Kuzu has an amazing ability to create a magical, silky and healing sauce. I love the way the flavors cling to the vegetables and how this sauce adds an easy elegance. The small amount of arame adds some flavor and minerals without overpowering the dish. This would be perfect for those of you just venturing into the world of sea vegetables.
The technique of layering vegetables yin to yang is also used in nishime dishes, here and here. The grain in the photo is un-toasted buckwheat cooked in a ratio of 1 cup buckwheat to 1 1/2 cup water plus a pinch of sea salt.
Vegetables with Arame and Lemony Kuzu Sauce
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp dried arame, broken into small pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
4″ piece daikon radish, sliced into thin quarter slices
1 rutabaga, cut off grungy parts and chop into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium size carrots, sliced into half moons
1/2 cup thinly sliced, unpeeled burdock
1 cup chopped green cabbage
1 Tbsp kuzu
2 tsp umeboshi vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp shoyu or gluten-free tamari
1/4 cup cool water
1. In a medium pot, layer all the vegetables except the cabbage in the order listed. Pour about 1/4 cup water down the side. Place the pot over medium heat, bring to a boil, lower the heat to simmer and cover.
2. When the vegetables are almost done, add the cabbage and stir. Add a little more water if necessary to keep the pot from getting dry. Cook for 3-5 more minutes.
3. In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the kuzu sauce until the kuzu dissolves. Pour this mixture into the vegetables in three different places. I move vegetables out of the way so I have access to the cooking liquid and use a fork to quickly mix the kuzu sauce in. The kuzu will clump if you pour it directly into hot water without mixing quickly.
4. Stir the vegetables so the kuzu sauce distributes evenly. Add a little more water if needed to make it saucy. The kuzu is cooked as soon as it boils and it makes a lovely sauce. Taste and adjust the flavors if desired.
If you don’t have umeboshi vinegar, I think you can add a little more shoyu (for the salty flavor) and a little more lemon juice. You can also try a little brown rice vinegar.
Try a variety of different vegetables, cutting in the size needed for even cooking. I like sweet potatoes, winter squash, shiitake mushrooms and lotus root as well. You can also add other greens, such as collard greens and kale, at the end in place of the cabbage.