Chilled Summer Vegetable Aspic Dish Perfect for Hot Days

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Summer vegetable aspic

Chilled dishes are a great way to stay cool during the hot days of summer. Satoshi Ogino, owner of a Japanese restaurant, introduced for us his summer vegetable aspic dish, perfect for the hot season. Just one look at it will cool you down.

Ogino serves the dish at his restaurant as an appetizer during summer. “You can enjoy a variety of ingredients and get a sense of the season. I make the aspic using seasonal ingredients,” he said.

Summer vegetable aspic is made by cutting vegetables into bite-sized pieces and soaking them in a dashi broth with dissolved gelatin.

Here are some tips to get the best results from his recipe.

The trick is to carefully prepare the vegetables, allowing them to absorb the broth. The grilled eggplant adds a savory flavor. Boil the edamame, drain in a colander and sprinkle with salt to prevent them from becoming watery.

Add a twist when soaking the vegetables in the broth by seasoning them with light soy sauce and then chilling them. Baby corn, for example, can easily absorb flavors while the vegetable is still hot after being boiled.

Instead of using a special mold, use a small, deep bowl to make the vegetable aspic. Spread a 30 cm by 30 cm piece of plastic wrap in the bowl and place the vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces, in a well-balanced manner.

“The bottom part of the ingredients in the bowl will be on top when served. Try to visualize how the dish will look when it is finished and arrange it accordingly,” Ogino said.

Arrange the small tomatoes, baby corn and asparagus on the outside, with the edamame filling in the gaps, and the eggplant at the end. Pour in the gelatin-dissolved broth and carefully lift the plastic wrap from its four corners. Seal to prevent air bubbles from entering, wrap with a twist tie, and chill in ice water to set.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Use a twist tie to wrap the vegetables in plastic wrap.

Spread sweetened sesame sauce in a bowl, remove the vegetable aspic from the plastic wrap and top with green yuzu zest.

Enjoy the different textures of the vegetables soaked in a rich broth. The aroma of the yuzu is refreshing and the sesame sauce adds umami flavor.

Summer vegetable aspic

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • 2 asparagus
  • 2 green beans
  • 1 eggplant
  • 4 baby corn cobs
  • 50 grams edamame
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 300 cc dashi broth
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 7 grams sheet gelatin
  • 40 grams white sesame paste
  • 50 cc boiled sake
  • Green yuzu zest as needed

  • Directions:

    1. Peel the lower half of the asparagus with a peeler and divide into four equal parts. Cut green beans in half.

    2. Roast the eggplant over high heat until all sides of the skin are charred. Put the eggplant in ice water, remove the skin, and split in half.

    3. Put the dashi broth, light soy sauce, and ⅓ teaspoon salt in a bowl and mix. Chill the bowl in ice water.

    4. Boil water in a pot and add a pinch of salt. Boil the edamame for 5 minutes, drain in a colander and sprinkle with salt.

    5. In the same pot as the one used for boiling the edamame, boil the asparagus, baby corn and green beans, but not past the point where their texture is lost. Then add them to the chilled broth along with the eggplant and soak for 5 minutes.

    6. Take out the vegetables, drain any excess broth and cut into bite-sized pieces. Remove the edamame from the pods and remove the thin skin. Chop the small tomatoes into quarters.

    7. Strain the remaining broth and reserve 200 cc. Blanch gelatin sheets in water and squeeze. Add the gelatin to the broth and heat until it becomes hot, then remove from heat.

    8. Spread out plastic wrap in a small bowl. Separate the vegetables into four equal portions. Put one portion into the bowl and add enough strained dashi to fill to the brim. Wrap the vegetables in plastic wrap and tie the wrap with a twist tie. Chill in ice water for 30 minutes. Make the remaining three servings.

    9. Mix the white sesame paste, boiled sake, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 2 teaspoons sugar. Pour a small amount of the mixture into a bowl and place one of the four portions of vegetable aspic on top. Garnish with grated yuzu zest if desired.

    Marinated vegetable dish

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Vegetables marinated in dashi broth

    Ogino also taught us how to make another dish using summer vegetables marinated in dashi broth.

    Mix 50 cc of dashi broth with the juice from half a sudachi Japanese citrus, a few drops of soy sauce and a pinch of wasabi. Mix the dashi broth with an adequate amount of summer vegetables. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with green yuzu zest.

    The aroma and acidity of the sudachi and the spiciness of the wasabi enhance the flavor of the vegetables to create a refreshing dish. “This dish tastes best when freshly made, so please add the vegetables to the dashi broth just before eating,” said Ogino.