Take two umami powerhouses and wed them with moist heat and you get a dish of extreme simplicity that’s astonishingly flavorful. Sonoko Sakai is a Japanese friend who is a gifted teacher. Listen to her talk about making Dashi here.
Change Up: Because I’m lucky and live in SoCal I had some purple carrots in the fridge. So I initially thought that the purple of the carrots would look striking against the pale celadon of the celery. But then I realized that the color would bleed off the carrots and might tint the celery and/or make an interesting broth. You could add herbs or chopped carrot tops for flavor or julienne of orange carrots. As for the Dashi Vinaigrette, you could always add a bit of miso for sweetness or gochujang or sriracha for heat.
Also, I don’t know about you, but that photo of the raw celery and purple carrots makes me want to make a salad with those two ingredients and maybe some shaved parmesan and carrot tops.
Dashi Braised Celery Vinaigrette
Simple technique to transform celery into a flavor bomb you'll want to keep in the fridge as a healthy snack.
Trim bottom of celery stalks by cutting off the base. Trim tops and wash really well. Save tender inner stalks for another use. Peel the celery strings with a vegetable peeler. Cut stalks in half crosswise
Place in pot that just fits celery in one layer.
Add dashi, olive oil and a salt to taste (remembering that the dashi is lightly salty). Take a piece of parchment paper and cover and tuck in celery with it.
Bring dashi to a boil. Cover pot with lid and lower heat so that the broth simmers. Cook until celery is tender when pierced with a paring knife. Let the celery cool to room temperature in the broth or chill until ready to serve.
When ready to serve carefully lift the celery out of the broth and place on serving plate. Pour excess broth into measuring cup.
Vinaigrette and Finishing
Whisk broth and sesame oil together. Pour over celery. Grate hard boiled egg over dressed celery. Garnish with celery seeds.
Put water and kombu together in small pot. Let kombu soak for 15 minutes.
Bring kombu and water to a point just below boiling. Add bonito flakes and let steep until they fall to the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes. Do not stir. It will cloud the broth.
Strain mixture through a coffee filter set into a sieve. It should be a clear straw color.