Japanese Spikenard with Miso (Udo Sumiso)

One of the great things about living in Japan is having access to a large assortment of wild vegetables that are cultivated locally.  Japanese Spikenard grows on the slopes of wooded embankments in the spring.  But even if you cannot find it, you can prepare this simple dish with asparagus and enjoy the vinegar and miso sauce as an accompaniment.

Udo Sumiso is a dish that stars the Udo – a “mountain vegetable” that grows in Japan in the spring.  Although it’s quite delicious, if your can’t find it don’t despair – Sumiso sauce goes great with almost any vegetable.  Try it over asparagus, as a dressing for a spinach salad, or as a dip for your favorite veggie assortment.

Sumiso (酢味噌)is sauce made from vinegar and miso.  It is very popular when served with fresh vegetables because it helps bring out the flavor of the vegetables without overpowering them.

in Japan, you can find udo, also known as mountain asparagus, also known as Japanese spikenard, growing wild on wooded slopes of embankments in the spring.  It is also cultivated and occasionally you can find it at grocery stores.  It’s an odd looking vegetable- it looks a bit like an alien claw – but the taste is unique and delicious.  It tastes a bit like a mix between asparagus and celery.  Udo can be eaten raw or cooked – but in either case I highly recommend peeling it well because of the resin under the skin that has an unpleasant taste.

Japanese Spikenard with Miso (Udo Sumiso)

Udo is a wonderful type of Japanese “sansai” – or wild vegetable. Enjoy it in the spring.  If you happen to see them in the grocery store, by all means grab one.

This is a simple recipe to make and it’s likely you will have some sumiso left over when you are finished. Refrigerate it and use it as a salad dressing or as a dip for vegetables to bring out the flavors.

PREP COOKING YIELD
5 mins 1 min Serves 2
PREP 5 mins
COOKING 1 min
YIELD Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 Udo
  • 2 TBSP White (Shiro) miso paste
  • 2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tsp White sugar
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sake

Instructions:

  • Prepare the Sumiso: Whisk together the miso, vinegar, mirin, sake and sugar until it forms a smooth paste.

  • Peel the udo.  Discard the leaves and stems.  Cut into approximately 1/2 x 1 inch (1 cm x 2 cm) sticks.
  • Par boil the udo sticks for 1 minute.

  • Serve with the Sumiso.

Notes:

  • Use Shiro Miso (White miso) for the sauce for an authentic Japanese experience.
  • It’s important to peel the udo well.  After parboiling, you can put the udo in cold water to be sure it remains crunchy and delicious.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
  • Sumiso pairs well with any vegetables.  If you can’t find udo, try asparagus, carrots, or any other veggie that can be cut into sticks. One of my other favorite ways to eat sumiso is over steamed broccoli rabe as a salad dressing.
  • Udo is also a great adder in stir fries.

 

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