbq type sauces.
posted by nadawi at 11:42 AM on December 27, 2013

Best answer: Lots of recipes here

I would combine everything but the tahini into a stir fry or fried rice. My go-to meal is actually tofu and veggies with soy sauce, sesame oil, miso, chili paste, and a little rice vinegar.

This miso butter is also incredible. Miso marinated tofu (includes mirin), sesame zucchini "noodles", chickpea burgers with tahini sauce.
posted by inertia at 12:35 PM on December 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Most of that can be used for making or serving sushi. Sushi need not involve raw fish; for example a California roll can be made with surimi, which is a cured fish product that is sold in Western markets as "imitation crab".
posted by XMLicious at 1:43 PM on December 27, 2013

The sesame oil can be used as a condiment for savory dishes. It will make them a little heartier, and give them a richer flavor. Just drizzle a little on top. It's good on a hard-boiled egg, for example, on some cooked vegetables, or on some potatoes or rice. That's also true for the sesame seeds, especially if they're roasted. If they're not roasted, then you can roast a bunch ahead of time in a pan on the stove, and keep it on the table.

The ginger can be used in most places that you're already using onion, garlic, and other aromatics. Maybe you could try putting it in stew or soup, or use it when roasting meat or potatoes.

The simplest thing you can do with miso is dissolve a little in some hot water and drink it, just like you would some tea.

I wouldn't use any of these ingredients with dishes that have a lot of dairy, because I just don't think it would taste very nice. I wouldn't be surprised if I were wrong about that though.
posted by sam_harms at 1:46 PM on December 27, 2013

Best answer: This doesn't use up all your ingredients, but personally, I keep miso around as an all-purpose staple; not just for Japanese food. It's really versatile for giving dishes a nice umami kick! Tonight I'm putting it in some black bean chili. I've also used it in green and red pepper tacos. Etc.
posted by threeants at 1:55 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sesame oil and rice vinegar will keep a long time. You can add a drizzle of sesame oil onto stir-fries at the very end for an extra kick, and rice vinegar gets used in a lot of stir-fries during an initial marinade (actually, you could make up a decent marinade for a stir-fry with all the things you've got).

And here's a tip for how to keep ginger - get an empty ice cube tray. Peel the ginger and throw it into a food processor and chop the bejesus out of it. Then stuff the chopped ginger into the ice cube tray holes. Add just enough water to fill each cube out, then freeze it; then, when it's frozen, pop the cubes out and put them in a freezer bag. Ta-da - you have pre-chopped ginger that will be ready to use for future Asian cooking. (In fact, if you really want to save yourself time, cut the ginger thing in half before you chop it in the food processor - chop up half by itself, and then throw a couple garlic cloves in with the other half when you chop it; garlic and ginger both get used in a lot of stir fries, and you've got a step all saved for you if you have both already prechopped and mixed together.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:06 PM on December 27, 2013

Best answer: If you have access to an Asian grocery and can find sweet potato noodles (dangmyeon) you can use the miso, sesame oil, sesame seeds and ginger in japchae. Those noodles have a unique texture that's addicting. There's a recipe here for the basics, but it accommodates experimentation with add-ins like miso & oyster sauce really well.
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 2:21 PM on December 27, 2013

Best answer: So, the thing is, those can make the basis of just about any "Asian" (really, more Japanese, but there's no valor in purism here) dish. Just think of a genre, like, oh hey, buckwheat noodles and you can do soup or stir fry or cold noodles. Add a protein and an accent vegetable from whatever you have around (japanese eggplants/green onion/mushroom/whatevs) and it will taste good.

Perhaps a better way to think about it is that a lot of Asian cooking goes on the five taste balance idea, and miso's umami, vinegar's sour, ginger's spicy… Think of something sweet (carrot/sweet potato/squash) or bitter (greens/peppers) to play off of that.

But to a certain extent, it's like you're saying that you have onions, celery and carrots, and want more than soup — they go in pretty much everything.
posted by klangklangston at 3:00 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Those ingredients will all keep for a very long time. Additionally, Miso goes well not just as a soup base, but miso and soya sauce really bring out tomato flavours. They've got that umami thing going on.
So try adding a bit to any tomato sauces, and see how it tastes.

Sesame oil is tasty on any stirfries, or even a dash on roast veges.

These are essentially condiments. Just add them to things when you want more flavour!
posted by Elysum at 3:25 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can't believe no one has suggested making hummus. Food processor, chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, paprika. Very easy, and much better than the stuff in the tub. You'll find tons of recipes online.

A scant drizzle of sesame oil is good on soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles—you can get them at most grocery stores, and they cook very quickly). In general, you can't go wrong by adding some sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, and/or lime to an Asian-inspired stir-fry (say, chicken, mushrooms, snow peas, etc.).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:46 PM on December 27, 2013

Oh, and here's a recipe for sesame vinaigrette that will change your life.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:52 PM on December 27, 2013

My wife puts a tablespoon of the miso and tahini (both left over from the same miso veggie bowl recipe) in her morning oatmeal.
posted by chrisulonic at 5:06 PM on December 27, 2013

I like miso soup (a spoonful of miso mixed into boiling water), with a poached egg in it. You can add leftover rice too. Mmm....
posted by lollusc at 6:29 PM on December 27, 2013

Best answer: Miso + ginger + chicken + kale + squash + barley/farro/quinoa is a winter staple of mine. I brought some to friends with a new baby earlier today.
posted by judith at 10:43 PM on December 27, 2013

Great recipes above but I wanted to add that ginger can be peeled and frozen (I keep mine in a glass jar but a Ziploc should work too), and that in my experience miso can last near forever in the fridge. Miso is already fermented and it is salty enough to ward off many gross things. The tahini is the one I would want to use up first, but a few batches of hummus will fix that problem.
posted by whatzit at 12:34 AM on December 28, 2013

Previous Miso thread
Ginger Ale
Makes about 8 cups 
(enough to fill a 2-liter plastic soda bottle)

2-inch piece fresh gingerroot
1 cup water, plus more to fill the bottles
9 tablespoons / 4 ounces white granulated sugar, plus more if needed
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons), plus more if needed
1/8 teaspoon dry champagne yeast

Peel and finely grate the ginger (I use a Microplane). You should have about 2 tablespoons of grated gingerroot.
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan on the stove top or in the microwave. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Add the ginger and let stand until cool. Stir in the lemon juice.
Pour the ginger water into a clean 2-liter bottle using a funnel. Do not strain out the ginger. Top off the bottle with water, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Give it a taste and add more lemon juice or sugar if desired. The extra sugar will dissolve on its own.
Add the yeast. Screw on the cap and shake the bottle to dissolve and distribute the yeast. Let the bottle sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until carbonated, typically 12 to 48 hours, depending on the temperature of the room. Check the bottle periodically; when it feels rock solid with very little give, it’s ready.
Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 weeks. Open very slowly over a sink to release the pressure gradually and avoid bubble-ups. Pour the soda through a small fine-mesh strainer to catch the ginger as you pour.

Sesame seeds you can use in place of bread crumbs; toss them in salads, in with noodles. There's plenty of desserts that use them.
posted by JABof72 at 1:45 AM on December 28, 2013

I go through a surprising amount of fresh ginger with this recipe for chai concentrate.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:39 PM on January 2, 2014

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