Zen Dinner

A friend came round for dinner last night and made this for us both.. Clockwise from baked nasu dengaku (aubergine with sweet miso sauce), ganmodoki (fried tofu balls with seaweed, shiitake mushrooms and carrots), brussel sprouts with peanut sauce and brown rice with natto and gomashio (a condiment of ground sesame seeds and sea salt.)

It was served with a bowl of miso soup but I didn’t take a photo of that.

The aubergine was scored and baked in the oven wrapped in tin foil until soft. For the dengaku sauce I used:

2 tbsp awase miso (awase: mix of white and red miso)
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sweetener (like agave or rice syrup)

You add these three ingredients to a frying pan and stir until them with a rubber spatula until the sauce has become thick and shiny. Then spread on the baked aubergine, sprinkle with sesame seeds and the not so traditional dill, though I think it gives it a wonderful flavour.

For the ganmodoki:

400g firm tofu
1 tbsp potato starch
1 tsp salt
2 shiitake mushrooms
half a carrot
1 tbsp hijiki seaweed
200ml water to make dashi stock
1 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp mirin

Place the shiitake mushrooms in 200ml water and soak for a few hours, then remove the mushrooms from the water. Soak the seaweed in cold water for about 20 mins to half an hour when it should be soft. Cut the stems off the mushrooms and discard, chop the caps finely and do the same with the carrot and seaweed. Then add mirin and shoyu to the water you soaked the mushrooms in and add the vegetables and seaweed. Bring to a boil and simmer until the carrots are soft. Drain the excess water off the tofu and pat dry with a paper towel. Then mash it with your hands in a large bowl, then add the salt and potato starch. When the carrots are soft, strain the vegetables and keep the simmering water as a tasty dip for later. Add the vegetables to the tofu, mix well and form into balls. You can coat the balls in cornflour if you like a very crisp edge. Shallow fry in rice bran oil on both sides until golden. You can them dip them in the simmering broth.

The brussel sprouts were simply cut in half and boiled for about 5 minutes. The ingredients for the peanut sauce are:

2 tbsp peanut butter (100% peanuts)
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp water (you can use less if you like a thicker sauce)

You can omit the mirin if you like or add rice syrup or agave to make slightly sweeter.

The rice is simply brown rice boiled with natto (fermented soya beans) added to it at the end. The quantities I used for two people were 200g rice and 400ml water and two boxes of natto. Then added some gomashio at the end (ground sesame seeds and sea salt) and dusted with red perilla sprinkles.



  1. Christina

    Lucky friend 😉

    Che pasto divino! Brussels sprouts are my faaavourite… and anything covered in peanut butter sauce is my downfall. The fact that you combined both delights in one dish makes you godly indeed. Sei grande! 😀

    • alessio

      Thank you dear! I wish you lived closer (or I did? lol) to invite you over for dinner sometime.. I was even daydreaming of starting up a small business and have you as my business partner? lol xx

    • alessio

      Fatto! Ho aggiunto come preparare tutto così in caso vuoi provare anche del resto puoi farlo 😀 Fammi sapere xx

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