Japanese ingredients aren't exactly common around here. So I wondered if I'd be able to make a lot of recipes from the book without substituting the heck out of them. I have to say that I was pretty pleased that the majority of the recipes were doable with things I could find at my local grocer.
And for the most part, the unusual items were of the dried, seaweedy variety that I could order from Amazon, if need be. There were a few that I probably won't be able to find easily, like vacuum-packed pre-cooked lotus root or some specific types of vegetables.
But that's okay. It's unlikely that I'd ever cook every recipe from any cookbook. And I'm pretty good at substituting, if need be.
I had a couple recipes bookmarked. One was a chicken meatball recipe with teriyaki. Another was a Japanese-style hamburger. But then I decided to make a side dish instead, and settled on a green bean recipe. I had absolutely everything I needed, so that was a plus.
Well, I have to be honest. I used frozen green beans. But I had everything else I needed.
This is intended as a cold salad, so it's a great prepare-ahead dish. The instructions say that it's good for up to a day, but I have no problem letting dressed vegetables sit in the fridge for longer. And while this is supposed to be a Japanese dish, it would work perfectly well as a side for fried chicken, meatloaf, or any typical American meal.
It's also nice added to a green salad.
Ingen No Goma Ae (Green Beans with Sesame Dressing)
Adapted from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Masaharu Morimoto
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
About 1 tablespoon salt (for cooking the beans)
2 cups trimmed, halved green beans (I used "tiny" frozen beans)
1 tablespoon Japanese soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Put the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring or tossing often, until they're a few shades darker. Transfer to a bowl so they stop cooking, then pound them in a mortar or blitz in a spice grinder until you have a slightly coarse powder. Note: I liked the look of the photo that had some whole seeds, so I used the mortar and pestle so I would have some small bits and some whole seeds.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the salt. Cook the beans until they're fully cooked but still with a little crunch, about 3 minutes (or cook to your liking - seriously, they're your beans!)
Have a bowl of ice water or super-cold water standing by. When the beans are done cooking add them to the bowl of cold water. When the beans are cool, remove them from the water and pat dry. Note: if you need to, drain the water and add more cold water to get the beans chilled.
Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sesame seeds in a medium mixing bowl. Add the beans and stir to combine.
Mound the beans on a plate and serve.
I received the book from the publisher at no cost to me.