Roasted Chinese Cabbage with Sesame Sauce (hakusai no goma-ae)
I recently came across a recipe that included lightly cooked lettuce and I was intrigued by the idea. A blog called Lettuce Cook should definitely have a dish that includes lettuce. After roasting lettuce over the gas burner (which actually works pretty well), I thought I would try roasting Chinese cabbage. Chinese cabbage holds up well to roasting because they have very broad stems, especially the inner leaves. The leaves get slightly charred which adds flavor and color. Finally, I dressed the cabbage with goma-ae, which is a traditional sauce made of roasted sesame seeds.
Roasted Chinese Cabbage with Sesame Sauce (goma-ae)
Serves 2 as a side dish
5 ounces Chinese cabbage or hakusai
For the sesame sauce
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1. Wash and dry the cabbage leaves. Set aside while you prepare the sesame sauce.
2. Heat the sesame seeds in a small pan on medium-low heat. Swirl the sesame seeds gently in the pan for about 2 minutes, making sure they do not burn. Turn off the heat after two minutes and remove them from the hot pan into a bowl. Using a Japanese mortar and pestle (suribachi) or a spice grinder, grind the sesame seeds into a rough paste; add ½ tablespoon of soy sauce, all of the sugar and mirin to the paste and continue to grind until just before it becomes smooth.
3. Turn on the gas burner or some other flame on medium heat. Pick up a cabbage leaf using tongs or chopsticks; place the leaf 1 inch over the flame and roast it on both sides, until the edges of the leaf wilt and char slightly, about 10 to 15 seconds. Do the same with the rest of the cabbage leaves.
4. Place the roasted cabbage leaves on a plate and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. The soy sauce marinates the leaves and softens them further. Fluff the leaves lightly with your hands, so the soy sauce coats the leaves. Set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, gently blot the cabbage leaves with a paper towel, to get rid of excess moisture and soy sauce. Cut the cabbage leaves into 1 inch sections.
5. There are two ways to serve this dish; with the sesame sauce on top of the cabbage leaves or with the sauce mixed in. Mound on individual serving plates or on one plate for sharing.