I missed last month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge which was salads, so I thought I should jump back on the wagon with this month's challenge: Weekend Cookbook Challenge #30: Farmers Markets, hosted by Michelle at Je Mange la Ville. The challenge is to visit your local Farmer's Market, gather some "interesting foodstuffs" and use them to make something from one of your cookbooks.
I have been thinking about the challenge as I toured the Saturday Farmer's Market at KCC the last two weeks. The KCC Farmer's Market (here is my last post on it with pictures) is the largest one in Hawaii and is local foods only, everything has to be grown or made in the Hawaiian Islands. Its a great place to find fresh and unusual ingredients at pretty good prices.
The first thing that caught my eye were some bags of Shiso leaves. Shiso, if you are not familiar is also known as Perilla (Shiso is the Japanese word for it) and and is a member of the mint family. It resembles a stinging nettle leaf, rounded with spiky edges and comes in both green and purple varieties. The taste is strong, kind of a cross between mint and fennel with a little cinnamon thrown in. You may have encountered it in sushi or Japanese restaurants as it is often eaten with sashimi, or used as a garnish in salads or other dishes. The seeds and essential oils are often used as well.
I hadn't ever cooked with Shiso so I looked for a recipe that would combine it with some other local foods I could buy at the Farmer's Market. I ended up locating a great recipe in The Breakaway Cook by Eric Gower. This cookbook has a strong Japanese influence as of course did his earlier book, The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, and he uses lot of ingredients that are pretty common and easy to get here in Hawaii. The recipe, Edamame Shiso Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette sounded light and good and I could get the majority of the ingredients at the market, including fresh soybeans or edamame.
My only real challenge was the Yuzu, a citrus fruit that originated in Southeast Asia. The juice and zest are used a lot in Japanese cooking and you can sometimes find the bottled juice in Asian markets or speciality grocery stores here but I haven't seen the fruit very often. I checked at a couple of places and couldn't locate a bottle of the juice, but Gower states you can use other citrus juices. I have also read that combining lime and tangerine juice makes a close approximation of Yuzu and I had both from the Farmers Market.
Edamame Shiso Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette
from The Breakaway Cook, Eric Gower
3 cups cooked edamame (cook in boiling water about 5 minutes)
1 Tbsp yuzu or other citrus juice (I used tangerine and lime)
5 shiso leaves, sliced into chiffonade
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup (I used local honey instead)
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Place the cooked edamame in your prettiest ceramic bowl that will hold them with plenty of room to spare. In a blender, mix the yuzu juice, half the shiso, the olive oil, vinegar, and maple syrup. Gently mix the vinaigrette into the edamame. Add the salt and pepper liberally and add the remaining shiso. Sprinkle the lemon zest on top.
Eric Gower notes: "Shelled edamame, usually sold frozen, taste every bit as good when cooked as the ones sold in the pod, which tend to be more expensive and require more time to prepare. The shiso, is set off beautifully by the floral yuzu and rice vinegar; the combo seems custom made for edamame." He mentions that if you can't find shiso you can substitute mint and a pinch of cinnamon in the dressing.
The salad turned out great, I really enjoyed the combination of flavors. It was bright and crisp and would make a great summer side dish. I used both green and purple shiso for more variation in color. Trying to get as many items from the Farmer's Market as possible, I substituted local honey for the maple syrup. That meant only the olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper were not from the Farmer's Market. I will make this salad again, however I will probably follow Eric's recommendation and use shelled edamame. I don't think there was a huge difference in the fresh soybeans in terms of flavor, (the organic shelled ones I normally buy are a bit darker in color and are a bit larger and more uniform) and they were a bit of a pain to shell. If I couldn't get shiso I would try the mint as I think the flavor would still be good.
You'll be able to check out the other entries on the Weekend Cookbook Challenge Round Up Page (here), sometime after the 27th.