Asparagus Rice (Asuparagasu Gohan)
Kevin over at Seriously Good has unleashed the sleeping Asparagus Monster that was apparently lurking just out of sight in the blogosphere. (Who knew?) He's established Asparagus Aspirations, in which he asked food bloggers and anyone with a computer and a kitchen to send him asparagus recipes all through the month of May. Contributions are pouring in, by all indications.
Kevin's already on his third round of round-ups on for this Knoxville Asparagus Festival, and versions of many of my usual asparagus preparations have already been done by others -- but so far no one has offered one of my all-time favorite ways to prepare asparagus: Asparagus Rice, which is my adaptation of a recipe in my Japanese cookery bible, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, by Shizuo Tsuji.
In this recipe, Japanese short-grained rice is cooked in a mixture of dashi (a broth made from shaved dried bonito), soy sauce and saké. When the rice is about half done, the asparagus is added to the pot. The result is a seductive dish, with a subtle flavoring to the rice that complements and somehow intensifies the flavor of the asparagus. I recently served this with roast pork, with vinegared cucumbers on the side, which in my book is a more or less perfect pairing.
Adapted from Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, by Shizuo Tsuji
2-1/2 C short grain Japanese rice (I use Kokuho Rose)
1 bunch asparagus
1 qt boiling water
1 tsp instant dashi powder
3 T soy sauce
2 T saké
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 T fresh ginger, cut into shreds
Mix the water, dashi powder, soy sauce, saké and salt. Wash the rice in three changes of water in the rice cooker bowl. Add the dashi mixture to the rice and stir in the ginger. Close the rice cooker and turn it on.
Snap the woody ends from the asparagus and cut the stalks in 1-1/2" pieces. Halve or quarter the stalk pieces if they are thick.
After about 8 minutes, open the cooker and scatter in the asparagus pieces. Close the cooker and allow the cycle to complete. Stir the asparagus into the rice and serve.