As a runner and relatively health-conscious chef – compared to some of my fellow chefs anyway!— my favorite Asian recipe is actually one of our new plant-based dishes . Having traveled extensively in Asia to do hands-on research for our Red Ginger restaurant and many later trips, I’ve been able to explore some of the most inspiring and intriguing cuisines in this part of the world.
Across Vietnam and Thailand, there is so much emphasis on fresh herbs – lemongrass, mint, cilantro, basil, lime leaf; and you have an impressive range of vegetables always available plus flavorful spices like ginger, galangal and chili peppers. In Japan, you have a focus on vegetables and legumes too as well as a special emphasis on balancing the aesthetic and creating a harmony among the five flavors – sweet, spicy, salty, sour and bitter. Cuisines throughout Asia are colorful and flavorful and are marked by their nutrient-rich ingredients and healthy balance of protein and fiber. If you think about it, power bowls practically originated in Asia.
This Osaka Power Bowl is one of my favorites because it packs in the protein with edamame, tofu and soba noodles, is high on flavor with the orange miso, spring onions and pickled ginger; and leaves you feeling satisfied but not weighed down.
For orange miso glaze:
1/3 cup orange juice
4 tablespoons miso
1 3/4 tablespoons rice bran oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound sweet potatoes, halved
2 cups soba noodles
5 cups eggplant, sliced into small triangles (½ kg)
1 cup firm tofu, cubed
2 ½ cups edamame, bean only, blanched
½ cup wakame salad
2-3 spring onions, sliced
4 tablespoons pickled ginger
1 nori sheet, julienne
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Pre-heat oven to 325°F.
For orange miso glaze: Combine all ingredients together and blend until smooth using a blender.
1 - Brush the sweet potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper or your favorite roast seasoning. Roast until done. Remove from oven, cool and then remove the skin. Cut into triangles ½ inch thick.
2 - Blanch the soba noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes. Cool and set aside.
3 - Pan-fry the eggplant slices until they are nicely browned. Drain on paper towel and toss in ¼ cup of the orange-miso glaze.
4 - Press excess water from tofu with paper towels and then place in a pan with olive oil. Pan-fry until tofu is a medium blonde color. Drain on paper towels and then toss in ¼ cup of the orange-miso glaze. Set aside. 5 - Divide the roasted sweet potato, soba noodles, eggplant, tofu, edamame and wakame salad evenly among four bowls. Add pickled ginger to each, then top with spring onions, nori and sesame seeds. Drizzle the remaining orange miso glaze on top or serve on the side.
Every time I travel to Asia, I discover something new and fascinating whether it’s a recipe, a temple or an ancient tradition. I hope to see you on one of our Asia cruises soon – you can explore the voyages in our new 2020-2021 Tropics & Exotics Collection here.