Bacon Dashi with Potatoes and Clams

I was in “The Good Egg” at the market the other day picking out a Japanese Cookbook for a birthday gift for Mr. Duess. Of course, the lovely young lady at the cash knew him and knew of our bacon exploits (Mr. Duess works in the neighbourhood and his tales of our bacon making have spread like wildfire). Word gets around in this city quite quickly it would seem.

I spoke with her at some length about how I’ve been digging into the Japanese cooking and how much I was excited by the simple but fabulous Dashi – a quick broth made from kombu seaweed and usually bonito flakes. There is a satisfying meatiness, a delicate smokyness, a lovely sea taste to the whole thing. It can be used to make soups, braises, sauces – in fact its usefulness is similar to chicken stock but it tastes nothing like chicken stock. Its something entirely different and takes your dishes to a totally new place.

With great excitement, the woman behind the counter pointed me toward the momofuku cookbook, and in particular a recipe for BACON DASHI. %#$&-ing %#$& !! A broth made from bacon. You will be mine bacon dashi!

While I have yet to purchase the book, I did make the dashi and a great little dish with it.

The bacon dashi is a piece of cake: half pound of good quality bacon – I used our S&D special home made bacon of course, 8ish inches of Kombu seaweed, 2 liters of water and 20-30 minutes of simmering on the stove. Its a revelation. It has the smokiness of the bonito and that glutamatey sea taste from the kombu. The fish flavour of the bonito, however, is replaced with a fabulous porkiness. This would be a appropriate moment to say…um wicked… this is really something else.

On to the dish – clams and potatoes in bacon dashi. I read this recipe from a blog posting on Momofuku for two in which Steph cooks her way through the Momofuku cookbook. Her account of customizing the recipe to avoid what she saw as an obscene coupling of the open clams with fingerling potatoes is super entertaining and her photos of the dish are really fab.

Once the bacon dashi is made, you simply cook your clams in the broth, add your cooked potatoes, sprinkle with some chopped, fried bacon and there you have it. Neither I, nor Mrs. Stephenson could stop thinking about it for days after. I would put this on the highly recommended list.