Friday, December 02, 2011

Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder - Fusion Comfort

Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder
It's hard to have Deng Jang in the house when you don't eat Korean food everyday.  Deng Jang is Korean Miso.  It is more pungent and spicier.  Like Miso, store bought Deng Jang is very perishable.  If it isn't, it has preservatives like MSG.  Homemade Deng Jang lasts longer as there is more time and care taken in preserving it.  I remember as a kid, mom would be sat in the kitchen beating the basic version into loaves to ferment.  They would age and develop a sort of patina that looks like aging Cheese.  You won't find that sort of quality in the shops so if you're going to buy in the shops, you want to look for non GMO (not only organic) Soy and no MSG.  Soybean farming is quite dominated by the evil chemical empires that have GMO'd the crap out of much of the production but the regulation on GMO labelling is only for raw ingredients and not products containing GMO ingredients.  Tofu can be Organic but still be GMO.  Be aware.

But I digress.  So when we do buy Deng Jang, or Miso, D likes to find various ways of using it so we are sure to go through it.  To confess, D does prefer Miso over Deng Jang.  He finds Deng Jang too pungent for his palate.  When used in very small quantities, it needn't dominate a dish.  It can be used to add what is commonly known as 'Umame'.  The term is used to describe a depth of flavour.  It's the difference between a well developed broth and a limp watery one.  Literally, it means flavour or savoury in Japanese.  It was the objective for the discovery of MSG which has been associated with though not proven to be linked to health issues.  That aside, it doesn't taste very good as many shortcuts don't.  You'll find that 'flavour' in lazy Korean or Japanse restaurants in their broths, i.e. Royal Seoul House on Broadway, blech. So you can use Deng Jang or Miso in smaller quantities to create that flavour in things like Risotto, Salad Dressings, Soups, Marinades/Rubs, Dips.....or Chowder.

Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder

serves 4 as a main

3 lbs Manila Clams
1 c Dry White Wine (or 1/2 c Wine and 1 1/2 c Water)
1 c Water
1 c Water (2nd cup, or Clam Juice from a bottle, in addition to the juice from the Clams in the Chowder)
1 T Olive Oil
3 T Unsalted Butter
1 small Onion, diced
2 ribs Celery, finely diced
1 pack (1 c) Enoki or Brown Clamshell Mushrooms, brushed and roots trimmed
4-5 sprigs fresh Thyme, length of your index pinky finger
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Bay Leaves
3 T Awase Miso (light Miso paste, but not the lightest. Look for non GMO, no MSG)
1 1/2 Yukon or White Potatoes (not Russet) 1" cubes
1 c Cream
Fresh Parsely, optional
Salt and Pepper

Scrub and rinse the Clams.  Use live.  They can stay in the fridge covered in a moist towel for upto two days but try to use them within 24 hours of getting them home.  We buy ours at TnT in their live Fish section.  We can pick our own Clams and Mussels. Throw any open ones away.  To double check, knock on them and they may spring closed. If they do not,  they are dead.

In a dutchoven or heavy pot, add the White Wine and the first cup of Water on High Heat and bring to boil.  You can reduce the amount of Wine to 1/2 a cup here if you want and increase the Water.  Dry White means not Sweet.  As well, do not use anything too Oaky.  American Chardonnays are too Oaky for this application.  Add the Clams when the liquid is boiling.  Cover and shake occasionally for 6-10 minutes.  After cooking, throw any closed ones away.  Lift the Clams out with a slotted spoon into a large bowl and set aside.  Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Stop short of pouring when you reach the sand at the bottom of the pot.  You should have about 3-4 c.  Throw the sand away and rinse the pot.

Add the Olive Oil and the Butter to the pot in Medium heat.  Sautee the Onion and Celery until soft, ~5 minutes.  Add the Potatoes, Thyme, Bay Leaves and Garlic and sautee briefly.  Add the Miso and spread around.  Add the Clam liquid back and the Water/Clam Juice.  The Miso can be salty so only season after you've added the liquid.  Add the Cream and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes until the Potatoes are tender.  Add the Clams back and the Mushrooms.

Garnish w Parsley and serve with Toast. Soooo Yummo!  I would have added another Tablespoon of Miso and D would have liked to add Bacon.  He crumbled some Bacon he cooked on the side on top.  I think the Bacon would dominate the dish and think it is nice left out.


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