Cooking in Anime: Tofu and Bamboo Shoot Gratin

Hey there everyone, and welcome back to the Kitchen of the Zodiac Room, where miracles happen. Get ready to roll up your sleeves, hit the local market, or just make sure you’re fed already, because it’s time again for some more Cooking in Anime! Today we have my take on a scrumptious dish, inspired by the latest episode of Cooking with the Emiya Family, and requested by Plyasm. We’re making a Bamboo Shoot Gratin.

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First, let’s define what a Gratin is. Gratin is a dish that originated in France. Similar to a casserole, it usually consists of vegetables and meat smothered in a sauce, and covered in a baked crust of breadcrumbs or melted cheese. Sounds delish, right? Our gratin today is somewhat outside the norm, but it’s gonna be tasty nonetheless, so let’s get cooking!

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For our ingredients, we’re gonna separate them into two parts; the main dish, and the sauce, since we need to make them separately before combining them together. While this dish seems pretty complex, with a lot of ingredients, I was able to get all the ingredients for under $10 USD, making it a pretty cheap, yet delicious dinner option. This recipe should serve 4 people quite easily.

As always before cooking these dishes, I tend to look up a variety of recipes online, then take what I think are the best aspects of each to create a coherent recipe, along with some of my own improvements based on how I personally like to cook.

Main Dish:

  • 1-2 Large Carrots (depends how chunky you want it)
  • 1 Burdock Root (Gobo)
  • 5 oz sliced Bamboo Shoots (canned or fresh)
  • 6 Large Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1/2 block of Firm Tofu
  • 3 green onions
  • Sesame Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Panko Bread Crumbs

White Sauce:

  • 6 tbsp Butter
  • 2 Bouillon cubes or 1 tbsp vegetable Bouillon
  • 2 tbsp White Miso
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1/2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups Milk

Preparation:

  1. Chop Gobo and Carrot into coarse chunks. Add both to a pot of cold water with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Let boil for 6 minutes, then add Bamboo shoots, and boil for another 4 minutes. Let sit for 1 minute in the hot water, then drain.
  2. Add Sesame Oil to a pan, and begin to bring up to heat. Chop tofu into 2-inch squares that are 1/2 inch thick, and add to the pan with some salt and pepper. Sautee the tofu until every chunk is lightly browned on each side. Slice Shiitake Mushrooms and chop up the green onions, then add to the pan along with butter, water, Salt, and Pepper. Cover, and cook until all water has evaporated, making sure to move everything around so nothing burns. When the mushrooms are soft, add the Carrots, Gobo, and bamboo shoots to the pan, and mix until everything is evenly combined.
  3. For the sauce, melt butter in a pot on low. After butter has completely melted, add Flour, Bouillon, and Miso. Whisk until everything has nicely combined, then slowly add Milk. Generously season with Salt and Pepper (Be very generous with both for the best flavor), then bring to a boil, stirring constantly. After it comes to a full boil, take off heat and add cornstarch to thicken.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees (Fahrenheit). Find a shallow (no more than 2 inches deep), oven-safe dish that your dish will fit comfortably inside. Add some butter to the dish, allow it to melt in the over, then distribute it evenly over the bottom of the dish. Spread the vegetable mix evenly across the dish, then pour the sauce over it evenly.
  5. Generously sprinkle Panko Bread crumbs over the dish, making sure to coat it completely. Don’t worry if some of the crumbs sink into the white sauce, that’s fine. Evenly sprinkle salt and pepper across the crust for added flavor. Let the gratin bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes on 450 degrees, then raise the temperature to 500 degrees and bake for another 1-2 minutes, making sure the breadcrumb crust on top gets nicely golden-browned and crispy.
  6. Take the dish from the oven (it should be golden-brown on top, and the sauce should be bubbling), and you’re ready to eat!

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This Gratin dish is a lovely dish to eat on many occasions. It’s cheap, healthy, relatively simple to make, and most importantly, delicious. The mild, creamy flavor of the sauce and the soft vegetables make it perfect to pair with a richly spiced meat dish, or you can use the Gratin as a main course, adding sides like a spinach and rocket salad, miso soup, and even steamed broccoli or asparagus.

You can easily modify this dish in a number of ways, as well. Replace the tofu with chopped chicken and the bamboo shoots with chopped potato for a much richer, more filling dish. You can even make variants with fish or crab to your taste, or experiment with swapping ingredients for similar ones, based on how you like to cook. It can also be made as a single portion meal quite easily, if you have a small dish, so feel free to play around with it.

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I hope this post has helped you guys add a new, exciting, and delicious dish to your cooking repertoire. If you end up getting hungry one day, and decide to try out my recipe at home, let me know how it goes for you! I’m always looking to improve how I cook and compile my unique recipes. Also, if you have any suggestions for dishes from anime that you’d like to see made, don’t hesitate to let me know down in the comments!

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