Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

pepper-carrot-confetti.jpg

I am calling this colorful dish confetti, because it’s not quite assertively flavored enough to call it furikake. It is sort of a no-sugar (low-carb) and much lower calorie variation of Cooked to Death Hot and Sweet Peppers, though I have made the hot peppers optional. Even with no added sugar or sweetener, I think the natural sweetness of the vegetables comes through nicely. It’s a really useful vegetable side dish, to just pack on the side or sprinkle on top of rice or other things. You could also fold in a spoonful into tamagoyaki to make it really colorful. It can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days, or frozen.

Recipe: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Make about 2 cups

  • 2 large red sweet bell peppers
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 small onion (or use the white part of a green onion)
  • 1 hot red chili pepper (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups (360ml) vegetable stock or dashi stock - or water with 1/2 tsp. dashi stock granules
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce or to taste
  • Sansho pepper or black pepper

Cut the bell peppers and carrot into small dice. Chop up the onion very finely. If you are using the chili pepper, de-seed it and chop it up finely.

Heat up a shallow sauté pan or frying pan on high heat, and add the stock or dashi and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables, and cook while stirring until the vegetables are tender and the moisture has evaporated. You should cook them to the point where the vegetables are getting a bit caramelized on the surface - this brings out their sweetness. Season with soy sauce and pepper to taste.

Speaking of seasoning to taste…

I don’t know why (though it may be because there have been more and more new readers coming to the site), but these past couple of weeks I’ve been hearing complaints from people saying that my recipes are too “lightly flavored” or too “strongly flavored”. (To make it even more confusing, they’re split just about 50-50.) For example, a recent mostly positive review of my book that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Straits Times in Singapore says that the recipes are ‘too lightly flavored’, while a recent comment to my Tuna Soboro with Ginger recipe wails that it’s a horrible recipe because it’s “too strongly flavored”. Besides tearing out my hair, I can just assume that they have problems with the salt content. And yes, I’ve heard people saying that something is too salty or not salty enough too.

Some foods, like furikake, are meant to be paired with something bland, like plain rice, so are a bit more assertively flavored and salty. Some foods are saltier because they need to be for preservative purposes, like pickles. Generally speaking, I do try to go a bit lighter on the salt and soy sauce and so on than most traditional Japanese recipes do; however, since they are meant to be eaten together with the bland foil that is plain rice, I guess they can seem salty to some people. But beyond all that, recipes are meant to be a starting point, especially when it comes to seasonings, and specifically the addition of salt or salty flavorings like soy sauce. Everyone’s tastebuds are different after all. I can’t go back and change all my recipes to say ‘season to taste’, but that is implied anyway.

I’m hoping that people get that… ^_^;

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17 comments

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Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Would this work with green pepper? I've only got one red and one green in my fridge just now. I suppose it wouldn't be quite as sweet.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

It should work fine with green peppers, though as you've surmised it won't be as sweet. Taste, and adjust the seasonings ^_^

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Mmmm, this looks good! I'll try it :)
In regards to seasoning, my take is that cultural food references on how food 'should' taste come into play. I'm a Korean food fanatic and think nothing of adding raw garlic and so much red chili pepper that the dish is red. But if I approached all other cuisines with that reference in mind, I might be disappointed through no fault of the other cuisine. For Japanese cooking, I know it's generally intended to be subtly spiced, to allow the true nature of the ingredient's nature to shine through; give or take a wasabi, pickled ginger, or imported & incorporated into the cuisine curry dish here and there. I'm not an expert on Singaporean cuisine but given the hot climate my guess is it's spicier than Japanese cuisine.
But anyway--you can't please everyone. Keep on keeping on. And on another topic, diabetes rates are rising, it's a good thing to show readers who to cook with macronutrients in moderation to stay healthy. Do your thing, it's the right thing to do.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Regarding seasoning, I do suspect it may be a cultural thing. You mentioned that the review came from Singapore; I suspect that Malaysian/Singaporean palates are usually more used to heavy flavours and liberal use of chilli oil/sauce. As an anecdotal example, my friend who hails from a Hong Kong family, has a Malaysian girlfriend. She often complains that Cantonese cuisine is quite bland and tasteless, an opinion that we (I also come from a Hong Kong family) are quite opposed to. I believe that Cantonese food is much more subtle than Malaysian food. While typical Malaysian food may pack on the seasoning and chilli, I feel that Cantonese (and I suppose in this argument, Japanese) foods rely much more on the subtle flavours of the ingredients.
In any case, I believe what you said is correct: everyone's taste buds are different; season to taste. =]

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

This is why cooking is like a science -- it's all about the experimentation. If something doesn't work first time, you can try it differently next time around and tweak until you get the right results.

Maki, I like the look of this sweet pepper and carrot confetti. :) I'm going to have to try it. Thank you for posting this.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

That is a great point re: cultural differences in what tastes 'right' to people. FWIW I grew up more or less with Cantonese (since that is the style of Chinese that predominated in Japan until fairly recent times) and still think it's the best ^_^

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

I love the picture (I love all your pictures, always very well done) with the deep red and hint of orange, but I like the idea of using a little green pepper for color and contrast.

"Speaking of seasoning to taste…", if you get 50/50 on over/under seasoning, I would say you got it just right. ;)

I think a lot of reviewers/commenters feel they have to be critical in order to be edgy or something.

Thank you for sharing and I can't wait to try this new recipe as my next "starting point".

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Don't tear your hair out, Maki. Your recipes are great.
Every cook knows to adjust recipes for personal taste. Sometimes I think that commenters are just looking for something to say.

I try to follow the recipe the first time I make something and then make any adjustments for my taste and record them (except in the case of Thai dishes where I always reduce the chilli).

I wish I had followed my own advice when I made the Sweet pepper and capsicum confetti. I thought 'Hmm! Maki often adds a little sugar or mirin to vegetables. Perhaps this is a diabetes-friendly recipe so she left it out.' So I added about 1 Tbls mirin -NOT NEEDED! The recipe would have been great without it. As you pointed out, slow-cooked carrots develop a lot of sweetness.

Shall be making this recipe (your version) often. It looks and tastes great.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Mehhhh pretty recipes like this that require tiny squares of veggies make me really wish I had a food processor! I just don't have the patience or time to chop things this small. I really hope my mom buys her poor college student a food processor as an early birthday present, lol.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Yes! I agree too that seasoning is definitely "cultural". It is also a mix of personal cooking and eating habits too I suppose.. I'm Singaporean myself but I was brought up in a household where salt, soy sauce, sugar, and all sorts of seasoning doesn't exist! =P So while I enjoy the ocassional salt & vinger potato chips indulgence, my personal habits (and upbringing) have left me finding "outside" food rather salty!

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

In regard to seasoning and taste, I believe that it is cultural as well as age. When we are children, we have 10 times the number of taste buds on our tongues then we do as adults. Our buds start to fuse together as we age and so, depending on our preference, we require more seasoning to flavor our foods. Also, lifestyle can come into factor. If we smoke or we drink heavily our buds are less receptive.

I wouldn't take it personally. I tend to like things with a little less salt, but my husband prefers to have more. I under-season my foods and leave the extras to him.

The recipe looks easy and I think I will make it this weekend. I think it will look lovely in contrast to rice.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

I just wanted to add that it is hard to post recipes for people that don't cook. Anyone that does a lot of cooking knows how to use a recipe to get the general feel of how a dish should taste and then adjust the seasonings to get their desired result. I believe some of the problem may be cultural, but some surely comes from ignorance. In any food that is meant to be eaten with rice, the seasonings should be strong enough to carry the rice. No one in their right mind would try to eat the red beans from my Cajun-style "Red Beans and Rice" without the rice. If they did, they would be rewarded with too much heat and too much salt.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Just made this and its delicious!! :D I had to change it around a bit due to ingredient restrictions! I used one red and one orange pepper and carrots. I had no onions and had to use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock :) But its soooooooooo good! and thats saying something seeing as my latest migraine meds have messed up my taste buds!

Thanks Maki! :)

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Freezing?

Hi Maki!
Firstly I want to say I love your blog! I absolutely love Japanese cuisine and am just starting out the world of creating bentos. I'm tired of eating sandwichs everyday for lunch!

I'm just wondering: if I froze this would you suggest re-heating it before I put it in my bento?

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

I'm about a year late to the discussion, but as a Singaporean, I had to say this: the previous commenters are right, it's really a question of what people are used to. Singaporean / Malaysian cuisine, or hawker food, is often spicier and flavourful than food elsewhere. A good example is wanton mee. I tried a few New York Chinatown versions of it a week ago, and found most of them - run, unsurprisingly, by Cantonese - more bland than what I'm used to, even though the dish remains the same fundamentally (wantons + noodles + some vegetables). De gustibus non disputandum est.

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

You said some things are to be paired with bland or otherwise opposite things. How do we know when? or is it generally noted?

Re: Sweet pepper and carrot confetti

Thanks for this! It was my first time making it and my mouth waters when I smell it. I made it with a little splash of soy sauce and reduced the dashi so it's a lot lighter. I could eat bowls of it!

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