My mother used to make this dish using only chicken. The sauce is an intriguing combination of miso and umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum). Because it’s a steamed dish, it uses no vegetable oil for cooking, only a splash of toasted sesame oil at the end. I’ve changed the recipe years ago to include tofu and vegetables. The main character of the dish remains unchanged, a complex savoriness with a touch of tartness that goes great with steamed white rice.
Steamed Miso-Ume Chicken
I use two bamboo steamers, each about 10″ in diameter, that can be stacked one on top of the other. The mixture fills two large shallow bowls, which must fit inside each steamer basket with at least ½” clearance all the way around. If you can’t find whole umeboshi, use umeboshi paste instead (such as the Eden brand), about 2 teaspoons. The paste will be thick but dilutes after steaming.
3 tbsp. red miso
4 seeded umeboshi, mashed into a paste, or 2 tsp. prepared umeboshi paste
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 carton firm tofu, cut into 1″ x 1″ x ¼” pieces
2 carrots, peeled, trimmed, sliced into ¼” x ¼” x 2″ pieces
1 c. green beans, sliced into 2″ pieces
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
¼ cup each of sliced green onions and chopped cilantro
1. Stir miso, umeboshi, sugar, soy sauce and garlic in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
2. Add chicken, tofu and vegetables to bowl and toss gently with spatula.
3. Divide mixture between two large shallow bowls and set each into a bamboo steamer basket.
4. Bring 1″ of water in a 12″ skillet to a boil, reduce heat to medium, set steamer with lid on top and steam for 15 minutes.
5. Remove baskets from skillet. Gently stir contents of each bowl, reverse their positions in the stack, and set steamer on top of skillet for an additional 10 minutes.
6. Remove baskets from skillet. Remove bowls from steamer baskets. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of sesame oil between the two bowls. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro and serve with hot steamed white Japanese rice.