Forget the boy-meets-girl fairy tale. We're suckers for a good East-meets-West love story.
Hiroko Shimbo, who has long been a champion of Japanese cooking stateside, marries her native cuisine with American ingredients in her recently released cookbook, Hiroko's American Kitchen ($25).
The book's chapters highlight two essential stocks and four basic sauces, which underpin more-involved recipes. Dashi stock, for example, is the building block for spicy miso soup with kale--a vegetable Shimbo discovered in America--and braised pork shoulder. White sumiso sauce, meanwhile, enhances curried tofu squares, and panko-dusted baked cod with chopped collard greens and russet potatoes.
Our Test Kitchen tackled Shimbo's kelp stock and spicy miso sauce--made with aged brown miso, mirin, sake and red pepper flakes--then used both to make her traditional braised daikon (see the recipe).
After boiling in a water-and-rice bath, the substantial Japanese radishes simmer in the stock. A finishing spoonful of the miso sauce adds richness, intensity and a downright meaty flavor, while a sprinkling of scallions and sesame seeds impart texture to the silken vegetable.
The dish truly is the best of both worlds.