We are in the midst of the most muggy season of the year, the rainy season. Besides the high temperature with the humidity, the summer season may not be the most pleasant times in Japan especially for visitors who are not used to the Asian humidity.
Yet, slowly but surely we are able to see Summer Vegetables arrive in the Tokyo markets and amongst many, one of the favorite is the TOGAN, WINTER MELON.
It is probably similar to a soft cucumber, subtle in taste also very low in calories; i.e. VERY HEALTHY.
One of my favorite ways of cooking this TOGAN is with a fish broth; which could be the bonito broth (dashi) which I have introduced in this blog but I’ve come crossed a FLOUNDER in the fish market yesterday.
Although Japan is known to be a fish-eating country, fish do not come inexpensive but the remains from the sashimi do, as like the head the bones are very affordable buys especially to extract good stock.
Boiling the FLOUNDER for about 10-15 minutes in low heat making sure to extract the froth for nice clear soup.
Cut the TOGAN into mouthsize pieces and combine the SOUP + TOGAN, bring to medium boil until the TOGAN is soft.
Flavouring the soup with
1 tablespoon of SAKE
1 tablespoon of MIRIN
1 tablespoon of LIGHT SOY SAUCE
1 teaspoon of SALT
Although restaurants and outside dining will probably never do this, I have added the FLOUNDER white meat into the soup.
At the final stages
1 tablespoon of KUZUKO (Flour from Kudzu Plant)
is added to thicken the soup before refrigerating.
KUZUKO serves similar to a cornstarch but much lighter and not too starchy and used often by Kyoto cooking.
KUZUKO with double amount of cold water looks like this.
Served refrigerated or hot.
Handy Cooking Tips and Shortcuts
I keep my leftover FLOUNDER broth or any broth which I have carefully extracted frozen in ice cubes.
written by Hisako Makimura, Tokyo/Japan