Ponzu-dressed asparagus plays up poké bowls

Asian flavors have been influencing family meals over the past few months since we realized the relative ease of making our own poké bowls.

Fairly priced, good-quality yellowfin tuna available in the freezer case of my locally owned grocer is the main ingredient. All the raw fish needs is a light dressing of tamari, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice and mirin or sugar.

We also arrived at a passable sushi rice with help from one of our cookbooks. Combined with some Japanese mayonnaise and topped with shredded nori, the fish and rice gets a boost from any seasonally available produce, particularly items often incorporated in sushi rolls.

Lightly steamed asparagus is an obvious choice while we have it fresh in the garden and is delicious all on its own with Japanese mayonnaise. Scallions, radishes and fresh herbs also fit nicely into the format, which soon will benefit from snow peas. Mango that’s populating grocery stores plays up the veggies’ sweetness and offsets the spicier notes for our kids’ palates.

This recipe from the Los Angeles Times seasons asparagus with ponzu, in much the same way that I dress raw tuna. In fact, it would make a stunning canvas for sushi-grade fish and rise to the status of main dish. Look for locally grown asparagus throughout May and much of June at farmers markets and locally owned grocers.     

Tribune News Service photo

Steamed Asparagus With Tangerine Ponzu, Daikon and Nori

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon organic tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh tangerine (or orange) juice

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons mirin

1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus

1 piece (5 inches) daikon radish (about 10 ounces), peeled

Togarashi and chopped roasted seasoned nori, for garnish

Prepare a steamer.

Make ponzu by mixing the tamari, vinegar, tangerine juice, lemon juice and mirin in a small bowl. Ponzu may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Trim bottom 3 inches off the asparagus. Place in steamer, cover, and steam, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking, until bright green and just tender, for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.

Meanwhile, grate the radish on small holes of a grater or against a ginger grater into a fine-mesh sieve. Squeeze radish with your hands to remove all excess liquid. Scatter daikon over asparagus, then drizzle ponzu directly over daikon.

Sprinkle the togarashi all over asparagus and daikon and top with the nori. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted by the Los Angeles Times from Kuniko Yagi of
LA restaurant Pikunico.

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