Shiro-Ae

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recipe thursdayRandomly selected from one of my Japanese cookbooks, here's a classic Japanese side dish that you probably won't often see outside Japan. It's a cooked salad with tofu dressing but one of the ingredients, konyaku, is not commonly available in the States so check at an oriental grocery.

Konyaku is a gelatinous block of starch made from "devil's tongue." It has basically no flavor; it is used for texture and color. Shiro-ae uses white konyaku, but it's normally pale purple with brown speckles.

Shiro-Ae
serves 4

400 grams tofu (silk style)
1/2 block white konyaku
6 green beans
80 gr carrot, shredded
1/2 wood ear mushroom, shredded
100 cc dashi
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
2.5 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sake

Soak the dried wood ear mushroom for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the konyaku into matchstick lengths. Blanch the green beans the slice diagonally into 2 cm shreds. Shred the carrots and mushroom into similar sized pieces.

Bring the dashi, 3 Tbsp soy sauce and 2 Tbsp sugar to a simmer. Add the konyaku and carrot; simmer for 1 minute then add the mushroom slivers. Cook until the konyaku starts to pick up the color of the sauce. Add the beans and turn off the heat. Stir carefully and drain.

Cut the tofu into six pieces. Simmer over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to cheesecloth. Twist the cloth into a sack, and press down with a wooden spoon to squeeze the liquid from the boiled tofu. When no more water runs from tech sack, put the contents into a large mortar (or a bowl). Add the remaining sugar, salt, soy sauce, and sake mixing with the tofu to form a soft paste.

Mix the konyaku and vegetables with the dressing, salt to taste, and serve at room temperature.

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