Bento filler: Spicy miso marinated green asparagus

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We’re nearing the end of the green asparagus season around here, so I’m trying to eat as much of it as possible. This miso marinated asparagus dish may look very spicy, but it’s only mildly so - it just looks rather hot because I used a red miso. The miso marinade does not overwhelm the asparagus flavor, but just enhances it. It is great in a bento since it’s salty, a little sweet and spicy all at once.

This recipe is adapted from a Japanese cookbook, Tsukemono Hyakka (漬け物百科) (Pickling Encyclopedia). Actually the term tsukeru(漬ける)refers to both pickling and marinating, so I guess it could be called the Pickling and Marinading Enclopedia.

Recipe: Spicy miso marinated green asparagus

  • 500g or about 1 pound of green asparagus, tough parts cut off and cut into even pieces
  • 4 Tbs. finely chopped spring onions
  • 1/2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 tsp. doubanjang (Chinese/Sichuan red chili paste), or a similar red chili paste
  • 2 Tbs. red miso (or whatever miso you have)
  • 1/2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. mirin
  • a little water

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until crisp-tender. (To cook them evenly, put the stalks in first, cook for a few minutes, then add the tips and cook for 2-3 minutes more.) Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking and to fix the green color. Drain well.

In the meantime, sauté the chopped onions in the oil until limp. Add the red chili paste and stir. Add the sugar and mirin, then add the miso. If it gets a bit stuck to the pan, add a few drops of water and stir and scrape to deglaze the pan. Take off the heat.

Add the aspargus and mix well so each piece is coated with the marinade. Layer into glass or ceramic bowl or container (not plastic, because the miso and chili will stain it) evenly. Cover with kitchen parchment paper, then put another bowl or container filled with water; this acts as a weight. Here I’ve used two identical glass bowls; the asparagus is layered in one, covered with parchment paper, then weighted down with the other bowl which is filled with water.

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Leave the asparagus to marinate for at least an hour - you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Take off the weight and store the asparagus in a tightly covered container.

The asparagus will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but it will gradually lose its green color so you should try to eat it up as soon as possible. This is not that hard to do. (It’s pretty good mixed with hot pasta.)

You can halve the amount of marinade, and marinade just half a bundle of asparagus and use the rest of the cooked stalks for dinner.

Notes

Many cuisines call for a red chili paste of some sort. Here I’ve used doubanjang, which is a Chinese (Sichuang) chili paste; you can find it at Asian/Chinese or Japanese grocery stores (in Japan it’s called toubanjang and is written 豆板醤). You could substitute harissa or other red chili paste here. (At one point I had two kinds of harissa, two kinds of doubanjang, and a Hungarian chili paste in the fridge, which was a bit much.) Korean kochujang is a bit less intense, so you may want to double the amount to 2 teaspoons if you use that.

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I have a big bunch of

I have a big bunch of Asparagus that I can try this on! Thanks!

Question: I have heard that some soy products are bad, especially for infants and children (things like soy-based formula and tofu), but that properly processed soy things like Soy Sauce, Miso and Tempeh are okay. My friends didn’t really specify why. Do you have any info on that?

I am not a nutritionist or medical professional

…but I am quite skeptical about the claims of soy being dangerous, especially in the forms in which they have been eaten for hundreds of years in Japan as well as other Asian cultures, including tofu. It is up to your friend or any individual to believe in whatever they want to, but I’ll continue eating tofu quite happily. Mind you, I don’t eat it every day, just as I eat hardly anything every day. I also don’t take massive amounts of isolated soy protein as some bodybuilders do. Everything in moderation, including moderation!

As far as infants and small children are concerned, I am of the camp that believes that restricting their dietary fat (as some parents seem to do) is very harmful; same for protein. So I am not sure if a vegan diet for example (which tends to be low in fat and protein) would be safe for them. We are so ingrained to believe that formula derived from cow’s milk is better for children - this may or may not be true. Which is more harmful, cow’s milk or soy milk - or which is more nutritious? The answers really depend on who you are talking to. But that kind of decision is really up to the parents and the child’s doctor imho.

I wrote about the subject of soy some time ago here. See also the third paragraph here.

spicy miso marinated asparagus

I just finished making this and I hope I don’t eat the whole thing before it’s time for lunch and the rice is ready! It is so delicious! I think the sauce would complement many vegetables.

This sounds like a tasty way

This sounds like a tasty way to enjoy asparagus. I picked up some doubanjang a while ago and I have been wondering what else I could use it for.

Why the weight on the

Why the weight on the asparagus? I don’t understand

The weight helps the flavors

The weight helps the flavors penetrate better!

Possible to omit the spice?

Hiya!

Was wondering if this dish would still taste good without the spicy chili paste? I can’t tolerate any hot foods or spicyness really and wonder how this dish would taste omitting that chili paste. Any thoughts?

I realize it’s not really

I realize it’s not really possible to make everyone happy…I get requests for spicy recipes a lot here, but I guess plenty of people don’t like spicy! :) But for this one, you could use regular miso paste and omit the chili - it will taste different, but should still be good. (Try adding a little extra sugar perhaps)

Thanks, Maki! ^^

Thanks, Maki! ^^

Re: Bento filler: Spicy miso marinated green asparagus

There is a thai chili sauce that is not very expensive and is really really good, I think it's called Sricha. It's in a huge bottle with a picture of a rooster on it. In small amounts it's not overwhelmingly hot, and the burn is not real long lasting....eaten with rice you just good a good tang to everything.

I can't wait to try this recipe, I wish asparagus were not so expensive around here! I wonder if canned asparagus would work for this. Of course it's already cooked, it would just be a matter of warming it and marinating it...

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