Salty Umami Elegance
For 20 years, I’ve made a hot miso sauce by beating egg yolks, miso, sugar, dashi, soy and a few secret ingredients in a double boiler. It’s my go-to sauce for grilled meats and fish—I love the salty umami elegance of it. But why it took me so long to figure out a cool miso vinaigrette is beyond me. Now I serve the miso vinaigrette with my lobster-and-asparagus salad, inspired by the salad I had at the Four Seasons in Manhattan when I was in high school. My dad took me there for a special father-son disciplinary chat, but I was too blissed out to care because the food was spectacular: casual but refined, so different than anything I’d ever had. Try my miso vinaigrette with and without the mustard; it works both ways.
Lobster-and-Asparagus Salad with Miso-Mustard Vinaigrette
- 1/4 teaspoon dashi powder (available at many health food stores and Asian markets)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup yellow miso
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- Three 1 1/2-pound live lobsters
- 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 6 thick slices of toasted peasant bread, for serving
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Black sesame seeds, for garnish
Make the Vinaigrette
In a small bowl, dissolve the dashi powder in the water. In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the miso, sugar, mustard, soy sauce and dashi broth. Set up an ice bath nearby. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure that the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk constantly until the sauce is slightly thickened and reaches 160°, about 3 minutes. Immediately set the bowl in the ice bath to stop the cooking and whisk the sauce until cool. Whisk in the rice vinegar and refrigerate the miso vinaigrette until chilled.
Prepare the Salad
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the lobsters until they turn bright red, about 8 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Twist the bodies from the tails. Using scissors, cut along the underside of the tails and remove the meat. Halve the tails lengthwise and discard the dark intestinal veins. Crack the claws and legs and remove the meat. Cut all of the lobster into 1-inch pieces, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Set up an ice bath nearby. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for I minute. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to the ice bath to cool, then drain and blot dry. Transfer the asparagus to a small baking dish.
In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce with the lemon juice, lime juice and peanut and sesame oils. Drizzle over the asparagus and toss gently to coat.
Add 1/4 cup of the miso vinaigrette to the lobster and toss to coat. Set the toasts on plates. Top with several spears of asparagus and a scoop of lobster and garnish with radish slices. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds and serve, passing the remaining miso vinaigrette at the table.
MAKE AHEAD The vinaigrette and salad can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight.