This week we're up to #42 on Gourmet's list of the 50 Women Game Changers in the world of food: Harumi Kurihara---you guessed it, she's the Japanese Martha Stewart. She is a superstar in her native Japan, riding the wave of the nation's current obsession with domesticity. Thanks to Mary from One Perfect Bite for organizing a group of us cooking and blogging our way through this list, one dish at a time. Check back every Friday for another story and recipe from the list, and e-mail Mary if you'd like to join the group.
Harumi has achieved a cult status rare in the culinary world. Her feverish following includes mostly young women, and represents an interesting trend in Japan. The rapid growth of the country in recent decades funneled record numbers of women into the workforce, and recently there has been a backlash resurgence of interest in the domestic arts and traditions. Harumi is the uber-“shufu”, or housewife, who just happens to be a television host, cookbook author, and entrepreneur. It doesn't hurt that the woman looks half her age, either. (She's 65!) Part of her appeal is that she taps into a national fascination with the cuisines of other cultures. It's fun to read about which Western elements have sparked cult followings of their own in Japan; mayonnaise, Parmesan, and Gorgonzola cheese are among them!
I chose this dish because it clearly illustrates why the Japanese diet is so healthy. The seasonal vegetables are barely cooked, just blanched for a minute in boiling water to take the edge off the crunch and bring out the color. The dressing has no oil whatsoever, just lots of umami flavor. This dish fills your stomach while barely making a dent in your daily calorie count.
I worked with a palette of spring greens, but you can use whatever looks good to you. The veggies should be cut in small uniform sizes both for the appearance of the dish and so that they cook evenly
.I used asparagus, broccoflower, green beans, sugar snap peas and green onions. I only put the green onions in for the last few seconds of blanching.
Vegetable Salad with Miso Dressing ~~~from Everyday Harumi
3/4 cup (185 mL) shiro miso paste (white miso)
1/4 cup (60 mL) sake
1/2 cup (125 mL) mirin (Japanese rice cooking wine)
3 tbsp (45 mL) superfine (instant dissolving) or granulated sugar
2 cups (500 mL) each: small cauliflower florets, small broccoli florets
1 cup (250 mL) green beans, each cut on diagonal in 3 pieces
Shichimi togarashi or pure chili powder.
- In small saucepan over medium heat, bring miso, sake, mirin and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes, whisking often. Cool. Refrigerate in covered container up to 3 weeks.
- Bring large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add broccoli, cauliflower and beans. Cook 1 minute to blanch. Rinse under cold, running water; drain well. Lightly dry vegetables with clean tea towel.
- Place in serving bowl. Dress with 1/4 cup (60 mL) miso dressing, or to taste. Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi or chili powder.
Thanks to Harumi I can begin to get a real sense of why the Japanese rank at the top in terms of longevity and health, and have the lowest obesity rates on the planet. On average they consume far fewer calories per day than Westerners do, eat very little saturated fat, and smaller amounts of meat and sweets. They do this partly by eating lots of vegetables and plain rice which are nutritious and filling but low in calories. Smaller portions with more careful attention to visual interest and aesthetics is key. We Americans could really benefit from adopting some of these habits...after all, it's only fair that we get something in return for giving the Japanese the gift of mayonnaise!
Check out these other bloggers who are exploring Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers along with me---
Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Linda A - There and Back Again
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Lovely Things
Nancy - Picadillo
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook
Kathy- Bake Away With Me
Alyce - More Time at the Table
Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Martha - Simple Nourished Living,