Stir Fry Part II and Buckwheat Kasha

After my last post, I realised I had more to say even though stir fries are standard fare and my only claim for originality was that I had one ingredient that was unfamiliar. However I really enjoyed the combination of tastes that my stir fry produced.

But then I started to wonder… Where was the need to add honey or sugar, or some sauce that would complete the meal, which so often comes to mind with most stir fries that I make? For some reason after taste testing my meal, whatever part of my mind that controls the tastes that I must have to enjoy a meal was remarkably quiet!
I just happened to be reading a macrobiotics book over the last couple of days. And it repeated what I have also read in other books in the past. We need to include 5 tastes in a meal for it to be really satisfying. This book “Aveline Kushi’s Introducing Macrobiotic Cooking by Wendy Esko listed the five ingredients: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent or spicy. Now I would have been quite happy to accept these – and in a sense I wish I had - but being a little pedantic, I googled “tastes of meal” and found a site more than happy to list the tastes that a person might notice – and they were sweet, sour, salty and bitter – but where was the fifth one? I found lots of historical references on the site explaining the fifth taste including the Japanese introduction of “umami” being the Japanese equivalent of delicious or yummy. And then the site mentioned that a fifth taste was revealed recently for when something is really, really yummy in a non-sweet, sour, bitter or salty way. And in honour of a chemist named Kikunae Ikeda who first called this ingredient “umami”, this is exactly what they’ve named it.
I’m so pleased they cleared this up for me as this could have sent me on a wild goose chase trying to find the fifth taste. I’ve decided that I won’t make things too complicated and so have accepted “umami” as the fifth taste and am hoping that “umami” is similar to the fifth taste mentioned above of pungent or spicy.
I had already thought the previous night that perhaps the various tastes of each of the vegetables and the one fruit along with the homemade baked beans in my meal all complemented each other enough to satisfy the five tastes needed. Perhaps I’m ready to acknowledge daikon’s true participation in the meal.
So last night I combined onion, silverbeet, daikon, eggplant, green apple, cabbage and slivers of a half sheet of nori in a Thermomix stir fry. This time I decided to include some tamari sauce and I certainly enjoyed the final result, even though I did wonder later how I could forget to include some protein such as fish or else some beans or chick peas.
As I kept reading Wendy Esko’s book, I found a recipe that I could try – Buckwheat Kasha. From what I’ve read, toasted buckwheat is known as “Kasha”, although there are other varieties of kasha that use other grains. Anyway I decided to make this kasha, and needless to say, I did it in a completely different way to how Wendy Esko suggested as I really wanted to use the Thermomix.

Buckwheat Kasha Recipe Instructions:
I roasted some buckwheat in the Thermomix for 10 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius on speed 1. The buckwheat was then placed into the basket with some cabbage and carrot matchsticks sitting on top, and then steamed for 20 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 2.

I then added some salt as suggested in the recipe, a smattering of parsley and later sprinkled some tamari sauce, and I enjoyed it, although next time I’d aim for less buckwheat and more vegetables.
Cooking this kasha reminds me of a time when I used to add sultanas to the rice that I was cooking. I wonder whether I was making kasha without knowing it…
This was an interesting experience and I plan on trying some more kasha recipes to see which ones work for me.

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