Other than the new recipe for takenoko I gleaned from Atsuko while visiting Chiba was one for shallots. It seems that alliums in general are coming to the forefront of the vegetable stand these days, and with good reason. The rainy season is upon us and for any root crop that relies on drying this is not the best time. There are occasional days where the sun peeks out and hints rather fiercely at what is to come in the months ahead, but mostly the days are damp and gray. It's actually nearly perfect weather for harvesting or working in the fields, and in its way quite pleasant. The challenge it seems to me for alliums or other crops that require drying is to time planting so that harvest occurs either just before or shortly after tsuyu (rainy season) begins. So it was perhaps no surprise that the vegetable stands we saw were full of onions, potatoes, and shallots.
Shallots were not what I had in mind when I spotted the bags one of the vendors (pictured above) at the Ichinomiya shrine had set before her on the blanket. I was hoping they were rakkyo, an Asian member of the allium family that makes a fantastic pickle, as I've got one jar without any umeshu, umeboshi, or umehachimitsu in it. When I picked up the bag, though, our host mentioned a miso dip recipe they went well with and that was that. In the bike basket they went.
Shallots with Miso Dip
1 bag of shallots
3 Tbsp miso*
1 Tsp sake
Dash of soy sauce
Dash of konbu dashi**
Pinch of hot pepper**
Wash the miso and trim off the rooty end and the tough part of the stem. In a separate bowl mix together the miso, sake, soy sauce, and dashi. Add enough water to loosen the consistency of the miso, but not so much as to make it soupy. Stir and serve. Word has it it's also quite nice with cucumbers.
*Atsuko used a red miso, but theoretically any miso would do the trick.