Gourmandistan

Italy, it’s not.

beef-and-watercress1

This meal sort of started with finding some beautiful (and local) Grateful Greens watercress at Whole Foods. But it also began during our failed attempts to find decent Asian food in Italy. In France, her slew of South Asian colonials-turned-citizens generously offering porc au caramel, riz nature and nems, we’ve found many lovely Asian dishes. In the Veneto we couldn’t find anything better than bland Cantonese fare lamely Italian-izing itself with menu columns featuring “Antipasti,” “Primi” and “Secondi.” In addition to being a little over-pasta-ed, we found ourselves quite a bit under-Asian-ed upon our return. When we found the watercress Michelle thought of these lovely recipes from Harumi Kurihara, the “Martha Stewart of Japan,” whose collection of Japanese dishes for Westerners is so simple even we can prepare them. (Sushi-grade slicing is not Steve’s strong point, but he is quite capable at marinating meat.) A dollop of sushi rice, some lightly roasted peanuts for garnish, and we were far away from Italy—but equally far from unsatisfied.

WATERCRESS WITH A LIGHT PEANUT DRESSING

(adapted, just barely, from Harumi Kurihara’s Everyday Harumi)

  • About 2 c. watercress, with stems
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 TB peanut butter
  • 3/4 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB mirin
  • Handful of peanuts, toasted and chopped

Bring salted water to boil in a saucepan. Quickly cook watercress until the stems are slightly soft, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Lightly squeeze the watercress, removing any excess water.

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce and mirin into a smooth dressing. Mix the dressing and watercress, coating well.  Sprinkle peanuts over.

MISO MARINADE FOR STEAK

  • Servings: enough for a 1/2- to 3/4-lb. flatiron or flank steak
  • Print

(adapted from Harumi Kurihara’s Everyday Harumi)

  • 1/3 c. miso paste
  • 1/4 c. sake
  • 1/2 c. mirin
  • 2 TB sugar
  • wasabi or horseradish

Combine the marinade ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and stir the sauce for about 10 minutes, until it thickens. Spread the marinade over the steak, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours or more.

When ready, remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Scrape off the marinade, then grill or pan-fry. Slice the steak and serve.

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