Friday, March 23, 2012

a healthy, tasty alternative to a cream based soup, aka roasted cauliflower soup, kombu, silken tofu edition.

so i used to watch my mom make all sorts of tasty things in her vitamix. shes had one since i was back in the college years and (unfortunately for me) that was a long time ago.

kong bee ji (stewed pork ribs in ground soy beans with kimchee) is one of my favorite dishes. i can only imagine the difference my mother has seen in prepping this dish. its a pretty intensive dish to make right now with her vitamix, but i can only imagine what its like to make this with a stone grinder, manually spinning and grinding the soy beans into a nice puree.

growing up see this, it was only natural for me to evolve and intertwine what ive seen with flavors and techniques i learned along the way.

lets cook....

you know when you cook instant ramen, you boil water.

why use water?

because the instructions said to?

ive always had a problem with people telling me what to do. i will teach you to be as rebellious and anti establishment as i am. i fight the power by not listening to instructions on instant ramen packaging.

kombu broth

buy some dried kombu. rinse off a big chunk. simmer it in a pot of water with some onions, garlic and you have a low calorie flavor booster that will transform simple instant ramen into something thats actually presentable to beyond your 5 year old nephews palate.

for the most part, if water is going into a dish, a broth will make it better.

now that we have that down.... i have been experimenting with things and i came up with this recipe.

low calorie, flavor boosted roasted cauliflower soup.

i rinse off a large piece of kombu. i rinse it off to get the impurities off, the excess salt included. add a quarter of a chopped onion, a couple cloves of garlic and a few dried shiitakes mushrooms. add a couple pinches of salt just to get the flavors blending. i have no idea if this is true or not, but i like to salt throughout the cooking process because i believe it brings out the flavors of each individual ingredient, it highlights each step of the cooking process and you end up with a more balanced flavorful product.

simmer for 10-15 minutes.

take the broth off heat.

caulifower is awesome. i dont know why such amazing vegetables like cauliflower, brocilli and brussel sprouts have such a bad name. i remember growing up and being scared to try these because tv shows i used to watch then, made them out to be such terrible things.... theyre delicious!

i rinse and break up the cauliflower, small inch sized pieces will do. you want to break it up enough to get a nice char on a good portion of the surface area, but you dont want a crumbly burnt mess either. rough chop up some onions, add some peeled garlic cloves (please chop off the little stem area). remember, you want all the items to roast up consistently, so try to make everything about the same size. add all these in a large bowl. add some good olive oil, salt and pepper and coat things evenly.

(note, this time, i added in some leeks, more on this later)

place this all on a flat oven safe surface and roast up these bad boys in a preheated, 400 degree oven. keep an eye on these things. it should take about 8-10 minutes to get a good roast going, but be careful because it can go from a flavoring enhancing technique to an ashy mess real fast! i check once during this time and i move things around, flip over the larger pieces.

while you have the veggies roasting, you cant start to prep the next phase of the process. the kombu broth should have cooled down a bit by now. why is this important? well, depending on what kind of blender you have, adding very hot liquids might not be the best technique.

im using a vitamix, but i have done this with a normal counter top blender as well, and while it will require a bit more work with a regular blender, its nothing too difficult. with a regular blender you will have to stop the blender, mix things around, maybe add more liquid but you will get the idea when you give it a shot yourself.

besides the kombu broth the other secret to this low calorie, low fat, super flavorful recipe... silken tofu. yup. high in protien. low in fat and calories.... this adds a great texture to the party and you wont miss your heavy cream at all. no seriously. this isnt a "diet" recipe that tastes like a half assed crappy version of the original. this is a different technique/recipe for a dish that looks and tastes just as good if not better than its fatty counterpart.

this is half the normal container of silken tofu, about a cup or so. now you can play around with the ratios to your liking.

to give you an idea of how much you can adjust, after this attempt, i realized i didnt like those leeks in this recipe because they burned too fast when roasting and the end product had too much of a leek flavor to it. next time, no leeks.

take a look at the ratios.

its about 1/3 silken tofu to 2/3 roasted cauliflower. i think it should be more like 1/4 silken tofu to 3/4 roasted cauliflower, but whatever. it still ended up good, and playing around with these things is half the fun. besides, you usually learn the most this way.

add in the broth. i added a small amount of the simmered solids from the broth as well... why not!

now i like to add in only a little of the broth at a time.

my finger is at the broth level.

i do this for two reasons, one, i think its easier to blend and its cleaner with less liquid. more importantly, two, as long as it blends, you can always add more broth. i ended up with a way too "watered" down soup my first attempt. you can always add broth, you shouldnt try to take it out by overcooking something.

season with a couple heaping pinches of salt and pepper.

now just blend.

to this i add more broth until i get the consistency i want.

i basically ended up doubling the amount of liquid in the blender.

i poured this out into a pot

the soup has a nice consistency and ive seasoned it enough, but its still not quite there. its was a bit frothy from all the blending so i just grabbed the pot by the handles and shook it around. most of the foam will settle in the middle and you can scoop it right out.

warm/simmer for a tad bit and its done.

i purposely left out ANY kind of measurements in this post because i want you to figure things out on your own. you will see when you need more kombu broth..... take a spoonful and taste to see if you need more salt and pepper.

i dont really want to tell you to do something the exact same way i do it... learn this technique, figure out what you like and adjust it.

you can add a few drop of some good olive oil, some chives..... tada.

pic courtesy of s+s gastro pub

today, we added a small spoonful of truffle caviar.

a low calorie, low fat , highly nutrious soup that EVERYONE will love.

thank me later. buy me a beer.