Steamed Vegetables with Miso Sesame Sauce 温野菜と胡麻味噌だれ

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  • Healthy and full of flavor, this dashi-infused Steamed Vegetables with Miso Sesame Sauce is the quickest way to get vegetables on your plates.  Served with an umami-packed dipping sauce, you will want to eat another serving!

    Steamed vegetables in a Japanese earthenware pot, donabe. Steam coming off from the pot.

    How do you eat your vegetables every day? Do you eat it as a salad, stir fry, roasted or steamed, or try to avoid it altogether? Today’s recipe will convince you to eat more of them. You’ll learn how to steam vegetables correctly and whisk together the most delicious miso sesame sauce that makes everything taste even better.

    The prep requires little effort that you can steam the veggies while you’re working on other dishes. Sounds great for a weeknight meal, isn’t it? Let’s get started.

    Steamed vegetables in a Japanese earthenware pot, donabe.

    How to Steam Vegetables Perfectly Everytime

    Steaming vegetables is one of the best ways to cook vegetables as steam cooking helps to preserve all the important nutrients and fiber of the vegetables. However, they can be easily overcooked. When the vegetables are over-cooked and mushy, they lose their texture and colors which can be unappetizing.

    How do we avoid that?  I’m here to guide you on how to perfectly steam any vegetable in a few easy steps.

    1. Steam vegetables in stages based on their texture 

    Texturally speaking, we can group the vegetables into two types: tender vs hard. The harder and denser vegetables require a longer cooking time, while tender vegetables cook a lot of faster, so it’s always important to cook them at stages. When you’re steaming vegetables, start with root vegetables such as sweet potato and carrot first, and after several minutes, you can add in tender vegetables like broccoli and zucchini into the basket.

    2. Cut vegetables into uniform sizes

    Each vegetable, whether hard or tender, requires the same amount of time to steam. To achieve the perfect crisp-tender texture, you need to cut them into uniform sizes so they cook roughly at the same rate.

    One trick to shorten the overall steaming time is to cut the hard vegetables slightly smaller or thinner so that they cook faster.

    3. Stop steaming slightly earlier

    I also like to take vegetables out of the steamer when they are still a little bit crunchy. The residual heat will cook the vegetables slightly more so you don’t have to steam the vegetables until completely done.  By the time you sit at the table, they might be gone mushy.

    Steamed vegetables in a Japanese earthenware pot, donabe.

    How Long to Steam Vegetables

    Here’s a quick guide on steaming times for vegetables.

    • Asparagus: 5-8 minutes
    • Broccoli: 3-5 minutes (florets) 7 minutes (stems)
    • Cabbage: 3-5 minutes
    • Carrots: 8-13 minutes
    • Corn on cob (1-2 inches): 8-10 minutes
    • Cauliflower: 3-5 minutes (florets), 7 minutes (stem)
    • Gobo slices: 5-10 minutes
    • Green beans: 4-6 minutes
    • Kabocha: 10-15 minutes
    • Potatoes: 10-15 minutes
    • Spinach: 2-3 minutes
    • Sweet potatoes: 10-15 minutes
    • Zucchini: 5-8 minutes

    If you want to cook several kinds of vegetables in a batch, here’s an easier method that I follow:

    • Leafy veggies: 2-3 minutes
    • Mushrooms: 3-5 minutes
    • “Fruit” vegetables (corn, cucumber, eggplant, pumpkin, zucchini, etc): 5-8 minutes
    • Root vegetables: 8-10 minutes
    • Potatoes and sweet potatoes: 10-15 minutes.

    I usually adjust the steaming time based on how I cut the vegetables (slices vs. peels – see my recipe for gobo and carrot) and how big/small I cut them.

    Assortment of fresh vegetables in bamboo basket along with Hikari Miso.

    Make Miso Sesame Sauce for Steamed Vegetables

    Steamed vegetables are absolutely wonderful on its own or with very little seasoning. However, I do like to serve steamed vegetables with different Japanese-style dipping sauces once in a while, and one of our favorites is Miso Sesame Sauce.

    For this Steamed Vegetables recipe, I partner with Hikari Miso® and used Hikari Miso® Organic Miso – White Miso. It is made of 100% USDA Certified Organic rice and soybeans and is additive-free. It has a light yellow color original to Shinshu-style miso. A high volume of rice koji produces its mild taste and smooth texture.

    If you’re interested to try it out, you can purchase Hikari Miso from a majority of Japanese/Asian grocery stores or on Amazon. It is my favorite brand of miso paste. There is also a variety of miso, each with a different flavor you can use for various purposes.

    Hikari Miso - Organic Miso Series

    The nutty flavor and savoriness of the sauce go terrifically well with vegetables. The key is to lightly dip the steamed vegetables into the sauce, without overcoating them. You want to enjoy the natural sweetness of the vegetables and the sauce is to enhance the eating pleasure.

    Steamed cauliflower dipped in miso sesame sauce.

    Additional Tips to Make Perfectly Steamed Vegetables

    1. Use a large pot with the lid

    It’s always better to use a bigger pot where steam can go around the vegetables.

    2. Add 1-2 cups water

    You’ll need at least 1 inch deep of water, just enough to steam the vegetables.  You can use the leftover water for cooking.  In fact, we use dashi – Japanese stock – to create dashi-infused steam to cook the vegetables in this recipe.

    3. Add vegetables after boiling

    It’s important to add the vegetables after the water is completely boiling.  If you add the vegetables while the water has yet to boil, the newly created steam will turn back into water droplets when it touches cold vegetables. As a result, vegetables will get more watery.  Therefore, add the vegetables when there is plenty of steam coming out from the steamer.

    4. Keep on medium high heat

    You want to make sure lots of steam is continuously being created, and your heat setting should be on medium-high. When you add the vegetables, the temperature will drop quickly, so keep the heat on high for 2-3 minutes first.

    5. Use a bamboo skewer to check doneness

    Don’t rely on the cooking time so much.  Even with the same vegetables, steaming time can be different based on how you cut the vegetables.  The best way is to use a bamboo skewer and see if it goes through.

    Steamed vegetables in a Japanese earthenware pot, donabe.

    How to Steam Vegetables without a Steamer

    The most common way to steam vegetables is by using a pot with a good fitting lid and a metal steamer basket. What if you don’t have a steamer? Don’t worry! You can still enjoy this steamed vegetable recipe without it. Here’s a fantastic hack I learned from a friend:

    Steamer 1
    Make three tennis-size balls with aluminum foil and place them on the bottom of your cast iron pot.
    Steamer 2
    Add 1-2 inches of water and place a ceramic plate on top of the tinfoil balls!
    Steamer 4
    This is not from my friend’s method, but if your lid is flat, cover it with a large kitchen towel so condensation won’t drop on the food and make it watery.

    My Donabe Steamer

    Steamer 7

    I purchased this donabe steamer at Toiro Kitchen & Supply in Los Angeles. The owner Naomi-san has a beautiful online shop where they ship worldwide.

    Steamed vegetables are great all year around, but it’s more fun to serve at a table with a portable stovetop especially in fall and winter time. Colorful, bright and extremely nutritious, they are what good eating is about. And don’t forget to enjoy the vegetables with the lip-smacking miso sesame sauce!

    Steamed vegetables in a Japanese earthenware pot, donabe.

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    Steamed vegetables in a Japanese earthenware pot, donabe.
    Steamed Vegetables with Miso Sesame Sauce
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Cook Time
    10 mins
    Total Time
    30 mins
     

    Healthy and full of flavor, this dashi-infused Steamed Vegetables with Miso Sesame Sauce is the quickest way to get vegetables on your plates.  

    Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: miso, sesame seed, steamed vegetables
    Servings: 4 people (as side dish)
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups dashi (For steaming, I used Awase Dashi, but use Kombu Dashi for vegan/vegetarian - See Notes) (or skip and use water instead)
    Vegetables for Steaming
    Miso Sesame Sauce
    Instructions
    To Prepare the Miso Sesame Sauce
    1. Gather all the ingredients for Miso Sesame Sauce.
      Steamed Vegetables Ingredients 1
    2. Grind 6 Tbsp sesame seeds with a pestle and mortar.

      Steamed Vegetables 1
    3. Crush 2 cloves garlic.  Add 1 tsp sugar and 2 Tbsp miso and combine well. 
      Steamed Vegetables 2
    4. Add 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp sesame oil, 4 Tbsp mirin, and 2 Tbsp rice vinegar.  Mix well.

      Steamed Vegetables 3
    5. Check the taste and add kosher salt if necessary.  I added ¼ tsp salt.

      Steamed Vegetables 4
    To Prepare the Vegetables
    1. Prepare all the ingredients. Make dashi; otherwise, use water instead.
      Steamed Vegetables Ingredients 2
    2. Cut the sweet potatoes into ¼ inch slices (uniform smaller pieces will cook faster than larger pieces) and soak in water to remove starch. Drain and set aside.
      Steamed Vegetables 5
    3. Wash the gobo really well and peel it thinly with a peeler. Soak in water immediately to avoid color changes and change the water once. Drain and set aside.

      Steamed Vegetables 6
    4. Discard the seeds from kabocha and slice thinly.
      Steamed Vegetables 7
    5. You can either cut the carrot into ¼ inch slices or use a peeler to peel the carrot.
      Steamed Vegetables 8
    6. Cut the corn on the cob into 1-inch thickness.
      Steamed Vegetables 9
    7. Hold each asparagus, snap and discard the shorter bottom end. Cut the asparagus in half.

      Steamed Vegetables 10
    8. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets.
      Steamed Vegetables 11
    9. Cut the napa cabbage into bite-size pieces.
      Steamed Vegetables 12
    To Steam
    1. Pour the dashi in your steamer, cover the lid, and bring it to boil on medium-high heat. As a quick guide, dashi (or water) should be at least 1-2 inches to your steamer (pot). Insert the steamer basket. Make sure the surface of the dashi (or water) is not touching the basket. If it is, take out some water.
      Steamed Vegetables 13
    2. When steam is coming out from the pot strongly, reduce the heat to medium and place the hard vegetables such as sweet potatoes and root vegetables. I also added kabocha squash and corn here as the rest of ingredients are fairly fast to cook. Cover the pot and set timer for 5 minutes.
      Steamed Vegetables 14
    3. Then add “Flower” vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and the bottom part of the napa cabbage. I also added carrot peels here. Set the timer for 3 minutes.
      Steamed Vegetables 15
    4. Lastly, add the leafy part of the napa cabbage and mini tomatoes. Cook for 2 more minutes.

      Steamed Vegetables 16
    5. Insert a bamboo skewer to check the doneness of denser vegetables. If it goes through, it’s ready to eat! Stop the steaming when the vegetables are still a bit crunchy since the residual heat will continue to cook the vegetables.

      Steamed Vegetables 17
    6. Serve the steamed vegetables with Miso Sesame Sauce and enjoy! During the meal, you can continue to steam the vegetables. Keep an eye on the dashi/water inside the pot. Make sure you are not running out of dashi/water. If it’s too little, add more dashi/water.
      Steamed Vegetables 18
    Recipe Notes

    Dashi: Awase Dashi (regular dashi) or vegan/vegetarian friendly Kombu Dashi.

     

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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